Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Paul from mayBe and I enjoyed meeting up with Patrick Todjeras from Vienna on Friday. He's doing lots of research into the emerging conversation and is at the early stages of doing something in Vienna with some friends - its called seelenstoff which means something like what it sounds like in English - soulstuff. If you can read German check out this blog they have got going: emerging church osterreich.

Monday, February 19, 2007

try this improvisation[3]: what's my name?

Powerful moment for me in the ritual at yesterday's Eucharist on the Meadow. We gave each other a white stone and mused on the possibility of an unseen name written there for each of us, a name known only to God [check out Revelation 2]. What's my name?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

a new national anthem for England?

Not sure what I feel about national anthems. Quite a few seem to be about beating the ancient enemy [whoever that is]. Perhaps I don't like the way that they draw me into their fervour. Perhaps I'm just jealous that other countries seem to have better anthems than us? Which leads me to ask, how about a new national anthem for England? How can 'God save our Gracious Queen' be England's anthem when the Queen and that anthem belong to the whole of the United Kingdom? How about an anthem that gives us a vision for what England and the English could become at our best - a generous, inventive and open-hearted people in a beautiful country of dramatic coasts, rolling hills and spirited cities.

Suggestion: let's look for something to come out of the new English folk tradition, in the same way that Scotland's de facto national anthem is the brilliant 'Flower of Scotland' by Roy Williamson of the Corries? Here's some songs from the new English folk tradition that convey some positive stuff about England, and even if they are not anthemic enough they could perhaps inspire a song that is...

Maggie Holland's 'A place called England' [I only know the excellent version by June Tabor]:
'come all you at home with freedom whatever the land that gave you birth
there's room for you both root and branch as long as you love the English earth...
for England is not flag or Empire, it is not money it is not blood
it's limestone gorge and granite fell, it's Wealeden clay and Severn mud'

'Sweet England' [traditional - check out the brilliant version by Jim Moray on the CD 'Sweet England'] about an emigration to America that went wrong and a subsequent returning to England...
'there's a neat little cottage with a rose at the door
and there with my aunt I would live my life oer
I'd nurse her in sickness and tend to her pain
and thank God I'm back in sweet England again
sweet England again'

If that's too twee try this from Show of Hands, from the song 'Roots' on their latest album Witness
'without our stories or our songs
how will we know where we've come from?
I've lost St George in the Union Jack
it's my flag too and I want it back
seed, bud, flower, root
never gonna grow without their roots'

Anybody know if Billy Bragg has a song that might work?

winter for a day

Winter for a day in Oxford and much of England this week. Everyone excited. Schools closed. Strangers talked to each other. News dominated by transport chaos. How much snow did we get in Oxford? 6" max. Same week in upstate New York? 6 feet. Now THAT'S winter. Still it was great for a day. Walked through this scene at lunchtime in Christ Church Meadows and it felt like I was in of one of those paintings by Brueghel the Elder.

Into Great Silence

We've been waiting for this for a long time but at last it's coming. The film Into Great Silence by director Philip Groening is about a Carthusian monastery in the French Alps, and it's coming to the Phoenix for 2 showings: 3.30pm Sunday 11 March and 7.45pm Tuesday 13 March. We'll be there! The conditions set by the community for filming included no artificial light, no music [other than their own Gregorian chants], no interviews, no commentary and no accompanying crew. The result is, says The Observer 'a meditation on lives given over to poverty, prayer and solitude... an experience from within a repetitive, spiritual existence'. Groening lived in a cell of his own for a total of four months to make the film. We know that in mayBe we are just scratching the surface of the great monastic tradition, but it has inspired us from the beginning and is shaping our life as a community. The film should be interesting. And perhaps demanding. The Observer review goes on to point out that 80% of novices in the Carthusian order drop out. When the reviewer saw the film 80% of the audience left before the end.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

grit in the bread

Great to be on the first mayBe monastic retreat this past weekend in South Devon with Andrea, Cara, Chris W, Jackie and Rachel. I really liked the way that we found ourselves taking some ancient paths [eg we hung a triangle up and rang it to call us to prayer 4x a day] but also staying in our contemporary setting [eg so that the weekend newspapers and the conversations they provoked were a vital ingredient]. On a beautiful cold Sunday morning we had our Eucharist on the beach. The sand whipped up and gritted the bread and flecked the wine. On a personal note it felt as though a lot of my current callings were coming together in one place this weekend: enabling community to happen, exploring and opening up the possibility of prayer, and facilitating hands-on creative stuff. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Really looking forward to our first retreat this weekend. A full house in South Devon with 5 mayBe people. I'm hosting. We do plenty of active stuff so I think that this focus on prayer and the seeking after God is very important. The weather forecast is good, which is helpful because we are planning to share Eucharist on the beach when the rest of the community are doing the same in Oxford. Oh and I've suggested that watching the England 6 Nations game is a potentially holy activity worthy of a retreat.