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Archive for the ‘StillPoint’ Category

Are you experienced?

Sorry for the recent blog silence everyone. It’s been a very busy time – we are opening the Stillpoint ‘Stations of the Cross’ Easter art exhibition tomorrow night at The Jam Factory (an arts cafe/gallery) here in Oxford. The image on the left is the front of the exhibition card which I designed. You are welcome to come along for a drink if you are local and are interested. But that’s not what I want to talk about today – I want to talk about experience.

We finished the latest series of Monday night meditation sessions last week and one of the comments made by someone has really stayed with me. This person said, “it’s so nice to be part of a group that talks about our experiences of prayer”.

I have reflected a lot on this. I think this person is right – we are very unused to talking personally about what actually happens when we pray, our personal experience. We can talk in the abstract, we can talk conceptually, we can talk theologically but conversation about our actual experience of the divine is quite rare. We would rather talk about the mechanics of prayer I think. 

Perhaps this is particularly English thing – we are just too embarrassed to talk about it. 

More widely it seems we would often rather talk about the form than the content. I for one am quite bored (and have been for some time) of talk about ’emerging church’ or ‘new-monasticism’ etc. etc. People make a living from talking about these forms and concepts and conferences and books abound on the subjects. But these things are just supposed to be vehicles which help to deliver an experience of God. We are in danger of becoming ecclesiological train-spotters, hanging around on platforms looking at the engines but not getting on the train and going on the journey.

To change the metaphor, we have become obsessed with the tools and we are often in danger of forgetting that the tools are there to do a job. What we do with the tools is much more important than the tools themselves. 

When we learn to use a new tool we go through some different stages. At first we are very aware of the tool, we’re very conscious of it. As we become more proficient the tool almost becomes an extension of our bodies and we’re not very aware of the tool anymore, we are focussed on what we are doing with the tool. Think of learning to drive or paint as examples.

Perhaps an obsession with church – be it new or old forms – is analogous to this early stage. I long for more conversation about our actual experience of God.

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img_9438The Stillpoint launch on Wednesday night felt like a significant moment in my life – a moment of stepping into a new chapter and embracing a new vocational dimension.

120 people joined us at The Phoenix cinema to hear about the vision Ian and I are crafting for (and through) Stillpoint, and to  engage with Jamie Catto from 1 Giant Leap and his films – someone I think really has his finger on the pulse – and also to listen to Bishop John – the Bishop of Oxford.

Some may be sceptical of someone like Bishop John or see him as representing religion (bad) as opposed to new spirituality (good). But Bishop John really cares about the work Ian and I are doing and has a passion to see the church nurture a depth of spiritual experience. So we were really glad to have him there and his generosity has made it possible for us to get Stillpoint off the ground so he is very much a friend of Stillpoint.

Anyway – it was a good night and seemed to really resonate with a wide variety of people which is a really positive thing. Really pleased that both church people and non-church people connected with it and we very much want Stillpoint to resource all kinds of spiritual seekers without people feeling like it’s a way to get people to come to church (it’s not!). Of course it was just the launch so in a sense the real work now begins – next up is the Stations of the Cross art event at easter (more details on our site). There are also some photos from the launch night here.

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stillpoint-logo-invert

Sorry for the recent blog silence – I have been busy…mostly with the following (and isn’t it ironic how busy one can become organising something called ‘stillpoint’!)

We are launching Stillpoint on Wednesday this week (March 4th) at a special event in The Phoenix Cinema in Jericho, Oxford.

We will be joined by the Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, and also by Jamie Catto – one half of 1 Giant Leap (“genius film makers” according to Bono). We will be presenting the vision for Stillpoint and talking to John and Jamie as well as showing some chapters from 1 Giant Leap’s latest film, ‘What About Me?’

We have had a really good response to the invites we’ve sent out but we still have some spaces available. If you would like to come please let me know (leave a comment to this post).

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StillPoint

stillpoint-logo-brownIan Adams and I are launching StillPoint – a Centre for the Practice of Christian Spirituality in the city of Oxford, UK in 2009. Please get in touch if you would like to come to the launch night on Wednesday March 4th in the Phoenix Cinema, Jericho with Bishop John (the Bishop of Oxford) and Jamie Catto from One Giant Leap. More details on our web site and I will blog more about some of the things we have planned soon.

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