I recently watched a film with my son called Nomadland. He always reviews films as it is his passion, so here is Caleb Barron’s review of Nomadland.
‘I’m going to put aside the production of this film. Many reviews here take real issue with this film because it is a vehicle for a very wealthy Frances Mcdormand to her stardom with make-believe amongst genuine nomads without their knowledge .There is also, of course, the issue of the depiction of Amazon.
I put these, and other related issues, aside because this film isn’t about the true impact of the recession and the aftermath of 2008. If it were, it would be a toothless and useless attempt at an authentic take on that. What this film is is a careful meditation on grief and living a transient life. It achieves this very well.
The film is necessarily slow and yet never holds in one place for very long. It manages to balance this need to amble slowly through each moment whilst never staying still or lingering. This way, it’s able to create in its form something that is meditative whilst feeling nomadic.
There are moments in which scenes and moments and characters begin to layer on top of each other, supported by a pleasant score, and the film begins to reach for a visual poetry that will transcend itself. However, its transient nature makes it impossible for this ever to be fully achieved. That doesn’t make those sequences weak though. There are powerful moments that caught me by surprise, though these are driven entirely by the real nomads that we meet.
If you’re looking for an authentic exploration of the fallout from 2008 or even the closing of Empire in 2011, a documentary would have been far more satisfactory. If you’re looking for an authentic exploration of these nomads and their lives, I imagine the book is much more impactful and truthful. However, this film is a beautiful, and gentle, vision of living with grief and living transiently. As a viewer, this was more than enough for me to enjoy.’
Barbara Glasson – I am Somewhere Else (Gospel Reflections from an Emerging Church)
I know I am probably behind the times as this book was published in 2006 however, I have been reading it with a friend recently. Right from the introduction I felt drawn in from both Barbara’s easy to read style and to the deep reflective telling of the story of ‘Bread Church’. The book draws on the journey taken by an eclectic group of people all seeking something, all gathering glimpses of God.
As Barbara uses the processes of bread making to look deeply at the Gospel message we share in with others and how it moves us all. I have been have had some of my thoughts expressed and questions held I am thoroughly enjoying the book and recommend it.
My earliest memories of my formative years are mostly of those from the 1980s, when my family lived on Malvern Avenue, part of an estate on the borders between Hapton and Padiham in Lancashire. A quick search on Google Streetview shows me that our old family home is still standing – although the estate is looking much more manicured than it ever did in my childhood. I wonder if it is still all social housing or if there are more privately owned homes there now? The playpark, which was situated directly across from our front door, is also still there (although, again, looking much less like the death-trap it was in the 80s) as is the plentiful greenbelt that surrounds the estate, something I took for granted as a kid! I now appreciate that not every child living on an estate has the luxury of running wild on a field when the horse trials aren’t taking place.
The estate included accommodation for senior citizens and my mum served as their warden – visiting them twice a day on her ‘rounds’ and being on-call 24/7 via an intercom that was positioned in our living room. On school holidays my brother and I would sometimes go on the rounds with her, primarily enticed by the promise of sweets (one of her service users always had Quality Street – an absolute decadence that our family only purchased at Christmas) but also I think we both enjoyed the fact that we had so many adopted grandparents to make a fuss of us and ask us about school. I think this experience has definitely stayed with me and inspires a passion for intergenerational ministry in the Church to this day.
My brother and I attended the village’s tiny Church of England/Methodist Primary School, which meant journeying everyday up the steep hill into the ‘posh’ part of the village. We often received some gentle teasing from schoolmates for living in ‘Legoland’ (the imaginative name given to the estate due to the not-so-attractive pebble dashing on the houses) but I don’t remember minding too much, because the estate was a fun place to live. There was a significant number of families living on the estate and we all called the other children’s parents ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle’. Childcare was shared and there was a palpable sense of community, whether it be the regular raids on my mum’s kitchen once she’d done a bit of home baking, a whole gang of us working together to chase down a neighbour’s escaped dog or my friend’s dad giving me a lift to Brownie’s on the back of his motorbike when my dad had to work late. My memories of that time all feel rather wonderful, viewed through the rose-tinted glasses of childhood – I wonder what it felt like for the adults around us?
As I approached my tenth birthday lots of things changed rather rapidly, my baby sister was born, my dad got a new job in a different town and my parents ventured into the scary world of mortgages and home ownership. It took me ages to forgive my parents for uprooting me from the estate I loved – although I now appreciate the enormous sacrifices they made in order to give us a bigger home for the expanding family. Even after the move and the new house we weren’t – by any means – a wealthy family. I did manage to go to university through a combination of government grants (I am very grateful they were – only just – still a thing when I applied), student loans and saving up my part-time earnings.
I really like the expression “muddle class”, coined by the comedian Jason Manford, to articulate who I am today. I would not change my upbringing one iota – the hard work (of both my family and me) that went into getting to where I am today makes me appreciate it all the more. And, as much as I enjoy a nice meal out somewhere, I’d readily swap it any day for a bowl of my mum’s corned beef hash (her go-to when money was getting tight – it could feed us for days!). Most importantly, my roots as a council estate kid inspire me in my youth work and I have a special love of those young people who are often overlooked or written off because of where they live. I currently do volunteer youth work for a local free church, working with teenagers from a large estate in the town I now live in, and I love every second of it. I’m proud to be a small part of the NECN movement.
Central to my faith journey is being the person God has created me to be. This might sound incredibly selfish. What about serving others, fighting injustice, self-sacrifice and so on?
When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) I don’t think he was asking us to force anyone to become a Christian. I think he was modelling how to be yourself and by being yourself and not some caricature, you will attract others to following Jesus. As Catherine of Siena once said,
“Be who you were meant to be and you will set the whole world on fire.”
It’s about listening to God and listening to others as well as being heard. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The first service of love one owes to others is listening to them.” The first word of the greatest commandment in Deut 6:4 is שְׁמוֹעַ “Shema” which means “Listen!” “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD God is one.” And following on from that is the command to “Love your neighbour.”
I started my working life teaching RE and taught for 13 years. Although I enjoyed teaching, most of the time, I felt deeply unhappy and restless. One Lent I decided to take up exercise. A friend of mine persuaded me to try karate. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to hit people, but I gave it a go and found that I really enjoyed it! The karate gave me a new lease of life and energy and helped me to reconnect a part of myself that I suppressed. Eventually I found the courage to leave the security of teaching, the year I achieved my first brown belt grade.
I’d also heard an excellent sermon at the start of that academic year by an ex-Anglican priest where he had referred to a talk by JK Rowling to Harvard graduates about the importance of failure and the use of the imagination. I had become too comfortable, even though I was unhappy. I had forgotten how to be bold and daring. It felt like one of several nudges from God. It was time to move on.
Are you looking for a new course to stay connected with young people in your community? Read all about the ‘Stay Alert to the Spirit’ programme put together by Jesus Shaped People…
Despite our technology, wealth and 21st Century ‘know how’ we’ve been humbled by a virus, like an elite Premier League Football Club knocked out of the FA Cup by a team no one has heard of. How did this happen, how can we get rid of it, when will it end, how is it going to affect my future are legitimate questions. At Jesus Shaped People we felt there is another important question: What is God saying to the churches?
This ‘liminal space’ is a teaching moment and waiting time. The spectre of suffering, death, economic meltdown, loss, sudden change, and acute anxiety has at least temporarily arrested our attention and captured collective imagination.
Young people have been especially hit hard by the pandemic. ‘Stay Alert to the Spirit’ (SATS) is a 7 week resource that includes material/ideas for worship, small groups, sermons, teaching and intergenerational worship to be used in buildings or on line and offered free of charge. SATS is not an answer but a tool to help churches gather around this question; ‘What is God saying to the Churches’ and allow voices on the margins to be properly heard and be a part of the future.
We wanted to let you know that Proximity is heading back online for 2021!
Running from 7-8 May, Proximity is our annual Urban Mission Conference and it’s totally FREE. We’ll be joined by inspiring and challenging speakers including Bob Ekblad, Rachel Gardner, Josh Smedley, Andy Hawthorne, Sam Ward and Sarah Small who will help each of us explore God’s call to his church to Mobilise.
Over the two days we’ll be digging into the book of Philippians and will be equipped, inspired and challenged for urban mission through teaching, TED-style talks, stories and worship. Whether you’re just exploring the call to mission, or whether you’re in this for the long-haul, it’s time to mobilise!
A new 8 week online course on Wednesdays from April 7th, 7–9 pm
Gordon Dey from Jesus Shaped People has created an eight-week, Zoom-driven course entitled World of Jesus that draws from his experience of leading pilgrimage groups to Israel and Palestine over the past 30 years.
Gordon is offering the opportunity for people belonging to JSP linked churches to experience World of Jesus on Wednesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm between Easter and Pentecost, beginning on Wednesday April 7th. The course will give insight into the context of Jesus’ ministry—the geography and history, and the way people lived their lives under Herodian and Roman control and influence, using maps, photos and other graphics. Afterwards we’ll explore the impact of this on the church today in small groups and plenary questions.
There is no charge to those taking part, however donations in support of Jesus Shaped People are warmly encouraged! Information of how to do this is provided on the JSP website: www.jesusshapedpeople.net
A flyer is also available to download and print on the website that can be used as a poster. If you want to take part please book a place with Gordon: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your place will then be confirmed and you will be sent more detail about each of the sessions. Later those who book a place will be sent a zoom code.
Places are limited, so ‘first come first served’.
Every blessing for Passiontide and Easter.
Jesus Shaped People offers programmes and learning resources especially for smaller inner city, urban and social housing estate churches.
Estate churches are fragile communities, especially at the moment in the financial crisis brought on by COVID-19. With regulations and the pandemic situation changing day-by-day now might be a good time to pause and reflect.
How has your church community responded to the pandemic? What has this experience been like for you and for others? What has the experience revealed about inequalities and the structures of our society? Where is God in the experience? How might God be calling us to respond?
You can hear Laurie Green explain more about the process of getting stuck in and doing theology by clicking on the highlighted words above. Doing theological reflection always starts from experience.
A similar cycle of reflection, Gibbs Reflective Cycle, is explained in the video below by a German teacher who reflects on her experience of teaching German in a Spanish school. The starting point is grounded in experience, reflecting upon it, analysing it from different perspectives and coming up with a plan of action. This in turn leads to a new experience, further exploration, further analysis and refining the action plan.
An important point to note is that reflecting on experience involves listening to others as well as oneself, not diving straight into action. Another point to remember is to see the gifts that the people in your community already have, not just the difficulties that your community has to live with.
Despite our technology, wealth, and 21st Century ‘know how’ we’ve been humbled by a virus, like an elite Premier League Football Club knocked out of the FA Cup by a team no one has heard of.
How did this happen, how can we get rid of it, when will it end, how is it going to affect my future are legitimate questions.
At Jesus Shaped People we felt there is another important question: What is God saying to the churches?
This ‘liminal space’ is a teaching moment, the spectre of suffering, death, economic meltdown, loss, and acute anxiety has at least temporarily arrested our attention and captured collective imagination. To try and help churches we have created a resource that is not an answer, but rather a tool to gather around this question; ‘What is God saying to the Churches?
‘Stay Alert to the Spirit’ (SATS) is a 7 week resource that includes material/ideas for worship, small groups, sermons, and intergenerational worship and teaching. It can be used in buildings or on line and offered free of charge.