During the week 1-10 September we will be hosting a ‘pop-up festival’ in East Reading, which will attempt to bring together and explore various issues pertinent to community life and our humanity. The festival is entitled ‘Dazzle’ – illuminated by the darkness.
For many people, current issues the world is facing seem overwhelming; the fast-paced nature of capitalism and hungry consumerism raises many challenges politically, socially and philosophically. For those at the wrong end, or outside, the social scale the prospects seem bleak and dark.
Outrider Anthems is currently running a year-long ‘Festival of the Dark’ in Reading, with the support of Arts Council England. The Festival of the Dark has sought to explore the concept of Darkness through art, installation, drama and discussion. The hope is to discover the positive aspects of embracing darkness and shadow; to consider ways that society and communities may be enriched.
Dazzle has emerged in ‘conversation’ with these themes in order to explore what darkness means for science, art, theology, philosophy and culture. It aims to be a festival of ideas and practice. Some of our conversations will include ‘hidden’ ideas of guerrilla gardening, community enrichment and permaculture.
Our keynote speaker earlier in the week is Kate Raworth, author of the influential Doughnut Economy; and other contributors will probe the philosophical, scientific, artistic, poetic and social aspects of Darkness.
On Saturday 9th we will host a Symposium on Darkness, asking what this word means for Scientists, Artists, Educators, Philosophers and Theologians. It will be a ‘grown up conversation’ which allows for the insights of one forum to crossover with others. We are looking forward to this!
Kester Brewin on Mutiny!
Alison Webster on Transgression
Colin Heber-Percy on Darkness, Mystery and Art
Helen Bilton on Upturning Education
Vincent Gardner on Dogs**t Theology
Gary Collins on Desire
others to be confirmed, including ‘a man with bees’
Further details regarding Outrider Anthems and the Festival of the Dark are available at www.outrideranthems.com.
The Timetable poster is available here
Please spread the word….
Gary’s Essay for his 1st Eucharist at St John & St Stephen’s. 25 June 2017
Dan Flavin – The Surface of God
Light and Nothingness
Dan Flavin’s simple yet powerfully evocative light installations are beguiling to the eye and the senses. His fluorescent tubes poised at geometric angles evoke a new awareness of our surroundings. Yet Flavin describes these pop-art works as simple and without depth, ‘they are only surface, don’t look for meaning.’
Only surface, without meaning?… yet look again; what a surface is revealed! These light-works intensify the everyday into an experience of oddness; light, shadow, texture and silhouette become vividly re-imagined or re-encountered through the saturation of colour. The surface reveals and is revealed; the viewer is immersed and reintroduced to a moment of presence in the world, and re-acquainted with the material and texture of the everyday.
Maybe in the Eucharist/Holy Communion we see something of this; Christ as ‘the surface of God’ is revealed and revealing, drawing us to an awareness of ‘the other’ as divine and human; clothed in nature and wonder, branch and leaf. We are invited to feast on Christ – the one who draws all things together.
Myth and symbol.
Post/modernity opens a world of truth beyond the rational and to look deeper at myth and symbol; through the living metaphors of baptismal water and the bread and wine of Eucharist we are caught up into the revelation and salvation of God incarnated in our mortal flesh.
Sacramental action is encountered in symbolic or mythic narrative. ‘The crucial function of myth is to make sacred history.’ This Eucharistic liturgy embodies a reality made real within our rehearsal, yet the mythic form remains fluid, undergoing processes of evocation, elaboration and interrogation.
Although Eucharist can represent something reassuringly familiar it also remains deeply strange; but this strangeness may be the point! ‘Despite our attempts to contextualise worship in culture, communion points us beyond our present context, it relativises our best efforts to be relevant’.
‘In every religion’, Chauvet suggests, ‘one observes a break between the ritual “scene” and the “scene” of ordinary life’. To participate fully in the symbolic language and action of the Eucharist requires ‘a language that breaks away from the ordinary’. Ward calls this ‘de-contextualisation’, the point where contextual theology bows and gives way to the otherness of sacramental activity – to let the abstract to be abstract.
Agape – hospitality and encounter.
Yet at its heart Eucharist remains a simple meal – an agape – and simple hospitality is disarming. The table becomes a place of radical welcome; as in Babette’s Feast it ‘interrupts the narrative’, announcing joy in places of hostility. ‘Meeting at a table with a group of strangers has the incomparable and odd benefit of making it a little more difficult to hate.’
Here then, the communal body of Christ is a dynamic in-between-ness of the giving, receiving, and charitable sharing of God’s gift. Divine and human desires enter into a deep sense of intimacy and reciprocity in this Holy Communion. Community is nurtured.
So the inclusive feast of a simple agape meal honours the coded symbols of the ritual, whilst also subverting them. The symbolic ‘code’ of Eucharist is really no code at all, presence gives way to absence as our multi-faceted interpretations allude to its continuing non-containability.
Any time you’re on the earth, kiss me.
So we join together this morning; prayers rise like incense, bodies move and bow; voices sing and silence is known; heaven meets us in our flesh. Like the light of Flavin’s art – the strangeness makes our senses come alive – in taste, touch, sight and sound. We are reminded that the work of our hands, the struggles of life, and the gifts of God meet through earth, flesh, wheat and grape – making bread and wine divine. The blessing of God is within human endeavour; a real presence in material things.
So come, taste and see; all are welcome.
- Img Copyright. David Urbanke 2013.
The APCM meeting took place this week, amid much cheese!
The report is available here
The latest NEWT is out and on the streets of Newtown.
It can be downloaded here…
Please join us for the next five Thursdays as we journey through Lent with the aid of great film-making.
This years theme is Perception, asking questions about what happens when our perceptions are forced to change.
I, Daniel Blake – 9 March
Julieta – 16 March
Arrival – 23 March
Notes on Blindness – 30 March
Jackie – 6 April
The full booklet is available here.
A meal was shared, candles were blessed, the children led the service wonderfully and the tree finally came down, (there must be a God!).
Thanks everyone – it was a lovely service.
Thanks to Carol for the pictures…
For use within the church; for printing, publicity, and powerpoints…. we have made various versions of the revised church Logo available. You can find them here…
The latest NEWT is out and on the streets of Newtown.
It’s available for download here…
As well as the big dinner, the presents and the decorations, why not complete the whole Christmas experience and join us for one of our Christmas Services;
We’d love to see you!
Sun 18th Dec Carols by Candlelight 6.30pm
Christmas Eve Midnight Mass 11.30pm
Christmas Day Eucharist 10.30am