Saturday, July 30, 2005

Off to Taize
unlikely to post for the next week and a bit as I am helping lead a trip to Taize in France for Manchester Diocese. If you haven't been BTW it is a special place. I find I always get challenged and get stretched. ....All of this includes an unexpected experience with an icon of Mary, as well as some very wise bible teaching from the brothers of the community. Likely to be 5-6,000 there next week! I'll report back if anything is stirred by the spirit.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Converse, Conversion, is there a relationship?

Read that a few times and play with its meanings.

Here are a few questions and a few thoughts.

Is relationship evangelism unethical?
Does the word converse have any relationship to conversion?
Is inter faith dialogue evangelistic?

What do you think?

It seems to me that to build a relationship with someone solely to convert them is to not build a relationship with them. However if I build a relationship with someone and it has any meaning and I am part of the mission of God then actually much of what passes between us will be an act of faith sharing that is evangelistic. If this happens between myself and someone of another faith we will be both entering into inter faith dialogue and it will be evangelistic. The key then perhaps is not to ask ‘how can I do ethical evangelism in a multi faith world’ but how do I build genuine relationships’? it is just a few thoughts!

BTW Converse has two meanings, one is 'to engage in conversation' the other is 'to be contrary to'. anyone offer any background to that?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Happy St Mary of Magdelene's day

July 22nd is the feast of mary magdelene. a women who has recently got rather a lot of press thanks to Dan Brown and the Da Vinci code. i don't intedn to go into all the stuff looking at the historical case for or against (and it is larlgely against) Dan Brown's use of a theory that first surfaced in a book called Holy Blood Holy Grail (that Mary married jesus had a daughter who was the real 'Holy Grail' and the Merovingian Kings are her and Christ's decendents). look at Wikkipedia on the da Vinci code for some good material and links. but what has this debate got to say about culture and mission?

i know several Christians have written books attacking Brown's thesis. some of these have then suggested that 'the real da vinci code' is the message of jesus. some have done this well, i like the take that we can ALL be sons and daughters of jesus in the christian story not just a particualr liine of Kings in France! the problem however with some of these attempts is that to those who find compelling the conspiracy theroy element of the da VInci code, the church suppressing this truth over centuries, the load protestation of Christians, calls to ban or boycott teh film next year etc, simply confirm that the book must be true and we are indeed supressing the truth agressively. we live in an age when in proclaiming our lessage the old apologetics of exposing the the arguments against Christianity no longer cuts ice. indeed to try and defend Christianity from criticism is often to appear negative and opposed to things. i suspect we need to simply offer the positive in the market place of faith and let others look critical if they wish. i don't necessarily mean stay silent in repsonding to criticism or views we feel to be wrong, but not to feel this is where the key debate happens, to respond with grace, wanting to win a friend and not win an argument. people i think are today looking more at how we debate than what we say, what messages are we sending?

Mary Magdelene and her legacy are an intersting thing to pick up on. i have sympathy with Dan Brown's suggestion that Mary has had bad press, the one who first met the risen Jesus ending up as a fallen women forever doinmg penenance in the desert. indeed the second Vatican council aserted that much medieval speculation about Mary in which she also became the sinful women who annoints jesus feet and the women caught in adultery were mistakes. (so much for the theory of the supression of this by the Catholic Church). i do think it tells us something about the way women have sometimes been stereotyped in sections of the Christian faith though. the two Mary's one 'forever a virgin' the other a fallen women. i suspect the problem with sex and bodies especially female bodies this dualism speaks of is a bad bit of the Greek heritage of Christianity. it is easy sometimes to understand why people think we are anti physical and anti sex and indeed anti women. one of the reasons Paganism is the fastest growing faith in Britian is that it affirms the physical, the sexual and the feminine. our attitudes on these things are not indeed some academic question, they are about our mission.

if the Da Vinci code has a message for us, it is that people today want a faith that holds a view of the female that is equal to the male, and of the physical that sees it as good. we ought to be at the fore fornt here with women as much as men made in God's image, with sex as a gift of God and our bodies as temples of his spirit. this is not to deny that all is not good with how we are and the need for salvation in all it's dimensions, but to say we need to learn afresh the message of God's misison as starting with creation and ending in new creation. perhaps we need to also be as quick to speak of God as a mother hen gathering her offspring as a father welcoming a prodigal son?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

well at some point a web site is comming on which more stuff can be posted connected to my work. but for now i thought i'd join the bloggsphere! well a discussion was always intended to be part of what i wanted to do online so this will do for a start. watch this space...composing some stuff sorting out links etc so be patient for the first day or two if you happen to find this