Friday, January 30, 2009

questions I’m searching for answers too

0. Spiritual formation in our world today
– How do themes of “journey and discovery” fit with the realities of life today?
– How do we foster life processes when church is shaped around a regular gathering? And when people are at such a range of stages and places, from no-faith to set-in-faith?

1. Emerging church and indigenous non-Western voices

– How do groups find enough space to find their own unique voice again?
– Can a culture find their own voice in isolation, or must their be wider conversation to find full identity?
– How to have mutual conversations when the history has been of powerlessness?
– What habits might I bring to the table that might in fact simply continue oppression (and is the very fact I am engaging with the issue actually in fact a continuation of marginalisation)?
– And finally, why, if this is about full-participation, are there only men on this video?

2. Time and focus
– How do I find time to attend to my own passions and life gifts, when there are so many worthy causes to engage with in our world today? (more…)

Posted by steve at 09:42 AM

Thursday, January 29, 2009

waitangi day 2009 synchroblog

Anyone interested in joining in a Waitangi Day Synchroblog?

Over the last few years, I have taken Waitangi Day as an opportunity on my blog to reflect on various dimensions of being Kiwi and being Christianity (2006, 2007 and 2008 ). I’ve found it a worthwhile exercise and thought it would be fun to create a Waitangi Day Synchroblog (an invite for any and all to blog on a shared theme).

So this is an invite to any and all Kiwis to join me: and reflect together on February 6, 2009, on what it means to be Kiwi and be Christian. Any angle, any perspective, any media welcome.

If you want in, just say so and leave your URL. I will then produce a list of all participants so everyone can link to everyone else on Waitangi Day. (Feel free to pass this on to others in your networks you know who may be interested. OE Kiwis welcome too.)

Posted by steve at 09:41 AM

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

credible witness book review, michael leunig and australia synchroblog

It’s a day late, but this is my contribution to the Australia Day synchroblog. I realise I’m not a fair dinkum Aussie, but 10 weeks in Adelaide last year are my claim to participation! Plus the fact I’m really appreciating Credible Witness by Australian Darren Cronshaw (published by Urban Neighbours of Hope in 2006).

It’s an excellent missional resource. It takes Australian context seriously. It asks what the Spirit might have already been doing in that place. In the case of Credible Witness, it trawls Australian history and the place of chaplaincy, of shepherds, of advocates for the marginalised, of servants and of generous hosts. What I love is how it refuses to stay with history, but suggests contemporary expressions of these images. One example is the suggestion that cartoonist Michael Leunig is in fact a contemporary spiritual guide and thus a model for what it might mean to be missional in Australia today.

Here’s my favourite Leunig prayer and it’s my prayer for myself and for Australia on Australia Day 2009.
God help us to change. To change ourselves and to change the world. To know the need of it. To deal with the pain of it. To feel the joy of it. To undertake the journey without understanding the destination. The art of gentle revolution. Amen. (Michael Leunig, When I Talk to You: A Cartoonist Talks to God, Harper Collins).

Credible Witness is a great example of what missional means: taking seriously the already work of God in the world and asking what it might mean for everyday and ordinary people to participate in that work. Well done Darren.

Other synchrobloggers are: Ben Wheatley on Australia; Les Chatwin on Some People are Never Happy; Fernando Gros on Australian Days; Brunette Koala on Spirituality in Australia; Matt Stone on Spirit of Australia; Heather on Together.

Posted by steve at 08:12 PM

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

a time of angels: book review

A Time of Angels is a fabulous holiday read. It works on so many levels:
– fictional mystery, as clairvoyant Primo Verona, narrates his life story, the love and loss of his wife, the beautiful Beatrice,
– teaser of tastebuds, as Primo’s best friend is cafe owner Pasquale Benvenuto, creator of fruit breads and salami,
– migrant narratives, as survivors of the Holocaust seek healing in the new soils of Southern Africa,
– philosophical thoughtpiece, as the complex relationship between evil and good is explored.

Patricia Schonstein was born in Zimbabwe and her fiction has garnered her a range of literary awards. She writes beautifully, opening up the richness of her continent, skillfully developing characters, all against a backdrop that is artistically and intellectually stimulating. (It is rare for a book of fiction to conclude with a bibliography referencing both history and art). I am now on the look out for more from this developing talent, including A Quilt of Dreams and The Apothecary’s Daughter.

Posted by steve at 05:32 PM

Saturday, January 24, 2009

holiday poetry 4

Summer sounds @ Sounday
Slip slop slap
Bass hot
DJ Spanky got no skank
Beats Fat freddy
Sway with my family in hope for my generation

Had a great day at Sounday yesterday, returning especially from holiday to groove with the kids to Fat Freddys Drop. It’s such a great concept, gates opening at 11 am, finished by 7 pm, invitation to take seats, sun umbrellas, even paddling pools!! Our kids packed their books and art gear: in other words, its great for the family.

The surprise moment was turning around and seeing friends from Australia sitting right behind us. Tried to connect with them while we were in Adelaide, and here they were, enjoying real Kiwi music right behind us.

Fat Freddys Drop were simply grand. Some new songs, mixed well with old songs. A more diversified sound, making the promise of an album on the horizon worth waiting for.

Posted by steve at 07:26 PM

Friday, January 23, 2009

holiday poetry 3

High country Molesworth
Cob cottage settles to history
Neath cloudless blue and Hyracium burn
Warm wind caress
River chilled restore

Back country is high country,
is hard country
Beech my carpet and my roof
St James a Walkway
Pilgrim in n out
At 8 year old pace we stride

Posted by steve at 07:24 PM

Monday, January 19, 2009

holiday poetry 2

Paddle dip n water trail drips into clear blue
Gull cry over wave slap
Wine n saffron infused clam paella

Posted by steve at 11:31 AM

Sunday, January 18, 2009

holiday poetry

I’ve been tweeting these holiday geographical poetic reflections in by cell phone (left-hand side of blog), but they do lose their formatting:

Rock jagged ocean cast
Gulls fight o’er salt fingered excess.
Mine. Mine.
Holiday dreams
Drifting out to sea

No sheep dot
Now wine twisted terraces
Etch gaunt faced hills
Taste dry white
Mussell paella infused

Posted by steve at 09:14 PM

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 summer road trip music

We’re off on holiday. Yah! Which includes the pre-holiday ritual of choosing the music for the road trip. Each person in the Taylor family chooses their 2 favourite CD’s, on the understanding they show some sensitivity to the ears and tastes of other family members (No Radiohead for Dad :), no Hi 5 for kids). Always provokes good anticipation and interaction, saves some car-fights and is a good snapshot of the musicality of our family and the year gone. Anyhow, here’s the 2009 selection.

Flock, The best of the Muttonbirds
Fat Freddies Drop, Based on a true story
Moby, 18
Opshop, One day
Dave Dobbyn, Anotherland
Van Morrison, No guru, no method, no teacher
Karekare, Paddy Free
Salmonella Dub and NZSO, Feel the seasons change

Now, can anyone guess who chose what? Options are Mum; Kayli Anne = 8 year years old; Shannon = 11 years old; Dad ….

Posted by steve at 08:40 AM

Saturday, January 10, 2009

it works

It was a simple message: Am i a txtng twit?

Which led to a whoop of incredulous joy; “It works.”

From a cell phone in New Zealand I can text a phone number in the UK, which updates both on the twitter website, and on the left hand side of my website, under the TWEET TWEET heading. Isn’t technology amazing. Isn’t our world getting smaller and smaller.

Posted by steve at 09:21 PM

Friday, January 09, 2009

bible days

Been working on this little project for a while, a way to increase Bible engagement both off-line and on-line. it’s going public to Opawa over this weekend, so here goes ….

Increase Bible knowledge by providing a helicopter overview of selected Bible books.

Link the Bible with life and mission in New Zealand today

Discuss in community with others

7 Saturday afternoons (3:30-5:30 pm)
John (Feb 21)
1 Peter (April 25)
1 Corinthians (May 30)
Acts (July 25)
2 Samuel (Aug 15)
Ecclesiastes (Sept 19)
Mark (Oct 3)

Cost: $5/Bible day (free for participants of Opawa Baptist Church)

Why these books? They link with the Daily Bible reading plan used at Opawa Baptist. The aim is to create interest and a greater depth of Bible reading by mixing this teaching overview with daily reading. Different books will be offered in different years.

Who will be teaching? Some of New Zealand’s leading Bible teachers and theologians have been asked to speak on books they are passionate about. These include Paul Windsor from Carey College, Steve Graham and Bob Robinson from Laidlaw College, Paul Trebilco from University of Otago and others. Each has been asked to provide an overview, allow room for discussion and point to highlights that might shape mission life.

What happens after each Bible day? Daily reading of the book is a natural next step. The Opawa 24/7 prayer room will have books for further study. Ongoing discussion, on-line and off-line, will be encouraged through a “post-it” note concept.

Can I come to just one Bible day? Yes.

What if I am busy that day? The plan is to make all Bible days podcastable and available online after the event.

So I could become part of this, even though I don’t live in Christchurch? Yes. Simply ask (includes an annual administration fee).

Posted by steve at 06:00 PM

Thursday, January 08, 2009

girl in gaza as contemporary epiphany icon?

Random swirl of connections today:

Lectionary reading = Genesis 12. Abram sent by God to a new land, in which Canaanites are already present. Read the text – verse 6. Nation of Israel and God’s people, are expected to live among cultures and people already present, already unlike them. In other words, Gaza needs to exist alongside Israel. This does not legitimate rockets or bombings or human shields, but nor does it permit a theology in which blessedness comes at the expense of anOther. This has huge implications for the way we preach and live the gospel of Jesus – that we have to have a theology which includes the option of people having different primary narratives. (Another piece of sustainable spirituality for me, a faith that lives within plurality)

Contemporary advent icon = made out of Christmas advertising, 1/4 created each week. “An artist in the community traced the image onto poster board indicating what color should go in each shape. People ages 6-65 cut out the right color from the ads and glued it in the space.”

here. I love the way it mixes initial creative skill with community participation, and the subversiveness of using Christmas advertising.

Gaza today = the icon is in an ancient style. So what, would happen if the icon was in fact titled “Girl from Gaza” (which Mary sort of, almost was) and sketched from a contemporary picture, say this

or “Gaza refugee escaping to Egypt”, like here, which is the Epiphany narrative?

Random linkage? Or is that by keeping our faith ancient, we are in fact closing our eyes to the horror of what it would have been like for Mary to run in fear from the steel blades of soldiers sent from Jerusalem? Why, oh why, do we construct faith systems that can in fact be used to legitimate the suffering of the innocent?

Posted by steve at 08:59 AM

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

u2 academic fan bio note

So as an invited presenter – Sampling and reframing: the evolving live concert performances of “Bullet the blue sky” – at the May 13-15 U2 Academic conference, I need to provide a 75 word bio. At the risk of seeming a groupie, I decided it was time to nurture my “inner fan” 🙂

Hence: Steve Taylor was a Boy in Papua New Guinea, matured under Under the Blood Red Skies of New Zealand, fell in love beside a Joshua Tree and became a cheering Passenger at the births of his two daughters. He is a writer, lecturer and creator of spirituality resources. His PhD (University of Otago) analysed new forms of church in contemporary culture. He is Senior Lecturer, Laidlaw College, Senior Pastor, Opawa Baptist Church and blogs at

Today I need to go to do some work on the paper. I need to FORCE myself to go and watch Popmart and read about installation art and reframing in new media. Some days really are better than others.

Posted by steve at 09:20 AM

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

sustainable spirituality: beyond missional

“You have a hard act to sell” he said. I looked puzzled, so he explained. Your essential message is “You don’t need to be here. That’s the opposite of most churches, which involves getting more involved with their vision.”

I could interpret this conversation, held in a sunny spot a few days ago, in missional terms. I could take it as a compliment, an acute and accurate summary of my preaching and my commitment to Kingdom trumping church, to sending over coming, to life in the world over life indoors.

But what might this thinking look like in sustainable spirituality terms? You see, a person might not need to be here at church. They could be missional in their workplace or home.


But, in order for that to happen, they will need sustaining, when their energy leaks, when the season is winter, not summer.

What’s more, they will need connecting. What are the already networks, existing and present that they could plug into, serve with and among.

What’s more, they will need community, like minded people to share stories among, theologise with. Such community could be in the missional network. It could equally be a smaller grouping of likeminded people, a collective committed to the shared missional context. It could equally be the multi-form already existing gathered community, the “here”, the ordinary Sunday service, in which liturgy and preaching are formed and pre-formed, by questions of God’s mission.

At times, they will need resourcing. This could be as simple as a shared library. Or by dipping into a specific course, weekend or block.

And along the way, there are people who have no idea, yet, of what it means to partner with God in God’s world, to live missionally “there.” They’re broken – by debt, by marriage, by mental health. They are scarred – by unforgiveness and sickness and addiction. They need a gathering point, and a wide range of relationships to provide nurture and healing.

In other words …
Sustainable spirituality says “you don’t need to be here”, but some of us will be here, to connect and resources and sustain. Sustainable spirituality will celebrate church as ordinary, singing as everyday and faith as regular. It knows that these situations are findable, and can be hospitable, and become agents of healing. Sustainable spirituality will work hard at creating constant and multiple pathways by which the “out there” is connected and resourced.

Posted by steve at 08:48 AM