Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit

Thursday, 14 April 2011

.... here I go again

Though not exactly an up to the minute cultural reference I am inspired to write a little about Mamma Mia.  I recorded the film of this musical extravaganza on Saturday night, since when my 2 and 4 year old boys have asked to watch it 6 times.  Now I like the film (and I know a lot of folks out there who will be apoplectic with disapproval just on that basis ;) - but 6 times is quite a lot in less than a week.  I have ended up asking myself questions about said film musical which far out-weight the actual weight of the material. Questions about feminism, women's self-image, modern models of family and assumptions about marriage (not to mention the idea that an apparently C of E priest can turn up on a Greek island, wave his hands in the air and people are miraculously married!) 

I will say two things here - the first is that it needles me that an apparently competent and capable woman seems to have been waiting 20 years for some bloke to come back and validate her existence.  It's very Mills & Boon.  I appreciate the idea is that they are in love - and it's the love of their lives - and I'm OK with this.  I'm not so OK with the idea that he's gone off and done stuff and she has waited on a Greek island like a girl-myth for him to bring her back to life. (Yes, she has brought up her daughter, but other than the 3 flings on which the plot is based there is no intimation that she has had any kind of romantic life or adult relationships during that 20 year interlude.)

The second thing I will say is that every time I see Dancing Queen - sung and danced by women of all ages, shapes and sizes - lifting their faces to the sun and letting the joy flow - it simply makes me want to weep (in a good way).  It's a spontaneous moment (I know I know - highly choreographed spontaneity!) - it's inclusive, it's purely celebratory - and it's hugely powerful.  I think this may only be for women, and perhaps even women of a certain age, which I have obviously reached.

I told you 6 times in a week was too many times!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Let us pray.....

I had an inspiring meeting this morning with some friends from the Calderdale Interfaith Council's "Women's Group".  They have kindly agreed to help me with a children's workshop on Good Friday exploring how we look for God - how we seek contact with that which is beyond us through prayer.  The conversation moved round to the physicality of prayer - and how rubbish and English we can be about this in the Western Christian tradition.

I assume that the rubric suggesting we 'sit or kneel to pray' which is so often used was introduced out of a desire to be inclusive of those who found it physically difficult or painful to kneel.  It seems though that what it has done is tied people to their seats.  I've notice this with some of the children in our congregation recently.  We have some members of the congregation who sit throughout the services because of back problems and such like - but this seems to have suggested to others that gluing bottom to seat at 10.29am and leaving it there (save perhaps a desultory slope to the communion rail) - whether praying, listening to the Gospel, singing the Gloria - until biscuit time, is a good idea.

I appreciate this tells you quite a lot about my own tradition - but talking to my friends this morning - a fellow Christian, a Bahai and a Moslem - we all felt we weren't talking about rules in worship, we were talking about entering into prayer, into worship, with our whole selves.

I'd been looking at some physical prayer in Sue Wallace's Multi-Sensory Prayer (which I was amused to discover you can buy online from Asda Entertainment! - and why not :) thinking it might be a good idea for the workshop.  I now have a clear vision of how we can physically and visually represent the commonalities in our faiths using movement and prayer positions. Thank you ladies!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

If God is a DJ

OK - perhaps a shallow chat this evening - but bear with me.  I am a big fan of liturgical structure.  My sending incumbent indoctrinated me with the belief that you can do anything as long as it has intergrity within the liturgical structure.  He used to put together great "charismatic liturgical" evening services - if I remember rightly mainly because the diocese needed to take people on the local ministry course to experience some charismatic worship and there wasn't anyone else doing it in a 'safe' C of E context at the time. Back then I used to get to be the one who stood by the piano warbling - happy days.

This evening though talking to my bass player (sic. husband) we came across Morrissey's Angel, Angel Down We Go Together and thought it would make a good addition to Changing Worship's Alternative Hymnal.  Then as I thought this through I started to think about liturgical structure and the way a DJ structures music on a dance floor - creating atmosphere, inviting people onto the floor with the fmailiar and the comfortable (but fun), building the tempo to that part of the night when it seems only the strange and disconnected are not moving and dancing as one - swept away by the rhythm and joy.

I am torn as to how I feel about this  - I've been to some terribly manipulative worship where they obviously really got the DJ thing.  But are we learning enough from those who can fill a dance floor?

Or if the strange and disconnected are marginalised by such experiences - how can it express the gospel anyway?