This is what a small Baptist church in NE England are intending their sanctuary to look like when the renovations are completed. They are building their church community around children and play.
Seems to me they’ve got their priorities right!
Look and learn….
I came across this post via Stephen Fry. It shows that these women, now facing 2 years severe imprisonment, are not naiive blashemers, but prophets, in the true Biblical sense, of the evil corruption that is creeping through the Russian leadership and the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, from the very top. The Patriarch is an ex KGB buddy of Putin. He wears a £30,000 watch and watches the back of Putin, in the guise of the ordained Church.
“During the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent or express regret for her deeds, or to enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary. Instead, I want to express my views about the causes of what has happened with us.
“The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].
“Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.
“How did he succeed in doing this? After all, we still have a secular state, and shouldn’t any intersection of the religious and political spheres be dealt with severely by our vigilant and critically minded society? Here, apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of Orthodox aesthetics in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had the aura of a lost history, of something crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and present their new political project to restore Russia’s lost spiritual values, a project which has little to do with a genuine concern for preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s history and culture.
“It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox Church, which has long had a mystical connection with power, emerged as this project’s principal executor in the media. Moreover, it was also agreed that the Russian Orthodox Church, unlike the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above all, the crudeness of the authorities towards history itself, should also confront all baleful manifestations of contemporary mass culture, with its concept of diversity and tolerance.
“Implementing this thoroughly interesting political project has required considerable quantities of professional lighting and video equipment, air time on national TV channels for hours-long live broadcasts, and numerous background shoots for morally and ethically edifying news stories, where in fact the Patriarch’s well-constructed speeches would be pronounced, helping the faithful make the right political choice during the election campaign, a difficult time for Putin. Moreover, all shooting has to take place continuously; the necessary images must sink into the memory and be constantly updated, to create the impression of something natural, constant and compulsory.
“Our sudden musical appearance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior with the song “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out” violated the integrity of this media image, generated and maintained by the authorities for so long, and revealed its falsity. In our performance we dared, without the Patriarch’s blessing, to combine the visual image of Orthodox culture and protest culture, suggesting to smart people that Orthodox culture belongs not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch and Putin, that it might also take the side of civic rebellion and protest in Russia.
“Perhaps such an unpleasant large-scale effect from our media intrusion into the cathedral was a surprise to the authorities themselves. First they tried to present our performance as the prank of heartless militant atheists. But they made a huge blunder, since by this time we were already known as an anti-Putin feminist punk band that carried out their media raids on the country’s major political symbols.
“In the end, considering all the irreversible political and symbolic losses caused by our innocent creativity, the authorities decided to protect the public from us and our nonconformist thinking. Thus ended our complicated punk adventure in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
“I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we now expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. Now the whole world sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, Russia looks different in the eyes of the world from the way Putin tries to present it at daily international meetings. All the steps toward a state governed by the rule of law that he promised have obviously not been made. And his statement that the court in our case will be objective and make a fair decision is another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you.”
EDIT: This was taken from Chtodelat News (https://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/yekaterina-samutsevich-closing-statement/), whom yesterday I forgot to put acknowledgment too, apologies! I just noticed it wasn’t on Tumblr as well so wanted to make it able for reblogs and such. All credit goes to them
Love is…letting go
Here’s a very interesting article from Oxford Diocese about research into how the reduction of time spent exploring and playing in the natural environment is having a negative effect on how young people develop spiritually.
“The spirituality of nature and children”
One of the basic fundamentals of good fundraising is the ability to share a story that’s full of human interest. It is often the personal stories of people that motivates a donor to give. This is particularly true if the story is told by a real person, the person it is about and not second hand via a fundraiser or copywriter.
OK, now take the art of storytelling and couple it with the technology of the digital age. What do you get? A whole new way to reach out and share these stories with a wider audience, locally and globally.
This is the basis of some exciting projects currently taking place in the UK, thanks to an organisation called “Tales of things and electronic memory” (TOTeM). TOTeM is a collaboration between University College London, University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh, University of Salford and is funded by the UK Research Council’s Digital Economy Program.
The basis of TOTeM’s work is to create “spimes”, objects that can be tracked through space and time throughout their lifetime. For example, I have a casement clock that belonged to my maternal grandparents. It’s a very ordinary clock with a nice chime, probably not worth very much, but to me and my family it is a part of our history. During the second world war it hung under the stairs in my grandparents home, until the night of the air raid. A bomb fell in the street outside their house. My mother, aunt and grandparents were, thankfully, unhurt, having taken refuge in their sunken air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden. My mother, now 80 years old, remembers as a child scrambling over the debris of what had been their house and as she did, the clock, which was hanging on the one remaining wall, struck 6am!
Over the years the clock has hung in various homes until it succumbed to a weapon far more lethal than a Nazi bomb - teenagers! A game of “let’s be silly and throw a tennis ball indoors” led to one of the glass panels breaking and the pendulum being damaged. (It is now awaiting a clock repairer to fix it) If you saw the clock hanging there, it would just be a nice casement clock, a bit old fashioned, but pleasant to adorn a wall in many a home. Imagine being able to know the story behind it, the history of the clock, what it survived, who owned it, etc.
One of TOTeM’s first projects was to record and tell the stories of items in a Scottish museum. Not only to tell their stories, but to develop them too, but inviting the public to share their own experiences of these objects, by adding to it. People can share how they used similar items in their home, work, etc, or interesting stories about the item, etc.
“So what’s this got to do with fundraising?”You may be asking? Well, TOTeM has started to work in partnership with Oxfam. In a pilot scheme currently running in Manchester, Oxfam are asking donors of goods to about 15 shops to download a free iPhone app, “ShelfLife”, to record the stories behind items that people are going to donate. The items are then displayed in their shops with a unique QR Code attached to the label of each item. Shoppers can then use their smart phone to scan the QR code and see what the story is behind the article.
So far, they are reporting large rises in the sale of the ShelfLife labeled items, compared to those that are not labeled. It would appear that the art of fundraising by sharing human interest stories applies just as much to inanimate objects as it does to people! Also, the ShelfLife items are realising higher resale prices than non-labeled goods. So a provenance can be good for business, even in the charity shop world!
OK, Oxfam is huge, has lots of highly skilled staff and budgets to experiment with. But what about the local hospices and other small charities? Can they get onboard with this?
My resounding response is “Yes!” there may be a small outlay, but I’m talking £100-£150 and a bit of time and training. What would you need to get started?
A donor comes in with an interesting item and is asked if they would like to share a bit about it. The item is photographed and the story recorded (it doesn’t have to be typed, it could be an audio recording using the Audioboo app, or even videoed using a phone or the camera). These are then uploaded to the blog or website. A QR Code is then made of the blog page and then printed off onto a sticker or tie on label and affixed to the item in the shop. Voila!
Virtually no techie knowledge is needed, more just the confidence to use the Internet and a computer, as well as a digital camera and/or smart phone. Maybe a national umbrella body like Help the Hospices could get someone to develop an app like ShelfLife that hospices throughout the land could use, or a commercial developer create one for independent charity shops?
If you wish to discuss how I could help you set up a scheme like this, or maybe you’re a museum, historic property or cathedral and want to see how you could develop something to share more about your exhibits and artefacts, please get in touch with me.
Here’s a wonderful blog comment from Iain Macdonald, the Diocesan Youth Adviser for Oxford Diocese with regards to the proposed cuts I’ve covered in my blog piece below.
For his New Year 2012 message, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned against hostility towards young people. He focussed on their needs and on the work being done by charities and the Church to support and encourage young people today.
Jump forward a week and it is announced that the General Synod Board of Education of the Church of England is proposing to cut the two national adviser posts for children’s work and youth work to one joint post.
Now call me cynical if you like, but doesn’t that smack of an institution that, despite numerous nods and winks over the past twenty-odd years to the importance and place of children & young people in the Church, really couldn’t give a toss? (I acknowledge that lower down the structure, many dioceses do invest in this work, but the message from the top is a very negative one.)
Certainly at the national level there has been a constant erosion of resources and staff since the 1980s in the Board of Education. I know, because for several years I sat as a member of one of it’s sub-committees, overseeing children’s, youth and adult education. Time after time we had to fight to keep officer posts, although not always with success, to the point where now there are just two people supporting 42 diocese, all the diocesan advisers and liaising across the board with the Government and it’s departments, voluntary sector bodies and charities, etc.
The proposal shows a clear lack of understanding of the two separate natures of children’s and youth work. The idea that one person can be an expert in both of these fields reveals not only ignorance by the wider Church, but also very poor professional understanding by those at the top of the organisation responsible for advising the Board of Education about its policy decisions.
At a time when the Church and voluntary sector needs to be investing in developing work in areas such as children and young people, to make up for the devastating cuts by the Government and local authorities in these areas, we see yet another “business rationale” (as the document is headed). Business rationale shouts “financial cuts” to me, not something constructive related to professional and theological practice and driven by a desire to say “We value our children’s and youth work and want to see it grow through investment in and encouragement to our existing staff.”
The rationale document is an insipid document. It contains no factual evidence for or against the proposals, just some rather slight comments about some of the department’s work being completed successfully and other bits not being completed. It talks about “some activities require specialist skills that the Division does not have within the existing permanent staff and therefore consideration is being given to creating a more effective staffing structure that is better able to deliver these priorities.”
So, let’s get this straight. You have two national advisers working their butts off to keep up with all the demands put upon them. They are also working in an ever changing environment, where new skills might be required as well. The existing work continues apace, but there are some gaps that the existing staff are unable to fill, because they’re children’s work and youth work experts. In most organisations you’d recognise the gaps and bring in experts in those particular fields, to work alongside the existing staff and provide the needed skills to plug the gaps. Job done!
Now take the Church of England’s Board of Education. You put two people’s jobs at risk. Reduce two full time, demanding posts to one. Ignore the specialist nature of each adviser’s post and meld them into one post and use the money saved to bring in temporary consultants “to provide short term consultancies to deliver specific aspects of the work…They would not form part of the permanent requirement of the Division.”
The biggest laugh (if that’s not the right term, please forgive me) is that these people then think that the new joint advisor is not only going to continue to do two demanding full time posts in one, but they are also going to oversee the growth and development of the work with children and young people! (I’ve seen more logic in a Brian Rix farce than this!)
I withdrew my membership of the CofE some years ago, following my own redundancy as a giving adviser in a diocese that still is struggling not to go into liquidation. (I went on to a very successful career in fundraising where I raised over £10m in six years!) I failed to understand their logic (or lack of it) then & still do. I did eventually drift back in, but sit very uncomfortably within it.
I wonder what the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reaction will be to this proposal, especially after making such a high profile appeal to support young people?
If the Church of England is serious about its work with children and young people, let’s see them prove it and instead of making the usual response of cut and slash when faced with things that might require building up further, make a real investment in the staff they already employ and in extra support to enable them to be even more effective!
My new Serentwitterpy website goes live!
I got this really encouraging Facebook message from a Curate, Claire Maxim, whose parish is providing a service to older members of the local community to come to grips with PCs, the Internet and social media:
One of our Readers started Silver Surfers - aimed at people who have been presented with laptops, and are scred still of them - she knew a couple of retired people who’ve spent a lifetime working in computing, so got them to come and “teach”, plus a few of us who help out from time to time. We already had wireless and broadband, although we’ve had to increase our download limits a bit - especially when we taught them how to find iPlayer and 4OD etc!
We aim to get them able to use the internet for the stuff they are interested in (and have done some “shopping” classes for them), get them able to use email, and best of all, Skype - we’ve got folk chatting to great-grandchildren in Australia which is just fantastic.
Although we run the group in church, it isn’t an overtly “Christian” group - we run it as a resource for the community. Started with one morning a week, now two sessions because so many were interested, and it has become more of a “group” with everyone helping everyone else. It has given the odd overtly Christian pastoral opportunity too.
They have their own website - http://www.nbss.org.uk/
I have to take task with the statement by Sir Brian Souter this week with regards to the question of the law changing to allow gay marriages to take place.
During an interview with The Sunday Times Sir Brian said:
“We are arguing here about what kind of society we want to live in.
“Are we going to be in a Babylonian-Greek type of society, where sex is primarily a recreational activity, or are we going to stick with the Judeo-Christian tradition, where procreation is something that we want to put within a marriage context?
“These two different philosophies are beginning to emerge and quite honestly the issue about gay relationships is a small side-product from that discussion.”
Now I may be wrong, but I thought the whole point about gay marriages was not about recreational sex, but about two people who love each other sufficiently that they want to make a public commitment of fidelity to that other person?
It seems to me that Sir Brian is getting his Babylonian/Greek/Judeo/Christian cultures wrongly used in this argument. If it’s about recreational sex v fidelity, then this applies to heterosexual couples just as much as gay couples.
Marriage is marriage. It’s about relationships, commitment, love, selflessness. And if within that solemn undertaking couples enjoy having sex without the intention of creating children, then that’s great. (Even hetersexual couples who do have children enjoy having sex for just the damn fun of having sex!)
Yes, I accept that part of the basis of the religious Judeo/Christian marriage is for the procreation of children, but that implies that anyone of any sexual orientation who knowingly gets married whilst being aware they cannot – for whatever reason – have children, should not really be allowed to marry. So a heterosexual couple who know that they can’t have kids would fall foul of Sir Brian’s argument too, if they want to marry.
I think Sir Brian needs to revisit his argument, or stick to running drama clubs or buses (whichever Stagecoach he made his £ millions at)!