Movement 113


the magazine of the student christian movement I issue tl3 | spring 2OO3




























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Gan we spread the

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a chaplain speaks

John Vincent's lourney'


issue 1-13 | spring 2OO3




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MOVEMENI is the termly ma{azine

the Student Christian Movement,

distributed ftw of char{e to memberc

and dedicated to an open-mindd

expl o rati o n of Ch ri sti a n ity.

Editor: Liam Purcell


Next copy date: 28 February 20O3

Editorial group: David Anderson, Liam Purcell,

Elinor Mensingh, Marie Pattison, Kate Powell,

Rebecca Hawthorne

SCM staff: Co-ordinator Elinor Mensingh; links

Worker Marie Pattison; Office Administrator

Rebecca Hawthorne

SGM office: University of Birmingham, Weoley

Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6LL

r (o121) 47t2404

f. (OL2L) 414 5619 mark faxes 'FAO SCM'


Website: www. uk

Printed by: Henry Ling Limited, Dorchester

lndividual membership of SCM (includes

Movement) costs f,15 per year (t1O if unwaged).

Subscription lo Movement only costs 97 per year.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in Movement

are those of the particular author and should not

be taken to be the policy ofthe Student Christian


tssN o306-980x

Charity number 24La96

o 2003 scM








platform David Anderson 3

newsfile 4

on campus 6

campaigns 7

diary 8

a headless chicken? Neil EIIiott 9

worldview: germany Ulrich Falkenha$en 70

disarmin$ actions Helen SteYen 72

celebrity theologian Matt Bullimore 73

small ritual Steve Collins 74

evangelism in a $lobalised world Tim Gorrin$e 75

marketing the gosPel 17

iourneying together John Vincent 79

radical discipleship Liam Purcell 2O

ties and binds Jim Cotter 2I

life in all its fullness? Niall Cooper 22

first among equals Claire Connor 24

if nobody speaks of remarkable things

by lon McGre$or 25

the beginning stages of...

by the PolYPhonic SPree 26

sweet sixteen directed by Ken Loach 27

a telling place by Joy Mead 28

shiP of fools 29

resources round-up 30

serpent 31

Have youl say - join Movement's editorial team

Movemlent is pui tog-etner by an editorial group including the editor, SCM staff, and student

representatives. There is a vacancy at the moment for a student representative on the group.

lf you would like to be involved in deciding the content and themes of Movement, and could

spare one afternoon a term for meetings, e-mail the editor at

Wanted! Articles, teviews, artwork

We want Movement to be as open as possible. All your ideas are welcome. Have you got somethind

to say? An issue you want explored? Ever fancied yourself as a writer?

Send your articles and ideas, or just your details if you'd like to write for us in the future, to the editor

at All submissions will be considered by our editorial group.


just war theory

ls the West waging a iust war, or iust a war?

Every time it looks like Western nations

are going to go to war, you get people -

often bishops who should know better -

who tell us that they think it is a just

war. But they don't often seem to say

what they think a just war is, other than

that they personally mean welland think

something must be done. People

arguing agaanst wars don't invoke just

war theory at all. But neither side seems

to understand what the theory is.

Just war theory requires that any proposed

military campaign fulfil seven conditions:

. There must be a just cause.

. The campaign must be declared as a

matter of last resort.

. The campaign must be declared by the

appropriate legal authority.

. The authority must have just intentions.

. The campaign must have a chance of


. The consequences of the campaign must not

be worse than those of not campaigning.

. Only just means must be used in the


We've had two debates in the past 2 years

over whether to go to war, first with Afghanistan

and then with lraq. What was worrying about

both debates was that proponents of the just

war seemed to believe that because the

campaign tulfilled the first condition (that there

was a just cause for war) and because they

believed it fulfilled the sixth condition

(something had to be done), it also fulfilled the

other fwe. Meanwhile, some of those opposing

the war seemed to believe that the only way to

deny that the conditions for a just war were

fumlbd was to deny that the attack on the World

Trade Centre was a just cause for any sort of

'action. (Whether it was a just cause for wa$ng

war on the Taliban is another question.)

It seems to me that if anything counts as a

just cause to go to war, then a direct

intentional attack upon innocent civilians is

such a cause. 'lnnocent' here means that the

civilians concerned are not directly engaged in

violent activity. lt does not matter whether or

not they are participating in or maintaining a

system that causes people's deaths: killing

them does not end the exploitation. lt is true

that Western policies towards the rest of the

world could be expected to provoke such an

attack: my GCSE geography textbook

predicted a terrorist attack L2 years ago. But

that is not to say that anybody deserved to die.

However, this still does not mean that the

other six conditions were satisfied. lt is not

clear that all the options for extraditing Bin

Laden were tried before going to war against

Afghanistan. lt is still not clear that the

consequences of the campaign were better

than inaction would have been: although the

Taliban were a fairly unpleasant regime and

Western newspapers were full of pictures of

women taking off their burqas with relief, it

seems that Afghans are still being threatened

by starvation, as well as by unexploded

bombs. lt is not clear that the campaign had

a reasonable chance of success: as I write,

Osama Bin laden is apparently alive and well.

Furthermore, while civilian casualties are

inevitable in any military campaign, the use of

just means requires that one sacrifice military

effectiveness to minimise civilian casualties.

But one cannot assess these claims properly

merely from the incomplete accounts in the

newspapers. The really troubling criterion is

that of just intention.

The requirement that war be waged with a

just intention is not a requirement that the

people going to war should mean well.

Everybody takes themselves to mean well. The

requirement means that those waging the war

should have a definite intention with which

they are going to war, such that once that

intention is realised they stop. lt was never

made clear what the intention in bombing

Afghanistan was. 'Ridding the world of

terrorism' is a definite end, with the problem

that it has no chance of success. 'Dismantling

Al Qaida' is also a definite end, although it's

not clear how far the campaign has achieved

it, given that Al Qaida is supposedly spread

through a large number of countries. As for

bringing Bin laden to justice, the campaign

has failed to do so, and no moves have been

made to establish an international court in

which he could be seen to be tried fairly.

Therc arc limits to just war theory, and with any

approach that applies rules withont refurcnce to

the people who will be directly aftcted by the

decisions made. But at least it is a start.

As I write, internationalweapons inspectors

are operating in lraq. I hope this means that

war will not be declared, unpleasant as

Saddam's regime may be. I

David Anderson

while civilian

casualties are


in any military


the use of

iust means


that one




to minimise



rnember ot the rltovemert

edltorlal group



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new editor, new features



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This issue is the first produced by our new editor, Liam Purcell. We thank Julian

Lewis, now settling into life as a domestic goddess with his baby Melody Sunshine,

for his hard work as editor last year, and David Anderson for steppin$ nobly into

the breach as interim editor for issue 112.

Liam writes... Hi. Some quick

background: I graduated in

English Language and Literature

from Birmingham UniversitY in

L997, where a Buddhist tutor

introduced me to forensic handwriting analysis, t'ai chi

and, most importantly, publishing. I work in my 'day job'

doing design, production and editing on educational

websites, books and magazines for the publisher Christian

Education. But on Fridays, as my alter-ego Space Monkey

Productions, I do freelance design and editing work for

various small charities and a web design and music

company called Silent Space (, if the

site's up by the time you read this).

And now I edit Movetnent as well. I already know the

magazine, as I've handled the design part of the job

alongside Julian and David for the last four issues. With

Julian's departure, I worked up the courage to take on the

whole job, and I'm enjoying the challenge.

quick guest'ons

What's your favourite Possession?

My PowerBook laptop. I like to pretend I'm not a geek because

Apple computers are for creative people. Honest.

What are you reading at the moment?

Doubts and Loves by Richard Holloway, as part of my crash

course in liberal and radical theolog/ and activism for this job!

What is your favourite film?

Clich6d studenty answer, I'm afraid - Withnail and /. And yes' I

can recite all thqbest lines parrot-fashion.

How do you relax?

I do a bit of t'ai chi and yoga, or offer myself as a practice subject

for my girlfriend, who's training in shiatsu massage. lt's a tough

job but someone's got to do it.

What's your favourite iourneY?

Going away on holiday with a car full of friends, camping

equipment and silly toys. The destination doesn't really matter.

What do you like most about yourself?

I have a calmer and more laid-back approach to life than some

people I've known.

I've already introduced a couple of changes: you'll find a

report on current campaigns that groups can get involved in

on page 7, and a round-up of recently published resources of

interest to SCM members on page 30. These will be regular

features. I want Movement to help SCM's membership around

the country by offering support for their activities and inspiring

them to get involved in bringing about changes in the world'

It needs to be a two-way process - we want your input'

Elsewhere in these pages you'll read about SCM's revamped

website. We're hoping that the site can support the

magazine by offering further resources backing up our

special features, to help you explore the issues further. And

we're planning an online discussion forum, which will offer

themed debates fired off by our features, and the opportunity

for you to respond to articles that excite or annoy you'

and discuss them with other SCM members around the

country. Comment, suggestions, criticisms and (especially)

new writing are, as ever, very welcome. Send all your

outpourings to me at I

What do you dislike about yourselfil

I'm an idle slacker (see my answer to the previous question).

What's your favourite word?

It changes every week, usually to one I've invented myself.

Currently 'pendulumularity', which I'm sure should mean


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

President of the USA. Not that I really want the job or am qualified'

but it would be hard to do wome than the present incumbent.

When did you last cry?

Embanassin$y, while watching The Full Monty. ln my defence, I

was very tired and emotional at the time.

What are you scared of?

George Dubya Bush.

What do you never miss on W?

I like cult Channel 4 comedy like Spaced and Black Books'

Anything with Bill Bailey in it.

What music do you listen to most?

It varies enormously - from the Chemical Brothers and Bentley

Rhythm Ace to Spiritualized, Pulp, lndigo Girls, Tori Amos.

What pet hates do You have?

I'm a cantankerous old sod and witl grumble about anything.

Particularly advertising, the media and world politics'

4 |



stop the war

As with mct potests, the number of

demonstratorc on the Stop lhe War

marcfi in September ditrercd wiHly

according to $rfio pu listened to

after the event. Scotland Yard

estimated ftat 4O,O(n peopb had

tumed ouq fut inqereed that figUrc

later to 150,0(n. On Sund4/, fte

Obsenry quoted tthe orgpnisers' at

250,000, while the Independent

quoted presumably different

organlses at 4(D,OOO.

To me, as one of those who gathered

at London's Embankment on 28

September for the march to Hyde Park,

one thing was clear - whatever the

dispute over quantity, the quality of

demonstrators was very diverse.

Protesters came from all across Britain

and included the UK lslamic Mission,

Socialist Workers, CND, the Scottish

Socialist Pafi, Saudi Arabia fuainst

War, lecturers, priests, trade unionists,

students and families with young

children. lt emerged that many people

were marching for the first time - a

powerful indication of the huge guff

between the govemment's support for

US-planned military action against lraq

and the wishes of people in Britain.

The message was clear - that an

attack on Bagfdad is not the way to

deal with Saddam Hussein's refusal to

complywith UN resolutions. The govemment's

dossier of evidence did not show

that the threat from lraq is any greater

now than 3 years ago, and those who

would suffer in the event of a war are

the lraqi people, who have already

suffered enough under sanctions and

dictatorship. There was also consensus

that American interest in lraqi oil

reseryes is not entirely coincidental with

the threat of military action.

At the time of writing, the UN Security

Council has just voted in favour of a

resolution which threatens'serious

consequences' if Saddam Hussein

does not disarm. These consequences

have not been specified, but American

and British leaders have not left much

room for doubt. So as time ticks away

for lraq, we must not let our guard

down. When the extremists push for

war, the moderates must be ready to

shout louder against it. I

f(ate Powell, Movement editorial glroup



On 16 November I was on a train at

stupid a.m. to get to Birmingham for

the AGM. There were those in our

chaplaincy who were convinced I was

mad, but 12 hours later I was equally

convinced they were the mad ones

for missing out!

The day started with a fascinating

address on inter-faith relations by Dr

David Thomas, an Anglican priest who

lectures in Christian-Muslim relations.

The AGM itself opened with reports

from the chair of General Council and

the Co-ordinator on the website, the

staff contracts and handbook, the stall

at Greenbelt, the Trade Justice

movement, and the annual conference.

The accounts were presented, and the

importance of every member taking an

interest in SCM was highlighted. Liam

spoke about Movement, and Silke

Lechner updated us on the world-wide

activities of the World Student Christian


The elections for this year's GC and

its first meetlng were held, letting us

new members know what we had let

ourselves in for. A bit of a challenge

- let's hope we will rise to it!

The day finished in very sociable

style with cheese and wine. Many

thanks to SCM staff for organising a

great day - interesting, informatlve

and useful, but also great fun! I

Alice Grawford, SGM General Gouncil

the Cospel demands action

'Ghristian Aid?'The question was put to me accusingly, two months into my job as Student

Worker. 'Do you really think you are doing good 'aid' work if you are pushing Ghristianity

at the same time? Why can't you Ghristians just keep it to yourself.)'

I was speaking to

students at a

careers fair in

London, trying to dispel some of the

myths about the work of relief and

development organisations in

general, and Christian Aid in particular.

One look at the 'Christian' in the

title was all this guy needed to start

on a rant about how religion was the

source of all poor people's troubles...

'Actually, I'm not a Christian.'

'Oh,' he said. Funny how that

seems to quieten people.

'We work with people of lots of

different taiths. And we don't "push"

Christianity. lt's an important part of who

we are, and most of us are practicing our

taith through Christian Aid's wort. But

we are here to help end povefi.'

'So if you're not... then how come

you're working for...?'

It's a fair question... but kinda

obvious if you think about it. Loving

your neighbour. Respecting diversity.

Being inclusive. Even striving for

sustainability. These are values which

people here hold as central to

Christianity... and I figure they are

values that most people take to be

universal. Given that, how can

anyone not support Christian Aid?

To me these values, derived from the

gospel, require us to act, to speak out

against the inequality and suffering that

our neighbours experience. To what

extent do you agree? Enough, of

course, and I'm going to try to get you

to look at

worship and www.christian-aid.orgl

students, to try and encourage you to

act. Not enough? Well, hopefully you'll

give me another chance to explore this

idea (and persuade you!) in the next

issue. I

Patrick Dawes,

Ghristian Aid Student Worker

Look out fot Patilck's rcEulat cotumn,

$artlng In our rext tssue


on campus

'{)tl gelrI)pLl.i

news from the universitY world

united and frghtin$

student campai$ners who attended the recent National union

of Students conference, along with others, includin$

supporters of the Gampai$n for Free Education, have come

together in a new student forum with the aim of developing a

broad campai$ning alternative in the student movement.

The Student Campai$n Forum have a website at, where they set out their views and

goals. They say:

'We stand for:

. a campaigning, democratic union;

. fi€htin€lracism and fascism;

. solidarity with workers at home and abroad;

. against the privatisation of public services;

Wd@me to he Sar&tl C.mF g, Forun rebsile!

NEw! vistth€ ncw loruhs sedion.



. equality, civil liberties and human rights for all;

We're sorry that the anarchic black and red colour

scheme doesn't corne across on the printed page!

. a clean, safe, sustainable environment.'

They have discussion forums and details of upcoming events on the site. lf you're concerned about proposed

changes in the higher education sector, or just want to get involved in campaigning on other issues, it looks like SCF

could be a good place to start. We'll update you on future developments led by SCF, and other $roups such as People

and Planet, on the new regular Campai$ns page (see page 7). I

Uam Purcell, Movement editor

gfiassoots rcport: univercity of walest banSor

iUnty people came to hear Bishop John Shelby Spong, tot 24 years Bishop of Newark, New Jersey,

nunCn the Anglican Ghaplaincy lectures at the University in Bangor on Monday 7 October.

The God of the Bible is immoral and unbelievable, the brains at the church door?' There are different images in

Bishop said: a God who chooses some but not others, the Bible that we can use to talk of God: wind, love, rock'

who drowns his enemies in the sea, who abuses his son The footprints of God are not beyond the sky but in the

by demanding his sacrifice. This God is not worthy of bias in creation towards life, wholeness and consciousbelief.

A God who is seen as an invader from outside ness. He is beyond all images. We don't have to think of

and an examiner of all we do needs re-conceiving. lf him as a person. lf he is the source of life we need to live

God can interyene to help me why doesn't he interuene fully; if the source of love to love wastefully; if the ground

to help everybody? A God who does not interuene is of all being we need to make him more visible.

immoral. A God who cannot is not God.


We must get out of the stereotypical images of the past

We live the other side of Galileo, Copernicus, Darwin, not because they were wrong then but because they are

Einstein and Freud. Faith always changes its form and irrelevant now. Evil is not a condition into which we fell,

the church needs a wake-up call. Only in 1991 did the but is arrested development. Jesus challenges us to do

Vatican admit Galileo was rignt - almost 400 years too more than look to our own survival, the survival of our

late. We can explain miracles without the supernatural. tribe. He challenges our prejudices that exclude people

lf Jesus,ascended'into heaven we know he would not fromfullcommunitybecauseof their$ender,theircolour'

have gone anywhere but into orbit! There never was a their sexual orientation, and calls us to a new humanity.

perfecl creation. lt is evolving. Jesus does not rescue lhe Chaplaincy lectures have been launched in response to

fallen sinners but empowers a new humanity. 'l don't the events of 11 September 20o1: how can reli$ons and

want to be washed in ine btooO of anybody!' cuftures live peaceably togethef How can they be creative

Many reject the story because they reject the way we and credible in the 21st century? 'h was an excellent

have interpreted it. We need a new Reformation, a new begfnningl, saya the University Chaplain, Revd John Butler' I

Christianity for a new wortd. 'Do we have to park our


Anglican Ghaplaincy to the University of wales'

Bangor - an SGM'affiliated chaplaincy







faith and social justice cannot be separated

ln this new feature, we'll be reportingl on campaigns being run by SGM and other organisations:

campaigns on issues specifically related to student life, and on broader issues that we think concerned

Christians might feel moved to act on.



People and Planet (

is a student organisation

running campaigns on a range of environmental and social

justice issues, often with impressive success. We encourage

you to get involved in their current campaigns:

Stop GATS, defend higher education

P&P is campaigning against the new General Agreement on Trade in

Services. GATS is being negotiated now in the World Trade Organisation,

and aims to open up a whole range of seruices to the WTO's free

trade rules and systems.

lf education is one of the seruices opened up in this way, public

funding for higher education could be made illegal as an 'unfair barrier'

to free trade, 'unprofitable' courses at universities could be shut down,

tuition fees would rise due to the need to compete, and academics

would have to rely on private funding, threatening their independence.

GATS could accelerate and lock in place the already alarming commercialisation

of education, which will be even more catastrophic in Africa

and the developing world than it will in the UK.

What you can do

P&P have prepared a detailed report on the implications, and now

aim to persuade the Higher Education Minister Margaret Hodge to

launch an impact assessment before signing higher education up to

GATS. You can co-operate with a P&P group or work in your own

group on the campaign, which has two stages:

. Get action cards from P&P, and send them to the Minister.

Pressure your Student Union and your lecturers' unions to get

involved too.

. Ask your university's Vice-Chancellor to write to Margaret Hodge.

All Vice-Chancellors have already received a copy of P&P's report

on GATS. P&P suggest you apply pressure to your VC by organising

a petition if necessary. lf that doesn't work, protest! P&P groups

nationwide will be arranging stunts and demonstrations in the runup

to ttge WTO's decision on GATS in March.

Kick the arms dealers off campus!

Many universities invest in arms companies, allow them to recruit at

graduate fairs, and even receive funding from them. ln some cases,

they may be investing in regimes which oppress international students

studying at those very universities. These are your universities, and

your tuition fees they're spending. They can be pressured to adopt

ethical policies in all these areas.

Trade tustice


SCM is a member of the Trade Justice

Movement, a group of organisations

concerned with the harmful impact of current

international trade rules on the environment,

democracy and the poorest people in the

world. The Trade Justice Movement calls for

fundamental change of the unjust rules and

institutions governing international trade, so

that trade is made to work for all. ln June

2002, the TJM organised the largest ever

mass lobby of Parliament, which was attended

by SCM members.

What can you do?

. Send a greeting to the new directorgeneral

of the World Trade Organisation,

asking him to make it more democratic.


www.tradejusticemovement.orE. ul






5{ Fobrury

Sodd Rorpondbf,lly of/ln $c iortPrrollt f*cOftor

Spisska Kapitula, Slovakia

fhird seminar organised by the Gertral European Sub

Region ol the World Student Ghristian Federation. Plans

to establish a lorum for young people lrterested in

ecumenical, economic and Gertral European issues.

lf you would like to represert SGM at this evert, see

rvww. movemert.orq.uUdiarv.

8 Febntary

lnioFfrlli lppm*hc to fHcbn

Ammerdown Gonference and Retreat Gerte

An irter-faith day on the meaning and aims of mygticism,

its retevance to toda/s spiritual needs and tte

techniques and elqeriences of individuals and diflerent

laith groups.

t20 lincludes vegetarian lunch and relrcshmentsl


21-Zl Fcblllty

S[oft.ild SptrlbellU

SGM's annual conference.

For details, see page 13 or

www. movemert,orq.uUAnnualGonf erenco.

21-2{ Flbrurt


The gathering ol the SPEAI( Network. A weekend of

ideas, vision, prayer and discussion, tollowed by a day ol

action: creative prayer and meeting illPs and other


E O2072494309



rK, pftars for tIre sllmmer y&l

The Lingua Franca project is looking for voluntary teachers, who

are willing to:

. travel to Central or Eastern Europe during the summer;

. teach language tor 2-3 weeks;

. tearn and experience the history, religion and everyday life of

the hosting country.

The essence of Lingua Franca is that teachers, course organisers

and students mutually benefit from the language courses.

Teachers from different countries teach language for students in

Central and Eastern Europe. ln an ecumenical context, all pafticipants

share the histories and habits of their countries. As

'payment" teachers are fully hosted and get a unique insight into

the everyday life and cultural and religious traditions of the

hosting country.

The program was developed to help youth and students from

throughout the region learn with and from each other... break

down culturati tinguistic and historical barriers and help empower

young people to work together.

Experience a different kind of world!

Lingua Franca is a program of the World Student Christian

Federation, one of the otdest ecumenical organisations and one

of the few world-wide working student organisat,ons.

For more information and an application form, please contact:

WSCF Lingua Franca, c/o Evangelikus Egretemi Gyulekezet,

Maglar Tudosok Korutja 3, H-1118 Budapest, Hungary

e: I Zsuzsa Rihay

LinElua Franca co-ordlnator

1{-16 ttdr

Wdkild TtlkWGclild

A weekend in the Sheffield inner city ashram. El0lore

some new realities; meet local actMsts and disciples; stay

with Ashram House memberc, ilo a toumeywalkabout.

ashram has produced lhe loumeyitrtroductory course to

radical Ghristianitv (see pages 19-201.

t40 lincludes accommodationl

Revd Dr lohn Vincent, Ashram Gommunity Office, 178

Abbeyfield Road, Sheflield 54 7AV

t0114 243 6688


Prcar h Torrlr - llnfrfrhd Bntnll for tie girdt Todry

Maria Assumpta cedre, 23 Kensington Square' london W8

Pax Ghristi, the international Gatholic movement lor

peace, hold their fortieth anniversary conference'

t10 waged/tS unwaged

PilOrfttl Stlceplfs,Watfod Wry' llendon, Landon t{W4 4IY

20tl dt

Qdd Dryior tont

Ammerdown Gonference and Retreat Centre

Wth creative elements, sharing with others and time to

'be', find new strendh as lesus did in the desert.

t12 lincludes lunch and refreshmentsl


7-13 lprll

USGF tttd ttc Ecunolcd llorunent - Dl*ovedlg our

rlotr ud looldlgto tltc ttttutt

fuand, Finland

The European Regional Assembly ol the World Student

Ghristian Federation. See unu&.EgyruIl9lc,l&Eiery

lor further details.

a date with Marie?

I am scribbling this as the 9.30 Virgin

train to Birmingham pulls out of

Edinburgh. I have just spent 3 days in

lovely Scotland meeting SCM groups at

Glasgow and Edinburgh. This is mY

favourite part of my job, not catching

trains in the freezing November fog that

is, but actually meeting SCMers.

So if you are planning your programme

and would like a visit from SCM it would

make my day if you were to get in touch. I

have visited lots of groups and you don't

have to be in a interesting city with lovely

art galleries for me to agree to visit. I can

turn up and chat to a group or bring a

workshop with me. My box of tricks

includes thought-provoking stuff on a wide

range of topics, including social justice,

body image, the environment, images of

Christ, mission, and many more.

Visiting helps me to keep in touch with

you and also to bring you the latest news

in what is going in the national movement.

For more details about my workshops see or ring

OL21- 47t 2404 and chat to me about it.

And read about me in my guest starring

role in 'First among equals' on page 24.

8 | movement

headless chicken?

Where now for the Ghurch of England?

the church

As I write this, the Ghurch of England is

officially headless. Archbishop George

Carey, who has headed the church

through the ordination of women and

the decade of evangelism, retired at the

end of October, and Archbishop Rowan

Williams starts in January. Meanwhile,

the Church of England is wandering

around twitching like the proverbial

headless chicken (Proverbs 26:6).

Reform and the Church Society, along with

Forward in Faith, the right and left wings of

the church, are in a flap about Rowan's views

on homosexuality, among other issues.

lrrespective of his reassurances to them, they

are determined to find a liberal plot and are

in the of excludi themselves from

the church. A split of some sort seems

inevitable, then we can just remove the

entrails and roast the chicken.

I suspect there are two prime causes of the

problem - disappointment and (ssshh - are

the children in bed?) postmodernity. George

Carey was a big disappointment to the

evangelicals in the Church of England. They

hoped that now 'one of them' was in control,

everything would be OK. The NIV would be on

every lectern, the ASB would be binned, and

a revised BCP would bring us back to the

glories of our reformed foundation. But it all

went wrong. The decade of evangelism

promised much and delivered nothing.

Women got ordained (shock horror). Carey

disappeared from our TVs, and the future king

got divorced and wanted to be the Defender

of Faiths. Society kept turning away from the


ln many ways George Carey was the last

modern arChbishop, and in that he 'fails'

because society has become a postmodern

one. The conseruatives in both wings of the

church see a liberal in Williams, maybe

because he is a theologian. They are wrong.

Rowan Williams is the first postmodern

archbishop of the Church of England. He is a

poet (even his name is poetic) and a prophet.

He accepts difference, but stands clearly for

his own deep understanding of faith. I believe

he understands the fundamental change that

has happened to our society. The issues that

the conservatives have are the issues of the

modernist with a postmodernist. (See the

critique of Rowan Williams'theology by Garry

Williams, tutor at Oak Hill College, London, at

www. lati mertrust.or9theology:of . htm.)All th is

makes me sure that Rowan Williams is exactly

the right person to help the Church of England

at this time of change. The next few years will

be very painful in the Church of England. We

will continue to shrink and lose both prestige

and finance. Failure will be an increasing part

of our experience. Major splits will occur. We

will not just feel like headless chickens but

trussed and roasted chickens. But out of the

fire and suffering, we may discover that we

are not a chicken but a phoenix. I

Nell Elliott

society kept


away from

the church

Rowan Williams,

fully kifted out

to lead a beheaded

chicken into the future

. Noil Elllott is AnElllcan

chaplain at the Unlvelalty

of Gentral England

movement | 9


yv orl -,1 vie yY

reports from other student Christian movements

The German student Ghristian

movement, the ESG, was founded as

the Deutsche christliche Studentenvereinigung

(DCSV) in 1895. The DGSV

became part of the World Student

Christian Federation (WSCF) in the

same year. Since the DGSV oPPosed

the so-called 'force into line' of the

Third Reich, it was prohibited in 1938

by the Nazis. The colle$e groups

sought protection from prosecution

under the cloak of the institutionalised

Protestant churches. During this time,

the name'Evangelische Studentenge'

meinde' (rouglhly translated,

'Protestant Student SocietY')

developed. After the war, the 'Evan$elische

Studentengemeinden' of

individual college groups drew to$ether

as the successor organisation to the

DCSV, under the name 'Evangelische

Studentengemeinde in der Bundesre'

publik Deutschland' (ESG).

The ESG understands itself as a

community of lesus Ghrist and lives out

the liberating message of the Bible















about 150 local SCMs in GermanY













* Assemblies


Until 1967, this ESG existed as one organasation

in the two German states. ln 1967'

the organisational separation of the ESG'

into one organisation in West Germany and

one in East Germany, was decided and

carried out, without giving up the inner unit.

Up to the year 1989, narrow relationships

existed between the two organisations'

which were both members of WSCF. With the

union of the two German states the prerequisite

for a union of the two SCMs was


The ESG fights for iustice'

peace and Protection of

Greation. lt works in an

ecumenical context

Shaped through German history, until

1945 the ESG always committed itself in a

politically progressive and critical wdY,

working outside the church. The special

situation in Germany after 1945 caused the

organisation to develop differently in East

and West. While the ESG in West Germany

kept sight of its autonomy outside the

church in the context of the student

movement of 1968, the ESG in the East

looked for critical proximity. However, basic

democratic elements were preserved in both


The ESG understands itself as a

community of Jesus Christ and lives out the

liberating message of the Bible' lt fights for

justice, peace and protection of Creation. lt

works in an ecumenical context. lt is open to

everybody but not to everYthing.

Today about 150 groups ('communities')

are members of the ESG. Each group is

autonomous. The ESG is supported by group

members, the EKD (Protestant church of

Germany), and the government. The ESG is a

member of many other NGOs and involved in

a lot of activities, for examPle: >

10 lmovement


. Campaign for Clean Clothing - fair trade

of textiles and textile production in

accordance with human rights;

. Adivasi-Tee-Projekt - supporting a teafarm

for native lndians;

. CANAAL - Camerun-Namibia-Allemagne-


. International meetings;

. Ecumenical meetings and seminars;

. Seminars and conventions on different

topics relating to church and society

(violence in the Bible, development

politics, Europe, gender-gay issues, and so

on). I

Ulrich Falkenhagen

Secretary General of the Evangelische

Studentengemelndo in der Bundesrepubllk Deut3chland





! 0b wscF !

Europe 04

gt Q'lrl trro'

SCM and the ESG are

both members of

World Student Christian

Federation Europe

The red cockerel

symbol of the ESG

Some different meanings of the red cockerel are

. The cockerel is a biblical animal which reminds Peter in the New

Testament of his betrayal of Jesus. ('Before the cock crows you will

have denied me three times.') Thus the cockerel warns the church

of betrayal, and shows it when it is rejecting Christ by its actions. We

should not talk our way out - neither in small matters ('That's not my

job', 'The responsible authorities should take care of that') nor in big

matters, where fear of people leaving the church often blocks the

solidarity with the poor and oppressed which is demanded by the

gospel. The cockerel should admonish us, but also we - as a critical

parish - need to admonish our church.

. The cockerel is well-known as the weathercock on church

steeples, where it shifts with the wind. Maybe the church 'trims its

sails to the wind'. But with the cockerel it is completely different.

It turns with its head against the wind: it crows always against the

wind! The cockerel should remind us to be suspicious of opinions

we are told to be normal and prevailing. We must clearly fight the

'normal'xenophobia and become active, for example.

. ln the age of Reformation 'the rapacious gang of peasants' (Martin

Luther) placed the red cockerel (fire) on the roofs of the lords they

were oppressed by. Whose side was Jesus on at the time, when

Luther was on the side of the lords? Whose side is he on today in

Latin America, in Africa, Asia, in all the issues of our 'two thirds'

society? ... Whose side are we on?

An open doo(? Migration in a European context

What do you think of when you hear the word migration?

Bnin dnin to the States - Aussie nurses and Indian computer technicians - Vbtnames e boat people - Refugiees

trn,pped in the Channel Tunnel - Voucherc - Asylum Seekers - Fortness Europe - Green Card - lnter-religious dialogue?

llout mary of your fan$y tnentets or tien& are 'lIXPlo Bitbtr' (or Webh, or Eglish, whatever) in ttre bt ttree generatiors?

Did any of your family emigrate abroad? ls Britain 'abroad' for you?

ls'economic' miglration more ot less important than 'political' migration?

Why do so many people want to settle in Britain? Why do people want to leave?

How important is Britain's past as a colonial empire for us today?

Ibputt**tHslteBiE*l ban ishtd,lrecan be tnrecfiocydontr,tipue leth? ()rdoes itglue us morcresporcllt1B

Did you know that in the 193Os Britain made it difficult for German Jews to immigrate?

Do you know how many Brits have grandparents who settled here because of the Second World War?






! aca

Action Reconcfratin Sentice

for Feace isthe UKbrancfi da

@rnn l{@ set up b sed(

rcconciliation with ofter


onties afterthe Secod u/ofi

!a lAhr. ln &itain tt€y hehed to

tebuf,d Itlo

Corcnuy Caffedral, fur



e.amplq and tpir UK otrce b

Contact: Anne Katrin Schef$uch, ARSP, 7 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 sES

t: O2476 222 487 . f: O24766:1 14 48


movement | 11

rc$/ rpc to the cathedral.

ARSP annually sends about 150 long-term

volunteers to countries which were affected by

Germany in World War !1. Presently our volunteers work

in Bel$um, Belarus, the Czech Republic, France,

Germany, lsrael, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland,

Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The volunteers are mostly aged between 19 and 26

and work in a wide variety of organisations, where they

do work such as caring for survivors of the Holocaust

living and working with people with special needs oi

with refugees, community work, Holocaust education.

ln the UK ARSP currently has a group of thirteen

Polish and German volunteers.

A weekend seminar

All these stereotypes, images and questions are important. You have the

chance to think about the truth behind them. lf these questions interest

you, come to the seminar on migration organised by Action Reconciliation

Service for Peace (ARSP). The seminar will take place on 24-27 May next

year, probably in South Wales. As well as British students, the participants

will be young people from Germany and Poland who are currently working

on year-long volunteer projects in the UK. Their work ranges from

mediation programmes in inner city areas or the minimum wage campaign

(see page 221, to running the touring exhibition about Anne Frank that you

might have seen on your campus. Together we can address all aspects of

migration from our different European conteKs - on this island and on the

continent as EU members or candidates.

And even if you can't come to the seminar, all those questions we started

with should be more than enough for you to run a workshop evening in your

SCM group...


disarming acttons

disarming actions I

helen steven

A challenge too far



meed fi'trrtrt]F"e

wild folk


e hafllemgimg


. This is Helen Steven's last

column, as she is moving

on fYom the Scottish

Centre for Non-Violence to

work with the lona

Gommunity. We thank her

for all hev challenging

witingi in Movenlent, and

wish her every success itr

her new role. FYom next

issue, we will be featudng a

new column on activism'

written by Christian Aid's

Patrick Dawes (s€e page 5).

Sometimes we take the ProPhets for

granted and totally underestimate just

how wild and uncomfortable they really

were - including Jesus of course. John the

Baptist confronted the decadence of

Herod's lifestyle at the cost of his life. Or

take Jeremiah for example. People don't

get shoved into miry pits for being polite

around authority. Nor is one crucified for

being kind to little children and healing

the lame. They were all different to the

point of being not only uncomfortable, but

an actual threat to the established order.

Wherr John the Baptist's disciples came to

ask Jesus whether he was the one John had

foretold, Jesus asked them what they had all

gone out into the desert to see. What were

they expecting? Almost certainly not what

they got. A wild hairy man, living on an

unusual diet, who ranted at them all' telling

tlrem they were a bunch of snakes.

John the Baptist called people to repent. And

he was specific in the actual practical lifestyle

changes that people could make' Repenting

means turning again, giving up the old ways'

being radically different: stop cheating on your

tax returns, stop exploiting the poor, if you have

two shirts, give one away. So where is the difference

from our present day demands to drop the

debt, to scrap the IMF and the World Bank?

Except perhaps that it is not so much a question

of shirts any more - rather houses, cars,

estates, and the GNP of whole countries. A call

to change our destructive ways, such as was

made and ignored at Kyoto. 60,000 people are

flying to the World Summit at Johannesburg' To

wlrat end? How many of these are representa'

tives of vested interests determined to hold

back any change that might save the planet, but

damage their profits? We desperately need

more wild folk with challenging lifestyles.

Jeremiah was an out-and-out traitor to his

people. At a time of national disaster he got up

and told folks that they had it coming to them,

that worse would happen unless they turned to

the paths of righteousness. lma$ne Jeremiah

going public to the media on 12 September and

saying that the chickens were coming home to

roost for the rich countries of the capitalist

world; that this was just the beginning of the

terror they could expect. I suspect it migltt be

classed as un-American activity, insensitive to

the point of brutality, and downright treason.

Our world is being dragged to the brink of one

of the most dangerous times in its history to

serve the interests of corporate America, with

the UK following closely in its wake' What must

it be like for an lraqi citizen to hear daily a

discussion as to whether or not her country is

going to be brought to its knees, bombed to

oblivion? lt has been su€gested that Britain's

Trident nuclear submarines be deployed in the

Gulf, so that should the 'nuclear threshold' be

crossed, it will be Britain that becomes the prime

target and not the US. For many years now US

Strategic Air Command has been talking about

'full-spectrum dominance' of space, so that

targets can be pinpointed anywhere in the world

from space. This programme depends on the

telecommunications base at Fylingdales in

Yorkshire for its effectiveness.

So what are we doing about it? Recently I

heard of a Puerto Rican woman called Alexandrina

who protested at her home in Vieques being

used as a bombing practice range. She was

sentenced to 35 years in prison for anti-

American activities. At the present moment the

nofth coast of Scotland is being used for the

same purpose. So why are we not filling up the

jails? Where is our un-American activity? And let

us not stop at bein$ un-American, it is time we

were seen as being actively opposed to British

government policy. We can start with the letters,

but we cannot let it rest there. We can join the

Pledge to Resistance should war be declared on

lraq. We need to oppose injustice and wrong

until it hurts.

ln previous articles I have referred to Jesus'

direct action in the Temple, overturnin$ the

tables. lt is only in the last week after studying

with a colleague of Walter Wink that I began to

realise the tull extent of the Temple Riot. Firstly

the sheer size of the court of the Gentiles in the

Temple in Jerusalem was about three quarters of

a mile long, by half a mile. lt says that Jesus

stopped anyone from carrying anything across it!

How on earth did he do it? How did anyone

notice a few tables being kicked over in a corner

of such a huge area? How did he make himself

seen and heard? lt must only have been

because many other people joined in and it must

have become a full-scale riot, to the point where

he couldn't be arrested because of the crowd.

However, in spite of their challenging

behaviour, in spite of their uncomfortable words,

people still flocked to see these prophets. They

must have been attractive people, fun to be with'

living the life of God's kingdom to the tull. These

are the kind of people we are called to follow.

'Christians should be without fear, happy, and

always in trouble' (D Steere). I

L2 | rrovenrent

celebrity theologian










lohn Milbank

Who is he, and what does

he do?

The Francis Ball Professor of Philosophical Theology at

the University of Virginia. Previously, he was a Reader in

Philosophical Theology at the University of Cambridge.

What has he written?

He did his doctoral worl< on the ltalian thinl

small ritual


small ritual I

Whose story?

steve collins

Whose story

does the

music in

your church

embody -

your own,

or someone


lf someone



. Steve Collins is a wtiter

and web designer in

London, and is involved

in alternative worship

Since recorded music was invented a

century ago, all kinds of music have

become available to all of us. For the

first time in human history, we can

have any music we want, whenever

and wherever we want. We choose

from the $reatest varietY of music

available to any society in history. But

our choices are lar$ely determined by

which story we want to Put ourselves

into. Every genre of music embodies

and evokes its own story of social and

personal identity. ln listenin$ we take

part in those identities, even if only in

imagination. Rejection of music is

often about rejecting the identity it


But if music embodies life-story, what

about the music in church? Whose story

does the music in your church embody -

your own, or somepne else's? lf someone

else's, whose? Thinking in terms of lifestory

takes us beyond the usual arguments

over 'good' and 'bad', 'contemporary' and

'traditional', and helps us see why musical

style and change are such fraught issues in

churches. The music we use in church can

be a potent representation of our story to

God. lf the music does not represent us,

belongs to another story, we could be

alienated at the point where we most need


The story embodied in our chosen music

is often an inner story that circumstances

will not allow to be expressed in any other

way. lf this is so it's all the more important

for us to use that music in our dealings with

God, for honesty and freedom's sake. lf we

can do this, church becomes a space of

liberation, where our hidden selves can be

expressed to God and to one another. We

can recover our sense of who we are, and

find strengfh to resist the pressures to be


But the musical menu available in most

churches is very limited by comparison to

the world outside. The music itself isn't

necessarily bad, but the chances are it's

alien both in style and in the way the music

is used. ln limiting the forms of music that

are permitted, churches limit the life-stories

that are permitted expression. Often it has

been forgotten that every story was

someone's story at some time in history'

and churches lapse into essentialism'

saying this story is the only story for

Christians, and to be a Christian you must

walk in it. ln cultures where there are few

musical stories this may suffice as an

argument, but in our own culture we are

aware of a great many musical stories, and

have already placed ourselves somewhere

among them as a part of our growing up.

Story isn't necessarily about following a

single genre. Mostly we weave several, and

creatively appropriate music from

seemingly different storylines into our own.

Nor is it just about musical style, which is

why Christian substitutes 'in the style of'

don't always work. We expect artists to live

up to the stories embedded in their music -

in short, credibility. lt's been said that the

job of the artist is to go through extreme

states on our behalf, so that we can work

through these things vicariously and

survive. lf so it's no wonder that 'Christian'

exercises in decency and moderation failto

heal us.

ln the light of all this, churches need a

much more complex approach to music

than they have generally demonstrated.

Music in this context is a means of

communication and expression between

ourselves and God. lf the music we use in

church represents us, then communion with

God takes place within our own story. And

since the music of our own story runs

throughout our lives, when we discover how

to make communion with God in it in one

place it can, potentially, be a vehicle for

communion with God anywhere, anytime

else. Church is no longer an event outside

our storyline, but an event within it.

I've discussed the issue of life-story in

terms of music, because music is its most

potent carrier in our society, and we all

understand the dynamic. But it's worth

asking the question of all aspects of

church, the liturgical, the visual, the

theological - whose story is this? lf not

mine, whose? Can I take it for my own' or

would it be a charade? And what would it

look like if re-embodied in my story? I

14 | movement

feature: i ntrod uci ng christian ity



Our feature this issue explores the various courses currently available which try to

introduce non-Ghristians to the church or to Ghristian belief.

The aim of all these courses is essentially to create new Ghristians - although, as

we'll see, different courses may create different kinds of Ghristian! The idea of

evangelasm, in this form or any other, can be problematic in our multicultural

society. So we start with a piece by theologian Tim Gorringe, exploring the deeper


evangettbm in

a €Iobattbed world

Can we spread the gospel whilst still respecting difference?

When delegates met in Edinburgh in

1910 for the lnternational Missionary

Conference, they were clear that their

agenda was 'the evangelisation of the

world in this generation'. No qualms for

them: the map was coloured red; the

sun never set over the British empire;

humankind was visibly caught up in the

great leap forwards, and the Christian

gospel had to leaven that. What

followed we all know: two world wars,

the Holocaust, and then the carving up

of the world for the profit of the multinational

corporations. As we approach the

l00th anniversary of that conference,

we are in a different world. ln this brief

article I willjust haghlight two points of

difference. First, though imperialism

remains a fact of life, there is a greater

cultural self-confidence on the part of

all humankind's constituents than there

was at that earlier time. We recognise

this in speaking of 'multiculturalism',

the demand that difference be

respected, and the insistence that

there is no Archimedean point from

which all standpoints can be assessed.

Does this mean, then, that evangelism

is just Western arrogance? The question

is serious, and posed to Christians by

many critics.

A sensitive response to this question has

been developed by the Jesuit Michael Barnes.

The heart of his proposal is to understand God

as involved in the experience of otherness.

We are all familiar from Matthew 25 with the

idea that we encounter God in our neighbour.

ln Barnes'terms, God is'the primary Other'. lf

that is the case, then openness to God means

openness to others, and this is at the root of

any Christian theolo$/. The aim of encounter

cannot be conquest or conversion. lt is simply

genuine meeting, the situation in which I

genuinely hear what the other has to say. This

is always fraught with difficulty, and never

perfectly realised. ln every kind of meeting we

always find ourselves in a 'broken middle', a

relationship which is always under negotiation.

Thinking of relationship like this, argues

Barnes, allows us to imagine a situation

where we can be passive in the face of the

other without being crushed by them. He

suggests that this is what we find in the

famous 'Christ hymn' of Philippians 2 which

speaks of Christ 'taking the form of a slave',

but accomplishing redemption precisely by

doing so. Christian theolory is rooted in the

story of the God who is Emmanuel, the Word

spoken in the 'broken middle' of the world,

who still goes on speaking through the spirit

which leads the disciples into all the truth.

What they share is what God can do in and

through human weakness. This is one form of

Christian mission in a multicultural world.

What about the situation of the imperialism of

the multinational corporation, backed up by the

might of US firepower? How does that affect our

concept of evangelism? Another Jesuit, Aloysius

Pieris ftom Sri Lanka, argues that evangelism )

Tim Gorringe

openness to God means

openness to others,

and this is at the root

of any Ghristian theology


feature: introduci ng christianity

means quite centrally addressing a society in

the thrall of materialism, of Mammon. ln Jesus'

he argues, the irreconcilable antinomy between

God and Mammon and the irrevocable covenant

between God and the poor are made flesh. True

evangelism is to live this out in fellowship with

the authentic spirituality and liberative

dimensions of other reli$ons. Note, evangelism

does not mean in the first instance displacing

True evangelism is to live in fellowship

with the authentic spirituality and

liberative dimensions of other religions

. Tim GorrinEle has wotked

in parishos' taught

theology in south lndia'

worked a3 a college

chaplain ln Oxfold' and

lectuled at St Andrewg

and Exeter, where he is

now St Luke's Plofeseor

of Thoological Studies. He

was chaptain to SCM ln

the 1970s.

other reli$ons. On the contrary, Pieris argues

that each of the great reli$ons has its own

version of the Sermon on the Mount, the Truth

that sets us free from being tied to things that

cannot $ve us freedom. The Asian churches (but

why just the Asian churches?) have to experience

solidarity with non-Christians by witnessing

to the spirituality common to all reli$ons (by

practising the Beatitudes); and reveal their

Christian uniqueness in proclaimingJesus as the

new covenant by joinin$ the poor against

Mammon's principalities and powers that create

poverty and oppression. ln a $obalised world, I

would argue, that is as true in London,

Birmingham or Glasgow as in Colombo'

The attempt to serve Mammon, whether or

not in the name of God, is the decisive marker

of what is not of God's Spirit. Whatever frees

us from Mammon is of the Spirit. We experience

solidarity with such anti-Mammon forces

and we proclaim Jesus as the new covenant in

solidarity with the Poor.

lf this is a true account of evangelism it

follows that mission campai$ns which rely on

huSe quantities of money, or on the strength

of imperial orders, are confiadictions in

terms. What it actually means to make

disciples of nations is to baptise them into a

spirituality of nonacquisitiveness and

nonaccumulativeness which guarantees a

healthy, ecologically balanced sharing of our

resources. The cross is not, as it is for much

Protestant preaching, 'the price for sinners

paid' but the price fixed by the rich who refuse

to be evangelised by the poor. 'lf one day we

truly take up this cross as a body and go

underground and pay that price for the sake

of our intimidated masses, that day the world

will see the miracle it is yearning to see' a

church which has been evangelised by the

poor, and therefore, a church that has

become Good News to the poor, as Jesus

was'. As each religion discovers that in the

other which liberates from acquisitiveness it

discovers and renames itself precisely in and

through encounter.

Pieris warns that the liberating spirituality of

the religions is gradually being extinguished

by the wave of capitalistic techniculture that

has begun to shake the relisious foundation

of all cultures. 'The market economy (which

thrives on the quest for profit) and

consumerism (which plays to our accumulative

instinct) have enthroned Mammon where,

once, the human Person and the human

community as well as the earth on which we

live, were the sole beneficiary'. This is, I

believe, the key perspective in any contemporary

theoloSl of evangelism. Gospel is good

news, and this has to be addressed to the

situation of the day, in our case one where

the possibility of the continuance of life as we

know it is threatened by the rapacity of

present economic practices, as '2,000

concerned scientists' warned in 1996.

Reviewing my ATheologr of the Built Environ'

rnent, which examines these claims, John

Macquarrie dismissed it as the work of 'an old

fashioned Christian Socialist'. The question

we are left with, though, is what the gospel

can be today, other than a warning and a call

to repentance in the name of the God of life?

Evangelism in our context is, as it was for the

prophets, a sombre business, and it is

certainly not primarily about getting more

bums on pews. lt is, as it has always been, a

callto repentance, but not one which is made

in competition with other religions. On the

contrary, its primary concern is obedience to

the God of life, and engagement with all that

makes for death. I

Tim Gorrin$e

see also,,,

M Barnes, Theolo$y and the Dialo$ue of

Retigions, Cambrid$e: Cambrid$e

University Press, 2002

Pieris, Fire and Water, Maryknoll: Orbis'


'Evangelism is a call to repentanGe, hut not one

which is made in competition with other religions'

16 lmovement


feature: introducing christianity

marketin$the Sospel

For years, the Alpha course has been used by many churches and groups as a way of

introducing'unchurched' people to Ghristianity. But dissatisfaction with the Alpha

approach has led to the development of several alternative courses. We compare and

contrast the different courses, and look at people's experiences of Alpha...


Did you know?

Accordingj to Stephen

Hunt's book Anyone

tor Alpha?, only

3-4% of participants

in Alpha courses

become Christians

at the end.

Most 'introductory'

courses are actually

attended mainly by

existing churchgoers.

Developed at Holy Trinity Brompton over the last 20 years and now headed by Revd Nicky

Gumbel, Alpha is the longest-established and best-known of the introductory courses. The

organisers say that thousands of courses are now running in many countries. They also say

that it's used in secular locations - prisons, businesses and schools. Alpha bills itself as a

fifteen-session practical introduction to the Christian faith, aimed especially at people who

don't go to church. At Holy Trinity, Alpha courses are held throughout the year and have

hundreds of people attending each week. The syllabus for the course is contained in a book

called Questions of Life. Some courses are held during the day, but most are evening events,

with a light meal followed by a talk. Then participants break into pre-arranged groups of

around a dozen people (in which they remain for the entire course) to discuss the talk. A

team of around three or four 'leaders' or 'helpers' from the host church is attached to each

group. There is also a weekend away focusing on the subject of the Holy Spirit.

The problem for many people is that Alpha introduces participants to a very particular kind

of Christianity. The emphasis is very much on the evangelical, charismatic side of Christian

faith, and on participants 'accepting the Lord Jesus into their heafts' (or words to that effect).

Whilst a dissatisfaction with this approach

has led to the creation of at least one of the

alternative courses now available, it hasn't

stopped people adapting Alpha lo work with

a much more open view of faith. We asked

some SCM members and groups to reflect

on their experiences of Alpha, and you can

see what they thought below.


""\^Icomers' . -,..^ment with Atohl

Y: "

il*";,,' y:::l":t Hi!I"*l: i::r:'ffSi,i#Fl





everyone l".u]ll;,., armosphere.

a warm and trtetrur] uu"--'



Alpha lnternational, Holy Trinity Brompton,

Brompton Road, London SW7 1rA


t; 020 7581 8255

f: O2O 7584 8536



:,t^:o to hetp read an Atpha cot,,,

;ffi#;lXts:,i"ul #"l:::e



unr€, I was ii:- "t


tendency to rorll? ilfi ;r"J" at the


19." : rn e probtJri",-"j' ]rjls .!n at it e n co urquesttons

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"il;;r:"', l]lh..,'ourdn't go


Symon, individual SGM rnember

movement | 17

feature: introduci ng christianity


:ilt'H:"Tir#i^x::'"iy#l"lTiffi '

ft 'i:{,riilffi ffi r*:iliL.ik:iFHl:;'diiffi

ff*'ffi ffiEi#itr'H*#ff fi $g#gw

The Holy Spirit weekend supplied a goo(


[tili*'i''ffi ,l:*i+$[ifr i:'l*i*q-qri[*'Tiffi

the kingdom grow

Emmaus: The Way of Faith, launched in 1996 is

an introductory course developed principally

tllllAul within and for the Church of En$and. The

organisers describe it as an enabling resource,

aiming to be flexible and suitable for a range of

r |r ilAus tmditions and using effective educational and

evangelistic methods. They say their theological

view of Christian faith and mission is 'otthodox"

A range of Emmaus books is available from Church House

Publishing, the

Church of England's

publishing company.

Over 50,000 books

have been sold.


Sheridan James, Emmaus Co-ordinator

e o20 7a98 t524

e; sheridan

w; www.natsoc.ord.ulr/emmaus

Alpha, Emmaus and now Journey are the

best-known introductory courses, backed

up by publications and support networks,

but there are other courses, including

many smaller ones developed at a local

level. Some you may come into contact

with include:

. Essence - just published, again bY

evangelicals within the Church of England,

this is apparently aimed specifically at

people interested in New Age or more

general spirituality. lt claims to offer a

'contemporary meditative journey'.

. Credo - a course written by Lindsay

Owen, Bishop of Horsham in Sussex,

aiming 'to bring people to faith in the


. A Rou9h Guide to Christianity - a local

course in Holloway run bY Dave

Tomlinson. A more open approach, he

says it's suited for 'Alpha dropouts'.







rest of this feature

focuses on Joumey, with an overuiew of the

course on page 19 and an interview with its

creator on page 20.

Journey: fuetorations into Discipleship is a new course taking a

rather different approach from that of Npha or Emmaus. The

emphasis is on questioning and exploration, and on a practical form

of Christianity taking its form firstly in social and communal action

rather than specific belief. lt's being developed and run by the

Ashram Community, an experimental Christian community in

Sheffield which has a history of working together with SCM groups.

Joumey promises to offer an honest and fresh way of introducing

people to Christianity in a multicultural society, and of helping people

to think critically

about faith. The


Ashram Community, 178 Abbeyfield Road,

Sheffield 54 7AY

t: OL784 456 474


God Made




#-." from SCM


gives a lively and

accessible synopsis

of many common

questions about God

and theologiical

responses to them -

an excellent resource

for new Christians.

See page 3O for

details of how to

order publications

from SCM.

18 | movement

feature: i ntroduci ng ch ristian ity





lohn Vincent is responsible for the radical introductory course lourney: Explorations into

Discipleship. This article is based on a talk he gave at the Greenbelt festival in 2002.


I got groups of people all round the country to

meet with me and prepare sections of this

introductory course to radical Christianity. We

thought of the word 'Journey' fairly early on,

and said, 'Let's talk first about people's own

personal journey. Let's assume that faith

takes place in a person's life, and isn't just

related to specific "religious" actions.'

Secondly we tried to look at the journey of

Jesus and see how far it provides an example

of what makes sense of existence for people

today. lf only we could describe the life of

Jesus Christ in such a way that people say,

Yeah, that's something worth following', then

we might have a new version of Christianity

that was based not upon arguing about

people's beliefs, but upon people setting their

own life journey and commitment to God within

the compass of the obediences that they feel

called to in a contemporary violent world.

Thirdly we said, 'This group of people who

get together, hopefully in each other's homes

without benefit of clerg/, needs to take a

journey.' This is not a course where some

clever (or unclever) person delivers lectures,

and everybody asks questions about the

wisdom (or ignorance) that has been

revealed. This is a course where the leaders

are fellow pilgrims. They don't have all the

answers, but they are committed to Jesus

and to discipleship.

We encourage groups to find places where

Christian stuff is going on, and visit them. lt

could be the local charismatic church where

they've got a house group, a group of radical

Ghristians running a coffee bar, a group of

people related to Greenbelt or a local lona

Community group. And within this journey that

the group makes together, we sugg;est that

the fiesorrrces







they go on retreat with a religious community,

and that they spend a weekend in an inner city

Christian community, which confronts you with

visible discipleship to Jesus Christ.

The nature of Christian discipleship

ln the gospel of Mark - the guide behind a lot

of the teachingin Journey - discipleship does

not begin in your head or your heart, it begins

with your feet. The first word in discipleship in

Mark is, 'Follow me'. And the people called

knew pretty much nothing about the caller.

The second thing in Mark is your stomach -

you have meals together. The third thing is

your hands -

you engage in mission. Jesus

sends his disciples out on a mission to teach,

preach and heal, and cast out demons, when

what little they know about him is completely

wrong. And yet he keeps involving them in his

own mission, which I find rather merciful and

useful, as my practice should always be

ahead of my understanding. lf my

understanding had to come before my

practice, I would never have been where I

was as a disciple, and never have made the

discoveries that I've made through my life.

So, begin with your feet, move to your

stomach, move to your hands, and then

perhaps to your heart. Only in chapter 8 of

Mark are the disciples asked, 'Who do you

say I am?', and their answers happen to be

wrong. lt makes absolutely no difference to

Jesus - he couldn't care less whether you call

him Messiah or Son of Man or Saviour or Lord

or anything else. What really matters is what

you do with your guts and your hands and

your feet, and your commitment as a person

in the modern world. I

John Vincent

faith takes

place in a


life, and

isn't iust

related to




. John Vlncent lB a former

Prosldent of the

Mothodlst Church,

Dhoctor of the Urban

Communlty In Sheffleld.

The book Journey: Explorations rn Discipleshlp is arranged as a workbook, with twelve stages, each

accompanied by a visual symbol which becomes part of the Joumey programme. lt can be used

alongside a Journey Diary, so that through the twelve stages of the journey, participants have a

workbook that they can do their own journey search in. lt's not prescriptive but it's encouraging. Most

of the questions that we ask are practical ones, like 'Where are we going?', 'Why Jesus?' - what to go

for in life, who to be with, how to act, how to prophesy, how to find appropriate communities, and so

on. They're about the journey a person takes on when they become a disciple of Jesus Christ.

There is also a Group Leader's Guide. The first page which tells you how to be a leader is very helpful,

because it tells you that you're no good and that you'll do better by allowing the leadership to become,

as soon as possible, a corporate activity of people who together will find out the way you should go.

lourney t6 O Diary tJ2 O Guide E! O Postage fI O trom Ashram Press (address on page 18)


feature: introduci ng christianity

radical dtbcipleshiP

ln this interview, lohn Vincent, the creator ol lourney, talks about its usefulness for

students, and lays down a challenge for SCM members!

There needs



of the widest



of options

available to

people. We

have nothing to

fear from this

lnspired by John

Vincent's ideas of



Then contact the

Ashram CommuniV

(see page 78).

And see Common

People, an SCM

resource about

rnodels of Christian

community, available

for the special Price

of f,2.5O (including

postage) until April

2O03. See page 30

for details of how to

order SCM resources.


20 lmovement

Does .lourney address the interrelationships

between Christianity and other faiths?

We have a section which just asks, 'What was

Jesus' attitude to other faiths?' He didn't

obserue some of his own faith's rituals, he

challenged the Old Testament interpretation of

the law, he challenged the Jews' monopoly on

God and called religious leaders hypocrites. He

went beyond basic moral requirements in his

attitude to the Samaritan woman and in the

parable - talking about 'The Good Samaritan'

then was like talking about 'The Good Muslim'

now. And the Samaritan leper who comes back

and says thank you. And the Gentile centurion

who calls him son of God' These are all people

who are raised up by Jesus. And the parable

says that entrance to the kingdom doesn't

depend on saying, 'Lord'to Jesus. Those things

are very important. We're in a postmodern time

and there needs to be a recognition of the

widest possible number of options available to

people. We have nothing to fear from this. The

sooner we get out of a Christendom situation'

in which people are under oppression by any

denomination or religion, the better. ln that

sense, I think people who live in inner cities are

very privileged, because they can see and

welcome the pluralistic situation that in the

end is going to come to all of us.

lourney is intended to be used by small

groups outside church institutions, and you

talk a lot about the future of Christianity

lying in 'para-communities' outside the

traditional church. How do you think that

would affect campai$ning organisations'

such as Jubilee 2000? Willwe lose some of

the ability to co-operate on a national level?

No, I don't think so at all. I think that you would

have to say, instead of 'Christian Churches

Together in Britain and lreland', 'Christian

Communities Together in Britain and lreland'.

And you've got to find out what the alternative

Christian communities are in your area. There

are already many Christian churches - black

churches, community churches, charismatic

churches, house churches, and so on - that

don't belong to the so-called Churches Together.

So this is all going to happen in the next 10 or

2O years. What is important is that there should

be radical Christian communities alongside the

much more conservative ones that invariably are

the ori$n of the house church movements.

Given the pluralism and multiculturalism of

our society, why should 'outsiders' want to

explore and $et involved in Christianitf

I think that Christianity is a viable way of

confronting the contemporary world with a

radical challenge to alternative living. And I

don't see that radical challenge coming from

any other source. There is great interest in

other faiths, in New Age, in all kinds of spirituality.

What I'm interested in is getting a

hearing for radical Christianity as a challenge

to the normal waY of living life.

Do you have anY comments on using

lourney in a universitY setting?

It has been used in a number of university

contexts. I expect it should work there pretty

well, because university students would

respond to the practical approach: going round

visiting places, being exposed to different

Christian communities and philosophies'

meeting Christian disciples, with the intention

of forming some kind of alternative group to

discover what the discipleship and vocational

implications are for Christians. I think that this

element has been missing from the Student

Christian Movement, actually. There was a time

in the sixties and seventies when SCM was very

closely allied to experimental Christian

communities in inner city areas. The Ashram

Community in the seventies used to work very

closely with the university chaplaincies in

encouraging people to consider a year or

longer of experiential and vocational

'testing', if you like, in inner city communities.

This all bears out what l've said about the

importance of location, and of experimental

living with one's life: firstly as a way of discovering

what wisdom is, what reality's about, but

secondly as a way of exposinS oneself to

influences outside of the university academic

world - which would determine the way that

people get called into doing significant things'

I can remember times when I would be

visiting half a dozen SCM Eroups every year'

talking about vocation, talking about the

Urban Theologl Unit's study year, talking

about the possibilities of people taking a year

out to do inner city experience. I think that is

a vital element, and I would hope that we

could see a return to that kind of interest from

SCM groups, in practical pieces of community

disciPleshiP. I

Lian Purcell

ties and binds


ties and binds I jim cotter

innocence and experience

Crocodile Dundee was an 'innocent

abroad'. What we mean by the word

'innocent' in that sentence is that he

was inexperienced in city life, that he

wasn't streetwise enough for Los

Angeles. ln a subsequent film he was,

what shall we say, 'bushwise' in the

Australian outback, leading a bunch of

city roglues a merry dance - merry,

that is, for Grocodile Dundee.

(Whoops, I hope I haven't given the

Republican Party in America a new

adjective for their President...)

Back to the word 'innocence'. A baby, an

infant who is not yet conscious of the

motives and consequences of human

behaviour, is innocent in two senses:

without much experience and without $uilt,

not yet mature enough to be held to

account for his or her actions. Of course in

a court of law we seek to establish

innocence or guilt in very particular circumstances,

those of a crime which the

accused may or may not have committed.

When both those meanings of innocence'

are combined in the person of the very

young, we can see why we are horrified

when a baby is tossed on the bayonet of an

enemy soldier. So it is that nearly every

report of an atrocity, say a bomb which kills

a dozen people or more in a bus or cafe,

contains a phrase like, 'innocent people

were killed'. I know what the reporters

mean but I am uneasy. They were

bystanders perhaps, but'innocents'? I can't

help thinking that there is a subtle implication

that it might have been all right to blow

them up if they hadn't been innocent:

summary execution of those thought to be

guilty, but without the due processes of law.

The trouble is that we are so used to think

only of tlie innocence or guilt of individuats

in relation to specific acts. We rarely reflect

that there is no adult who has no share in

adding to the gonewrongness of things,

either by actions that harm or by colluding,

even by silence, with injustices and crimes.

I can hope that I shall not be caught up in a

terrorist attack, random in its selection of

those who are killed, but if I am I wonder in

what sense I could call myself innocent', a

reasonably comfortable and well-fed

westerner who could have done more and

could still do more to help eradicate the

causes of such attacks. I am convinced, by

reference to any mature system of law, that

those who perpetrate such terrible acts are

indeed guilty, but so are those retaliators

who, on the basis of secret information and

suspicion, can fire a weapon from a 'drone'

more than 20,000 feet above the ground

onto a jeep whose number plate has been

identified from a powerful camera. And if

such a weapon goes astray and kills a

farmer and his family, I want to cry out with

those reporters, 'But they are innocent of

great offence'. ln the Middle Ages soldiers

returning from the wars had to confess to a

priest if they had killed anyone, and the

more they had killed they greater their

penance. Even if the conflict had been a

'just' one, they were still guilty because

they had killed fellow human beings. How

much more so if you can kill at such a

distance by computers and buttons!

I offer these reflections without any

solutions, but I do think it important that we

are as precise as we can be when we

handle such an ambiguous word as

'innocence'. And there is one further

thought. I wonder if the word can apply to

the attitudes and actions of a few rare

people, usually elderly, experienced (not

innocent in that context), those who have

seen it all, know what is in the human heart

- including their own - and have become so

forgiving that it would be impossible for

them, even for a moment, to contemplate

harming others ever again. Come to think of

it, a bit like Jesus of Nazareth, and maybe

the God he embodied... I

there is no

adult who has

no share in

adding to the


of things, either

by actions

that harm

or by colluding,

even by silence,

with injustices

and crimes

. Jim Cotter runs Cairns

Publishing, an

independent Christian


movement |



Iife in aII its fullness?

Gan you help challenge debt on your own doorstep?



Church Actlon on Poveltt/t

vlalt ld4&gbglgts

I9tgtE4It&I|&r wrlte to

Church Actlon on Povertyt

Gentral Bulldlngs, Oldham

Strc€t, Mancheeter M1 lJT,

or call 0161 236 9321.

Throughout the Bible we read how God

and his prophets railed agaanst

injustices, inequitable treatment of the

poor, the vulnerable and the most

marginalised in society. Jesus called

the poor 'blessed' while he talked of

sending the rich away empty. Through

Jubilee 2OOO, the churches were

immensely successful in highlighting

the modern day scandal of international

debt. But have we Elot what it takes to

tackle poverty and debt on our own


How we fail the poor

Whilst it's true that the government has made

a commitment to 'ending child poverty within

a generation', the reality is so far falling way

short of the rhetoric. For all the government's

best intentions, poverty, debt and low wages

continue to blight the lives of millions of

people in this country.

We had a month of living on f,25 per week

(Child Benefitl because we didn't get paid

until the end of the month and it took 2

weeks for the Working Families Tax Gredit

to be sorted out. By the time things were

sorted out we already owed money.t

Penny, mother of two, from the

In the work that Church Action on Poverty

has done with people in poverty over recent

years, one theme which consistently crops up

is the way in which poor peoPle feel

'invisible'. People's own direct experiences of

poverty, and their own attitudes and ideas

about what can be done to tackle it, are held

to be of no value whatsoever.

Debt on our doorstep: time to act

Mary, a lone mother living on a council estate

in south London, struggled to make ends

meet. Her weekly income from child benefit

and income support was barely enough to

keep a roof over her family's head. So when

a neighbour proposed a f-2OO loan to help her

pay off some bills, and buy a pair of new

shoes for her child, she jumped at the offer.

With no job and no bank account, she was in

no position to apply for a loan from a

mainstream lender.

However, Mary ran into difficulties with the

repayments. The neighbour reassured her by

offering her another loan of f,,500 to cover the

outstanding balance. Again, Mary strug$led to

keep up regular payments. This time she was

offered a f,,1,000 loan to help 'settle' the

debt. By last month, what began as a 92OO

loan to pay for bare essentials had turned

into a f.1,,L7O debt she had no means of


Mary was charged a rate of interest that

anyone familiar with the world of credit cards,

personal loans and overdrafts would consider

extortionate. The loans she took out were

charged at between LTOo/o and 330% APR.

But Mary was not the victim of an illegal loan

shark. Her neighbour was an agent for

Provident Financial, a completely legal

company which, since Victorian times, has

specialised in offering home credit to people

living in communities bypassed by the banks.

Provident Financial is just one of a growing

number of companies reaping huge returns

from the financially excluded.

This is why GAP set up the Debt on our

Doorstep Network - a coalition of over 150

organisations committed to campaigning for a

fair deal for people currently being exploited by

extortionate lending. Compared to many other

EU member states, where caps on interest

rates and tough licensing laws keep check on

lenders targeting the poor, the UK industry has

been left to run a devastating course. lt is an

issue the government is doing little about. >


Four ways to make a differcnce

) Make a difference with your MONEY:

Join a credit union

Credit unions are mutually co-operative

enterprises, through which people can

save and bonow money at very low rates

of interest. lt is you saving together with

your friends, and provides saving and loan

facilities convenient to you or your

workplace. Your savings could help to

provide loans for those who need them at

a realistic and affordable interest rate.

To find your nearest credit union,

contact the Assocration of British Credit

Unions on O767 832 3694 or visit


t Make ytxrr nxrney WORK FOR fiE POOR

How much do you $ve to charities that

make a difference? Forget fluffy

animals, your money can work for

change, help tackle social injustice and

give a chance to people who otherwise

wouldn't get one. Give by direct debit or

standing order - it's much more efficient

than one-off donations.


Debt on our Doorstep is a coalition of

over 150 organisations including CAP,

Oxfam, Child Poverly Action Group and

New Economics Foundation, committed

to campaigning for a fair deal for people

currently being exploited by extortionate

lending. Support the campaign to put

an end to e)dortionate lending!

Find out more at

www. debt- o n - o u r- doorste p. co m.

t Sagn the LIVING WAGE pledge

Many of us are members of churches or

have connections with organisations

(including most universities and

colleges) where cleaners or caretakers

are low-paid. Try and get them to sign

CAP's Living Wage Pledge - a public

commitment to pay a 'Living Wage' of at

least f,5.80 an hour.

Find out more at

www. ch u rch - povefty.or g. u k.

'llUhat is


Poverty is a

battle of


a lack of




... being

blamed for



A Living Wage church?

While company directors compete to award

themselves the big$est pay rise, the poor

struggle to scrape together enough to

maintain a decent standard of living. With a

refreshing frankness, the new chairman of

the Low Pay Commission, Adair Turner - a

former director-general of the CBI - has

admitted that he 'couldn't possibly envisage'

surviving on National Minimum Wage of

t4.LO an hour.

The churches themselves have much room

for improvement. Research carried out for

Church Action on Poverty in Greater

Manchester has found that nearly two in

three people employed by churches are paid

less than a Living Wage of 95.80 an hour.

You too can make a difference

What Bono has said of Third World debt could

equally apply to poverty close to home:

'What's on trial here is Christianity itself.

You cannot walk away from this and call

yourself a Christian and sit in power.

Distance does not decide who is your

brother and who is not. The church is

going to have to become the conscience

of the free market ... and stop being its


And according to Jim Wallis, activist preacher

and long time anti-povefi campaigner in the

States: 'Our vocation is not only to pull people

out ofthe river, but to go upstream to find out

what or who is pushing them in.'

So how can we start to go upstream? What

practically can we do to enable others to live

life in all its fullness? Partly this is about being

attentive to real needs and where people are,

but it also involves creative thinking and a real

commitment to sharing. See the box above for

four ways you can make a difference.

lf our society, economy and politicians

continue to fail the poor, we as Christians still

have the power to make a difference. Let it not

be said that we have been found wanting. I

Niall Gooper




. l{iall Cooper Is Natlonal

Co.ordinator of Church

Actlon on Poverty

first among equals

first among equals I claire connor

Lucy Symons' second term as co'ordinator of an SGM

group begins with a tale of mice and iazzmen'..


an alarming

amount of

sherry, not to

mention the

green ginger

wine, but it'll

make a change

from Bacardi


Claire Connor is Catholic

Lay Chaplain at GKT

medical schools, King's

ColleEle London

January 9th

3.00pm Happy New Year! 9 days into 2003

already, and term's about to begin. lt's a bit of a

hassle coming back early and the committee

meeting's not until Friday, but as a sign of my new

economy drive (see new year's resolutions) I

decided to get the cheaper train ticket and travel

today. Mum sent me off loaded down with all the

leftover Christmas cake (why does she do this?)

but a/so the leftover drinks from the festive

season, 'in case you have a little party'. There's an

alarming amount of sherry, not to mention the

green ginger wine, but it'll make a change from

Bacardi Breezers. Think Dad must have stolen

back the whisky when he put my bags in the taxi.

Humph. Right, not much food in, so off to have a

bit of cereal and then do some shopping'

3.75pm Odd. Cereal is almost completely gone'

I'm sure I left a full box of strawberry crunch...

8.OOpm Sitting in ftont of the telly with a $ass of

sherry, watching Corrie. (Slightly worried I may be

tuming into my nan, actually.) Pretty much ready for

the meeting tomonow, hoping Jeremy will have

taken fufther steps on the road back to normality

over Christmas. We managed to persuade him only

to do the unbuttoned-shirt-gold-medallions look on

special occasions, but he still calls me'doll'and has

taken up the trumpet. lt's a bit ... off-putting. I

pointedly gave him M&S vouchers for Christmas.

Anyway, new year's resolutlbns:

1 I will not shout at Jeremy when he calls me

'doll' and does the cool-swagger walk.

2 I will be economical with mY cash.

3 I will not forbid Kevin from organising SCM

socials (despite the fireworks pady debacle,

during which he set fire to most of the rare

plants in the vicarage garden and created a

towering inferno instead of a bonfire. Not to

mention a certain someone who put their foot

through the greenhouse while trying to swagger.

Guess who had to explain to the fire brigade

and replace the plants for Tom's wife...)

4 I will not get into rows with housemates over

sharing food or cleaning rota (although I do

hoover, whatever Jenny says, and I couldn't

care less about her wretched courgette bake

that Saturday night).

Think that's all. Oh, and obviouslY:

5 Will lose half a stone, get up before 8.O0am

and go to lectures looking effortlessly stylish

and not like I've just got out of bed.

January 10th

77.30am Am going crazy. More of my cereal is

gone and I bought a new packet yesterday!

Cannot be Jenny or Dom as they're not back.

What is going on? No time to investigate'

everyone due round in half an hour.

3.O0pm Planning meeting went brilliantly. Am

confident that Jeremy is regaining his former self -

he even ofiered to pick up Marie, the SCM links


eviews: books



cinema... books.,. television... art... music...

speakinS in remarkable prose

An impressive first novel, longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002...

I began to read if nobody

speaks of remarkable

thrnds because I had been

told by people whose opinions I

trust that it was a good book.

However, after reading the first

few pages, I felt that I was being

made to work quite hard to find

the plot amongst the artfully

arranged words. The whole book

is written in prose in a style that

is somewhere between Jeanette

Winterson'sWriften on the Body

and Simon Armitage's poem

'About His Person'. Both the

prose and the characters'

different perspectives of

overlapping periods of time

present difficulties for those

who like to scan-read books in a

matter of hours, and also those

who like to dip into a book at

irregular intervals over an

extended period of time. Trying

to read this book too quickly led

me to feel frustrated at the lack

of instant gratification

regarding the plot - the story

comes together slowly as you

put toglether the emotions and

perspectives of the personalities

whose lives it describes.

I deliberated for quite some time

before writing this review about

whether or not I should try to give an

outline of the plot at all, and came to

the conclusion that it would spoil the

experience for other people, and that

I would probably be doing the author

a disservice by trying to simplifl it in

any way. Once I stopped trying to

if nobody speaks of remarkable things

Jon McGregor I Bloomsbury I 913.95

rush through the book to see what all

the fuss was about, I began to really

enjoy it. Jon McGregor makes the

ordinary seem beautiful, and is

startlingly perceptive. Having felt

that this book might be primarily of

interest to slightly pretentious arts

students, I was surprised to find that

parts of the book made me cry,

whilst others made me want to read

it to friends to see if they felt the

same about it, or to ask them if they

thought a character reminded them

of people we knew.

The whole book shows a series of

moments, some happy, some not, but

so acutely observed that they are

emotionally engaging, and I found

myself wanting to know what would

happen to the characters with whom I

could empathise. Reading about the

private emotions of the characters

feels a little voyeuristic at times, but

the book has been written wellenougfi

for it to be superior, deeper and

perhaps darker than the surface

'reality' presented by reality television

or fl y-on-the-wall documentaries.

if nobody speaks of remarkable

thrngs made me think. lt made me

wonder how much I see of what is

going on around me, how well I really

know the people I'm surrounded by,

and whether they know and

understand me as well as I think I

know them. 2 weeks later, I'm still

thinking. The only part of the book

that really disappointed me was the

ending, because although the main

story was concluded in the logical

place, I was left wondering how





things turned out for many of the


if nobody speaks of remarkable

thrhgs is worth buying in hardback,

taking the time to read thoroughly,

and I'd recommend it to anyone who

likes their recreational reading to be

inspiring, and to provoke thought

about the way they interact with

those around them. I




.l')ll lt)( j.(

-! -!r)t

""" *XrttT.1,T

Jon McGregor will be writing on

'the importance of story in a

soundbite culture' in issue 114

of Movement this April.

The theme of issue 114 will be

'Story and Spirituality', following

on from SCM's annual conference

in February. Not booked

your place yet? See page 13.


eviews: music

happy-clappy hippr-es

Do you ever wish you'd been

around in the 1960s hippie era,

or do you dream about being

transported back to it? Listening

to the Polyphonic Spree's new

album will take you there, with

its mellow, Beatles-like psychedelic

sound. However, be

warned! Although individual

tracks may be uplifting, listening

to the whole may make you

stressed or ratty! Hopefully this

wasn't the desired effect!

For those ofyou who haven't heard

of the 2lz-yeaFold Polyphonic Spree

(PS), the group was 'discovered'when

they played at David Bowie's

Meltdown Festival, and their spectacular

live performances have resulted

in an overnight success! lt would be

difficutt not to make an impact with a

group of twenty-five (yes, twenty-five

no less) Texans dressed in white

robes singing and making music on

stage. Why the white robes, you ask?

Tim Delaughter, the lead singer and

co-ordinator of PS, explains in an

interview on the Student Direct

website that the robes express a

sense of unity. They could have gone

for uniformity in less attentiongrabbing

outfits, but the robes have

provoked some interesting discussion

The Be$innin$ Stagfes

of the Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree

about whether they are making a

religious statement or not. Some

references to PS describe them as a

group of happy-clappy Christians,

while interviews with Delaughter

suggest that he sees the music and

the experience of performing live in

PS as spiritual in a broader sense.

Delaughter apparently chose the

name 'Polyphonic Spree' because it

summed up the diverse sounds he

wanted to bring together in the

music. They have certainly achieved

this, with instruments ranging from

harp and tablas to synthesiser and

French horn.

The lyrics are

full of optimism

(cynics would say nailetyl

Their album The BeSinnhg Stages

of... came out in October 2002 and it

will be interesting to see if it is as

popular as the live show. A CD

consisting of ten sections (songs to

the rest of us), Beginning Stages

contains a good mix of tracks -

except for the last one, 'A Long Day',

which consists of a 35 minute long(!)

/lilYffrli'ifl' fi,'$,\tr$\\'' l\

irritating droning

noise that makes you get up and

check that your CD player isn't bust

or that you're not being pursued by a

swarm of wasps!

The repetition of simple lyrics by a

multitude of voices (in the style of a

divine mantra) and the intriguing

mixture of instruments give the

album a soothing and hypnotic feel.

The lyrics are full of optimism (cynics

would say naiVety). Lyrics like 'Hey,

it's the sun and it makes me want to

shine... makes me smile' or 'Take

some time, get away, suicide is a

shame, soon you'll find your own way,

hope has come, you are safe' in 'lt's

the sun', sung by fifteen vocalists

and accompanied by spontaneous

celebratory-sounding percussion,

can't help but make you feel inspired

and at one with nature! Catchy tunes

like 'Soldier Girl' imprint themselves

on your brain and leave you humming

them for days.

I thoroughly recommend buying this

CD if you like to try experimental

music that's a bit different! Alternatively,

you could borrow it from a

friend and copy the tracks you like so

that you don't have to pay for the 35

minute long weird track - not that I

would dream of encouraging students

to make illegal copies of CDs! I

Ellie MensinSh

SCM Co-ordlnatol

ls it a choit2 ls it some Mormons?

No, it's the Polyphontc Spree

in their enormous entireV.

Not a bunch of religious weirdos,


26 |


eviews: film

srryeet sixteen?

Ken Loach's latest gritty offering requires a strong stomach - but it's wotth the effort.


by Ken Loach

Ken loach's latest film is not

for the faint-hearted. The story of

lS-year-old Liam preparing

against all the odds for the

release of his ex-heroin addict

mum Jean from prison does not

pull any punches. Sometimes

quite literally. Liam's mum's

boyfriend Stan and his grandfather

try to get him to smuggle

drugs into the prison for Jean to

sell, and when he refuses, they

beat him up. Liam wants to help

his mum get clean and away from

Stan, and sets his sights on

buying a caravan for them both to

live in. But to get it in time for

Jean's release, he needs to make

money fast. With his mate

Pinball, he muscles in on Stan's

business and starts dealing

drugs, only to find himself up

against the local baron. Liam

starts working for him and at first

it seems the new life he so

desperately wants is within easy

reach, until it becomes clear he

is being drawn ever deeper into a

vicious crime world and increasingly

out of his depth.

The film is set in Greenock, near

Glasgow in the shadow of the closeddown

shipyards, where lives are stifled

by unemployment, crime, family

breakdown and lack of opportunity.

There's an inevitability about Liam's

decision to Sell drugs - Loach and his

screenwriter Paul lavefi met many

kids like him when researching the

film. The director says:

'lt's a door into another kind of

lifestyle ... if you're living in a

place like that, you don't have a

snowball's chance in hell of

affording that lifestyle unless you

get involved in dealing. For a 16-

year-old with nothing, it is quite


There is an irony in the initial

success of Liam's drugs

business. His scheme to get

locaf pizza delivery boys to

double up as heroin couriers is

comically enterprising and a

pointed inversion of the

Thatcherite, capitalist forces

that have crushed his

community. He is a

businessman, determined to

exploit local demand for a

product, albeit an illegal one, to make

money. But he is also just a boy -

when he steals Stan's drugs stash, he

also pinches his grandfather's false

teeth in mischievous revenge. This

prank and others provide welcome

comic relief from the overall

downbeat mood of the film, but also

draw attention to his youth and the

fact that the responsibility he bears

for his family is too great for his age.

Liam is played by Martin Compston,

a t7-year-old professional footballer in

the Scottish League who has never

been in a film before. This is typical of

Loach and it pays off- Compston plays

the part with an immediacy and verve

which makes us care deeply about

what happens to him even as we are

shocked in the latter part of the film by

the choices he makes. This is also

because they do not always seem like

conscious choices - Liam is blinkered,

determined to get what he wants at any

cost and blind to the effect he is having

on others. Unable or unwilling to see

beyond his own situation, he propels

himself on a collision course with

disaster. Even so, the end does seem

rather melodramatic and sentimental,

thougfr not enough to detract fiom the

overall impact of the story.

The sense of progression is very

strong - perhaps because each scene

of the film was shot in order.

Compston comments:

'We shot it in sequence and it was

just a great way of working. I've

just done a W thing and they shot

the ending first and it just took

the fun out of it.'

Loach says he uses simple filming

techniques deliberately and enjoys

paring down to the essence of the

story and the characters: 'The simpler

you are, the more powerful you are.'

Take for example the simple juxtaposition

of two shots - one of the

smashed-up contents of Liam's

bedroom strewn across the front lawn

of his house by Stan and his grandfather,

followed by a cutaway shot of

the mountains around Greenock, the

lake and a rainbow over the town's

rooftops. The location is centralto the

film and both the director and screenwriter

profess great affection for

Glasgow. Loach says:

'lt's such a good place to work.

Everything that's happening in

Britain, you can see in one form

or another. The people have spent

generations struggling and that

has developed a very tough, funny

and sharp culture.'

He makes a feature of the local

dialect from the outset by putting a

written statement on screen to say

that the dialogue will be subtitled for

the first 15 minutes of the film but

that after that 'you and Liam are on

your own'. This is effective on two

levels. Subtitles help a non-Glaswegian

audience get accustomed to the

characters' accent but they also

highlight the fact that for many

viewers, Liam's world is foreign

territory. His story is a real-life story

of real-life alienation and hopelessness

and it takes a gritty, political

director like Loach to tell it. Go and

be told, but take a strong stomach

Kate Powell

with you. I

Movement odltodal Elroup


eviews: books

wild Soose chase?

A self-confessed liturgy anorak is sorely disappointed..'

ATellin{, Place

Joy Mead I Wild Goose Publications

When A Telling Place arrived in

the office for review, I leaped on

it with eaEler anticipation. But

now, as I sit down to write this

review, I'm struglglling to explain

why I don't like it.

The book is a collection of meditations

which centre on the women in

the biblical narratives. The author

attempts to draw on the experience

of the biblical women who are on the

margins of history and telltheir story,

which has long been ignored. She

says that the book is 'not a book of

certainties and answers but of

explorations and of questions', which

is the sort of thing we like to hear at


They were women

who must have

loved, raged, lusted,

laughed and relaxed,

feeling and thinking

much as I have done,

but the book did

not help me

to relate to them

One of the stories which inspired the

author is the story of Jesus and the

Samaritan woman at the well, which

has long been one of my favourites.

The front cover shows a picture of

some women at a well which, when

added to the lovely calligraphic titles

and illustrations, makes the book very

visually pleasing. lndeed, there are

many reasons why I thought I would

like the book:

. I'm a self-confessed liturgl anorak

and have quite a collection of

litur$/ books.

. I'm inclined to judge a book by its

cover and this one looks so lovely.

. l'm a bit of a fan of literature which

sees biblical stories from the point

of view of the women in them.

. I love the stuff Wild Goose publish.

So I'm left to ask myself why it is,

when it seems that the book is just

my kind of thing, that I can't like it. I

wondered whether it was because I'd

read too much similar stuff and it was

like the time of year when you never

want to see another mince pie as

you've sickened yourself on them

over Christmas.

I looked at the meditations again

and I realised why it was I didn't like

them. None of the women felt real to

me. The author says 'we see how

emblematic the stories of these bible

women are - how intimately our own'.

lronically, that is exactly what I felt

was missing from the book: a sense

of identification with the biblical

women. They were women who must

have loved, raged, lusted, laughed

and relaxed, feeling and thinking

much as I have done, but the book

did not help me to relate to them.

The women in the book do things

which have been stereotyped as

womanly. They weep for generations

yet unborn, they await their own

flowering, they outburst the frames

described to hold them, they offer

the sweet womanliness of their free

flowing hair, and they have lifeblood

flowing from them. The author likes

to draw on images of bodiliness and

blood a little too much for my liking.

It all feels too much like bad liturgical


The author likes to

draw on images of

bodiliness and blood a

little too much for my

liking. lt all feels too

much like bad

liturgical dance

I read it aloud to my friend in the

hope a fresh viewpoint might help

with the review. We put our finger on

a problem: who will use this book? I

couldn't read it aloud with a straight

face, so that rules it out for corporate

worship. 'And if you used it for private

prayer you'd feel like a freak', she


So l'm afraid l'll have to say that if

you are after some reflections which

are rooted in reality and still have a

beautifully poetic quality to them, try

anything else Wild Goose have

published, but don't try this. I

Marie Pattison


overview: web

touched by the hand of Ned

A vidual but vibrant community.

Ship of Fools

Shrp of Fools: Ned Flanders. He's

what it's all about. Ned is our

icon. Ned is our leader, Ned is The

Man. Ned is also Homer's Godbothering

nextdoor neiglhbour off

Ihe Sllmpsons, and according to a

survey in 2001, the public figure

most associated with Ghristianity

on American college campuses.

Which inspired the editors of Ship

of Fools ( to

arrange a very special ni$ht at

Greenbelt 2OOt, replete with Ned

lookalikes, sanctified songs, and

fashion from the House of

Flanders. lt was so successful

that they did it again the following

year. Twice. What kind of

Ghristian outfit is it that can get

away with orElanising an event

celebrating a quite frankly lame

(and, indeed, yellow) cartoon

character and get it into the

national press?

Shrp of Fools has made a sometimes

tongue-in-cheek, sometimes passionate

examination of Christianity its stock-intrade.

Ori$nally a paper magazine run by

Simon Jenkins and Steve Goddard

between L977 and 1983, for the last 4v,

years Shlp of Fools has had a presence

on the net.

The whole ethos of Shrp of Fools is

tied up in its subtitle, 'The Magazine



O Pu{.tory

' 6' ,.fur &b.h (e.r n.b)

O F€n

s .t6.tu d.d..rnffid.d

a) A[ adfi'


rb d6dt llfu.d

The Myi€ry WoEhlpper


O xsryqmonlo


a) smdll FIE

v $. dsdhb .od

C) uadn M{hs

Y no*qooar. -o

60 2s47 d..a*a.o1uo.*;











al. W

of Christian Unrest'. The Ship, as it's

affectionately known by its devotees,

exists to help people make sense of

the Christian faith - to look at

Christianity critically and honestly -

to celebrate the good but to attack

false religion wherever it's found. I

think it succeeds in this admirably.

But then, I'm a contributor to the

Ship, and I'm biased.

We have our very own Soul-Saving

Supersonic Spiritual Celebrity in the

shape of the Revd Gerald Ambulance,

and he, with an army of columnists,

some humorous, some serious, but

all with offbeat perspectives,

challenges the preconceptions and

absurdities of the Christian World.

ln the Fruitcake Zone you can find

dozens of links to some of the

strangest, weirdest, and scariest

Christian websites out there. And I do

mean 'out there' - from the Christian

Naturists' Association through to the

Christian Guide to Small Arms, and

the perennial favourite, Rapture

Ready, where a guy called Todd works

out the percentage chance of the

Rapture happening in any given week,

with an index based on a peculiarly

right-wing view of world events.

Gadgets For God shows you exactly

where you can buy those essential

WWJD? underpants (with the false fly,

of course). Urban Myths explodes

those fictional e-mail forwards we all

get, while Si$ns and Blunders keeps

a record of strange Christian notices,

bumper stickers and typos.

taa, r.,s

d kttn*r(d




resources round-up

Some other publications you may find useful...





lrr.nirr( r jtlr ()rrr t l.rrrrlr


rF I




Jth( wALtts


t )


I J t


Faith Without Hostagies

By Haniet Hanis, SPTCK

A fresh look at Bible passages relevant to

Lent and Easter, encouraging thought

and reflection to link them to the world

today. lncludes questions for personal

reflection or group discussion. 87.99

t; 0845 762 6747


Faith Works

ByJim Wallis, SFCK

A powerful call by a leading US activist for

Christians to put their faith into action

and address issues of poverty and

injustice. lnspiring stuff. tL2.99

t: O845 762 6747


Piltrim Prayer

Compiled by Jim Cotter, Cairns Publications

A new collection of prayers by Movement

columnist Jim Cotter (see page 2L). A

companion for pilgrimage, with an order

of prayer for each day of the week.

Bilingual, in Welsh and English. Hardback

912; paperback 98

t: 01766 761 368


Praying with Our Hands

By Jon M Sweeney, Wild Goose Publications

A book of reflections with photographs,

showing how our bodies can give

meaning to prayer. Covers spiritual

practices from a broad range of reli$ious

traditions. A beautiful book for private

prayer or group worship. t10.99

t: OL41 3326292 . f: OL4L 332 1090

w'' wu4&iol!ab99!9,.o0!n

Who rs My Nei(hbour?

Churches Together in Britain and lreland

A report from a delegation to the Middle

East. Challenges churches to build

solidarity with Christians in the region,

and to endorse churches in the Middle

East's call for lsrael to end the occupation

of the Palestinian Territories. s5.95

t;020 7898 1300 ' f;020 7898 1305

w' www,

have you seen SGM's books?




-,5* r-'

=i* *$##



A range of publications is available ftom

SCM, examining Christianity and society

ftom a radical an$e. lnclusive, aware

and challen$ng - invaluable resources

for study, reflection and action, suitable

for indMduals or groups.

Titles currently available include:

Common People - Christian ideas of

community - currently on special

offer, f,2.50 including postage!

God Made Simple - a lively synopsis of

the questions about God which have

occupied philosophers and theologians

Significant Others - a fresh look at


Raging in the Streets - activism and

ministry in the twenty-first century

The Dying Game - attitudes to life,

death and mortality

The F-word - exploring fundamentalism

Fleshing out Faith - looking at the

relationship between Christianity and

our bodies

No More Mr Nice Guy - theological,

personal and political pieces in search

of a Jesus that bites

Find out more

or order books now!

Ring Ot21, 47t 2404

or e- mail uk

or write to:

Student Christian Movement

University of Birmingham

Weoley Park Road

Selly Oak


B29 6LL

or visit www. uk/




the serpent


Then get some earnest

Christians to do it for you. A

postcard landed on the

doormat of my serpently den

recently, promising that

Christians from local

churches would be

pleased to pray for

anything I'm concerned

about if I would just

return the form to a

local Prayer Point.

But do they

discriminate? Will

they pray for

anything? Would

they put in a word

for a lowly serpent

like me? What if the

fanatic on my street

sends in a deluge of

cards praying for a

plague of


American tree frogs?

How irresponsible.

And does it wort like Nectar

points? Can I build up

credit and ask for a

really big pmyer at


I think it's a

great idea

that could be

extended to other

areas of church activity. You

could have a Worship Point

where you hand in cards

asking someone to speak in

tongues, or a Prophecy Point

where you ask someone else

to do all that troublesome

frothing at the mouth. You

could even get fire and

brimstone called down on

Methodist Central Hall by



must Eo

I was


to see that

all my


have paid

off. Get in

quick and

you could

get some


at rockbottom



t! .[|,,[


Of course, I diligently read all

the church papers, and it

seems that everyone wants

the good Rt





to endorse







days. I'm half

expecting him to

turn up on posters

at the local Tesco's

advertising cat food.

But not Remington or Gillette,

although I imagine he needs

something to keep that fine

prophetic facial fungus in


ln the run-up to Christmas

we will, no doubt, be

hearing the future

Archbishop's opinion on

Brussels sprouts. And

evangelical groups will protest

at the revelation that he has

previously commended the




eating of sprouts, which are

of course an abomination in

the eyes of the Lord. Then

there'll have to be a forum on

vegetation in the church, with

yet more 'integrities' and

special bishops catering for

the break-away broccoli



I was horrified beyond words

to discover that young

evangelicals can now

get some assistance

with mortifying their

flesh, in the form of

'What Would Jesus

Do?' boxer shorts.

What's a serpent to

do? Now young

nubile types are

protected from temptation

by their very undenruear.

You can picture the

scene. The young

Christian couple slips

from the straight and

narrow, straying from

the righteous path of

keeping one foot on

the floor and



above the

knees or



neck. Just

as they slip






prepare to make the

beast with two backs, they

look down and see those

words emblazoned in holy

letters across their

waistband, and see the error

of their ways.

It's not right. And moreover, I

have it on good authority that

Our Lord favoured a more

loincloth-based garment in

the undenvear department.


The firefighters dispute may

have ended by the time you

read this, but you'll soon

see that it's all part of a

great plot, to which I myself

am a party, and Andy

Gilchrist's promise to bring

down New Labour is but the

tip of the iceberg. We've

already forced the government

to use Green

Goddesses - sounds pretty

pagan to me. And of

course, Hell doesn't have

too much call for fire

protection, so we're sitting

pretty. Fear a Satanic plot?

Dial 666.

A more responsible citizen

than myself might also point

out that their behaviour is

somewhat thoughtless.

Fancy lighting whacking

great braziers all around the

country during a firefighters'



The Stop the War coalition is

planning another mass

protest in February about

Dubya's antics. ln keeping

with statistics for previous

such events, the organisers

have confidently predicted

that, oh, zillions of protesters

will turn up, while the police

expect two men and a very

small poodle.


You couldn't make it up.

The Vatican believes that

the Russian Orthodox

Church is running a

'despicable operation' to

ruin its reputation,


by accusing

Franciscan monks

of setting up a

brothel in


A Russian



photos of a

nun in a habit

o 31i,",'n'?jil


li::*iffi:. ,o

exptatn now you

could see the

undies beneath the habit),

and claimed that a

monastery turned out to be

a 'bordello'.






tr Please send me further information about joining the Student

Ghristian Movement, and tell me where my local group is.

U I would like to subscribe Io Movement magazine. I enclose a cheque,

payable to SCM, to the value of f,,7.00 for my first three issues.


Telephone number:

E-mail address:

University or college (if applicable):


Post to: Student Ghristian Movement, University of Birmingham,

Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham 829 6LL

t: OL21, 471-2404 | e; I w'

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