“Listening to each other’s stories is better anthropological practice than reading text books on kinship”
Apologies for this being rather belated...
Attached are the liturgy and the accompanying family tree that went with the session we had last Sunday at Charlottes.
Look forward to seeing people on Weds... and thinking of those who aren't with us.
Sitting here, on top of the world... In San Francisco...
[Photo to follow]
I've been at a conference about the web. Looking at Web 2.0 concepts and technologies. For those new to these ideas, a quick synopsis:
Web 1.0 (the past) = websites are the authority
Web 2.0 (now-ish and the future) = users are the authority (wikipedia, myspace, blogs etc etc)
In a nutshell...
I'm sat here, on the 36th floor of the Grand Hyatt, overlooking the city by night...
2 things struck me.
In the spirit of Matthew Fox, it struck me that Creation Spirituality is like the ultimate "world 2.0". God has given us this planet to remix, mash-up and churn out our own interpretation and to fashion something new from something that already exists.
O holy city
You make your mark
You struggle and fight the darkness
Your electric beacons shout
"Look at me!"
Your towers stretching to the sky say
"I am invinsible"
Yet in doorways, on street corners
in shopping malls,
in bars and restaurants,
a million people are saying,
"I am not invinsible,
I am scared and weak and desolute.
I am vulnerable and sometimes out-of-control."
the city lights and sounds keep playing.
Evoking a force higher than itself.
It is the sound of human-kind.
Doing its thing, living its life,
experiencing its fleeting moment.
And it carries you on its tidal wave.
And you have to just grab a branch and stop and look sometimes.
For fear of being drowned.
A new season.
We think of family.
Of our families.
How these relationships shape us,
How we relate with others.
‘Kinship 101’ or a few thoughts from Ben
Don’t get your hopes up too much for this note. Most theories in anthropology are either common sense or just plain wrong. The reason I like anthropology is not for the theory, but for the descriptions of different societies. It should be a branch of literature, not social science. So listening to each other’s stories is better anthropological practice than reading text books on kinship.
However, it may be that a few of the things which have most interested anthropologists about families and culture will also help spark some conversations about the wider culture significance of our individual family stories.
I should stress that anthropologists are interested in the role of families as components of wider cultures, not the juicy detail of individual family circumstances. They leave the later to psychologists!
For those who weren't there Weds 17th:
It seems Christmas is so hurried these days… Advent is oft forgotten behind cardboard calendars and cards, the wise men and shepherds yanked toward the stable right at the point of birth…
Actually, the season runs for longer: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany. So the crib isn’t meant to leave the church til early Feb. Beyond the tinsel and wise men and shepherds, one of the traditional readings around this time is the story of Jesus at the wedding in Cana…
It’s only in John, so we can’t really see where it might fit into any time-line, but it’s set as a precursor to Jesus’ proper ministry. His time hasn’t yet come.
But try telling that to mothers, eh? So with a sigh and a raised eyebrow to his disciples, he goes off and tells the servers to fill the purification jars with water… Around 150 gallons, which turns to the best wine. John’s recollection fails a little after this – unsurprisingly – but he does describe the disciples’ awe: this was a ‘sign’.
It’s a strange miracle really – so immediate and over-abundant. More like magic. The healings you could understand… but why make so much wine? What are we to make of a messiah who resists jumping from the Temple, but will completely go over the top on this?
Some have talked about the creation of history – the compression of time that allowed Jesus to accelerate a natural process of aging into a split second – and argued this is why creationism must be true: he could create ‘old rocks’.
But on the evidence, Jesus wasn’t that fond of speedy miracles, and tried to keep the ones he did hushed up. It’s the slow miracles that are often overlooked, but really make the difference. The wine would soon be used and forgotten, the storm quickly followed by another that wasn’t calmed. But the years it took to abolish slavery, the ages dedication of Theresa or Gandhi. These are the slow miracles that really make a difference. Miracles done at walking pace.
Epiphany is just such a walking pace miracle: the shepherds ambling down, the wise astrologers coming by sometime. Not at the birth. But some time later.
One thing I’ve wondered about doing is thinking about our back-stories – about the people who have formed us and shaped us. And I wonder if these are good examples of slow miracles. Jeremy’s dad – nothing over the top or wow-factor. But slow dedication.
And I wonder: what slow miracles we might get involved in, or already are. Is this group one of them?
A time of silence was kept.
And broken with Jeremy's Listening liturgy (link to Open Office entry coming)
Thanks to Martin Wroe for inspiring some of these thoughts.
Immanuel | God with us?
Try to keep the song out of your head, but what if God was among us?
Bush thinks God is with him. So do Hamas.
Perhaps the Ipswich serial killer does too?
How would we respond if God was with us?
With a power trip?
How did Mary and Joseph deal with the knowledge they were carrying God?
Did they laud it over others?
As we come to Christmas: God coming to us:
There are those who desperately need God to be with them.
Will we be incarnate?
With those we know who are ill.
With those who are absent.
Communion: we celebrate our togetherness.
With each other. With God.
And we wait for Immanuel.
what are we waiting for?
Baby Jesus…God made flesh…a warm glow…a sigh of relief…nostalgia for when Christmas meant something…a moment of escape from ‘real life’?
We are told, at least I was on Sunday, that this is a time of ‘joyful expectation’. Of what? I certainly have no idea any more what exactly happened ‘that first Christmas’, no idea what I really believe about, well, almost everything.
A book I have that’s an introduction to Rowan Williams’ thinking by Rupert Shortt outlines three important strands within his spirituality.
The first is the Desert Fathers (and Mothers). He gave a lecture called ‘Staying’ on the Fathers’ idea of stability. A lot of their advice was given on the boredom and frustration of leading a solitary ascetic life. Essentially the question, “How do we stay with ourselves?” which seems so tied up with ‘waiting’.
The Fathers gave advice to young monks – you must stay in the cell. One staved off his boredom between prayers by plaiting palm leaves. “‘And so he advanced, little by little….’ In other words, holiness is often prosaic: it consists in doing the next thing. Williams warns that ‘we like to be noticed’. ‘We would like our lives to be dramatic, to speak in compelling ways, and here are the Desert Fathers telling us: eat, sleep, drink, plait a few leaves, or whatever the equivalent is in your domestic situation.’” (p97)
The second strand is St John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul, which Williams wrote about. It’s a process where “the real work is done by God”. This speaks to the question of what we are waiting for: the mystery of the Christ child, and strikes an encouraging note for the bewildered.
“‘God will see to it by his action in our minds and hearts that we are peeled away from our attachment to ideas of him and ideas of ourselves. God will see to it that we are left with no idols to worship. … It means and [John] is painfully explicit about this, that most of your confident ideas about God will at some point cease to mean anything to you. They will just go dry. And the corollary of that is of course that your ideas about yourself go dry and dead.’” (p100)
“‘If you can accept and even rejoice in the experience of darkness…then you may find your way back to religion…that is more creative because you are more aware of the…uncontrollable quality of the truth at the heart of all things.’” (p101)
Some of Williams’s writing on icons takes us to the literal heart of Advent.
The icon of the virgin Mary praying and carrying Christ inside her is as much a picture of the Church – the God-bearer showing Christ to the world. But Williams chooses to reflect on the hiddenness of Christ depicted here.
Among other things, the first nine months of God’s incarnate presence in the world was entirely within the secret world of the womb.
Again Shortt on Williams: “Jesus’ hiddenness in the icon should temper our urge to define the body of his followers too narrowly. A moment of ‘desperately needy openness to God on the part of very irregular Christians’ might fuel the Church just as much as ‘the routine prayer of the worshipping community’.
“Two further insights follow…God in Christ may be most real ‘in the lonely dryness of a prayer that seems to be going nowhere’ and… Since Christ himself is its living centre, the Church can shun idolatry and ‘stay with the mysteriousness of Christ’s presence rather than creating an accessible but false picture to hang on to.’” (p106) Rowan Williams: An Introduction, Rupert Shortt
Liturgy we used: Download AdventLiturgy061206.pdf .
What are we waiting for?
god made man?
the answer to our problems?
a warm glow?
nostalgia for when christmas mattered?
a moment of escape?
or a moment of "desperately needy openness to God on the part of very irregular Christians"? (Rowan Williams)
What are we waiting for...?
Good to see everyone tonight.
For those who weren't around, the liturgy we used can be downloaded [here]
A precis? I wanted us to think about Advent as a time of preparation. Waiting... for... something. So perhaps over the next few weeks we could think about what we could do in the New Year in various terms:
//As a group
//Within our communities
For me, I've been thinking about working towards a more ritual-rich life. Less logos, and more symbols. And so I've been wondering about trying together, throughout next year, to evolve liturgies for various times. For use ourselves each day, for use as a group through the weeks, and for use during special moments of celebration.
I know that people such as friends involved in the genesis of The Symbol Society are also really interested in this becoming a devolved project, where we feed stuff we've written in, and can then share what others have written too.
We'll wait. And see.