Sunday, September 25, 2016

public prophetic theology: U2 on Trump

She’s the dollars, She’s my protection
She’s the promise, In the year of election
- U2, Desire, off Rattle And Hum album

U2 played in Vegas last night, the headline act of iHeart radio. U2′s opening song was Desire and in the space of 1 minute and 12 seconds, as this opening song ended, they made a public announcement. Here’s the clip:

Lyrically, the song is Desire. Bono ad libs, offering a set of one-liners: Las Vegas are you ready to gamble? Are you ready to gamble your car? Are you ready to gamble your house? Are you ready to gamble the American Dream? The one-liners begin as a locating statement. They are performing in Las Vegas, so the opening question regarding gambling locates this live performance. The repetition of gamble allows Bono to seque from Las Vegas to the American Dream. In terms of sampling, they play a segment from a Donald Trump speech. What do you have to lose? This is now located as a gamble. In terms of performance art, money begins to fall. (You can see it fluttering against the American flag.) They are $10,000,000,000 (ten-trillion) dollar bills with Donald Trump on them alongside the phrase “Make America Hate Again.” Visually, a set of visuals loop, ZooTV style: American flag, gambling, crosses. With the Trump sample looping – What do you have to lose? – spoken over the mouth organ, the last word now belongs to Bono:

What do you have to lose? Everything.

I have analysed the live performance of U2′s Bullet the Blue Sky, exploring how U2 use samples to communicate (Taylor, S. (2012). “Bullet the Blue Sky” as an Evolving Performance. In Scott Calhoun, ed. Exploring U2: Is This Rock ‘n’ Roll?: Essays on the Music, Work, and Influence of U2, Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press, pp. 84-97. I have also analysed U2′s live performance and how one-liners – short spoken sentences – allow each U2 performance to be contextualised. (Taylor, S. (2015). Transmitting Memories: U2′s Rituals for Creating Communal History. In Scott Calhoun, ed. , U2 Above, Across, and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Assessments, Lanham, Maryland, USA: Lexington Books, pp. 105-121). Both dimensions – sampling and one-liners – are present in this performance. Both allow U2, in just over a minute, to offer a public, prophetic response.

Posted by steve at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Mission Seedlings: 1/5th of what I’m currently working on

This pictures expresses 1/5th of the KCML Strategic plan. It is shaped by one insight: that the best place to train for mission is on mission.

nms-graphicver2

To quote Andrew Norton, Moderator of the PCANZ, “The Presbyterian Church Of Aotearoa is at a very critical time and desperately needs the development of leadership at every level in the church and more particularly in the creation of new and innovative forms of ministry in our changing times – we can not continue business as usual.”

KCML is thus looking to work in collaboration with a range of partners across New Zealand to establish New Mission Seedlings as places to learn in mission. This involves training leaders by engaging in local mission in order to attend to national priorities.

The strategic priority of New Mission Seedlings has been shaped by

  • KCML team retreats in December and March
  • external input from key stakeholders within the Presbyterian Church
  • discussion of drafts with Assembly Executive Secretary, KCML Advisory Board, Leadership Sub-committee, Presbyterian Development Society, a joint Leadership Sub-committee/PressGo/KCML working group, Northern Presbytery Council
  • pieces with Pacific leaders, Central and Alpine Presbytery, South Island Ministers, 150th Synod, Press Go Board
  • the 5 parts of the KCML strategic plan were “strongly endorsed” by Leadership Sub-committee in May
  • “enthusiastically endorsed” by Council of Assembly in June
  • received with excitement by Synod of Otago and Southland executive in July

Last week I reduced the pages of written documentation and powerpoint slides to one picture. That’s part of what I’ve been working on recently.

Posted by steve at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The church in question: from 3 Kiwi songs

church-in-question

Last week I was in Wellington for The church in question: A conversation, an event cohosted by Victoria University and St Johns-in-the-city. The aim was to provoke a broad-ranging conversation about the state of the church. Hence the venue was a pub, more likely to engender an open, lively, public conversation than a church hall. Format wise, there were four short (8 minute) talks from a panel of four, Dr Doug Gay, Dr Matthew Scott, Dr Susan Jones and myself, followed by Q and A. (Although for a few it was imore statement than question).

Church people talking about church people can become quite inward. So I got thinking about the questions the music I’m currently listening to is asking of church. I was surprised how easy it was to find songs – recent Kiwi music – in which the church is in question. So much for secular NZ society. So here is what I said:

world-church

There is a saying – “It is better to sit in the inn thinking about the church, than sit in the church thinking about the inn.” So it’s great to here tonight – in an inn – thinking about the church.

I want to think by listening to 3 NZ songs – all recent – all thinking about the church in question.

I could’ve taken a theological angle. As Principal of a theological College, this is favoured terrain for my students. I could’ve taken a new forms of church angle. I do in my 2005 book, The Out of Bounds Church?: Learning to Create a Community of Faith in a Culture of Change (emergentYS). I could’ve taken a leadership in change angle. I do that in my 2016 book, Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration. But in honour of being in an inn, I want to look at some NZ music. Three contemporary Kiwi songwriters, all reflecting on the church in question.

The first song is Waiting for a Voice, by Dave Dobbyn. It is from his Harmony House album. His 8th solo album. His first in 8 years. Released in March.

The first verse of the opening song has the lyrics

“I saw a stranger on the opposite shore
Cooking up a meal for me
And what’s more I Hear Elijah. Get into the water man and lose your sin.”

So there is food (cooking up a meal). There is religious themes (Elijah). Which drives into the chorus (Heaven is waiting for a choice, Waiting for a still, clear voice.)

So this is good news – there is divine encounter. But there are question. In a pew-based, front-facing performance, where is the place for “cooking up a meal” and see the stranger and listening for “still, clear voice.” A first Kiwi song. Divine encounter, but the church in question about the forms and practices by which we hear the “still, clear voice.”

The second song is One hand by Little Bushmen. It is off their Te Oranga, 2011 album. Their 3rd studio album. The final song, the lyrics of the first verse are as follows:

One hand raised up high
is it to ask a question, or to deny?
And one hand can turn the tide
from sorrow to divine

As with Dobbyn, the divine encounter is not in question – “And one hand can turn the tide from sorrow to divine.” It comes when there is room to raise the one hand to question.

The second verse brings the church into question

Two hands raised to worship
your deities wait in slumber
Those two hands, building Rome
seedy senate self implode

So there’s questions about 2-handed worship and about a church that partners with Rome, perhaps a reference to Constantine and Christendom. The bridge continues to bring the church into question. This time theologically:

I want to love my neighbor
though he’s a non-believer
He ain’t no sinner man.

Can the church practise love the neighbour and hold to belief in “sinner man”? So again in NZ culture, the church is in question. The divine is a reality, but only when linked with one hand raised in question, not two hands raised in worship. Can the church allow dissent and activism, a love of neighbourhood beyond a “sinner man” theology?

A third song is from SJD – Sean Donnelly. From his 7th album. Released 2015. As with Dobbyn and Little Bushmen, there is plenty of space for the divine. It begins with the album title – Saint John Divine – referencing presumably the 15th century Spanish theologian and mystic.

The second to last song on the album is titled “Through the Valley” and the chorus rifts off the Lords prayer “It will be accomplished on earth as it is heaven (chorus).” The song starts sounding hymn like. Lest we think this is only about funerals – singing the Lord is my shepherd – as a loved one goes through the valley, the lyrics describe what could be Pentecostal church.

“The laying on of hands will commence with the prayer
Still you stumble to the front,
When we call out,
Call out backsliders and sinners.”

But SJD often has his tongue in his cheek. He tells the NZ Herald that the song brings the church into question – “As a teenager I had some involvement with churches … it wasn’t really for me, and the song is about that disconnect.” So once again, in contemporary NZ culture, allegedly secular, we find the church in question; linked with funerals and Pentecostal altar calls, but disconnected from young people.

At the risk of offering nothing more than a questions -What forms of church cultivate hearing the still clear voice? Is there room for 1 hand raised in question? Can faith be more than alien to young people? -let me end by turning to the research from Nancy Ammerman, (Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life) one of the most comprehensive contemporary studies of spirituality.

She concludes

  • First, that contemporary faith is a lot more interesting than counting prayer and church attendance. As we see by listening to 3 Kiwi songs
  • Second, that religion and spirituality are not binary opposites but overlapping quests. Hence the struggles we hear in each of our 3 Kiwi songs
  • Third, that the stronger the connection between everyday life and community, the richer. Hence the plea in Little Bushman, for a faith in which the one hand can question and activate.
  • Fourth, that for many, many people, life is more than ordinary. As we see with Dave Dobbyn.

Some thoughts as I sit in the inn, thinking about church, in the inn, listening to contemporary Kiwi music.

Posted by steve at 07:09 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Poi E: The Story of our Song: a theological film review

Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 100 plus films later, here is the review for September 2016.

Poi E: The Story of our Song

If Poi E – the song – is waiata poi, Poi E – the movie – is waiata haka, a challenge to how New Zealand sees itself. In 1984, New Zealand music was dominated by imports. In that year, of the seventeen number one songs, all but one was offshore in origin. On 18 March, Poi E a song by Dalvanius Prime and the Patea Maori Club, became number one. Without mainstream radio play or television promotion, Poi E would top the charts for four consecutive weeks, becoming 1984’s number-one single of the year. The song reentered the charts in 2009, and again in 2010, making it the only New Zealand song to chart over three decades.

Behind the genius of Dalvanius Prime and the Patea Maori Club lay a strong supporting cast that included a linguist and a local church.

Ngoi Pewhairangi was the linguist, a native Maori speaker committed to advancing her culture in order to ensure a genuinely bicultural nation. Ngoi Pewhairangi had already penned the 1982 hit song, E Ipo, for Prince Tui Teka. Dalvanius mixed E Ipo for Tui, turning his live performance into a recording that became New Zealand’s first ever number one song in Te Reo. In exchange, Dalvanius learnt from Tui of the lyrical gifts of Ngoi Pewhairangi. He took a tune to her home in Tokomaru Bay. Poi E – the movie – includes the playing of the first recording of Poi E. Dalvanius strums a ukulele and sings the lyrics gifted to him by Ngoi Pewhairangi.

The Patea Maori Club began as an initiative by a local Methodist church to encourage young people. Methodist Minister, Reverend Napi Waka poured his energy into the Club. As Jim Ngarewa said in a 2006 Touchstone interview, “Both the marae and the performance are important elements of Maori Methodism in Patea.” It is reminder of the influence that a local church, when it seeks to support art, culture and young people.

In producing Poi E, director Tearepa Kahi cleverly uses two techniques to ensure momentum. First, a set of scenes as Taika Waititi remembers and Stan Walker learns. Spliced throughout the movie, these scenes provide a narrative thread. Second, the clever way in which repeatedly the musical score runs on, despite the visuals changing. The result is an underlying musical continuity, consistent with the movie’s focus on song.

A few weeks before watching Poi E – the movie – I read the story of Flying Nun Records (In Love With These Times: My Life With Flying Nun Records, 2016). Author Roger Shepherd offers a David-and-Goliath-like tale, of local music struggling to be heard amid offshore imports. In 1984 – the year of Poi E’s release – this local record company achieved sales of $90,000, through promoting Pakeha bands like The Chills, The Clean and Shayne Carter.

In contrast Poi E – the movie – tells the story of Dalvanius borrowing money from local business to fund Poi E – the song. This is the waiata haka of Poi E: the reminder that local in New Zealand is much more than white boy bands and a Dunedin sound.

Today the Patea freezing works remain closed. Yet each week in a local church (now a cooperating parish), the Patea Maori Club still gather. May Pakeha accept the waiata haka of which their song speaks.

Rev Dr Steve Taylor is Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Dunedin. He is the author of Built for change (Mediacom: 2016) and The Out of Bounds Church? (Zondervan: 2005) and writes widely in areas of theology and popular culture, including regularly at www.emergentkiwi.org.nz.

Posted by steve at 02:14 PM

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

researching at Te Papa: another research and the rabbit hole

Happy dance – researching in the Pacific collection at Te Papa! Another research and rabbit hole.

Greetings,

My name is Dr Steve Taylor. I am Principal, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership and Senior Lecturer, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.

I am doing research on indigenous Christologies in Papua New Guinea, through the lens of Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain, which has a focus on the Omie people of PNG and their art. I presented a conference paper on my work a few weeks ago in Korea, at the International Association for Mission Studies and continue to do work in preparation for a journal article.

I am aware, through Balai, Sana and Judith Ryan (2009) Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Omie that Omie art has been obtained by galleries outside PNG, including Te Papa.

I am aware, after a search of your catalogue, using “Omie, Papua New Guinea” that there are 4 items of Omie art in your collection. They are listed as:

FE012819
FE012822
FE012821
FE012820

I happen to be visiting Wellington next week – Wednesday afternoon, 7th September and Thursday morning, 8th September – and wonder if I could see these items. I am wanting to actually see with my real eyes what is described in The Mountain, in terms of seeking to understand this art as embodied.

If it was possible to see these objects, I would be grateful.

With thanks

Steve Taylor

Email of confirmation today, including an appointment time. Happy dance.

Posted by steve at 03:10 PM

Monday, September 05, 2016

one for each national Board member please: Built for Change

builtforchange10 Here’s another endorsement of Built for Change. Press Go – a national Presbyterian board – fund promising mission and growth ideas in New Zealand. They brought 10 copies of the book, one for each Board member. Board Chair and current Presbyterian Church Moderator explains why:

“Built for Change is an important book for us as a Board, charged with resourcing mission nationally. It provides theological thinking and practice around change and makes a valuable contribution to our conversation as a Board.

Built For Change is a way of being change rather than making change. While the book has many examples and practical ways of leading change don’t miss the fundamental point of this book; the prior condition for change is an attitude formed by our understanding of ourself, our community and of God at work in the world. Transformational change arises out of a deep collaborative conversation and is not a technique.” Very Rev Andrew Norton, Moderator Presbyterian Church Aotearoa New Zealand and Chair Press Go

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.

Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here.

Posted by steve at 03:21 PM

Thursday, September 01, 2016

research and rabbit holes

Alberto Manguel Argentine Canadian anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor describes how he does research. He writes of being

“an inquisitive and chaotic traveller … discovering places haphazardly …. I have not attempted to devise or discover a systematic method .. My only excuse is that I was guided not by an theory of art but merely by curiousity.” Reading Pictures: What We Think About When We Look at Art, ix.

It disturbs the notion of academic research as objective and systematic and instead offers a process that is more haphazard and unexpected. It feels more like dropping down a rabbit hole, a la Alice in Wonderland, a sudden plunge into a whole new world.

Today I found myself dropping down a research rabbit hole. Two weeks ago I presented a paper on indigenous Christology at the International Conference of Mission Studies. Titled – Fiction as missiology: a Creative “hapkas” Christology in Drusilla Modjeska’s “The Mountain” – it involved reading a fictive novel, Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain to articulate a hybrid Christology.

At the back of the room during the presentation was Joel Robbins, one of the keynote conference speakers, who had himself undertaken research in Papua New Guinea. He sought me out afterward to make a connection – that the focus of my research (author Drusilla Modjeska) – had the same surname as an anthropologist from Papua New Guinea, a Nicholas Modjeska. Might they be related?

A rabbit hole beckoned.

The surname connection made Robbins recall that Nicholas Modjeska had done research on the relationship between understandings of leadership, cultural change and ability to resolve conflict. Would this provide another angle on my research? I had been arguing for an indigenous Christology based on a fictive novel. How might anthropological research into how cultures work provide insight into reconciliation among indigenous cultures?

A rabbit hole beckoned.

Today, as part of my Parking 60, I unexpectedly found myself on wifi near the Otago University Library. Looking for an excuse not to write (not to snack!), I googled Nicholas Modjeska. The Library had two books. It is remarkable to have such a diverse collection so close, just across the road.

A rabbit hole beckoned.

PNg

Plus History Australia journal, in which I was to discover a review of The Mountain, and the following most intriguing quote, ideal for a section I am developing.

“Modjeska would probably just smile and repeat that this is a novel, but the level of accuracy in descriptions of people and places is so good that any ex-PNG hands will find themselves making guesses.” Moore, “Crossing the border into fiction,” History Australia History Australia 9, 3: 250

The next time I teach Research Methods I will share the following as a way of conducting research. I will call it the rabbit hole methodology and offer 3 steps:

1. Deliver an academic paper in which a PNG researcher sits in the back.
2. Do research on a person who shares a surname with another researcher.
3. Accidently find yourself on wifi near a large library.

Like Alberto Manguel this will ensure you remain “an inquisitive and chaotic traveller … discovering places haphazardly … guided … merely by curiousity.” Reading Pictures: What We Think About When We Look at Art, ix. Like Alice, slipping into a rabbit hole.

And for those who ask: What’s the point? Here’s the (current-might-change- research-in-progress) conclusion :

In sum, I have examined fiction from outside the West and argued for a distinct and creative Christology as one result of religious change in PNG. “Hapkas” provides a way to understand ancestor gift, fully human, fully divine and the new Adam. It is a reading that attributes primary agency to an indigenous culture and offers a transformational way to understand religious change as communal participation in the art markets of twenty-first century global capitalism. It is consistent with recent Biblical scholarship regarding the Genesis narratives in the Old Testament. This suggests that to understand conversion missiologically, requires following Jesus who is “‘good’ man true” for the particularity of all indigenous cultures.

Posted by steve at 08:37 PM

Sunday, August 28, 2016

inspiring individually, really helpful theologically: Built for Change review

builtforchange Here is a fifth review of Built for Change. This one is by Duncan Macleod. Duncan is Director of the Uniting Learning Network with the Uniting Church in Australia. He is also editor of The Inspiration Room, a website focused on creative work from around globe.

Two things I appreciate about this review. First, the evaluation of the second section, Leading Deeply as offering “a really helpful reflection” on a theology of leadership and innovation, particularly for the mainline denomination in which Duncan serves. Second, my approach in the third section, Leading Inward as being inspired/ing. Duncan reads my highly personalised approach as an invitation – “Rather than comparing myself with my colleagues, I need to grasp the particular contribution God is developing in me in relationship with my peers.” My highly individualised approach becomes “a great way to finish … inspire and inform … without prescribing or limiting.” It felt risky and vulnerable writing the way I did and its a relief to have Duncan’s feedback on how this approach inspires.

Here is the review in full: thanks Duncan.

Steve’s first section, Leading Outward, introduces six images of leadership as found in Paul’s self descriptions in 1 Corinthians 3 and 4: a servant who listens, a resource manager who faces reality, a builder who structures collaborative processes, a fool who jumps out of boxes and plays, and a parent who parents. Steve tells the stories of three innovative projects made possible through collaborative leadership: Glenkirk Cafe in Malvern, Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross, Sydney, and the Illustrated Gospel Project, a worship resource curated by Malcolm Gordon. He goes on to explore Lewin’s force field, experimentation, the change curve, and the importance of tacking.

The second section, Leading Deeply, delves into a theology of leadership, drawing insight from the ministry of Jesus and exploring the healthy tension between Biblical frameworks and contemporary insights into collaborative leadership. This is a really helpful reflection for the Uniting Church, which in many ways has its roots in movements that were highly suspicious of any one person having too much influence. It’s not that long ago that focusing on transformation, leadership and missional challenge were seen by some as the latest heresy. Steve’s contribution to the conversation helps us recognise some of our own biases and come more lightly to a considered theological reflection on leadership and innovation.

The third section, Leading Inward, provides insights into Steve’s own exploration of collaborative leadership and innovation, including lessons learnt and practices honed. This, perhaps, is the section that inspired me the most. Steve has run a series of C words in this section: call, colour, connection, community. Working in a very similar role to Steve, I resonated with his reflections on the importance of call. “What is in your hand? What among your gifts, talents and experience is of value to the organisations to which you contribute?” Having just gone through my annual vitality of ministry review this week, it’s a pertinent question. Rather than comparing myself with my colleagues, I need to grasp the particular contribution God is developing in me in relationship with my peers. I gathered inspiration for practical daily and weekly disciplines as I read through the way Steve manages to achieve what he does.

Steve finishes with a chapter on reflective leadership, focusing on four tools: journaling, the leading of meetings, breath prayer and the art of asking the question, “What could I do differently”. That last question is a great way to finish, helping us as readers to recognise Steve’s pattern of work and life as his particular journey of learning, which can inspire and inform our own without prescribing or limiting.

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.

Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here.

Posted by steve at 04:25 PM

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Research-Led Learning and Teaching

wonder I’ve been invited to be part of the Sydney College of Divinity Learning and Teaching Conference, April 28-9, 2017. The theme is appealing Wondering about God together.

Called ‘the queen of the sciences’, theology begins and ends with wonder at the works of God in the
world. If this wonder is both caught and taught, how can theological educators create a research
culture that fosters deep theological learning? What is the role of research in building communities
of theological learning? Come, let us wonder together!

It invites reflection on the relationship between wonder and Research-Led Learning and Teaching. It also prioritises research in Learning and Teaching, which must be at the heart of higher education and shifts our discussion of learning and teaching out of the realm of anecdote. I have been asked to contribute two keynote addresses, around my research into the impact of flipped learning on theological education. I might also venture into research on innovation and pastoral practice in the face of contemporary.

The conference will offer papers streamed around the four Domains of the new Higher Education Standards (Australia) 2015.

  • Student Experience
  • Learning Environment
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Research and Research Training

The aim is to encourage teaching Faculty and all those involved in the wider tasks of Theological Education to offer papers engaging the wide range of issues currently pressuring all aspects of theological education. The Call for Papers, by 16 November, 2016, is SCD_WonderingAboutGodTogether_Flier.

Posted by steve at 09:55 AM

Friday, August 26, 2016

Contribution to Research Environments

pbrf Part of being an academic researcher involves contribution to the Research Environment. It is one of 3 factors listed in the New Zealand Performance Based Research criteria; alongside research outputs and peer esteem. Contribution to the Research Environment involves the contribution to vital, high-quality research environment. It involves factors like membership of research collaborations and consortia, contributions to the research discipline and environment, facilitating discipline-based and research networks; generation of externally funded research; supervision of student research and assisting student publishing, exhibiting or performance.

Today, back at work after three days travel, I downloaded an email and collected the mail. It included

  1. notification that a journal article I had recently reviewed had been published (Religions 2016, 7(9)). Titled “Maintaining the Connection: Strategic Approaches to Keeping the Link between Initiating Congregations and Their Social Service Off-Spring” it provides empirical research on what it means for congregations to start community ministry.
  2. a post-graduate thesis I have agreed to examine on behalf of another academic institution
  3. a book to endorse, by a fellow academic, stepping into the world of publishing for the first time
  4. a book to review, on academic skills, in particular that of note-taking

Each of these are a contribution to research environment – marking to ensure quality, reviewing of journal articles and books and summarising so that others can engage.

My organisation is not eligible to be considered for New Zealand Performance Based Research. Nevertheless, we are Presbyterian and as such, believe in collaborative leadership, that we are better together. The Performance Based Research criteria provide a set of benchmarks by which we might consider our activities and where we put our energy.  Contribution to the Research Environment is an essential oil.  It is an important category, a reminder that part of being an academic includes not only researching and writing, but providing input into other academics in their writing. Theologically, it is a reminder of the need to do onto others as we would hope they would do unto us.

Posted by steve at 07:22 PM

Monday, August 22, 2016

makes good sense: the mother-in-law reviews Built for Change

builtforchange Here is another review of Built for Change, this one by my mother-in-law.

During the past month I had more time than usual for reading and I found Steve Taylor’s new book very interesting. “Built for Change” is, as it says, “a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership.” The words “Collaboration in leadership” grabbed me because I don’t see “collaborating” as something Christians always find easy to do. It seems easy to be excited by something we believe God is saying to us individually but often much harder to really listen to others and work together.

Quoting from 1 Corinthians, Chapters 3 and 4, Steve describes Paul’s leadership as combining the attributes of servant, gardener, builder, resource manager, fool and parent. I wondered how exercising those attributes could be a key to making collaboration and innovation successful and I was encouraged to read on. Steve describes how he has used Paul’s ministry as a model for building team leadership over the past few years in Australia and now in Otago. What he has to say makes good sense and his book is full of rich and innovative ideas.

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.

Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here.

Posted by steve at 12:36 PM

Friday, August 19, 2016

Presbyterian Church of Korea newspaper

The Presbyterian Church of Korea has a weekly newspaper and my recent 10 day visit to Korea has made “the Presbyterian news.” (Including a photo: I think I look tired, my family think I look lovely)

Pcknews

I don’t speak Korean but I’m told the article speaks about
- the multicultural context of NZ
- the curriculum of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
- the concepts of reformed and reforming and the need to hold both in tension in the task of forming leaders and being a seminary
- the reality that being diaspora has a context, which needs to be taken seriously
- that I met on my visit to Korea the translator and readers of my Out of Bounds Church? book, translated into Korean.

Posted by steve at 10:49 AM

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fiction as missiology: feedback

fictionspeaking I delivered my second paper today at the International Association Mission Studies: Fiction as missiology: a Creative “hapkas” Christology in Drusilla Modjeska’s “The Mountain.”. It was a complex piece of work: reading a fictive novel, Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain as a Christology. In the novel, Modjeska offers evidence of the transformation of PNG by Christianity: “Of all the applause, of all the cheers, the greatest is for the Christian missions …. ‘Jesus,’ … ‘good’ man true” … ‘He die on a tree. Very good. He die for PNG’” (The Mountain, 291). I outlined how her book offers a distinct Christology. I brought this into conversation with Walter Moberly’s The Old Testament of the Old Testament: Patriarchal Narratives and Mosaic Yahwism and Mark Brett’s, Decolonizing God: The Bible in the Tides of Empire to argue that to understand conversion missiologically requires following “‘Jesus,’ … ‘good’ man true” for the particularity of all indigenous cultures. (Here is the handout I provided, which includes key quotes and the bibliography. Fiction as theology IAMS handout.) There was a lot of energy in the room, with a great set of questions and affirmations.

Questions:

1. Tell us more about the author please?

2. PNG has both patrilenial and matrilenial tribes. Is this significant?

3. If you take a reader-response position to the novel, do you also take a reader-response position to the Bible?

4. Your argument depends on the relationship between ancestors and Hebrew monotheism. How different is the ancestor understandings of PNG and the ancestor understandings of the Old Testament?

5. The concept of “half-caste” is often linked with rejection. How might you weave that into your Christology?

6. Have you considered the “half-caste” Christology you were advocating in relation to global migration flows? This makes your talk of such great significance.

7. You have offered such a creative Christology. What is your methodology?

8. How might your reading be offered as a public theology to other readers of The Mountain?

Affirmations:

1. That was stunning. That should have been a keynote.

2. Can I have your talk. I want to translate it into Korean as an article in Korean.

3. Your talk was so moving. I cried through parts of it.

Overall, a great experience. It was daunting to have one of the conference keynote speakers, Professor Joel Robbins, from Cambridge University in the room, especially given he had conducted his research in PNG. However, I was delighted to have him ask for a copy of my talk at the end and offer some really helpful observations.

Posted by steve at 12:10 AM

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fiction as missiology: an indigenous Christology in Papua New Guinea

I deliver a second paper at the International Association Mission Studies, Korea on Monday. This paper is titled Fiction as missiology: a Creative “hapkas” Christology in Drusilla Modjeska’s “The Mountain.” As with my first paper, Missiological approaches to “Silence”, this takes a hobby, a holiday read of The Mountain by Drusilla Modjeska and integrates it with my research interests in missiology. Again, it is an interdisciplinary exercise; reading fiction, post-colonial literature and Old Testament exegesis in order to engage indigenous people in Jesus bloodline. It is personal, a return to my story, doing theology in relation to my country of birth – Papua New Guinea.

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It is a complicated paper, but one I’m really, really pleased with. I consider it some of my most creative yet Biblically deep reflection I’ve done, helped greatly by conversation with fellow PNG kid, Mark Brett. Whether the audience agree we will soon see.

Here’s my conclusion:

In sum, I have examined fiction from outside the West and argued for a distinct and creative Christology as one result of religious change in PNG. “Hapkas” provides a way to understand ancestor gift, fully human, fully divine and the new Adam. It is a reading that attributes primary agency to an indigenous culture and offers a transformational way to understand religious change as communal participation in the art markets of twenty-first century global capitalism. It is consistent with recent Biblical scholarship regarding the Genesis narratives in the Old Testament. This suggests that to understand conversion missiologically, requires following Jesus who is “‘good’ man true” for the particularity of all indigenous cultures.

Posted by steve at 12:43 AM