Monday 21 February 2011

Revolutions of the hearts

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  
(Letter to the Galatian Church, ch. 5)

Revolutions, like number one hits, look to the outsider like they come out of the blue. But the young anti-fascist organisers of Egypt's capital city have been working on this for three years. Much of the planning and preparation has been to do with self-disicpline and training in nonviolence. Gene Sharp's "Albert Einstein Institute" have copies of his most recent publication free to download in various languages including arabic and his strategies have been behind many nonviolent revolutions over the past few years.

Tactics used by the Egyptian protestors included setting up decoy protests while walking the streets elsewhere to set-up the protest-proper which the police didn't have the resources to halt before it was too late; standing arms-out infront of police and taking tear gas cannisters to the body, kneeling - half naked - before riot police (who then retreated in confusion).

That this has been a middle-class techo-friendly revolution has been much publicised. But even this is not entirely true - the protest that lit the blue touch paper began in a slum, albeit organised by middle-class agitators.

The real ingredients have been patience, nonviolence, self-sacrifice. Against such there can be no law.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

A Just Church

The Fresh Expressions movement – an Anglican and Methodist venture – is often fresh in form only. But in Bradford city centre the JustChurch and SoulSpace are reimagining the church in exciting new ways. Chris Howson, city centre priest, was radical in thought and action long before his ordination and has managed to shape ministry around an ongoing critique of the systems that oppress and steal. His first book, 'A Just Church' is the beginning of that story told with both practical examples of speaking truth to power and useful tools for the reader to go and re-imagine the church for her or himself.

Part one tells some of Howson's own story, which he relates with characteristic energy, gregariousness, and deep reflectivity. His description of worship shows a genuine commitment to participatory pedagogy through oracy, play, and a sharing of leadership. It seems he intends to find a balance in Church life between corporate worship and prophetic ministry, creating an environment where community activism and campaigning are sustained in prayer.

In Part two Howson introduces the reader to some of the global and local issues the Church has faced, including the misguided regeneration of a city centre, the government's endless love of war-making, and the struggle of the Burmese people for self-determination. Stories of solidarity with those seeking sanctuary in Britain show how the rhetoric 'bogus asylum seekers' affects real people's lives. Each chapter ends with suggestions that invite the reader to find her or his own story of non-violent resistance to empire in God's love.

I would recommend this book to anyone who hasn't given up on Church but longs to build a new world in the shell of the old. I hope it inspires a new generation of Church leaders to be fresh, radical, and authentic in their expressions of the Church proclaiming the kin-dom of God.

A Just Church: 21st Century Liberation Theology in Action

Monday 7 February 2011

Practical Liberation Conference.

Chris Howson, a Anglican priest and city missioner in Bradford is hosting a Liberation theology conference for July 23/24 2011.

He writes, "If you have read Jesus 'proclaiming good news for the poor' and realised that the church often fails to live up to his teachings, then come on this conference. (It will also be fun and include curry eating!)"

I met Chris first at the Christianity and anarchism conference in 2006 and his church hosted teh second conference in 2008 (I think!). The conference is likely to be both reflective and aimed at real practical responses and challenges to the unjust systems we face.

To find out more or register an interest contact Chris on 01274 727034.

And you can now by his book too!

Peace - 2

The Obama regime is playing the Fundamentalist Muslim Card to discredit the revolutionary Egyptians. An old story.

Sunday prayers at Tahrir Square, Cairo, 6th February, remembrance of the martyrs of the current liberation sruggle.