Wednesday, November 06, 2019

in an indexing space

Last week I was in the editing cave, huddled in a small alcove, confined in order to focus and check the typeset proofs of my forthcoming book.

IMG_7853[1]

With the editing task completed, this week I’m in the indexing space. I have physically moved. I have found another building, complete with a square table, providing room to spread pages of notes and publisher guidelines and how to index articles downloaded from the internet. The square table is in a large space, with a high ceiling. In this space, I feel free, yet still confined enough to focus.

I have never indexed before. I considered hiring a professional. But the articles from the internet shared stories of books outsourced to professional indexers who lacked a feel for the subject area. My book works across a number of disciplines – missiology, empirical research and innovation. So I decided I needed to learn.

I began by defining the task. 1 page of index for 45 pages of writing said the guidelines from the publisher. With my book being 235 pages, that meant I needed 5 pages. Suddenly the task had an end.

I then turned to similar books. I looked at their index and that got me started. I identified key words and that helped me brainstormed more. Typing these words up gave me 3.5 pages of index. Suddenly I was under way.

Next I began at the beginning. I am reading through every chapter of my book. In the margins, as I read, I am noting key words. I am trying to think like the reader, identify words they might be interested in. As each chapter ends, I add the words as page numbers in the index. The index is taking shape.

Time (and reviewers) will tell whether my first attempt is good, or a poor; my decision to do it myself wise or misguided. But I am, to my great surprise, really enjoying the task of indexing. Indexing involves short bursts of concentration, rather than the extended work required to edit a chapter. It is like sprints, rather than a marathon. And there are patterns. I see the patterns emerging as words become linked across pages. It is fun trying to think like a reader.

I have much to do. But I am underway. The indexing space is different from the editing cave and the creative writing cafe.

Posted by steve at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 02, 2019

crossing cultures in theological education research

I am in Auckland this weekend for a very special celebration – the 50th anniversary of the acceptance of Congregational Union ministers and members into fellowship within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. My involvement is a research contribution, reflecting on the impact this had on theological education, particularly given that the Congregational Union had a Pacific presence.

A few years ago, as part of learning about the history of the college I teach out, I set myself the task of reading the Student Union minutes, from 1965 to the present. It was a great way to understand theological education from a student perspective.

One of the striking features was the impact of the arrival of Pacific Island students to study.

  • In numbers: In the ten years from 1971-1980, 31 people representing 19% of the student cohort at the Hall were born in the Pacific.
  • In the classroom: Imagine the impact on those training for ministry, many coming from rural, monocultural Presbyterian parishes, to learn for ministry beside those from Western Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tuvalu.
  • In resources and curriculum: during the 1970’s students organised input through a forum called Student hour and through the 1970s took the initiative to seek input on race relations, Pacific Island Customs and to raise funds for research into Polynesian subjects

When I heard about the 50th anniversary celebration, I shared a snippet of my research and was asked to provide a summary for a handout.

Screen Shot 2019-11-02 at 12.35.53 PM

This handout is a four page insert, with

  • Names of students in 1970s
  • Some reflection on impacts on Hall
  • List of research held in Hewitson
  • A picture of a page of the Minute book

It also names some potential future research possibilities

  • Life histories theology project: What could be learned by interviewing these ministers about what they think today about what wrote as they graduated? Could such interviews be a taonga made visible by video in language learning weeks?
  • Faith formation project: Many of those who graduated went to rural parishes in Southland and Otago. What did this geographic isolation mean for their families and their faith?

I really like that my research is considered of such benefit to the local church and that I get to share it with perhaps 300 people this weekend, as part of the celebrations at Newton PIC. (The technical word is impact, the way in which research actually reaches out and connects with local communities)

Posted by steve at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

in the editing cave

I am in the editing cave.

And it is dark.

IMG_7847

The copy edits on my first expressions book arrived a few weeks ago.

I took some time to sit with the joy – of seeing the actual size of the book; of holding a complete manuscript of 240 pages, of leafing through and admiring how the multiple tables worked to clarify; of seeing how the haiku I wrote for each chapter work to ensure white space for creativity.

But the copy edits came with a deadline. Please undertake a final read and return any corrections by 4 November.

In order to begin, I needed to break up the task. There are 13 chapters, so over 3 weeks; that means 4 chapters a week; 4 days a week with a day of grace for the unexpected/travel etc.

In order to begin, I needed to find a new spot. Normally I begin each day writing in a cafe. For m, it is a profoundly important time, a time to ideate, to be imaginative with ideas and creative with words. I’m more fully human after an hour of writing.

I have a local cafe with big windows opening onto green space and the distraction of voices talking. In that space I am creative.

But copy edits require not big ideas but focus and careful attention to detail.

The University library has some chairs under the first floor stairwell. This is a confined space, perfectly suited for focus. There is free 2 hour parking close by. That also provides confinement – I only have 2 hours; this concentration has a time limit.

There are no neighbours. This also is important, as I edit by reading aloud. Speaking the words helps me concentrate, be more attentive to what is actually printed, not what my brain thinks should be printed. Under the stairwall, I can talk to myself, hear only myself.

In this cave, I am able to work differently. I miss (terribly) the invitation to be creative and ideate. But in the confines of their stairwall, there is hope. This has limits. This is not forever. This will end.

And in that, there is satisfaction.

Posted by steve at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

the journey of a journal article – Cultural hybridity in conversion

“Cultural hybridity in conversion: an examination of “Hapkas” Christology as resistance and innovation in Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain,” Mission Studies 36 (3) November 2019, 416-441″ (here).

Abstract -This essay analyses Christian witness, applying a post-colonial lens to Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain to account for conversion and transformation in Papua New Guinea. A ‘hapkas’ (half-caste) Christology of indigenous agency, communal transformation and hybridity is examined in dialogue with New Testament themes of genealogy, redemption as gift and Jesus as the new Adam. Jesus as ‘good man true’ is placed in critical dialogue with masculine identity tropes in Melanesian anthropology. Jesus as ancestor gift of Canaanite descent is located in relation to scholarship that respects indigenous cultures as Old Testaments and post-colonial theologies of revelation which affirm cultural hybridity and indigenous innovation in conversion across cultures. This ‘hapkas’ Christology demonstrates how a received message of Christian mission is transformed in a crossing of cultures.

The journey of a journal article – through fiction, art and anthropology via my childhood. ‘Innovative” the editor called it. “Excellent article – well framed, written and a pleasure to read. … one of the best articles I have read in a while … Well done!” said the reviewers.

So a short video to explain the journey and introduce some of the key resources.

Cultural hybridity in conversion by Steve Taylor in Mission Studies from steve taylor on Vimeo.

Drusilla Modjeska, The Mountain.

Drusilla Modjeska, Second Half First.

National Gallery Victoria, Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Omie

Stanley Skreslet, Comprehending Mission: The Questions, Methods, Themes, Problems, and prospects of Missiology.

Posted by steve at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, October 21, 2019

visualising a research project

graph

I’m always looking for ways to express things in visual modes.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a complex research bid. It involves a mixed methods approach, including standard methods like archival research and interviews. But it also involves more creative approaches, including mapping genealogies through sacred space, material objects to facilitate conversational approaches to research and absent voices methodologies.

As the research application approached the 5,000 word mark, I needed an executive summary. More importantly, I needed ways other than words to communicate. Hence the visual.

A picture is worth a 1,000 words after all.

I stepped back from the methods and methodologies and asked myself some basic questions, about the main things I was doing

  • how much time in archives?
  • how much time face to face?
  • how much time to communicate in writing?
  • how much time to communicate in presentations?
  • how much time to organise?

I made a quick spreadsheet and added up some numbers. Then I used the pie graph function. With about 15 minutes work, I had a visual depiction of the data. In the midst of words and numbers and tables, it provides an instant overview – of a project that involves a significant amount of face to face engagement.

Posted by steve at 08:57 PM

Monday, October 14, 2019

highlighter worship

I had a go at introducing highlighter worship on Sunday morning. And it worked really well.

IMG_7818

The Psalm for the day, Psalm 65, was an invitation to gratitude, while the lectionary text was Luke 17:11-19, with the encouragement to take time to return and give thanks. I was preaching in a local church, a visitor, unaware of their patterns and lives. Given the Bible readings, how might I encourage them in gratitude?

So during the week prior, I asked to be sent the copies of the church newsletters for the previous month. This gave me four newsletters, each different, each a snapshot of life in this church community. I then blew the newsletters up to A3 size on the photocopier, to help with visibility, and create something distinct about this particular moment.

I wanted a way to keep the focus on the newsletter, on the artifacts of this church community and not introduce more sheets of paper. So I went looking for highlighters. The highlighters had to be yellow – the colour of cheery gratitude. The instructions were to work in pairs and read back over the newsletter, yellow cheery highlighter in hand, and mark things to be thankful for.

On Sunday morning, the A3 sheets were laid down the centre aisle – easy to get to, no walking required. People were invited to be thankful, by looking back over a recent newsletter and highlight things to be thankful for (there were some other options if that wasn’t going to be helpful). A song was played quietly in the background.

After about 5 minutes, I reminded folk that liturgy was the work of the people and here was a chance for us to work together, to create our local Psalm of thanksgiving. Folk were invited to call out what they had highlighted. I repeated it, for those hard of hearing, with the refrain “and God’s people said” – to which a shared “Amen” enabled call and response.

Much thankfulness resulted. The energy in the room went up as God was praised and the specific local shape of this community was described.

Highlighter worship! It requires old church newsletters and highlighters. And a thankful heart!

Posted by steve at 08:39 AM

Thursday, October 10, 2019

“Jesus as innovator” conference paper acceptance

A few years ago, I began a research conversation with Dr Christine Woods, a Professor at the Business School at Auckland University. We had a mutual interest in social entrepreneurship and a shared question: does Christian faith offer anything to innovation? What in Christian resources might encourage the making of all things new?

One of the first tangible fruits of our shared conversation is the acceptance of a paper for United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship 2020 conference. It’s a new space for me, but really interesting to see what might happen as Jesus is made present in this sort of context.

Title: Jesus as innovator: engaging in missional entrepreneurship

Keywords: Mission entrepreneurship, innovation, Christianity, opportunity

Abstract: Discussion on spirituality in entrepreneurship is an emergent area of research (Balog, Baker, & Walker, 2014). We explore one specific form of spiritual entrepreneurship: mission entrepreneurship, understood as realizing opportunities to bring about change inspired by Christ. We contend that a Christology of entrepreneurship can be found in the six images of innovation emerging from a biblical exegesis of 1 Corinthians 3, 4: serving, gardening, building, resourcing, risking and parenting. We discuss how these images form a framework that can be used as a pedagogical tool, and how the framework combines with the conventional idea to opportunity entrepreneurship process.

Acceptance involved not only an abstract, but also a 1,000 word summary in which we outlined our

  • research question – what understanding can we then draw of an engagement with entrepreneurship from God’s word?
  • methodology – “connectional methodology” from Paul Fiddes (Seeing the World and Knowing God, 2013)
  • contribution to entrepreneurship research – a Christology of entrepreneurship and innovation of six Christian acts of innovation – serving, gardening, building, researching, risking and parenting.

Unknown-8

The 2020 United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference is in New Orleans in January and Christine will be taking this one for the team!

Balog, A. M., Baker, L. T., & Walker, A. G. (2014). Religiosity and spirituality in entrepreneurship: a review and research agenda. Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion, 11(2), 159–186.

Taylor, Steve, Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration, 2016.

Posted by steve at 02:56 PM

Monday, October 07, 2019

Listening in Mission key missiology assumptions

listeninginmission2019 I began Listening in Mission 2019 as online continuing education cohort experience a few weeks ago. It’s the 3rd year in a row we as KCML have offered this online educative local mission in neighbourhood experience. In preparing for the opening session (of five), I wanted to articulate some of the missiology that shaped the design of the course. Since we were working with John 21:1-14 in the lectio divina, I turned to that Biblical text as I sketched the key missiological assumptions.

The first assumption is that God is active in the world. This is central to John 21; first in the centrality of the Resurrected Jesus and second in the affirmation that this Jesus “showed himself in this way” (verse 1) by the Sea of Tiberias. Jesus “showed himself” as present and active neither in a building nor in a clearly religious activity, but beside a Lake and in the everyday, working day actions of fishing. Listening in mission assumes that God is active in the everyday working world. This assumption invites us to pay attention to our local communities, to look for Jesus in the ordinary and everyday.

A second assumption is that existing approaches yield little fruit. The disciples have fished all night, but “have no fish.” (21:5). This is the experience of many of our churches. What used to work, the ways we used to gather fish, are not yielding the same results. Our communities are changing. There is nothing wrong with the activity, skill or dedication of the disciples. It is simply that they have no fish.

This results in a third assumption, to be open to surprises from outside ourselves. The invitation from Jesus in verse 6 is to try the other side of the boat. This required the disciples to stop and listen, to attend to a voice from outside their hard-working circle, from a person they did not yet recognise. In Christ, there are new possibilities. These emerge as we pay attention to voices from outside ourselves.

A fourth assumption is that we need the body of Christ. In verse 4 – ‘disciples did not know” and in verse 7, Peter needed John as part of the process of discernment. While we can wonder at why this lack of recognition might be, the text makes clear that the discerning of Jesus was a shared task. This notion of shared discernment is central to being Presbyterian. Aware of our human sinfulness, we enact shared governance. Hence any listening in mission must be communal. We need others to help us looking for Jesus in community.

These 4 assumption
• God is active in the world, so pay attention to local
• Old ways are not working
• Jesus invites to pay attention in new ways
• We need each other
shape the design of Listening in Mission.

Participants are invited to
• gather local because our everyday communities are where God is present
• engage in disciplines of listening, a double listening for God in Scripture and in community
• take time, because new possibilties and new habits are not always immediately obvious
• keep gathering support – both local and in engaging with KCML

____________
For a 90 second video introduction, shot in my friendly local cafe, click here …

listening in mission from steve taylor on Vimeo.

__________

For a musical – pop culture, Kiwi contextual – framing go here

Posted by steve at 08:43 PM

Friday, September 20, 2019

Craftivism imaged: my paper in art

After my paper on Craftivism as mission at Ecclesiology and Ethnography, I was introduced to this piece of art.

Unknown-13

It is a Salvador Dali lithograph, owned by Durham University, which sits in the St Johns College dining room. It is titled “Illustration of the Bible, Jeremiah 1:5. Before I formed you in the womb I knew.” The suggestion was that this art piece “imaged” my research paper. I love the depiction of a woman weaving and perhaps God being imaged in relation to feminine images of womb and craft.” My “shot” is not a great picture, given the glare of glass and a sun and a crowded room.

Posted by steve at 09:32 PM

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Speaking twice at Ecclesiology and Ethnography 2019

Today I was scheduled to present a paper on craftivism as missiology at the Ecclesiology and Ethnography 2019 conference. By a strange quirk of fate, I found myself presenting my paper not once but twice.

Conferences tend to group presentations together and I was scheduled to present second at 9:45 am. I arrived at 8:50 am to set up. However by 9 am, with the session due to start, there was no sign of the first presenter. In fact, no-one in the room could recall seeing the first presenter at the entire conference.

Faced with a sudden and unexpected hole in the programme, the conference organiser invited me to proceed at 9 am, given there was another presentation happening at 9:45 am in another room that some folk wanted to hear.

Conference presentations involve simultaneous streams and sometimes people move between streams as part of pick and mixing. At 9:45 am, as I took the final question of my presentation and as I began to thank my audience, a number of folk arrived, expecting to hear my presentation, as scheduled in the programme, for 9: 45 am.

Since I had the time and since I have come quite a long way (half way around the world) and since I’m pretty passionate about the topic, I indicated I was willing to offer the presentation again – and as originally advertised.

Which I did. With enthusiasm :).

The feedback from participants at both 9 am and 9:45 am was some of the most positive feedback I’ve ever had on a conference presentation. ‘Wonderful paper” said a leading scholar from Yale. “This opens up new horizons for empirical research” said another. “Could you video it for my church?” said another. Two folk even stayed for both presentations.

The questions opened up new avenues of thinking and possibilities for further research. They included

  • In what ways were the angels making possible new ways to inhabit the earth?
  • What does it mean for theology when knitted angels are actors in the mission of God?
  • Could I use twitter to conduct a longitudinal research on participants, retweeting to them?
  • How had my participation in the research, particularly my learning to knit as part of the project, changed me?
  • If it was craftivism, then in what ways was it political? What was being subverted?
  • In what ways does my data ‘re-make’ existing understandings of communication as having senders of messages to receivers?
  • Is my model of craftivism emerging from the wisdom literature of the Old Testament in fact a Trinitarian patterning?
  • How to make sense of the complex layers of materiality – the wool, the making, the placing?
  • Can i provide a better account of gender from the data, accounting not simply for men and women but seeking to understand gendered trends, impacts, roles and relationships?

In my responses, I realised how much my thinking has developed since this paper was presented at ANZATS in July 2019. This included insights emerging from my focus group research with the organisors on Monday night and material from my first expressions book (SCM, 2019).

It was a privilege to present once, let alone twice and both times to sense the richness of the research I have done and how it connects both for academics and for local church pastors (hence the “Could you video it for my church?” comment). My thanks to the organisors for accepting my paper and KCML/PCANZ who made possible financially my participation.  And to my family for graciously giving me permission.

Posted by steve at 05:44 PM

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

first day back from sabbatical

Yesterday was my first day back from sabbatical. The day began in Glasgow and ended in Durham and involved four meetings, two in Edinburgh, followed by two in Durham.

First in Edinburgh, a conversation with Dr Carol Marples, who recently gained her PhD for research into creativity in worship, emerging from Carol’s training as an artist and work with congregations. We talked together about ways that she is seeking to cultivate collaboration in creative making in congregations, including developing short courses.

Next in Edinburgh, a conversation with Dr Alexander Chow, Lecturer in Theology and World Christianity at Edinburgh University. I was particularly interested in his use of wikipedia, requiring students to complete assessment that includes writing articles for wikipedia. It strikes me as a great example of making research useful.

Unknown-9

Then onto/back to Durham. The presentations I am offering here in the UK during this trip involves research on the church in the United Kingdom, in particular the impact of Christmas knitted angels. So I contacted folk who began the project and asked if they were interested in hearing about my research.

So a meeting with Dr Christine Dutton, who as Methodist minister encouraged her congregations’ involvement. I have also drawn on her research into knitting as missional practice and together we talked about ways we might conduct further research together, given her strengths and expertise.

Finally, a meeting with David Wynd and Rob Wylie, who had seen some creativity from the gifted Lou Davis, a Methodist pioneer minister and encouraged the Christmas knitted angels project. I interviewed them about their hopes and dreams for the project. Then I gave them a summary of what I had discovered from my research into how folk had experienced receiving an angel. Then we talked about the possibility of a Christmas angels downunder experiment, testing to see how knitted angels upside down – in summer – might work.

So ended the first day back from sabbatical. Rich, full of meetings and hopeful of next step possibilities in research and mission in the church. Today, Tuesday, is my second day back from sabbatical. It involves a morning meeting about another possible collaborative research project and then the Ecclesiology and Ethnography 2019 conference which begins with lunch. Equally full, although thankfully with less travel.

Posted by steve at 09:50 PM

Friday, September 13, 2019

writing goalless in Germany

Unknown-3

This week was my last week of sabbatical and at 9 am on Monday, the computer was on and I was writing. I’ve not set myself any writing targets for this week. This is highly unusual. Writing time is so precious and I am normally very focused.

But not this week. For a number of reasons.

First, intuitively, the fact that I am highly focused in writing makes it worth exploring other modes. What would happen if I followed my nose? What might I learn about myself, about writing, about creating?

Second, practically, the major aim of the sabbatical was the completion of a book contract, an empirical study of innovation and mission. The deadline with the publishers was May. When my sabbatical was postponed in February, I absorbed the pressure of needing to meet a deadline with 13 weeks of sabbatical not 15. It meant working a few too many Saturday’s in May. But having met that deadline in May, on the other side in September, I had some weeks spare. It made sense to treat them as a treat. I’d already met the deadline for the 15 weeks, so whatever emerged would be a bonus.

Unknown-8

Third, I’ve decided to spend this week writing in Germany. My daughter is cycling the Rhine River and this was a chance for her to pause and for us to spend precious father/daughter time together. We had agreed that I would write in the mornings and we would explore in the afternoons and evenings. This meant that I would be writing in a totally new space. I was not sure what type of desk I would have to work at nor what books and resources I might need. Nor did I want to carry unnecessary weight half way around the world.

Fourth, this was a new mental space. The afternoon wanders might shake lose some creativity, create new connections, provide different perspectives. So having no goals allowed me to be free.

So as I opened my computer at 9 am on Monday, I had no goals, and thus no expectations. What to do? Where to begin?

I did have a deadline due in 10 days time on a small writing project for Upper room, a US publishing house. It is a collaboration with a research colleague who is currently quite busy. So I decided to draft some words, hoping that would kickstart our creativity.

As I completed that, I realised it was actually a potential conclusion to a longer project we had talked about working on. So I added the words as a conclusion and set up about turning a talk we had done together in July into a 4000 word journal article – researching contemporary practices of ministerial action.

Over the week the article grew. All the resources I needed were available. The afternoon wandering through different spaces set lose some fresh ideas.

As the week ended, the writing had become a complete draft. It needs to be slightly tightened and it needs an edit. But it is a complete draft.

Writing goalless work a week in Germany had resulted in
- 650 words for Upper room, for Devozine, a teenage spirituality resource
- a 4,300 word piece for a New Zealand ministry journal on how local churches respond to tragedy and trauma
- an encouragement. Toward the end of our week, an afternoon explore found me paying my respects to Hildegard of Bingen, one of the church’s finest theologians (Doctor), healer, composer, community builder.

Unknown-6

I have wrestled with my writing over the last 18 months. Is it a good investment of time? Or is it a luxury? Seeing the quill in Hildegard’s hand was inspiring. Writing can be a charism. It can be something through which the Spirit works. Writing goalless in Germany meant finding this encouragement: keep writing, keep creating …

Posted by steve at 10:06 PM

Friday, September 06, 2019

Germany bound

I’ve had a great week in Durham. The folk doing the Doctor of Theology and Ministry (DThM) from Durham University are a great bunch, doing some really interesting projects and clearly showing the value of practical theology in understanding the relationship between theology and practice.

My lecture on Craftivism as a missiology of making went really well and seemed to be greatly appreciated.

learning to knit

I spoke for about an hour, working from the journal article I submitted a few weeks ago. The questions that flowed were excellent and showed there is plenty of avenues for further research if I want to continue to develop this project! Apparently there is at least one Anglican training event this weekend in which craftivism and Dorcas as an agent in the 5 faces of mission is now being included!

It’s also been great to catch up with folk and nurture some international friendships with which I am blessed.

Today, I headed down to York, to do some journal planning with Nigel Rooms. Together we are co-editing a new journal, seeking to nurture quality research on local Christian communities in mission. After International Association of Mission Studies in Korea in 2016, work has been done to ensure a new IAMS Study Group called “Christian Communities in Mission” as a stream for Sydney, 2020. In addition, work has been done, including raising some seed funding and securing a publisher, for a new journal. The journal will be called “Ecclesial Futures” and will be a double blind peer reviewed journal encouraging original research on local Christian communities as they join the mission of God. It was great to meet with Nigel and clarify our ethos. Nigel and I as co-editors talked about the journal culture we want to create, including a peer reviewing culture that embodies our missional focus – one that seeks excellence through postures of being hospitable, relational and generative.

Tomorrow, I head to Frankfurt, Germany, to meet my daughter, who has been biking the Rhine. After months apart, there might be a tear or three in my eye by this time tomorrow.

Posted by steve at 07:20 AM

Saturday, August 31, 2019

September 2019 Europe visit

I am England bound today. I had to delay my outside study leave at the start of this year. As a result, I lost two weeks of outside study leave and so my workplace agreed that I take the two lost weeks in September, joined to a UK conference I had already been planning to attend. So my September 2019 plans are as follows:

Friday, 30 August, fly to Auckland and participate in Lighthouse 2019. The Lighthouse is an innovation incubator KCML began in 2016, as a way of trying to encourage discernment in mission and innovation in local community contexts. This year we have 35 people who are in 10 teams, working on a range of community mission projects. I will be providing a welcome and some teaching, alongside the excellent leadership team that has been developing over the last three years.

Leave Auckland, Saturday 31 August to fly to Durham Sunday 1 September. For the week of Monday 2 September to Friday 6 September, I will be a Visiting Lecturer in Practical Theology participating in the Doctor Theology of Ministry Residential School.

Unknown-12

I will be presenting a 90 minute seminar based on my outside study leave research into craftivism, in exchange for library access, accommodation and the excellent company of those in ministry doing a high level of reflection on their practice. It will be an excellent networking opportunity, plus some space to write and offer my research.

Friday, 6th September, I fly to Germany, initially for the weekend to connect with my daughter, followed by a final week of outside study leave, writing. I want to turn the craftivist research into a couple of accessible pieces for Candour and SPANZ.

Friday 13th September, I return to Scotland, for a weekend with the Gay Morley family. I then return to Durham on the Monday, to participate in the Ecclesiology and Ethnography 2019 conference, where I give another paper, also on my craftivism research.

Where #christmasangels tread: Craftivism as a missiology of making

The church is formed by witness. A contemporary ecclesial embodiment of witness is craftivism, which combines craft and activism. One example is the Christmas angels project, in which local churches are encouraged to knit Christmas Angels and yarnbomb their surrounding neighbourhoods. This paper examines this embodiment of craftivism as a fresh expression of mission.

Given that Christmas angels were labelled with a twitter hashtag, technology was utilised to access the tweets as empirical data in order to analyse the experiences of those who received this particular form of Christian witness. Over 1,100 “#christmasangel” tweets were extracted and examined. Geographic mapping suggests that Christmas angels have taken flight over England. Content analysis reveals a dominant theme of a found theology, in which angels are experienced as surprising gift. Consistent with the themes of Advent, this embodiment of craftivism was received with joy, experienced as place-based and understood in the context of love and community connection.

A Christology of making will be developed, reading the layers of participative making in dialogue with David Kelsey’s theological anthropology. The research has relevance, first, exploring the use of twitter in empirical ecclesial research; second, offering a practical theology of making; third, challenging missiology in ‘making’ a domestic turn.

Around this is a number of networking conversations, including with folk involved in Christmas Angels (could we do it in Aotearoa I will be wondering), a colleague to explore doing empirical research on faith-based governance, plus a meeting in Edinburgh with folk from the Church of Scotland, to explore ways we might learn from each other in mission and innovation experiments along with other connections.

I’m grateful for a workplace that provides this type of resourcing opportunity, excited to be presenting some of the work from the first 13 weeks of outside study leave, looking forward to what words might emerge in a different space and thrilled to be seeing my daughter after quite some months apart.

Posted by steve at 02:36 PM