- Prodigal -

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Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Nothing much to say today. Feeling a bit weary. I've really got nothing to say, so I'll leave it to others far better qualified to speak than me. Anyway, I did manage to read a couple of short interviews and an article from One Small Barking Dog's site. All were very good, and were a refreshing read for me.

An interview with Mike Riddell.. Oh, and by the way I hear from a good source that he's hoping to publish his Doctoral thesis on NZ Poet/Writer/Wandering Sage, James K. Baxter, sometime in 2003.
An interview with Sally Morgenthaler.
You'll find a good interview with Jonny Baker if you haven't read it.
A really insightful article by Mike Riddell - People of the Spirit? . I mined some "deep stuff" out of it for Sunday's 'monologue' which I need to try and make a bit more interactive.

Oh yeah, for you 'muso's' an interview with Caleb Quaye and an article, Indigenous Worship

Paul Fromont 7/30/2002 12:32:00 PM
Monday, July 29, 2002
Our first worship / reflective 'gathering' within the concept name / frame of SPACE was on Sunday evening (see my post of 21 July, 2002). 10 people showed up - all people from our existing fellowship. The content for space was derived from John 4:1-41 / The Woman at the Well. Slide Images of paintings by Duccio di Buoninesegna, Lavinia Fontana, and Moretto (thanks to Mark Pierson for the loan of the slides and for the theme, which he used at Cityside a few months ago) were projected onto a large white sheet hung from the ceiling. The place where we met is a converted house which worked well. Confession and an opportunity to let go the things that were disconnecting us from God and others. Lot's of candles. Video Loops. The dramatic reading of Scripture by different voices. Communion.

The part which most touched me was the video loop, "The Heavens" which we used (taken from OSBD's video, "Images for Worship, pt. 3"). Wonderful shots of earth from space, sunsets, constellations etc. We don't have a lot of 'light pollution' in Cambridge, so have wonderful views of the stars most nights. Stars, the expanse of the night sky - the moon - earth seen from space, have always produced in me both a sense of awe and of my smallness - my createdness - and an awareness of God's BIGNESS. The God of Genesis 1, and 2. and Psalm 19 which has always been special to me. It's to easy in my world to get the proportions wrong, instead thinking big thoughts about me, and little about God. (As I write, I'm thinking of things AW. Tozer, and JI. Packer have written on the subject).

Then last night, in the Spiritual formation group we go to, Brian who leads / facilitates it read a passage from James Houston's book, "The Transforming Friendship" which I've had on my book shelves for a long-time but never fully read. Now I'm going to, and I need to write a book review on it. Anyway, the quote was this (from pg. 216 h/c edition):

"...When our lives are focused on God, awe and wonder lead us to worship God, filling our inner being with a fulness we would never have thought possible. Awe is fundamental to all human beings of whatever religious (or non-religious) persuasion. Awe has been recognised as the starting-point in the human quest for religion. Awe encourages us to think of God as a transcendent presence: someone outside and beyond our own small concerns and our own vulnerable lives. Awe opens up the possibility of living always on the brink of mystery. Awe helps us to be truly alive, fully open to new possibilities we had not envisaged before. Above all, the life of the trinity, fills us with awe, praise and worship..."

My pastoral reflection with regards to the future of SPACE - "There will always be a tendency for this type of gathering to become another form of entertainment - people showing up with the expectation of a 'show' rather than using it as holy space, space within which to be touched and moved by God - space and content to help nourish formation and growth, and to encourage individual responsibility for personal growth and formation. The fact that it is monthly, the risk that it asks for no commitment from anyone, is likely to discourage interpersonal connection and community. Are any of these concerns relevant, or my problem for that matter...?" I need to think and pray it through. Just a different perspective. I'm usually the one showing up to something which someone else has prepared and is curating..

Paul Fromont 7/29/2002 12:47:00 PM
Saturday, July 27, 2002
Kathryn and I, plus Bevan and Vicki, watched the movie K-PAX (starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges) last night. We really enjoyed it. Wonderfully redemptive with some very thought provoking comments which have application to how we live our lives - how "eyes wide open" we are in all of life. The movie, SMOKE, starring Harvey Keitel is another one which has a very strong emphasis on the need to live life, and to pay attention to the small stuff, the detail of life.

Paul Fromont 7/27/2002 01:42:00 PM
Seeking God (from Rule for a New Brother, DLT, pub. 1973, pp.3-4)

This passage was really important to me (part of my story), and in fact, continues to be an important reminder in my heavily "do-it-yourself," pragmatic Western culture:

"...Brother, you want to seek God with all your life, and love him with all your heart. But you would be wrong if you thought that you could reach Him. Your arms are too short, your eyes are too dim, your heart and understanding too small.

To seek God means first of all to let yourself be found by Him. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is...your God, not because He is yours but because you are His.

To choose God is to realise that you are known and loved in a way surpassing anything we can imagine, loved before anyone had thought of you or spoken your name...

As so, don't talk too much about God but live in the certainty that He has written your name on the palm of his hand. Live your human task in the liberating certainty that nothing in this world can separate you from God's love for you..."

Paul Fromont 7/27/2002 01:34:00 PM
Friday, July 26, 2002
Interesting NZ book which I purchased last week. Titled, "Ground/Work:The Art of Pauline Rhodes" by Christina Barton (including essays by Geoff Park and Sarah Treadwell). Published 2002 by Victoria University Press

"Pauline Rhodes has pursued one of the most dedicated and innovative courses in recent New Zealand art.

But she is an artist who does not make permanent objects, who refuses to treat her images as final products, who works only in temporary modes and often outside the normal contexts for viewing.

Ground/Work is the first book to document her extraordinary body of work, from her earliest gallery project in 1977 to her major outdoor installation in Hagley Park, Christchurch, in 2000. It explores how Rhodes draws on and engages with materials, processes and places, in a profound, ongoing meditation on the nature of being, here and now. It makes the artist's work accessible to a wider public, and secures her a central place in art history.

Christina Barton provides insights into the artist's working methods and locates her within the wider contexts of contemporary art both locally and internationally. Additional essays by ecologist and historian Geoff Park, and architectural theorist Sarah Treadwell, consider Rhodes in light of their respective disciplines."

"For more than 25 years, Pauline Rhodes has been making her work: collecting, arranging, installing, photographing and dismantling an array of materials, in gallery spaces and out of doors"

Great cover, and full of excellent photographs of her installations. For me, it broadens my understanding of the ways in which 'installations' work in our church contexts whilst at the same time illustrating the ways in which we can connect 'art' with the wider comunities of which we are a part.

Paul Fromont 7/26/2002 04:13:00 PM
I've been re-reading, and re-connecting with one of New Zealand's most important poet's - James K. Baxter - an incredibly interesting and important 'actor' on the stage of our unfolding New Zealand story. Anyway, one of my biggest struggles is starting to write on a blank page - I need something to 'spark' me - something to get me going. I was reading Baxter yesterday, "The Flowering Cross," and in his introduction he writes, "...I have never been able to write a poem or a play or a story or an article simply from cold; there has had to be some prior movement, however obscure, of insight or intuition..." That's a big relief!

"...These sense experiences become symbolic by a process of 'natural contemplation' upon 'the testament of sand and the parables of rock - those very humble, very obscure communications from nature'. As he wrote in an early poem to his parents, 'For me all earth is symbol'. These symbols coalesce into myth as the poet intuitively discovers 'a sacred pattern in natural events', a 'pattern which lies, unknown, like the bones of St Peter under the surface rubble of events'. The artist in his 'double vision . . . expresses through an artistic medium, at one and the same time, selected portions of objective reality and a subjective pattern which these are able to signify..."

Baxter / Lawrence Jones - The Mythology of Place

Paul Fromont 7/26/2002 01:50:00 PM
Have been listening to some Greenbelt (UK, 1994) tapes of Mike Riddell and Graham Cray (thanks for the loan Mark). I never cease to marvel at the people I encounter on my journey, and the people I discover along the way. “I call you friends…” (Jn. 15:15). Some will I pray become close and very present companions & pilgrims on the journey. Others will remain distant friends. In 1994, I wouldn’t have even known who Mike or Graham were, now, I find myself profoundly influenced by, and appreciative of their ‘delayed’ input into my attempts to ‘stretch’ into a more intentional Christ-following life. These people, both distant and close, help me lean into the wind of the Spirit. I love the story of John Muir that Eugene Peterson uses in his introduction to the “Growing Deeper” series of books, of which his wonderful little book, “The Wisdom of Each Other: A Conversation Between Spiritual Friends” is included.

“In the last day of the 19th century, John Muir was our [‘American’] most intrepid and worshipful explorer of the western extremities of our North American continent…One December day a storm moved in from the Pacific – a fierce storm that bent the junipers and the pines, the mandrona and fir trees as if they were so many blades of grass…We can easily imagine Muir [in a friends cabin] wrapped in sheepskins, safe and secure in his tightly caulked cabin, a fire blazing against the cruel assault of the elements, [however] our imaginations would betray us, for Muir instead of retreating into the coziness of the cabin...strode out of the cabin into the storm, climbed a high ridge, picked a giant Douglas fir as the best perch for experiencing the kaleidoscope of colour and sound, scent and motion, scrambled his way to the top, and rode out the storm, lashed by the wind, holding on for dear life, relishing weather: taking it in – in its rich sensuality, its primal energy…”

Why do I love the story? Because it reminds me of the preciousness and the importance of ‘entering into,’ and the celebration of life. It reminds me that despite my tendency to side with the cosy and the secure, the Christ-following life is an ‘edge-lived’ life – a life of simple (but oh so hard, for me anyway) trust. It reminds me also of those, who unlike me, have no choice as the live, buffeted by the ‘storms’ of violence; injustice; poverty; ill-health; aloneness; fear; systemic, political and religious evil etc. It’s all too easy for me to romanticise the life of ‘faith’ – the adventure of the journey, and forget that I am outside of the pain and the barriers that make a Christ-following life a laughable option for so many…

Paul Fromont 7/26/2002 01:28:00 PM
Thursday, July 25, 2002
The "Commonwealth Games" have just started in Manchester, England. Hope that the "commonwealth" countries (Canada and NZ) represented by those amongst my "global" voices do well...but not as well as NZ :-)

Just one little observation from the opening 'spectacular'. Its been wonderful to see such a diversity of human person's represented out in the center of the stadium - people with "Down's Syndrome"; male; female; young, old, the physically disabled, brown skin, white etc. I've never quite noticed what I've seen this morning...often my sense has been that we've only included what we consider to be 'whole' or 'ideal' representatives of what it means to be "human" and "created in the image" of God. Anyone who's read Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen, and their experiences at L'Arche will appreciate the richness of humanity that's mediated to us through those we have a tendency to consider 'less' human - and less representative of God and his character.

Paul Fromont 7/25/2002 01:18:00 PM
"…The church is drowning in a sea of words. It would be good to rediscover the richness of ritual and symbolic actions, where mystery is not massacred in an avalanche of explanations…"

Mike Riddell

“…I know only enough of God to want to worship him, by any means at hand.
There is an anomalous specificity to all our experience in space, a scandal of particularity, by which God burgeons up or showers down into the shabbiest of occasions, and leaves his creation’s dealings with him in the hands of purblind and clumsy amateurs…”

Annie Dillard

"...Churches need to offer more space where people can draw breath without demanding a big commitment..."

Rowan Williams (27/05/02)

Paul Fromont 7/25/2002 11:15:00 AM
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
A quote which Mark Pierson included in an e-mail I received yesterday...used in the context of talking about "alt-church" and our need to exist and live at the edge of chaos

"...In the prologue to his novel, 'The Lost World' Michael Crichton has a scientist delivering a speech about evolution..."

"...complex systems seem to strike a balance between the need for order and the imperative to change. Complex systems tend to locate the edge of chaos as a place where there is enough innovation to keep a living system vibrant and enough stability to keep it from collapsing into anarchy. It is a zone of conflict and upheaval, where the old and the new are constantly at war. Finding the balance point must be a delicate matter - if a living system drifts too close, it risks falling over into incoherence and dissolution; but if the system moves too far away from the edge, it becomes rigid, frozen, totalitarian. Both conditions lead to extinction. Too much change is as destructive as too little. Only at the edge of chaos can complex systems flourish..."

Paul Fromont 7/24/2002 04:23:00 AM
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
A really thought provoking article by Aussie Paul Mitchell, entitled, "Experience the new god". For many, adventure travel and other ‘reality’ experiences fill the need for a sense of the numinous. Published by the Zadok Institute for Christianity and Society in their Australian publication, Zadok Perspectives

Paul Fromont 7/23/2002 02:49:00 AM
"Love God, and do what you want..."

St. Augustine.

Paul Fromont 7/23/2002 02:43:00 AM
Monday, July 22, 2002
Was introduced to a lovely story in Brother Ramon's book, "The Flame of Sacred Love" (pp. 68-70). I won't go into the whole story, but it was about an encounter between Brother Ramon (who was hitchhiking from Swansea to Cardiff) and a young man who offered him a ride in his van. The story recounts their conversation which starts with the young man asking Ramon whay his job was...

Anyway the story concludes with this paragraph from Ramon - something I'd love to be able to say at the end of my life:

"...One of the great joys of my life has been simply to meet people where they are, take up the sources of wonder, creativity and compassion and human loving in their lives, and thereby help them to acknowledge that 'something is going on', and that if they will be open and receptive, then they will be drawn into a profounder interpretation of their human experience..."

Paul Fromont 7/22/2002 12:31:00 PM
Sunday, July 21, 2002
I love this quote from John Janzen's site. Also, buy his CD, "Think Again". It has some really thoughtful and beautiful tracks on it. My favorite, "Take Me Away" - I don't know why, but I think of "Song of Songs" when I hear it, especially the chorus...

"The dominant institution of Celtic Christianity was neither the parish church nor the cathedral, but the monastery… a combination of commune, retreat house, mission station, hotel, hospital, school, university, arts centre and power-house for the local community - a source not only of spiritual energy but also of hospitality, learning and cultural enlightenment."

(Ian Bradley - The Celtic Way, DLT, pub. 1993, with subsequent reprints)

I would hazard that this was a significant feature of some European Monasticism as well. I'm thinking of the "preaching monks" and the great Bendictine and Cistercian monastic communities.

As Ian say's in the introduction to his book, "Celtic Christianity [and I'd add 'European Monasticsm'] does seem to speak with almost uncanny relevance to many of the concerns of our present age. It was enironment-friendly [see Jordon Cooper's 'blog' July 20 / also, it'd be good if Steve Taylor could hobble together a few lines on Graceway's perspective on the environment and worship], embracing positive attitudes to nature and constantly celebrating the goodness of God's creation. It was non-hierarchical and non-sexist, eschewing the rule of diocesan bishops and a rigid parish structure in favor of a loose federation of monastic communities which included married as well as celebate clergy, and were often presided over by women..."

(Ian Bradley - The Celtic Way, DLT, pub. 1993, with subsequent reprints)

Paul Fromont 7/21/2002 12:40:00 PM
I came across the following over the weekend, in a little Australasian book, "Ministry in an Urban World: Responding to the City" (ed. Tim Costello), pub. 1991.

Ten Commandments for the Urban Missionary

(1) Thou shalt NOT be perfect, nor try to be.
(2) Thou shalt NOT try to be all things to all people.
(3) Though shalt leave things undone somethimes that ought to be done.
(4) Though shalt NOT spread thyself too thin.
(5) Though shalt learn to say NO.
(6) Thou shalt schedule time for thyself, and thy supportive network.
(7) Thou shalt switch off, do nothing regularly.
(8) Thou shalt be boring, untidy, inelegant and unattractive at times.
(9) Thou shalt NOT even feel guilty.
(10) Especially, thou shalt NOT be thine own worst enemy, but thy best friend.

(source unknown)

Paul Fromont 7/21/2002 12:04:00 PM
A 2001 address by Graham Cray, entitled, "Christian Communication Between the Generations"

His concluding paragraph, headed, "THIS IS THE FUTURE! HOW SHOULD THE CHURCH RESPOND?"

"...Communication skills are necessary but not enough. It will not do to sit outside this culture and try to communicate into it. We have to be willing to immerse ourselves in it. As David Lyon says ‘Religious life in postmodern times demands not only to be understood differently, but also to be lived differently.’ What is needed is an incarnational approach to culture and therefore to the form of the church – multidimensional but with a simplicity. Tex Sample makes this challenge ‘The issue is not relevance as far as the Church is concerned. The issue is Incarnation. When so called "traditional" churches are out of touch with the people who live around them, the problem is not that they are irrelevant, but that they are not incarnational.’ He rightly points out the need to be counter cultural, particularly to consumerism as an ideology. But counter cultural from the inside, not from outside. God in Christ entered our context. Christian mission requires us to do the same. Faithfulness to Christ combines incarnation with costly obedience. ‘The call here is for a church that will "imitate" Christ to pitch tent, to embody itself, to take form in the indigenous practices of our time, not for the purpose of accommodation, but to be God’s people. It is a twofold effort: To join the practices of an electronic culture, on the one hand, and to keep faith with the story of Christ, on the other..."

Paul Fromont 7/21/2002 12:13:00 AM
Saturday, July 20, 2002
A good summary of Kiwi Alan Jamieson's book, "A Churchless Faith" for those of you who haven't heard of it or read it. Also, the Bible College of New Zealand's "Reality Magazine" Alan's article, "A Churchless Faith". While we're in "Reality", I found this reflection on Discipleship by Brian Hathaway (Principal of NZBC) very useful.

Paul Fromont 7/20/2002 06:25:00 PM
A couple of us a starting a new experiment or journey next Sunday evening. It'll be monthly. An alternative experiment in worship called SPACE. Here's the 'framework"; the 'superstructure' within which we worship, pray, reflect, create, etc. What do you think? Please pray for us, as we plant a 'seedling' and see what God does...

I'm also thinking of creating a monthly 'ritual' - somthing to frame and encourage the creation of content and response. Part of my thinking is also to create something that will have a familiarity about it, but the content will change each week. A solid 'frame' but a moving picture...what do you think?

SPACE results from an invitation to draw aside, for a moment, from the hectic activity of life. It’s about the creation of sacred space - holy ground - qualitative time opened up to the possibility of encountering and being moved by God: God most fully revealed in Jesus Christ, and present by his Spirit, through Word, language, music, image, silence, action, and symbol. These gatherings are about the ‘framing’ of space within which to relax, to create, to listen, to dream, to reflect, to pray, and to be replenished and renewed in both the presence of ‘God-who-is-with-us,’ and of each other.

We encourage and welcome your participation to the degree that you are comfortable. Equally, and importantly, you are free to simply watch and listen. This is your space.

Finally, this space is a new ‘frontier’ - an exploration. It’s fluid, experimental, and therefore able to be changed and adjusted. What happens and doesn’t happen will be the result of where God leads, and what each of us allows it to be and to become.


Paul Fromont 7/20/2002 02:20:00 PM
Annie Dillard and Wendell Berry always remind me of the importance of “place”, “soil,” and an eye for the ordinary. The small details, the landscape and geography of the ‘everyday’. The connection of persons to place and to one another.

Berry writes, “…A human community, then, if it is to last long, must exert a sort of centripetal force, holding local soil and local memory in place. Practically speaking, human society has no work more important than this. Once we have acknowledged this principle, we can only be alarmed at the extent to which it has been ignored…”

Berry and Dillard remind us, as church, of the importance of where we are, and the formative influence of local ‘soil’ - the ‘material’ with which we both work, and the specific or “local” practices that sustain both our identity and our connectedness to “place” and to one another. They encourage us to have our eyes wide open, to, as Kevin Rains writes: “…the ordinary, the small…the little.” Or, as Eugene Peterson says, the “extraordinary ordinary.” We stumble across the supernatural in the small things, the unnoticed, the broken, and the weak. Everything becomes material for the kingdom. Everything and everyone is honored, loved, and cherished. Dillard, Berry, Peterson, and Rains are allies – voices I need to hear often. Voices that remind me to pay attention to what is at hand, to love place and person’s – the ‘soil’ – “the material substance in which all the Spirit’s work takes place” (Eugene Peterson) – the ordinary, the hurting, the despised, the rejected, the cynical, the apathetic, those who would rather be spectators than participants. All are, in the unfolding drama of God, the soil and the substance; the place and persons in whom and through whom God is working.

I close this post with the words of Peterson again. Modified, and changed to first person singular. My confession and a prayer.

“ Why do I often treat my fellow wayfarers with the impatience and violence of developers building a shopping mall, or a housing subdivision, instead of the patient devotion of a farmer cultivating a field? I’m assigned to care for, cherish, and love those whom God has chosen to connect me to. To gently cultivate planting’s of the Lord, not brashly develop religious shopping malls…these people are 'topsoil', seething with energy and the potentialities of life, capable of assimilating death and participating in resurrection…I need help not to plan for the supernatural yet to come but in acquiring an appreciation for the supernatural, the little, the not noticed that is present…” Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy. Grant me patience. Use lonliness, lack of connection, rejection and disappointments to draw me more closely to you. Open my eyes and soften my heart.

Paul Fromont 7/20/2002 03:51:00 AM
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Aside from reading [and actually needing to read it] Kevin Rains’ post of Wednesday 17th a couple of other things in particular caught my attention today.

Was reading, in preparation for an August sermon, some material about Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022). Symeon was an aristocrat who abandoned his political career and entered a monastery in Constantinople. In his autobiographical account’s he tells how his spiritual life had been careless and sporadic, but God, through the prayers of a kind old monk who had become his spiritual father, seized him violently one day with the first of a series of visions of the divine light. Now this was the bit that really connected with me…He went on for the rest of his life to insist that Christianity can only be ‘caught’ from living saints (like one candle flame lighting another), not found in books. I like both the image of candles and the thought of an older and wiser spiritual friend (“father”) sharing my journey with me, praying for me, teaching me, and mentoring me.

“Saints are persons who make it easier for others to believe in God…” I pray that I do.

The following statement really made me think. Whilst Europe and North America are specifically mentioned, I include myself in the indictment by virtue of my living in the “West” – “…Christian mission to Europe and North America is a matter of urgent necessity because it is these countries that do the most harm to humanity and nature as a whole; exercise more power for good or evil; call themselves Christian and hence are more damaging to the witness of the gospel; and more dehumanised, more alienated from the values of the kingdom, and more difficult to convert…” (Tissa Balasuriya, a Sri Lankan Theologian).

Paul Fromont 7/18/2002 03:29:00 AM
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
More on "couches" or "sofa's" (thanks for the link Jonny). Full credit to Steve Collins for getting it down in words, and for the oh so 'tastey' picture of a couch or is it a sofa.......mmmmmm. Oh yeah. Check Steve's e-column out at "Small Fire" - it's a monthly highlight for me.

Paul Fromont 7/16/2002 12:26:00 PM
In the West today, “… too many Christian’s…do not want the Bible to interfere with their Christianity…”

Brother Andrew

Reflecting further on time spent listening to Roy McCloughry yesterday evening, particularly his response to a question, something like this, “how do we take the bible seriously, and work out its practical implications for the ways in which we live and interact with the transitional or post-modern (or post-post-modern) world of which we are a part…?” I’m also thinking of the useful reflections on Scripture that Stephen Shields posted on Monday July 15 (Tuesday July 16 if you live in NZ).

I touched on this topic in a recent ‘post’ (5th July), but in the course of my most recent reflection I re-read an article by Graham Redding (a Presbyterian Minister in Wellington, NZ), entitled, “Letting the Bible Speak”. I also thought of two of Richard Hays’ very useful articles, “The Scripture Shaped Community”, and “Salvation by Trust: Reading the Bible Faithfully”. All three articles continue to inform and shape the ways in which I ‘wrestle’ with and ‘listen’ to Scripture today. The communal, dynamic, ‘interpretive’ dimension continues to be a longed-for, but yet to be realised hope in my future. Read Eugene Peterson, “Kittle among the Coffee Cups” in “Subversive Spirituality “ for one example of how this “communal” dimension could be worked out.

I guess, implicit for me in this kind of a question, is “how can we faithfully hear, interpret, and live out of the scriptural ‘story’ in a culture in which we have been “anaesthetised” by a nutrient-absent diet of mental, spiritual, and psychological “junk-food” all designed to ‘feed’ a perspective of life which is inimical to seeing life from God’s perspective…? There seems, based upon my New Zealand experience, a very real danger that, in practice, the genre rich content of the Christian bible (particularly the first testament, wisdom literature, and the gospel’s) will continue to become peripheral to the ways in which we live our lives, the choices we make, and the ‘values’ we hold too. There is a very real possibility that we will inhabit the ‘fringes’ as a ‘lifeless’, ‘voiceless’ people whose lives and ‘stories’ lack credibility and plausibility in a post-Christian culture – an incredibly significant reality for me in New Zealand.

McCloughry told a wonderful story, an ancient story, about a small, very tightly knit community whose communal identity and life was powerfully informed and shaped by the passing down of ‘meta’ and ‘micro’ stories from generation to generation. Now one day, someone from the community asked for permission to carve the stories in rock, so that people could read them, unmediated by the community. The community reflected on, and discussed this request before finally saying “no” for they believed that in writing down the stories they would lose their sense of ‘communion’ because people would no longer need to gather together to hear the stories which had been had been passed down to them, and out of which they saw themselves and their world. Out of which they lived in that world….

I wonder if this story hold’s some relevance to the question I started with, and my hope that one-day we would again recover authentically faithful ‘identity-shaping,’ ‘praxis-informing,’ creative practices for the communal reading, interpretation of, interaction with, and response to Scripture, such that were to again serve on the fringes as God’s “counter-cultural” alternative to a way of living which denies his claim over all of creation, and the deep significance of the life, death, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus Christ.

Redding concludes his article with this paragraph:

“In conclusion, I am not convinced that the Bible can speak directly to our western culture, any more than it can speak in an unmediated fashion to any culture. Just as a book on quantum physics is dependent upon, and requires the mediating function of the community of scholarship of which it is part, so the Bible is dependent upon, and requires the mediating function of the community of interpretation which the Spirit has called into being and which we call the Church. Biblical interpretation is a community process grounded in the unique world-view, the distinct memories, and the particular set of practices that constitute life in the Kingdom of God. The clue to letting the Bible speak to the West, therefore, is to be found in the area of ecclesiology.”

I couldn’t agree more and I’m still wrestling with what that ecclesiology might look like.

Paul Fromont 7/16/2002 11:42:00 AM
I hope looking at this is not as bad as it looks on my work computer...all the colours look washed out....

Also, Tom Wright's new Romans commentary has been published for those of you who appreciate good commentaries. It's quite expensive, and it's a pity it's not a single volume hardcover, rather than a part of a multi-author commentary...very brief information also on Abingdon's site.

Paul Fromont 7/16/2002 02:49:00 AM
Monday, July 15, 2002
“…A human being’s highest achievement is to let God be able to help him [/ her]…”

Soren Kierkegaard

So, James Houston starts the introduction to his new book, ‘The Mentored Life’ – a book that Eugene Peterson describes as “…easily the finest book you will read on the mentoring life…”

Houston has always been a quiet but significant influence on my formation…

He keeps me focussed on what is of lasting significance. He continues to remind me that “persons depend on other persons to be persons”. He reminds me of the importance of being deeply ‘connected’ to both the “Head” and the “Body”. He reminds me of my need for significant others through whom God can help me and form me in the midst of all of life –

“Ecologists remind us that a tree planted in a clearing of an old forest will grow more successfully than [it would if] planted in isolation in an open field. The roots of the new planting will follow more easily and more deeply the hidden pathways of old root systems. Likewise, human beings thrive best in following the pathways of life already taken by others before them. None of us needs to reinvent the wheel or live as if no one has preceded us in the pathways of the wise. We learn best and grow most fully…when we learn and develop socially; for beyond our horizons there are those who have seen beyond us or have anticipated challenges and obstacles we may not have encountered on life’s journey.”

Father, grant us the company of those who will share our journey’s; who will befriend us and love us; who will wisely guide us, and serve as ‘instruments’ through whom God would mature us, refine us, and shape us. Grant us the company of those who will listen to our lives, teach us to pray, to worship you in Spirit and in Truth, and to discern your presence and activity in all of life. Finally, grant us the company of those who would patiently continue to call us back to the basics – the practices of a ‘Christ-following’ and glorifying life. Amen

Paul Fromont 7/15/2002 12:24:00 PM
This evening I attended a creatively named and encouraging lecture given by Roy McCloughry [English writer, researcher, and broadcaster on Christian perspectives on social issues including technology, economics], entitled "Prayer, Magic and Technology: how we sometimes get them confused" He didn't really have 'one' theme but integrated comment on prayer in a technological culture ("there is a real danger that prayer becomes 'technological prayer'; prayer as a means of control, prayer as a means of achieving results, of placing ourselves at the centre and God at the periphery...") with comment on postmodernity, ethics, the importance of, and the need for a recovery of wisdom [as distinct from 'knowledge', 'information', and 'data']

The most memorable statement I thought he made...was a statement he read by Jacques Ellul (1912-1994):

"...The problem now is that we find ourselves a part of this competition for doing...[for achieving, and it has disastrous consequences for our prayer life]...prayer has long been understood as a means of attaining results...prayer has been presented to us as having power over everything which God has power over, demons, sickness, other people, nature. [Prayer becomes a means of coercion and power, and when this happens] we no longer seek through prayer, a conformity with God's will, which makes our speech more true, hence efficacious. We [pray] rather to achieve direct results without bothering about truth or the special will of God, or even with our own obedience..."

Other interesting statements:

"Wisdom is the output of long memory..."

In a recent interview with German theologian Hans Kung, McCloughry asked him, "How do we convert a post-modern generation?" Kung's reply was three words,"you live it..."

"Prayer is conversation. God wants us to live in conversation with him, and out of that conversation to live our lives..."

It was a thought-provoking evening, an 'interactive' evening not done justice by my scratching...the only shame was that more people didn't make the effort to show up. It struck me that people like Roy help us understand what it means to be a missionary people in all of life; how to be "credible and plausible" (thanks Brian McLaren); how to help connect the experience of the gathered life on Sunday with all of life, and all the issues of life...people like Roy, Tom Sine, William Stringfellow and many others, perhaps even "you" help us break out of the 'Christian Ghetto" where it seems more important to be doing everything else, but engage with our culture, wrestle with how the gospel speaks to those outside of those same "ghetto's"; to really pray "thy will be done through me"; to build relationships; to live subversively according to the Kingdon 'agenda'; to be creative etc. It takes effort and hard work to bridge the gaps; it takes knowledge; it takes wisdom. I praise God for those of you who're 'out there' 'doing the stuff' ; bringing the gospel to bear on all of life, and committing yourselves to obediently following Christ. You are powerful examples of the "good news" being given flesh in meaningful, life-connecting ways.

Paul Fromont 7/15/2002 03:46:00 AM
Sunday, July 14, 2002
The great thing about blogging is how it creates 'futures' - in this case, a post by Jason on June 8 alerted me to a new Eugene Peterson interview in Vineyard's Cutting Edge - the Spring 2002 (or Autumn/Winter 2002, depending on where in the world you live) edition. Naturally enough, the 'future' this news created for me was a cup of strong black coffee, a fire, and my sitting down to read my 'hard copy' soon! However, it's a long way down to here, and I still haven't seen it, but now gratefully (because the fire's blazing away, but Milo will have to suffice in place of coffee - a bit late for a 'cafe noir') the kind people at Vineyard have posted it online, and hopefully the hard copy will arrive one day...so if you're like me, here's the link to "The Un-busy Pastor: Redefining a Life Well-Lived" - Jeff Bailey, interviewer. Thanks Jeff, you did what I'd love to do...

Bye. I'm off to find my seat beside the fire!

Paul Fromont 7/14/2002 02:16:00 AM
A telephone call this afternoon, and more importantly my reaction to it, reminded me again why I warm to the central thesis of Graham Tomlin's book, The Provocative Church.

Tomlin writes, "...we need 'provocative' churches which raise the question asked by the onlookers in Acts 2:12: 'What does all this mean?' Only when people have seen something in church or Christian life that is provocative or attractive, will they be intriguted enough to want to know what's going on." .

The telephone call was an "Amway" type sales person - a supposed 'friend' - who now decides to use friendship to PUSH his products and services. You hear nothing from them...and then out of the 'blue' a telephone call to 'sell' me on a deal too good to miss...but I am going to 'miss' it, because I feel used, and I'm not in the slightest bit interested!

Now, I can think of a number of Christian's for whom this 'modus operandi' is how they 'evangelise', but if how I feel is anything to go by, I'm going to be significantly 'turned-off' to the gospel, and am going to create a lot of distance between myself and this person. I wonder how many people will have became similarly hardened to the gospel because of having their friendships with others crudely exploited?

Contrast this with the response of those who observed the birth of the Christ-following church, "What can all this mean...?" In other words, what they were seeing and experiencing "provoked" a response - it created an 'interest' and a desire to find out more...

I can only begin to imagine, and pray for a "different kind of Christian" or church that would so powerfully 'give flesh' to the significance of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and glorification, that the person on the phone would be someone ringing that "Christian" to find out more...the great reversal! 'On-lookers' would actually see and feel what cruciform "love" was; would see and feel what "joy" was; would see and feel what hospitality to strangers was - because they would be welcomed with outstretched hands; would see and feel and be deeply touched by Christ-following lives....

Time and time again, throughout the NT I don't see a perfect church - far from it - but I do see church that provoked the kinds of questions, thought, and responses, that in turn led to 'life-turning' encounters with the risen and glorified Jesus Christ...

May I never exploit friends in an attempt to 'peddle' something as precious as the gospel. Rather might I love them, even to the laying down of my life for theirs...and "yes" might I be able to clearly and lovingly give words to the "good news" if asked...by one provoked by 'incarnation' and Spirit....

Paul Fromont 7/14/2002 12:13:00 AM
Thursday, July 11, 2002
We're off to Auckland later today to catch up with friends and to watch the All Blacks beat the Australian Wallabies - Rugby! for those of you for whom those names mean nothing. It's a game being played in Christchurch, so it'll have to be the TV...

A "found prayer"....


by Wilfred L. Winget

O Mighty, Holy Breath of God

On this glorious Day of Resurrection

Blow open all the shutters of our minds
bursting the barriers of
prejudice and pride
insensitivity and sloth
ignorance and fear
stretching wide our vision of
what you are doing
where you are working
in our fascinating
exasperating world.

Blow wide the doors of our hearts
impelling us outward to
the lonely and loveless
the angry and hopeless
the empty and faithless
as ready instruments
of your Grace.

Blow up our lungs to keep us shouting
Yes to Faith in the face of fear
Yes to Hope in defiance of despair
Yes to Love in spite of apathy
Yes to Life in the teeth of death

Through Christ, the Living One,
Our Lord.

Paul Fromont 7/11/2002 12:24:00 PM
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
I agree with what Alan (10th July) is saying - borrowing from Todd Hunter / Gordon Cosby, I use the expression "inner journey." Practices of prayer (in all of it's forms), contemplation etc. hold a great deal of importance for me. The point, for me being, that the "outer journey" and the journey with others is 'grounded' on my triune relationship or 'union' with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. "Thanks for having nothing to say, Alan"

Kathryn and I are about to start a 16 week, very practical, spiritual formation course through the Bible College of New Zealand. I'm really looking forward to it: (a) because I'll be doing it with my beloved, (b) because it's an important part of my longing to become more like Jesus - to follow him, and to learn from him, and (c) because I'll be a small 'high touch' group. Also and equallu importantly, we're going to do it because some good friends, Andrew and Ingrid invited us to do...

I decided that 2002 was the year for me to get serious about my response to God's call. I've chosen to express it in this way:

"...I want to be becoming progressively more like Jesus, and to be increasingly doing what Jesus said to do. I want every domension of my life to have the necessary space, freedom, support, and stimulus tp enable me to assess and revise the way I live, such that I'm able to lovingly, faithfully, and obediently follow through on my response to God's call that I follow Jesus..."

"Yes" Aelred is a great guide to learning about spiritual friendship...and I'm looking forward to continuing my journey with him later today...Cistercian Publications has a copy of this book, plus many others on nurturing and developing the life of prayer...

Paul Fromont 7/10/2002 12:32:00 PM
Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Jason - You're so right. Thanks for sharing about Peter (I find what they're doing both inspiring and scary.)

Paul Fromont 7/09/2002 02:25:00 AM
The July 2002 edition of "Seven Magazine" is out. An article by Mike Riddell called, "a church in trouble", and one by Thomas Hohstadt (whom I hadn't heard of before. Loved the article) called, "Where We're Going: The Digital Future". Thanks "sevenmagazine" - I'm liking reading what you're writing...

Paul Fromont 7/09/2002 01:48:00 AM
Monday, July 08, 2002
An amended quote from Todd Hunter - Tape 13 of the "Kingdom Living Conference". Almost to the end:

"...[my dream is...that we would become] the kind of people who naturally, easily, and routinely announce, embody, and demonstrate the [presence, and effect-ive reality] of the Kingdom of God..."

Paul Fromont 7/08/2002 11:55:00 PM
Sunday, July 07, 2002
Sunday at church was an experiment...experimenting with ways of teaching, other than a monologue from the front. Two of us decided to place an old couch at the front, to brew some coffee, and have a conversation about work. I borrowed the concept of a couch from Andrew Jones' article "Bubbles, Couches and Pancakes" and we projected the following comments, written by him, onto the screen behind us. This was intended to 'set the scene' for our conversation, and hopefully modelled what we'd like to see a lot more of amongst our 'community':

"Couches are a primary symbol of how we are doing church in the postmodern era. They symbolize community, hospitality, sharing and collaboration. Couches are the place where important things happen to ordinary people. Evangelism happens on couches, where a group of people hang together and discuss things that really matter. Counselling happens on couches. Not during an appointed time in a professional's office. But on a couch, in the safe nest of a caring community. Study happens on couches. Messages and artforms emerging from the couch are more likely to have the input of many voices, the collaboration of many viewpoints, the wisdom of many counselors. Mission happens on couches."

The questions we loosely based our conversation on were the following...we tryed to make it as natural a conversation as we could (rather than an interview).

Jesus: Relevant Monday through Friday? A Conversation.

Introductory Comments

“…Many people would argue that most of Jesus’ engagement with people was in the form of dialogue arising from [questions], debates, discussions, with religious experts, his disciples and those he met on his travels. Their questions and issues formed the basis for his response…” ( Statement made in “The Strengths and Weaknesses of Preaching as an Effective Method of Evangelism Today” by Drew France.)

I think these kinds of informal, ‘two-way’ conversations or discussions are the medium that we most naturally find ourselves in, both in the workplace, and on the “couch” as we interact with one another."

Mike Riddell – “…When the heart is captivated by Christ, then all of existence [and that includes “work”] becomes a resource for growing in depth and understanding. For Christians, spirituality is nothing other than participation in the life of God; and God is available at all times and places…”


1. What do you do for a living, and how would you describe you role, and the kinds of things that you do during a typical week…? Why are you doing what you’re doing…?

2. What do you value the most in your work? What makes you feel satisfied? How well do you think the things you value, and find satisfaction in, align with Jesus’ values?

3. How does your faith manifest itself Monday through Friday? How do you think you could better connect what for many is two distinct spheres of their lives – their Christian faith, and their work…?

4. Have you had any experiences of openly sharing your faith in your workplace? Is that the ultimate ‘bench-mark’ for someone in the workplace – their being able to “share their faith” and ‘leading’ someone to Christ? How about other examples of the way your faith has been tangibly demonstrated, to the point where others have noticed it…?

5. Do you think that God would be satisfied if you went through your working career, and never once saw one of your workmates sufficiently impacted by Christ in you that they chose to become a Christian? What would he be satisfied with?

6. How might you begin to define, from a biblical perspective, what it is that you are called to be and do in your workplace…? How well do you think you’re doing in practice…? What is the central ‘motif’ or biblical themes that help you connect your Christian faith to the practices and activities of your workplace…?

7. How do you see your work connecting with God’s work…?

8. How would you see the various activities, of which you are involved in in the workplace, as being a response to the call to follow Christ…?

9. As a Christian, what are some of the assumptions or ‘things’ that you would want to challenge or change, both in your workplace, and in terms of our understanding of “work”…?

10. How can the church better support you as a Christian who works? How can they help you better connect your faith to the experiences of your workplace, of career etc.?

It seemed to work well. Time will tell...............

Paul Fromont 7/07/2002 12:12:00 PM
Saturday, July 06, 2002
Kathryn and I watched the video called "Finding Forrester" (starring Sean Connery, Rob Brown, and kiwi Anna Paquin) - a wonderful parable of friendship. It moved me, which is always an indication of a story that has some depth and meaning to it.

Paul Fromont 7/06/2002 01:49:00 PM
Friday, July 05, 2002
Have a read of Amber Bishop's 'post' of Friday, July 05. She's onto something...

Paul Fromont 7/05/2002 11:05:00 PM
Gerard Kelly has written a fascinating book, called "Get a Grip on the Future" (US edition published by IVP and called, "RetroFuture: Rediscovering our Roots, Recharting our Roots"). Tom Sine commends the book, "...Provocative...A brilliant analysis of the landscape of tomorrow..." Gerard also has a website: "Future-Leader" which has posted on it some really useful articles on leadership.

The Future - the last great missionary journey...by Gerard Kelly. Published 1999.

Tsar Wars: New Models of Leadership by Gerard Kelly (chapter 15, from Retrofuture) published in NEXT-WAVE.

Paul Fromont 7/05/2002 05:44:00 PM
An interesting column in Christianity Today about Robert Bellah (most well known for his book, "Habits of the Heart") - Prophetic Habits of a Sociologist's Heart - by John Stackhouse (teaching at Regent College in Vancouver). Bellah has some thoughtful comments to make on the "church," particularly from an American perspective...

Paul Fromont 7/05/2002 02:59:00 PM
Stephen. I really enjoyed Minority Report. I went to see it last night. Here's a couple of reviews I haven't seen anyone post.

(1) Minority Report - a Review by Rahne Tayor (Mars Hill) - Thrills, Predestination, and Mary Shelley - I love this guy's review's. The first guy I turn too.

(2) Minority Report - Review by Sarah Barnett (Anglican Media, Sydney)

Also, see my post of 5th June for an article about the movie in Wired Magazine.

Paul Fromont 7/05/2002 12:40:00 PM
Sorry in advance. This is going to be a long ‘post’. You might want to do what I do for long ‘post’s’ that grab my attention, and therefore make me want to read them. Copy it onto WORD, and print it off. Alternatively, just ignore it, as I always consider my audience to be one person – “me”. If anyone else reads it and finds it useful, that’s a bonus.

One of the themes that’s been ‘rolling around’ in the context of my reading and thinking this week, has been the relationship between the Bible, and our experience of living and ‘mission’ (the use of ‘and’ isn’t there to encourage dualism – mission is ‘part and parcel’ of living). How do we hold these two ‘realities’ in tension: the reality of the biblical world and its context, and the reality of our experiences in our historical, social, spatial, chronological contexts. Or, to put it another way, the tension between theology (sorry, there’s that word again) and my/our experience.

I see this as a very practical issue – how we ‘move’ relative to the biblical text and our post-Christian, Western context. “Do I start with my experience, what I want to do, and then seek to connect it with scripture?”, or “do I start with Scripture, its context and its impulse, and then allow my experience and ‘doing’ to be shaped by my ‘wrestling’ and ‘working’ with scripture in my context?”

Here’s what Chris Sugden has written:

“Mission is the mother of theology…It is not the case that the Bible and the creeds give us the theology that we go out and apply. It is the case that as a result of the impulse of scripture we go into situations, experience the activity of God in those situations, and then come back to scripture, with new questions to put to scripture and new focussed challenges from the scripture to the situation…”

I guess for many it’s not all that significant a question, but reading Tom Wright, reminded me of just how important it is to get the context of particular biblical texts/letters etc. right - to bring the right questions to the text, and then to begin to interact with the ways in which the historical biblical/textual issues might speak into, ‘frame,’ or give particular shape and meaning to our context(s).

I didn’t post the link to Tom’s lecture, “Charles Gore, Coming Home to of Saint Paul? Reading Romans a Hundred Years after Charles Gore” on July 1 because I thought the subject matter might be too obscure, and that the title would turn everyone “off”!

However, in my reading it, I realised that the intention of “Romans” (on which the lecture focuses), and it’s context, profoundly influences how I ‘work it out.’ Paul’s letter to the Romans is such a powerful and important letter for my 21st century, western context. I love it.

It reminded me that if we don’t understand, and allow ourselves to be ‘grasped’ by its context, choices of language, image etc. we miss seeing “Romans” as an incredibly significant letter with which to ‘frame’ our hopes for, and experience of: mission, church, community, worship, social engagement etc. I never want to hear another sermon on “justification by faith,” or for that matter, any chapter/pericope in Romans, unless it’s put into the context of Paul’s mission to Spain, and it challenges us, as church, in our call to be a missionary people on a 24/7 basis.

How often does our practice of church, and our structures for church, have absolutely no connection to God and his purposes…? “Romans” provides a much-needed ‘corrective’ to a lot of our concepts of evangelism and mission; to our understanding of what it means to be ‘church,’ and to how we live as God’s people at this ‘juncture’ of history.

Wright opens “Romans” in particular, and “Paul” in general, in ways that I need to hear over and over again if in fact I’m going to take the grand sweep of scripture seriously, and take my role in the continuation of God’s unfolding purposes. I need to continuously move from scripture, out into my context, and then back again to Scripture. I need the ‘framing’ of scripture to keep me both faithful, and creative. I need others to encourage me in my practice of faithfulness and creativity; in my living as a follower and apprentice of Jesus Christ; and in reminding me over and over again of the majesty and grandeur of God’s continuing to be unfolded drama.

Thanks Tom for the mental encouragement, and for writing in a way that inspires me, and allows scripture to touch my heart afresh.

Finally, as I write this, I’m thinking of Steve Taylor’s recent post’s about his experience with his daughter. They allowed themselves to be moved by the impulse of scripture, to creatively and lovingly work it out in their context, and then to come back to scripture with a new appreciation of the word having been given flesh. What will have more impact on his daughter – a sermon on the subject, or their reading and listening together to scripture, and then their doing it…?

Notice the “movement”…

Paul Fromont 7/05/2002 12:06:00 PM
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
Hey, just had an idea, prior to departing for the 'oriface' (a.k.a "office"). Wouldn't it be cool is on set dates/times, groups of us could get a lot more interactive and utilise ICQ for global conversations in real time. I'm thinking of my global and kiwi voices (Kevin, Alan, Jason, John, Steve, Rachel, Stephen, Jordon, Mike, and Jonny)...I'm not sure how many 'voices' we can host simultaneously, but I've done "NZ-France-Australia" at the same time...wouldn't that be cool (or not...). I know not everyone will be interested, but even clusters of 4 would be good. Set a date, a time (I'd even be prepared to get up during the night, e.g. very early on a Saturday morning to fit in with you's 'guys' in the Northern Hemisphere ), and a topic, to get us going...set a time limit, e.g. 1 hour....

What do you think.....?

My ICQ no. is listed at the bottom of "my voice."

Paul Fromont 7/03/2002 01:56:00 PM
I loved the response to a question made by Jonny Baker in his interview with "the Dog." (see below). He says it so much more eloquently than me. Also looking forward to his new book to be published next January...buy lot's of them...(an the publisher might send me a 'complimentary copy' - joking :-)), but seriously, buy lot's of copies...be agents of change in an emerging church in an emerging world....

Let's let Jonny speak:

The book "...'Alternative Worship' is a collection of meditations, rituals, and prayers from various alternative worship groups. I'm doing this jointly with Doug Gay and it will be in the same format as the Prodigal Project published with SPCK with a CDrom that will have still images, video loops, written pieces, mp3s, animations and so on. It's wonderful. This will be out in January 2003. As two spin offs from it on Proost we are releasing a new CD in Jan 2003 of new songs for alternative worship..."

Here's his final statement

"I want to see a church that is mission focused, able to take risks, faithful to the gospel, full of grace, is generous, shares with the poor, laughs a lot, doesn't care about making money, is creative and loves God and the world. I'd like to be surprised more! I still feel that we need our imagination renewed about pretty much everything - how we do mission, church, worship. It's so easy to do the expected thing, the thing that's always been done. But because the culture's changed so much this just won't do any more."

Paul Fromont 7/03/2002 12:01:00 PM
Got a great little note yesterday from Stephen Shields. Isn't it more often than not, a blessing to hear from some realy wonderful people...? Stephen and I are grouped, together with others - "blog roomies you could say" on Jordon's website. Anyway, I sent back a note, but hadn't realised, until later in the day that Stephen had written a really useful article which I read some time ago as part of trying to write a Spiritual Formation course, "Christian discipleship in Postmodernity:Toward a praxis of spiritual friendship". Thanks for the article Stephen.

It' a thoughtful read, on a subject that's really dear to my heart (see 30th June). Great books I've read on this subject and spiritual direction: Holy Invitations by Jeannette A. Bakke; The Transforming Friendship (a.ka. "The Transforming Power of Prayer") by James M. Houston; Soul Keeping by Howard Baker; Friendship: The Key to Spiritual Growth by John Crossin; Spiritual Friendship by Wendy Miller; Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David Benner; Exploring Spiritual Direction by Alan Jones; Wasting Time with God: A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God by Klaus Issler; The Wisdom of Each Other by Eugene Peterson; Working the Angles by Eugene Peterson; Finding a Spiritual Friend by Timothy Jones; Spiritual Mentoring by Keith R. Anderson and Randy D. Reese; and finally (you say...) "yes" I've started reading Aelred's classic "Spiritual Friendship" (you'll need to search their catalogue), which I'd also put in the aforementioned list.

Happy reading.

Paul Fromont 7/03/2002 11:50:00 AM
Up to tape 11, side A of the "Kingdom Living Conference" The statement that stuck with me today was Dallas Willard quoting Oswald Sanders, who said:

"The primary obstacle to devotion to Christ is service for Christ..."

My hearing it echoed, for me, the comments on busyness and Eugene Peterson's statement which I posted on the 8th June. Often it is all to easy to be about 'doing' for God, to the detriment of relationship with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...how much easier is it to involve ourselves in the organising, and building of 'church' whilst in the very process, ignoring the Lord whose church it is...

This is true of me. It's so much easier to read another book, prepare another sermon, than to be still in the presence of God...

Paul Fromont 7/03/2002 03:08:00 AM
Finally caught up with the July 1 edition of TIME magazine - cover story, "The Bible and the Apocalypse," "Terror fears and a best-selling fiction series fuel new interest in a real Doomsday." Essentially it's about Tim LaHaye and his books.

An interesting read, but I still stand on the side of Tom Sine, as outlined in his article in Sojourner Magazine (Sept - Oct, 2001), "Who Is Tim LaHaye?"

Paul Fromont 7/03/2002 01:07:00 AM
I purchased a copy of Aussie James Thwaites latest book, "Negotiating the Church Contract: The Death and Life of the 21st Century Church." (search via author)

Paul Fromont 7/03/2002 01:03:00 AM
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
TIME AND AGAIN (Today's reflection from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity)

"But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him... he went to him." (Luke 10:33,34)

How do you manage your time?

This morning I drove half a mile to the dentist, because I hadn't the time to walk. I'm glad it's raining, because I haven't the time to water the plants. As I got a credit card out at the petrol station, I caught a glimpse of my National Trust card, which I haven't used in a year, because I haven't the time. And if I'm really honest I have to admit that a rather unhappy friend told me she was going to phone tonight, so I put the answer-phone on, because I hadn't the time.
He put the man on his own donkey, and took care of him.

This morning, before going to work, I rushed through this parable from Luke and was struck quite violently by the picture of this man, the Good Samaritan, stopping by the wayside, to help someone. How would I cope with the sudden need of a stranger that required me to stop going where I was going, cancel what I was doing, and spend as much time as it takes, to help them - properly help them. I was struck, neither by the definition of a neighbour as 'anyone anywhere', nor by the force of the reversal of roles so that the confident and superior has to accept help from the despised and inferior, but that he took the time to help. The priest didn't stop, the Levite didn't stop, but the Samaritan did. He interrupted his journey, helped him, took him to be cared for in the inn, and said he would come back - no quick fix, no excuses - he took the time to be a neighbour. Of course, he also gave money, used his resources of wine and oil, but above all, he took the time.

Unless I change the way I use my time, there will come a reckoning and deep regret. Lord, give me discernment, so that I can see how to live with better time keeping.

By Margaret Killingray

I needed this reflection. Unwise use of time, and busyness still have far to significant a hold over my life...how busy do we really need to be to work justly and fairly for our employee's. How would Jesus deal with busyness...? What about in the workplace...assuming he worked in the context of a 21st century workplace...?

Paul Fromont 7/02/2002 12:55:00 PM
Monday, July 01, 2002
Also, read an interesting quote by Graham Cray from a new book by Graham Tomlin, called "The Provocative Church" - the title of which grabbed my attention - "The basic theme of Life in the Kingdom of God is that we need 'provocative' churches which raise the question asked by the onlookers in Acts 2:12: 'What does all this mean?' Only when people have seen something in church or Christian life that is provocative or attractive, will they be intriguted enough to want to know what's going on."

Has anyone read the book? Can you recommend it...?

Here's the Tomlin quote that Cray uses

"The crucial factor in persuading someone to believe is not to present evidence, but first to awaken a desire for God in them."

Graham Cray was linking his quote with the importance of living Christianly - "...In a post Christendom world, where we no longer share a committment to the Jesus story [even in our churches by those who profess to be Christian's - my addition] with many of the population, we will primarily do that through the way we live. We will either live Christianly, or fail in our efforts to be missionary..."

A Christian community which lives as an obedient, distinctive, Christ-following people should provoke a response one way or the other!

Paul Fromont 7/01/2002 11:55:00 PM
An 'old' (1996) but interesting article by Stanley Hauerwas called, "Preaching As Though We Had Enemies" from First Things.

Paul Fromont 7/01/2002 11:43:00 PM
Up to tape 9 of Willard and Hunter's "Kingdom Living Conference". I've been really struck by Dallas' insights into passages of Scripture...you mistakenly think that after reading lots of commentaries, or hearing sermons etc. that you understand most of the nuances of a particular passage, but suprise, suprise, someone like Willard continues to 'mine' wonderful insights from it. I feel a bit like that having listened to Tom Wright on quite a few occasions, and again, it reminds me of the importance of teaching Scripture well...which is often the 'rub'.

I liked how Willard described the "already but not yet" aspect of God's Kingdom:

"...The Kingdom is present, but other kingdoms are here also...the church is not the Kingdom of God, rather it is one of the effects of the presence of God's Kingdom..."

Paul Fromont 7/01/2002 12:05:00 PM
I also enjoyed these YFC (England) addresses. Thanks to rbromley.org.uk for making them available to person's like me at the furtherest reaches of the globe.

1) Ecclesiology in a Theology of Mission and the Practice of Youth Ministry by Tim Evans (pdf. file / April 2001).
2) The Strengths and Weaknesses of Preaching as an Effective Method of Evangelism Today by Drew France (pdf.file)
3) The Gospel within Modernity and Postmodernity by Richard Bromley

Really good articles with lots to reflect on and think about.

Paul Fromont 7/01/2002 12:56:00 AM
For those not put off by "theology" here's two thought provoking papers/addresses by NT. ('Tom') Wright, one of the most significant shapers of my thinking about all things "biblical," and I think a very significant contributer to what Brian McLaren terms, "The Resurrection of Theology as Art & Science - stop thinking of theology as a matter of technical training, in which answers are already known, and rejuvenate theology through a quest for truth and beauty." (from, "The Church on the Other Side")

1) The Shape of Justification.
2) Paul's Gospel and Caesar's Empire

Paul Fromont 7/01/2002 12:27:00 AM

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