Movement 123

movementmagazine

termly maflazine of the stude nt christian movement

issue 123

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summer 2006

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IAJCLUSIVE

CFIURCI{

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Ghrist when he was lifted uP did

not say "l draw some PeoPle to

myself." He said 'nl draw all, all,

all."

(Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

. Working for a more inclusive

Anglican Gommunion

. For further information and

to sign up to the Petition..'

visit www. i ncl usivech u rch. net

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is the magazine

of the Sea of Faith Network (UK)

which exploles religion as a human creation.

Sofia does not think rvisdorn is dispensed supernaturally from on

t.tigtt, Lrut that it cau only be sought by huuratrs at home on Earth.

Religions ar€ not supernatural but an important part of the

human treasury of rvisdon-r.

Sofia is both anti-fundamentalist and anti-restrictive- rationalist,

beiieuing in the value of humaniry's poetic genius and

imaginaiion, as well as reason and experience, in its sealch for

rvisdom.

Soy'a seeks a rvorld oljustice atrd peace, promoted by a sane and

kiitdly hr',tt.t.t.tisrn that sees the liberation of humanity as the

chief object oI cultttre.

Sofiais ior diggers and seekers iu its orvn native radical tradition

and eveg'rvhere.

For Subscriptions to magazine €15 p.a. (6 issues

p.a.), Membership of SoF Network f3O p.a. or for

free sample copy write to: The Secretary, Gospel

Hill Cottage, Chapel Lane, Whitfield, Brackley

NN13 5TF . Or email: oliver@essame.clara.net

ffir{rL}n hJcIr Iiiu

25-ZB August

Cheltenham Racecourse

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living life to the tull?

editorial

Life in all its fullness, SCM's theme for this academic year, has certainly guaranteed a

full life for all the students and staff. We've been busy with all kinds of resources and

actions exploring different aspects of the theme, and the special feature in this issue of

movement is just a small taster of a few of them.

lf you'd like to see some of the reflections, worship materials, workshops and Bible studies

we've produced on the theme, check out www.movement.org.uk/life. We've also

had a fantastic conference, which is reviewed on page 4 and has its own section of the

website at www. movement.org. u k/conference.

When we chose the theme, we wanted to look at every aspect of life, think aboutwhat really

makes it worth living or prevents it being lived to the full, and challenge some common preconceptions

in church and society about fullness of life. What are healing and wholeness?

What does our theology say about disability and mental illness? What

kind of spiritual practices contribute to a full life? And what about our

responsibility for the lives of others, and our place in our community?

The articles on pages 14-19look at a few of these things. Elizabeth

Baxter's piece challenges SCM and the wider church to be a genuinely

therapeutic community; Grant White introduces an Eastern Orthodox

vision of life in all its fullness; and Andrew Scott looks towards

a theology that can respond effectively to the HIV pandemic which

denies millions the chance to live a full life. HIV campaigning has

been SCM's main social action this year - find out how you can get

involved on page 7.

Elsewhere in this issue, we have an interview with Peter Owen Jones,

the vicar who strode around in an lndiana Jones hat on BBC2 making

church history sexy. And, sadly, we have the final instalment (for now)

of Gordon Lynch's excellent pop culture review column. l'd like to

thank Cordon for all his contributions to movement; l'm sure many

movement readers will continue to follow his exciting work. I

movement

movement is the termly magazine of the Student Christian

Movement, dedicated to an open-minded exploration of

Chrisfianity.

Editor: Liam Purcell (editor@movement.org.uk)

Next copy date: 14 July 2006

Editorial group: David Anderson, Laurence Craig, Liam Purcell, John Probhudan,

Susannah Rudge

SCM staff: Co-ordinator Liam Purcell; Links WorkerJo Merrygold; Office

Admin istrator John Probhudan

SCM office: Unit 30BF The Big Peg, 120 Vyse Street, The Jewellery Quarter,

Birmingham 81B 6NF . 0121 200 3355 . scm@movement.org.uk

www. movement.org.u k

Printed by: Henry Ling Limited, Dorchester

The production of this issue of movement was assisted by a generous grant from

the Women's World Day of Prayer.

lndividual membership of SCM (includes movement) costs f 1 5 per year (f 10 if

unwaged). Subccription lo movement only costs f1 0 per year, or f7 for students.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in movement are those of the particular author and

should not be taken to be the policy of the Student Christian Movement.

|SSN0306-980X . Charitynumber 241896 o @2006SCM

Do you have problems reading movement?

If you find it hard to read the printed version of movement,

we will be happy to send it to you in digital form, suitable for

magnification or use with reading programs. Just contact the

editor at editor@movement.org.uk.

The SCM website is also available in a text-only form at

accessi b le. movement.org. u k.

contents

editorial

newsfile

on campus

campaigns

diary

small ritual steve collins

interview: peter owen jones

julian lewis

mind the gap

movement feature: life in all its fullness

church as therapeutic community

elizabeth baxter 14

the AIDS christ andrew scott 16

embodied renunciation grant white 1B

platform: tent people john probhudan

ties and binds/m cotter

worldview: mozaik

peter sajda & rebecca blocksome

investing ethically richard nagle

atlantis and me wood ingham

doctrine for dummies:

negative theology rob telford

media section

the miracle of jesus (robert brunger)

susannah rudge 26

caring for creation (sarah tillett)

rosie telford 27

pop culture review gordon lynch 28

jerry springer the opera tim cobbett 29

3

4

a touching place (john gunstone)

jo merrygold 30

serpent 31

6

7

I

9

10

12

20

21

22

23

24

25

movement

3


7

newsfile

news from

the SGM network

t* Iivin{, Iife to the fuII

angela joyce $ives her impressions of her first scm event: the life

in all its futlness conference on 10-12 march in derbyshire

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Worship: time

reflection

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Action:

a HIV petition

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night Riskathon

Speaker lohn Hull

Entertainment

from singer'

songwriter

Rebecca Worthley

The first thing that struck me at the conference was

an overwhelming sense of welcome. I was quickly

made a part of the SCM family.

After an evening meal, we were introduced to the

team of people leading the weekend' I could tell

that I had a good weekend ahead of me; the pure

buzz of an atmosphere around the place was unmistakeable.

There were cheers and whoops as

each member was introduced; the leaders weren't

like scary teachers, they were as down-to-earth and

approachable as everyone else in the room.

We then kicked off with small-group activities, all

of us mixed up to make it easier to meet as many

new people as possible. During the workshops the

bar was open - which, as a good Catholic girl, I was

more than pleased to see!lThe evening closed with

some prayer and worship, putting us all in the right

frame of mind to hit the sack ready to face the next

day anew (or in some cases playing Rrsk for seven

hours, not hitting the sack - but still facing the next

day anew-ish!)

Saturday was jam-packed with workshops, talks,

group activities, worship, services, music of .and,

iorti", food! ln the morning Professor John Hull

spoke to us about his experience of losing his sight

and how this impacted on his life. He was entertaining,

funny, obviously a very intelligent man' The

talk mide me, and l'm sure many others, reconsider

our preconceptions of what it is to be blind.

There were six workshops in the afternoon and unfortunately

we could only pick two - this made my

decision very difficult as I wanted to make the most

of the weekend. I chose a workshop on lgnatian

spirituality, a topic I previously knew nothing about,

and another on healing and wholeness.

The leaders of the lgnatian sPirituality

workshoP were very

inspiring, their positive outlook

on life and their methods of discernment

were one of the most

positive things I took from the

weekend and I am sure to use

them in the future. The 'therapeutic

journeys' workshoP was

somewhat different, it was verY

interesting, learning about different

therapeutic methods of

healing, but for me it lacked in

any major Christian focus. lt was

still very enjoyable and I learned

a fair few techniques.

We were then given the opportunity to break the

Sabbath, a Jewish tradition. A brilliant opportunity

to get a taster of other religions - although it was

optional, the room was full to the brim.

A few of us were then spiritualised out so we headed

for the pub - unfortunately missing out on a healing

service and discussion, but it was a good time

tolave a chat, finding out about how each others'

chaplaincies work, discovering many differences

but also lots of surprising similarities. On Sunday

we had a few more activities, swapped many an e-

mail address, and prepared for the journey home.

Overall the weekend was a real success. My knowledge

of the workings of chaplaincies across the

country has expanded massively - and also my

knowledge of different types of worship and the

different Christian relationships with God. Having

an open forum to discuss differences and similarities

without the worry of being denigrated for your

beliefs is a fantastic thing that all should have the

chance to experience. The title o! Life in all its fullness

was definitely fulfilled to the max - giving us

insights from many different angles of how we can

live our lives to the full. The only criticisms I have

could also be seen as praise: the group was a bit too

large, making it difficult to be able to talk and get

to kno* eveiyone; and it was very intense - with

things happening every minute of the day. I

Angela Joyce is president of Birmingham Cathsoc - and

now an individual member of SCM!

See www.movement.org.uk/conference for a longer

version of Angela's review, more photos, and

other resources from the conference, including

worship outlines, prayers and more.

4

movement


SGMers take up multi-faith prayer challenge

Southampton SCM started this year. So far it's been

an evolving entity encompassing a lot of diverse

aims and interests, including exploring theology,

other religions, campaigns, prayer, spirituality and

world cuisine!

playing with the body:

southampton scm's gluide to islamic salat

We have had a couple of inter-faith events, including

a multi-faith event with representatives from

other religious societies speaking on the topic

of 'keeping faith in secular society' and a recent

session on Muslim prayer. The inspiration for this

came from a group viewing'of the Morgan Spurlock

30 Days episode 'Muslims in America', where an

evangelical Christian lived in a Muslim community

for one month, experiencing life as a Muslim, studying

the Qur'an and attending mosque.

The programme was not only entertaining but also

enlightened and challenged us. We were all impressed

by the discipline in lslamic prayer and an

animated discussion took place ... the discussion

led to a challenge:

Southampton SCM to pray five times a day for 30

days!

Face Mecca

and stand

straight.

Ruku

Bow

Quiyam

Stand up

with your

hands by

your sides

Sujud

Prostrate

yourself by

kneel i ng,

with your

forehead,

nose/

hands,

knees, and

toes all on

the ground.

Rise to a

kneel ing

position

with your

hands on

your knees.

I

Being unpractised in disciplined prayers, we have

modified this challenge in subsequent discussions

(perhaps to two or three times a day). To equip us

for the challenge, we invited two members of the

lslamic society to talk to us about sa/at lslamic

prayer (the five-a-day compulsory prayers).

We were taught about the importance of prayer

to lslam and also how they pray. This highlighted

some differences and similarities between Muslim

and Christian spirituality. For our challenge we felt

we should try out the movements that accompany

each cycle of Muslim prayer. The basic movements

are shown on the right. For each movement an accompanying

prayer or a passage from scripture is

recited. Our speakers got the whole group to practise

each movement!

We have not yet begun this challenge but it looks

like it may well happen... lt's definitely an interesting

idea - perhaps we should do a national SCM

prayer challenge. What do you think? O

Christdle Evans and Rachel Wakelin study at

Southampton University, where they co-founded a new

SCM group in 2005.

lf you want to take up Southampton's challenge,

or if you'd just like to hear more

about how they manage themselves, contact

fo in the SCM office on 0121 2OO 3355 or

links@movement.org.uk.

lf your local group or chaplaincy has a similarly

exciting idea or project, get in touch - we'd

love to hear about it!We aim to include grassroots

reports from our links in every issue of

movement.

structural review nerrys

As many readers will know, SCM has been going through a process

of structural review for the past year and a bit. During this

review we've looked at all aspects of what SCM does, what we

do well, ways we can do things better, and how we can make

sure that SCM can grow in a sustainable way.

So far we've introduced termly gathering weekends, like the one

we've just had in Birmingham. SCM members will have received a

gathering report in this mailing. Catherings are a chance for SCMers

to get together, have some fun, discuss social justice issues, play

&sk and plan and discuss what SCM should do in the future (what

should goin movement,for example!)The structural review has also

developed the way that Ceneral Council works - half of us now

concentrate on exploring different aspects of theology, socialjustice

and issues affecting students. The other half, including my role as

convenor, focus on the more business side of things, looking at

our finances, strategic planning, staffing, communications, our work

with WSCF and how we operate in the regions and nations.

Since the autumn gathering in November, the structural review

has focused on improving our membership and affiliation structures.

lt is hoped that we'll grow and recruit more members and

links in a way that works for everyone. We've consulted people

with a wide range of experiences of SCM and our counterparts

around the globe, trying to find a way to make sure that we offer

members and links resources and a community that they want

to be a part of.

We've also started the process of writing the next strategic plan,

which will guide SCM's work for the next three years. lf you have

any thoughts, ideas or opinions on what you think SCM should

be doing in the next three years, please let us know You can

e-mail me on convenor@movement.org.uk or leave a message

with the SCM office. This is your movement and we really want

you to feel part of it. O

Chris Stacey is Convenor of SCM's General Council.

B

$

movement

5


on Gampus

fishtinSftes

It's not just students that are alarmed about tuition fees and

The Association of University Teachers (AUT) is

a proud member of Coalition 2010. AUT campaigned

vehemently with students against top-up

fees and our support for the students'fight against

these punitive fees has not wavered one bit.

studies have shown that

debt and the fear of debt

will put students from the most

u nder-lepresented backElrounds

off higher education

We were disappointed to learn that applications to

university have dropped this year, but we weren't surprised.

How anyone thought that introducing a market

into higher education and asking students to pay more

for their course would increase applications is beyond

me, and it's a policy that directly contradicts the government's

own widening participation agenda.

Countless studies have shown that debt and the fear

of debt will put students from the most under-represented

backgrounds off higher education. Having a

market in our universities will lead to students choosing

wh3t and where to study based on what they can

afford, not what is best for them or our economy.

The special bond that lecturers and students enjoy will

be absolutely vital over the next few years as we fight

higlher education

news

top-up fees. We invited lecturers' union AUT to explain why they've

joined the NUS's new anti-fees coalition.

more backglround

Coalition 2010 is backed by teaching unions from the schools,

college and university sectors, and aims to highlight the negative

impact of fees on increasing admissions to higher education.

UCAS figures earlier this year showed the first drop in university

applicationsin eight years, despite government plans to get 50

per cent of 1B-30-year-olds into higher education by 2010.

Members of the coalition will jointly lobby MPs as they consider

whether to raise the cap on variable fees. NUS will also be encouraging

students' unions to form coalitions in their local area. The

cap currently prevents universities from charging above f3,000 a

year for undergraduate and some postgraduate courses.

An Early Day Motion has been put to %rliament which states that

the 'removal of the cap will serve to extend further the market in

our education system, and will serve to deter students from poorer

and less traditional backgrounds from going to university.'

for what is best for the higher education sector. This

is largely because we actually understand what students

and staff want - namely a first class education for

students, delivered by contented and fairly paid staff.

We must not allow the proponents of higher fees and

poorer staff salaries to ever break that special bond.

There are tough times ahead; the pay dispute and assessment

boycott this year has made life difficult for

students. Sadly, lecturers had no option but to resort

to strike action after the employers broke promises

about using new funding to sort their pay out.

Damaging the work of students is the very last thing

lecturers want to do. The majority could find betterpaid

work outside of higher education, but remain

in the sector because of a love of their subject and

imparting expert knowledge to their students.

As we head towards a review of top-up fees in the

next couple of years we must really apply, and keep

up, the pressure to ensure our universities do not

become 'degree supermarkets', where the affluent

can purchase whatever they like and the rest are left

scrabbling for the scraps.l

Sally Hunt is AUT general secretary (www.aut.org.uk).

what can you do?

. Coalition 2010

is looking for

more signatures

on its online

petition at www.

coalition20l O.

org. You could also

lobby your MP to support the coalition.

. NUS is running a campaign on top-up fees

and other issues called 'On course ... for a

fair future? They're also planning an antifees

march this November. Find out how

you can get involved at www.nusonline.

co.uk

. Cet involved in any actions on this issue

being planned by your own students'

union. And if they're not planning any

actions, ask them why not!

. Check out SCM patron Peter Selby's book

Crace and Mortgage (DLT, 1 997) for a

theological critique of our debt culture,

including its impact on students.

6

movement


glttr$"Ts#trGam t

Gampaigns, anferenes, paperc

- a busytime!!

The 'policy and research group' consists of the three members of SCM's General Council

responsible for 'thematic' work - social justice, church and theology, and higher

education - plus any other interested members of the movement. We do research on

these areas, communicate our ideas, and guide the movement's social action work.

At SCM's Life in all its fullness conference in March, we set up an 'action stall' with three

actions related to this year's HIV campaign. For the 'Lamentations' action, people were

asked to write a lamentation on the subject of HIV on a piece of red ribbon, card or material.

lt could be a short prayer, poem, or thoughtful verse, and people were invited to pin

it up so others could share the thought. For the second action, 'Make a pledge', people

were invited to take pledge cards and promise to go back home and make changes in

their individual daily life, church or community - promises such as becoming involved in

AIDS hospices, ensuring people do not have incorrect ideas about how HIV is spread, and

praying for people in parts of the world heavily affected by HlV. There was also an HIV

quiz to test your awareness of the issues. The third activity, 'The world is watching', was a

petition with a difference. Conference-goers were invited to sign a red AIDS ribbon, and

stick it onto a giant petition, asking the government to honour its GB

promises. The petition will be sent to Alan Simpson, a Labour MP who

is involved in the fight against HlV.

We're also busy writing a discussion paper on HIV/AIDS. The aims of

the paper are: to give students correct information on HIV infection and

transmission; to look at the often-neglected issue of 'living with it'; to

look at antiretroviral drugs and CB promises; to discuss churches' attitudes

towards HIV; and there's a section which examines the metaphor

of 'Christ with AIDS' and forms the basis of Andrew Scott's article on

page 16. Check out our section of the SCM forums at www.movement.

org.uk/forum to find out more, and watch out for the document going

online at www.movement.org.uk/think any day now!

Members of our group have also been asked to support SCM's campaigning

by representing SCM on the Student StopAlDS policy group

(www.stopaidscampaign.org.uk). The aim of the group is to set policy

on AIDS issues which specifically affect young people (e.g. abstinence-only

and HIV prevention) and respond with a youth voice in

the public arena.

They recently held a Training and Planning Day at Birmingham University,

attended by some SCM members. The aim of the day was to

share ideas between Student StopAlDS societies in the UK and plan

the next stage of the campaign. They discussed successful campaigns,

new ways of working and successful fundraising events and went on

to examine the challenges of running StopAlDS groups on campus.

The next stage of the campaign is to target the drug company Cilead

and Abbott to provide second-line drugs to people in poorer countries.

People who have become resistant to initial treatment have to move on

to second-line drugs, but these are not available in the parts of Africa

where they are needed. Student StopAlDS plans to target Gilead and

Abbott through creative, non-violent direct actions and letter writing.

Their aim for the latter part of 20O6 is to target the UK Department

of Trading and lndustry and the EU. The US is stopping generic drugs

from being produced for universal access to treatment, and the EU is

the only body big enough to make a difference. StopAlDS'focus will

be on lobbying the Department of Trade and Industry and EU to support

generic drugs. Watch here for more info soon! I

Rachel Campbell is a student in Clasgow and a member of SCMb Ceneral

Council.

-9,

rve're helpin$ to set policy on

AIDS issues which specifically

affect young people, like

abstinence-only and HIV

prevention

a

1 I

MAKE POVERTYHISTORY

Now that 2006 has arrived, what happens to

the MakePovertyHistory campaign?

ln the UK, 2005 was a year for anti-poverty

campaigners to focus on a series of international

events - the CB summit, UN meetings,

world trade talks - that were unique opportunities

to achieve change. ln 2006, the

challenge will be different. We have to ensure

that promises half pledged are kept fully. We

also have to keep the pressure up - to ensure

that money is delivered effectively and that

damaging policies are altered.

lnternationally this will happen through the global

coalition, the Global Call to Action Against

Poverty (C-CAP). ln the UK MakePovertyHistory

will become its component parts: three coalitions

on aid (UKAN), debt (Jubilee) and trade

(Trade Justice Movement), and the hundreds of

individual organisations that made up MPH. See

www.makepovertyhistory.org or wwwwhiteband.org

for more information, or contact your

local anti-poverty coalition if you have one. I

Matt Criffith works in PR at CAFOD.

movement

7


diary

upcoming events of interest:

conferences, meetin$s, retreats...

for a

fuller list

of events

and more

detailsn

see oul

online

diary

(www.

movement,

olg.uld

diary)

Radical Christianity

Saturday 20 Nlay

Rochdale

First in a series ofconferences

led by Revd Dr John Vincent.

Ashram Community, 178

Abbeyfield Road, Sheffielcl 54 7AY

www.ashram.org.uk

as h r am co m m u n i ty@ h otnt a i l. co m

Pre-exam relaxation weekend

Thursday 25 - Saturday 27 May

Holy Rood House,lhirsk

A chance to chill out, revise and have

some fun before the exams.

fB5 all inclusive

Holy Rood House, l0 Sowerby

Road, Thirsk, North Yorks YO7 I HX

01845 522 580

www.h oly rood h ou se. org. u k

angharadparryjones@

holy roocl hou se.o rg. u k

Jesus for the non-religious

Weclnesclay 7 - Friclay 9 June

H ayes Co nfe re n ce Ce ntre

National conference of Free to Believe,

led by lohn Shelby Spong.

f90 - fl 30

Stanley Dean, 2 Burrswood Place,

Heybridge Basin, Maldon, Fssex

CM9 4UQ

How (not) to speak of God

Fridayg-Sunday 1l June

Othon a Co m m u n i ty, Dorset

A weekend based on the book bY

Pete Rollins of lkon.

f.9O or f73 concessions

01308 9871 30

m ai l@otho n a- bb. org. u k

SCM summer gathering and AGM

Friday 9 - Sunday l1 lune

St Peter's House, Manchester

End-of year party and election of a

new Ceneral Council! See the gathering

report in your mailing for more

information.

Radical Christianity in the City

Saturday l0 lune, Sheffield

Radical Christianity and Radical

Ministry

Saturday 17 June, Leecls

Radical Christianity

Sunday 2 July, Lincoln

People & Planet gathering

Sunday 2 - Thursctay 6 July

www. peoplean cl pl an et. o r g

Passion for fustice

Tuesday 11 - Friclay l4 July

See below.

ldentity and health

Tuesday I I - Friday l4 luly

Holy Rood House,Thirsk

A summer school exploring the interface

between psychology, the arts,

economics, politics and theologY.

Waged f 170, unwagecl f 120

Holy Rood House, I0 SowerbY

Roacl, Thirsk, NorthYorksY)T lHX

01845 522580

angharacl.csth@

holyroodhouse.org.uk

Radical Christianity and Radical

Spirituality

Saturday 15 July, Milton Keynes

[et's talk about freedom

Sunday 30 luly - Saturday 5 August

Cermany

See page 22

Do it together: SCM training event

Friday B - Sunday l0 September

Crossways, N orth am Pton

Training for committees, leaders,

new groups and chaplaincy assistants.

See the flyer in your mailing.

C@A

for

c/

2

Slon

tice

{Iobal and faithful

perspectt-ves on

human sexuality

LL-L4 July 2006

High Leigh Conference Gentre,

Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire

The Modern Churchpeople's Union conference for 2006 is

being supported and co-organised by SCM and the Centre

for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality. tt will provide

new resources and opportunities for a wide'ranging debate

on the challenges facing Christian sexual ethics in today's

globalised world.

o How can the biblical tradition be retrieved from

fundamentalism?

o How can the institutional church be more inclusive?

. What are the implications of the commercialisation

of sex?

o How should relationships be forged in the 21st

century?

o What of the global context and the HIV pandemic?

There are a limited number of

discount places available at the

conference for SCM members, at

the very special price of f50.

To find out more or book your Place,

contact Liam in the SCM office:

0121 200 3355

co@movement.org.uk

€,ffi

8

movement

j


steve collins on

alternative worship

and emerging church

reinventin{, the rules

small ritual

I mentioned last time that some emerging church communities, including my own,

are looking at monastic forms - which is to say, intentional communities with a 'rule'

of life and spiritual formation. Such a 'rule' might be a way of sustaining Christian

life and community in the face of all the obstacles and temptations that beset us. We

can do this better together. Of course, as good postmoderns we don't like the idea of

rules, especially someone else's. There is a suspicion of authority ingrained in us, and

rule-breaking or deconstruction is our natural response. So what is a postmodern rule?

How do you find the 'rule'that is authentic for you?

Part of our difficulty is that we imagine a rule as a preordained set of instructions from

another time and place. How will that help us live the lives we have

to lead here and now? Most of us have neither the desire nor the

possibility to do the traditional monk/nun thing. But in some Celtic

traditions, a rule emerges out of the ethos of an existing community,

from an analysis of what you are already doing (and not doing), to

strengthen and challenge it. lt's descriptive as well as prescriptive,

chosen not imposed.

So what is the particular gift of your community (in any sense), what

are its particular values? What rhythm of life, what things can you

do together that would sustain it? lf you wrote all these things down,

what flag would it hoist? Would other people say 'Me too'?

The danger of developing your own rule is missing out things that

are hard, or that challenge the limitations of your own value system.

At this point tradition and the Bible come in handy - how does your

shiny new rule compare to previous attempts, to the life of Christ

itself? How does it disciple you - form you as Christ-followers? After

all, the ultimate purpose of any Christian path is to make us more

Christ-like, to rehearse in us the way of Christ. At this point tradition

becomes a guide, not an answer, because that way, for us, will not be

the same as in the sixth century.

Somebody described the rule of Saint Benedict as a grid, and I like that. One could say

that'rule' implies a line you have to follow, an obligatory sequence of actions; while

'grid' implies a frame of reference, like a map grid, within which one can move in many

directions but which gives measure and orientation.

Perhaps the duties of regular prayer in the old monastic rules, which look like such an

impossible chore to us, are best understood/updated in this way - as a grid, a headsup

at periodic intervals to check compass and direction, squirting the bird if you like

(definition: to transmit a signal up to a satellite. 'Crew and talent are ready, what time

do we squirt the bird?')

For me this aligns with ideas of the Sabbath, and the discipline of idleness in Chinese

thought, as creating space for awareness of the Cod who is here anyhow. One of our

problems with 'rules', or with any kind of spiritual discipline, is that our over-busy lives

need times to not be'disciplined'. The danger of a rule is it becomes another form of

workload. Peiversely, we need to be disciplined about taking time out.

For those who are curious l'd recommend taking a look at the Rule of Saint Benedict

- which of course is still in contemporary use. lt's countercultural enough in matters of

possessions, behaviour and punishment to be provocative, and its apparent severity is

subtly leavened. Anyone who writes'keeping in view the needs of the weak, we believe

that a half-bottle of wine a day is sufficient for each' can't be all bad. My own community's

rule prescribes Belgian beer, which is of course brewed by monks. I

Steve Collins is an architect and member of Crace alternative worship group in Ealing, west ,

London. He has written extensively about alternative worship and was one of the design team

for the Labyrinth, www.labyrinth.org.uk. He runs the websites wvwv.alternativeworship.org, www.

sm al lfi re.org, and www. s m al I ritu al.org.

in some traditionsn a

rule emerges from an

analysis of what you are

already doing (and not

doing), to strentfihen

and challenge it. lt's

descriptive as well as

prescriptive, chosen not

imposed

Want to ask Steve

a question, or

comment on the

column?

Go to www.

movement. org.uk/

forum.

movement

9


I , m avicat,

get me out of here!

iulian lewis interviews an unlikely TV star

Meek? Mild? As if.

Peter's vision of

Christ as Che.

Looking like an extra from a spaghetti western, the

mysterious, hatted figure strides across the countryside,

flowing coat billowing around his tall,

sparse frame. He's on his way to a showdown. ln a

rlcent BBC series, The Battle for Britain's Soul, he

recounted the history of Christianity in the British

lsles. ln case you missed it, it went roughly like

this. Series one: paganism trumped, the church

ascendant. Series two: the church trumped, secularism

ascendant.

This is Peter Owen-Jones, sometime farmer, DJ, global

traveller, ad man. All the time grappling with an

incipient calling to ministry. This is the Revd Peter

OwenJones. As l'm welcomed into his rural vicarage

I note that it's only the battered Akubra bush hat

thlt gives him an inch on me: it must have been the

clever camera angles. He paces restlessly around

rustling up tea and sorting a space for the interview.

There's a demo playing of a local band that Peter

was asked to check out in case they're worth signing.

Apparently they're a cross between The Thrills

and Barclay James Harvest. I wouldn't know. But

I do know l've just been cooled out by a vicar 15

years my senior. His cigarette rolled, the interview

begins.

all the church does is enforce

its own version of the truth.

but nowadays it isn't

doing it very well

Where does this wandering chameleon belong? 'l

am a child of the world. The idea that we are something

because we have our own piece of land is

ridiculous and dehumanising. lt enables areas to be

managed and governed and is a concept.we need

to look beyond.' Het set his stall out early, for refusal

to be impressed by traditional boundaries is

his theme.

Restlessness set in early for Peter. He dropped out of

school. Didn't complete art college. While he was

working as a shepherd, a friend suggested he go into

advertising, opining that in the future we would buy

and sell identities like any other product. A prescient

friend, then. So in 1981 Peter swapped bucolic idyll

for image management in the metropolis: a wrench

both shocking and exciting. The beauty of creation,

he suggests, is precisely that we are not stranded on

solid giound but that it is in a constant state of flux,

physically, spiritually and emotionally.

ln time Peter rose to become a creative director, on

the way working on products ranging from Swissair

to the Creen Party, including the campaign culminating

in the latter's unprecedented turnout at the

1989 European elections. What did he learn? 'lt is a

job that pays the way. lt teaches discipline, strategic

and creative thinking. To realise that there are many

influences on success/ what the whole picture is

and where what you have to say sits in that picture.'

Ordination in 1993 didn't sever his ties with the

advertising world, as he helped found the Christian

Advertising Network, responsible for the Jesus/Che

Cuevara poster (see left).

What then of the church's image and message in the

modern world? 'The church is suspicious of media

culture. lt hasn't been bold enough to take a stand,

but moans from the sidelines. Yet communication

is central to Christianity,' says Peter. 'Historically

the church has perceived itself as owning the truth

and has shown its hand in its battles with evolutionary

science, homosexuality and women. All the

church does is, like everyone else, enforce its own

version of the truth. But nowadays it isn't doing it

very well.

'Does the identity of the church really communicate

its purpose: love? What people say they see isbigotry,'addiction

to systems and tradition, a lot of

ugliness. Why? We attempt to control the present,

ou, sslf-psrception, by controlling the story

"id of the past. A media audit of the church would

be shocking - more denominations than you can

10

movement


shake a schism at and multiple messages that are

not merely mixed but often antithetical.'

And the medicine for the ailing body of Christ? Relaxation.

Balance. There are many ways to show

God's love or speak to the modern setting, such

as through the Arbory Trust, providing woodland

burial in the Christian tradition (all comers are welcome),

which Peter helped establish. Yet the church

still clings to archaic liturgy, the King James Bible

and credal ossifications.

Peter denounces archaisms but is unafraid to use

English to its demanding full. Hands up how many

of you know what 'ossification' means? Hands up

again if you have actually used it in the last five

years? Be truthful.

Peter re-creates a dozen psalms in his latest book,

Psalm, in an attempt to reclaim our words as a

medium for God's word and hear what it sounds

like. 'The Jewish hymn book is full of alien imagery

that creates a wall barring our access to the garden

of delights within. I wanted to tear that wall down,

to see if the ardour with which they were written, the

truths of their messages, can be reproduced today.

lf anything they become more intensely ordinary,

shocking and resonant, challenging the evangelical

notion of The Word. It is fluid, not preserved in

1662lor all time.'

Peter is leaning over now half clutching his knee,

like a little child rushing to explain a new discovery.

Earnest. He continues, 'What is the Word of God? ls

it constrained in the Bible, in some Star Wars Yoda

speak?' Certainly not, it is. The words we need to articulate

our own experience are perfectly ordinary

- look, ask, explore, search. 'But we do not let people

use them. We want them to explore the church,

or my church in particular. But will they find the

pathway to the divine? ln exploring the relationship

between the human and divine we see that to be

fully human is to immerse yourself in that which is

fully divine. Rather than reinforcing old doctrines,

like atonement, we reach new understandings.'

lf the historically grounded tools of his trade have

become so inadequate, I wonder what Peter's services

look like? He retreats behind his bandana.

Lights another cigarette. Apparently, prayer is the

central focus, a slavish adherence to one hour is

avoided, discussion and exploration are entertained.

l've noted an affinity for the organic in Peter's life.

Muddy spades propped up by the back door. A vegetable

patch, scrappy in winter but clearly well in

hand. And the.constant roll-ups. Finally, he asks me

why we should lose sleep over what we do. l'm a

Methodist so I push him on sermons. 'l give them.'

I ask how a vicar can play so fast and loose with

the faith that he has chosen to represent. Peter

suggests there is a great tension between belonging

and freedom, both of which have value. ln 100

years'time the church will look exactly the same as

it does now unless we grasp why de-Christianisation

has taken place. There is a need for a balance

of approaches within the church, and sometimes

quickfire guestions

What is your favourite possession?

My bird table. lt gives me endless fascination and pleasure,

although it probably frustrates my cat.

What are you reading at the moment?

Collapse by Jared Diamond.

What is your favourite film?

B reakfast at Tiffany's.

How do you relax?

Walking.

What is your favourite journey?

Not made it yet.

What do you most like about yourself?

My fingernails.

What do you dislike about yourself?

A propensity for vanity.

What's your favourite word?

Halcyon.

lf you could be someone else, who would you be?

My cat, Dusty.

When did you last cry?

On Sunday.

What are you scared of?

The darkest truths.

What do you never miss on TV?

I don't watch a lot of TV. There's nothing I would have to see.

What music do you listen to most?

The Doors. Cillian Welch. Deep Purple. The Waterboys. Stone

Roses.

What pet hates do you have?

Dress codes. Processed foods.

books and links

. Bed of Nails (1 998)

. Small Boat, Big Sea: OneYear's

Journey as a Parish Priesf (2000)

. Psalm (2005)

. www.arborytrust.org

things move on. Using spring suspension

in cars was once foolishly novel, yet no

one questions its validity or persists with

old methods now.

So what next for Peter? l'm afraid I forgot

to ask the question. ln 20 minutes' time

there's a funeral to be taken, but otherwise

l'm in the dark. That's probably

how he would like it. ltt not where you

end up, because the destination is forever

ahead. lt's how you don't get there that counts.

For the immediate future at least I know where l'm

going. As I wait for my bus I ponder a man who

hates dress codes and systems, and a vicar in robes

leading funeral liturgy. I

Julian Lewis

is a former editor

o/ movement and

of the Methodist

Student Link

newsletter The

Word.

movement

LL


mind the gap

Taking a gap year or a year out is an excellent way of seeing the world, $ainin$

useful skills and experience, and maybe making a difference in people's lives. We

invited some or$anisations to tell us what they have to offer for gappers'

oO, ts:vu. chan$e someone's lifen

6'|rX',JiIJ""'{t it might be your own

Volunteering with JVC means a chance to work with people on

the marginstf society while living in community and reflecting

on the important things in life.

Through a placement working with the homeless, refugees, children

o"r those with learning difficulties, JVC Volunteers make a

difference in the lives of others.

Living in community with other volunteers means sharing ideas

and iupport with voiunteers from difficult countries and cultures.

Through this, and engaging in a developme.nt programme of retreats

ind residentials, iVCvolunteers are challenged to make a

difference in their own lives.

Live a simple

Explore spirituality ' Practise social justice '

lifestyle . Experience communitY

'l learn something everY daY.'

(lnhara, JVC volunteer 2005-06)

Contact us for details of our year programme and

four-week summer programme: JVC:Britain, 23

New Mount Street, Manchester M4 4DE

0161 832 6888 ' www.jesuitvolunteers-uk.org

adm i n @ jesu itvol u nteers-u k.org

S}]W

gsq

r,A+ire "

nalennre

be

save lives, make a difference

Student Partnerships Worldwide is an international

development charity working in lndia, Nepal,

South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda. We

need 1B-28-year-ol ds to volunteer on our Health

Education and CommunitY Resou rce Programmes, working in

partnership with local volunteers and using non-formal education

tech niques to inform rural Youth about health and environmental

issues. A large focus of the programmes is on HIViAIDS educaoccurring

in people

tion, and with 60% of all new HIV infections

aged 1 5-24, this is vital and life-saving work

Volunteers are placed in rural areas for long-term. placements

and given intensive training and full support to make a sustainable"and

lasting difference in the community. You may be placed

in an area'with-no electricity or running water and only a paraffin

stove to cook on, but this is an opportunity for young people

to make a real difference in the world'

You must have 4-B months available, a spirit of adventure and

a sense of global responsibility' See wwwspw'org or e-mail

spwuk@gn.apc.org for more information.

'lt is such a change from being a tourist in the developing world

to actually live aid work somewhere for a few months. This will

be an experience that will teach me many things, and it has

opened up many doors for possibly further careers'' (Natasha

Zappone, tndia Health Education programme 2006)

challen$e and $ifts Yiif/

Wbuld you like to exPlore .n" \#

challenges and rewards that life as LARCHE

a llArche Assistant has to offer?

ln llArche Communities, typically Assistants

share life with up to a dozen people in

a house, half of them people with learning

disabilities. Everyone supports and cares for

eaph other, and Assistants are involved in all

aspects of life in the Community and.in the

home, from washing and dressing to leisure

activities, holidays and fun. They help to plan

the personal development of the people living

in the Community. They receive a regular

wage and social security cover and have their

o*i toot with board and lodging included'

Many Assistants find that people with learning

disabilities may bring a great capacity to love,

grow and share. Assistants are offered the

Ihun.u to develop their own gifts and talents,

and can take responsibility and leadership'

Training and qualifications are available, and

Assistants are encouraged to work towards appropriate

formal qual ifications.

Members with learning disabilities are mostly

'locals'. Family ties are maintained and fostered.

Assistants often become part of an

extended family. llArche has a Christian basis,

though we welcome people of any denomination

or faith, or none.

Eulah, an Assistant at UArche Lambeth, says,

'Being able to share my life with people who

havelearning disabilities is a special gift to

me. lt's more than just a job - it's something

that needs commitment but can change your

life. lf you feel you'd like to experience something

new and different, why not try llArche?

t've not regretted it.'

lf you want to know more, see www.larche'

org.uk, e-mail info@larche.org.uk or phone

0800 91 7 1337

sge also...

Student Volunteering: www.studentvol.org'u k

Year Out Group: www.yearoutgroup.org

lona CommunitY: www.iona.org.uk

I

p

t2

movement


ll

live at laiz6

Many people spend a week in the French

village which is home to an ecumenical monastic

community. lt is also possible, however,

for 1B-3O-year-olds to stay longer, to help run

the weekly international meetings and to experience

community life in greater depth.

Longer-term volunteers are assigned practical

tasks each week - cooking, gardenirrg, working

in the shop, welcoming new arrivals and

many other jobs. They join in the three daily

community prayers, and in Bible studies and

group discussions. Each individual is also assigned

a 'contact' Brother or Sister who will

meet with them once a week and talk with

them about their experiences. There is free

time too, to think, have fun and take in the

beautifu I cou ntryside.

Different people firrd the experience valuable

for different reasons-the daily rhythm of work

and prayer, the simple lifestyle, the chance to

share life with people from other parts of the

world, the opportunity to take time out from

life at home ancl reflect.

For more information, visit the Taiz6 website

- www.taize.fr - or e-mail one of the Brothers

- community@taize.fr.

push for justice

Ghristian Aid

A Christian Aid gap year is different from many others because

for most of the year you're based here in the UK. Your job is

to encourage young people and students to campaign, reflect

and fundraise about issues like trade justice and HlV. You run

workshops, give talks and organise events that will get people

pressuring our government to make the world a fairer place.

'Gap year volunteers also go on a two-week overseas trip. I

travelled to Sierra Leone to meet Christian Aid partner organisations.

lt was inspiring to meet people living in the world's

poorest country who were working for better rights for workers,

demancling that money from diamond sales go back into community

projects and telling younB people about HlV.

'Back in the UK, it was a privilege to work with local campaigners. I

had the opportunity to speak to many people about how their beliefs

informed their lives, challenging and strengthening my own faith.

'Everyone will tell you their gap year gave them confidence and a

new way of looking at the world. Mine did too, but it also gave me

the direction I was looking for. l'm working full-time for Christian

Aid now and I know that I want to build a career in development.'

(Eileen Hayes, intern for Christian Aid's higher education unit)

The Christian Aid Cap Year costs fB00

and runs from late August to June. Volunteers

must be UK residents aged 1B-25.

www. pressu reworks.orglgap

gapyear@christian-aid.org

0207 523 2246

Christian Aid/Jenny Ayres

\..

I

{.

How (not) to speak of

God ?

D

aab!,...

.so cutel

uK r


o

O

c

o

*l

G r

-g

'The Three

Craces'(artwork

by Laurence

Craig, member

of SCM Ceneral

Council)

church as

/

thetapeutic

\ communitY

how safe are our christian communities for those in need of healin$?

'This is the first place where I have felt safe enough

to feel unsafe'bave whispered as we said goodbve.

He'd spent some time at Holy Rood Housel

working wiitr difficult issues in his life, and it is

from my experience of working there that I engage

in ideas of ihurch as therapeutic community'

So how may churches become therapeutic communities?

The move towards new ways of being church

or fresh expressions is taken from the writings of

Leonardo tiofP, who referred to new ways of being

church and argued for the church as 'an event

..."(which) "t"tgei,

is born, and is continually reshaped...

The principle characteristic of this way of

being church is communitY...'

The church, as a community of storytelling, has not

been a safe space for many Sroups of people.whose

itori"s are not told, not heird and not celebrated'

A therapeutic community, on the other hand, is

built upon mutual storytelling, listening and acceptance,

which in turn reshapes the community'

W'hen stories are listened to, the listeners become

more sensitive to issues of language and symbol'

architecture, use of space, group sharin$, confidentiality

and the way in which people are able to

identify with one another in areas of grief and loss'

celebration and hope' At the heart of Christian faith

'rs

the therapeutic lourney of the Holy Week and

Easter story, which, rather than a set of doctrines

creating gritt fear, becomes one of hope and

"na

liberatiin] as it forms a therapeutic backdrop for all

human experience. The Easter Saturday experience

particularly is key to the human journey of waiting'

isolation, itruggle and process from hopelessness to

new hope uni"n"* beginnings' lt.is also an ecological

stoiy of justice, forming the heart of a holistic

therapeutic approach to being churc.h in this day

and on this pianet. What a wonderful message the

church as therapeutic community has to share as

it becomes a witnessing community through its

witness to the vulnerable stories out of which the

community is formed.

ln 2OO3 Brian Thorne3 made valuable connections

between his therapeutic work and the church with

his clarion call:

'To the church in whose arms I have been held

and by whose sacraments I have been nourished

since childhood, I saY:

. Reveal to humankind the Cod whose nurture

is infinite love.

. Cease to speak of the God of judgement for

the justice of God is part of his (sic).infinite

love and incomprehensible to humankind'

. Proclaim to men and women that they are

infinitely beloved and show them that they

have the capacity to love as Cod loves'

. Cease any

'effori to occupy the moral. high

ground for there lies the terrain of the hypocrites

and the accusers.

. Embrace and cherish the uniqueness of

persons but never forget the mystery of

tl

L4

movement


.{

our membership one of another and the

interconnectedness of all things.

. Honour the mystics and make known their

passionate intensity so that praying becomes

a love affair.

. Cherish those of other faiths and of none and

join with them in the search for that which

offers life in abundance.

. Celebrate the gift of sexuality and let it permeate

the offering of unconditional love in

all its forms.

.. Be at home in the invisible world so that the

whole company of transcendent beings can

accompany us in this mortal life.

. Become a school of love where laughter is

heard and intelligence is honoured.'a

Through story-telling and therapeutic engagement,

we are encouraged to work towards justice in the

churches, helping to reshape them into therapeutic

communities.

We reflect on the way Jesus accompanied people

on their journeys, and his own need for therapeutic

community, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus

at Bethany where he felt welcomed, fed, and rested,

conversed with friends and even enjoyed foot massage!

We draw on inspiration from people like the

.l2th-century mystic Hildegard of Bingen, who referred

to God as Counsellor of Souls5. We build on

the continuity of the churches' healing ministry and

recognise the interconnectedness of all things, helping

us to learn what it means to be wounded healers6

for a wounded world in the 21st century as we work

within the therapeutic frameworks of today.

Celebrating the therapeutic authority of all people,

the church draws on gifts of relational mutuality,

whilst living within the forgiveness and healing of

Christ. Cod the counsellor who identifies with our

human processes towards health and wellbeing,

the abundant life Jesus spoke of, is in process too,

accompanying our journeys as we accompany the

be-coming of Cod through our own wisdom, Christ

the wisdom of Cod, Sophia, present at the crossroads

of our lives.T She is witnessed through our embodied

lives, as she was in Christ, the Word made flesh, our

bodyselves become the ground upon which Cod

moves through, with, and among us...8

Lisa lsherwood argues that 'divinity is found lying

in the heart's fragility; we are vulnerable... as Jesus

was, broken-hearted healers. The only way to heal

both others and ourselves is in and through our

redeeming vuJnerability.' The inter-relation of our

own therapeutic process and divine process empowers

therapeutic community. The working out of

love through mutual power relations sustains and

inspires the divine.

So how may SCM become a therapeutic community

and offer this as a witness, a way forward for the

churches? We begin with a vulnerable Cod, a baby

in a manger, a young man tortured on a cross. We

identify with God's vulnerability and God identifies

with ours. We see ourselves and others as wounded

healers drawing on Sophia within us, Christ the

Wisdom of Cod,e and using inclusive language and

symbolwe create ritualthat brings healing and empowerment

to ourselves, to the earth and thus to

our wounded Cod. To do this we need each other

- we need therapeutic community, finding courage

to take the risk of goddingr0 in the world, for as the

body of Christ, we f lesh out Jesus the healer offering

gifts of hospitality, welcome, acceptance and creativity.

As co-creators with the divine, we discover

the power of our creative selves, getting in touch

with our imagination and intuition, helping to rekindle

the living flame within us at times of loss

and pain. Beauty and the arts are essential to this

process. Therapeutic community will be prepared

to be involved in the arts at a messy level, to enable

people to touch de-integration before moving to a

re-integration of their fragmented selves.

as the body of Ghrist, we flesh out Jesus

the healer offering gifts of hospitality,

welcome, acceptance and creativity

Returning to Dave's comment about feeling safe

enough to become unsafe, we ask ourselves if SCM

helps us to be communities of wounded healers in

this way. lf we form communities of hospitality we

hold the key, opening doors, homes, and hearth to

others; with bread on the table we shall once again

be able to tell our stories, break the bread and bear

one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.rl

I hope you enjoy the challenge and the freedom of

therapeutic community as I do - for being part of such

a community we are able to receive as much as we

ever give. I

Elizabeth Baxter

lives and works

at Holy Rood

House.

notes

1 Holy Rood House, Centre for Health and Pastoral Care, is situated in

Thirsk, North Yorkshire. As a residential therapeutic centre, people

are welcomed at a time of need.

2 Leonardo Boff, liberation theologian who challenged the hierarchies

of his day in the Catholic church during the 1980s and early nineties

from his experience of the developing base ecclesial communities in

Latin America: Church: Charism & Power: Liberation Theology and

the lnstitutional Church (Crossroad, 1990), pages 127 and 130.

3/4Brian Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University

of East Anglia, Norwich, and Professor of Education in the College

of Teachers, London. He is fellow of the British Association for

Counselling and Psychotherapy. Renowned for his emphasis on

person-centred counselling, Thorne has contributed widely to the

counselling profession through his books. Thorne is a consultant to

Holy Rood House.

5 Cited in June Boyce-Tillman's Creative Spflt: Opening antiphon ('O

pastor animarum') by Hildegard of Bingen

6 Henri J Nouwen, The Wounded Healer (Dlf , 1979)

7 Proverbs B:1-2

B Carter Heyward, Touching our Strength:The Erotic as Power and the

Love of Cod (HarperSanFrancisco, 1989), page 33

9 1 Corinthians 1'.24

10 Carter Heyward uses this term as another term for loving in her

book Touching our Strength.

11 Calatians 6:2

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movement 15


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the AIDS Ghrist

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andrew scott offers some ideas towards a theology of HIV

iJ)

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,My soul chooses strangling, and death

rather than my lifer' mourned fob. As a

contextual Bible study for people living with

HIV/AIDS considered this passage, a man stood

equally and genuinely distraught, explaining that

this was just what he felt. Suddenly the Bible

became real in raw human life as he asked immediately

why he should not kill himself. He was

19 ily turn aside; one is a blemish on the holiness of

the community and eventually one's own body will

GOdtS f,-'

- hang heavy and curse. of course it is not always

Ola{Ue so, but for those imprisoned in the remnants of

r---rE'-- - life, and for us if we are to be candid, this is more

he haS than an echo of an unavoidable challenge: how do

r r we talk of God in the midst of the HIV pandemic?

bad

A theology of HIV/AIDS must begin here if it is not to

aim

16

relativise suffering and if it is to sincerely make way

for hope. The book of Job has often been neglected

or subsumed into the type of theology it intends to

challenge but, like HIV/AIDS, this, probably the most

ancient text in the Bible, challenges what we mean

by saying Cod or his world are good' So ravaged

by misfortune

'Man of Sorrows: Christ with AIDS' by W Maxwell Lawton and disease

(permission sought) that neither he

nor his friends

speak for three

but

..t;..1

days

whenJobopens

his mouth it

is to curse

the day of his

birth. Cod has

brought him

into a world of

light and life

only so that he

may see misery.

To his friends,

if Ar Ds il:,T;iJ*'1";llilffi:f,'iittTil"T:"i:ni:T;

!^ cut short and ambitions negated; friends and fam-

the answer

immedi-

is

ate. Job must

have sinned,

for Cod is just

- and good; Job's

suffering is a

punishment to

lead to repentance.

Neither of

these are unusual

responses

to HIV/AIDS.

Of course we have heard too many times of the virus

as the gay plague. 'Satan has entered the world

today', marking all sorts of immorality for destruction.

The logic is simple: Cod's good intention must

have been transgressed and now the sinners are being

purged. Though Job protests his innocence he

cannot just dismiss such a notion. The force of suffering

is absolute, disclosing the nature of things,

and is it bears down on all that he is, it is personal.

'God, why me, why me?' Some challenge Cod like

Job but many fall into a cycle of despair as life appears

to collapse.

Of course, if AIDS is God's plague he has bad aim;

it attacks innocent partners and crushes children

from the womb. But what of Cod's mercy? Consider

a young man who has always controlled his

sexuality only to be seduced during a period of depression,

or another possessed by drink and then

drugs rehabilitated years later only to find he has

ntOS. Should not a Cod worthy of the name show

mercy? But this begs the question. The world is not

an obviously merciful place.

Job's friends make a caricature of God as they

limit him to the irrational world and the cares of

religion. Likewise homosexuality and the 'sins' associated

with HIViAIDS do much to, at the least,

undermine some communities' mores and sense of

purity. ln order to restore security the group mentality

reneges all responsibility and sense of common

humanity, and expels and gives up to AIDS its

apparent deviants as a sacrifice for its own self-justification.

Less worse, maybe, we absorb ourselves

in our own lives, assured that the god of economics

or politics or medicine reigns. HIV and poverty

are unfortunate but the economy will correct itself.

Little wonder patients at an AIDS hospice bitingly

reject the trainee minister who makes it his cause.

The church has already abrogated her mission; she

is too self-absorbed, sold out to a comfortable life

and impervious moral ity.

When he speaks from the whirlwind in the book

of Job, Cod rejects anything to do with all of this

and the blasphemous theodicy that assures it. Job is

directed to the inscrutability of the divine wisdom

running through all things, in which what is really

bad is integral to what is really good, beautiful and

happy in the mysterious reality of all that is, mysterious

because none of us have a Cod's-eye view.

Stepping back from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, there

is a fearful sense of its inseparability from all that

we value in life. Love implies risk; of course there

is responsible risk, but free love between persons is

inescapably vul nerabi I ity.

Scientifically too, viruses are essential to life, as we

know it. Without them our DNA would not adapt to

movement

I

lt

l),


Ia)

new environments and ecologies - but the modes by

which viruses need to work make them potentially

dangerous just where they are so useful. Neither Job

nor we can take it all in or see where it is destined to

lead. Cod's goodness and justice is in tension with

evil and waste in the creation. Job can only acknowledge

his smallness, his mortality, but it is just this

that reconciles with the infinite; each beautiful thing

or tender moment, each person becomes of great

worth; our securities open up to be inclusive.

This is all central to the Bible's challenging humanism.

There is no suggestion that Adam would not

die if it were not for the Fall. lt is the inability of

human beings to live with good and evil, their forlorn

desire to master it rather than themselves, that

God fears in the eating of the forbidden fruit. Sin

arises when we resent our mortality and grasp at

immortality, when we resent that doing good to our

brother sacrifices our own. We want to feast forgetting

those we leave impoverished. The young want

to let loose their lust, forgetting their vulnerability

or the dignity of the one they ought to love. The

religious want to believe they are sinless and so expunge

themselves, giving reign to unholy violence.

The world is an ambivalent place and it is hard to

believe it is good when things like HIV/AIDS devastate

persons and countries. God and the meaning

of it all are veiled. Not until the last day shall Job

see Cod, his redeemer, standing upon the earth.

Not until then can we understand the meaning of it

all. Till then we can only live bravely in the reality

of our mortality, lamenting suffering and choosing

courageous acts of mercy and faithfulness.

Along the way there are hints. Such is Jesus' inclusive

love with the Father. By healing on the seventh day

he revealed the Father's will to forget no one, and

to bring creation to fullness. He showed the Father's

mercy through reconciliation and forgiveness. The

story of HIV/AIDS is full of hints that point to Christ.

The world takes on a new value as life and children,

especially, become precious. Their responsiveness

and hopes reveal depths; their love and laughter are

starkly genuine. There is a remarkable ability to let go

and be honest and to acknowledge limitations, and

so too to lament and not resent the fears of those who

recoil. Bravely, men and women pick up and selflessly

care for one another, reaching out to awaken

dignity, relieve pain and in the face of an uncertain

future hope for a better world, a more caring society.

Like Jesus, we are closest to God when we are most

human. ln Jesus the divine image was clearest when

he was obedient unto death. ln it Cod revealed not

his sovereignty nor his judgement, but passion, and

he suffered hopelessness with us. ln Jesus the divine

glory, which is humanity, man fully at home,

appeared. ln this generation the many living with

HIV/AIDS through their deep tenderness as well as

their profound cries realise love and are images of

the divine, one with Christ as a new Adam. Thusly

Cod displays his good pleasure and the world

awakens to joy and life. I

Andrew Scott studies theology at Clasgow IJniversity

and is a member of SCM's Ceneral Council.

easter

seryi,Ge

a creative response

to our life in all its

fullness theme from

SCM General Council

member laurence

Graig

I

leading Marv

from thc Tomb,

Easter Service

'l'm up to my neck

decapitated

put a dockleaf on it

... no need for surgery

it'll heal itself

you'll grow a new head

good as ever, strong and fine'

(Comanesca)

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movement

L7


embodied

renunciation

an Eastern Orthodox perspective on fullness of life

'l came that they might have life, and have it to the

full.' (fohn 10:10, translated by Raymond Brown).

ln not a few ways the Eastern Orthodox tradition

engages human life in its variety and its very

tactile, material reality. Orthodox liturgical life

engages all the senses, and involves us in a very

embodied approach to Cod. Kissing icons, kissing

each other, bowing, prostrating, making the sign

of the Cross, being showered with blessed water,

plunging infants into the baptismal waters, blessing

and eating grain, breaking bread, anointing us with

oil ... this is a tradition that takes the body (and

therefore its life) with absolute seriousness. This is

a seriousness based on believing that God created

the world and called it 'very good' (Genesis 1:31),

and that the goodness of this created world was

confirmed by Cod in God's becoming flesh for our

salvation. Thus Orthodox consider marriage, sex,

family life, and human relationship as good gifts of

God. Orthodox Christians have begun to address

the problems facing the environment, led by the

current Ecumenical Patriarch.

And yet, there is another side to how Orthodox

Christians see the world and life in it. Not only is

there feasting, but there is fasting. There is ascetic

struggle (in Creek, askesrs). More than half of the

days of the year are fasting days of one degree of

intensity or another. The existence of monasticism

is a living sign of the importance of the choice to

live a 'single' life - literally and metaphorically.

Monasticism embodies the renunciation of life in

the world in favour of the world that transcends this

one. One could say that ascetic life in general embodies

the same idea.

,1" world is not

worthless, not

secondary, not simPlY

to be overcome or

transcended, but

penultimate

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an illustration

from the Life of

Saint Alexander

of Svir

It may sound strange to say that renunciation can be

'embodied', that it can be made visible in a human

body. But here is a key to understanding an Eastern

Orthodox view of what it means to have fullness

of life. We say yes to the created world and to our

lives in it. But at the same time, we live in such a

way that makes visible the fact that this beautiful

world, and our life in it, is penultimate. The world

is not worthless, not secondary, not simply to be

overcome or transcended, but penultimate. Even as

we live our lives here and now we also watch and

wait in hope for Cod's fulfilment of his loving will

for the world.

Another way to say this is to suggest that fullness of

life, for Orthodox Christians, means living in such

a way that we see all things in their eschatological

potential, and that we act thereby in love.

The desire to acquire the kind of heart that can see

in such a way, to see with the eyes of love: this is

the motivation behind askesrs. We believe that fullness

of life is found in freedom from what keeps our

deepest self from being able to love as Cod loves.

When we are freed by Cod from that which hinders

our ability to love, we experience light: the light of

the Mount of Transfiguration, the light of the Resurrection.

We see more and more of the firstfruits of

what Cod has begun to bring about in raising Christ

18 movement


from the dead. This is the point of Hesychasm:

that God allows us to see with our very eyes the

uncreated Light of Mount Tabor. We are given a

foretaste of what Cod has in store for the world.

Thus our participation i n I iturgical I ife isn't about getting

an aesthetic high from the beauty of Orthodox

worship. lcons and incense are not about aesthetics

(the Russian Primary Chronicle aside!) - they are

about seeing and venerating the image of Cod in

the homeless person you meet, about discovering

in the smell of wet leaves a sign of the Kingdom of

God. The bride and groom are crowned in the wedding

liturgy, making them signs not only of our first

parents, but also of the return to Paradise that is our

goal in Christ. Cod has made our return to Paradise

possible. Freedom from what hinders us from loving

as Cod loves opens the gates of Paradise. In the

tradition of the desert fathers and mothers, this idea

is brought home most forcefully in the stories of

the wild beasts of the desert befriending the desert

ascetics. They have returned to Paradise, to the harmony

that existed before Adam's sin.

when the 'wide-open

prairies' of our heart

are freed from all

that makes them

uninhabitable,

we become free

to bear fruit

Such a life will be deeply marked by self-giving, for

Orthodox live in the paradox that we find fullness

of life through self-emptying, by having the mind

of Christ who emptied himself and took the form

of a servant (Philippians 2). However, self-emptying

doesn't lead to emptiness, but to life most full.

When the 'wide-open prairies' of our heart (to borrow

a phrase from the pseudo-Macarius) are freed

from all that makes them uninhabitable, then there

comes an openness, a creative fallowness, in which

we become free to bear fruit.

The great Russian spiritual elder St Seraphim of Sarov

(1759-1833) is said to have greeted visitors with the

salutation, 'My joy'. This joy is our goal: the joy of

seeing the world in love, through God's eyes, and

living accordingly. This is joy born of the light of

the Resurrectibn, and sustained in hope. Thus, even

when living in the tension between feast and fast,

we are called to live fully in this world that God has

given. ln Christ, Cod frees us to embrace the world

in joy and self-giving, in fullness of life. I

CrantWhite is Principal of the lnstitute for Orthodox

Christian Studies, Cambridge. A native of the United

States, he was educated at Harvard, Oxford, and the

tJniversity of Notre Dame. He has taught church history,

history of Christian-Jewish relations, history of liturgy, and

history of spirituality in the lJnited States, Finland, and

the lJnited Kingdom. He is an Eastern Orthodox layman.

W

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platform

tent people

a personal viewpoint

from an SCM member

.---

SCM has a presence at Creenbelt each

year, and alwaYs needs volunteers

to staff the stall. Contact the office

(scm@movement.org.uk) if youd like to

come this yeat, or see www.greenbelt.

org,.uk to find out more.

Got a response? Got

some thougffi of Your

own, or a rant? Platfiorm

is open to all SCM

membeFi - contact

ed itor@movement.ortl uk

John Probhudan is SCM's Office

Administrator. He's previously worked

for Bangladesh SCM and

been a member of the Asia-Pacific

'Regional Committee of the World

Student Christian Federation'

Enlarge the site of Your tent,

and let the curtains of Your

habitations be stretched out;

do not hold back; lengthen your cords

and strengthen your stakes.

(lsaiah 54:2' NRSV)

Just weeks after I had arrived in the UK, I had the opportunity to go to.the Creenbelt

festival. From the very first moment I heard about the festival I was excited - not because

it was just another festival, but because I was advised by a friend th.at it was a festival for

people who found church was 'not their cup of tea!' I found the idea very intriguing.

Having grown up as a Bengali in Bangladesh, lam used to festivals. Bengalis would

make i iestival on any

"*..it".

So growing up in a Hindu quarter of a predominantly

Muslim country in a Christian family meant I had festivals all round the year' Two big

Puja festivals, two big Eid fests, a Bengali New Year's festival, and then there is Mother

tongue Day. That's tii Uig festivals

"^ilrding

the minor ones, in just a yearl Creenbelt

*uidiff"runt to them all, not only in terms of the festival being thousands of miles away

from home, in a different country or culture, but because it is a Christian festival!

So what did I find? Like all other festivals, there were people!Yes, they were young, old,

male, female, singles, couples, babies and elderly all. They came.from everywhere from-

Leeds to Southarn'pton, Cardiff to Cambridge. I also saw tents! There were hundreds of

tents of different sizes, shapes, colours and even traditions. As those of you who have

been there might have seen, there were a few teepees standing around. I assume that's

not unusual for festivals, whatt unusual was that they had people living in them! They

worshipped in them and shared food! Both bread and thoughts! We too shared breakfast

in the morning around the tents. Having never camped in my whole life before, I had to

set up a tent t;o. I managed, with help. lt was not so easy, even-with the help of modern

camping tools. God knJws how hard it was for the people of lsrael when they set up

theii tents in the wilderness when they Were on the move from Egypt!

Anyway, for the days I was there, the more I saw the tents the more amazed I was' As I

stood afar and looked at it, with the hills and blue sky on the horizon, it became more

and more like an image from the Old Testament. It resembled an image of lsraelites living

in the wilderness moving towards the Promised Land.

ln the story of Exodus, when the lsraelites were led out of Egypt to freedom from the evi I

slavery of Pharaoh, they were living in tents. Despite the daily hurdles of living in tents

there was a great sense of .ottrnity, excitement, despair, even maybe tears, but above

all there *ui hop" and aspirations for freedom!The lsraelites were marching as a community,

and as tirey marched and moved they lived in tents. Even many years later after

they hid found the Promised Land, after the fall of Jerusalem when they were being led

into captivity, they were living in tents.

So the image of the tent has a very strong and significant place in the Bible, particularly

in the Old lurtarunt. The powerful image of the tent implies people who are in temporary

shelter or inhabiting a place temporarily, people who are on a journey, who are on

the move; on the movelowards achieving freedom and a promised land. An ordinary

collection of tents would mean nothing! But at Creenbelt it becomes special with the

combination of the tents and people. lt is this unique combination and the collective

picture which makes a striking impression. As the core idea of Creenbelt is to seek

alternative ways to today's world of unfair trade, injustice, and market-driven lifestyles.

People at Creenbelt attempt to seek justice and freedom. lt could be freedom from

the slavery of consumerism of unethital products, or from mindsets or conventional

rituals or, say, traditional ways of worship or even preconceptions. That's why I think

Creenbelt becomes more than another festival. lt reflects its core theme symbolically'

Maybe somewhat abstract but not obscure!

This year I can't wait till I become one of the tent people again! I

movement


jim cotter on

language, stories,

relationships, belief

and spirituality

more than enough?

ties and

binds

It was a dubious argument. Even then I could see through it. Those gallons of wine

at the wedding feast in Cana. fesus knew what he was doing, you see, because it was

really grape juice. So ran the ancient PowerPoint presentation for total abstinence in

the local Methodist church of my youth. Ah well, excess has always been troubling to

the Puritan soul.

Life in abundance, maybe. But surely not that abundant?

What a waste. All that food could be sent to

stave off starvation. What a waste. All that perfumed

oil for massaging feet and anointing heads:

the money could have been given to the poor. Cenerous

of her, no doubt, but over the top and, well,

l've seen her in hysterical mood before.

And where on earth - or perhaps where in heaven's

name - did those twelve basketfuls of leftovers

come from? And who carried them away?

when in doubt,

err on the side of

generosity

Do such extravagances startle you into asking, 'How generous am l?'As I write this l'm

about to go to Australia and New Zealand for a couple of months (speaking tour or a

series of gigs depending on who asks) and the community in Ceelong with whom l'm

to be based say: when in doubt, err on the side of generosity.

There's that deadline to meet. So spend twice as much time as you can afford with that

friend in need. There's that charity to support. Double the amount you first thought of.

And no, I don't always. Prudence clocks in. But I reckon it's a good direction for a spirited

life. (Better than 'spiritual', don't you think?)

Of course it's embarrassing to receive, with all this excess. I don't deserve it. You can't

afford it. I must repay you sometime.

But we're in the domain of gifts and graces. lt's more 'Pour mercy upon us' than 'Have

mercy upon us.' And 'mercy' has the same roots as 'mercantile' and 'merci'. lt's best

understood as an exchange of gifts from which both parties benefit.

It's the sheer exuberance and fertility of the universe that is so amazing. There's that damson

tree that nearly snapped one year under the weight of an exceptionally abundant

crop of fruit. There's that outpouring of compassion and money after an earthquake. I

could go on. Easy to get carried away once you see the point.

The Spirit is a life-giving, love-making presence connecting us.The unpredictable happens,

something we can't make happen and something we don't understand. And it has

nothing to do with virtue and deserts. But without it we are but a tenth alive. Dance your

gratitude in the communion of the Holy Spirit. Jump for joy and make the Millennium

Bridge wobble again.

Slightly more formally to end with, from two of my life's mentors. The first is from JohnV

Taylor: 'You cpnnot be alive towards Cod unless you are alive towards everything else,

all the glory and all the pain and all the people.'

And from a Sister of the Love of God, a contemplative community in Oxford, beloved

Jane who died some years ago, writing to a friend, and perhaps hinting in dark times at

a reality that is not far away but which you can't quite touch at the moment: '...1 have

found something that can't "come and go" with my feelings. And that is the fact of

having glimpsed the mind-blowing love of Cod as shown in Jesus Christ. The glimpse

is "mine to keep". lt may be delusion; it may not do me a shred of good; but it's worth

dying and even living for, I think.'I

.h..-

,s,

d

Want to ask Jim a

question, or comment

on the column? Go to

www.movement.

org.ulvforum

Jim Cotter runs Cairns Publications,

an independent Christian imprint

publishing collections of poems,

ptayers and reflections. He has also

set up Small Pilgrim Places, a small

but growing network across the

UK.They seek to turn small chapels

and churches, as well as crypts and

chapels in larger churches, into

'small pilgrim places' - spaces for

ret reat, reflecti on a nd pi I gr i mage,

held together by common values.

They will be places for prayer,

quiet and conversation, providing

a welcome for searchers, seekers

and those rejected or marginalised

by the churches.You can join the

network and receive updates on

their activities at the website:

www. cottercai r n s.co. u k

movement

2t


.to" \

{ wscF E

9 Eu.ott ,8

tt to a.rroo

The World

Student Christian

Federation

links together

student Christian

movements all

over the world.

The IJK SCM has

funding available

for members to

attend WSCF

events and

conferences - see

www-movement.

org,.uk/wscf

worldview

a biSIer picture

Mozaik= a literary platform for dialo€ue between scMs

Mozaik is the ecumenical iournal of WSCF's Europe

region. lt was established in 1992 and since

then 16 issues have been published. Currently

Mozaikispublished twice a year in Budapest, Hungary,

and each issue focuses on a specific topic.

ihese topics are connected to the thematic conferences

organised by WSCF-Europe, and concentrate

on four main fields of interest: theology, solidarity,

gender, and culture and higher education.

At the European level, there are four interest

groups, one for each field of interest, which are

responsible for organising the conferences. A considerable

number of articles published in Mozaik

are directly connected to the presentations made

at the conferences; the journal follows the thematic

line produced by the interest Eroups, and for each

issue we invite onto the editorial board a thematic

editor suggested by the interest group. This makes

Mozaik an important leadership-training tool, as it

offers SCMers the unique experience of co-editing

an international ecumenical journal on a topic that

is dear to their hearts.

Mozaik broadens and deepens the thematic work

of WSCF-Europe, starting from the 60 or so people

involved in the conference and taking it beyond

to an audience of more than 1,000 readers and

contributors. The articles appearing in Mozaik are

mostly essays written by students or Senior Friends

(older supporters of WSCF), but the journal also

publishes poems, interviews, liturgies, Bible studies

and mini-biographies of important ecumenical

leaders.

Mozaik aims to refleit the wide variety of opinions

and viewpoints present among the different SCMs

in dialogue. The contributors come from various

Christian denominations: Anglican, Orthodox,

Iet's talk about freedom

t$ esc

lrl!#afrl,@

h&c--"i"rss,o:gl3

30 fuly - 5 August . Waldsieversdorf, Germany

'The German SCM's annual lnternational Ecumenical

Student Meeting takes place at a youth hostel 10

metres from a very beautiful lake. This year's topic

is freedom: how do we understand the political,

religious and personal dimensions of this abstract

term? What does freedom mean in our daily life?

The UK SCM can send up to four delegates - if you'd

like to be one of them, contact scm@movement.org'

uk or 0121 200 3355 by 26 May. You'll need to be

aged 26 or under, have an interest in the theme, and

write a short essay to accompany your application'

news from SCMs

around the world

Protestant and Roman Catholic. A considerable

number of contributors come from outside Europe,

as we deem it our vocation to reflect also the issues

important to SCMs outside the 'old continent'.

ln this way Mozaik functions as a communication

channel between WSCF-Europe and other regions

of the Federation. lt serves as a literary discussion

platform for all those who feel that they would like

to draw the attention of SCMs to a particular issue

or simply share their opinions and experience

within the discussed field.

During our term of office, we have had the pleasure

of co-bperating with two UK SCMers - Angharad

Jones and Dan Criffiths - who worked with us as

thematic editors. We hope that the co-operation between

SCM UK and Mozaik will continue, and we

thank movem ent for creating this space for a brief

presentation of who we are and what we do. I

Peter Sajda, is editorin-chief of Mozaik Rebecca

Blocksome is WSCF-Europe's publications intern.

MO 7NIK

Copies of the /afest issue of Mozaik are available free to

SCM memhers, on request from the SCM office: contact

scm@movement.org.uk or 0121 200 3355. Supp/ies are

Iimited so it's first come, first served!

You can find Mozaik on the web at www.koed.hu/mozaik,htm

. all content in English - no need to speak

Cerman!

. lectures and working groups

. country reports presented by participants

r trip to Berlin with visits to interesting

organ isations and places

. ecumenical exchange and common prayer

o intercultural evenings with campfire, swimming

and lots of fun!

Fee: 5O€ (includes accommodation, food and programme).

ESC will reimburse 50% of your travel

costs, and SCM has bursaries available too.

22

movement


investing ethically

can you apply christian principles in a capitalist system?

Margaret Thatcher once famously remarked that

the Good Samaritan not only had good intentions

but he also had money. While that is hardly the

main message that that particular parable has to

convey, it does force the reader to ask what should

be done with any wealth that might be accumulated,

which in turn forces you to ask how that wealth

may be accumulated. The parable of the ten talents

also makes us question the role of money, how we

get it, and what we do with it.

The fact that you are reading this magazine would

indicate that you have a Christian ethic, but I also

appreciate that a number of you might object to

the injustices (apparent or real) of the capitalist system.

However, whether you agree with it or not,

the United Kingdom is a capitalist economy, and

wherever you put your money, it is in one way or

another involved in that global system of international

finance. That is a fact of life which not even

keeping your money under the bed can detach you

from. From a purely ethical point of view, there

is no difference at all between putting money in

a bank, and putting money into the stock market.

With both, the money could well end up financing

a company you would rather not support, or be lent

to a government whose policies you are actively

fighting against.

Therefore, when deciding where to put your money,

it is essential to ask whether that money will be

used in accordance with your principles.

Many articles have been written about consuming

ethically - fairtrade goods being sold in church;

boycotting companies such as McDonalds, etc.

- but less has been written about the ethics of investing.

The very first question to ask is actually nothing at

all to do with ethics. Rather, it is connected with 'attitude

to risk'. The amount of risk you are prepared

to take will determine in which particular 'asset

class' you put your money. (Risk can essentially be

described as how much you are willing to see the

value of your money go down in the short term in

the hope that it will go up by a greater amount in

the long term - the more risk, the greater the potential

reward, though this is not guaranteed.)

The lowest-risk 'asset' would be cash held in the

bank, but over a long period of time, the money

would barely hold its value against inflation. The

higher risk 'assets', such as bonds, property or

shares, might give a greater return over the long

term, but in the short term the value of your investment

might go down.

lf you give your money to a bank or investment manager,

he or she will then invest in other companies.

Through this, it is possible for you to benefit from

the growth of the company. Of course, you may not

want to invest in certain types of companies, such

as oil stocks, or you may wish to proactively support

companies with a good record with regard to

the environment or so on.

a fund manager very often will

have far more influence over a

company than a protester

The fund managers, because they own a significant

share holding in the company, can and do advocate

changes to business practice which end up being

good for the business, good for the environment,

and good for the investor. By talking to the chief

executive officer at an annual general meeting, a

fund manager very often will have far more influence

over a company than a protester outside that

meeting. The more investors in a unit trust which is

operating along ethical lines, the greater that influence

will be.

Within the current UK investment market, it is relatively

easy to do this. There are over 50 retail 'unit

trusts' such as the ones offered by fund manager

F&C, and several banks, such as Smile, in which

you could invest and relax in the knowledge that

your money is working for you while also making a

difference to the world. Also, the 'FTSE4Good' index

gives a good yardstick as to which companies

meet certain agreed ethical standards.

One of the beauties of ethical investing is that it can

still make you money (which, of course you can

then, like the Cood Samaritan, use to help those

without). For example, over the year to 1 March

2005, the average performing ethical fund would

have made you 11.05%, while the best one would

have made you nearly 20"h. Financial advice is important

in choosing the fund though, as the worst

performing fund would have made 1ust2.13oh.

It must not be forgotten that any investment is

just that - an investment - and you could lose

your money. lt is therefore essential that you

speak to an independent financial adviser

(lFA) about your needs and the risks involved,

and also that you make sure your

IFA is aware of the ethical requirements

you have.

Christianity's view towards money is that

it is morally neutral - how you get it, and

what you do with it once you have got

it, is what determines where you stand

on the scale of Christian morality. I

This article

is published

posthumously

as Richard

Nagle tragically

died on 16

October 2005

aged 30.

Richard was

at the time of

writing this

article an

lndependent

Financial

Advisor with

The Annuity

Bureau, and a

member of the

Stewardship

Committee

at Southwark

Cathedral.

movement


a.

L .*.

the

speaker

guilttripped

everyone

into

steppin$

forward

and

$iving

Stuart

what was

in their

pockets

Got a

comment on

the column?

Talk to Wood

at www.

movement.

org.ulV

forum

Wood is a

freelance

writer, living in

Swansea.

ln previous columns, l've talked

about people's stories. l've changed

the names. And, like a lot of columnists

in the confessional game, l've not been

averse to slipping one or two of my own stories in.

You just do that. The important thing is that this

particular story is not about me. I got it secondhand

from the individual in question. This is my

- probably slightly hazy - interpretation of a story

he told me, and so the facts may well be distorted.

Or rather, I really hope they are.

had been attending

a church for some years, which styled itself as a

'NewTestament' church. Charismatic, upbeat, hands

in the air, people speaking in tongues, dancing, that

sort of thing. I make no judgement on that. lf it floats

your boat on the old Sea of Faith, it's fine by me.

My friend - let's call him Stuart -

atlantis

and me

Every so often they'd say how you've 'got to be blessed

to be a blessing,' - they appeared to believe that

you were only able to do good work for the Kingdom

if you were rolling in it and happy and stuff. Stuart

wasn't really happy with that. After one guest speaker

had talked on the whole prosperity kick, Stuart sent a

brief e-mail to the leaders of the church with his concerns.

lnevitably, the reply came that Stuart didn't

understand what the man was saying, and that he

should think about it and pray about it a bit more.

One time Stuart turned up, and it was his birthday.

The sermon was about giving. The speaker got him

to stand out the front, holding a collection basket,

and said something like, 'ls Stuart here your

Christian Brother? Do you love him? Well, it's his

birthday. Come out and give him what's in your

pockets.' And the speaker guilt+ripped the congregation

into stepping forward and giving Stuart what

was in their pockets, one by one. Stuart stood, helpless

like a bunny in the headlights, as five-, ten- and

twenty-pound notes rained into his pot.

He couldn't give it back. He'd been given so much

money that he had no idea who had given him what,

and it was pointless trying to give it back. I must admit

that had I been in this position, it would have

been drinks on me at the pub that night, but Stuart

felt really bad about having been used to guilt-trip a

congregation, and so he gave the money to charity.

And he started thinking about leaving the church.

This is the part of the column where I break from

Stuart's story for a minute to explain about 'love

bombing'. That's when someone new joins up and the

group makes them very welcome. They shower the

newbie with affection and support, both emotional

wood ingham's tales

from the world of

the stran$e and the

christian student

the new testament love bomb

and material. You turn up and within a few weeks,

they've offered you a membership card, and everybody

at church has invited you to dinner. Which

doesn't sound so bad, except that when a member of

the group ceases to toe the party line in any way, they

take away all that affection and support in one stroke'

You get it back if you come back into the light, but if

you don't, they'll never talk to you again.

It was the Moonies that came up with this, but an

awful lot of churches do it. They don't necessarily

mean to do it - it comes naturally. Stuart's church

had a lot of people who were like that. This didn't actually

include the ministers, but it included enough

prominent members of the congregation to make

Stuart feel really uncomfortable about leaving. He'd

heard a whole load of bitching directed against people

who'd left the church and against the churches

they'd gone to, and he began to feel it was a really

big deal. The church had a big deal about authority,

too. You were supposed to listen to their ministers,

prophets and apostles, and if you were a member

- and you had to be a signed-up member to get involved

in church activities - the importance of tithing

your income to the church was hammered home.

So it wasn't just a question of skipping out and going

somewhere else. lt was a really big deal. He spent

a long time wondering whether he could go through

with it. And he couldn't go quietly. People had noticed

that he was edging towards the periphery. He was assigned

to a housegroup. The Bible group leader turned

up at Stuart's place a few times, trying to get him to

attend. The group was called 'Men Sharpening Men'

(no, I honestly don't think that they even realised).

He decided to give the place one last chance. So he

turned up one Sunday and kept a low profile, sitting

right at the back. During this service, one of the

church's 'prophets' stood up between songs and said

that he felt Cod wanted him to encourage everyone to

demonstrate their love for one another. He got down

off the platform and gave the wife of one of the elders

a massive hug. One of the ministers stood up and said,

maybe they should all show their love for one another

while the band played the next couple of songs. And if

there's someone looking lonely or isolated, well, they

should especially give those people hugs. Stuart, not

the physically demonstrative sort at the best of times,

stood, transfixed in horror, as the band began to play,

and everybody in the church started to give each other

warm embraces. He bolted, running a gauntlet of a

half-dozen people who all wanted to hug him. A few

days later, he wrote them a letter resigning his membership,

and he hasn't been back since. I

24 movement


not sure what you

believe? we look at

the background to

aspects of christian

thought, doctrine and

belief

neglative theolo€y

Negative theology ... as opposed to what?

Positive theology, of course! StThomas Aquinas had a

lot to say about both positive and negative theology.

But Aquinas was a Roman Catholic Christian. lsn't

negative theology just another term for atheism?

No. Aquinas thought that negative theology (or

sometimes apophatic theology) had a role to play in

the discourses of Christianity. He thought that Cod

could be explained positively by analogy, but that

these descriptions (i.e. 'God is...') were inadequate

in some ways. Hence, negative theology.

So what is it?

The practice of understanding Cod by what Cod

is not. ln other words, when you say 'God is not a

tree', you're saying what God is by stating what God

is not. This method of theologising has long been

used in mystical writings from across the Christian

traditions, but perhaps most notably in the Eastern

Orthodox church.

But what's the point of it? Surely there are some

things we can state positively about Cod without

needing to go that far.

It's likely that there are ... and that they can be understood

by this approach! The Vra Negativa (Latin

for 'negative way') sheds a lot of light on our assumptions

about how much we can know about

Cod. As the theologian Denys Turner says, 'Negative

theology does not mean that we are short of

things to say about Cod; it means just that everything

we say of Cod falls short of him.'

How so?

ln this line of thinking, there's no necessity that ties

us to describing Cod's essence, like you might find

in a number of theological approaches that are quite

prevalent today. I mean, when was the last time you

heard a sermon in which the preacher refrained from

making an explicit positive statement about God?

Hang on a sec though ... what about Cod's revelation

throughout history? lf we take that as read, then the

universe must'be loaded with positive affirmations

of what Cod is really like - Cod's essence.

Negative theology sees our knowledge of Cod as limited

to what Cod has revealed. Does Cod's historical

revelation really show us Cod, or merely reveal something

of Cod's purposes? lt's worth pondering.

So what kinds of conclusions have these negative

theologians come to?

Often they address some of humanity's biggest

questions in an unconventional but, some might

argue, particularly profound way. The Cappadocian

doctrine fior

I

I

Fathers, who lived in the fourth century, claimed to

believe in God, but did not believe that Cod existed.

Similarly, the twentieth century French mystic

Simone Weil decided, by using the apophatic way,

that God was neither existent nor non-existent.

there's no difference between

God's existence and God's [onexistence

in any empirical sense

whv?

Because she wanted to show that Cod is not a being

within the world in any ordinary sense - Cod

doesn't exist in any tangible way to our sense experience,

as a chair or an iPod might:'To believe in

God is not a decision we can make'. On the other

hand, she is often defined as a Christian mystic and

philosopher with no qualms about seeking Cod's

presence within each one of us.

But surely that's illogical! Cod must either exist or

not exist.

It could be suggested that there's no difference between

Cod's existence and God's non-existence in

any empirical sense. Meister Eckharl again, says that

'Cod is a "being transcending being and a transcending

nothingness"'. Besides, it's not like there are any

knock-down arguments, right? People are still arguing

and thinking about all this after centuries of debate.

I suppose ... but if we can't grasp God's essence or

nature, how can we experience God at all?

Through Cod's immanence, of course! lt is precisely

because of the absoluteness of the divine

transcendence that Augustine can speak of Cod as

more intimate to us than we are to ourselves.

What particular opportunities can negative theology

afford then in our culture?

There are strong mystical and apophatic traditions

that run throughout Christianity's history, from the

gospels and letters, through such works as The

Cloud of Unknowing, right up to the present day

with spiritual writers such as Thomas Merton and

theologians like Karl Rahner. As a result, negative

theology can perhaps still act as a necessary

counter-balance to theologies that may seem to

over-stretch into the realms of mystery. EM Forster

called the faith 'poor little talkative Christianity';

perhaps it's time to be humble and remember that

that which we cannot say is sometimes more meaningful

than that which we can... I

Rob Telford is

an ex-Theology

student from

Cardiff.

movement 25


$q$r

$' media

a novel

christ

writing about culture (popular

and otherwise), and reviews of

books, CDs, films and websites

will the real jesus

please step forward?

The

Nliracle of

Jesus

Iiq /&lx'rt llnttttl


can a new book persuade

evangelical christians to care

more about the environment?

evo-friendly?

Ecology and theology have been uncomfortable bedfellows in recent church history.

Christians have shown antagonism towards environmentalists, branding them 'New

Agers', and Christianity has been held by many environmentalists to be responsible for

and unconcerned about the current ecological crisis. This book aims to address this

troubled relationship through contributions by high-profile Christian leaders and academics.

Caring for Creation targets evangelical Christians, a group that will be suspicious of working

towards anything unless given a clear 'biblical' motivation. John Stott's foreword says that

creation is a much-neglected biblical topic, and caring for creation an equally neglected

responsibility. Essays by prominent evangelicals explain how care of the environment is

an inseparable part of God's plan for humanity, covering the biblical themes of creation,

fall, redemption and resurrection. These are interspersed with brief commentaries on the

work of international Christian environmental organisation A Rocha.

ln the opening essay, Eugene Peterson (author of The Message) rambles happily about

the rhythm of creation and how by living in this rhythm, Christians care for creation. His

suggested method for participating in this rhythm appears to be going to church. Subsequent

chapters continue in the same vein, citing the fall as the problem and redemption

as the solution, and asserting that science and religion do not contradict each other

(although one essay dismisses the scientific worldview).

This doesn't really bring any new insights. Too often, 'biblical' arguments for caring for

the earth are based either on simplistic quoting from Genesis, where man is made steward

of creation, or on the flimsy basis that Jesus often used analogies from farming or

the animal kingdom in his teaching. But having a degree of control over and knowledge

about the natural world is a far cry from knowing how to engage with the complicated

systems of global government and economics that Christians find ourselves part of.

Thankfully, things finally get interesting when the discussion comes to Cod's covenant

with lsrael and the Old Testament concepts of the Sabbath and the year of Jubilee. I am

skeptical of how much the Bible can contribute to general environmental debate, but

a pattern of community living that constantly redistributes resources fairly is vital for a

just society. Chris Wright describes this with clarity, and James Houston builds on it by

attributing environment degradation to the breakdown in relationships that leads to individualisation

and consumerism, concluding that'secular environmental concerns are

far too shallow a prognosis of human relations to our environment'.

The final few chapters deal with resurrection and redemption. These concepts can be difficult

to reconcile with environmentalism. The inevitable destruction of the world before

God puts everything right seems to make it pointless to mend anything. Tillett takes the

conventional line: that the resurrection and re-creation of the earth is something to draw

hope from as we obey and worship Cod against a tide of human and natural disasters.

For me, David Bookless' discussion of what is meant by 'a new heaven and a new earth'

is more satisfying. His take on Cod as divine environmentalist, recycling the broken

earth, by analogy with Noah's flood, relates much more closely to what we see around

us in the world - new life springing from the barren wasteland caused by ecological

disaster. lt gave me hope that Christians and environmentalists together can herald this

new life, by living the model of Cod's kingdom on earth.

The A Rocha contributions bring a welcome dose of realism, describing the difficulties

and triumphs of the struggle between human needs and the care of wildlife habitats

around the world. Reading about the competition for space between elephants and

people in lndia and 'crop-destroying elephants and baboons' in Kenya brings a fresh

realisation that conservationism is not abstract nature-loving, but requires serious involvement

with the communities and wildlife who share resources.

Although the first few chapters were disappointing, as a whole the book hangs together

well. There is a set of discussion questions for each chapter, which would work well in

Bible study groups. The book is definitely aimed at an evangelical readership, but the

wealth of different perspectives gives much scope for new thinking. I hope that, by establishing

for Christians how much theology has to do with environmentalism, this book

might help us to address the difficult issues that face the world today. I

foraord by jOHN SfOn

CARING

FOR CREATION

Bil)liril and rheologir al perspective(

. ,

ri, .,rr-:,rL.L:.

caring for creation

edited by Sarah Tillett, BRD €8.99

I am skeptical

of how much

the Bible can

contribute

to $eneral

environmental

debate, but

a pattern of

community

living that

constantly

redistributes

lesoutces fairly

is vital for a

just society

Rosie Telford is a student member

of Christian Ecology Link (www.

ch r i sti a n -eco I ogy. o r g. u k )

l. ";|-rr

B

movement 27


,i. r{1

:D

rFr J

pop

I

$ordon lynch

on theolots and

spirituality

in popular culture

H

the media and

popular culture

run throu$h

our veins

gordon's top ten

#1 Sigur Ros, untitled O (Fat Cat Records, 2002). Turn the lights down,

light a candle or two, and meditate, pray or just let it wash over you.

With their lyrics in an invented language, and their wash of sound,

Sigur Ros sound the mystical potential of pop music.

#2 Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in LasVegas (HarperCollins,

2005). Disturbing and very funny (and often both at the same time),

Thompson's classic novel offers a twisted view of American life, only

to show how our everyday assumptions are themselves more distorted

than we choose to recognise.

#3 Riclcy Cervais, The Office (BBC, 2002) and Extras (BBC, 2005).

Aside from the humour, Cervais' work is an astute and painful study

of the insecurities and humiliations of everyday life - and of the role of

love and friendship in overcoming these.

i4 Lost in Translation (directed by Sofia Coppola, 2003). The Japanese

setting is not incidental as the film offers a Zen-like study of the transience

of our passions and despair. A beautiful study of the love and

loneliness often missed by a superficial society.

#5 www.theonion.com. lt can be easy to despair at the world's injustices

- satire can help us to carry on, and remember what's important

for us. Get clicking...

#6 The Aphex Twin, drukgs (Warp Records, 2001). At times unsettling

with his banging drum'n'bass, the Aphex Twin shows how electronic

music can touch so many different moods. At their best, his piano pieces

make you feel like you're touching the face of Cod.

#7 Annie Hall and Crimes and Misdemeanors (both directed by Woody

Allen, 1977 and 1989). Allen at his very best. Exploring his usual

,themes - love, death and the search for meaning in a meaningless universe

- these two films show Allen's range in exploring love, happiness

and the absuldities of life.

#8 Banksy, Wall and Piece (Century,2OO5) - and various sites across the

world. Surely Britain's foremost anarchist graffiti artist - Banksy's books

are thought-provoking, and often just downright funny.

2A

#9 Pulp, Different C/ass (lsland Records, 1999). Sheffield's finest don't

take their eyes off the ball when singing about the grittiness of life.

Dark, ironic, atmospheric, romantic - very British - and worth listening

to for 'Common People' alone.

#10 Super Size Me (directed by Morgan Spurlock, 2004). Documentary

film at its transformative best, Spurlock's film has helped to open eyes

to the system that thrives on feeding people rubbish for the pursuit of

profit. This year, McDonald's shut 25 'restaurants' in the UK...

Various life pressures mean that this will be the last pop culture review that I write for

a while. l'm very grateful to Liam for coming up with the idea for this column, and for

giving me space to indulge my various thoughts and concerns in it.

Thinking back even over the fairly short time l've been writing these reviews, I can see

real changes in the area of religion and popular culture. There is a coming generation

of theologians and religious scholars who know deep in their bones that exploring the

religious dimension of life today inevitably means engaging with different forms of media

and with the content of our everyday lives. Cinema, books, TV, cyberspace have all

become essential means for the contemporary exploration of both the sacred and the

nature of evil - both in terms of offering us images and ideas to play and wrestle with,

and in offering us a space for the spiritual search.

Media and popular culture are no longer trivial subjects,

but the means through which so many of the

pressing questions of our time will be pursued. A

new generation of academics are starting the difficult

process of unpacking this relationship between

the sacred and the everyday, and it will be some

years before we can see whether this new academic

project proves to be fruitful or not.

Even if we're uninterested in such academic developments,

the media and popular culture still run

through our veins, shaping the environments in

which we live, providing us with the language and

symbols with which we think and communicate,

and giving us ways of seeing and feeling how life can

(and in a better world, could) be. One of the unhelpful

notions of Cod that I previously acquired, and

have since dispensed with, is the idea that Cod is

wholly separate, far above and beyond our everyday

worlds. Yet, in fact, the divine is inseparable from life

itself. A question that always stands above us is how

our everyday cultural practices relate to this divine

life. Does our cultural practice - what we do, watch,

create, consume - draw us more deeply into a rich

awareness of the divine life in which we already live?

Does it rest on a healthy relationship with ourselves

and others? Does it deepen our imagination and desire

for the most just and sustainable world, to which

the divine life calls us?

All these are hard questions - a life's work to answer

them. But in signing off for now, I wanted to offer

you a quick top ten of bits of pop culture that have

given me glimpses of the excitement, pleasure/ complexity

and sheer mystery of that divine life in which

we all have a stake.

Well, that's me. Here's to fun, creativity, richness,

honesty and justice in our everyday lives, and all that

fills them. I

Cordon Lynch teaches practical theology at the

tJ niversity of Bi rmingham.

movement


who would have

thou€lht opera could

be so controversial?

the

comes t GTTGUS

o town

It is pretty hard to review Jerry Springer the Opera. Do you talk about the new audience

brought to opera, do you talk about the offence caused to some Christians?

Perhaps you discuss the religious hatred bill or you make comparisons with the Danish

cartoons. Maybe it's best to look at the content, but even then you have to choose

between the actual content and the allegations about the content by those who won't

go and see it, but still wish to comment.

l've seen it three times now. When I first saw it, in London's West End, it was a fun night

out at the theatre, a birthday treat. I was aware that there was some fuss around it, and

that I probably shouldn't invite people who describe themselves as born-again to accompany

me on this venture. I was not amazed by it, inasmuch as I have seen films

and stand-up comedians that have engaged me more, but I was amused, and I certainly

wasn't offended, though I am not easily offended. I got the impression that I wasn't the

only person there who wouldn't usually be at the opera, and this is probably no bad

thing for opera, providing they can find a way of following up on this new market.

It is certainly a spectacle. Opera actually works well as a medium for making a point

and making it accessible. The plot in brief: Jerry interviews a load of misfits the way he

does, he is idolised by the audience, people fight and scream, and occasionally Jerry

takes a swipe at himself. lt is not unlike a trumped-up version of the actual show. Except

for the fact that a choir sing swear-words, and juxtapose this street language with the

grand theatre and classical accompaniment of the music. I don't think the volume of

swearing increases its effect - if anything it lessens it - but for the record there are 174

swear-words, not the 8,000 advertised by some.

The whole thing is satire. Deliberately you are left guessing about what is being satirised,

you are, quite brilliantly, left to make up your own mind. Yes, Jesus and Satan

feature heavily, but arguably they are there to comment on Springer's self-importance

rather than it being an attack on religion. Likewise the joke could be on the audience of

the programme, or even the audience in the theatre, you just don't know.

What we certainly do know is the strength of feeling the show has generated in the

Christian right. lt is the first time that groups such as Christian Voice have been able to

gather such a large opposing coalition in the UK, and it was reminiscent, though on a

smaller scale, of some of the protests their US equivalents have been doing for years.

The TV screening by the BBC in January 2005 was unique for a variety of reasons. Not

least for the attempt made by Christian Voice to raise f 75,000 for a private prosecution

against the BBC, after the public legal body wouldn't take it forward.

Then we began to see a co-ordinated local campaign with collections of conservative

and evangelical groups trying to prevent showings at local venues. Some venues cancelled,

ticket sales were hit in others, and the production team responsible for the show

had to cut costs. When I went to see it while on holiday in Plymouth, authorities were

ready for trouble; none came that night, but it did subsequently.

While the ability to see a funny opera may seem like a minor freedom of expression issue,

the danger behind it is polarisation of opinion. SCMers as much as anyone would

hope we avoid a stark argument between religious and secular worldviews, with no

room for the frey areas in between.

There will be middle-of-the-road Christians offended by the play, even if they may not

view it as an affront to a desire to see the whole world share all their views. But those

who make such protests must be careful about their targets. This is not the same as

the cartoons of Mohammed in the Danish newspaper. Stuart Lee, the comedian

involved in writing the play, puts it well: 'Everyone's anxious to draw parallels,

but the Danish cartoonists wandered into a world of protected religious symbols

they didn't understand. We have used a set of icons whose implications

we appreciate, within a tradition of imagery.'The old argument holds, if you

don't want swearing and controversy set to music, go and watch something

else, but if you fancy it, then you could do worse. I

movement

ierry springer

the opera

directed by Kate Moore, seen by

Tim at Cambridge Theatre London

and on tour in Plymouth. see www.

jerryspringertheopera.com.

the whole

thing is satire.

deliberately

you are left

$uessin€ about

what is bein$

satirised, you

afe, quite

brilliantly, left

to make up

yout own mind

Tim Cobbett is Vice President

(Academic Affairs) at the students'

union of Edinburgh University,

and a former member of SCM's

Ceneral Council.


out of

touch?

a resource on healing services

fails to hit the spot

oll (:

ot iEA(rN6

^ ?t^cIrc^!

lrin,1 ''Pla'e

HArotooK

i1r: r,1 \:!l(liii

a touchin(, place

fohn Gunstone, Canterbury Press,

the best thing

about the book

was that it

encoura$ed

me to

consider other

resources in my

quest for more

information

ln his book ln the beginning there was darkness, fohn Hull talks of a healing service

he attended as a teenager. lt sounds horrible, complete with the hoaxed attempts to

claim that healing has happened. As this is the style of healing services most of us

tend to hear about, I was interested to spend time learning more about some other

approaches, not only in the style of services available but also the approaches people

take towards them. When planning for the SCM conference this year, the suggestion

of a healing service was met with fear and concern by some, and with enthusiasm by

others. ln the end, with the help of Holy Rood House, a centre for health and pastoral

care, the healing service went off very well. I was also very glad to be in a position of

inviting people whose knowledge and experience in this field is excellent.

ln my attempt to learn more about healing services I read A Touching P/ace by John

Cunstone. The subtitle of the book is A ministry of healing in the local church: a practical

handbook' so I thought this would be a good starting point. The book is set out

in nice gentle chunks with questions at the end of each section. lt would be a good

resource for groups involved in healing services in a local (Anglican)church. It is good

at referring people on to other resources but, at 85 pages, can hardly be described as

the most comprehensive guide. That, in itself, is no bad thing, as the stages it takes you

through are certainly manageable.

John Gunstone admits to beingAnglican-centred in the book but hopes that it will still

prove to be a useful resource for people from other denominations. However, the majority

of sources it refers the reader to are either Common Worship, other Anglican-specific

resources or John Cunstone's other book on healing ministry. The lack of ecumenical

consideration makes it a hard resource to develop into something of use. A quick

internet search made this all the more irritating, as apparently he used to be a diocesan

ecumenical officer - but at the end of the day he is supposed to be talking about a ministry

of healing, not of ecumenism.

The book presents a number of different aspects of healing ministry that I had not previously

been aware of and it was certainly interesting to explore - especially through his

charismatic, evangelical point of view. lt also primarily places expression of the healing

ministry in the context of a eucharistic service. ln some ways the most interesting

section was that on 'confidentiality and boundaries'. The emphasis was far more on

appropriate relationships between male and female members of healing teams, rather

than on what to do with situations that are challenging for those involved in the ministry.

He also offers little guidance on the considerations that need to be made for those who

have been hurt by, or are scared of, healing services. The situations presented were really

quite alien to me.

The best thing about the book was that it encouraged me to consider other resources

in my quest for more information. Even the brief mentions of a ministry of healing in

John Hull's book provided a better context than the work of John Cunstone in A Touching

Place. John Hull spends time addressing the concerns of a fellow blind person who

longs for a successful healing ministry while being sceptical - a conclusion confirmed

by his own negative experience.

To broaden my search for information I attended several healing services and spent time

in discussion with many people, including those preparing for their first healing service

and those who have been involved for many years. I learned a huge amount from all

these people and it provided me with a lot of useful background. I would encourage

people looking into this field to talk to as wide a selection of people as possible and I

found the folk at Holy Rood House particularly noteworthy. As ATouching Place was the

catalyst for this, I am immensely grateful to John Cunstone for his work. I

Jo Merrygold is SCM's Links Worker.

30 movement


towards a theologt of

facial hair

Archbish Rowan gave a rare interview

recently in the Cuardian,

sparking a wave of astonishment

that anyone working at the

Crauniad actually knew the

names of any religious figures.

(The religious correspondent

there, who seems to think Shrp

of Fools is a serious website

selling religious paraphernalia,

could really do with some professional

advice. Or maybe just

a CCSE Religious Education textbook.)

I particularly enjoyed the insight

into Rowan's character that he

dreads facing press photographers

because of 'the eyebrows'.

My efforts to stir up some trouble

by highlighting the Church of

England's facial hair issues

in previous columns are

finally paying off! Perhaps

the whole liberal/conservative

split will run a very

different course if Nasir-Ali suddenly

notices the sideburns.

creative education

ln the same interview, Rowan

generated headline news by

arguing that Christian schools

shouldn't teach creationism as

science. Whatever next? Surely

it's their right to use the Bible and

only the Bible as their textbook,

and what's more, they should expand

the practice into the rest of

the curriculum.

You could have very interesting

maths lessons based on the last

being first. Physics teachers could

explain all about the sphere that

separates the waters above from

the waters below. PE could involve

killing lions with asses'

jawbones. And teachers could

use PSHE, or PSE, or whatever the

kids are calling it nowadays, to

show pupils the best techniques

for stoning adulterers to death.

iBody

Techno-pundits are keen these

days on the idea that we're becoming

cyborgs. They would

have us believe that by the middle

of next week, everyone will

have chips implanted in their

brain allowing them to download

ringtones at will, and everYthing

electrical in your house, includ-

I

J

ing nose hair clippers and the

hoover, will have an internet

connection that you can access

from wherever you happen to

be on the global superinfonethighwayathon.

Techno-pundits do so bore me.

So [ar, all cyborgification means

is that every second person I pass

on the street has those tiresome

iPod earphones glued to the sides

of their head. A recent news story,

though, suggests that Apple have

started to practise the process in

reverse. A family received the

new iPod they'd ordered - or at

least, they received the 'coolerthan-cool,

more street-cred than

the product inside' Apple packaging

- only to discover that the

box was filled with raw meat.

Maybe this is some new cuttingedge

venture, years ahead of its

time. Maybe Applet new slogan

will be 'Pink, different'. lt got me

thinking about what music you'd

play on your fleshy iPod, though.

Meatloaf? Captain Beefheart? Send

me your suggestions on a postcard,

preferably not accompanied

by a box of unidentified flesh.

good cheese, man

l'm told that illegal drugs are often

'cut' with other substances. I

suppose green herbs and white

powders are all much of a muchness

until you start putting them

up your nose or using them intravenously

or what have

you. But drug dealers

who use such tricks are

obviously underestimating

the gullibility

of some people. A

girl in Tennessee

mistook a block of

crumbly Mexican

cheese for a monumental

quantity

of cocaine, and hired a

hitman to take out the

owners of said cheese

so that she could have

it all to herself.

Now, itseemsclearthat

this individual can't

have been the sharpest

cheeseknife in

the drawer -

maybe shed

a I ready

over-indulged in

some gouda that she'd

mistaken for LSD - so it

comes as no surprise that

the hitman she engaged turned

out to be an undercover officer of

the law, and she was duly arrested.

All's well that ends well, but it

makes me feel a bit strange about

the lethal cocktail of camembert

and gorgonzola that I put into my

unsuspecting body over Christmas.

winnie the who?

Many right-minded folk feel that

Disney's sacchari ne bastardisation

of Winnie the Pooh is an abomination

in the eyes of Milne, and

the latest news just confirms this

horrified repulsion. Christopher

Robin is to be replaced by a sixyear-old

girl on rollerblades. ln an

astonishing 'you couldn't make

this stuff up' moment, a Disney PR

robot said: 'these timeless characters

really needed a breath of

fresh air'. There is obviously some

alternative meaning of the word

'timeless' only available to those

living in the mediasphere. I

maybe

she'd

already

OVGIindulged

in some

$ouda

that

she'd

mistaken

for LSD

movement 31

t

^-.

O

o

o'

fi


try out all the o

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