Monday, 25 August 2008

greenbelt 9

Monday
When it comes to blogging/emailing etc., I am really missing my computer, and the time to do those things at my leisure. 

I sat down to lunch by myself yesterday - really did do a lot of greenbelt alone/separate from the group - but was joined by a bloke from London. He worships at one of the hillsong congregations in London, and was enjoying the music at greenbelt. We were joined a little later by a lady who knew Adelaide - had visited here with her husband during their time living in PNG. 

After lunch I went to hear John Bell. I could listen to him all day. He was repeating a talk I thought I had missed, on dangerous hospitality (had technical hitches first time round). 
He offered some interesting observations on the way that some foreigners find it easier (or have in the past found it easier) to settle into British communities: if you are white and european, you're less shockingly different. And the chinese people, with less threatening religious difference and cheap food, also experienced a more easy welcome than people from the Asian sub-continent. 
He talked about different approaches to foreigners in our midst: Canada, with an embracing of the mosaic, and people's difference together being celebrated, and the US, with gradual assimilation. 
John also talked about the difference between Imperialism - the approach of the British throughout history - and the Kingdom. Imperial culture doesn't assimilate in another culture, so is never a 'foreigner' and cannot empathise with foreigners in its midst; it assumes it is always right (and the 'other' is always wrong); and it has selective amnesia. 
Jesus, on the other hand, is a foreigner, enjoys other cultures and reminds us of God not being a particularly tribal God. 

Is there as much in here to ponder about the church's engagement with culture as with one culture's engagement with the foreigner in its midst? 


Went to the Jesus Arms Organic Beer Tent after that, and had four pints in all. I was feeling a bit lazy, relaxed, comfortable to get up and go to the next John Bell session, which I regret now. I don't regret missing the communion thing - big worship for all. My only reason for going was because I thought I should, and that's not a good enough reason. So I drank beer. 

I did go and see a play, however. Another one person show. Linda Marlowe, portraying four Biblical / extra Biblical women: Rahab, Bathsheba, Judith and Hannah. As the actor and writer explained after the show, they chose these four from the six that were written, for the way they had been updated and placed in a contemporary war context, in order to comment on the way women are still silenced, mis-used, strong, faithful. They were interesting and engaging portrayals. 
Quite confronting too: Rahab had been raped at 10 by an uncle, all the family knew and shunned him for a while, but then forgot. But she was unmarriable, so here mother invited the police man in for his pleasure, and thus her life as a prostitute began. When she met Benjamin and Josiah she thought they wanted her too, and her description of stripping, expecting to have her body used was a portrayal of a damaged soul. Evokes sorrow in me as I remember. As Rahab realised these men were different, she changed. Her perception of herself changed, and she saw herself as worth saving, and she was grateful for that as she waited in her house, battle raging outside, even if she wouldn't be saved after all. There's a knock at the door ... 

Bathsheba was a sergeant major's wife, proper and neurotic. Uriah visited her, though he was dead, and she had killed her baby (which differs from the Biblical story), though she doesn't remember that accurately at all. 

Judith was strong. They used spanish dancing / strong steps to great effect here. She took 7 steps to the man's bed before she killed him - seven steps of remembrance. 

Hannah was faithful. Her vivid description of the torture of her 7 sons because they had all refused to eat pork was hard to listen to. the torture of people that still goes on was very real, very obvious how religious beliefs, difference of any kind, can be come barriers between us. [NB, political tour of belfast ... ]

This play and John Bell's talk remind me of what BB Scott was saying about Paul's understanding of God, who does not see the distinctions we make so much of. If only we could see with God's vision. 


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