Thursday, October 31, 2019

in the editing cave

I am in the editing cave.

And it is dark.

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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

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

Monday, October 21, 2019

visualising a research project

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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.

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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.

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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

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

listening in mission from steve taylor on Vimeo.

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

Posted by steve at 08:43 PM