This year Greenbelt will featureBrian 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.
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 ... ?
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back from Greenbelt, back to school. I was writing RE schemes of work this morning. But this is a post about Greenbelt.
I had a fantastic time - great music, great talks, great worship and great company. I came away thinking why have I not been more over the years.
Maggi Dawn - 'My name is Maggi, and I'm relevaholic...' - Maggi asked why are we so eager to be relevant all the time? Is this about church being relevant to wider culture or relevant to our own lives? Left me thinking is our concern for relevance, which usuallys works out in bigger, louder, more technology, just a reflection that we theologically-impoverished - our understanding of God is too small, so we feel we need to jazz him up?
Iain Archer - was brilliant live, some great new stuff.
David Ford and Michael O'Siadhail - 'The Poet and Theologian 1' - poetry and theology are concerned with wisdom. A wise faith has a richness which is aware of and resists the dangers of neat-packaged faith. So in the book of Job, we find Job cries out, and his friends try and bring him neat packages.
Roy Searle - 'Streams of Living Water' - we need a breadth to our spiritual life, to learn from and live with different traditions - evangelical, contemplative, incarnational, charismatic, social justice - to be without one or several, is to have an unbalanced life.
The Post Evangelical: 10 years on - panel (Dave Tomlinson, Robert Beckford, Maggi Dawn, Elaine Storkey) - a mixed discussion, where good stuff as said, but highlighted the problem of labels, especially the 'evangelical' one
Richard Giles - 'Tent People' - this was thinking about how we use the space in our church building to reflect the kind of community we are
Communion - Revive: a great whole church attempt to do communion with 20,000 people. good liturgy, music and mix
Karen Armstrong - 'The Battle for God' - excellent hour on what fundamentalism is and how we deal with it. I must get hold of some of her books.
Corinne Bailey Rae - beautiful voice, fantastic songs
David Ford & Michael O'Siadhail - 'The Poet and the Theologian 2' - theology should contain affirmation, judgement and transformation - what can we affirm, what needs to be judged and what can we transform. Theology should be an intensive conversation. Re-reading the scriptures in different contexts. Theology for God's sake. Theology is a broker between every sphere of life.
Naim Ateek - 'Whose Jerusalem?' - a good exploration of the Middle East politics
Dave Tomlinson - 'Running into God' - God is active in the whole world, we run into God all the time
Andrew Jones - 'The Spirituality of Blogging' - only caught the first bit of this, but out of a number of seminars on blogging, this was the best because it gave a good answer to why as Christians we blog. See here for Andrew Jones' notes
Maggi Dawn - 'Reinventing the wheel?' - how can we subvert the tradition, what can we learn from the tradition and alt.worship can be simple
Betty Spackman - 'Fantasy and other real things' - looking at Christian kitsch and how we live in fantasy worlds and the recognition that Christian art does not need to make an obvious message