Ten Best Things About Greenbelt 2013 (and a few disappointments)

Greenbelt was great again.

1. Duke Special - 3rd time at Greenbelt, but I had never caught him live ... fantastic ... especially with the Greenbelt Orchestra joining in

2. Fat and Frantic - was too young, so never saw them live when they were gigging, but enjoyed their music in the mid-1990s, so great to see them reunited and reliving their younger days.

3. Martyn Joseph - in the performance cafe doing what he does best

4. Christopher Jamison on Finding Sanctuary - the former Abbott of Worth Abbey gave a very engaging talk on finding sanctuary in today's world

5. Big Sing with the Wild Goose Resource Group

6. Watching the film of Greenbelt at 40 - great to see the story, although felt a lot missing, for example references to NOS, Fat & Frantic, Eden Burning, Mike Yaconelli (apparently there is a lot on the cutting room floor)

7. Catching up with friends old and new

8. Communion service - I liked the focus on changes in the last 40 years for women, globalisation and environment

9. New site layout ... it generally worked, although mainstage noise at times overwhelmed other venues

10. This reflection from Jonty Langely, who also wrote the main reflection in this year's festival guide.


Every venue going on about becoming a Greenbelt Angel - overkill!

Ikon - usually very thought provoking, didn't work for me this year

Boxettes - they were apparently great and I missed them

Debates - 1 hour is never long enough, partly because those on the panel talk too long in answers and some questioners questions are too long (debate chairs need to intervene). I went to the debate on 'what's the point of the welfare state?'

I missed the food caterers who did the great Italian stuff - bolognese, lasagne, etc, they weren't there last year either

Still low on non-conformists, esp. Baptists, amongst talks. Paul Fiddes? Myra Blyth? Juliet Kilpin? Glen Marshall? Tim Presswood and Clare McBeath? David Kerrigan? 

Greenbelt 2008 first names announced

This year Greenbelt will feature Brian McLaren, Philip Yancey, Maggi Dawn, John Bell, Bev Thomas, Francis Schaeffer, among others. I've only heard Brian McLaren speak once a few years ago, so it will be great to hear him again. I guess he'll be speaking about his latest book Everything Must Change. I'm looking forward to more names. Nothing announced yet on the music front.

Eight Reasons to Go to Greenbelt Next Year

1. a great line-up of talks and panel discussions that cover theology, politics, environment, church, worship, interfaith relations, film, music, etc

2. the ikon worship service - a now unmissable event at greenbelt

3. after the ikon worship service trying to figure what just happened and what it all meant

4. greenbelt's breadth and diversity of participants. Unlike other Christian 'festivals', there is no monochrome theological stance and although some speakers do come back regularly, there are always new faces

5. meeting up with friends

6. greenbelt is not just a music festival, but is interested in all the arts - literature, poetry, performing arts, visual arts, comedy, alternative worship, as well as featuring an eclectic mix of music (2007 featured billy bragg, chas 'n' dave, delirious, duke special, john tavener, coldcut, iain archer, martyn joseph, kathryn williams and rosie thomas)

7. greenbelt communion service - communion for 20,000 people from diverse traditions is never going to be easy, but the last three years have been excellent

8. greenbelt is a place of inspiration - what would happen if we tried ...? how can we do that ...? why have we never ... ?

Ford and Ellis Clash at Greenbelt

Sunday afternoon's panel discussion on interfaith relationships was an enjoyable and interesting conversation. Present on the panel were David Ford (Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme), Keith Ward (former Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford), Mona Siddiqui (Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding, Glasgow) and Marc Ellis (Professor of Jewish Studies, Baylor University). Ford and Ellis clashed quite heatedly around whether interfaith discussion and in particular scriptural reasoning was worthwhile and making a difference. Ellis believes that the majority (if not all) interfaith conversations avoid the big issues, in particular, the Israel-Palestine question. He believes in the liberation of the Palestine people from Israeli oppression. He is a Jew. So enterprises like scriptural reasoning fail to address the important issues and Christians, Muslims and Jews avoid the task of being critical friends with one another. Ford's assertation was that you've got to start somewhere and that private discussions between proponents of different faiths was the way more political and public change would occur. Peter Ochs, a friend of Ford and founder of scriptural reasoning, can under some flak from Ellis for avoiding the Israeli-Palestine question. Ellis asked where was Ochs' book on Jewish theology of liberation (Ellis wrote his book in 1987). I like both Ellis and Ford. Ellis tends to talk in simple black and white language and I agree with a lot of what he says. But I think Ford is right that scriptural reasoning and other conversations are the beginning points.

Greenbelt 2007

Greenbelt was great. The highlights were meeting up with Stuart, Ikon's God Delusion and the panel discussion on interfaith relationships. Stuart and I talked all things baptist. Ikon's 'service' is a great example of challenging, thought-provoking mixture of theology and worship through theo-drama. I think they were trying to say that in getting rid of God we discover God, when we let go of the neat packages of faith (there was an opportunity to to re-write or re-work the Apostles creed), we find God. As Doug Gay remarked in his talk, where he differs with Ikon and Pete Rollins, is that he wants (as Barth taught) to hold on to Jesus as the revelation of God, with which I would agree, and I'm not sure Pete and Ikon do. Ikon are into deconstruction and playing with the neat packages of faith, where these leaves theology I'm not sure, but I applaud what they're doing. The panel discussion was really interesting and I'll blog separately on that. You can get copies of ant of the talks on mp3, cd or tape here.

Fri - Ched Myers - ambassdors of reconciliation
          Marc Ellis - towards a Jewish theology of liberation

Sat - Doug Gay -unpacking the emerging church project
         Maggi Dawn - angels and announcements
          met up with Stuart Blythe
         John Bell - the vocation to protest
        John Smith - pop McWorship versus the real thing
        Ikon - The God Delusion

Sun - John Smith - the greatest environmentalists in history
          David Ford & Micheal O'Siadhail - shaping memory seeking vision: scripture and poetry
          Can we coexist? panel with David Ford, Mona Siddiqui, Marc Ellis and Keith Ward       

greenbelt nearly here

I'll be at greenbelt from the friday to sunday. Hannah's sisters wedding on the monday. Do say hi if you're there and we happen to meet? I hope to be able to hear maggi dawn, david ford, ched myers, keith ward, morna hooker, mark yaconelli and others. Greenbelt is a fantastic diverse festival, with lots to hear, see and be challenged by. I'm looking forward to being at the ikon worship service. Last year's was fantastic. And I may catch matt redman on the mainstage on saturday.

on another note, maggi will be launching her new book on advent. see here. If you know maggi's blog, you'll know this will be a book well worth getting.

Matt Redman

Greenbelt comes ever closer ... and I saw yesterday that Matt Redman, the worship songwriter will be making an appearance. It's time to come clean, I like Matt Redman. My late teens were dominated by a diet of Matt Redman worship songs. Although in the last four or five years I've distanced myself from the Soul Survivor style of worship and ministry (and embraced a much more contemplative, liturgical and alternative approach to worship), I still enjoy listening to the latest Matt Redman song. I think, generally (with some exceptions), he writes good and help songs for worship. Those who have emerged after him, are still someway behind him in terms of lyrical and theological quality. I get the sense also that Redman is someone interested in theology, albeit probably a bit too much John Piper for my liking.

Ten Matt Redman worship songs for the church

1. Show me the way of the cross (from the Friendship and the Fear, 1997)

2. Befriended (from Where Angels Fear to Tread, 2002)

3. Gifted Response (from Facedown, 2004)

4. So fearfully and wonderfully made (from Beautiful News, 2007)

5. You never let go (from Beautiful News, 2007)

6. You led me to the cross (from the Father's Song, 2000)

7. Let everything that has breath (from Intimacy, 1998)

8. O Jesus, Son of God (from the Father's Song, 2000)

9. Blessed be your name (from Where Angels Fear to Tread, 2002)

10. Justice and Mercy (from the Father's Song, 2000)

Greenbelt Speaker Lineup Looking Good ...

This year's Greenbelt festival speaker lineup sees some top notch theologians from the academy. So far David Ford (currently professor of divinity at cambridge), Keith Ward (former professor of philosophy of religion at KCL and more recently oxford), Ched Myers (author of the classic mark commentary binding the strong man) and Morna Hooker (author of many books on the new testament). I'm also looking forward to Mark Yaconelli (author of the excellent contemplative youth ministry), John Bell and Mark Ellis.

Greenbelt 2006 Reflections

The delay to me blogging about this year's Greenbelt is because I'm been at a Baptist theology conference (more on that in another post).  My initial reaction to Greenbelt was a slight disappointment. Walter Wink was unable to be there due to illness. Some of the venues for some of the talks were too small so I for example I only caught the end of Pete Rollins. Having said that, as Hannah and I were talking to her sister Naomi about the festival I found myself talking a lot (which is a usual occurence). This is the thing about Greenbelt it gets you thinking. I said to someone there, I partly go to get a load of ideas to try out and adapt for when I'm back home. So, John Bell was excellent, I'd heard him on mp3 before, but was good hearing him live. Jim Wallis was entertaining and thought-provoking, but I'm not sure I'm completely on the same page as him (I still trying to work out how he is similar/different to Hauerwas). The end of Pete Rollins talk was good, and I'll get the mp3 and also his book How (not) to speak of God. The Ikon service was brilliant, but I wonder if it was too intellectual and high-brow. I am going to check out their website, etc. Alistair McIntosh (standing in for Walter Wink) speaking on 'non-violence for the violent' was interesting. The Taize service was something different. I thought the communion was again good, very different from last year, but it worked well. The words to one hymn were brilliant. Hannah and I also attended a session on 'godly play', which we've been dabbling in, but I think will get more serious about now. I also enjoyed Maggi on the rhythm of the saints, but like Pete Rollins was also in too small a venue. Her comment about how the different church seasons do not always seem to join up with our own spiritual lives and how the church calendar teaches us there are times of waiting and being were poignant for me currently.

Next year, Greenbelt have got N T Wright and Ched Myers, already booked.