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Preview: Lost Empires, Living Tribes

Lost Empires, Living Tribes

slowly learning to live life with God, and others, for the sake of the world

Updated: 2017-07-10T11:01:10.061+00:00


I'm NOT going to be a History Maker in this Land


(image) So last night was Delirious's last gig. I know a few people who went to it and I seem to have wound someone up on facebook by suggesting the song 'History Maker' epitomises, for me, much that is wrong with popular charismatic-evangelical spirituality and theology. And that's because, in short, it doesn't seem to deal with the ego.

When you stop to think about it, to say "I'm going to be a history maker in this land" is incredibly egotistical. The fact is that almost all of us aren't going to be history makers (at least not in the sense that I think most people would understand that phrase).

But our egos would love us to stand out from the crowd - to be someone important - someone that really mattered - someone that history will remember.

That's what I object to in this song.

Charismatic-evangelical theology/spirituality seems to leave the ego unchecked. It suggests that as long as we say we're doing these things for God (and of course that's what everyone DOES say) then our ego's can just find a new way to express themselves.

So - didn't mean to spoil anyone's moment last night at the gig (and years ago I went saw Delirious play plenty of times) but felt this was worth saying.

John O Donahue joins my Jedi Council


I guess we all probably have wise guides we look to, people who help
us to shape our spiritual lives, sages who articulate things we
intuitively feel we already know but haven't been able to put into

I lovingly refer to these people as my Jedi Council. They are people
like Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren, Wendell Berry, Eugene Peterson,
Ronald Rolheiser, Bede Griffiths. (looks like I need to add some women!)

John O Donahue is now joining my Jedi Council. I'm a bit late to the
party on this one. I did hear him speak at Greenbelt 3 years ago (I
think it was) but haven't read him until recently.

Pippa gave me 'Benedictus', his wonderful book of blessings, when
Samuel was born, and I recently blew the dust off 'Anam Cara' which
has been sitting on my shelf for years. It is beautiful, beautiful
spiritual writing of the highest quality.

I think I'll have to download some of his talks from the Greenbelt
site. In this season of the church year when we especially remember
the communion of the saints, Mr O Donahue thankyou for your wisdom and
for all you embodied.

Pentecost with Mark Scandrette


(image) We have our Pentecost service coming up next Sunday. We will be joined by the Scandrette's from San Francisco who we met when we were over there a few years back. Mark will be telling some stories and sharing any other thoughts buzzing round his head. We're also having a supper afterwards. If you're in the area and you'd like to come then e mail me (

some good stuff from Walter Brueggemann (via The Work of the People)


(object) purchase this video here.(embed)

Stillpoint launch


(image) On Wednesday night we launched Stillpoint. It felt like an important night in my life. We had about 120 guests at The Phoenix Cinema along with our special guests Bishop John (Bishop of Oxford) and Jamie Catto from 1 Giant Leap.
Ian and I presented the vision for Stillpoint and talked to Bishop John and Jamie. We also showed three chapters from 1 Giant Leap's amazing film 'What About Me?'
There was a real sense of the importance of this agenda. I said to Ian "it feels like we are catching a wave, now we have to figure out how to stay on it".
There are a few photos on my flickr page here (thanks Jim for taking these).

by design


(image) I've just finished designing
Check it out and if you need a site designing do get in touch via

CAC Emerging Church Conference will now be streamed live


Very pleased to hear that Richard Rohr's Center for Contemplation and Action in Albuquerque are going to stream their upcoming emerging church conference live over the web. Good news!

Speakers include Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Shane Claiborne.

More info on the webcast here.

Stillpoint launch this Wednesday


(image) We are launching Stillpoint on Wednesday this week (March 4th) at a special event in The Phoenix Cinema in Jericho, Oxford.

We will be joined by the Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, and also by Jamie Catto - one half of 1 Giant Leap ("genius film makers" according to Bono). We will be presenting the vision for Stillpoint and talking to John and Jamie as well as showing some chapters from 1 Giant Leap's latest film, 'What About Me?'

We have had a really good response to the invites we've sent out but we still have some spaces available. If you would like to come please let me know (leave a comment to this post).

technology and presence


(image) Look at this photo from one of the Obama inauguration balls. It's extraordinary!! It makes me ask "Why experience the moment when you can be looking at a rendering of the moment on a tiny screen while taking a crappy photo". And of course the photos taken will never be as good as the ones in the papers or online.

I know it's an "I was there" moment and a personal photo - however crappy - will be a momento...but it just makes me wonder whether technology impedes us from experiencing our experiences. I say this to myself too as I'm an iPhone, twittering, facebooking, 2 Macs wielding technophile.

Is it helping it helping more present and earthed? It's undoubtedly not a simple yes/no question but I thought it was a question worth asking.

can we get over the bus ads now please?



love this - by Steve Lawson via Mark Berry.

Gene Robinson invited to pray for Obama


(image) Today's Guardian reports that Obama has invited Gene Robinson to offer a prayer at the inauguration next week.
This is an interesting move - particularly as he has also invited Rick Warren, known to be a traditionalist on the issue of gay rights, to give an address.

West Wing 8th Series begins January 20th



Embedded Video

I got seriously excited about this a moment ago when I read it on Marbury's blog. But no it's not really a new series of the West Wing - some bright spark has done a great job of recreating the WW title sequence using Obama's newly appointed staff. And as someone pointed out to me - apparently Matt Santos was modelled on Obama when the character was created.

A case of fantasy becoming reality? Let's hope so.

New MacBook Pro - Likes and Dislikes


(image) So I've had the new MacBook Pro for about a week now (thanks to the insurance company for that one). Here are my likes and dislikes so far:

1. Love the new design - it's beautiful
2. The large glass trackpad (the whole of which functions as one large button) is ace
3. The keyboard buttons areset at just the right tension - a pleasure to type on
4. the display - super bright and clear
5. the new multi-touch gestures

1. disappointing battery life compared to my old MacBook
2. multi-touch only works in safari which is not my web-browser of choice. It's making me think about switching browser but there is so much more functionality in Flock

So on balance it's really, really good but there are a couple of improvements I would like to see them make.

Welcome to the Welcome Wagon (attention Sufjan fans)


(image) Wow! The 'Welcome to the Welcome Wagon' is really something.

The Welcome Wagon are husband and wife - Rev. Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique. Vito is a Presbyterian minister in the States.

It's an album of old-time religious country-ish songs given all kinds of special twists by producer Sufjan Stevens who also plays on the album. Here's some of the blurb:

The debut album by The Welcome Wagon unveils a ramshackle sing-a-long enterprise of a Presbyterian pastor (the Rev. Vito Aiuto) and his wife (Monique) wrestling out the influences of folk music, religion, popular culture, and church tradition in a collection of songs that is as soulful as it is good-humored. This gorgeous brew is reflected in the group’s repertoire, which unflinchingly consolidates a vast history of “sacred” song traditions: from Old Testament psalms, to Presbyterian Psalters of the 17th century, to iconoclastic pop innovators of the 1960s (The Velvet Underground), to charismatic Catholics of the 1970s (Lenny Smith), and into the melancholy lovelorn pop of the 1980s (The Smiths). There are even a few originals. Armed with a particleboard parlor guitar and a plastic glockenspiel, pastor and wife stumble their way through an arresting catalog of hymns—hallowed and unholy—with the simple desire to know their Maker—and to know each other—more intimately.

I got my copy free via Todd Fadel who is putting together a new network called 'Love is Concrete' and is offering the album to entice you to sign up (worked for me!).

To read more about the album - it's worth investigating believe me - and get a free download of one of the tracks go here. Or go to the 'Love is Concrete' page and e mail Todd to get a link to download the whole thing for free.



I enjoy getting Richard Rohr's daily e mail. Today's was particularly good I thought.....

"The reason we have trouble with the full incarnation in Jesus is probably that we have not been able to recognize or admire our own limited incarnation. We also have a capacity for the divine.

Theological doctrine we can deal with, but ourselves we cannot. It is comparatively easy to admit to a historical divine/human integration or personification, but it is apparently difficult to accept that same integration or personification within our own remembered and regretted lives. But this little self on its insignificant journey is very likely a microcosm of what God is doing everywhere and what God did perfectly in Jesus. If we are to believe the whole, we must start by trying to believe the part. If we are to love God’s beginning and God’s conclusion—Jesus—then we must try to love God’s process—ourselves. He is Alpha and Omega, but we are beta, gamma, and delta. It is all one. Truth is one. And we have been made one by God’s yes to flesh in Christ"

You can sign up to get them here.

Sainsbury's - a bit like Helm's Deep


(image) I was in Sainsbury's quite late last night - picking up the glasses for our Carol service on Sunday. It was eerily quiet but there were LOADS of teenage staff stocking the shelves...stuff everywhere.
Today (Saturday) is supposed to be the busiest supermarket shopping day in the whole history of the planet or something. So they were preparing for the onslaught.
It kinda reminded me of the scene in 'The Two Towers' where all the good guys are in Helm's Deep preparing for Sauron's army which they know is coming!

BBC releases iPlayer for Mac & Linux


Well they've taken their time about it but BBC's iPlayer is finally
available for the Mac.

No more Steve Jobs Keynotes in January


(image) Well, that's the end of an annual tradition for me.

Apple quitting Macworld Exp, no Jobs keynote in January

See also the official press release.

Earth from the Air exhibition @ Oxford Castle


(image) We went out for breakfast at Carluccios's at Oxford Castle yesterday morning as part of our wedding anniversary celebrations. Great food - certainly a whole lot better than the meal I had the night before at Loch Fyne which was very ropey and disappointing.

Anyway - when we came out of Carluccio's we found ourselves drawn in to the spectacular free exhibition of very large photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand that are all around the exterior of the castle complex. His work is marketed as 'The Earth from the Air' and is now rather ubiquitous having been made into books, T-Shirts etc. (you will probably recognise the middle bottom image from the montage above).

BUT - it's really worth seeing. I found it to be quite a spiritual experience - wonder, awe, a recognition of how small we are and how beautiful the earth is. The photography is amazing - brilliant to see very large, original prints which the images above and others you may have seen on the web don't do justice to.

The exhibition runs to January 11th and if you're local to Oxford I highly recommend you see it (especially as it's free!!)

free music


(image) Church of the Beloved - sister church to Church of the Apostles (COTA) in Seattle - are offering an album of new music FOR FREE!! Gotta love that generous spirit.

Judging from the first track (the only one I've had time to listen to so far) it's a cracker.

Download 'Hope for a Tree Cut Down' here.

new blog


(image) I have decided to begin a new blog. This is perhaps foolish as I am such an infrequent writer on this blog. But one of my frustrations with this blog is that it is quite muddled content-wise. So my new blog - which I will keep alongside this one - will have writings on prayer and spirituality and nothing else. My old blog (the one you are reading right now) will have all my general news-y type stuff. I will also link between the two.
'The Inside Word' (which I have decided to call the new blog) will help me to process some of the stuff I have been learning over the last few years about the the contemplative path. I am not claiming to be an expert in this field by any stretch of the imagination. I am a seeker just like many of you. But I find that writing helps me to process and remember what I am learning. So perhaps I will be writing there for my own benefit more than anyone else's.

Anyway - if you're interested you can follow my meanderings at



(image) Really pleased to be able to tell you all about an exciting new venture I am involved in.

StillPoint is a new collaboration between Ian Adams and myself. It's a 'Centre for the Practice of Christian Spirituality in Oxford' aimed at nurturing spiritual practice. Right now it's a Centre without a physical centre - we will be putting on a range of events - conferences, arts events etc. - in different venues across the city in 2009 and beyond.

Most importantly we are having a launch night in The Phoenix Cinema here in Oxford on Wednesday 4th March, 2009. The Bishop of Oxford will be in attendance (great to have his backing and blessing) and - as part of our presentation - we will be showing some chapters of One Giant Leap's film 'What About Me'. We're really excited that Jamie Catto from One Giant Leap will also be joining us for the launch night and taking part in the evening.

You can find out more about StillPoint on our website and if you would like to come to the launch then please let me know and I will send you an invite.



(image) May your advent journey be a blessed one this year.



(image) Interested to see that 'streetcar' has just been launched in Oxford and that they have a car very near to us.
Our car is definitely in its twilight years and I am fascinated by the possibility of doing without one - for ethical & environmental reasons and using something like streetcar instead.

Probably the way to do it will be to run it concurrently with our old jalopy for a year and see what it's like.

Anyone out there had any experience in using it or a similar scheme?

UPDATE: I've now registered on to this as they were doing a 'free' £30 credit before the end of November.

Band of Brothers


(image) I am surprised at how much I am enjoying 'Band of Brothers' which is being repeated on BBC2 at the moment. Surprised because I think I am a pacifist and this is definitely in the 'glory of war' type of arena. But I am finding I can enjoy it without giving up my pacifism - if anything it confirms my belief in the utter futility of war. But in a world in which selfless acts are quite hard to come by (but thank God for the exceptions) it's quite compelling to see people absolutely committed to each other and literally putting their lives on the line without any sense of doing it for what's in it for them.

Why does it take things as horrendous as war to bring the best out of the human spirit?