Sunday, July 03, 2005

Perspective






East meets West in this photo of Pall Singh and Andrew Jones. But which represents which? Pall is a British (West, Britain being on the western edge of the Known World - with anything to our west, such as the Americas, being the New World) Indian (East). Andrew is a [tallskinny]kiwi (East, New Zealand being east of India, and about as far east as you can go before falling back into yesterday's West) of European (West) descent, who currently lives in the Orkneys (a parallel universe in the far North).

Pall is engaging in mission with what he refers to as the "Goodness Gracious Me /The Kumars at Number 42 Generation" - British Indians for whom your average white middle-class church is too western, but for whom most of the (excellent, in many ways) average Indian church here is too eastern - like going back to India to visit the grandparents. Like British-born Indians, Sanctuary is a fusion of (at least) two cultures. Pall led us in worship, using Indian-inspired visual (film) meditations over which he led us in prayer; and inviting us to go up to a table, whenever we were ready to do so, to take Indian bread, and wine, to take an Indian sweet as we thought of and prayed for family, and to place a stone in a bowl of water as we prayed.

I was a little surprised that Pall's approach to resourcing Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims on a spiritual journey towards Jesus was troubling to some of those gathered, who felt that in order to genuinely follow Jesus people from these cultures needed to 'Christianise,' by which I mean take on European Christendom. To my mind, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, along with Europeans, are biblically all Gentiles, and if the early church determined that Gentile converts did not need to take on Jewish culture, why should eastern converts take on western culture? If European converts took pagan religious festivals and endued them with Christian meaning to create Christmas and Easter (not literal commemorations, but rich celebrations, of Jesus' birth and resurrection), then why should not the same be done with, say, Diwali, the Festival of Lights (God the Father being described in the Bible as the Father of Lights; Jesus, and his disciples, as the light of the world)?

Andrew Jones led two teaching sessions. The first, in which he spoke about the nature of kingdom growth and the principle of finding the Person of Peace and entering into/staying at their home, could have come straight out of St Thomas' here in Sheffield. I like it when I come across the same teaching, from new or different angles, in multiple contexts: the evidence of two or more witnesses...

In the second session, Andrew threw out all sorts of interesting observations, weaving together biblical observations from the Wisdom Writings (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes) and contemporary cultural shifts - such as 'new' approaches to leadership and structure within a community (ants in Proverbs/emergence theory in business), 'new media' (that turns passive readers/viewers into inter-active writers/surfers) - to bring out several pointers for those seeking to engage in mission in our changing cultural context.

One of his thoughts I was most struck by was on operating according to a gift-economy (which is, after all, God's economy - grace). In the market-economy, when you give something to someone, you get financial renumeration (plus profit) in return. In the gift-economy, when you give a gift, you receive in return not renumeration but enhanced reputation - and this in turn enables you to give away more gifts to more people. Andrew illustrated this from the internet: when you blog something people value, Google notes that they are visiting you, notes when they link from their site to yours, and your site moves up the Google ratings, where more people can discover it more quickly...Anyway, I value the gift-economy, and am challenged to live more and more according to this subversive economy of the kingdom. Cheers, tsk!

Photos: Eastern communion table; Jonny Baker feels the effect of a hot, dark room; Bob Hopkins and Roger Ellis; Pall Singh and Andrew Jones.

8 comments:

  1. great report, andrew

    the highlight for me was meeting Pall - last year in London it bugged me that there was nothing for the next gen Indian/Paki/Asian crowdd that seemed to connect to them in London - it was a huge glimmmer of hope to see Pall there.

    I enjoyed the first session - the second session i think i should have included the other teachers a little more - Bob and Mary H., Roger Ellis - we really didnt hear much from them and that would have been better.


    Anyway - good to see you

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, the old "so many possibilities, so little time" conundrum...Bob & Mary suggested I come along on the basis of it being an opportunity to network with new people, but the time was so packed there wasn't much chance for that. Well, what happened happened, and I know that it was much appreciated by everyone I did get to talk with. Different voices would have resulted in a different, differently-good rather than better, day. Thanks to B&M, Roger, and Jonny for bringing it all together, and you and Pall for what you brought to the table.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Google Schmoogle!
    Did Andrew talk about how you can grow in Christ because of what he (Andrew) can pass on to you about where he has entered into in his own heavenly places?
    I don't hear it.
    I don't hear it from so many out there!
    Emergent Scmergent.
    Get real!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Where on earth are you and where are you really going?!!!
    http://boltono.typepad.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. boltono: no, Andrew didn't do what you suggest, and if you took the time to read his blog on a regular basis and with a gracious attitude - which would not by any means require of you to agree with all, or even most, of his thoughts - you'd recognise he isn't like that at all...
    As for Google-schmoogle, all he is doing by using an illustration from the contemporary world in which we live is doing precisely what Jesus did in using agrarian parables in the contemporary world of his first hearers...
    As for what you don't hear, if after listening for a while you don't hear anything, just stop listening; don't shout down those who hear something you don't.
    Personally, I'd hope that a disciple of Jesus would show more grace in relation to others than you have in your comment on my blog, and I'd respectfully return your parting question back to you.

    Just so you know, I felt I couldn't leave your comment on my blog unchallenged, but I have no interest in engaging in a debate with you. So please take this as polite notice not to expect further replies to anything you might choose to add.
    I wish you well on your journey, as I'm sure you would wish me well on mine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was also really struck by the whole gift giving/blogging thing that Andrew spoke of.

    Although I've had a blog for some time, I've never really paid a great deal of attention to updating it regularly etc. Seeing your blog as a way to 'give' to others has got me thinking.

    I know that all this might sound quite pretentious, but perhaps giving our opinions to others, to reflect upon and respond to, to add in to the debate etc. is good, healthy etc??? Healthy for us as individuals, for those we engage with, for the wider debate as a whole. Blogging is just a new of doing all this.

    I'm not sure. These are just some thoughts. I'm probably rambling now.

    Bye

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, that was a load of pretentious, condescending drivel!
    I do read Andrew's blog on a fairly regular basis...his blog-management stats will prove that.
    Nothing against him personally. Why, therefore, do you spring into action so?!
    Try and calm down! It's perfectly legit to disagree, with or without the outwardly-projected and religious standards of "grace" required here! Or does everyone have to conform in your World?
    Bolty.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Phil. Joel - a friend of a friend - pointed you out to me at the ReSource day. I'm sorry there wasn't a chance to meet "face to face".

    I think the blog-as-gift idea is a good one, but as part of a bigger-picture of gift-giving in the face-to-face world as well as the virtual world (or, as Andrew put it, new media technology should enhance what we are already doing, not replace it.)

    But here's another picture from nature to describe blogging that struck me as I read your comment:
    Bees do a little dance to let other bees know where there is good pollen, and how to get to it and back again...By hyper-linking to other people's thoughts/experiences we have found helpful, so that more people can access them, blogging is like a bee waggle-dance for the pollenation/cross-pollenation of ideas...

    I'll see your ramble, and raise it!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Just wondering - it seems perfectly healthy to bring Boltono into this. Why not? I think there's some fair points there, and unless theres another more hidden place you are discussing things with bolty, why not engage someone who has taken the time and effort to engage you?

    Just wondering.

    love laul.

    P>S> Glad the weekend went well, sorry to have missed it (family)

    ReplyDelete