Growth in discipleship #3

I want to try and answer my own question from the last post in this sequence: “do we provide a context within which people can enter in all sorts of different ways?”

Four different ‘shapes’ – and recognising that we are all a blend of them: active experimentation (‘doing’); concrete experience (‘feeling’); reflective observation (‘watching’ – actually I think ‘imagining’ is better); and abstract conceptualisation (‘thinking’). Let’s call them earth, water, fire and air ;o) And of course – and essentially – they all feed into each other.

So what we’d need, to have a healthy environment within which people can grow as disciples, are places where:
– we can get on with the ‘doing’, eg serving the community – classic example: soup kitchen;
– we can get on with the ‘feeling’, eg pastoral care – classic example: home visiting;
– we can get on with the ‘imagining’, eg creative arts and liturgy – classic example: the eucharistic liturgy; and
– we can get on with the ‘thinking’, eg doing theology – classic example: bible study.

The questions, therefore, are: do these characterisations work to sum up how people can get involved in the faith (these are the different paths by which people can come in – have we covered all the bases?); and – and here’s the kicker – what do we have in place by which people can do this?

Here on Mersea, my initial thought is that we are pretty healthy (tho’ not perfect!!) on the latter three, but there’s quite a gap with the first.

The moral character of beauty

A question asked by RevSimmy in the comments: “the equation of the aesthetic and the moral – i.e. beautiful art/music has a moral effect. Do we agree? Why (/not)?”

I would say: yes, I have no doubt that beauty has an effect on character, partly from watching this programme recently (and I’ve purchased the book, but haven’t read it yet).

Of course, this is a complicated proposal. I happen to think that the Weeping Woman of Picasso is also tremendously beneficial to character – but I’m not sure I would count it as beautiful, even though I could (and have) spent ages contemplating it.

I feel on stronger ground when thinking about architecture – I think the living environment affects how we live, both directly and indirectly.

And of course music….

What do people think?

Scruton’s programme is available on Youtube, part 1 here:

The original plan was…

Had to dig out the original ‘parish profile’ for the Mersea benefice – all sorts of fascinating stuff in it – but included was my original application to the clergy appointments adviser when I was looking for a job somewhere.

Question on form: “What is the meaning of your ministry and where do you think God is calling you in the future? In other words, ‘What are you realistically looking for?'”

My answer:
“I would say that the centre of my vocation is ‘the ministry of word and sacrament’ – hackneyed, but true nonetheless. I believe that I have particular gifts in the sphere of teaching and writing, structured by a strong academic training but rooted deeply in orthodox Anglican Christianity, seeking to express itself through following the teaching and example of the Christian mystics. My orientation is towards the church and cloister, not the academy.

“I seek for these gifts to bear fruit in a Eucharistic community: where I can talk the talk, walk the walk, and, by God’s grace, kneel the kneel also. My most fundamental motivations are pastoral, and I view Eucharistic ministry as the opposite side of that pastoral coin – they are one thing, viewed from different sides. I am competent at public liturgy and practical administration, and I would wish to develop my potential in these spheres. I am less good at ‘Youth Ministry’ – partly from my deafness, partly from temperament, partly from doubt as to its validity. I am also not the best at polishing practical details or at tying up loose ends and finishing jobs.

“I conclude that I need the following: a Eucharistic community, in which I can exercise my priestly ministry. A balance of life between different elements of public engagement, pastoral ministry and private prayer. The ability to develop as a contemplative and teacher of the faith. A chance to put down roots and cultivate ‘stabilitas’. The possibility of training as a spiritual director in due course. Such a combination might be found in various different guises and I have no determined sense about what shape it will take. My ideal would be a small parish of my own on the East coast. I am sure that God will make his intentions clear to me at the appropriate moment.”

Not sure I’d say much different today.


Some links:
Matthew Burrows (Jon Evens – are you familiar with him?)

How much coal is left? Not a lot. More than we think. Both stories from The Oil Drum, probably the best energy blog on the planet.

Why free online lectures will destroy universities.

A throwback look to my favourite film (Magnolia).

Bishops urged to take up social media. Perhaps one will become as good as Sarah Palin.

The crisis of the American intellectual.

And finally, here is something (“Disinviting Islam”) which I need to emphasise that I don’t fully agree with, but the response will take some time to flesh out – and will be on my other blog.

Film notes

Cemetery Junction 3/5 Sweet
Where the Truth Lies 4/5 Oddly fascinating (not as good as Sweet Hereafter)
Enter the Dragon 3/5 reliving my adolescent Bruce Lee fandom
Fantastic Mr Fox 4/5 cleverly done
Diary of the Dead 5/5 owned this for about 18 months but put off watching it as I had very low expectations after the reviews, but thought it was great – can now see where Walking Dead got some of their ideas from (unless both were from the original graphic novel). Romero on form – but, obviously, for fans only.
Nine 2.5/5 Turned this off after half an hour. All the tinsel and none of the tree.
A Perfect Getaway 3.5/5 Surprisingly watchable. Also surprised to see some genuine acting skill from Milla Jovovich – I’m used to her Resident Evil persona, so nice to see her being human.

One Artist meme

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, answer these questions. Be as clever as you can. You can’t use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think…

Pick your Artist: Martyn Joseph

Describe yourself: Liberal Backslider

How do you feel: I have come to sing

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Vegas

Your favourite form of transportation: Walk down the mountain

Your best friend is a: Gift to me

You and your best friends are: Contradictions

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: Whoever it was that brought me here will have to take me home

What is life to you: This fragile world

Your current relationship: My love, my life

Your fear: Nobody loves you anymore

What is the best advice you have to give: Kiss the world beautiful

I would like to die: Carried in sunlight

Time of day: Let’s talk about it in the morning

My motto: Yet still this will not be

Cruel leniency

“Words of admonition and reproach must be risked when a lapse from God’s Word in doctrine of life endangers a community that lives together, and with it the whole community of faith. Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than that severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.”
(Bonhoeffer, Life Together)

Something I’m pondering.

What I really think about the student fees controversy

“In the temple of science are many mansions, and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them thither. Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, the assemblage would be seriously depleted, but there would still be some men, of both present and past times, left inside…

I am quite aware that we have just now lightheartedly expelled in imagination many excellent men who are largely, perhaps chiefly, responsible for the buildings of the temple of science; and in many cases our angel would find it a pretty ticklish job to decide. But of one thing I feel sure: if the types we have just expelled were the only types there were, the temple would never have come to be, any more than a forest can grow which consists of nothing but creepers. For these people any sphere of human activity will do, if it comes to a point; whether they become engineers, officers, tradesmen, or scientists depends on circumstances. Now let us have another look at those who have found favor with the angel. Most of them are somewhat odd, uncommunicative, solitary fellows, really less like each other, in spite of these common characteristics, than the hosts of the rejected. What has brought them to the temple? That is a difficult question and no single answer will cover it. To begin with, I believe with Schopenhauer that one of the strongest motives that leads men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from personal life into the world of objective perception and thought; this desire may be compared with the townsman’s irresistible longing to escape from his noisy, cramped surroundings into the silence of high mountains, where the eye ranges freely through the still, pure air and fondly traces out the restful contours apparently built for eternity…

The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshiper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart….”

(Albert Einstein, here)