Gareth kicked the Soliton Sessions off for us in Belfast on Thursday.
Trevor facilitated a conversation on the impact of Martin Luther King’s writtings for today, and how we can gain hope from them. We talked briefly about the idea of heaven coming down to earth, figuring out what it looks like to build Gods kingdom in our midst. Someone (maybe Trevor?) commented on how we can claim and use the title ‘New Belfast’ just like there is a ‘New Jerusalem’. We discussed how it can be so discouraging to look around at the world and feel like we have nothing to give – not enough money or whatever – but sometimes all we have to do is get on the same level as people (Big Issue sellers, homeless guys, etc) and simply acknowledge their humanity. The question was raised, has our culture taught us not to dream, but instead to stifle our creativity?
“Answers are never really answers – just hints of truth.”
After lunch Derek Poole and Linda Gould from CCCI spoke briefly on peace and reconciliation, in Northern Ireland particularly. When asked about one thing they’d like to see change in the church, Derek said something that’s stuck with me:
“We are social creatures that are shaped by the poetics of space. I’d like to see a change in emphasis from a strong emphasis on immanence (the God who is near) to a stronger emphasis on transcendence (the God who is other and mystery). For that change to affect our spaces and gatherings. We need a deep sense of the otherness and the mystery of God so that we may learn to see the holy in the ordinary. A space that is fundamentally about an alternative consciousness, and nudges us again towards the numinous. One expression of numinous today are the artists”
The afternoon conversation I took part in was facilitated by Rob and Angela Spain, and looked at the death and regeneration of churches, and decentralised methods of church. I loved this session I have to admit – helped me to understand it a bit more!
We talked about the passage from John 15, and how we look at it very introspectively – what if we look at it in a world-wide view? Vineyards are pruned, but the parts that are cut off aren’t burned, they could be used to compost, fertilise.
Rob talked about how the Internet is a model of this type of scale-free organisation – not random distribution, but connected around hubs that are seen as important, and the hubs are also all interconnected. The connections are fluid and liquid, as the nature of the system is that it is always changing.
Is the ‘dying’ of church then a form of redistribution? It’s not necessarily a bad thing then, if we learn to embrace it, and view the redistribution from a more kingdom mindset.
“Maybe the church appears where connectivity between each other appears.”