Archive for Change

A wise man once said….

Posted in Soundbite Philosophy with tags , , on August 28, 2009 by johnfom

These are the two quotes I’m using for my email autosignature at the moment.  I chose these to remind me of some competing thoughts I need to keep at the back of my mind while I try to find answers to the questions I posed in the last post here.

A lot of people never use thier initiative because nobody told them to. – Banksy

I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid. –  G. K. Chesterton


New church?

Posted in Rants with tags , , on August 15, 2009 by johnfom

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about church and how the present young generation, and the next generation, are going to express their faith. I have a feeling that the big questions in theology are going to be in the area of ecclesiology.

More recently my haphazard mental wanderings have started going focussing on two partially related points of interest: Urban ecclesiolocy, and Churchless ecclesiology.

The following is a boring rambling of thought that might give you an idea of where I’m at with this…

***Warning! Ramble alert!!!!

In the first thread of thought, urban, I’m trying to imagine what a church born exclusively out of the city would look like. So far there isn’t, to my knowledge, a church which is completely originally ‘city’. The cultures in new cities are usually adaptations of village cultures, small pockets within the larger geographic area of the city. In the old cities I’ve looked at there seems to be an underlying ‘feel’ of the village worldview, but that seems to be breaking down as new(ish) technology impacts the culture.

Geographical boundaries are heading towards becoming meaningless, as are some time boundaries. In terms of travel, for example, most of Scotland can be viewed, with public transport and the proliferation of cars, etc., in a similar way today as a trip of 20 miles 100 years ago. That is to say, about a day’s travel away. People come from every corner of the surrounding areas to cities to work and play. While most church systems are built around local churches catering for local people, ‘local’ is becoming meaningless.

Distance becomes more meaningless when communications technology is factored in. When I was a lad…(Damn! I’ve become one of the four yorkshiremen. The apocalypse is surely nigh.) Anyway, when I was a lad, we used to have to wait for a parent was ready to ferry us around if we wanted to play with our friends. I’ve heard stories, and seen it myself, of how kids are using IM technology and Massively Multiplayer Online Games to play with their friends when transport (Mum’s taxi) isn’t available. Not as a replacement for, but in addition to, regular face to face playground interaction.

So, what would a church, built from the ground up in a culture where geography is largely meaningless, with few or no ties to historic forms, look like? What would the church of a ‘net-native’ look like? What current church forms would need to be kept/imitated to allow a person in relationship with God to recognise this new kind of church as a part of the body of Christ?

***Warning! Rant alert!!!!

This then leads into the other area of thought I’ve been following: Churchless church.

One statistic I’ve seen suggests that the net loss in church attendance in the US is 57000 per year. The article I read that in points out that the US troops lost in the whole Vietnam was was 58000. The situation in Europe is more dire from some accounts I’ve read. Its a largely meaningless comparison but brings a bit of perspective I suppose. More telling for me is the criteria for church attendance used for that statistic. To qualify as a church attendee you only had to turn up at a church once every year. If that’s church attendance, then I should really start claiming for frequent flyer status as I fly about once a year and I watch planes go over head almost every day.

The thing is that many of those leaving the church aren’t leaving faith, just the church. Personally I’ve heard lots of reasons to leave churches but the top of my anecdotal experience are a) churches have no connection to the rest of peoples lives b) some churches have been abusive in their wielding of power, c) many churches have become separated institutions where the people are reduced to being merely life support for that institution, and my personal experience of d) it’s easier to conduct ministry outside the church than inside the church.

Now, a man I consider to be wise (Les Ball) pointed out that any ‘movement’, if it is to survive beyond those who set it up, needs to have structure. I agree. If something is merely held together on the personality of an individual it will die once that individual does. The more I read about the churchless church the more I agree with the ideals of the rapidly growing movement. I also recognise that there are many christians out there in the world craving unrestricted, intelligent gatherings with other christians which don’t include those harmful elements of most institutional churches.

So I’ve been wondering, is there a way to set up a heirachicless, un-institutional ‘church’ which is flexible enough to change with culture and doesn’t encroach on the freedoms of it’s members?

I have some ideas involving ‘cyberspace internet tech in conjunction with real life ‘meatspace’ expressions, but I’d be interested in what you think.  What ideas you might have and also what misgivings.

Bread of Life

Posted in From others..., Musings with tags , , , , on January 15, 2009 by johnfom

This video came through on the feed from TED The other day. I’ve just gotten round to watching it.

It’s a great parable.  It tells a story, relates it to spiritual matters AND leaves you to draw all sorts of meaning from it.  It has given me all sorts of things to think on in my current endevour of trying to learn how to tell stories with meaning.

What I particularly like is that you can see the passion this man (Peter Reinhart) has for what he does.  He has what I’d describe as a ‘visible vocation’.  He gives the impression that this is not ‘just a job’ for him.


Take the 15 or so minutes to watch it.  It’s well worth it.  You can see it here.

What’s your Economy?

Posted in Musings with tags , , , on January 10, 2009 by johnfom
Image from

Image from

Economy can be defined as “Careful, thrifty management of resources, such as money, materials, or labor” or “A specific type of economic system (an industrial economy; a planned economy)”.

With the ongoing financial turmoil there’s some talk of a ‘new world’ and ‘new ways of thinking’.  I noticed even my favourite bit of monthly escapist reading, Top Gear magazine, has a bit in the editorials about it.

The editor, Michael Harvey, writes”…what I’m hearing are predictions that it will never be the same again.” … “Along with the realignment that’s required to get the financial sector working again, there’s a moral realignment that goes hand in hand with it. We are all going to feel differently about money when this is all over.’

Most of it is, of course, merely rhetoric designed to sell papers and get some sort of news story. Trying to whip up a bit of a collective ‘OMG’ in other words.  But I think there is a true observation at the base of it.  For all our (in the west) consumerism there seems to be a change in the attitudes of many I speak with.

There is a sort of ambivalence growing towards the new big TV, the latest technology, the bigger house, the newer car.  Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be an increasing desire for ‘the good life’ and the good life doesn’t include chasing the dollar/pound.

For myself, I have long viewed my paid work as an exchange of my time for enough money to ‘do’ the things I want: have a place to live, gain access to reading material, go on drives around Scotland and see this country I’ve temporarily adopted as my home, have people over for dinner or meet them at the pub for a chat.  My economy runs on the collection and creation of stories.  I work just enough to pay the bills and do those things I just listed.  If the price of fuel goes down, I work less.  If the price of a pint goes up, I work more.   I try to work just enough to sustain that lifestyle and gain the stories that go with it.  If the stories stopped comming, there’d be no point in working, or in going out of whatever wee hovel I was living in at all for that matter.

So, has there been a change in your view of what the ‘good life’ is?  I’m interested in how and if people’s view of what they are pursuing in life has changed.  What is your economy?

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