If like most Christians you care about the environment but wonder why doing something about it features so little in our lives day to day, check out and have a conversation with him.
Just writing this blog post will put me at odds with my family and friends, some who already accuse me of being a humbug.
I love advent, the celebration of the incarnation of Christ, and would love my year to take the shape of the remembrance of that. And yes I have heard many times the suggestion that Christmas can be about Jesus.
But it’s not for most people where I live, and seems to have very little to do with Him. It’s something that feels forced on me every year, with so many things we ‘have’ to do. I watch so many friends spend money they don’t have on credit cards and overdrafts and struggle to pay them off each year, just because ‘it’s Christmas’.*
And yes, as I have admitted to friends when they asked me, some awful things did happen to me at Christmas time when I was growing up, and no I don’t want therapy/prayer for Christmas :-). I’ve had people genuinely suggest I need prayer and ministry to embrace Christmas, which makes me want to resist the celebration of Christmas all the more.
So I will celebrate Advent with all my heart. And I will make the most of time off work, Christmas TV, and time with my family for sure. But if Christmas was cancelled I don’t think I would miss it at all.
*(Christmas is the time when the UK will spend £20bn with most of that in new consumer debt. About £1.6bn of this will be spent on food and drink alone. We will cook over 10m turkeys, at an estimated cost of £400m. We will also put up 7.5m Christmas trees, costing £245m. Hard to get our heads around those numbers, but that is people in the UK spending 4 times the money needed to rebuild all the countries affected by the Asian Tsunami.)
Filter Bubbles: As google gives us all increasingly the same stuff from our searches, we are missing out on the important stuff of life.
"Here’s the challenge: as more and more people discover news and content through Facebook-like personalized feeds, the stuff that really matters falls out of the picture. In the Darwinian environment of the hyper-relevant news feed, content about issues like homelessness or climate change can’t compete with goofy viral videos, celebrity news, and kittens. The public sphere falls out of view. And that matters, because while we can lose sight of our common problems, they don’t lose sight of us." Eli Pariser
How I feel when my PhD supervisor says nice things to me.
* Cartoon taken from PhD Comics.
I spent the weekend speaking to a couple of hundred Vineyard Church leaders and pastors from the North of England.
The theme and focus was to help leaders think about whether their church is one to which people can easily be invited - “come and see” - and to equip people to actually leave the building and share their faith in their local communities and the market place - “go and tell”.
I was tasked with talking about the ‘come and see’. I made two sessions the first about the false dichotomy between the congregation and the sharing of faith with others, and then about the nature of worship for formation and evangelism.
I also spoke at the Leeds Vineyard Church, about the power of the gospel for transformation, related to these other talks. The talk was titled, ‘finding myself in the gospel’.
As I promised everyone over the weekend, my talk notes and audio from the Saturday and Sunday are all here online. The audio is recored on my iPhone so not that great. If I get the proper recordings I’ll put them online as replacements.
After my last post, interesting article sent to me by a friend, using game theory that reveals something about human nature.
It seems that even after agreeing to all contribute to avoid catastrophe, human nature got the better of participants, and they protected themselves.
Whilst the experiment concluded;
'Tests with real people confirmed an inability to resist temptation: The players proposed that everyone pay enough to make catastrophe unlikely, but then they pledged a bit less than that. And when it came time to pony up, they contributed far less still. Every time, the planet broiled.'
Christians have an understanding of that human nature, of why we are intrinsically bent on pursuing our own desires above all else. Yet all too often Christians desire God as a support to those desires.
Desiring God should lead us to consuming the world in the way God would have us. Learning to love and use the world rightly.
So governments continue to break undertakings for climate change. The pressure of the credit crunch seems to eclipse all other concerns. We couldn’t address climate change when the economy was booming, and self interest and protectionism ensure we won’t now.
Necessity is the mother of all invention, and until climate change forces governments and people to respond, I suspect we won’t.
The BBC have this informative and easy to follow animated journey of climate change.
'It’s Right for God to Slaughter Women and Children Anytime He Pleases': Peter Enns responds to John Piper
That is not a God I could worship, or give my life to. If the nature of God requires us to support such a belief, then it is something I personally can’t embrace. If God is like that then my short life would be spent set against such purposes and nature.
The UK news and media have been full of comments and editorial on the surprise rejection of women bishops by the Church of England. I was surprised too and disappointed, whilst I found my wife tearful on watching the new break.
The senior leadership of the Church of England seem appalled and shocked as much as anyone.
Steve Clifford who heads up the EA has written a thoughtful post on some of the issues. He highlights that in an extensive survey, 71% of Evangelicals in the UK seem to support women in all levels of leadership.
Mind you the comments in his post show some of what is at stake. One side who are adamant that scripture rejects women in leadership (I do find it strange when people talk about offending scripture, as if the bible was a person of the godhead), whilst others take the opposite view. Those fighting it out in the comments miss the point of Steve’s post alas.
The Church of England is an established church, part of our legal and governmental structures, and is unique in that situation for the UK. Because of that, I have sympathy with the MP Ben Bradshaw, who wants to see the Church of England’s exemption from the equality act removed.
And Bishop N T Wright has weighed in with an article in the Times that the need for women Bishops is not about ‘progress’ but is about the bible.
I’ve been part of Vineyard Churches UK for the past 25 years, more than half my life.
One way I understand my cycles of engagement with life and relationships is the ‘romance-disillusionment-joy’ motif. The first flush of a relationship that gives way to a realisation that the honeymoon is over, where false understandings fall away, that then leads to the rebuilding of relationship around better understandings, insight, growth, and joy.
I’ve found there is no way around this process, no matter what we are engaged in and with. Church planting has seen me go through many cycles of romance-disillusionment-joy, and the same goes for being part of a denomination. And I think that process is normal and healthy, the move from dependence to independence and into interdependence.
In our post-Church environment where participating in a church for Christian identity and formation has been going the way of the dodo, the relevance of denominations has become even more remote and unpromising.
Yet I find myself 25 years later discovering again the ‘joy’ of being in a denomination, and making a quick list of some of the immedaite benefits that I am re-discovering:
1. Shared beliefs & values: Having others who share the basics of what you think church is about, is so vital. Some of the most important values our community has, are the DNA of our denomination and movement.
The Missional Network have a new online journal, and first issue is now online here.
I’m in Chicago at the AAR and SBL annual meeting, as a first time participant.
I’m a little overwhelmed at the scale of it all. The size of the event, the sheer choice for seminars and presentations, the number of people in attendance, and that the event even has it’s own iOS/android phone app.
As I have been wondering what the collective noun for a gathering of 10,000 academics might be (An obstruction of professors) I have also been amazed that I keep bumping into people I know form the US and UK.
So a great event, with back to back meetings around each meal time. From PhD supervision with Luke Bretherton, catching up with George Fox colleagues and students, and time with Vineyard pastors and some of my church planting coaches.