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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Journey 2 Day 20 – Occupy Debate

Ok, I’m massively late to this thing! Last week I made my first and,  in light of yesterday’s events,only visit to St Paul’s during the time that the Occupy movement has been based there. My impressions were of a real sense of community, a buzz of conversations, unity, purpose and a good atmosphere. There was plenty of space to walk around and access everything in the area with ease, including the Cathedral.

Its fair to say that when the camp was initially started through a failed attempt to occupy the stock exchange and found itself in the ‘grounds’ of St Paul’s that The Church was slow to respond and genuinely did not quite know how to respond to the complexity of resonating with aspects of what the camp stood for and its own Mission and role in light of its new neighbours. That’s a fact. I’m not saying I could have done any better or would not have faced the same tension, but I did find myself agreeing with Giles Fraser and his more proactive, welcoming and engaging response.

A Statement from St Paul’s in response to the end of the occupy camp perhaps offers some hope

We wish to acknowledge fully that the Occupy movement is helping to raise issues of social justice in the national and international consciousness…St Paul’s Cathedral is fully committed to promoting issues of social and economic justice with renewed energy through our worship, teaching and the work of St Paul’s Institute. In the past months we have been made to re-examine our values and the role of St Paul’s. We’ll continue to do this and we look forward to welcoming a new Dean alongside us as we work together to shape our future mission.

The current debate for me highlights the complexity of this issue. Money and our relationship with it is complex. And yet I find myself agreeing and resonating with a lot of what the occupy movement and the critique of the capitalist system is offering. Just as Jesus and Paul brought great challenges about how we should use and value money, so today the Occupy movement challenges a system and in particular the financial sector within the global economy for misusing and abusing money. The Love of Money in the past few decades has brought with it terrible things and that has to be named and acknowledged. Change is needed and movements like Occupy have done a brilliant job to enable debate and provoke more thinking on our relationship with money and the economy.

Money, wealth creation, consuming and all that’s linked to it are complex. But they are also important and vital, but perhaps more than ever, vital to imagine a new, different and better way.

Movements like Occupy. Organisations like the New Economics Foundation, Movements like the Fair Trade (Its also Fair Trade Fortnight, and the great debate goes on) and Investment opportunities like Kiva, do show us how a different and better way can be created.

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Journey 2, lent

 

Journey 2 Day 19 – Thorns

Less Stuff, More Life is the ‘strapline’ of the Breathe Network. Its also the series title for a set of 5 talks being given by Mark Powley (Author of Consumer Detox) over Lent to link up with the Consumer Detox course running over lent.

The First Talk is titled ‘Thorns’ and can be heard here.

Just like the I am a Consumer Confession I made a week ago, The subject and title is equally inspiring and daunting. The first talk is based on Mark Ch 4 v 1-20. The Parable of the Sower.

What is our biggest Danger? Is it the Thorns? Do we live in an age of Thorns? If we do then how can we ‘breakout’ of that, especially in thinking about Consumerism. Verses 18-19 is quite key here. Do the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth prevent us from living a truly radical life of faith and dependence on God?

The talk explores these themes and gives us some things to think, and act upon. I really appreciated the honesty with which Mark talks, making me realise just how often I am to reluctant to embrace the honesty and mundane aspects of life. I’m feeling challenged by this talk to become a more honest person. I admit that I far to often live in the ‘cycle of anxiety’ rather than the ‘cycle of trust’ and far to often compare myself and my situation with others rather than cherishing what I do have in terms of family, work, church, wealth and opportunities.

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Journey 2, lent, Money, theology

 

Journey 2 Day 18 – Small Steps

Over the weekend I was reminded of the value and significance of taking small steps and actions to enable kindness, love, justice and compassion to be lived out and made meaningful in everyday life.

The Consumer Detox Blog, reminds us of this today.  Buying Fair Trade, Taking the time to stop and thank someone, helping someone carry a buggy up some stairs, giving time or money to something, all quite small things but they can be so easily forgotten and are essential and ‘do able’ without much effort.

Small steps can then of course lead to bigger one’s, but just like riding a bike or learning to walk, its best to start small and start with something that can be achieved and work up, rather than overstretch or just find the big step to daunting and end up doing nothing.

My small steps today – Eat fair trade and local food, take time to stop and chat and think about how we can save money over Lent to give a bit more away.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Journey 2, lent, Money

 

Journey 2 Day 15 – Carbon Detox

As part of my simplicity Journey I am reading through and outworking the implications of Mark Powley’s Consumer Detox.

His daily blog over lent is excellent and today’ he focusses on the impact of our lifestyles on the planet and the environment. With an invite to give up some Carbon with the help of Tearfund’s Carbon Fast.

Major lifestyle change requires a group effort; we need each other to do it. We need our global neighbours in Uganda and elsewhere to teach us the value of the world we take for granted.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Journey 2

 

Journey 2 Day 13 – I am a Consumer!

As the Consumer Detox over lent begins

How do we get a grip on consumerism? Ask a recovering alcoholic. It begins when we admit the problem. The first step on the road to freedom is to acknowledge what’s going on. In
The Shape of Living, Cambridge professor David Ford writes, “Naming is a
powerful act. . . . To name the situation brings it into language. Language is
shared, and to find just the right word links our experience to others”

Chapter 1 of Consumer Detox also talks about the complexity that is Consumerism. Being a Consumer is not all bad. Giving gifts, making necessary purchases, contributing to ethical and positive economic growth, buying fair trade and many other things are good reasons to consume. But left unchecked it can become all to easy to consume to much or at the very least to an unhelpful level. As the film above highlights.

So here goes. My name is Matt and I am a Consumer. I love the comfort and fulfilment that many of things I consume give me. I love to consume music, books, magazines and perhaps most of all great food and drink. I am aware that ultimately some of these things won’t bring me ultimate meaning and fulfilment, but I don’t think I could live without them either. I want a more simple and fulfilled life but am frankly scared of what that could mean and look like. I am not seeking to be a holy hermit who withdraws from life and consumption, I want to be real and engaged in the reality of living in 21st century society, but I want to spend and consume more responsibly, wisely and with greater generosity. I’m on a journey, I will stumble, get lost and over consume, but I won’t give in and just give up.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Journey 2 Day 13 – Sticks and Flutes

I Came across this simply brilliant reflection on Lent yesterday by Shane Claiborne.

“What’s the difference between a flute and a stick in the mud?” our priest asked on Sunday. He then went on, “The stick in the mud is full of itself. The flute has been emptied of itself so it can make music.” That’s a good image for Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

The origins of Fat Tuesday have everything to do with what happens on day after. Christians around the world celebrate “Ash Wednesday” which kicks off the 40 days before Easter (what we call “Lent”). Traditionally Lent is a season of fasting (giving up food or luxuries or vices) and repentance (which means “to re-think” things), and we put ashes on our heads made from Palm branches from the previous Easter season as a sign of our mortality (i.e. “from dust we came and to dust we shall return”). So before the fasting there was feasting. Ages ago, folks would spend Tuesday eating up all the grub (and drinks) that would go bad during the season of fasting, especially in the days before refrigeration.

But the question surfaces, what relevance does any of that have for us?

Our priest did an incredible job reminding us that in a world where many of us are “full of ourselves” we need to be emptied of ourselves – so that our lives can make better music.

All the major world religions have an element of self-denial at their core. Jews have Yom Kippur. Muslims have Ramadan. Christians have Lent.

In a world filled with clutter, noise, and hustle, Lent is a good excuse to step back and rethink how we think and live. In a world of instant gratification, it’s a chance to practice delayed gratification – to fast — so that we can truly appreciate the blessings we have. In a world where virtual friends are replacing real ones, it is an invitation to turn off TV and computer screens so we can spend time with real people again.

It’s an opportunity to give up something that is sucking the life out of us so that we can be filled with God, with life, with love again.

So consider taking the invitation this Lent to “repent” – to rethink how we think and live. I had one friend tell me his Lenten commitment was not to spend a single dollar these 40 days. Another woman said she was giving up gasoline, only driving one day a week. Others of us may take up smaller commitments – giving up sweets or alcohol or meat.

One of my friends who talks a lot decided to spend time in disciplined silence. Another friend of mine who is a hermit committed to get out a little more and be social. So there isn’t an anecdote, but there is an invitation — an excuse – to try something new. Some folks may choose, not just to give up something, but to take on something new – to exercise, read, learn a new craft, or pray. So whether it is giving up an old bad habit or take on a new holy habit… May we each use this Lenten season as an excuse to do something that empties us of ourselves so that our lives make better music.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Journey 2, lent

 

Journey 2 Day 12 – Enough

This film is very challenging and stirring on the eve of the Consumer Detox.It comes from Conspiracy of Freedom which was born out of the Breathe network.

If you would like to listen to an excellent interview some friends of mine at Nomad did with Mark Powley last year, please click here.

I also got my latest copy of Third Way today which also contains an article on how growth might actually be killing us and questioning the sustainability of growth in terms of life and our planet.

Lots of food for thought…. But its also about Action… My Simplicity Journey continues and my Detox Begins.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Change, Journey 2, Money, theology