- Prodigal -

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling we shall not cease from exploration... (T.S. Eliot)
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Friday, January 31, 2003

Here's the second of our three aims:

"...Movies as parables become the means through which we feel our humanity. They touch and move us when so much in the world diminishes our capacity to feel and be touched by others lives and life experience. Movies become a means whereby we can be moved by the joy, pain, tragedy, drama and laughter of our own lives. Movies, broadly speaking, connect with the whole range of God-gifted human emotions. They’re especially good at surprising us, getting in under our defenses so that in the process of watching them, of entering into their stories, we are more fully able to enter into the breadth, depth, and height of what it means to be a human created in the image of God...

Paul Fromont 1/31/2003 11:06:00 AM
Thursday, January 30, 2003
A couple of us are organising monthly movie nights for fellow wayfarers in our church community. We've called it PARABLES . 2 nights per month, starting in February. The first night we'll watch the movie and a week later we'll meet to talk about it - the way it connects with the gospel; our humanity etc. Movie review from places like Hollywood Jesus, the Film Forum, and Culture@Home will help provide and informed 'frame' around our discussion (without constraining it). It's built around three major aims, the first of which is below. It will only be for 6 months. Depending on interest we may do another 6 months next year. The movies are: The Matrix; Forest Gump; The Last Temptation of Christ (Our Easter reflection); Cocoon; American Beauty; and The Spitfire Grill.

If anyone wants to do something similar in NZ, let me know and I can advise you on copyright issues.

"Movies become, in God’s hands, parables! Challenging us to pay attention, to see and to pray, to see meaning and significance where we might otherwise not have noticed any. They become a means through which God forms us, through which God draws a response from us, a resolution to live or relate differently. A response to actively resist that which we discover diminishes and lessens our ability to truly see and reach out to the ‘other,’ be it a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, the damaged and the victim. They become in God’s hands a means of motivating us to actively resist that that hardens us against both the ‘other’ and the presence of grace in the circumstances of life within which we find ourselves."

Paul Fromont 1/30/2003 11:15:00 PM
I liked this paragraph in Brian McLaren’s book, “The Church on the Other Side” (pg. 172). Read in conjunction with a scriptural passage like, 1 Cor 13:9-10 "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears..." (NIV) I think it provides a useful framework for reinforcing our interdependency even in our diversity; for reinforcing the importance of our talking and sharing with one-another, and importantly, our need to deeply and graciously listen to one another – our insights, wisdom, and experiences of life in the global “Body of Christ.” This is especially necessary when we hold so much in common which is precious by virtue of the Cross, and God’s grace.

“…I believe that Christianity is true, but I do not believe that my version (or yours, for that matter) of the Faith is completely true. In other words, I believe that all versions, [traditions, denominations] are incomplete [representations] in some ways, weighed down with extra baggage, and marred by impurities, biases, misconceptions, [the weight of poorly understood historical cultural contexts & influences], and gaps…we know in part and have not yet reached that unity of maturity of faith and knowledge that will come…”

Paul Fromont 1/30/2003 12:29:00 AM
Sunday, January 26, 2003
Rachel called in this morning on her way back to Auckland. Great to see her. Kathryn and I love it when people feel comfortable enough just to drop in an take us as we are...anyway, our conversation over coffee ranged widely, but one issue is something I want to reflect on and perhaps explore more deeply in an essay or something - the high priority we (Protestant West) place on evangelism and our evangelistic methodology...at a very supercial level I think we put too much emphasis on evangelism; our approach to evangelism is incredibly programmed; our understanding of "conversion" is very narrow; and I think we're very manipulative. I don't think we take the incarnation seriously. I think we find it easier follow a programe than to genuinely, transparently, and cruciformly love. I think we put God in a box, and that deep down we don't really trust God; that he actually draws people in diverse ways and though diverse experiences to Christ, despite ourselves, and our taking upon ourselves a roles we deep down don't think God can do...now let me be explicit, I'm not talking about quietism, and I'm not talking about not talking about our faith, BUT I am talking about taking "incarnation" seriously; about really living out the realities and implications of the Gospel, something my friend James Ferrenberg drew my attention to when he quoted Anthony Bloom recently:

"...And when Christ says 'those who love me will keep my commandments' He does not say that 'if you love me you will go from one emotion into another, one state of rapture into another, one theological vision to another,' He just says 'If you believe my words, then live up to what you have received..."

I'd also want to reflect something of what Philip Yancey has written:

"...We sometimes use the term "savior complex" to describe an unhealthy syndrome of obsession about curing others' problems. [Jesus], however, seemed remarkably free of such a complex. He had no compulsion to convert the entire world in his lifetime or to cure people who were not ready to be cured..."

I want to advocate and at some point write about 'incarnational mission'; I want to reflect more deeply on the implications of passages like Acts 2:41. I want to reflect on St. Francis of Assisi : "I preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words." I think we're missing the point......I think we're too brash, to narrow, to aggressive, to unloving, and altogether too un-Christlike.....a gross generalisation I know...for every 100 that reflect something of what I'm lamenting, there will be one or two people quietly and unconditionally entering into the pain of others, and bearing in their flesh the love of God, and the hope of the Gospel....

Paul Fromont 1/26/2003 03:36:00 PM
Friday, January 24, 2003
An interesting variation within the Episcopal tradition - St Gregory Of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco. Featured in the November 20 - December 3, 2002 issue of Christian Century. They do things a little differently. And an article, "Practical Postmodernism for Parishes."

Paul Fromont 1/24/2003 11:49:00 AM
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Churchgoers as tourists?

Kiwi, Mike Grimshaw (Canterbury University, New Zealand), in an essay that I’m reading at the moment, Tourist, Traveller, or Exile: Redefining the Theological Endeavour, describes the representative of popular religious piety/praxis in terms of their being “tourists” (an expression, not necessarily used or inferred in the same way by the likes of Pete Ward, and Gerard Kelly in his interesting little book called Humanifesto written in the style of a travel guide). No doubt, quite a provocative way of talking about many Christians and their experience of church.

The authentic Christian experience is typically a constructed and mediated one – most commonly the Sunday morning experience! "The “tourist” seeks an authentic ‘travel’ experience by a ceremonial and spiritual holiday away from the mundane concerns and claims of their everyday, real world by participating in a service of worship" [implication – an experience disconnected from their ‘everyday’, ‘real’ world]…

As such, the clergy are primarily tour guides who weekly shepherd the tourists through a spiritual quick-stop tour, a greatest hits/snapshot/souvenir/tick-the-boxes experience that contains enough difference and content to hopefully excite, yet enough support and comfort so as not to upset.” In this the aim is not an ‘everything-included-in- the-price’, package, for that would undermine the tour operators aim of continued patronage. Rather it is deliberately incomplete with just enough to perk sufficient interest in repeat visits.

The “tourist,” as distinct from the “traveller” (orthodox theologian) and “explorer (modernist [and most likely ‘Postmodern’] theologian),” is the unthinking, religious amateur, with insufficient willingness or motivation to be anything other than one who is “guided” and has everything laid-on for them. One quite content with the superficial and the mediated; one who will not stray off the tourist bus, or beyond the most prominent sites in the tourist guide. The “tourist” is more than comfortable with “the security of pure cliché.” The tourist relies absolutely and unquestionably on the tourist guide. Theirs is the journey that “is expected to include the manageably different, the accomplishable challenge and experience that are to be found and located within a controlled and demarcated tourist zone.”

I’ve stretched Mike's analogy a bit, but it’s been an interesting lens through which to reflect on and think about my church (in general) experiences…on what ‘church’ is, and on what ‘going to church’ is about.

Paul Fromont 1/23/2003 01:33:00 AM
Monday, January 20, 2003
Miroslav Volf, who teaches at Yale Divinity School, and who is one of my most influential voices shaping my life and thinking, has some profound and insightful things to say in the Nov. 20 – Dec. 3, 2002 edition of Christian Century.

“…The central challenge for pastoral ministry today concerns the ability to effectively mediate faith as an integral way of life to persons, communities and cultures…however, communities of faith seem to be falling short precisely at this point.

The faith that people embrace is, arguably, shaping their lives less and less. The faith seems not so much an integral way of life as an energising and consoling aura added to the business of a life shaped by factors other than faith…

An indicator of this change is a shift in language to describe religiosity. We have moved away from “faith” to “spirituality.” The talk of “faith” rightly emphasises cognitive and moral content and life in community; the talk of “spirituality,’ on the other hand, is cognitively and morally vague and emphasises the empowerment and healing of autonomous individuals.

As many sociologists of religion have noted, part of the problem is that in a market society, faith has a difficult time escaping the logic [and praxis] of the marketplace. It is in danger of degenerating into yet another consumer good (i.e. ‘commodification’), to be used when the need for it is felt and placed in storage or discarded when not…

The smorgasbord culture exerts pressure on people to employ faith to satisfy their discrete and changing wants rather than be the shaper of life as a whole.

The smorgasbord culture is a challenge for communities of faith. But the main problem is that the communities of faith have not found effective ways to offer a compelling vision of an [integrated] way of life that is worth living. Many people are seeking precisely that. They are unsatisfied with a lifestyle shaped by only two watchwords of contemporary culture: “freedom” and “prosperity.

Pastors can mediate faith as a way of life only if they find it compelling themselves and if their parishioners are moved by it because it makes sense of their lives.

One of the most pressing needs of pastoral ministry…is to develop, sustain, and reflect on Christian faith as a way of life. In the Christian tradition such reflection is not unusual. [Many such as] Luther, Kierkegaard, and Simone Weil, and others have been effective and lasting because they offered a vision for a lived faith…”

Paul Fromont 1/20/2003 10:16:00 PM
Sunday, January 19, 2003
A couple of recently published books that caught my eye today:

(1) Word before the Powers: An Ethic of Preaching by Charles L. Campbell. I hear echoes of William Stringfellow...so much so, I just checked in my library, and sure enough, Charles is the author of a FANTASTIC article in the October 1997 Journal called Interpretation. The article was called, "Principalities, Powers, and Preaching: Learning from William Stringfellow" It transformed my view of preaching, and if it's anything like the article, I can't recommend it enough!

"...In the face of the powers, the fundamental ethical task of preaching involves building up the church as a community of resistance..."

The other title was:

(2) Conviction of Things Not Seen, The Worship and Ministry in the 21st Century editor, Todd E. Johnson.

Inspired by the work and witness of theologian Robert Webber."...How can a pastor care for parishioners through worship, liturgy, and sacrament? How might a congregation preserve tradition while being open to innovation? What role should music play in worship? What is the function of ritual? How significant are visual representations in worship? Can we be "seeker sensitive" without sacrificing the rich history of our faith tradition? How can we make our congregations more multicultural?" Features essays by William Willimon, Rodney Clapp, and others.

Paul Fromont 1/19/2003 10:49:00 PM
Saturday, January 18, 2003
We had a truly social day yesterday, a day of sunshine,conversation, laughter, learning, children happily playing together, food, beer, and finally the stars and the moon providing a sense of God's bigness, a sense of God's creativity. I need days like that every once and while to remind me of the enriching nature of friendship, the ways in which our diverse lives connect, the ways in which gaps are bridged, and the means through which I grow - peoples stories, life experiences, learning, and wisdom shared. Rachel and Regan Cunliffe made the journey south. We had new and old friends from Northern Ireland, here for 6 months. Friends from Denmark. Andrew and Ingrid, soon to travel to Colombia as CMS Student missionaries. A wonderful day. A day to be grateful to God for.......

Paul Fromont 1/18/2003 12:21:00 PM
Thursday, January 16, 2003
I just checked out THE OOZE - they published an essay I recently wrote - my first published work. A bit of a suprise on my part. I thought they'd come back to me with editorial changes, and I actually wanted to make a couple, anyway, you can read: Belonging and Not Belonging: The creative margins. Reflects some thinking on my Protestant context, as distinct from say, an Eastern Orthodox perspective of Church which I appreciate and value has a different perspective on "church" and change etc.

Paul Fromont 1/16/2003 09:46:00 AM
More (see my post of the 10th of January, 2003) from Bede Frost’s book called “The Art of Mental Prayer” – the chapter of Alphonsus di Liguori’s approach to prayer, traditionally known as “Liguorian” prayer.

The perfection of love consists in the conformity of our will with the will of God;” thus Teresa of Avila writes, “All that is necessary to seek in prayer is to conform our will to God’s will; to be persuaded that in this consists the highest perfection – he/she who excels in this practice will receive the greatest gifts from God and make the most progress in the interior life."

Alphonsus insists "...that the principal fruit of meditation is prayer…we reflect and meditate not to gain more knowledge, but in order to pray…" (The word ‘knowledge’ pulls to the forefront of my mind a remembrance of Richard Foster and his comments about our need for more depth rather than more knowledge).

Meditation is necessary, for unless we think about God we shall have nothing to say to God. It is not a study of God, but a looking at Him, which draws our hearts and wills to him” This is something I don’t do with any kind of frequency."

“I implore you not to grow weary of my (Alphonsus) constant demand that he/she should ask for love and perseverance. For these two gifts contain all the rest: to obtain them is to obtain all.”

If you would draw others to God you must draw near to God yourself.” I wonder if this is one of the major corporate and individual challenges of the church? An absence of truly and deeply relating to God, and the aligning of our life (corporate) to his will..

“All prayer should converge toward the making of resolutions, of our resolving to…[fill in the gap]…to do more firmly what is right”

To abandon prayer because of a because of a lack of consolation, distractions and so on, is to give pleasure to the Devil; it is the one thing he desires…” A real challenge in our “results” focused culture.

Loving God is to be found, not in books, but in prayer. I do not deny that study is useful, but that the most necessary study is the crucifix.”

“Acts of penitence, humility, detachment, and love of God are the virtues we most need to regulate our exterior…acts of penitence should be inspired by love rather than fear…yet we must realise that we cannot gain these virtues by our own effort, but only by the gift of grace.”

We must not try to precede grace or want to do things to perfectly, but simply and desiringly place ourselves in our Lord’s hands and be led in all things as he wills.”

“We should beg of God all that we desire for his glory and our own salvation.” That’s quite liberating!

Without ever neglecting the essentials, there must be nothing formulaic and rigid in prayer, but all must be done simply and with ease, more attention being given to this or that according to the needs and temperament (‘attraits’) of each soul. The glorious liberty of God’s children is the chief characteristic of Liguorian prayer…liberty to make the work of prayer as easy as may be, providing it be done, and done well.”

Paul Fromont 1/16/2003 09:33:00 AM
Monday, January 13, 2003
Some stuff from Christianity Today that interested me of late:

Why I Walked: Sometimes loving a denomination requires you to fight by J. I. Packer

The Real Gospel: In a postmodern world in which people see many 'truths' as equally valid, how can you convince someone of the truth of salvation through Christ. By Alister E. McGrath

Three Temptations of Spiritual Formation: When seeking to be shaped by Christ, It is all too easy to veer from a fully Christian approach.by Evan Howard

The Dick Staub Interview: Brennan Manning on Ruthless Trust: Many Christians are still afraid to let God love them as they truly are, says the former priest, sober alcoholic, and author.

Ears to Hear, Eyes to See: Luci Shaw's poetry helps us pay attention to God's world. By John G. Stackhouse Jr.

Paul Fromont 1/13/2003 12:28:00 AM
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Well I finally did it. I had decided that 2003 was going to bring with it a renewed focus on both my inner and outer life - I went for a run / walk yesterday evening ...feel good this morning...Noted the death of Maurice Gibb from the Bee Gee's when I logged on this morning. Noted my friend Alan Creech has set up an icon corner, and got some incense going (we had an on-line 'conversation about icons, home altars, and other dang interesting stuff a couple of weeks ago)...he's had some good things to say over the last few days, especially the 8th Jan. I really connected with my other friend, the busy Kevin Rains, and his post on 9th January...Check them both out. They provided me with a lot of encouragement over 2002. It's good having Darren Rowse down there as well - an Aussie voice. And a real blessing to see Ben Mannell whose part of my church community here in Cambridge - BRIDGES - starting to explore the topography of blogging and refleting on life, his Jesus-following journey and stuff! Ben helped me with many of the little technical things around TV's, sound, and video players at SPACE last year. I'm looking forward to listening in...

Paul Fromont 1/12/2003 10:43:00 AM
Friday, January 10, 2003
A couple of days ago, Darren Rowse, across the Tasman Sea from me, linked to a fascinating article / interview / promo for a book called Suicidal Church:Can the Anglican Church be saved?

I could relate to this bit in the newspaper article:

"...Talk about God after church and they let you know you've made a frightful faux pas. Everyone else is talking about azaleas or food processors..."

Loved this bit:

"...Miley says the church must be like clear panes of glass that people can see Christ through, but the panes get fogged over "by lawnmowers, parish committees and ladies' guilds, not to mention ambition and careerism, and lots of stuff about what colour vestments you have, etc. All that can be helpful, but in the final analysis it really doesn't matter..."

Read the whole newspaper article here. The publishers site can be found here. Written out of an Australian Anglican context, but I'm sure it'll have broader appeal...I'm going to order a copy. Thanks Darren.

Paul Fromont 1/10/2003 12:28:00 AM
Thursday, January 09, 2003
Is it because you’re getting older that you learn to value and appreciate the past? Is it because you’re less “black & white” that you’re prepared to re-visit your past – to draw from it, like a bucket being drawn from a well? As I may have alluded to in earlier I’m becoming more comfortable with, and actually started to value by unchosen Anglo/Catholic background (my parents chose for me). I’m seeing it’s richness more clearly, less through lenses of prejudice and religious bigotry/sectarianism. The past seems so much more important to me, and so much needed by me in a Western world of superficialities – a world in which depth is often sadly lacking – depth of relationships, depth of commitment (high-lighted for example by high divorce rates), spiritual depth (‘old-fashioned’ words like ‘holiness,’ ‘peacefulness,’ wise etc.), depth of prayer life etc.

I need depth. I need a depth of Godly character. I need deep commitments and friendships. I need depth in my relationship with God – especially as far as that relationship is nurtured by prayer. I need the past to help me. I need companions from the past who’ve explored deeply the typography and practice of prayer. For me the past is alive, full of hidden and long forgotten treasures. I’m not pre-occupied with “six easy steps to a better prayer life” or the latest best seller on CBA booksellers lists. I see the same kind of appreciation from my friend James Ferrenberg who draws deeply from his Christian Orthodox traditions. He values the past. He appears to me to need the past – the Church Fathers, the Saints of the Eastern Church.

A book I bought last year in a second-hand shop, but felt led to explore last week highlighted this for me. It’s an old book bearing testimony to the tried and tested – a book that draws deeply on the churches practice of prayer – in this case, the Catholic tradition. The book has a now unused expression as its title, “The Art of Mental Prayer” by Bede Frost, published in 1931.

It draws widely on the broad traditions of prayer: Ignatian (Ignatius of Loyola), Franciscan (Francis of Assisi), Carmelite (John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila), Salesian (Francis de Sales), Liguorian (Alphonsus di Liguori), and Oratorian (Monsieur Olier & Cardinal Berulle) - the latter three I hadn’t even heard of.

I’ve started with the Liguorian methodology and have been trying to work it out in practice during my principal time of prayer at Midday. Reading about it, about what Alphonsus was trying to achieve, about what prayer for him meant, about how he saw it in the context of his coming before God in prayer etc. has been so energising. He’s walked before me with all his human frailties (just like me); he prayed and sought communion with God well before I even knew what prayer was. But, the wonder of it for me is that he’s left his notes, his practical insights, his discoveries, his experiences, and now several centuries later I have brought them into the 21st century by taking them off a dusty second hand bookshelf. I am a student under ‘his’ tutelage. This is a sense of my reading of verses like Prov. 4:2; Prov. 4:6; Prov. 22:28; & Jer. 6:16. May the grace of prayer be at the centre of my life, and may I, by God’s enabling gain even a fraction of the depth.

Paul Fromont 1/09/2003 11:50:00 PM
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Some interesting stuff I've read in the last couple of days:

(1) Writing in the Dust by Rowan Williams. Wow. What a powerful little reflection.

(2) The Longest Journey by Mike Riddell - "...In youth the future seems limitless, with the promise of new adventures and new
friends yet to come. Young people are not so concerned with disillusionment or change, because their life stretches out in front of them like an untravelled road.However, there is a point which comes midway through life, when the end of that road" Read more here.

(3) I'm adding this New Zealand website to my "links" - some great resources - futurechurch: A platform for emerging forms of spiritual community.


(5) Post-modern Culture: 'Living on the Fault Line' - A NZ Presbyterian resource. A useful introduction. Somethings I'd want to debate...

Paul Fromont 1/08/2003 12:24:00 AM
Monday, January 06, 2003
This statement, for me, makes for a mental dilemma and headache:

“…At least two generations of New Zealanders have little understanding of Christmas & Easter beyond summer holidays and chocolate eggs. But the church resolutely carries on as though everyone shares its values, language and rituals…”

Whilst at the outset wanting to acknowledge that the Church is not the Kingdom of God on earth, but rather serves as God’s mission, as God’s means to his end, I want to ask:

“But doesn’t the gospel of Jesus Christ give rise to a people, who by virtue of “living a life worthy of God’s calling,” gift to wider society an alternative or contrasting set of values, language, symbols, and rituals? Isn’t that a central ‘plank’ of what it means to be church?

What’s wrong with faithfully “carrying on” nurturing those traditions which inform and form our unique sense of who we are, and why we are? Those practices etc. which tell our story, and help locate our living and praxis within the unfolding of that meta-story? Wasn’t Jesus and anachronism in his historical context? (At this point I also concede the place of ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’).

I wonder how Willimon and Hauerwas, and their notion of church as being “resident aliens” might respond?

Is the greater danger for us today in the Protestant West one of ‘syncretism’ (the attempted union of principles at variance with one another) rather than ‘irrelevance’?

Is our need really to be more relevant, or is it to be more faithful?

In fairness, the article in which the statement is situated goes on to talk about the importance of incarnating the gospel in our culture, but the headache for me is what I feel are the mixed messages we get today. It seems it’s not an either/or option. Our taking seriously the incarnation calls us to be contextual, but at the same time the call of the Kingdom, in many ways, is to be counter-cultural. Perhaps the challenge and the solution to my headache is to wisely seek a better balance…?

Perhaps, also, I’d be wise to remember that the church has always seemed unlikely for its role; when it has been rich and powerful, and when it is ‘marginal,’ crushed, left for dead, ignored, or impoverished, it has hardly seemed an actor in the unfolding drama of history, in the drama of God’s eternal purposes. My trust should me more in God whose wisdom and power is made obvious in midst of apparent weakness. Only with hindsight will we see.

Somewhere in amongst my thinking I hear also an echo of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ 2003 New Year Message…read it here.

I still have a headache, but hopefully in the company of diversely gifted and experienced others we will share the load, and discern together what it means to be faithful and obedient in our act in the great drama.

Paul Fromont 1/06/2003 09:29:00 AM
Sunday, January 05, 2003
Two things prompted me to reflect on worship these last few days. Not continuously, just on and off – specifically my reflection was on the role of “beauty.” The first was a comment made by Steve Taylor in response to a comment about the bright colours he uses on his blogsite – here.

Steve wrote this: “Yeah. Part of my commitment to LIFE. So much Christianity is well intentioned but dour. I'd like to connect with God the Resurrected Creator. So I do try to choose colours accordingly....”

The other ‘prompt’ was this statement:

“…beauty is what opens our eyes to the majesty of God and moves us to desire him. Worship is not just an intellectual grasping of truths but a process of falling in love. Beauty opens us to adoration, and a craving for God begins to take root…”

Lurking in the background was some things that Leonard Sweet and others have set about the importance of physical space – of architecture and the art-fullness and grace of space. The beauty of colour, of light and shadow, of nature, of aroma, of open space and fresh air, and of texture. I got to thinking about the kinds of spaces I like to worship in, and the kind of bland neutrality and poor architecture etc. of many spaces where the church gathers. Now I’m not saying that we can’t worship in blandness, in the midst of modern pragmatism & functionality, in the midst of boring, “dour” spaces. I hear people talking about being present to God, and being drawn to God in the midst of art, of icons, of the beauty of nature, of silence, of simplicity, of words and their meanings, of rhyme and rhythm, of symbols, of liturgy etc. Easter art installations spring to mind. Most recently for me, in terms of being drawn out of myself and toward God, was space given over to displaying the art of NZ Painter Colin McCahon – both art on the walls and on a television set. This was sacred space. I also acknowledge that some temperaments and personality types will respond differently to this notion of beauty and the relationship between beauty and adoring worship, between beauty and silent contemplation, between beauty and prayer etc.

I can’t explain how beauty works, the simplicity of a candle, a flower, an icon of Jesus, a Colin McCahon painting, the art on the walls of Cityside Baptist etc. but I can’t help wonder how my worship, my prayer, my relationship with God might be different, might be more transcendent, more what it should be if I paid more attention to space and the stimulation of my God-gifted senses – if the environment was more open to beauty, to sound, to silence, to aroma, to touch, and to taste; if the environment touched me deeply, if it did something at the level of ‘heart’ and not just ‘head.’ What if I needed beauty and creativity to see something of God’s beauty and mysteriousness, of his ‘otherness’? What if others in my church community needed beauty and creativity? How differently might the gathered life of the church be framed? I wonder…I think I need more colour and beauty in my life…

Paul Fromont 1/05/2003 10:40:00 PM
Friday, January 03, 2003
Len's really useful review of Robert Webber's book, The Younger Evangelicals - link to it here. Thanks Len. You've clearly put a lot of work into writing it.

Paul Fromont 1/03/2003 12:51:00 AM
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Was up late this morning, but got a chance to read my friend Kevin's blog and spend a little time reflecting on a word that kept popping up - "deep". I typed a comment, but it disappeared into the 'never never...' so, I thought, why not make my response my post for the day...

Dear Kevin

They're not bad aspirations going into 2003. Not disimilar from mine. I'm sticking to my hope in 2002, but I want to add depth. To plunge deeply into the depths of God, that place where Calvin Miller has written, "...where eys see the invisible, ears hear the inaudible, and minds conceive the inconceivable..." Richard Foster captures something of my hope for 2003 as well, "the crying need of today is not for more intelligent people or more gifted people, but for deep people" Hopefully, I'll find you there too, perhaps we can chat a while over a beer, listen and watch for God together, understand more deeply what it means to belong to one another in one body - the body of Christ, maybe we can paint huge pictures of God-scapes, vivid brush strokes, lot's of layers, and depths, shadow and light. A friend down here picks up on the title of one of Morton Kelsey's books, "The Other Side of Silence". I want to explore there too. There's too much noise in our world. The other side of silence reminds me of the great Australian Northern Territory, or some of the wild desertscapes you have in the States. Both beauty, and danger, but also the sense I like most, that of openness, that expansiveness where the horizon seems endless in every direction - sacred space. God space - the huge geography of the other side of silence. Maybe we'll catch sight of each other there, and perhaps some of our other blog-pilgrims. There might even be opportunity to walk quietly alongside each other, as our paths become one for perhaps only a moment in time, a season. Perhaps you'll be able to help guide me past the superficialities of this life - the things we think we've just got to do, and be. Past the surface and into the depths - places alive in Christ. Resurrection life...a secret rendezvous with Him who call's us to himself...has called since deepest eternity past...

I could probably write more, but I need to get to work. I like that word deep. The deep journey of heart and Spirit. Can I borrow it for 2003?

Grace and peace as you journey

+ Paul

Paul Fromont 1/02/2003 11:52:00 AM

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