Movement 103

movementmagazine

Mainiird

lsrorpy

Fent/,t

Lewlr

r/

liir Lh

$ 10y fil

.{..'l

J

Stirtharcr,

cg

r

t

in.Jh FU

?

"sd

a

?

+ 4

L

D

I'

I

rrl R TH

EA

rn jl-)rrt'

I

upou Hull

I

l'rr.fi@F*,

(

t

/ougfu .r

o{$

G""

5l

I

F

Ycrmth

wc*o{r

I

Britnl Chantel

Oos

TIC

orbay

C

11 IL

Gris'

N4

L. IoWUel'

Pa(*PlgF

33

k

FccoilrP

- r'i

);, le'sr:y -

,, ,.;,iii; )

o

Le Ilrrrq'

.t'f,'.:r r

The magazine of the

STUDENT GHRISTIAN

MOVEMENT

dr

QUc


Sea of Faith

exploring and promoting religious faith as a human creation

t

L

il

.;ar

l' .:

l'ipi

,'i\

\

,

kiss of l**€...

taste of d**th...

pile of sx*t...

sea of f**flr,,,

ONLY ONE of these is a quarterly review with a postmodern religioushumanist

perspective. ONLY ONE explores and promotes religious faith as a

human creation, without supernaturalist nonsense, crystal-ball spirituality or

Thou-shalt-nottery.

ONLY ONE is full of writing which finds religion wonderful, awesome, daft,

dangerous, provocative, inspiring, and deepdown sexy. ONLY ONE is

absolutely indispensable to anyone who has discovered that faith is about

creating meaning, not finding it ready-made".

lf you've worked out which one it is and would like to subscribe for a year (four

issues), fill in the stuff below. We'll do the rest. Full refund guaranteed if you

write to tell us why you are not ecstatically happy with our magazine and

threaten to sue for misrepresentation.

To SoF, Hobsons Farm, Dent, Cumbria LA10 5RF

(tel 015396 2532L, email DavidBoultonl@compuserve com, website www'sofn'org)

OK, I'll try it. Here's a cheque for €8 payable to Sea of Faith. Send me the next 4 issues

Name and address

(print clearly):

ZUBA means 'forget

your worries and

have a good time.'

I

Their sound is a blend of reggae,

African rhythms, acoustic folk and

driving dance music.

I

I

i

The line up is equallY eclectic: one

from Liberia, one from Zimbabwe,

another from the Basque country

and three members from

Scotland. Zuba's

swelling fan

base has

seen recentlY

them.play a

number of

summer festivals.

. Alrack EP now

available (S3.50)

. Debut album,

"Welcome to the

World," available in late

autumn.

Zuba,

Red Eye Management,

11 Hume Street,

Clydebank,

Glasgow

G81 1XL.

www.zuba.co.uk

J-{;t'

,rl

t,

zuba

;

.t

trr

e

\.

.+-

.1

-,1

I

t

,

..F

Urc-

B,


't{ey sinner! Read this simplistic, condescending tract that witl change your tife!"-

sad, isn't it? David Liggins argues that evangetism-with-integrity is possible.

But onty when we realise it is as much about listening as talking.

Counter-pofnt

T A coMMETEE tAsr weex I

suggested inviting a decidedly

post-Christian speaker. A college

chaplain who was there said that

the proposed speaker "would be no good for

our propaganda". "Propaganda?" I asked,

horrified at the word. "Well," she replied,

"apologetics. I think there is a real need for

good apologetics."

I pounced on her slip of the tongue

because I feel uncomfortable with

evangelism. Talking with people about

religion and its difficulties I can manage,

but reading those booklets designed for

the wavering or seelng an evangelistic

sketch always make me cringe. And I know

it's not just me.

Once upon a time, people used to hear

hymns like this one being sung without a

hint of irony:

"Can we, whose sou/s are lighted

With wisdom from on high,

Can we to men beni!,hted,

The lamp of life deny?"

Then, evangelising those living locally and

sending missionaries overseas would have

been seen as central to proper faith. After

all, the Jesus of Matthew's gospel did

instruct his disciples to go and make

disciples of all nations.

This type of activity is still on the

agenda for some; for instance, our CU put

on last year an event designed to convert

Jews to Christianity. But I expect few

Movement readers would be happy to

declare that those of other faiths or none

will roast in hell after they die. (Not many

evangelicals, even, hold that sort view

nowadays).

It's hard not to see all this stemming

from our preset cultural context:

postmodernity. We have realised that our

opinions are simply that our opinions are

simply that: our opinions are simply that:

our opinions, not certainties guaranteed

by some outside infallible source, like the

biblical canon or a tradition, however long

it may be. lt is this that makes us ask what

right we have to push our views on others.

Persuasion, though, is a hallmark of

postmodern culture. Advertising is

everywhere. lnstitutions have "mission

statements". Politics is characteristics by

empty rhetoric. This is the age of style and

spin.

But where matters of faith are

concerned aggressive marketing doesn't

seem honest. ls there really a simple core

to Christianity, a as those sketches and

booklets suggest? On the other hand, I

confess to feeling a little uneasy about the

ultra-postmodern approach of complete

indifference. Even if that's just the version

of Christianity I was brought up with

coming through, I'm still caught in a

dilemma - reconciling evangelism and

integrity.

I rrrnx I nlve FoUND soME cLUEs

to this problem in John Saxbee's book

LiberalEvangelism (SPCK, 1994). ln it, he

talks about the early twentieth-century

American composer Charles lves, whose

father was a bandmaster in a small

American town. George lves would arrange

with one of his colleagues for his band and

theirs to march past each other whilst the

two bands played different pieces. George

and his son appreciated the effect, and

Charles went on write revolutionary where

very different musical elements are heard at

the same time.

The point is that two tunes heard

together do not necessarily make a painful

cacophony. Talking with people, they say

things, we say things - it's precisely

because of the differences that together

we make something new and unique. lt is

only when one person stops listening and

tries to drown out the other that that

special quality, the counterpoint, is lost.

What does this mean in practice? We

should be reluctant to speak before

listening; instead we should be alongside

people when they need us, sometimes not

even saying anything but making clear by

our presence our interest and care.

Looking after people is a form of

evangelism (even though doing it with the

intention of persuading people that

Christianity is a good thing would be

appaling). A 'two tunes' approach to

evangelism points to a context-centred

preaching and bible discussion based on

open models, as a way of of opening

church activities to those who have no

sense of ownership over them.

Honesty, then, should come before

snappy slogans. And the humility glimpsed

in the story of a teacher crouching on the

floor to wash his disciples' feet should come

before the self-aggrandisement of the

soapbox and the microphone, we are

listening carefully, we might find that the

songs we sing during worship fit in well with

the sounds from the world outside ,aL?

David Liggins is convenor ot koinonia, an

Oxford group affiliated to SCM.

tr

lssue 103

Autumn 1999

Movement is the

termly magazine of

the Student Christian

Movement, distributed

free of charge to

members and

dedicated to an openminded

exploration of

Christianity.

Editorial address

2/2 767 Hyndland Road,

Hyndland, Glasgow.

G12 gHT

r (0141) 339 7343

e: movemag@aol.com

SCM central offlce

Westhill College,

t4/tSWeoley Park Road,

Selly Oak, Birmingham.

829 6LL

r (0121) 47t2404

t:(0121) 4L4 t25t

e: SCM@charis.co.uk

Editor: Tim Woodcock

Edltorial board: Diccon Lowe, Stephen

Matthews, Sara Mellen, lrfan

Merchant, Carolyn Styles

SCM staff

Coordinator - Carolyn Styles

ProjectWo'/(en Groups - Elinor Mensingh

Project Worker: Fundraising" Publicauons &

ll/entusttip @tr/l,t - Sfedlen Mathe\,us

Disclaimer: The views expressed in

Mwement arcIhose of the particular

author and should not be taken to be

the policy of the Student Christian

Movement.

Membershlp fees:

t15(waged)

.f' 10 (urwaged/students)

Next copydate

2LstNoember 1999

Ursdkited mateft I $,eloorne.

Askbrguidelines.

AdrstEingcopdde

28$ Noemberlg9g

tssN 0306980x

Charity NIo.241896

@1999SC['/l

movement 1


New faces

BRITISH SCM emptoys three

members of staff who are

based in Birmingham. After

two years of dashing around

the country visiting SCM's

grassroots groups, Craig

Cooling has left SCM to start a

new job with the Civit Service

ln Juty Elinor Mensingh, his

replacement, began in her

work as SCM GrouPs' Worker.

Betow she introduces hersetf.

NEWS

from

scM

a

ln

Britain

and

beyond

I

:-- -- t

,,}r. I

Hello everyone! I am the latest addition to the central

office team and am taking over the role that Craig filled

until recently. I am very happy to be working for the

Movement after having endured six months of mindless

temping workl My main responsibility will be to support

existing SCM groups by means of letters, phone calls and 'in

the flesh' visits. The purpose of these visits may simply be

to make contact with a group or to speak/ lead a workshop

on a specific topic. I am particularly interested in exploring

interactions with other cultures and other faiths but am

willing to tackle any topic with your group as long as I have

enough time to prepare! I will also be encouraging the

setting up of new groups. I am a resource available to you'

so please make use of me by letting me know the needs of

your group and offering any suggestions

As for me, I am 27 years old and my background is

Social Anthropology. I studied for my first degree in

Anthropolgy and German at Oxford Brookes - the 'poly' as

we older ones prefer to call it. I then went on to carry out

some anthropological research into the religious beliefs and

practices of a community in Central African Republic. This is

a small, less well-known country which, as its name

suggests, is situated in the middle of Africa.

On returning from Africa I embarked on a part-time MA

program in Social Anthropolgy at S0AS. Alongside the study

I spent one year working in a Baptist women's hostel where

the residents were either asylum seekers, refugees, exhomeless

or students. During the second year I worked in a

Methodist-run student hostel. The plan was then to return to

Africa and provide cross-cultural training for Christian

workers on the field. Marriage, however, brought about a

dramatic change of directionl So I have spent many months

searching for a post in this country in which I would be able

to apply these skills and interests. I am very enthusiastic

about the opportunities to do just that with SCM'

During the next two years I hope to continue the work of

exploring a range of .oni"tporuty issues with you but

believe it is important to connect the wider issues to our

own experiences and spiritual lives, whatever states our

spiritual lives may be inl As a Christian.Movement lthink

that our commitment to social action should stem from the

nurturing of our spiritual lives' ln-this.kin-d^of context our

exploratlon should be a more fulfiling experlence'

- " f;m iooklng forward to meeting as many of you as

possible ovetih" coming months'

movement 2


Women wanted!

Carie Sty/es wrltes; 'As Co-ordinator of

National SCM and a woman (!) I am

interested in resurrecting an old chestnut

from the past, namely the Women's

Network and am wondering if there are any

women out there who would be interested

in joining me?

Basically, rather than being a bunch of

loud-mouthed feminists (though what's

wrong with that?) it would be more a loose

and informal grouping of women involved in

SCM. We could meet together a couple of

times a year to have discussions and

worship together, as well asjust enjoy one

antheris company. A newsletter sent out on

a regular basis would be another means of

contact between us... lf you are interested

in such a venture please contact me at the

SCM Central Office."

Blessed are the

conference-goers...

The SCM's national conference will take

a closer look at The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:

3-L2) - an image of the kingdom and a

challenging agenda for this world. The

conference will ask 'What is a contemporary

response to the text and how can we live it

out?' There will be creative workshops and

talks will explore the theme; the event is

based around the Westhill campus and an

African band has been booked for the

Saturday evening. Booking forms available

from the office nowl

Down and out

Choice moments fiom the SCM retreat in June at Bainesbury Manor, near Bath.

The main photo is taken outside the picturesque Downside Abbey.

Prayingand playing: lmprovised cross used in a meditation. And an action shotfrom a game

of Jenga - which is becoming a tradition at SCM events (see Catacombs, M101)

ttFr

coming up: "On Earth as it is in

Heaven" Srllv Onx, BtnmtrucHnu.

L2-L4ru NovEMaER 1999.

lan Harvey-Pittaway is a former editor of

Movement, and is now a teacher in

Wolverhampton. He has spent much of his

summer holed up in a studio recording. His

first album of largely traditional English

music - Godgifu - The Legend of Godiva -

will be released soon and is available at a

discount to Movement readers by emailing

him at ian.hp@cwcom.net

The Eurooean

Regional Assemory GENERATION

or-wscr has been

I

i:i:"#"7;11".

I

being held at the

Agape Centre near

Turin, Northern

Italy. The theme

will be 'Generation X or Generation f' and

discussion will focus on the values and

visions of Chrstian Students in Europe and

how these can be worked outthrough

WCSF-Europe, over the next two years.

SCM's Stephen Matthews is going to South

Africa with CAFOD. Some of the group

facilitators thought that it would be good for

Stephen to take out an image of us to give

to a similar movement in South Africa. They

will be puttingtogether a collage made from

images that symbolise their group and what

they believe in. Together these 44 sized

pieces of cloth will be sewn together to form

a hunger cloth representing Christian

students in Britain. lf you or your group

would like to join this hunger cloth please

contact Stephen at the SCM office: 0121

47L2404.

NEW ADDRESSES

Please note a change of address for

Movement - no longer 22 Dowanslde

Road... but2/2,167 Hyndland Road,

Glasgoq G1i! gHT. (0141) 339 734{1. Only

half a mlle up the road but lt makos a lot

of dlfference.

Thls very magazlne has a new web*lte

address too. lt can be found at the

thoroughly unmemorablet http// members.

a ol. com/ move ma(/ o n llne/welco me.htm I

See page 15 for turther detalls.

movement 3


T1

A shared name and shared heritage - but what exactty is the connection between

the Student Christian Movement and SCM Press?

o

Pressf ng tssues

gGM Pnrss, wHtcH ts wIDELY

regarded as one ofthe most

important religious and

theological publishers in the

English-speaking world, grew out of the

Student Christian Movement just before the

First World War.

The then Secretary of the Publications

of SCM was a young man named Hugh

Martin, and his choice of three best sellers

- two by great American liberal preacher

Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Meaning of

Prayer and The Manhood of the Master, (ll

- Ed), together with fhe Jesus of History, by

the English scholar T.R. Glover (each sold

over 100 000 copies) - provided finance

not only for the Movement but for an

extensive publishing programme.

By !929 the activities of SCM Press had

grown so much that it was decided to turn it

into a separate limited company, SCM Press

Ltd - so SCM Press as a commercial is

seventy years old this Year.

ln the years leading up to the Second

World War SCM Press published large

numbers of study books for students, not

only on the Bible and other religious, but on

the economic situation to the rise of

Nazism. lt was fortunate to secure enough

paper (tightly rationed) to go on publishing

through the war (still under Hugh Martin),

and emerged after the war in good shape.

Hugh Martin was succeeded by Ronald

Gregor Smith, who as well as serving in the

War had been responsible for reconstructing

the German universities immediately after

it. This acquainted him with much important

German theology, and it was through him

that SCM Press began to publish important

continental works in translation. Among

these were two books bY Dietrich

Bonhoeffer, hanged by the Nazis, fhe Cost

of Discipleship and Letters and Papers from

Prison, which have become classics.

ln the 1960s, npw under David Edwards,

SCM Press achieved unprecedented fame

i

I

rrt

z

l7l

{

Plrt

=o

x

zo'n

=Tt

rn

z

rn

rn

2

U

(.r\

'i'

r?t

m

o

I

U

ozoC'!

-l

-l

@

(or notoriety) with Honest Io God by John

A.T. Robinson, the Bishop of Woolwich,

which questioned many aspects of

traditional Christian faith. lt caused a great

sensation and was translated into many

languages. Just over ten years later an

equally radical book, The Myth of God

lncarnate, also attracted tremendous media

attention. and several years ago the Press's

publication of Antony Freeman's God /n Us

led to a controversy as result of the author

was removed from his ministry in the

Church of England - the first time this has

happened this century.

However, SCM Press has notjust

published controversial books. Over the

years tens of thousands of theological all

over the world have benefited from its

textbooks, and it is now active publishing

Roman Catholic theology and books by

Muslim and Jewish authors, as well as

pioneering feminist and liberation theology.

During the 1980s, when SCM was

particularly disorganised, there was a real

risk threat the Press might be irresponsibly

sold off by students (who in fact had the

power to do this). To protect the Press, a

special SCM Press Trust was formed to give

the security and independence. ln effect the

Trust bought SCM Press Ltd from SCM.

However, over the years this buy-out left

the Press undercapitalised, and it was

decided by the Trust that the best way of

safeguarding the future was for the Press to

join a larger group which would allow it to

continue but it the necessary financial

background. So SCM Press is now part of a

larger company, SCM-Canterbury Press Ltd,

owned by Hymns Ancient and Modern,

which is a registered charity. lt is not safe to

go on doing what it has always been doing'

);.r"r change a bit, but the activity goes

John Bowden is the Managing Director of

SCM Press.

lf you are a reader, you could be a writQf...

M

is always interested in new ideas.

Fancy doing a reYiew? Having a rant? Generating ideas?

lf so, please get in touch ' see address on page one'

movement 4


Whose business is it anyway?

tr$x+:l*lih'm

Being people with progressive theological

and political interests, we were delighted to

come across a young evangelist, standing

on a plafform, preaching the Saving

Message of Jesus Christ to the various

skateboarders and dog-walkers in the

surrounding area. We were in no hurry, so

we thought we would go over and have a

listen to the Saving Message of Jesus Christ

and perhaps engage him in some

discussion. He was in his early twenties and

seemingly new at the public declaration of

faith game, but he had a lot of guts, and

was holding his own. The surrounding crowd

was largely ignoring him, although some

were laughing a bit. After about five

minutes, he still hadn't taken a break, and

we were worried he might run out of good

testimonials to share. Suddenly two police

officers appeared, one ofthem saying: "Yo,

Billy Graham, come here for a second!" My

companion and I looked at one another, and

we realised that something bizarre was

happening. The evening had suddenly

become much more interesting.

We immediately jumped up and headed

over to find out exactly what was

happening.

The two officers towered over this tiny

preacher, and were doing a lot of talking.

As we got closer, the officers turned to us,

the approaching threat. For the purpose of

this story, we will call them Officer Edgy

and Officer Yeah. Officer Edgy had a clear

control of the situation, and he spit his

words at us like blowdarts: "What do you

two want?" Before I go on to tell you the

rest, I have to say at this point that my

companion all the speaking that night to

the 'two in blue'. I was paralysed, not with

fear but with the awareness of the

uselessness of engagement. I knew that

they would not, under any circumstance,

listen to a thing we had to say. I knew it. I

spent all of my time trying to find a way to

communicate with these people who were

obviously trained to perform by the book.

"We want to know what he is being

arrested for." asRed my friend, stunned as I

was by the almost tangible aggression

being launched at us. "Are you with him?"

"No." "Then stand over there, it's none of

your business!" lndignation set in for about

two seconds. "None of our business?! We

just want..." Officer Edgy began to twitch.

"l'm asking you nicely, and for the last

time, move over there, now... no, back

further!!" Officer Yeah: "Yeah!" We did as

we were told, my friend pleading that we

were not jerks, just concerned citizens

seeking clarification and education. They

kept the preacher in the back seat for

-{,

Rcr GnnnNo

about twenty minutes and we waited

obediently. Then the door opened, and

Officer Edgy emerged, telling the Preacher

he could leave, which he did, but not until

praying for these guys (much like Jesus

prayed for the Roman soldiers, I'll bet).

After that, he checked to see if either of

the two men had been converted by the

Officer Edgy cut in: 'Are you a

phitosophy student? You sound like a

phitosophy student! ...You're a

minority? What minority are you?"

Saving Message of Jesus Christ. Sadly,

neither had. So the Preacher scurried off,

without even coming by to see us, his sole

supporters, who waited patiently in

Gethsemane.

Aro now, rHE REAL BATTLE BEGAN.

We approached the conversing officers, who

had forgotten us. Officer EdS/ spun around:

"Don't sneak up on me!! Never, ever, sneak

up on mel I have a dangerous jobl" What he

had was a dangerous face. He looked

through us, trying to see if we were serial

killers secretly disguised in SCM t-shirts. His

eyes were huge and glassy, and his

eyebrows were bushy and almost alive,

flickering like flame. My friend began his

case: "ljust want to know, as a member of

the community, why this kid was arrested."

"Oh, ljust love when people start to remind

me that they are members of the

community and that I am supposed to be

serving them! A complaint was called in

because he was yelling and screaming and

bothering people." "This is a busy street

corner, the cars are louder than he was.

What constitutes a disturbance of the peace

anywaf Are you saying thatjust because

someone, anyone complains, a person can

be arrested?"

"Yes." Officer Yeah: "Yeahl" "Well, I also

am concerned about the way you

approached this guy, calling him Billy

Graham. lt was pretty derogatory. lf you

approached a Hindu and called him

Mahatma, it would be insulting." "Are you a

philosophy student, kid?" The condescending

tone threw my companion for a loop.

"Huh?" "Are you a philosophy student?

You sound like a philosophy student!" "Uh,

no..." "Are you a law student, then?" "Hell,

no! I'm just a young person, like this guy

was, and a minority, and I need to know

what the law is about these things so that

1..." Officer Edgy cut him off: "You're a

minority? What minority are you?" My

companion had no idea how to respond:

"Uh, l'll let you figure that out for yourself."

"Officer Edgy had had enough: "Look, this

is my badge number.

lf you don't like the way I do my job,

take it up with my sergeant. We have

criminals to catch and crime to stop!"

Officer Yeah summed it up well as they

drove out of sight: "Yeah!" And we were left

alone to sort out what had just happened.

What began as an opportunity to

confront someone about theology we

disliked turned into a frightening attempt

to protect his right to speak it. The power

and authority of these two men, in their

dark uniforms, with their guns, their billy

clubs, their pepper spray, their badges,

and the clear legal ability to do pretty

much whatever they chose, was a brick

wall which stopped us in our tracks. I have

great respect for the awesome

responsibility of police officers. They

cannot enter dangerous situations with any

other option but to seize control. But in

this case, there was no danger. No

assessment was done to see if an arrest

was warranted. And certainly we had the

right to ask questions of the people who

are there to protect our rights and uphold

the law.

I still wonder, however: how do we

support people like this, and challenge

them at the same time? How do we

support a justice system (well, legal system

is a better term here) that disempowers

citizens in scenarios such as this? And

lastly, what should we realistically expect

from the police considering the range of

situations they face daily? This was my first

real encounter with the law, and it was

fairly tame. I wonder if the next time l'll

'mind my own business' a little less?

*I discpprove of whctyor $qF,

but I will defuid to thc dsth

your right to scy it'

ll,olrants' otromal

movement 5


o

I

o

I

.l'_'

movement 6


Looking for a New England

John Hughes argues that for the ENGLISH national identity is a probtematic idea.

When your heritage is steeped in imperiatism, what positive images are there [eft?

Ir^u i:11 3 : ff n""^:',''j: : "il=*:.

Ul :iil: ::ii ["":]r','j"[::Hu

rather than gaining in our identity. Some

would argue that this is because we've

always had our own government and have

never been ruled from 'abroad'. ln a sense

the problem with the Union was that it was

always clear who was in the driving seat.

Likewise it seems that the supposed British

culture was really mainly an extended

English culture, and so its apparent

dismantling leaves the English with

something of a cultural vacuum. 'English'

identity has been built upon images of the

Queen, Empire and military success, which

mean little to anyone under fifty. Did Major's

more cosy 'cricket, evensong and warm ale'

come any nearer the mark? Can there be a

post-British and post-lmperial Englishness?

Should we even be thinking in terms of

national identities any more?

Some think not. Devolution to them is

the end of the era of warring nation states

each with their own (usually aggressive)

identities. ln this view we are building a

glorious cuddly new world, with shades of

Star Trek, where we all live together and

nobody mentions jokes about stins/ Scots

or the Welsh and sheep. ln fact most of the

supporters of devolution have rallied

enthusiasm by appealing to their history

and the same old kilts, leeks and songs

about thrashing the Sassenachs/ Saeson.

ls this a bad thing? Yes and No. Frankly

I think the Scots and Welsh are right to

affirm some sense of 'who they are', of how

they are different from others. The old fluffy

liberal bollocks about us all being the same

humans underneath really and how everyone

should just forget past differences as we all

grow more alike, is actually just another

form of totalitarianism that tries to suppress

the different and particular and create a

bland, flat sameness. So history(ies) do

have to come into it somewhere - identities

are formed of memories. This seems to me

to be a problemwith the Blairite'New'

Everything: You can't keep trying to forget

the past and start again, without ending up

with a completely superficial identity that

has no depth and so blows in every

direction. Witness the recent Becks-Posh

'Royal Wedding' and the abortive love-tryst

between Britpop and Tony's Boys.

But is the only alternative to Lefty

sameness and newness right-wing

nationalism and war mongering? This is the

Liberal argument against cultural identity:

That it leads to hating the other against

which your identity is defined - result:

Balkanisation. lt certainly looks this way

from England, where, unlike our neighbours,

nationalism is almost entirely confined to

the political right, whether in the form of the

pompous imperialism of High Tory values or

the crass aggression and intolerance of the

football hooligans.

'lt ain't necessarily so!' Contemporary

feel-good English icons need not be banal,

as Austin Powers has shown. Likewise there

is no one account of history, all versions are

loaded with specific agendas, and so we

don't have to take the militarist story of

Empire, conquest, and victory as the only

one. The huge challenge for the young who

find the old images don't

resonate any more is to reappropriate

the past in

ways that are fruitful in the

present (like the feminist

project of 'discovering'

positive models in past

women saints), rather than just abandoning

it to the conservatives. For the English this

might mean developing a sense of our

cultural achievements in terms of our

contributions to literature and technology,

our great saints and social reformers, rather

than on how well we thrashed the frogs/

wogs,/ Hun. For the Scots and Welsh it

means moving beyond a purely reactive

sense of identity defined negatively by their

oppressors, because, however true this is, it

will only leave the English feeling

threatened.

Tradition, as Christians should know, is

not something fixed, unified and certain (as

conservatives treat it), but living, changing

and open-ended. People also never have

simply one identity but are made up of

complex layers of identities: I am British,

English (and part-Welsh), European (?),

Christian, a Student, etc. Early Christian

writers noted this shifting, many-layered

nature of identity and insisted that to avoid

making idolatrous absolutes of any of these

'V,t:t:

movement 7

allegiances we should live as pilgrim

nomads amidst them ('Citizens of all

nations they belong properly to none' - the

Epistle to Diognetius, 3rd century). Likewise

Christian identity has striven (not always

successfully!) to resist the temptation to

bolster identity in fundamentalist fortresses

defined by clear boundaries against the

enemies. Most difficult of all, we have this

weird idea that someone truly lives by dying,

that identity is found by being given away

and poured out - an emptying which

paradoxically leaves us more full! ls this too

heavenly for politics?

ldentity is foun

given away -

d by being

is this too

heaventy for potitics?

ls it really so impossible to imagine a

nation rejoicing that it contributes more to

international aid than others and being

proud that its asylum policy is more humane

even though both these things cost it more?

A Wales happy to give its water to Liverpool,

a Scotland happy to give its oil to England

and an England happy to give the wealth of

the South East to support its neighbours?

Given that our physical location means our

identities are inevitably intermeshed with

one another in thousands of ways, this

must surely be so. At their best I think the

SNP and Plaid Cymru have come pretty

close to achieving this bizarre path: A

genuine 'third way' between totalitarian

sameness and militaristic nationalism; a

social vision of positive difference in

harmony. There seems little of it around on

this side of the borders at the moment

though...

John Hughes is co-ordinator of Cambridge

SCM and a member of General Council.

**fr?f*

-

=@

g.

ō

o

3

rD

o

a

3

-

o

o


Mythical

future

Sarah Nicholson imagines

what SCOTLAND witt be

tike in ten years' time.

tr*;]..;{,.,fil.#$"T"'".-j,ffi

having only six members of parliament at

Westminister, the Scottish National Party

put its message across loud and clear in the

1997 referendum campaign and the

resulting Yes Yes vote was a triumph for

those who campaigned for Scottish selfgovernment.

lf such mobilisation of desire

for self-determination were possible once

again, a change of Scottish identity would

already be in evidence.

However, the Scottish media's violent

attacks on the workings of the parliament,

which to date has not yet begun to grasp its

limited powers but merely sworn in its

members, may lead to a backlash of

Britishness. lt is possible that the next ten

years of Scottish government may see a

series of unionist coalitions, with the SNP

remaining the party of opposition. lf this

happens it is unlikely that Scottish identity

will change substantially, since Scotland will

continue to be governed by parties whose

economic, social and defence policies are

developed for the benefit of the majority of

their voters, viz. those living in England (not

necessarily the English).

ln this scenario Scots will remain split

over our place within Great Britain; we will

still have our rugby and football teams,

tartans and Flower of Scotland; Trident on

the Clyde, NHS waiting lists and university

tuition fees. With the Lib Dems and the

Tories out in the political cold, the struggle

for power will undoubtedly remain a two

horse race between New Labour and the

SNP for at least the next ten years - a

representation of the struggle within the

Scottish identity to establish a meaningful

sense of self.

With independence could

come an initial rush of

tartanism but soon PVC witt

be in; kitts witt be out.

But already all things Celtic are the

height of fashion: tartan is enjoying a retail

revival and traditional music has never been

so popular. Perhaps the changes already

4**'

" +l'

apparent in the way Scots perceive

ourselves, such as increasing national

confidence and national pride, combined

with a sense of disillusionment with the

limitations of devolved power, will lead to a

swing substantial enough to return a

majority for the SNP at the next Scottish

Parliamentary elections. As the other main

political parties manoeuvre and combine to

try and keep the SNP out their supporters

will be forced to choose between the Union

and lndependence - politics in Scotland will

become increasingly polarised along

constitutional lines.

And we should not

forget that the newest

faces amongst

Scotland's elected

representatives - the

Greens and the

Scottish Socialist Party

- also support

lndependence.

lf this shift in political polarity happens,

Scottish identity will change forever. With

independence could come an initial rush of

tartanism, followed by a period of rejection

movement 8

rri

of the symbols of our kitschier differences

from our English and Welsh neighbours. PVC

will be in; kilts will be out. The enormous

popularity of traditional bands such as

Runrig and Capercaillie will begin to wane

and couples will insist on discos instead of

ceilidh dancing at their weddings. Under no

circumstances, however, wil I the al l-day-andall-night

stocious drinking tradition of the

Scottish wedding be undermined by cultural

assimilation.

Despite all this, the new Gaelic

television channel will attract scores of

viewers curious to see South Park dubbed

in Gaelic ("0 Dhia! Marbh iad Kenny! Na

diolainnean!"). Such changes would be felt

most strongly by residents of Glasgow and

Edinburgh, where the cultural agenda is

most quickly affected by political shifts. lt is

probable that many inhabitants of the island

of Eriskay (for example) will be aware of

changes in lifestyle, but policy will still be

made with city-dwellers in mind, although a

reduction of tax on whisky will bring

pleasure to all. The unfair charge of Scots

avarice will be levelled through foreigners'

jeers at the Scottish National Lottery


average jackpot of 1,2.5 million, but Scots

will always be canny and will take their

chances on the English and lrish lotteries as

well as their own, thus maintaining their

reputation as drinkers and gamblers.

A myth which has been given entirelytoo

much credence in recent years is the notion

that the Scots hate the English. That myth

will be exploded in an independent

Scotland. Ten years of increasing awareness

in England of Scotland as a separate nation

will mean that tourists from England, and

those who retire to Scotland, will be more

aware that they are in a different country

with its own values and perspectives. Scots

who once refused to support the England

team in the World Cup will no longer feel

that to do so would be consorting with the

enemy; they willjudge each team on its

merits. Of course, we in Scotland have

always adored the Welsh and would

continue to do so after independence.

Unfortunately, however, hatred in the

form of Protestant/Catholic sectarianism is

not a myth, and we can only hope that

Scottish self-government can bring about

changes in society's thinking to effect a real

change in this form of religious identity.

A change in the attitude of the media

towards Scottish politics and culture may

also be foreseen in the independence

scenario. With our own news and

entertainment channels, and a decrease in

the influence of English-based newspapers,

Scotland will be portrayed in a much more

positive light. This change in self-perception,

together with the economic advantages

which independence is certain to bring, will

lead to an increase in the number of middle

class Scots. Scotland's prosperity under its

own government will ultimately bring the

farthest-reaching changes in identity: we will

no longer see ourselves as underdogs

"colonised by wankers" (in the words of

Trainspottint's Renton) but as a successful,

confident people with a unique portfolio of

resources to offer the world.

Sarah Nicholson is a former member of

SCM and represented the SNP in recent

council elections.

Reluctant pride

Mark Lawson-Jones wonders how nationatism fits with other ideas, such as

socialism and multiculturalism. How witl the new Assembty in WALES use its power?

woRD'ilAiloNAllsil' ts til

the same privileged position as

words like 'love'and 'morality'. ln

trHE

effect our perceptions of these

words may be poles apart from the view of

others, as we use our own personal

experience to make sense of the world in

which we live.

Nationalism to some may engender

feelings of disgust, especially when the term

is used to attempt to justify racist violence

and intolerance in all forms. To others,

nationalism may represent the action of all

things good or unique about one's culture

and practices as a national community.

Nationalism cannot be too narrowly

construed or categorised into the genuine

experience of 'nationhood' mainly because

it is a fusion or race, ethnicity and nation.

The lived experience for the child attending

a Qu'ranic school in Oldham, when

compared to a child attending a Church

school in Brighton, are understandably

poles apart. Should we then see traditional

nationalism in the UK as a tangible element

to indicate the well-being of society, or is it

merely a by-product of the once strong, but

now lost, privileged Anglo-Saxon race that

sought to impose 'norms' across cultural

divides?

My own natipn of Wales is currently

seeing a resurgence of nationalism, dare I

say national pride, with the opening of the

new Welsh Assembly. My summer

placement has been at the fiercely secular

Assembly, placed with The Revd. Aled

Edwards, a Church of Wales priest, who

successfully shares information on the

dealings and mechanics of the devolved

democracy with churches of many

denominations. The early sessions of the

Assembly has seen the Members

attempting to identify and address issues

that clearly affect Wales and the Welsh,

carefully testing the boundaries of the

limited power that has been awarded by

Westminister. The recognition of the

regional dimension by the Labour

government has been carefully considered,

with Scotland and Northern lreland being

granted a greater degree of autonomy and

scope to exercise 'regional' powers.The real

challenge for the Assembly and Welsh

'nationalism' is to set alight the imagination

of the people of Wales, rather than previous

attempts that set alight holiday homes,

stimulating a real pride in Wales and the

construction of a positive and distinctive

national identity. The old guard members of

the Assembly who protested about pit

closures not a generation ago, now fight for

farming subsidies and small businesses.

Many debates are concerned with the

structure of the market in Wales and few

are concerned with the actual living

movement 9

conditions of those experiencing real

poverty in the valleys and cities. There

appears to be little or time or space for

righteous protest for those who really need

advocates in the Assembly. The churches

have provided, through the Revd. Edwards,

a much needed advocate for open

government, even though the task is

increasingly difficult and hindered by

redtape.

As nationalism comes to the fore in my

own nation, I find myself questioning its

use. Surely the challenge is to provide an

image of cultural, racial and class

differences to the rest of the world, so that

all nations can identifythe real issues

affecting social justice and the structure of

society. As a socialist, I have previously

avoided the concept of 'nationalism'

considering it to be particularly divisive in

terms of destroying solidarity between

nation states; beyond this I have given it

little thought. More recently I have come to

appreciate the view of Bonhoeffer, who saw

a true love for country to be of importance

as it helps us to show gratitude to God for

what has received through one's country.

Secondly he saw that a knowledge of the

heritage of one's nation helps to build on

positive actions that have empowered

citizens in the past, but also for one to learn

lessons from the suffering caused in the

name of 'nationhood'. The new Welsh

Assembly should build on the foundation of

many years of economic and social

suffering to empower the people of Wales

with a truly positive vision for the future,

anything less would betray the trust of the

people who voted for another tier of

government here in Wales.

Mark Lawson-Jones is a former Derbyshire

social worker. He is now training for the

priesthood at St Michael's College, Cardiff,


Katy Gordon tatks to acctaimed novetist and sometime Quaker A.L. Kennedy. Does the

fact you can turn suffering into a story make it any better?

Dedicated follower

o

ofpasston

ew

LISON KENNEDY IS SOMEONE

who sees carefully. You can tell

when you read anything she has

written. Unexpected details

shimmer on the page - the shaPe of a

man's mouth, the sound and feel of frozen

air - in narratives that offer an intimate

glimpse into her characters' minds. She

clearly watches people closely. Her writing is

by turns terrifying and irreverent, but it is

always deeply humane (and often wickedly

funny) - even when she explores the

darkest corners of the psyche. Be

forewarned: although her prose is poetic

and spare, it is not afraid to tackle

disturbing themes; in her fiction, characters

face moments of horrific violence. ln her

most powerful work, people confront the

most harrowing of losses, the loss of faith.

She has published three novels (Looking

for the Possible Dance, So / Am G/ad, and

the recent Everything You Need) and three

collections of short stories, an acclaimed

screenplay (Stel/a Does lricks), winning a

parcel of awards in the process. Recently,

The Observer named her one of twenty-one

writers for the next century. Not too shabby

for someone barely in her mid-thirties,

whose first book came out nine years ago.

I was luckyto catch her recentlY in

Glasgow. She seems relaxed - this is her

first week off in far too long - but her laugh

still comes from somewhere dark. She's had

a rough couple of years. Or, as she puts it,

"The last two years have been SUCH CRAP

in every respect": displaced disc in her

neck,'impossibly busy work schedule, and

other things she doesn't mention and I

don't ask. I do ask her about writing, faith,

passion, and a half dozen other topics that

come to mind when reading her work.

***

When asked for a possible motto for

living, she offers: "the situation is hopeless,

but not serious." This seems suitably wry

and bleak for someone who begins one of

her novels "Things could be worse."

lr rHtrucs ARE HopELESs, wHAT MAKEs us

co oN? LovE? Lncx oF LovE? LnucHrenz

She answers immediately, matter-of-factly.

"We don't have any choice."

Stubbornness?

"Yeah, there's stubbornness," she

agrees, "and there's people who have

charmed or lucky lives and don't realise that

things are terrible, but if anything terrible

happens to them at all, they sort of burnout.

I remember someone saying - and I

don't agree with it at all - 'some shepherds,

so that the lambs won't wander off, break

their legs,' which I think is just not true. lf

God is a shepherd like that..." her voice

trails off. Things may be hopeless, but not

so serious that one needs a God like that.

After a moment she adds, "But 'what

doesn't kill you makes you stronger' ...1

don't think it's that simple." She puts on a

funny voice, presumably the voice of a

pa rticu la rly u npleasa nt fata I ist deity: " fhis

terrible thing is going to happen to you

because it has

ii;i"!',11{"'*"' 'Sometimes a vocation witt be

fi'"ii;iyliu a passion. lt comes from the

slime or vou've

;lff;;:i'"" Greek word meaning 'to suffer'

people I like

spendingtime - thatts ngt an aggident. tt

with have had

terrible things

happen to them... they're such interesting Greek word meaning'to suffer'; that's not

company because they have this

permanently burned into them.

"Probably there would be other ways to

an accident" (that dark laugh again). "you'l/

care about this so much it'll be a way into

your soul. They've now re-written it (l'm so

get it, like if you were a very mellow monk or annoyed): 'great pain and great joy will open

something but I'm not the type to get it that the gates of the soul.' lt is true. Passion can

way; I'm the type to get it by lots of hideous provide either of those, both of those...."

things happening. You get to 'this too will

I think about what she writes in one of

pass' but then nobody says it will actually her short stories, something that sums up

pass and be replaced by anything better. what she's just said: "under the most

Thiswill pass, and a dogwill bite me inthe extreme pressures,therewill be unexpected

neck, and okay fine, and that'll pass and a light"; her writing records the "unexpected

bear will swipe your arm off. But then it light" that illuminates life lived in extrernis. I

gets to the point where it gets funny...." wonder how much of that extremity of pain

This is what I mean about her humour - and joy she describes comes out of her own

it's got a fierce, espresso-coloured tang to it. experience.

At a recent reading, she told the audience

that only those who are "unwell" would find WHnf nne SOME OF YOUR PASSIONS?

the section she read funny. Not surprisingly "l think they're all unhealthy' They're all

we wore ourselves out laughing.

It's strange, but in conversation she

uses "1" and "you" interchangeably so I'm

never sure whether she's making a general

statement, or speaking from personal

experience. Everyone does that - one of the

ambiguities inherent in the English language

- but in her case it seems a protective

gesture to keep probingjournalists at bay.

That's one of the difficulties of being a

writer as incisive as Alison is; everyone

wants her opinion. I'm no different.

WHnr aeour PAssroN? Doss rnnr xreP

US GOING? DOES TVERYONE HAVE A

PASSION, OR DO WE JUST NOT RECOGNISE lT

IN OTHER PEOPLE?

She's quick to answer - Proof if You

needed it that her mind works at high

speed: "Some people don't have time for a

passion. Sometimes a vocation will be a

passion.... it may just drop on you, and in a

way, it's a gift. I mean, it comes from the

sick." She pauses for a minute, thinks, and

then says with a ghost of a smile on her

face, "l think I'm inadequately supplied with

movement 10


,j.

.1:, .,

:zt,.

r;,;lidd.

iṬ

g

d-{ft"'

on each or damage each other - all of that

is very interesting." She admits with some

amazement, "We could damage each other

so terribly, all the time, and actually most

people choose not to."

Out of this keen awareness of passion

and pain, Alison creates memorable

depictions of the human struggle to find

something - faith, love, reassurance - to

hang onto in a damaged world. ln So / Arn

Glad, her protagonist describes her radio

work in a way that resembles the art of

writing: "l place something invisible into the

air, just so, give it a tangible shape and

somewhere, someone, a stranger, will get a

word and the feeling in that word - both of

them at once and because of me. I can do

that." For Alison, writing seems to involve

that same mixture of solitary cause and

public effect.

brakes, so if there's something that I like I

do it too much, I do it until it breaks, which

is not very good, unless it's an unbreakable

one, in which case I do it until I break, which

is why I've been ill: I don't have brakes. Or

breaks. The big passion is writing. But all of

them open you up for all of the things you

would be defended against...."

She admits that during the course of

writing her most recent novel, she lost over a

stone. She was already slight before being ill

and now is more so. Writing is "therapeutic"

shesays, but it also seems to take its toll.

lr wnmtc oPENS You uP AND MAKES you

MORE VULNERABLE, DOES IT ALSO PROTECT

YOU?

"l wish. Sometimes. From minor sort of

impacts - it's like the force field in Starship

Enterprise. lt'll take a certain amount of

pounding and then the engines 'cannae tak'

it.' lt's safe for minor discomforts. You can

say, well, this'll be useful. For the major

stuff, it's not very good, because if

somebody1ocks onto that pathway then

they've got you... She is brilliant at

dissecting human vulnerabilities,

particularly in relationships: all those

strange fixations people in love (or out of it,

or urgently needing it) have. ln several works

(Original B/iss, So I Am Glad, and Everythingl

You Need) she offers a sharp analysis of

what happens when sexual expression

strays into violence.

Tge urue BETWEEN LovE AND HURT cAN

BECOME SO BLURRED ONE CANNOT TELL

WHICH IS WHICH. I ESX XER TO TALK MORE

ABOUT THIS.

She's soft-spoken, but now her voice is

barely audible. "Most of the stuff in that

area comes from a sort of outrage -

sometimes either with the misuse of

physicality or the peddling of just images of

meat rather than anything to do with

people. I'm not even anti-pornography really

it's just I kind of hate pornography that

pretends it isn't pornography, that it's

something else, like a newspaper that is

just entirely covered with breasts

everywhere. lt's like well, then don't call

yourself a newspaper. You're not telling me

anything other than women have breasts."

She pauses, and adds: 'Any area where

somebody doesn't have power, orjust the

way people lean on each other or don't lean

How oogs YouR wRrnNG AFFEcT youR

READERS?

"You can't possibly predict what doing

what you feel you should do is going to end

up influencing.... I know there are certain

books I've written at certain times that have

just been fantastically helpful [to some

readersl. I've had people come up at

readings and say you got me through this

terrible time, which maybe any book would

have gotten them through and theyjust had

to read something. lt doesn't happen all

that often but it's a small, slow internal

thing, it isn't a big thing.... I believe in that

kind of change more."

ln Everything You Need, Nathan says:

"no one can write without [faith]. The author

of the story must be the first to believe in

what it says." ln the novel, Alison describes

a "Meeting Room" where the writers go to

meditate. lt reminded me of a Quaker

meeting room; I first met Alison in a Quaker

meeting, so I ask her about the connection

between writing and faith, the writing

process and Quaker worship.

ls rsE ruovel TNFLUENcED By youR

EXPERTENCE W|TH QUAKER WORSHTP?

"Yeah. lf you've been a writer and come

to a Quaker meeting after that, what you're

thinking is this is very like waiting, because

you're waiting for something to happen to

you. But it depends what type of writer you

are. I think any writer would agree that

something tremendous happens (something

outwith your control, or a lot outwith your

control) when you write."

How ooEs FAtrH coME tNTo tr?

"You have to have faith in your ability to

do it or you won't be able to do it because

that is the beginning of it. lf you haven't

found a belief in something other than

yourself... you'll have a belief in the process,

and you may begin to have beliefs outwith

that; but if you believe in God then it is just

very sympathetic to writing... because you're

waiting for something to happen."

movement 11


o

G

f1

l

v

FI

What's your favourite possession?

Notveryfond ofthings. I have a holdall I quite

like.

What are you reading at the moment?

Justfinished Selbolt's Ihe Emm(rants. About

to start A Fan 's Notes by Frederick Exley.

What's your favourite film/ play?

0h good grief - too many! All of Shakespeare

(except for Henry the Ei$hth). Lots of Chekhov,

Good by C.P. Taylor.

It's AWonderful Life , North by Northwest,

Notorious, Fargo, L.A. Confidential.Thunder

Rock. Anything by Powell and Pressburger

How do you relax?

I don't.

What's your favourite journey?

Don't like journeys - do like to travel, but

mainly keen on arrivals. Once got upgraded

on the way to New Zealand, that was good.

What do you like most about yourself?

I don't.

What do you dislike about yourself?

Most things

Whafs your favourite word?

Depends on the day. They're all pretty good.

lf you could be someone else who would it be?

Katherine Hepburn inThe Philadelphia Story.

When did you last cry?

Last week.

What are you scared of?

Not much. People I care for being hurt.

Describe a recuning dream that you have.

No - they're all very unpleasant.

What do you never miss on TV?

I'm away a bit too much to really get into TV.

Homicide isn't bad - most things with Jonathan

Meades - the later episodes ot Babylon 5 - one

episode in twenty of lhe X Files. The last thing I

really enjoyed was probably Edge of Darkness.

What music do you listen to most?

Absolutely anything. At the moment Glenn

Gould, REM, Robbie Williams and the new Tom

Waits.

What pet hates do you have?

Cruelty.

What would your motto for living be!

The situation is hopeless, but not serious.

[*'idii,il"#[*il;t;

Certainly, in Everything You Need, writing

restores faith in beliefs thought lost.

Warming to the subject, she says, "l

think damage to one damages the other, or

vice versa. Because it's very personal if it's

fiction, it's very very personal. You are

dealing with the same stuff that you pray

and that you define whatever you're having

to define. But if you're defining a higher

power, there's no other way to do it.... apart

from that what you can't articulate to

anybody." She makes a wry face and

suggests, "that deep mediation where you

just kind of vibrate with the music of the

universe. But that's kind of hard to achieve."

***

I see Alison a few days later on the

street. She's watching people make their

way up the street - not vibrating with the

music of the universe, but looking almost

content nevertheless. Things could be

worse. rft

Katy Gordon is currently'wrapping up'a

PhD in Scottish poetry.

A.L. Kennedy's novel Everything You Need

was published in June by Jonathan Cape.

lf you had your first year again, what would

you do differently?

My first year was not really my best, it was difficult for me, needing time and

space to myself, t0 live full time amongst s0 many new people and to begin

developing new relationships. At the time, I really wanted to develop as a

Christian, and I threw myself into CU and the associated friendships it offered.

My feeling now is that although I learned a lot, I became labelled as a pafticular

type of person which, looking back, wasn't really me. Perhaps if I did it all again,

I would have tried to meet a wider variety of people, and tried to develop more

honest friendships right from the start. (MC)

I would have realised quicker that it is mad to try and read the whole reading list

and you write better byreading less and thinking about it more. (l(W)

Having, in fact, gone through two undergraduate first years, my advice would be:

Go to the freshers' fayre and put your name on the mailing list on every and any

club or society that might interest you - notjust the ones you know you'll wantto

join. Ask lots of questions and think hard about actuallyjoining any group

though, especially if it's a religious group, or involves parting with lots of money.

Secondly I took fuller advantage of the student bank accounts second time

around. Lots ofthem offer cash incentives for opening an account, you can close

them shortly afterwards and keep the money - bear in mind not all of them will

want grant cheques to open the account. (CC)

I think my biggest mistake in my first year was not actually hanging around with

people off my course. (DG)

What I would do now is to join a few groups, (sport or theatre or religion, it

doesn't really matter) to get connected with other people. I think you would find

that a lot of people around you experienced the same things and you will make

friends quite easily I think. (JK)

When John Betjeman, the poet laureate, was asked at the end of his life whether

or not he had any regrets he thought for a while and then repl ied, " I think I

should have had more sex". Other than that, I think I would try to be more

ouQoing and refuse to be intimidated by people by recognising my own

strenghs. (MB)

I would not have got so stressed about who I was going to live with in second

year but just followed my instinct knowing I could live with people I already was

friends with - but I wouldn't agree to share a room again ! (KW)

I would have drunk a lot more beer, enjoyed the orientation week, let my hair

down (l had more of it to let down in them days) and studied theology rather

than'useful' subjects. (NT)

Avoid students, do less work, spend more weekends away, and most definitely

avoid halls of residence. (MT)

Also see pate 27: What have you discovered about

spi rituality si nce starting u niversity?

movement 12


Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedilch who?

Friedrich NieEsche, pronounced Neet-chur. He lived

from 1844-1900 and cultivated a large moustache

and challenging ideas.

What did he say?

Nietzsche said that in Western civilisation we have

been doingwithout God and building belief systems

which increasingly leave God on the margins, make

him inelevant, or are 'positively negative'towards

religious belief.

Ho hum. So whats new?

Remember, this was the 19th century. Darwin's

origin of Species took the biological rug out from

under religion's feet; Marx's challenged the social

basis and justice of Christianity. Both caused

uproar - and now Nietsche not only thought this

was a good thing, he said people did not realise

that they themselves had killed God - or the social

construct of God (for this is all God ever was).

The churches, NieEsche saw, were trying to revise

Christianity in the light of emerging science, but this

revisionism was splitting the churches and was

doomed to failure, for the revisionist Christians

were in the act of wiping Christianity out.

Hey! Hang on there! Ghristianig has always revised

itself to suit the times,

Yes, but the problem Nietsche saw was more

fundamental. According to Fred, we have always

based our beliefs on metaphysics - a beliefthat

there is Something Out There that is Really True.

Nietsche said that metaphysics is always based on

God - it is Real andTrue because God said so.

God/the gods have been the arbiter of all truth,

morality, reality. Except, of course, there never really

was, objectively, any God or gods.

So is anything ReallYTrue?

We cannot possibly have access to any reality

except those we invent for ourselves. And so priests

try t0 trick everyone else into believing their reality.

Nietrsche didn't like priests much, then?

That's an understatement. He said that they

preached a "slave morality": adherents should

follow Someone Else's (God's, the priests') rules -

be a moral slave - rather than making up their own

morality, which is now the task of all after the death

ofGod. As he wrote in Daybreak, "There are no

facts, only interpretations." Therefore we should

become strong individuals and fashion the world

and our moralig as we see fit.

lsn't that a tad selfish?

NieEsche proclaimed what he called "ideal selfishness".

He admired the ancient Greek leaders who

knew they needed to bring about suffering in order

to bring about the good. lhat's the nature of things.

It needs the exercise of power to get things done.

He hated Christian leaders who disempowered

themselves and their followers by pronouncing

weakness as good, converting inoffensiveness and

cowardliness to "patience", subjugation by those

one hates to "obedience", and converting present

misery into a post-mortem hope for happiness. He

recognised that life is messy and painful (as his

own was - he was often in great physical pain due

to a barrage of illnesses). We must grab life with

both hands and not be afraid of it or of our own

power. We must create our own versions of life - the

"transvaluation of all values".

Gotcha! Nietzsche is contradicting himself. He says

we must create our own realities, but surely he

wants us to agree with his?

Not so. He said that one cannot expect the chicken

to have the same morality as the fox. They have

different interests. With the end of absolute truth,

we have the dispersal of moralities.

But would that work? Lots of individuals out to

have their own way?

A good question. There is scope in Nietsche's

alternative t0 Christian morality for great abuse, as

his own sister saw - and used to her advantage.

Elisabeth Nietsche looked after Friedrich in his

final years after he went mad. During that time she

published his remaining works, but revised to her

own proto-fascist ends. lt is because of her that

Hitler and the Nazis used NieEsche's writing to

promote themselves philosophica lly.

0h dear. What would Fred have said?

We do know that. He hated racists and fascism, and

often spoke out against the rising tide of German

anti-Semitism. ln fact, his last known writing, a note

to a friend, expressed a wish to have all anti-

Semites shot!

What is his lasting legacy?

It is because of Nietsche that "death of God"

theology arose in the 1960s, with a surge of books

to argue its case. His work on philology (the science

of language) paved the way for Ludwig Wittgenstein,

and the works of Don Cupitt would be empty

without hi.. Nowadays we take it almost for granted

that social relationships are based on power. lt was

our Fred who brought this realisation to the fore.

He wasn't much of a laugh, was he?

Nope. He was as serious-minded as they come. Yet

he did gr0w that moustache. But his writings are an

incredible read. He has a writing style like no other

and his ideas are involved and complex, so this

short article can't do him justice. Read him . . . or

send me an e-mail and l'll send you a much bigger

summary.

IAN HARVEY-PITTAWAY (ian.hp@cwcom.net)

Stephen Matthews

is off to South

Africa. Here he

shares his thoughts

before he leaves.

PEOPLE HAVE been quick to warn me that

in South Africa the crime rate is high and

violence is commonplace. You can step off

the plane in Johannesburg, and suddenly

your bags are taken from you; or you can

step off the coach and be surrounded by a

gang of about a dozen knife-wielding guys

and no one will lift a finger to help you. I

have heard many other similar stories but I

am more concerned about the violence that

is hidden behind the clamour concerning

self-preservation. Even five years after the

end of apartheid, reports are coming

through of racially motivated killings.

I want to find outjust what has

happened in the last five years and what

the future holds for South Africa. Before I

leave I will spend some time trying to

discover what questions SCMers in Britain,

would like to ask of people in South Africa;

and I will be asking you what you think of

traditional images of charity work. We,

especially as Christians, are often asked to

donate to the poor. How do we consider'the

starvlng black babies' in Africa and do we

care? SCM was involved in campaigning

against racism in South Africa during the

apartheid years - has any thing really

changed since then?

I will fly Into Johannesburg early on the

16th of October and will stay in South Africa

for three weeks. During my stay I will be

introduced to those running various

different projects, their supporters and

most importantly I will see the people who

use the projects. During my time in

Johannesburg I will visit a township and the

surrounding areas and look at issues of

housing and how best to use the land. I

have been invited to a weekend conference

run by an ecumenical youth programme:

there I'll meet some of the most

disadvantaged young people: those outside

the school system, the unemployed, people

involved in criminal activities, young women

affected by sexual violence.

I remember watching Nelson Mandela

when he was released from prison on Robin

lsland and I then saw him on his birthday in

Wembley Stadium. I hope to catch a

glimpse of people's understanding and

willingness to work things out together that

wlll leave me inspired. lt will give me

something to bring home.

A few days later I will back in Britain at

the Annual SCM Conference and l'll have

the chance to share my experiences. See

you there.

movement 13


Iternatiue

lU O|"|dffi

uh-00!

RAISE A GLASS. Raise a yawn.

The year 2000 is approaching

and a distinct whiff of hysteria is

in the air. O such a magical

number! Those three perfectly

formed zeros, infinite in their

symmetry, dark impenetrable

wells of meaning... and with a

two stuck to the front. For years

now doom mongers, prophets

and ex-snooker com mentators

have been predicting the end. lt

never happened. Though surely

now, with the next millennium

approaching, someth ing,

anything, is going to go down, big

time?

The significance of this date

has not been overlooked by

doomsday cults, religious groups

or anyone else happy to leave

their hum-drum lives for

something more explosive. lt is

after all going to be Christ's

2000th birthday. Or is it? A

controversial area but many

theologians believe that due to

some dodgy calculations made

by a medieval monk Jesus was

actually born in 4 BC. His

birthday has already passed - in

August 7997 - and we weren't

invited.

Still, there's the small matter

it

of the year 2000 being widely accepted as

the second millennium of the common era.

Slight snag. The first year of the common

era was actually year 0001. There was no

year 0 BC. This means that the second

century actually started on January 1st 101;

thus, the next millennium will actually occur

on January 1st 2001. Damn.

This does not stop millennial pundits

from feeling concerned. lt is not so much

that the year 2000 has a divine significance

but that people believe it has a divine

significance. As a Professor at Boston

Universities Centre for Millennial Studies

puts it: 'l am more worried about after 2000

than 2000 itself...one of the tendencies of

disappointed apocalyptic groups is to get

nasty; they will look for scapegoats.'

Look to the period preceding the last

millennium they say. lt was a time when

t Mike Myers' Dr Evil - a cat stroking megalomaniac.

Expectto see more over the coming months

many religious sects blamed unbelievers for

postponing their day ofjudgement.

Certainly, just before the year 1000 turned,

many people gave away all their

possessions to the church in anticipation of

TEOTW. When Jesus did not appear religious

leaders were unwilling to return any goods.

Serious criticism of the church followed. The

church reacted by exterminating heretics in

an era of almost unprecedented anarchy

and turmoil.

Surely now though, we are less

impressed by this figure 2000? Well, yes

and no. Stephen Jay Gould makes the point

that the date was originally begun as a kind

of countdown for Christ's return. Now,

however, more people accept the date as

just another in the calendar. Conversely, it

might spook some people to know that

many governments across the globe are

drawing up plans to mobilise

troops in case of civil unrest.

George Robertson has publicly

acknowledged that the millennium

bug - a very modern doomsday

device - does pose a threat to

defence capabilities. The fear is

that a Dr Evil type character will try

to exploit a governments' security

weaknesses while the YK2

gremlins are running rampant.

Shoko Asahara of Aum Shinri Kyo

(The Supreme Truth) is one such

cat stroking megalomaniac. His

group formed in 1987 and at its

most popular boasted 20,000

members. The philosophy draws

from both Buddhist and Christian

texts and offers acolytes the

promise of developing

su pernatu ral powers. Asahara

himself claims to have travelled to

the year 2006 to talk to survivors

of WWlll. The less cuddly side to

this character is that he is

currently on trial for spreading

nerve gas in a Tokyo subway

station killing 11. US Senate

testimony revealed that if those

responsible had not made errors in

the preparation of the containers

many thousands would have died.

Asahara's predictions for

Armageddon are based on the

prophecies of Nostradamus and

The Book of Revelation. Certainly,

the last book in the Bible has a lot to

answer for and is the inspiration behind

many an inaccurate doomsday forecast. At

the turn of the nineteenth century a famous

prophecy about TEOTW was made by a

chicken. The bird was owned by one Mary

Bateman and it had, for some time, been

laying eggs bearing quotes from the Book of

Revelation: And when the thousand years

are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his

prison,' and the like. The chicken's owner

became a celebrity overnight and when an

egg bearing the simple message '1809'

popped out local residents hurriedly went

away to prepare for the worst. Unfortunately

for Bateman, before her big day arrived, she

was discovered stuffing an egg up the

chicken's backside and was hanged for

heresy and crimes against poultry.

movement 14


I

REVELATION, like most apocalyptic texts, is

vague and rambling: lots of trumpets, tons

of brimstone, a lamb, a sheep and a dog

called Colin. Not really. (Actually, in my

younger and more vulnerable years I

thought the seven seals referred to the

blubbery sea mammal creatures, not to

divinely manufactured book bindings. Quite

how this team of cute circus performers

were to act as the harbingers of doom I

don't know - but l'm sure those comedy car

horns had a role to play.)

However, if Revelation is to be believed

then sceptics can expect a rough time.

Though vague with dates, St John the

Divine's visions specifo punishment in no

uncertain terms: 'lt was given that they

should not kill them but that they should be

tormented five months.' Not a few weeks,

or until the end of the Easter holidays, but a

very specific five months.

Like Asahara other prophecy-wonkers

have allied the writings of Nostradamus with

passages from Revelation to produce a

date. Of course, what Nostradamus fans

gloss over is not that he gets it right but that

he gets it nearly right. His most famous

prediction, that a man in the 20th century

called Hister would rampage throughout

Europe and be responsible for millions of

deaths is close but

no cigar. That there

was a man in

Germany called

Hister about this

time we can take as

almost certain.

Perhaps he was

cruel; an alcoholic;

threw stones at

windows whilst a

youngster. But did

he invade Poland

thus precipitating

the Second World

War? No! that was

Hitler, not Hister.

Leave Hister alone.

What I'm trying to

say is that when it

come to prophecies

which entail physical

discomfort, nay, five months worth of torture

I demand accuracy. Nostradamus is simply

too sloppy.

So where does all this leave us? Still in

a state of unknowing. What's new? Take

heart. The millennium can at least be good

for business if nothing else. Some

Evangelical Christians from the US have

r Nostradasmus gets it nearly right. Hitler: invaded Poland and

precipated WW l; Hister: threw stones at windows whilst a youngster.

sold their assets and relocated to the Mount

of Olives overlooking Jerusalem. lndeed, The

Mount of Olives Hotel has written to 2000

Christian groups in the US asking, 'How

would you like to be staying at the Mount of

Olives Hotel the day that Jesus returns?'

The hotel is run by Palestinian Muslims.

(MARK WALBANK)

Paperless magazines

SCM's WEBSITE has recently been

revamped (www.charis.co.uly'scm). lt

features uptodate information on activities

across the country and is linked to ongoing

campaigns. The new set-up also means that

Movement taken off from SCM's site

because it now has its own independent but

connected website: "Movement online and

off-message" (http://members.aol.com/

movemagl/online/welcome.html). lt is

home to the majestic retrospective compiled

by Graeme Burk, and has an expanded Best

of Serpent; there are highlights from the

current magazine, previews from forthcoming

issues (as and when they happen).

A warning however: it is embryonic and

experimental. So what it lacks in technowizardy,

it makes up for in passion.

There doesn't seem to be much

intelligent engagement with faith 'out there'

- it'is often becomes proselytizing and

points scoring. Their potential of discussion

groups is mind-blowing (and a topic for a

future '@lternative worlds' anyone?). So if

there are some hidden gems I love to know.

At the very least, I'd be interested to add

links to other web-sites that explore SCMy

issues or promote a similar ethos - please

let me know what there are and I can

endeavour to include them.

HERE'S A couple in a humourous vein to get

you started. lf you haven't had a look at

www.shipof-fools.com yet, you really

should. Ship Of Fools was launched on April

Fool's Day 1998, and has gained a large

following. lt was originally a shoruived

satirical print publication in eighties; but

those fools were reunited for this online

production. lt is a huge site, impressive in

terms of design and content. My favourites

include The Fruitcake Zone, John Calvin's

Newsround and Gadgets for God. This

includes the marvellous Hot Air Jesus: 'he's

quite simply the biggest cadget for God

we've ever seen'.

Whereas the Shipof-Fools has a lighthearted,

chuckly feel, The Door is for those

who like there humour to have a bit more

bite. lt is primarily a print magazine, which

also happens to have an online presence

(wwwthedoor.org). This digest only gives a

flavour of The Door, which can be obtained

movement 15

very expensively on import, but is well worth

a peek. "For 25 years this bimonthly

magazine has been deflating religious

pomposity wherever it has been found," they

say. The targets can be a bit soft : ('How the

Amish Party Like it's 1699'suggests such

activities such as "Burning past the square

dance on a seriously rad Clydesdale" and a

"Wet bonnet contest.")

It hails from the States, so some references

fly by, but there's enough a surfeit of

religious pomposity and a cornucopia of

wacko groups to choose from. Ihe Door has

entertained a cult audience for 25 years so

it must be doing something right. Not always

though: the recent Springfield Blessing

issue, (a take on the Toronto blessing) has

got them embroiled in with Ihe Simpsons'

lawyers for having broken "every copyright

law in the countryl" Most entertainingly of

all, it all arose because they did an interview

with the guy who does Ned Flander's voice,

who informally said it was fine to use

whatever images they liked. (Honestly! Small

time outfits that think they can ignore the

basic legalities of publishing!)

And get the address right: if you omit

the hyphen, as I did first time, you end up

immersed in The Open Door Fellowship in

Minneapolis. The lilac colour

scheme is almost as upsetting

as their mix of singles'

dinners, sports ministries and

Bible studies for newly

marrieds. You've got to worry

about a church that displays a

weekly giving update.

(TrM WOODCOCK)


tAte-a-t6te

Dear Triona,

Eastern Orthodox worship is

traditional. On Saturday evenings and

Sunday mornings it is always the same

familiar service. Week after week the same

opening petitions and prayers. lncense is

offered always in the same places and in

the same way. The prayers of need in the

litanies are always the same. Psalm 140

and the Hymn of Light are always the heart

of vespers. After the Gospel at matins, the

same resurrection hymn is sung. Of course

there are numerous variable parts, but

that's the problem of the clerry and choir.

Everything is familiar, it's ours; we know it.

It's not boring because familiarity evokes a

freshness. lt also not boring because it is

done well. I am tempted to think that the

Western mania for variety in liturgl is

because the liturgy is often done so poorly -

sometimes in the worst possible taste -

that people are scrambling to escape the

impasse by forever trying something new.

At the World Council of Churches I was

once asked to help plan an Easter service. I

suggested some old standbys, such as

lighting the paschal candle. "We did that

last year" was the answer I got. Well

Christians have been doing a lot of things

for almost two thousand years, and I hope

we keep it up until the parousia. The answer

is not to replace what we do, but to do it as

if we meant it. The Orthodox do the same

thing every Sunday, year in and year out,

and nobody complains, because it is good!

lndeed, one of the reasons it is good is

because it is familiar, and hence viable. The

services have stood the test of time. Variety

is not the answer to bad taste.

Orthodox worship has a sense of

transcendence. This is true not only of the

liturry itself but of the whole atmosphere of

sacredness and mystery that surrounds its

every movement and communicates a

sense of reverential awe. To create this

spirit, the Church building itself and its

iconography is impbrtant. To see an

Orthodox liturgy in a properly-appointed

Orthodox Church is to cross the threshold to

another world, or rather to this world made

visible in its redeemed reality as the

transfigured cosmos beyond time.

The Saturday evening service lasts for

about an hour and the Sunday morning

services last about two hours. I can hear

people complain: "One hour on Saturday

evening and two more on Sunday morning -

who will put up with that?" Some not only

put up with it, they demand it. Others come

for only part of it, according to their

circumstances, but even they would be the

last to say it should be cut down or omitted.

People give time to whatever is important in

their life: rock concerts, football, or the

glorification of God.

Orthodox worship is traditional also

because it is focussed. There is really only

one basic theme: Jesus Christ dies and rose

for our salvation, and is with us all days

even unto the end oftime. The Object of our

worship is a Holy and Sacred Person - God

himself, who came and made himself

known to

usasa

Dear Dimitri,

The Late Late Service is an ecumenical

Christian community based in Glasgow that

first began creating worship about 70 years

ago. Our services are different every week

because we don't have a minister or a

priest, but take it in turns to put our

services together. We write and perform a

lot of our own music; and we use slides and

video taking images from life around us, to

decorate our worship space and form a

focus for contemplation.

ln the West, people are

person.

H'u,,."."n

scrambting to escape the impasse

ili#ru':* by forever trying something new

from us.

'sacred' means 'the other', 'set apart', 'not

of this world'. Orthodox worship tries to

provide an environment where a true

To someone who has grown up in a

particular denomination familiar rites and

rituals may be comforting. Familiarity can

Encounter between God and humanity can be comforting, but it can also breed

take place.

complacency, apathy and alienation. The

\ " fnT'#;i";x:!::nil12?:if,':{:J",i:,"

I\ ' ^ )l n, place the important bit of Christianitv (that

| / t i h t X Jesus died for us and rose a€ain) into the

aJ,

"

*3# : :'i Y"i"!]ffJ,o" *,t m us ica / styres

movement 16


Does video and dance music have a place in worship? How

about ancient chants? lt is better to fotlow or'fitlet'tradition?

The Orthodox and the unorthodox battte it out:

To what extent should worship draw on the culture around it?

are part of modern life, why shouldn't they

be part of modern worship? We use s/ides

to do the job the presumably stained g/ass

windows used to. We use music we've

written to praise and lament, sometimes

using the words of the psa/ms but with new

melodies. Even the Gregorian chants must

have been new at some time.

Within mainstream churches there

seerns to be a sense thatjust because

something is old and has been done that

way since time out of mind, it must be good.

Well, it might be, but sometimes you need

to approach it in a new way, renovate it to

reveal its splendour, restore it, reinterpret it,

find a fresh meaning in order to reconnect

ln a sense the our service's approach

to worship innovation is nothing new

with it. It's not necessarily a case of forever

tryingjsomething new just for the sake of it.

Ihe services we create are very much

ours. We've made them. They aren't words

and formsthatwe sayjust because we had

a hand in creatingjthem. lt has always been

part of our ethos that the act of creation is

as much an act or worship as the public

performance. Our cycle of services and

events are such that the hour ofthe service

is quite frankly the least of it. Often the

times we feel c/osest to each other is when

we are plannin$ a service: talkingthrough a

theme, arguing it out between us,

exchanging opinions and thoughts and then

thinking, how can we put all this into a

service to worship God?

Ihe post modern approach means that

we cover a great many facets of modern

life. We have many special moment within

our services, moment of awe, but one of the

important things about our worship is that it

doesn't get relegated to the church

buildings, only to be invoked once a week at

the instigation of a priest or minister. We've

celebrated holy rhoments in the church, in

each other's houses, on the banks of Loch

Lomond, in the local park....

Christianity therefore spi//s out into

everyday life. We don't become religiious

schizophrenics. Our brand of worship is not

set apart from the day to day business of

living and dealingwith the complexities of

modern life. God is present in the mundane

as wel/ as the exalted. And God lb not an

entity living in the sky who can only be

approached in certain Places and

through the right hierarchies.

"tt '

I r wn4

Dear Triona,

You begin by saying that your "services

are different every week because [you] don't

have a minister or a priest." I am not sure

how the presence or absence of a minister

or priest can make a service different or the

same. The minister/priest is called by the

Church, the people of God, to guide the

faithful in their journey to their Father's

kingdom. The vocation is sealed by the

sacramental laying on of hands and the

blessing of the Holy Spirit. The point, surely,

is not whether a fixed service rejects variety

and connect-ion with the modern world, or

whether varied services shun "complacency,

apathy and alienation." (Nothing stops the

minister/ priest from introducing new

elements according to needs and circumstances.

Are all varied services satisfactory

to everyone?) The point is whether the

service communicates the saving message

of the Gospel to the world, whether it

satisfies spiritual thirst; whether it brings

people into a living relationship with Christ;

whether it changes their lives. Any service,

varied or fixed, that accomplishes the latter,

is true Christian worship.

The history of Christian communal

praise, in common with its Jewish origins,

and with the majority of the world's

religions, demonstrates clearly that human

beings collectively (not individually) are

challenged and motivated precisely within

familiar structures. These structures are not

movement 17

frczen, but they are modified and moulded

organically, within conscious parameters, by

the ecclesial mind, not by assigned

individuals or groups. Non-congregational

prayer and worship ("in the closet"), on the

other hand, is the occasion for personal

choice: simply because not everyone

accepts the tastes and proclivities of others.

Not everything that is a part of modern

life must necessarily be a part of modern

worship. The modernity of worship is a

matter of communal choice. The mind of the

Church discerns and assumes what belongs

to its life of prayer. lt may even be ahead of

its time.

\_\,

I ) i,t ,{l'

!J

Dear Dimitri,

ln the early days of the church in

Europe, it had no compunction about

colonising pagan festivals and turning them

into Christian ones (Christmas is a c/assic

case in point.) "The Dream of the Rood" ls

an Anglo Saxon poem which describes

Christ in terms that people familiar with

heroic secular poetry (like Beowulf) would

understand: whatever it took to make the

point.

/n a sense the Late Late Serylce's

approach to worship innovation is nothing

new. I still don't understand why simply

because something has a pedigree of

hundreds of years, it automatically makes it

relevant to people living now. The Gregiorian

Chant is not really part of our cultural

heritage, but electronic media are. Why

should late 20th Century Chrstlans st//

have a medieval mind-set and aesthetic

sensibility? Christianity should not be afraid

of a post-modern world, because

Christianity has always found new ways to

get its message across.

--L

lrwnq

a

Dlmltrl Olkimonou ls Greek Orthodox and

ls based ln Oxford. He is the President of

Syndesmos, the Orthodox youth

organisatlon.

Trlona Mlller is on the steering group for

the Late Late Service - an alternative

worship communlty that sprang up ln

Glasgow ln the late eighties.


The Hoty Land is astoundingty beautiful - and its recent history extremety ugty.

Tourists tend to be cocooned away from some of the harsher reatities - especiatty

those that affect the Patestinian peopte. Beki Bateson shares her experiences.

Surface tenston

o

and how to go beyond it...

r- HE WORD Pntfsrlntll{ mS

U ;,,""',?l,.ti3,. fi :'^T'd fJH :""ffi

five years ago. I had vague memories of

learning about the '67 Six-Day War at school

in history class but that was about it. I had

been involved from an early age with

organisations who worked alongside the

poor, the marginalised and oppressed but

mainly in places like Africa or South

America; the Middle East didn't seem to

have such an appeal. The very word

'Palestinian' sounded complicated, the

history even more so.

When I began at Amos, my boss, Garth

Hewitt had recently taken a group of

supporters to the Holy Land and had

already started preparingthe next visit. ln

between this he was also organising a UK

tour for his friend Naim Ateek who was

Canon at St George's Cathedral in

Jerusalem. lt was as I helped put these

events together that I began to be drawn

towards the Palestinians as a people, as a

Christian community and to the land that is

known as Holy.

My first trip to the area was with Amos

in 1996 with a group of about forty eager

pilgrims. The aim of many tours is to visit

the old sites and have an individualistic

spiritual experience but with Amos we aim

to meet with the 'Living Stones', the term

used by the local Palestinian Christians to

describe themselves, "...your sisters and

brothers in Christ." This phrase arose from a

desire to be recognised by the thousands of

pilgrims who visit their land every year but

only see the old stones of the Holy places.

"fln Nazarethl if they [pilgrims] are aware at

all that the people around them are Arabs, it

is probably because their lsraeli guide has

warned them to be careful and guard their

valuables....Most of them do not even stop

to buy a postcard from the souvenir shops

lining their way, let alone discover that the

owners are Roman Catholics, Episcopalians

and fellow Christians" [Bishop Riah Abu El-

Assal, Caught in Between SPCK 19991.

There is no doubt that 'the land of the

Holy One' as Bishop Riah calls it is a

beautiful place, from the olive trees to the

Old City of Jerusalem, from the glorious

vistas across the Jezreel valley to the calm

and tranquillity of the Sea of Galilee as

viewed from the peaceful poppy covered

hills by the Mount of Beatitudes. To many

travellers this is enough, this is all they

want, this is all they know But for the Amos

pilgrim there is the opportunity to meet the

local Christian community (those whose

ancestors were amongst the first followers

of Jesus) and to experience the reality of

their daily lives and present politics.

We try and stay in places where the

local community benefit from our business,

where the Palestinian economy can receive

a much needed boost. ln Jerusalem we

encourage our tourists to visit the Old City

and enjoy browsingthrough the hundreds of

little shops built in to its ancient walls". The

Old City is one of my favourite places, the

smell of Arabic coffee and sweet cakes, the

exotic sounds of Arabic music, the old

women sitting cross legged on the

pavement selling turmeric amidst a carpet

of vine leaves, the beautiful blue and white

Palestinian pottery and piles of wonderful

religious kitsch. The Mosques too, graceful,

ornate, prayerful, tranquil, the limestone

aching with years of painful history, the gold

u'

!*

\

\u\lr

-f,

\r'

.y

I

i'

, \\i

N.:

)

\ I \

1^

''[er,,

*-gl

1Open House sumrner camp, Ramle, Israel.

Palestinian and Jewish teenagers learning about local culture and each other.

i^Palestinian kids at a Children's Home,

Ramallah

movement 18


A recent history

of Palestine

Historically Palestine is the area bounded by the Meditenanean

Sea, the RiverJordan, lebanon and the Sinai Desert. The

Palestinians have traditionally inhabited this land, which is also the

focus of Jewish aspirations. ln 1948, following World War I and the

Holocaust, the State of lsrael was created and three quarters of the

area formerly known as Palestine came underthe control ofthe new

Jewish state. During this time many Palestinians were forced to leave

their homes and became refugees in neighbouring Arab countries, or

the remaining parts of Palestine, called the West Bank and Gaza

Strip.

ln 1967, after the Six-Day War, lsrael occupied these Palestinian

tenitories, including EastJerusalem, creating more refugees. A

harsh military rule was imposed overthe West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian opposition to this occupation which has denied them the

most basic human rights, came to a head in 1987 with the'lntifada'

('shaking off in Arabic), an organised popular uprising which aimed

to end the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian

State.

ln 1993 the Oslo Declaration of Principles, signed by lvael and

the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, provided for Palestinian

autonomy over the Gaza Stdp and Jericho. Ihis was followed by the

Taba Agreement, or Oslo l, which extended Palestinian authorig

within the West Bank (to situation shown in the the map to the left).

The 0ctober 1998 Wye Agreement, if tully implemented,

provides for the transfer of a further 1% of land from lsraeli to

Palestinian control. Ihe agreement does not yet specify where this

land will be located, but the result is a confusing map of

disconnected pockets of Palestinian tenitory which still only

amounts to about 18 % ofthe West Bank.

. lt is esUmated that that 20% of Palestinians in the West Bank live

below the poverty line: set at f1.25 per day (or f406 pa).

. Most of the Palestinian areas (light grey on map) are surrounded by

lsraeli checkpoints making travel very ditficult.

. A million Palestinians live in the area, 500 000 of these in refugee

camps that occupy 3 square miles; 4000 lsraeli settlers occupy the

remaining 40 % of the land.

lnformation taken from the Christian Aid leaflet 'not the peace we dreamt

of(November 1998)

Map of the fragmented West Bank

(As negotiated under the 1995 Oslo I Agreements)

TblAsv i

Jdier' i

Jarusal€trii t

- Balhlehom

{Jazt;Hebrdn.

3

tr

Gaa '

Strip

ISRAEL

Eilat

S€a ot

Gdil6

Nabl

Jsricho

JORDAN

Sea

n 1967 occupied tenitories

I nnrn A: majorcities (3%)

under control of Palestinian

National Authority

AREA B: clusters of

Palestinian villages and

cities (24%)

AREA C: Full lsraeli

control (73%)

Golan

Heights

BANK

SYRIA

bb

F

lo e

a

@

,'' u

Ito r€A o@ o

Kiryat \. Soo

$j"1 -'

F"

o

I

t .*_

Beitar

aB

b

I

Eshkolot \ \o

b

a

I

o

0 o

Karmel

Tekoa

el

T

g.'

Mehola

o

c

'aleh

Ephraim

tlD

JERICHO

Ma'aleh

Adumim

0

glistening hope. Sitting in the courtyard at

St George's Hostel, the smell of lemon trees

and gentle peal of bells calling the

committed to evening prayer. The pink dusk

view from the balcony at St Margaret's down

over Nazareth, the faint sound of the

electronic Muslim chants wafting through

the warm evening air.

.Some of my other favourite places are

those which are not seen by many tourists,

only the ones willing to step off the souvenir

trail, ready to engage with the daily life,

dreams and hopes of local Palestinians and

not just their own celestial appetite. These

are the projects and organisations which

work towards justice with peace in the Holy

Land, those seeds of hope that continue to

commit to flourishing against the odds.

Every day life for most Palestinians is

that of an oppressed minority and if you're a

Christian this makes you even more of a

minority (only 10% of Palestinians are

Christian, 2% of whole population). The

main issues that affect daily life are house

demolitions, land confiscation, water

shortages, expansion of settlements, lD

confiscation and closures. The oppression is

often too much to bear; imagine having your

water cut off but being able to see from

your rooftop your jewish settler neighbours

splashing around in their swimming pool

whilst the grass is being watered by a

sprinkler.

On my third visit in May

this year we visited the Efrat

Jewish Settlement which

looks like an American

suburb (not dissimilar from

the set in the film the

Truman Show). Along all the

pavements were beds of

lovely bright watered flowers

and where we pulled up, next to a football

pitch a large puddle lay around the goal,

even in the baking morning heat reflecting

the cloudless sky. You begin to feel the

oppression and unjustness, you begin to

feel angry, you begin to question the God in

whose name this is being done, you begin to

cry for those whose homes are

unnecessarily flattened to the ground

"Courts denying permits to Palestinians

building homes under the guise of 'security'

while settlers build mansions in those

zones"[Jonny Baker 'Justice'from the album

Backbonel.

There are two places we always visit off

So many around the wortd

believe the Zionist dream

is more important than

basic human rights.

the beaten track because we support them

through Amos. The first is called 'Open

House' in Ramle (between Tel Aviv and

Jerusalem). lt is a small house that tells a

wonderful story of reconciliation between

the Palestinian family who lived there pre-

'48 and the Jewish family whose home it

became. Run by Dalia and Yehezkel Landau

movement 19


and Michail Fanous, Open House operates a

nursery for Palestinian children, runs

summer camps for Jewish and Palestinian

teenagers and works with adults towards

cultural understanding.

The second place is the Al Ahli Arab

Hospital in Gaza, originally set up by CMS

and now supported by the Diocese of

Jerusalem. Very few tourists go into Gaza

but making the effort to wait at the

checkpoint before being allowed in (in my

experience this can be for anything up to an

hour and a quarter) will bring you a great

reward.

Tne peopre oF GAZA (MANY oF

whom were born there and have never been

outside of its two by four mile prison) are

wonderful and always delighted to see any

foreigners, who remind them that they are

not forgotten, that they have value and

worth. We are privileged to know so many

wonderful people all across Palestine-lsrael

- both Palestinian and lsraeli; from

Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths; peace

activists and those willing to get their hands

dirty for justice. The gentle and gracious

Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, who is involved with

Rabbis for Human Rights explained; "We

still have a long way to go before we have a

vision of partnership which is the only way

forward, past the hurt, fear and prejudice.

We need a sense of sacrifice - we're so

much more powerful." Jeremy certainly

knows the cost of this sacrifice.

I remember on my first visit we were up

in Nazareth for the end of our trip and were

staying at St Margaret's Hostel. There is a

very simple little chapel underthe hotel

where we had spent time reflecting one

night after supper. We had seen and heard

so much and yet we had hardly begun, I was

confused and angry, sad and tired and I

. The Amos Trust is a charity committed to issues of justice, peace and human ri$hts

around the world and works in partnership with grassroots, community based projects

in South Africa, the Philippines, Uganda, Palestine-lsrael and Nicaragua,

. The Amos Collective is a vibrant initiative for those in their 20s and 30s interested in

the issues and a lifestyle of justice.

V tt you would like further information ab0ut the Palestinians, alternative tours, other

relat6d agencies, books and resources, please contact Beki Bateson atthe AmosTrust,

All Hallows on the Wall, 83 London Wall, London EC2M sND or email

a mos_trust@co m p userve. co m

cried. I cried for a long time almost

uncontrollably but as I cried I was inspired

and challenged to, on my return, tell the

stories, both of hope and despair that I had

heard. I was challenged to find out more, to

write to my MP and the Government and to

use what I had learned for action in

solidarity with my Palestinian sisters and

brothers.

People whose homes are demolished

have their lives demolished as well - it is a

selfish and unnecessary policy. Jeff Halper

of the lsraeli Committee Against Home

Demolition says, "We dread listening to the

news in case another house has been

demolished." Ehud Barak is the new Prime

Minister of lsrael who made many promises

regarding elements of the Peace process

during the pre-election campaign. I was out

there just after the elections and the

general mood amongst the Palestinians was

'let's wait and see if his words will turn into

actions'. For any new leader the honeymoon

period is never a long one and this is true

for Barak. Already we have heard of the first

demolition under his leadership; a three

room tin shack on a barren hillside in the

Judean Desert betonging to the Halaseh

family-Bedouins.

There is no denying that there are

extremists on both sides but we must never

underestimate the sophistication of the

domination. I urge each of us to look under

the surface of this beautiful and precious

land and be prepared to have our perceP

tions challenged and see the struggle. As

Christians we have a specific responsibility

especially as so many around the world

believe the Zionist dream is more important

than basic human rights. I will never fully

understand the politics or theolos/ of this

place but I do know what I have seen is not

right or just. So many pilgrims miss out,

surrounded by an invisible membrane as

they glide through Area A cocooned in their

air conditioned coach not stopping to meet

the people. Sadly I am reminded all too

often of the dried up river bed I saw in

Tekoa, where the Prophet Amos once lived

and when I reflect on the words that underpin

our work at the Amos Trust, I suspect

that he would still be saying the same thing

to the people of lsrael today: "Letjustice roll

down like a river and righteousness like a

never failing stream",{n-

Beki Bateson is Projects Co-ordinator at the

Amos Trust and is involved in various

charities and forums to do with Palestine

and in particular Palestinian Christians.

t Demolished house of a Palestinian family in the village of Paradise.

movement 20


-I I I rsrand rar rrom home. Not a rot of

-- LI people live on that island: there

-

I nter- national express

MAGTNE You ARE oN AN

are no supermarkets or car parks,

no buses, no colleges or sports stadium, no

cinema. You have decided to go there for a

week, and when you get there you discover

that there are forty other people there,

people like you. People like you, except that

half of them don't speak your language.

Together you are given one week to express

yourselves, to find different ways of sharing

faith with one another.

I'm on an island this week: the island of

lona. We're taking part in a programme run

by the lona Community in the Macleod

Centre called 'Express Yourself'. The forty

people we have here come from Sweden,

Orkney, north Wales, Blackpool, Belgium.

And they are all aged between L3 and L7.

So to find ways of expressing ourselves

which don't rely on words has been difficult.

Here are some of the ways we did it.

We danced together. On Tuesday night

at the local dance, sophisticated Swedes

mingled with cool lads from Bangor. The

language of the body transcended linguistic

barriers.

Every evening and morning we

worshipped with the 'grown ups'staying in

7

I

I

'soundings

' in spirituality

RurH Hnnvey

the Abbey. But on Wednesday night the

young folk from Belgium wrote prayers, the

Orkadians played their fiddles and 'cello,

Welsh lads read the bible and wrote

reflections and two folk - one from Kirkwall

and one form Bangor - lead the service

together. And the 7th lnternational Celtic

Kazoo Band led us in a procession.

On Thursday morning we discussed the

'Big Questions' in our lives. Across all

boundaries of gender, language, culture,

economic background and mood we

discovered that young people from around

the world are concerned about theirjob

security in the future, the state of the

planet, the well-being of their family:

younger siblings and ailing grandparents.

And we discovered that the biggest of all is

that "we are all treated as human beings

and as equals." Earth shattering insights?

Not exactly, you may say. But moving,

honest sharing from a group of teenagers

not used to sharing their deepest thoughts

with strangers.

On this island it is easy to become lost

in the consumer world of 'haveit-allspirituality'.

Some people come here

expecting to find packaged spirituality,

neatly tied up and labelled in a box which

you can take out and look at from time to

time. These people are usually

disappointed, for here the folk are generally

much more down to earth, recognising that

the most startlint insights come from the

most ordinary encounters. This is how

James from Bangor expressed himself:

The grass around,

that is squashed,

the wind blows over,

that is cut,

eaten away,

uprooted.

My faith is the grass:

no matter if it is squashed,

blown over, cut, eaten away,

it grows back with vigour.

lf it is uprooted,

it leaves its seed behind,

and this grows within me.

What have you discovered about spirituality

since starting university?

I feel today that living in community has a lot to do with spirituality and how we

live it. Sometimes it can be a delight and other times itseems terribly draining,

but the rewards are in terms of really contacting people on a deep level. (MC)

Going to university has forced me (sometimes unwillingly) into contact with

people from traditions other than my own. The result of th is exposure has been a

re-examination of my own faith and also (l hope) a growingtolerancetowards

other views. Contact with evangelicals, has also put my Biblical knowledge to

shame. (CC)

Before I came to university I had an idea thatfaith was enough and goingfurther

into the realms of spirituality was unneccesary. My four years at University have

shown this idea to be completely false, Although I say faith and spirituality are

different yet they start and end in a similar place, that God loves and is with us

whereverwe are. (DG)

Since Holland, and especially Amsterdam, is a rathersecularised placeto live, I

often found people don't much care about spiritual life and the church

particularly. However I live in a house with 15 other christian students from

different denominations, and that is really fun. Also joining the local SCM was

one ofthe bestthings I have done, duringthe lastyears.(JK)

Every Christian should be interested in theological matters, even helshe is not a

student of theology. 0therwise faith does not have a real foundation and it can

be easily transformed in superstition.(RB)

I have found that spirituality leads outside the world ofjust God and church, to

tacklingjustice issues that affect everyone. I think many people are becoming

aware of this, and hopefully the debt issue will not be only one of many on which

we can make a difference together. (MC)

Long late night discussions with fiercely atheist flatmates in second year really

made me whittle down to what I thought was essential, though am always trying

to be open to what others have to say.

I remember someone who came to speak at our SCM said that he mostly holds

on to - I hope I'm not misquoting - is 'God is and loves us and asks us to love God

and each other back'. He said this was about as much as he could be sure of

most days, and that is the centre of what I believe too. The rest seems like embellishments

that can so easily change and cause people to fight each other. (KW)

I think I learned that spirituality is always plural, and that God cannot be

reduced to any one way of thinking. There are strengths in all spiritualities, and

exploration and experimentation is good. Although, I don'tthink a pick and mix

stratery is right. lf you are going to try something, go for it hell for leather for a

while. Also, spirituality is everything or, better, everything is spirituality.(MB)

At the time I did not realise how significant it was, but my Dad made sure I knew

where the Catholic chaplaincy was. I started going to Mass on Sundays straight

away and pretty much all through uni when I was there at the weekend, which I

might not have otherwise done. this gave me a real sense of continuity and

stability, though I found overthe years I got more and more other input which

both complemented and challenged it. (KW)

"Tanta religio potuitsuadere malorum" Lucretius, De rerum natura.

("Religion is capable of convincing us of [suchl great evil.") (NT)

It's a genuinely rare commodity.(MT)

With thanks to Radu Bordeianu, Matt Bullimore, Catharine CartooL Martin Can,

David Gillingham, loost Kool, NickThompson, MattThornhill and Kate Wilson.

movement 21


lmagine a world run by computers that use humans as batteries - except humanity

hasn't noticed. Onty a handful of underwortd dissidents see through the illusion.

Matt Bullimore tries to unravel lhe Matrix.

Cyberpunk

The Matrix (15)

directed by Wachowski Bros.

starring Keanu Reeves and

Laurence Fishburne

HIS CAiltT BE..tt

- UH,ffi::,ffi*,1ff,,

the underworld, the real world, knows

why Neo the hacker is confused when

confronted with the reality of the

Matrix. The Matrix is a neural

interactive simulation that is 0perated

by the computers that have, in T2

fashion, taken over the world. When

Artificial lntelligence becomes too

sophisticated, a Richard Dawkins-like

f ight for survival between the humans

and their creations ensues. The

computers have won and now use the

humans as living batteries, the

ultimate renewable energy source. The

Matrix is the simulated world that the

humans' minds inhabit whilst their

bodies are producing energ in the

human farms in the "real" world. Born

into a bondage of the mind, nothing is

in fact real. The Matrix, unsurprisingly,

is a simulation of the world as it is for

us now, before the A.l. war. Hackers,

such as Morpheus and Trinity, have

found a way out, and from their secret

location in the sewers ofthe desolate

post-war cities of reality, surf The

Matrix in order to find the chosen one

(guess who?) and liberate humanitY

from unreality.

The 0racle, a cyber-lsaiah, has

foretold the appearance ofthe one

who will return to free humanity from

bondage. Morpheus, ourJohn the

Baptist, hasfound him and nurtured

him. Morpheus, afterthe Delphic

0racle, proclaims "Know thyself', but

more, real living is the difference

between knowing and walking the

truth. Here, like Star Wars, the

bowdlerised Christian story has met

Buddhism. 0ur Neo-Messiah lives the

life, sacrifices himself forthe life of

Morpheus, rises again and begins his

mission. The goal: to bring humanity

to Enlightenment, into the Real, into

the bosom ofZion, the last surviving

real city.

But, how far dare we accept this

liberation, or indeed the possibility of

the Real? Early in the film, Neo has a

hollowed out book, the title of which is

Simulacra and Simulation, and the

hollow reveals the chapter "0n

Nihilism". The author is Jean

Baudrillard, the controversial French

theorist, whose project has been the

unmasking of the Real as simulacrum,

as deceptive and baseless likeness.

This is implicated in his theory of

simulation, which is, he writes, "the

generation by models of a real without

origin or reality: a hypeneal." lt is the

great myth of the modern world that

there is an original, anything

authentic, or any foundation.

Everything is preceded by models, by

language and its play of signs, and we

pretend that what is produced bY

these is real. Everything is produced

movement 22

as it is read by us - the bodY, the

natural, religion, society, morality, and

the self are all constructed bY the

language that we use to label,

describe and categorise them.

Eventually, this production becomes

reified and forgotten until we believe

that this is the real way things are.

Baudrillard's nihilism is not, therefore

an attemptto destroy meaning, but a

belief in the disappearance of

meaning as an attainable absolute -

for now it is always alreadY a

simulacrum. For Baudrillard, for

example, America is the epitome of

this desert of the Real - it preserves

insignificance, indifference and

banalig. ln America, there is no

difference between Disneyland and

iga

act i on

MOVIE

SPECIAL

the real world outside. And the main

problem is that none of our societies

admit, or could manage, their

mourning for the real, so preserving,

like the humans trapped in the Matrix,

the illusion that there is actually a

difference between reality and

illusion.

ls rxls woRsE THAI{ THE

world of lhe Matrrir? Perhaps not, for

what Baudrillard teaches us is that

even Zion will be a world of unreality.

Why indeed won't the selfenlightened,

secure figures of Zion

assure themselves of their superior

realities, their certainties and

absolutes? And when they do, won't

this lead to the same arrogance that

led and will again lead to their selfdestruction.

We ourselves have seen

how such social philosophies end up,

inevitably, in the honors of the Great

War, and then the cynicism of

postmodernism. Will Neo's belief that

he can make us virtual(ly) gods if we

realise our situation in the Matrix bear

itself out? Baudrillard's way out is to

embrace the endless multiplication of

signs and challenge the old gods

(God, Revolution, Socieg, History) to

re-appear, albeit metaphorically. Their

re-appearance will help us to again

experience otherness and novel ways

to counterthe void.

What does all this have to say to

the Christian? Baudrillard engages

with the seventeenth century battle

between the Protestant iconoclasts

and the Jesuit iconolaters. He believes

that he recognises why the

iconoclasts hated the graven image:

not because they feared that these

were bad copies, misrepresentations,

but because they exposed the fact

that God was nothing but his own

simulacrum, a concealed nothingness

behind these images. Their project

was to remove these signs of the

death ofthe God who had become

sublimated into signs, into language,

into cultural constructs. The Jesuits

believed that there was no

unassailable rupture between

lfo,o


Graeme Burk on why the Star Wars films, despite their seminal status and intergatactic

popularity, are not necessarily inter-generational.

o

I d the gap

The Phantom Menace (15)

directed by George Lucas

[*Ttr*'J:ldiil

to see the original Star Wars (known

within the Jedi Film canon as Episode

lV: A New Hope) after seeing the

anaemic sequel/ prequel Episode l:

The Phantom Menace a week before.

I disliked Episode l; aside from a

great cast, it meandered through two

hours of poorly structured narrative

with overly-cute characters that

threatened diabetic coma at any

moment. She, on the other hand,

loved Episode /, and was enraptured

by it, which brought back fond

memories for this old fogey of seeing

Star Wars as a seven year old in its

original theatrical release in t977.

I thought my goddaughter would

love the original. For one thing it has a

better story, a consistent protagonist

(who was the equivalent of Luke in The

Phantom Menace? Liam Neeson's

suave Jedi Knight Qui-Gon? The future

Darth Vader, Anikin Skywalker?), a

consistent antagonist (Darth Vader's

character is established within ten

minutes of the original film; Darth

Maul makes barely more than a walkon

until pastthe half-way point ofthe

prequel) and one ofthe best

examples of clear, linear storytelling

known to humankind at the end of the

twentieth century. Plus, the space

battles are really cool.

To my utter dismay she was bored

by it.

She squirmed. She fidgeted. She

started colouring her Beanie Babies

with a magic marker (the marker was

taken away). Finally she said

something that made my blood turn

cold, " l don't like this one as much as

the other one. "

To someone who was just slightlY

older than her when the first Star

Wars movie came out, this outburst

was unfathomable. Star Wars was

more than a movie, it was the bedrock

on which my popular culture landscape

was built. lt was the benchmark by

which all other experiences were

based on. And it was the best virtual

roller coaster ride this seven year old

ever embarked on and one which

continues to please that same innerseven

year old. When the child one

has promised to guide and protect in

matters of spiritual and earthly

importance says she prefers a paltry,

inferior sequel to Star Wars, there are

two responses: one, plan an exorcism;

two, try to figure out just what it is that

attracts her so to Episode jne.

ln many ways, the assumption of

Star Wars into popular culture is

precisely what is wrong with Ihe

Phantom Menace. lt calls itself a

" prequel " but it requires a knowledge

ofthe Star Wars phenomenon in order

to understand it - something which

most people between the ages of ten

and forly-five in the West have. Ask

yourself: if this really were the first

movie in the series, would you

understand much ofwhat is

happening? The answer is probably

not. There is talk about "The Force "

but calling it " the Living Force " is

about as much expository dialogue

you get. There isn't the "The force is

that which binds all of us" speech

which Alec Guinness gave in the first

What is so downright ctever is that, rather

tike many video games , The Phantom

Menace lets you choose your own hero.

movement 23

Star Wars movie-which is odd since

they go on to explain how the Force

works in The Phantom Menace.

There's a simple reason forthis; it's

assumed most people going to the

theatre above the age of ten have

seen the original Star Wars already -

probably several times.

But I digress. I wentto see lhe

Phantom Menace again and puzled

over not only its attraction to my

goddaughter, but why the original Star

Wars bored herso much. I came out

of it realising that perhaps George

Lucas is being more sawy than I had

previously given him credit.

For one thing, the lack of a

consistent protagonist - usually an

important staple of adventure films -

isn't necessarily a weakness t0 the

narrative otThe Phantom Menace.ln

fact what is s0 downright clever is that

the narrative focus is so ambiguous

that any character can be the

protagonist. The first time I saw the

film, ltook Qui-Gon as the main

protagonist (and I have to admit, Liam

Neeson is marvellous), but on

subsequent screenings I found I could

equally use Anakin . My goddaughter

related to the Queen/Padme (Natalie

Portman's completely underrated

role). ln effect, rather like many video

games, Ihe Phantom Menace lets you

choose your own hero.

Similarly in the eponymous

phantom menace (the cloaked Sith

Lord who is obviously Senator

Palpatine) and Darth Maul, you have

characters who are bad only because

the visual language ofthe film says

so. You don't need to establish the

character. By wearing cloaks and

I

horns, and riding a futuristic version

of a Harley, he already /ooks bad.


The increased 'cute' quotient in

this movie is where you can see what

The Phantom Menace's makers are

trying to achieve. lt isn'tjust that -

having used Ewoks 0n an unsuspecting

populace - George Lucas decided to

make every alien cloyingly cute in this

film (l shall not speak of the creature

known as J*r.,1*r B*nks). lt's that

Anakin Skywalker is portrayed as a

child, not a teenager which would

make better narrative sense for a

future relationship with the Queen (as

has been predestined). This is purely

and simply wish fulfilment for our inner

children - who didn't as a kid want to

be able to fly in a Star Wars do$ight?

- but also key identification for the

target audience of the film. Which is

what the target audience of Star Wars

has always been - namely, kids.

I suspectthat all George Lucas

has done is understood the needs of

today's kids and simply given them

what they want. The Star Wars

movies, for all of their hackneyed

mysticism, are essentially children's

f ilms. I don't believe this belittles the

series. There is much entertainment

primarily for children that can be

profound and provide great

satisfaction to adults - we need only

look to the works of C.S. Lewis, or

some of the better BBC children's

serials to understand this. lndeed,

George Lucas' primary inspiration for

Star Wars was Saturday Matinee

serials of the '30s and '40s - a

children's genre.

For the kids of 'my' generation

(and a generation orso afterwards)

Star Wars was a great kids movie. By

the late '70s and early '80s, when

the original series of films were made,

we had a cultural landscape and

language built by television, by

Sesame Street, by books and by the

very crudely-made early video games.

Perhaps The Phantom Menace is a

film designed to speak to the kids of

my goddaughter's generation - a

cultural landscape builtbyTV, byVH-1,

by Teletubbies, by hypertext and CD-

Roms and, frankly, Star Wars itself. So

we get a film that doesn't have

conventional protagonists, but has

cartoon antagonists; a film that

moves briskly from one piece of eye

candy to the next; a film that

references the entire Star Wars

phenomenon but doesn't define

much of an identig for itself as a

stand-alone film.

But perhaps that's alright. The

Star Wars franchise is simply adapting

to kids needs and reflecting the way

popular culture has changed overthe

past twenty years. And maybe that's

not brilliant film-making, but Star

Wars has never been Citizen Kane.

For that reason, l'll learn to live

with my goddaughter preferring lhe

Phantom Menance and putoffthe

exorcism for now. Just so long as she

doesn't ask me to give her a Jar.Jar

Binks action figure for Christmas.

Cyberpunk Christ

the represented, God, and thatwhich

represented the unrepresentable God,

the icon. ltwas God who guaranteed

this cohesion between the two. But in

the age ofthe sign, Baudrillard knows

that God is and was a simulacrum,

part ofthe unintenupted circuit of

meaning that has no reference or

guarantee. So what does Baudrillard

do? Surprisingly, he sides with the

iconolaters and exalts the performative

power of the spectacle, conjuring his

gods through spectacle, as the Jesuits

conjured God through the spectacle

ofthe Mass.

This is a morbid strategy, and

according to Baudrillard's terms, it

would be the right one. What else can

be done now that there is no Real?

What he doesn't allow for is

incarnation. The Jesuits did not try to

represent the unrepresentable, nor

did they see any rupture or gap that

could be closed by a guarantorgod.

Instead, they canied on the faithful

practices through which the

unrepresentable triune God presents

himself. There is no disjunction

between the represented and the

representation in a

world in which the

divine and the

mundane are not

separated, where God

and humanity find

themselves linked in

the frail flesh of God

us in the world, and in

this world of

simulation. ls it not

through the matrices of

our living that a true

saviour would live and

(cont.)

reveal himself? Through language,

the cultures and the lives we create

for ourselves, Christ speaks and lives.

We are made in the image of God, not

because we are copies, but because

we are engrafted into his life and

participate in him. Ourfallen

representations may never capture

and secure for us everything about

the unrepresentable God, but they are

able to allow him to mediate himself

to us. We have no need of a Real

outside this world, a separate Zion,

because ourZion is here and now, as

we participate in God. Our minds and

bodies are inseparable, and God is

inseparable from his own fleshliness.

We have neither need of despair, nor

an escape to a place that can be

more real than this absolutely Real

participation. After Pascal, perhaps

we can say that to know thyself is first

to dare to believe.

And usefully, deja-vu is explained

too: it's a glitch in the Matrix. Now we

know.

crucified and

Itlg M lonqcr

resunected.

rcldantto 9a! lhc rcal

Christ does not wda"di6l5".No tyetq ol

o. anavi' can

guarantee the

rcfcr t r)v @lW'

representation but

is actually incarnate to

Rrnsoru To Beuwe by Maurice Wiles

(SCM Press) sets out to respond to

"some of the most basic of questions

about Christian belief that perplex

many people both inside and outside

the Church." His responses are

interposed with'interludes' that deal

with underlying issues such as

language, the development of

doctrine and the role of the Creeds.

This approach runs the risk of

producing a disjointed work; in fact

the book is easy to read and has, on

the whole, a cohesiveness of

argument as well as a clarity and

density of style, necessary for a work

covering such a broad range of

material.

I was left with the impression that

several of the sections could have

been written as the initial

chapter of a book on their

particular subject; although

as an interested (but

probably not very well-read)

non-theologian I found the

majority of the text was

pitched at an appropriate

level. Particular sections of

the book provided at least

basic answers to questions I

had asked myselfas a result

of encounters with those

from traditions other than

my own, and Wiles provides a strong

further reading section for a more indepth

discussion.

lf Wiles did have a motive for

writing the book other than t0 set out

his understanding of the basic issues

of Christianity, then it

would seem to be his

need to question the

relationship between

Jesus and the Church.

The chapter about

other faiths is the

point at which Wiles

begins to discuss

whether the Church's

teaching is consistent

with the gospels.

One reason for the

disparity of approach

between earlier and later sections of

the book may be that Wiles assumes

that readers of later chapters have

already read the book up to that

point, and there is in fact a feeling of

shared journey between author and

reader in the latter sections. A certain

lack of objectivity is the price paid for

presenting a cohesive argument

rather than merely a consistent

approach. Some readers may be

disappointed by the ambivalence of

his conclusions but l, at least, would

consider such equivocalness

preferable to moral imperialism.

The preface implied that Wiles'

approach was to be one oftext-book

objectivity - yet inevitably it did not

achieve this. I would however certainly

recommend the book to other

interested n0n-experts wanting an

introduction with breadth but not

necessarily depth.

(CATHARINE CARFOOT)

movement 24


Tim Woodcock on a surprisingty didactic soundtrack to the summer.

Hear sunscreen

Baz Luhrmann presents

SounHtruc ron EveRyeooy

(Capitol)

[il*tt*'l.tril#-

of the class of 99: wear sunscreen" -

once you've heard you won't forget it)

has been passed around between

friends on C90s for a year or two, and

was popularised via the internet - yet

it was only released as a single this year

rn response to this. Baz Luhrmann,

the film director responsible for Romeo

and Juliet and Strictly Ballroom,has

now released an accompanying

album of his soundtrack work.

As befits it,'The Sunscreen Song

has remarkable origins. Luhrmann

was working on a remix of dance

anthem'Everybody's Free': he

encountered the speech, and

believing it to be graduation speech

by sci-fi writer Kurt Vonnegut, decided

to let the spoken word dominate.

Later he discovered it was really by

Mary Schmich, a hack struggling to fill

her thrice-weekly Chicago Tribune,

who just listed everything she had

learned about life so far as bullet

points. So what are we to make to of:

"my advice [which] has no basis more

reliable of " lt is uplifting but not

mawkish. The prosaic tips cleverly

symbolise greater values: "Keep your

old love letters. Throw away your old

bank statements." Some are random

health tips: "Be kind to your knees";

"Floss"; "Stretch." Life is

unpredictable, part-chance and partchoice.

"Maybe you'll have children;

maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce

aged 40; maybe you'll dance the

funky chicken on your 75th wedding

anniversary." The indifference

expressed is unsettling, but given this

is apparently t0 a Class of 99, a crosssection

of the future, it is probably

justified.

The rambling, eccentric speech is

delivered almost without inflexion, the

voice being a cross between a robot

and John Wayne. ln an age where

speaking in the imperative - do this!

do that! - is virtually unacceptable,

how does'Sunscreen' do it and why it

work so well? Charm and careful

observation. And the advice is not of

the 'know-it-all' kind, some tips are

undercut: "Forget the insults and

remember the compliments. lf you

succeed in doingthis, tell me how."

The vague hippy-ish sentiments are

phrased with such precision as to ring

true. This is life as it is lived. Some

people are frightened by a lack of

clear moral guidance; but I agree with

Mary Schmich, that is all we have, our

'own meandering existence'. lf only all

moralists were this compassionate

and practical. My favourite tip? "Do

one thing every day that scares you."

The rest ofthe album was never

going to live up to 'Sunscreen' but

certainly gets your attention. lt is the

aural equivalent ofthe cinematography

of Rorneo andJuliet. lt has

lhe tunr(reen rong

((la$ ot 991

pzaz. Mostly they are 'remixes and

reinterpreted songs' and given that it

is called 'Something for Everybody' I

was expecting the very worst. There's

a fair number of soulful ballads that

you'd expect on a soundtrack; but

also some gems in here. Their value is

roughly in proportion to their oddness.

Doris Day doing'Perhaps Perhaps

Perhaps'from 1947 - sassy rather

than saucy, because she is having to

fake the Latin flair; the cheesy

glitterama of 'Love ls in The Ai/; and

baz luhrmann presents

Something For Everybody

even a full-blooded burstfrom

Puccini's la Eoheme. The sheer

audacity of 'Sunscreen' is almost

matched with a dance version of

'Happy Feet' - arguably a dance

number anyway, but here Charleston

meets clubland. lf you have seen a

Baz Luhrmann film you will know that

for him, soundtrack music emphatically

does not mean background music.

Essentially this is a cracking party

album that will date very quickly. And

there's nothing wrong with that.

ARr nno Souu - srcNposTs FoR CHRTSTTANs

rr rHE ARrs (Solway) is an engaging

book. The authors Hilary Brand and

Adrienne Chaplin clearly have a

breadth of knowledge and a real

passion for art, pasttnd present. The

blurb on the back claims, rather

dubiously, that "More Christians than

ever are studying and working in the

arts"; the first chapter explores why

Protesta ntism (especiall11 the

evangelical wing) has alwaYs been

uneasy with images, preferring the

much more easily controlled 'word'.

The knock-on effect of 400 Years of

wilfully dismissing this part of 0ur

cultural heritage cannot be

calculated. The smashing of stainglass

and'idols'is, thanKulty, in the

past. Perhaps now Christian can

began to explore the power of art. The

rest of the book offers some

'signposts' (Art as a way of seeing, Art

as honest labour and such like).

For most part the book is talking

about visual art, but arguments are

pertinent to all areas of creative

endeavours. Although, I disagreed

with whole chunks of the bookthere is

an admirable clarity of thought and

generosity of spirit behind it all.

Two ideas remain with me. Firstly,

in an attemptto define art, the

authors skim over many popular

thumbnail definitions - art can be

'against the system, but doesn't have

to be; it can be abstract, but doesn't

have to be - and pick on the quality of

'elusiveness'. This, for me, is what

separates the schockmeisters like

Damien Hirst, the Chapman Bros or

Tracey Emin from artists like Rachel

Whiteread and Andy Goldsworthy,

whose work will still be interesting in

50 years' time. The inability to 'elude'

(rather then ra m-a-message-home)

explains why the majority of 'Christian

arf is so risible - and indeed is not art

at all. Just how many times have you

heard the phrase 'it is not Christian

enough'?

Secondly, they try to outline a

Christian approach to making art. I

was immediately wary of a book that

attempts to inject biblical values into

thinking about art. The authors are the

first to admit that the Bible has next to

nothing to say about art - or at least

art as we know it. Yet they convinced

me the gospel's values could

transform art. ln today's post-modern

times everything is done knowingly

and is almost risk-free: there is

nothing new left to say, you can only

recycle. "lrony is the /rnf,ua franca o'f

the post-modern age. For Generation X

irony is the only way to communicate."

But they object to this, "because irony

communicates detachment and a lack

of involvement. These qualities did not

characterise Jesus."

True enough. So what do Brand

and Chaplin suggest? How can we

make art that has something to say

worthwhile about the human

condition? "ln the place of irony offer

vulnerability."

(TrM W0oDC0CK)

movement 25


Carrie Styles takes a pop at pop spirituatity.

One Mrruure Mvslc

by Simon Parke (SPCK)

ALT.SPIRIT@MEIRO.M3

by Mike Riddell (Lion)

tr

IITTE BOOKS ON

just about anything you

fancy seem to be

massively de n{eur at the

moment, possiblyjust because theY

are cheap and make'ideal Presents'

but almost certainly not because they

are of any use whatsoever. From the

delights of 'Wrong Shui'to 'The Little

Book of Lurve'(yak!) I have yetto find

one that really tickles my fancy (so to

speak). Depressingly the One Minute

Mystlc did little to redress the

balance. Quirky? Too right! lt's one of

the weirdest books l've read in a while

(more of that later) and possibly one

of the least useful. lt starts off very

seriously with quotes by old favourites

like MotherJulian and St Augustine

but then goes off on one with half

finished snippets like...

"God speaks through the strangest of

things for those who have eyes to see.

Nuts.

Definitely!'

Huh? Whats that got to do with being

a mystic?

No, well, bits of it are bearable and

not so very quirlty but I am still bothered

by the title. The combination of 'Learn

yourself how to be a mystic' with the

typical cry of our times "l've got less

than a minute to devote to this" just

don't go together in my head. lf You

wantto be a mystic, great! Butgive

.r{c wrhthli#dh

*u,e(4romcm

diF-!. !ru/@tb nft

yFbqdr'qhEn

,*+iirorL@d

e

illck

I

Pocket sized faith

yourself a good shot at it, 59 seconds

just proves that you are totally not

suited to the task. Mmmmm, anYwaY,

moving 0n...

lf you thought that was weird ! Mike

Riddell's a/t spirit@metro.rn3 is really

weirdl Not only is it a nightmare to

read because it is divided into two

halves (a novel and a runningspiritual

notebook combined on the same

page - see picture) but it also seems

to have been written in the same style

as the first book - that is, a tad

incoherently. Fortunately though the

book did ultimately redeem itself. I

discovered a fascinating storY

underneath the folds of

confusion, of two people trying

to find a way forward on the

cusp of the third millennium

and of ultimately

succeeding. They make an

unlikely couple, she a

hooker-with-an-abusivepast

and he a dead-endbanker-bod

and have a ridiculously

romantic meeting at a rock concert

when she finds him admiring her feet!

And yet lfound myself smiling attheir

innocence and optimism, which theY

manage to hold on to despite all the

odds.

They are both consumed with the

belief that there has to be more to life

than this, that there must be a God

who cares about them somewhere,

they just wish He would show his face

atsome point. lhad a lotof timefor

them on this one and willed them on

to a point where they felt held and

loved. lt is pretty Generation X-y in

thatsense: two people with a real

sense of the futility of

modern living and

searching for

something more,

I I l7 t ?i:r}:r: 'r;ji:

Itl lt

k6*hp#Ec

ldf hdryttdhsdg

&ulklsttobi6d

d

iFsl&rbhdEr

@rdCt *ra6.dd

EbilFrit-rlbpU

MdqrnFffidcFd

tu.tudy&rhft

I i... r-*I-

Luth.r Klnt?

#

I lr. Lri !()\s i hDrhf mrtt or PirU ! upp.r lip, ihich shc

q,,( lh iiF: rir) Firh rh. a.ni.rt..

ll{treibir!dtdr\. Uinbololt ihrhbilof auul

but this time

with a

spiritual

backbone

to it.

There

are

faintly

Sample

page

from

Ridell's

book. Top

'.18, I (-'n {. d,.rt. Ol.dtrv ir'! n,t a rlxl ittl li' tau, enh

(,r,,tr d,'idg ili l;ldc rhhs r lbc n!)ncnr. lLu h!rl !, nrr

,r,1,. ,' i! ni,,{h !ild! (iil.

half isfull of

disconnected

joftings; boftom part

isthe novel itself.

e

reminiscent bits from

parables and other well

known turns of phrase, but

cringe-worthy as that

sounds they just serve to

improve the overall flavour

and I liked it. lfs as if

,,tt,,:,

movement 26

d.y

these

stories,

parables,

whatever are part of

our general consciousness and

people say them without realising

where they come form, except that in

the case of Marilyn and Vincent are

beginning to make the connection.

They are coming to realise that maybe

there is something there after all and

that this something might actually

care about them. I don't know if it is

depressing or not that they 0nly make

this discovery afterthey find each

other and therefore find love. Marilyn

suffered childhood abuse and is now

a hard-nosed prostitute and doesn't

know what it feels like to be loved by

another person (specifically a man?)

until she meets Vincent, himself 'a

loser', and together they make the

discovery about God. As I said, maybe

cringe-worthy but somehow it works.

The bits round the edge ofthe novel

were a bit harder to take. The11 were

good in small doses but some left me

behind completely and I them. The

glossy back cover suggests you just

dip in and that sounded like good

advice to me. The book seems to be an

overall package ofthat kind of

'spirituality in a nutshell'that is on

every bookshelf at the moment, but

with a deeper sense of purpose than I

fell1ne Minute Mystic had. This was

definitely one to keep by your bedside

rather than try to read on the long

train home.

rrlt. sprrLt@rEtttr''?

MlKt RtDDSLL

/

+

-,

lllTiliil'ii ll ! [t!flflll,,:l

There are an awful lot of these 'PoP

spirituality' books about, you've

probably got a stack of them given to

you by well-meaning relatives

because they think you're the

'religious type' (heaven help us!).

0bviously some are better than others

but even so I am a bit concerned

about tliis current binge. Whafs it all

for? Are people really looking to

change their lives (or even just their

lifestyles) or are they just f0llowing the

latest fad? Because thals exactly

what it is, in the same waY that they

find themselves buying balsamic

vinegar in Safeway. There are those

who'do' religious/spiritual/weird stuff

and those who just don't, so whY trY

and persuade everyone that ifs a

good idea?

lf you are already working your guts

out in the 'real world' you don't have

time to think about'highe/ things and

there is no point trying to fit it into

your reading time on the bus to work.

Real deep-down spirituality is surely

about something more profound than

that, something you need to work on

and devote time to, notjust add to

your list of other activities. 0f course

there are also those who simply just

don'twantto get involved, and fair

enough really, who can blame them?

But if you do want to discover Your

spiritual-abili$ then for heaven's sake

take yourtime!


Having written biographies of Tolstoy, Saint Pau[ and Jesus, A.N.Wilson was never

one to shun a challenge. Now he has decided to describe'God's funeral'.

Malcolm Brown responds.

Brickbats and bouquets

Goo's FuruenRl

eyA.N. Wl-sor'r (John Murray)

tr

HE HtsroRY oF ENGLTSH

atheism in the nineteenth century may

not exactly seem like a rivetting subject

for a book. To inform us that manY

philosophers and literati ofthe period gave up

believing in the 39 articles, or in Christianity, or even

in God, may sound, at best, a trifle unnecessary. lt

may sound like reinventing the wheel, and a rather

square wheel at that.

Yet God's Funeral by A.N. Wilson (the title is

taken from a Thomas Hardy poem) does have its

moments. Some are thought-provoking, some are

entertaining. Believers and unbelievers figure large,

but the real heroes are those who grapple with the

questions of religion and atheism, and continue to

believe - but in their own way. Ihose like Thomas

Carlyle, who believed 'that somewhere in the dead

husk of these creeds there was something called

Faith which could be cherished, even in an age of

unbelief .

Wilson is especially dismissive of those who

insisted on a rigid adherence to the 39 articles,

those founding principles of early Anglicanism, and

on a literalist reading of the Bible. He cites with

some delightthe persecuted Bishop Colenso of

Natal in South Africa, who wentthrough the Mosaic

books of the Old Testament and showed that:

Forthe accountsto be literallytrue, itwould be

necessary to believe that six men had 2,748 sons

between them. By calculating the number of priests

mentioned, and the number of pigeons consumed,

Colenso showed that (once again, if the narrative

were literallytrue) each ofthe priests ofthat

juncture would have been accounting for 88 pigeons

daily.

The author is also critical of those who inflated

the significance of such anomalies into a conclusion

that religion was therefore nonsensical. Such a

dogmatic atheism fell into the same literalist trap

because of an inability to comprehend other

possible interpretations of the texts, and because it

focused on the detail at the expense of the broader

themes. Some who are more dogmatic in their

unbelief than Wilson have been critical of the book

for that reason - perhaps the fundamentalist of

atheism find it difficult to tolerate the heretics in

their midst. But Wilson is balanced atthis point.

The lively, entertainingstyle of the book makes

up for its lack of originality, and reaches its peak in

the chapter on Karl Marx. One evening, the German

thinker went out with some compatriots on a London

pub crawl, and stumbled into a session ofthe Order

of 0ddfellows:

The three Germanswere called upon to drink

the health of the )ddfellows. Bauer replied with a

taunt about Engtish snobbishnes s. Maa, not to be

outdone, launched into a bittertirade againstthe

lack of culture in Britain and the undoubted

superiority of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn to any

British composer. By the ilme he had warmed to hls

theme and began to explain why he hated EnEland

and the Entlish, the company was becoming rough.

Before full-scale fisticuffs erupted, Marx and his

friends fled. As they blundered along, by now much

the worse for drink, they tripped over a heap of

stones.'Hurrah!' shouted Bauer,'l have an idea!'

Picking up one of the stones he hurled it at the

$ass panel of a street lamp. lt was two in the

morning, and they had managed to smash four or

five lamps before the arrival of a policeman resulted

in an exciting chase down streets and alleys.

I enjoyed readingthis book, and am sure that

many readers of Movementwould as well. But there

was something irritating about it. The fault seems to

be an excessively top-down approach. That the

thought of philosophers and intellectuals was

superior to that of the common people is not

questioned. Ihe death of God was announced by

Nietsche, God's funeral observed by Hardy, and

the orations were given by a

myriad of great men and a

few great women. And

surely this must have

influenced the common

people.

But surely the

great change of the

nineteenth and

twentieth centuries

is notthe decline of

belief, or particular

forms of belief,

among such people.

It is the fact that

atheism has

become normal

among the

common people

of many

countries, but by

no means universal.

Popular Christianig is

alive and well. The Catholic

church still systematises it,

and the multitudes still

practice it. They

may not have

degrees,

they

movement 97

may not sell books, but does this make their

religious experience any less valid?

Perhaps, to be fair, Wilson comes close to

answering this question, in his chapter on William

James, a philosopher for whom the reality of

religious experience was a central theme to be

defended. And if the intellectuals of Christianity are

now on the side of the poor and oppressed, Wilson's

final paragraph is all the more salutary:

Just as Nie2sch ds generation were declaring

the death of God and Thomas Hardy was witnesslnf

His burial, relitious thinkers as valed as Srmone

Weil, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Nicholas Berdayev and

Teilhard de Chardin were waiting in the wings.... ln

other parts of the world, the roles played in the

spiritual war against racism by the Southern Baptist

minister Martin Luther Kint and by the Church of

England monk FatherTrevor Huddleston showed

that there was immense potency, not just in the

Christian ethical ideal, but in their biblical

sense of God co mint to earth with His

winnowintfork in His hand, ready

to clear His threshing-floor.

These world changing

men and women

decided to ignore

the death of

God in the

nineteenth

century. They

spoke in the

name of a God

who was First and

Last. They puttheir

trust in One who

said,'lwas dead,

and see, I am

alive for

evermord.


,L-iiffiE

* IIS JUST NOT

GOING TO HAPPEN!

Leafing though some

old Movements I

couldn't help but

notice a vox pops,

from Summer

1996, "How would

you markthe new

millennium?"

Answers

ranged from

the inspired

and prophetic

("writing off

Third World

debt"), the

inspired and

imaginative ("a

vast mural on the

White Cliffs of

Dover.") And the

inconceivably obscure

from Beverly, a student at

Liverpool John Moores

University: "When we get to

2000 the Queen should

do the decent thing

and abdicate.

Charles needn't

take over, we

could slide

gracefully

I

into a

Republic

with

someone like

John Harvey Jones

or Richard Branson as President. 0r

maybe Shirley Williams, she's terribly

under-used."

Go with me on this. Let's just imagine

it a Presidential election in early

2000. John HarveyJones, a

'troubleshoote/ businessman, who

looks a bit like Dougal from the Magic

Roundabout, and whose profile

peaked in, well, about Summer 96.

The ubiquitous Richard Branson

offering to redirect his hot air into

politics and make Whitehall into a

subsidiary of Virgin. Noel Edmonds as

Vice President perhaps. Slogan:

"Vulgar but quite likable really".

And Shirley Williams, last seen twenty

years ago founding the SDP, and

holding a placard: "Vote for me. I'm

tenibly under-used."

* .JEFFREY ARCH-AIiSE

Hurrah forJeffrey Archer, who is

learning that stereotypes - although

very useful for writing bad novels - are

not so good for political campaigns.

The potential Mayor of London (a selt

made man and self-made arse)

greeted a 10,000-strong Hindu

audience at Wembley with the words

"lt's great to see so many Muslims

under one roof. " Ridiculous! Wembley

hasn't got a roof. And in an effort to

woo the African-Caribbean

community, he recalled 30 years ago

"when your head did not turn in the

J

job...lf you

road if a black woman

passed you because

they were badly

dressed, they were

probably overweight

and they probably had

a lousy

)

walk down London streets

now there are most staggeringly

beautiful girls of every nationality.

That is part of getting rid of

prejudice and making things

equal," Lord Archer

declared. As we know

one of the key parts of

equality is equality

under the leer.

* TEXAS: THE LONE STAR STATE

Speaking of 'staggering beautiful

girls', I couldn't help but notice the

sleeve-art to Texas' latest album.

Lovely Sharleen Spiteri is doing all

manner of things on a beach - fully

clothed, but she may as well not be.

And she is the only band-member who

ever appears in the videos. What is

wrong with the rest of the band? Are

they so hideously ugly that they're

baned from appearing in front of a

lens? Sharleen, on the other hand, we

see doing everythint: on the album

cover she is smelling her own fragrant

armpit. lwas astonished to discover

that photo is one of several

unpublished 'sexy sniff snaps' from

the same shoot. Too bad: I was quite

enamoured with the foot-smelling

pics. What I want to see it the beefy

bassist and anonymous drummer

rolling around on the beach going

through the same poses. Especially

the armpit one.

* PIE IN THE SIT{ WHEN YOU BUY

"0ur checkout staff noticed it first.

People buying an extraordinary

number of pies." lt sounds the

first line from a B-movie; it is in

fact a press release from Tesco,

whose customers have developed

a taste forslapstick humour. So, as

part of their product development

trials, Tesco staff rented a gym and

spent the day chucking pies at each

other. Scientifically, mind you: each

pie was measured for'range,

coverage and feel.'They even

dragged the Food Safety Act into it

So be advised: unless you are

feeling particularly spiteful avoid

hurling pies with nuts in them, or

partially frozen gateuxs.

For aesthetic reasons I prefer lemon

meringue - it holds up well in flight

and leaves a satisfying yellow sticky

smear. Sensing a niche in the market,

I put my name round as a'Slapstick

Consultant'; regrettably the

only call I got was from B &

Q asking me to test their

rakes.

*

GRUFF

GRIFF

Think George Best

before he hitthe

bottle, Think Andre Agassi

before he went bald. Griff

Sanders is taking the serene

world of bowls by storm. He drinks,

smokes, psyches out his opponents

and bowls with his left hand for fun.

Despite his undisputed talent

unorthodox Griff has been repeatedly

overlooked by the Devon selecter,

John Smerdon. "l was getting upset so

when push came to shove I called him

a tosser," opines Griff. "l thought he

was a fucking prick, I felt so strongly

that I wrote it down on a score card to

let everyone know how I feel."

Sponsorship deals loom butstill no

place in the county team. What would

he say to the old duffers who rule the

game? Put that in your pipe and

smoke it.

* TOUCHED-DOWN BYGOD

Serpent laments the passing of Sister

Marie Louise Kirkland - nun, pundit,

and Washington Redskinsfan. The

99-year-old Sister Marie was

renowned for her uncanny ability to

predict American football scores.

Finishing her evening prayers promptly

before the 8pm kick-off, Sister Marie

would join the other nun-fans in the

cloister to cheer on the Redskins. Her

idiosyncratic invocation was "Sweet

Jesus, give us a touchdown ! "

* REAL ESTATE

Ever noticed how Americans refer to

'real estate'and 'real estate agents'?

We Brits just say 'estate' - assuming,

perhaps naively, that the piece of land

we are about plough large amounts of

money into does exist, as does the

besuited slimeball who is selling it to

us. ln America, you can never be so

sure: everything is so Disneyfied, airbrushed

and'unreal' thatthe prefix

'real' is needed to allay fears. Maybe if

Woody Guthrie were alive today, he'd

be writing:

'This land is your land, this land is my land,

from Silicon Valley to Three Mile lsland,

from RagingWatersN to the Magic

Kingdonil,

This land is illusory."

Apparently in New York land prices are

so high that they now talk about 'really

real estate'.

* SEEING RED?

Never be fooled into thinking that

scientist are bright people. In the days

before GM, when scientists had

something to do other than duplicate

sheep, some boffin discovered that

red light soothes aggressive fowl.

Battery hens, understandably tetchy

most of the time, apparently stopped

pecking each other when exposed to

red light. Farmers immediately

installed red light bulbs over the

nests. Problem one: the workers

couldn't actually see in the red

light; chickens and their

eggs got alljumbled

up. Another smart

scientist suggested

that the chickens

should wear glasses

with red lenses; so, hundreds of

small red chicken specs

were manufactured.

Problem two: chickens, the

O

o

o

o

scientists remembered,

don't have ears. So

back to square one:

angry chickens, bamboozled

scientists. And

the chicken glasses?

* NEWS FLASH!

Shirley Williams, Keith Chegwin, teacosies

and a caseful of chicken

spectacles have just formed an

alliance. They will run for Parliament

as the "Terribly Under-Used Party."

movement 28


,rju

SCM RESOURCES

st that little bit different"

L-

rtl' :

SCM Publications tackle the vital issues of the day, in accessible Iively

formats. ldeal for preparing workshops, discussions and conferences.

And a darn fine read in themselves. Recent titles include:

Just Love The Theology of Sexuality

God Made Simple An lntroduction to ldeas about God

The F-Word A Guide to Christian Fundamentalism

No More Mr Nice Guy A New Look at Jesus

Significant Others Talking About Relationships

Common People Rethinking Christianity and Community

The Dying Game A Young Person's Guide to Death

L2.OO

L2.OO

t3.00

t3.50

L4.50

t4.50

f'5.00

Name

Address

Pu bl ications requested

I enclose a cheque [made payable to 'SCM'] for L

RETURN TO: SCM, Westhill College, 1,4/LG Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmin$ham 829 6LL


I

So you don't want to go down to the Union for the eighth

time this week. And no-one you around you seems to have

the same 'take' on life as you.

lf you find yourself confronted by questions that

never seemed to matter before, you'd be right to

feel a bit adrift...

SCM offers a vision of Christianity where it is okay to ask

questions, a place to share insights, debate issues, make friends

and work for change. lf you're interested by the contents of this

magazine please $et in touch.

CONTACT: the Student Christian Movement, Westhill College, 14/76 Weoley Park Road,

Selly Oak, Birmingham 829 6LL. l: OI2L 47L 2404 e: SCM@charis.co.uk

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines