Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Coming to Town

"Tony Jones is Coming to Town . . ." [to the tune of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town']

So Mr. Jones arrived this past Friday to settle in for a whirlwind speaking tour of Ireland. I collected him from the airport and spent a few hours with him referencing one another and establishing a prelim friendship. On Saturday Tony shared on the 'Global Emerging Church' in the crypt in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. The response was great and people seemed to engage well, asking questions regarding all sorts of issues. As Tony well said, the issues with Emerging Church are not primarily methodological but theological. We need a change in how we 'do' theology - how we understand God and how we live our lives.

Saturday night and Sunday morning an organisation that I'm involved with - Dreamers of the Day - hosted a gathering of practitioners' to chat about the work of a fresh theology in a changing cultural context and some methodological concerns. It was a small group of about 15 people in a back room of a restaurant in Dublin city centre. I was happy with the direction the conversation ended up taking by Sunday morning. An analogy was offered that the institutionalised church is like the Titanic and you are Leonardo DiCaprio on the bow of the ship and you spot an iceberg. You rush to the captain and try to warn him of the immanent danger ahead which he cannot see due to the thick fog. The captain replies to your earnest warnings by patting your head and telling you to not to worry and that you can go back to whatever it is that you're supposed to be doing.

Do you decide to keep up your routine and go down with the ship? Or do you abandon the ship and get in a life raft with a few sane others? If you choose the life raft which items from the 'mothership' do you decide to take with you? Speaking illustratively, what is worth preserving for the new journey ahead? And when you reach the deserted island in your life raft with your new community, what will you build / do with your raft and the other materials you saved?

Tony then went on to speak at Belfast Bible College on prayer which 120 people attended. The same night (Mon) he attended the last supper with a few people from IKON and went through an Inquisition.

Finally, Tony has been presenting at a joint residential retreat between the Methodists and the Church of Ireland in Monaghan, Co. Monaghan on the theme of Body, Mind & Soul - a holistic approach to life. A number of the spiritual practices have been introduced including Lectio Divina and Body Prayer.

All in all, I think we have made good use of Mr. Jones during his time with us and, on top of it all, I have gained a new friend.

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