Wednesday, May 30, 2007

muscle tone for the culture?


I love the music of John Adams [no relation]. The pic is the cover of the CD of his brilliant opera El Nino. In the latest issue of the Observer's Music Monthly magazine, there's a good article on contemporary classical music, featuring Adams. In an interview he says that 'if opera is going to have any future at all as a living art form, it has to take hold of the psychological themes and undercurrents of our present lives'. The article also features the theatre director Peter Sellars who has worked a lot with John Adams [he directed his first opera Nixon in China]. He speaks about providing 'muscle tone' for the culture. Stimulating stuff - and I think there's a connection with what we are trying to be and do in the emerging/emergent church.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

try this improvisation [4]: flying kites for Ascension


There was, perhaps inevitably, barely a breeze. On Sunday morning on South Park we flew kites to mark the Ascension of Christ. This is the third year that we've done this, and I love the whole process. Making the kites, decorating them, and then trying to get them airborne. This year I went for small and light, with a kite made from wrapping paper and drinking straws. My Chi-Ro symbol was mistaken by someone for a skull and cross bones. The pic is of John - whose kite flew beautifuly.

everything in the universe would love to be iron

Justin is a friend mine, a conversation-maker with mayBe and a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford. He does all kinds of amazing stuff with atoms and lasers. On Wednesday I got myself invited to one of his lectures. I'm now doing some teaching/facilitating around emerging church themes, and I wanted to pick up some tips from Justin. Very good he was too. My background is arts, not sciences, but somehow Justin got me hooked on the possibility of plasma physics. He speaks of science with the voice of a poet. Like "everything in the universe would love to be iron". I can't remember exactly why everything in the universe would love to be iron - something to do with iron being the perfect elemental structure to hold itself together, I think. This week it's going to be all about the z-pinch and Tokamaks. I'll have some of that please.

Friday, May 18, 2007

close-up to the earth


I was on retreat last week. Not always comfortable - as is right, of course - on retreat we should expect the tough times as well as enjoy the sublime moments. I went for lots of walks, and occasionally lay down in the grass. Being really close-up to the earth is a very intense sensation. Alive, held, part of something much bigger. And wet.

a fiercer love

Ray has a form of dementia [vascular - blood vessels in the brain hardening and getting smaller]. Ray is my dad. He and mum [Rosemary] adopted me when I was a few months old. He's just turned 80 and is still very fit physically, but the dementia is advancing. Speedily. It seems so hard that someone so interested in life, so optimistic and so selfless should find himself in this place. It's also really tough for Rosemary. I've been finding this poem helpful - 'Geriatric' by RS Thomas:

What god is proud
of this garden
of dead flowers, this underwater
grotto of humanity,
where limbs wave in invisible
currents, faces drooping
on dry stalks, voices clawing
in a last desperate effort
to retain hold? Despite withered
petals, I recognise
the species: Charcot, Meniere,
Alzheimer. There are no gardeners
here, caretakers only
of reason overgrown
by confusion. This body once,
when it was in bud,
opened to love's kisses. These eyes,
cloudy with rheum,
were clear pebbles that love's rivulet
hurried over. Is this
the best Rabbi Ben Ezra
promised? I come away
comforting myself, as I can,
that there is another
garden, all dew and fragrance,
and that these are the brambles
about it we are caught in,
a sacrifice prepared
by a torn god to a love fiercer
than we can understand.