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Showing posts from December, 2019

Seeking paradise in Cardiff in 2019

When I started my work in Cardiff in 2018  I really had a blank slate. I knew that my job was to be present in Cardiff and to see what happened. As I look back at 2019 I can see the work coming into sharper focus, but it is still early days. But I'm much clearer about what my work is. My work is to find places where community, spirituality, and activism are happening, and to join in the work others are doing towards promoting community, spirituality, and activism. Plus, to find the spaces where community, spirituality, and activism intersect , and to nurture those spaces. I'm also much clearer about where my work is. It is, primarily, in Riverside, a small multicultural neighbourhood, nestled next to the city centre, beneath the shadow of the Principality Stadium. I do get a sense of the work getting smaller and smaller, more and more concentrated on just a few streets, and that seems really important. Specifically what has developed for me in 2019 is a

Things are so urgent - we're going to have to slow down

(EDIT: January 2020. Since writing this I realised I got the phrase "things are so urgent, so let us slow down" from philosopher Bayo Akomolafe . I must have heard the words, thought about them, then decided to write my own thoughts on this, forgetting what started the process. But I'm happy to acknowledge my indebtedness to Bayo Akomalafe, and I encourage you to go and look up his stuff, because it's very good) We are in an age of urgency. Many people, myself included, have talked about how urgent the climate crisis is. We have twelve years, or eleven years, or two years on some estimations, to avoid a climate crisis that will kill millions. Unless government policy changes right now we will be heading to a disaster. Given that, it's completely understandable that climate activists are operating out of a sense of urgency. We need the government to act now and we will keep acting now until they do. This has made Extinction Rebellion, in my experience, into a v

God is a church growth principle

Depending on where you're coming from this might be blindingly obvious or something you've never thought about before. But here's what I want to say: one of the strongest predictors of whether a church will grow or not is simply whether that church believes and acts like God is real. God is a church growth principle. This is something liberals don't seem to get. Liberals look at growing Evangelical charismatic churches and they say, “those churches grow because they have modern music” or “those churches grow because they're telling people they will go to hell if they don't join” or “those churches grow because they give people simple answers”. There might be some truth in all those ideas, but we often miss out the most important one – those churches grow because they believe in God. What got me thinking about this was research into what matters to people when they become Christians. The book Finding Faith Today (1992) by John Finney researched 500 people w

Protest and pain

What is the relationship of protest to pain? So often protest is a response to pain. A people feel the pain of oppression, the pain of legal and cultural discrimination and they protest against it. Political protest, political activism is a protest against the pain of a system. Things get a bit more problematic when protest is not connected to pain. The great problem with environmental protest movements is that they are often disconnected from the experience of pain. In theory protest movements like Extinction Rebellion are responding to the pain of future generations, the pain of animals, the pain of the global south, but the protest is not a response to the personal experience of pain. Often privileged white westerns (like myself) do not experience in an everyday way the reality of this pain, and so protest is much more an expression of privilege. I go on protests, not for my own survival, but because I choose to, because I want to, because I have the privileged ability to do s

We're going to need God

"We believe that the future of Unitarian Universalism depends upon becoming a transformative spiritual force committed to leading people out of the wilderness of individual prosperity and into the joy of communal intimacy and solidarity. This movement begins by reimagining our faith communities as sites of spiritual transformation committed to healing the world rather than as sanctuaries tucked away from it. Only by committing ourselves to a process of deep spiritual conversion will we be capable of resolving the environmental and social collapses occurring all around us... The first step towards a solution is to admit that we are beyond the point of avoiding calamitous climate change... The second step is admitting that we need help. Specifically... humanity needs help from the divine and creative life force that is greater than the selfish interests of our individual egos. Anything shy of this confession will leave us with the illusion that we will somehow, through our own pow