Tuesday, February 01, 2011

fair dinkum Aussie sporting spirit

30 years ago today …

Posted by steve at 04:59 PM

Friday, January 28, 2011

a missional prayer emerging from a missional moment

So I am working with a group, planning a mission-shaped experience across the denominations in Adelaide in the second half of 2011. Today the planning group was meeting for a second time.

Three of the four arrived to find the venue locked. A church. And a sign “Alarm on.”

As they stood outside a cellphone rang. The mix-up was untangled, with the fourth person, who was meant to be hosting, finding themselves at the wrong venue.

Thankfully a cafe was close by. A drink as we gather. Hospitality being received. Time to catch up on Christmas comings and goings. A space shared with others. Time to pray, eyes open, in a public place. A group now gathering not only around strength, but also around human mistake.

May this experience be our mission-shaped experience
May we gather for your world rather than your church
May our ministry be from frailty as well as gift and passion
May we experience the hospitality of our culture
May our planning and our prayer be lived in and for the places in which our communities gather

Posted by steve at 04:53 PM

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I’m a serious scholar :)

I’m a serious scholar. I realised this yesterday as the copyright and contract paperwork arrived for my work on U2 (the evolving live performance of Bullet the Blue Sky). 6,000 words, 66 footnotes due to be published with Scarecrow Press next year.

And I’m checking the mail everyday at the moment, waiting for my authors copy of The Bible in/of Popular culture, with my work on Kiwi cartoon, Brotown.

And this week I’ve had some really encouraging feedback on a 1500 word piece I submitted to Australian Leadership on young adult spirituality, with a focus on comedian John Sarfran and video art in the Blake Prize.

I’m a serious scholar. I study cartoons and comedians and rock stars and video art! My mum and my employer must be so proud 🙂 🙂

Posted by steve at 08:31 AM

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why church? some thoughts via the humour of Yes Minister

What is church? Why does it exist? What do you use to assess it’s purpose? I’m doing some work this weekend with Uniting folk in the Yorke Peninsula. In preparation I’ve been mulling over this video from Yes Minister. (Hat tip Andrew Hamilton). A bit dated, but still quite thought-provoking.

What is the purpose of a “hospital? How do you assess it?

  • For the Prime Minister, a hospital is to heal the sick (although it starts with “how does does it cost?”)
  • For the Union rep, a hospital is to employ staff.
  • For the Florence Nightingale award judges, it is hygenie.

Any links to church – how much does it cost? what about the needs of those who serve? how important is keeping people and things pure?

Posted by steve at 10:53 AM

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

communion amid the Coromandel clutter

On Sunday I led communion at the Coromandal Valley Uniting Church Camp, as part of their Sunday gathering. They are a great group, lovely range of ages, people who have a lovely, natural way of connecting with God and with each other. And serve some fabulous vegetarian tucker!

Anyhow, during the communion service, amid the buzz of all ages, I got my tongue tied over the “cup” and the “supper” and managed to produce the following:

In the same way, after the “clutter”, Jesus took the ….”

Which was funny. And embarrassing.

And in some ways exactly what I’d been banging on about all weekend – Jesus amid the “clutter” of Zaccheus table (Luke 19), Jesus sending us ahead of him to the “clutter” of the towns and villages of Luke 10, discipleship amid the “clutter” of mealtime habits (Luke 14).

Our ordinary, everyday relationships and their place in God’s mission. Not that I was quick enough to say that on the day! All they got was some embarrassed Kiwi tongue-“clutter.”

Posted by steve at 04:46 PM

Friday, July 16, 2010

Aussie headbutts: worse than the underarm?

It looks like another low blow in Trans-Tasman sporting relationships, with an Australian cyclist, Mark Renshaw headbutting a Kiwi, Julian Dean, in Stage 11 of the Tour-de-France. (Video footage is here).

Renshaw, Cavendish’s leadout man on HTC Columbia, rammed his head three times into the shoulder of Dean, the leadout man for Tyler Farrar on Garmin-Transitions, in an apparent bid to push him out of the way during the final sprint. Dean was leading the pack at the time. (Link)

The incident, on a stage more public even than the infamous Trevor Chappell underarm incident, is sure once again to throw the spotlight on what it is that constitutes the true character of Australian sporting identity.

Posted by steve at 09:19 AM

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I am a stealer of Catholic bread

The rumour has spread around my workplace, passing down the corridors of academia, whispered over afternoon cups of coffee. Steve Taylor is a stealer of Catholic bread.

Yesterday I forgot part of my lunch. Lettuce plucked from my garden was to garnish a tin of fish, to be spread over toast. Alas, in my haste to leave, I forgot the bread. (Those who know me will attest this is a repeated occurrence, but that is not the point of this story!)

My forgettfulness was realised at noon as I entered the staff common room. The space is shared with our ecumenical partners in theological education – Anglican and Catholic. In response to my groan of dismay, the only other staff person present kindly offered assistance. A loaf of frozen bread lives in the staff freezer. It is the property of a colleague down the hall, one who is always absent on a Monday. So by all means, grab a few pieces, leave a note, and replace the bread overnight.

It all seemed to good to be true.

Alas, it is too good to be true. The story has evolved and morphed. As it was passed down the corridors of academia. Steve Taylor, the Baptist from New Zealand, working for the Uniting College has been branded for life. Penance perhaps will be expected? 100 repetitions of the phrase,

“I am a stealer of Catholic bread.”

Posted by steve at 10:39 AM

Saturday, March 20, 2010

sizzling sausages at the State elections

It’s State election day here in South Australia.  Unlike New Zealand, voting is compulsory (but only for Australian citizens).

That’s not the only difference between Australia and New Zealand. Party placards are still up all around town even while people vote.   And outside all voting booths various party promoters are allowed to stand, hawking their party.  (If people really do make a decision between a party promoter and the ballot box, it certainly doesn’t say much for a carefully considered democratic process!)

I was asked to help at the nearest polling both, which is also the hall of the local Uniting church. Not in the name of politics, but because each election (state and federal), the church throws a sausage sizzle, as a fundraiser.  All monies go outside the local church, to School chaplaincy and an orphanage in Thailand. So it was a neat way to be useful and serve.

Plus it was a good chance to cast an eye over the community. Seacliff is a slowly gentrifying beach side suburb. So the suburb is a real mix: of wealth more likely to be younger, of long term residents more likely to be older, of some rental accommodation, more likely to house a mix of migrants and the mentally challenged.  It’s a fascinating suburb.

The local newspaper was also out and about, sniffing for news. Our sausages lured them over. Asked for my opinion on the fate of the election, I announced that all exiting voters seemed happy with their choice. And that my name, if they wanted to quote me, was Spin Doctor.

I also got photographed for the same newspaper. This was to be an action shot, so that involved me cooking sausages.  I’m a vegetarian, which raised an interesting ethical question. But a local Green party promoter was also tucking in, so we shared a guilty grin.

If you’re from Adelaide, look for my mug in the Sunday mail.

Posted by steve at 01:55 PM

Friday, March 05, 2010

praying the psalm? or the moment?

My Paraclete Psalter: A 4-Week Cycle for Daily Prayer arrived this week. It prays all the Psalms over a 4 week period. This is not a heavy book of Daily prayer, flipping from page to page. This is the Psalms arranged morning, lunch, tea and evening, as an invitation to use the Psalms, stones worth smooth by the centuries (to quote Rowan Williams). It’s gorgeous, just begging to be touched and opened. Leather cover, delicate pages, light and transportable.

The Psalms are arranged according to the time of day, which makes for a lovely resonance.

Until I went swimming.

And then my Psalter suddenly felt a bit sloshy – in a good, yet provoking, way.

The sun was setting into the sea and I just floated, watching this golden orb drop away. It all got pretty spiritual. It even got captured in a prayer: Swimming this evening; Sun dropping gold orbed into summer sea, God of full immersion, Swirl in, on, around me; Your resting child.

Which got me wondering about the place of spiritual disciplines in life. Was this not my “evening Psalm prayer”; the giving of my day, what was done and undone, to God? Wasn’t that Psalm, waiting in my Psalter, crafted out of a moment exactly like this? How do these natural and unexpected moments of our lives align themselves with the “stones worn smooth” of the church’s history? How often is our worship captured in a building and a book, strained through someone else’s words, in a way that alienates us from the moments of life?

Posted by steve at 08:27 AM

Monday, February 01, 2010

first day at work welcome accessories

So here’s a snapshot of the various “welcome to Uniting” accessories provided by way of welcome. They might even say something about core values and priorities!

  • a genuine aussie lunchbox
  • worship (not only in book, but CD as well)
  • research on leadership development
  • academic handbook
  • “Theology for pilgrims. Selected theological documents of Uniting Church”

PS The genuine “Taylors Promised land”, local South Australian wine, is missing – CIA – consumed in action

Posted by steve at 03:53 PM

Friday, December 25, 2009

the christmas eve christingle caught on fire

So I thought, being a Baptist, I’d have a crack at the Christingle idea. As Baptists can do, with our liturgical freedom to sample, make do, grab and borrow. And it being the 7pm Christmas Eve service, and built around a nativity tablaeu, the story told through carol and reading, meaning it only needed a short summary.

  • I liked the orange – God so loved the world.
  • I liked the orange being rotten – a knife to get rid of the gung.
  • I liked the candle – the light of the world.
  • I liked the toothpicks pointing in four directions – God for all nations.
  • I liked the fruits on the end – that the light of the world changes us.
  • But I didn’t like the red bow – the blood of Christ. It’s Christmas Eve, not Easter. It’s God with us. So the bow got switched for a nappy. (And a piece of nappy also attached to the service sheet, to be used as a tactile, participatory prayer).

So I made the Christingle and the kids were really attentive and it was great. I gave the benediction and out came the Christmas cake. Lots of people hanging around, neat sense of community, lots of positive feedback. All these Baptists have never seen anything like this before!

I’m feeling quite pleased. Until I smelt a smell. (more…)

Posted by steve at 06:46 PM

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

a genuine Salvation Army trumpet call? updated with resources

I am with a group of Salvation Army leaders today. Flying up to Wellington, then driving to Masterton. Then speaking for 3 sessions, on mission, change, leadership. Then driving back to Wellington, and home for a (late) dinner.

It is the fourth time I’ve been with a group of Salvation Army leaders here in New Zealand speaking in areas of mission and change. I have yet to see a genuine trumpet and a real uniform! But I remain hopeful.

The best thing is that this group has requested a copy of my The Out of Bounds Church?: Learning to Create a Community of Faith in a Culture of Change book for every one of their leaders!

Updated: For those interested here is a summary of my sessions, the questions raised and the booklist that was missed off the bottom of my notes. Duh! (more…)

Posted by steve at 07:04 AM

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

shaking the dust aussie style

It was an unusual day weather wise on Monday here in Christchurch: hot, nor-west, the sky a hazy, leaden colour. Not at all typical clear spring weather.

And then this in the newspaper on Tuesday:

Weather forecasters were bewildered by the polluted atmosphere when contacted, but by yesterday afternoon, with some help from readers on both sides of the Tasman, The Press had solved the hazy mystery. Gale-force northerly winds blowing across inland parts of Victoria and South Australia on Friday and Saturday appear to have lifted vast amounts of dust from the dried-up Lake Eyre basin. From there, the dust blew across Victoria on Saturday and then over parts of Tasmania, where it mixed with falling rain to turn cars and outdoor furniture red on Sunday morning, before arriving in New Zealand late in the day. more here

So there you are. One of the Bible passages I use a lot in teaching is in Luke 10:1-12, a text about peace speaking, dwelling deeply and seeking the Spirit in the culture. It is also a text about letting go, about how mission includes seasons in which the people and contexts resistant to God’s shalom are placed in God’s hands. Literally “Shake the dust off your feet.”

So is this what shaking the dust Aussie style means? Dumping Lake Eyre on New Zealand? I’m about to head off to Australia next Thursday (to spend a day with South Australian Baptists, do a seminar on discerning the Emerging Church at Tabor and engage around Pictures of Biblical mission with Coromandel Uniting). Should I be taking this personally?

Posted by steve at 10:18 AM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

how much land do you require to feed a family of 3?

10 square metres which was the size of the demonstration vegetable garden at Heronswood, growing enough vegetables to feed a family of 3. The shop sold a seed pack, for I think about $45, containing all the seeds you need.

This assumes
– firstly, companion planting.
– secondly, succession planting.
– thirdly, rotation planting.

$45, a bit of back garden, exercise and peace outdoors. Makes you think doesn’t it.

Posted by steve at 02:46 PM