Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Nurturing faith online: praxis connecting theory

Some work for my 4th and final Nurturing faith online Community of Practice. After 6 months of action experiments, I’m giving feedback to each participant – bringing their experiment into conversation with theory. What from our praxis confirms? What challenges?

Theory – identity – digital media can be used by people to articulate and work out their religious identities and visions

Praxis – this Community of Practice has involved 4 regulars, 3 others, along with several others who committed to watch a later recording. Meeting online 4 times over 6 months, this Community of Practice brought people together from three countries. While none live in physical proximity, they have found common ground online. This common ground is shaped by a religious vision, a curiosity about nurturing faith online.

Participation was an act of agency. Each person focused on an experiment in trying to make sense of a rapid change. Hence they Community of Practice was an active participation in the out working of a religious identity.

Hence the articulation of vision was in word and deed. Rather than be overwhelmed by COVID, the undertaking of experiments demonstrated dynamic, flexible and adaptive actions. Risks were taken and new things emerged

  • karaoke for playful shared ecumenical worship
  • short courses that invited people outdoors to pay attention to their surroundings and listen more deeply to silence and space
  • listening through surveys that opened up realities of God online
  • experiments in community that showed the reality of fluid identity formation
  • experiments in participation that bore witness to the possibility of relating and connecting

Online has made visible the work that people are willing to do – in their own time – to express and explore their identities online. This is an active, creative, playful vision of nurturing faith online.

Posted by steve at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

learning by doing: The art of gaining feedback

At the heart of action is reflection. Reflection is generated by feedback. We can gain feedback in at least 7 ways. Each has advantages and disadvantages. With feedback, we honour the other. From feedback, we begin to learn.

thought-catalog-RdmLSJR-tq8-unsplash

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

1 – Formative participant feedback; informally

Formative because this feedback is generated during a process. We watch body language. We attend to the pauses. We analyse the words being used – the depth of feeling, the type of verbs. We mirror what we hear and ask clarifying questions.

2 – Summative participant feedback; evaluation

We choose questions carefully and through survey (or chat), often at the end of a session or programme, we invite comment. This tends to be written and thus individual. What should we start? What should we stop? What should we keep?

3 – Summative group feedback; together

We create opportunity for the group to engage together. This allows for moderation, challenge, affirmation among the group. As they talk, we listen. We might record or ask someone to take notes.

I was most enlivened by; I did not realise that; We were at our best as a group when we; The most challenging part of our time together as a group was; I am thankful to God for

4 – Reflect on the spoken group work

We keep track of who speaks, paying particular attention to diversity and frequency. We reflect this back, thus shaping the experience. Who has not spoken? Are particular voices not being heard?

5 – Peer review

We invite an external colleague – friend, mentor – to watch us. It might be live. It might be a recording. We ask them to give us their feedback.

6 – Reflect on written interaction

After the event, we analyse the chat or contemplate the whiteboard. We analyse the words being used – the depth of feeling, the type of verbs. We consider the questions being asked. Where they addressed? What do they say about interest and engagement?

7 – Our own experiences

We journal a moment. In half a page, we seek in clear, simple words, to capture the experience: something that made us uncomfortable; something that felt significant; something that seemed to go well. We then turn to analyse what we have written. Now that our experience is outside us, is there a key word or phrase? Is there a 1 sentence summary?

In each of these 7 ways, we are paying attention. The feedback is returning us to the action. Contemplation is from the Latin, con – meaning with and templum – meaning temple. We are daring to believe that in the action is the Divine. God is present. This is holy ground. As we are with God, we see ourselves and others more clearly. We are open to grow. There will be thanks and confession, prayer and petition. Such is the gift of feedback.

Posted by steve at 10:03 PM

Saturday, July 04, 2020

is that your bible – annotated bibliography

A few weeks ago, I wrote – Is that your Bible? – an opinion piece for ABC Religion and Ethics online. In about 850 words, I analysed a moment in popular culture – Donald Trump’s photo op in front of St. John’s Church – and reflected on what it might mean to read a sacred text.

Behind the opinion piece was a whole lot of thinking and reading. Here are 4 books I’ve found particularly significant:

First, Richard Burridge, Imitating Jesus carefully traces New Testament ethics as they focus on the person of Jesus. A final chapter examines apartheid as an ethical challenge. 75% of people in South Africa were involved in some sort of church during the Apartheid era and all sides considered they were acting “Biblically.” Burridge suggests four common approaches to reading Scripture and I used this as a framework to think through “Mary’s Bible” – using a mix of narrative and prescriptive commands in seeking to think about “law and order.”

burridge

Second, Gerard West, The Stolen Bible: From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon. West examines the Bible in the continent of African and argues that Africans have “stolen” the Bible. West tells the wonderful story ascribed to Tutu.

When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land. And we got the better deal! – Desmond Tutu, The Stolen Bible: From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon, page 326.

This gives agency to readers. While the long arc of justice demands ongoing reparation for anything stolen, the playful and liberative ways that Scripture can enable creativity in resistance require us to pay careful attention to who is holding the Bible. And why.

Third, The Art of Reading Scripture has a great chapter by William Stacy Johnson “Reading the Scriptures Faithfully in a Postmodern Age.” Three statements provide for me a helpful checklist:

  • Statement 1 – Our text is a collection of stories – “A collection of Scriptures that renders a congeries of stories – stories that are not always saying quite the same thing. The testimony of this passage of Scripture is juxtaposed with the “countertestimony” of that passage of Scripture, and so on” (The Art of Reading Scripture, page 114).
  • Our text is a collection of flesh and blood stories – The Bible is about real people, real action, real drama, real choices. We need to read and preach this reality. What if Jacob had not tricked Esau out of his birthright? What is Jesus had made different choices in the Garden of Gethsemane? Capturing the drama of these stories is essential
  • Our text is an unfinished text. “What is most important are not the past meanings the stories are thought to contain but the present meanings they continually provoke in the community of faith. At the heart and soul of reading the Scriptures faithfully is the constant rehearing of stories – and also of sayings, commandments, prophecies, and other materials – whose repetition helps kindle and inflame, right here, at this very moment, the “new thing” that the God who is for us in Jesus Christ is calling into being.” The Art of Reading Scripture, page 116).

Fourth, Scripture and Resistance has a range of excellent chapters on how to read the Bible in ways that resist Empire. The introduction, by Jione Havea, “Negotiating with Scripture and Resistance” spotlights the reader. The Bible does not say anything apart from the reader. Readers interpret. Readers can ignore. Readers can silence. Readers shape what Scripture says (or not). This again is relevant to Trump’s holding the Bible, inviting us to step beyond the photo op and consider how the Bible is being read.

Holding a book is easy. Reading it well is an art.

Posted by steve at 04:51 PM

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Unbounding learning communities in Practical Theology

Practical Theology acceptance ..

Unbounding learning communities: Ako-empowered research in life-long ministerial formation

Steve Taylor and Rosemary Dewerse

Abstract: While formation is an essential practice of local church communities, the formation of ministers for ordination, along with continued professional education, is generally located in the context of higher education. ‘Ako’, describing a teaching and learning relationship grounded in reciprocity, and employed as an approach to researching life-long learning needs among ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, challenged this separation. The results of interviews and workshops with 285 lay and ordained leaders challenged the location of postgraduate provision in the context of higher education. The request was to teach leaders with their people in community in practices for living differently, with a focus on educating educators in relationally embodied ways. Educational experiments clarified ways of unbounding learning for local communities. These praxis-derived discoveries are clarified by conversation with the life of Jesus and Irenaeus’ theological anthropology of recapitulation. This brings clarity regarding the nature of ako as reciprocity in communities of practice and a reimagining of theological colleges as facilitators of unbounded local learning communities.

Keywords: ako, communities of practice, formation, Irenaueus, life-long learning, theological education

More fruit from the Thornton Blair Research project into life-long ministerial formation.

Posted by steve at 09:41 AM

Friday, May 15, 2020

public theology conversations amid the ups and downs of Zoom

I co-presented at a University of Auckland Business and International Relations research seminar, with Associate Professor Christine Woods on Thursday. We were offering an interdisciplinary focus, a conversation about social innovation in church contexts, building on our work over the last 3 years with the Lighthouse encouraging innovation at grassroots across the Presbyterian Church. It felt like a real moment of public theology, as Hebrew Wisdom literature, Paul and Jesus became conversation partners in a business research context.

slide

Given the COVID-19 lockdown, the seminar was entirely by Zoom. It was great not to have to think about travelling from Dunedin to Auckland, but simply walk downstairs and log on. However, any feelings of up rapidly descended down into panic.

The down was losing my co-presenter mid-presentation. We were taking turn about through the presentation, each speaking to our area of disciplinary strength. So I was doing Jesus and Paul, while my colleague was making the social innovation connections, including offering a new reading of an economist called Josef Schumpeter. Just as she prepared to compare the 1911 1st edition in German and the 1934 3rd edition in English, her screen froze. In horror, I realised she had gone. Here was I, a theologian, about to try and explain an economist to a room full of business lecturers and students. I stumbled through, recalling what we had rehearsed together. Sure enough, just as I finished, Christine came back on line. Just in time to grin and let me pick up on the next slide, the connectional theology of Paul Fiddes.

The up. I wonder if Zoom opens up different, and more conversational style. Christine and I have co-facilitated for three years, so we know each other well. We have been writing up this piece of research for about 6 months. We spoke without a full script, working our way through different slides. It felt conversational and dialogical. But I wondered what it would have been like face to face. The two of us standing at the front. The awareness of body language, paying attention as the other spoke. In contrast, Zoom switches speaker. I am no longer as visible if I need to turn over my notes or take a sip of water. What I am wearing is no longer as important. Our conversational style felt much more suitable to the technology, enhanced by Zoom.

Despite the ups and downs, it was a great experience. About 40 folk were present, which is the largest research seminar I’ve ever been to. Lots of expressions of thanks for our excellent presentation. And some great questions. I try and take notes of questions, to help my ongoing processing and checking the clarity of our argument. Here is what I recall (I might have missed a couple):

  • Innovation is defined as including both novelty and value. Where is the value in social innovation?
  • How did we assess the outcomes of what we did at Lighthouse?
  • How does the church respond to these ideas?
  • Entrepreneur or Entrepreneurship? Are you advocating a hero model of entrepreneur or a process model of entrepreneurship

All great questions as we put the finishing touches on a journal article submission.

Posted by steve at 06:40 PM

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Jesus as a socially (ir)responsible innovator research seminar

I’m committed to interdisciplinary research. As Paul Fiddes writes, Christian theology needs “to keep a conversation going with others outside the church, and to occupy a public space alongside late-modern thinkers” (Seeing the World and Knowing God: Hebrew Wisdom and Christian Doctrine in a Late-Modern Context, 2013, 13).  As a result, I find myself co-presenting – via Zoom – at a research seminar on Thursday 14 May, with Dr Christine Woods, at the Faculty of Business & Economics at the University of Auckland.

Christine is Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. We began working together three years ago, with the Lighthouse weekend, which sought to encourage mission and innovation, primarily among lay leaders nationally across the Presbyterian Church. 

Unknown-8 We’ve both found the interdisciplinary relationship quite engaging and co-presented (OK, Christine presented, together we wrote) at the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship 2020 conference in New Orleans in January.

Now, with the wonders of technology, I will find myself talking Hebrew Wisdom literature, Jesus and Paul at the Faculty of Business & Economics at the University of Auckland on Thursday. Here’s our abstract.

Jesus as a socially (ir)responsible innovator: seeking the common good in a dialogue between wisdom Christologies and social entrepreneurship

Abstract:

Within Christian academic circles discussion on entrepreneurship has included the notion of missional entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. This produces a challenging set of discussions around the relationship between market capitalism and Christian belief. In this paper we specifically extend the discussion on social entrepreneurship and suggest that Jesus can be read as a socially (ir)responsible innovator.

A connectional theology is used to develop an interdisciplinary contribution between theology and social entrepreneurship. The work of Schumpeter, who argues for innovation as social change through a mechanism of creative recombination is brought into creative dialogue with Wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Scriptures.

The potential of recombination is developed first in Pauline literature, particularly in 1 Corinthians as ministry is understood as serving, gardening, building, resource managing, risking and parenting. Each of these six dimensions can be theorised as recombinations in which Paul seeks social change, including in family life, in ways that in fact are socially irresponsible, challenging existing hierarchical patterns. The potential of recombination is further tested in analysing Jesus as a socially (ir)responsible innovator. This begins with examination of wisdom Christologies and Jesus as the fulfilment of God (Matthew 5:17). What emerges is recombinations that again seek social change, including in gender patterns, and hence are socially irresponsible as they challenge existing hierarchical patterns.

Theoretically, we argue that Jesus the socially irresponsible innovator is an act of public theology. A dialogue between academic disciplines of theology and social entrepreneurship is possible bringing together the three domains of church, academy and world. Practically, this is grounded in educational contexts, in which we have engaged in interdisciplinary praxis. This includes developing Innovation Canvas and Next Step resources to encourage social entrepreneurship among grassroots religious communities. The result is an envisioning of the church as a player in innovation, the world as locus of activity for agency of God and a wisdom innovation that inhabits an ethically coherent narrative.

Posted by steve at 11:17 PM

Saturday, April 25, 2020

communities of practice as action-reflection tools

It’s been an extraordinarily generative week for me.

  • First, I found myself offering a closed facebook group to bring practitioners of innovation in digital worlds into contact with research. That has generated 38 members and over 200 comments as people interacted with research on faith formation.
  • Second, I hosted an online video conversation in which 25 folk from 4 countries engaged further around their experiences of innovation in digital worlds.
  • Third, I’m potentially offering a community of practice, in which folk wanting to experiment can meet with peers for support and reflection. This is still forming and might not yet materialise – life is so fluid for so many people. However, it is astonishing to realise this wasn’t even on my radar 7 days ago.

Companies of friends in the journey of innovation.

There is action, and there needs to be space for reflection. Reflection can be individual, as I write and journal. Reflection can be individual, as I read and engage with the experiences and insights of others, and so see my actions more carefully. Reflection can be communal, as I share my intuitions and half-baked processing and gain wisdom simply from those who give the gift of listening; even active-listening, which draws me into free speech. Reflection can be communal, the conversations that result from sharing, the connections that get made.

So I’m offering a Community of Practice for those innovating in digital faith. It is for active people already doing stuff this is a space to reflect, to process with peers. And I have this hope, this pleading, that it won’t be my last. I dream of multiple Communities of Practice, in which unique projects (actions), by those facing a shared challenge, are enhanced by the space to reflect – individually and communally.

 

COP

Posted by steve at 12:51 PM

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Faith in the boardroom chapter acceptance

My book chapter for Reimagining Faith & Management got a big tick from the editors today. It is a 7,000-word piece I have been working on for a few months, in the gaps around holidays, two block courses and some other writing on craftivism.

It was a quite out of the blue invitation in August of 2019 to consider being part of this international project. I kept wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. But it has been a wonderful opportunity to push forward my research into leadership and innovation in Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration and institutions and innovation in First Expressions: Innovation and the Mission of God. In particular to draw on presentations from 3 years of the Lighthouse innovation incubators, along with further research into the Wisdom literature of Hebrew Scripture as a resource.

Chapter title: Faith in the boardroom: Seeking wisdom in governing for innovation

Abstract: This paper explores faith in the context of the boardroom. A notion of wisdom governance is developed in dialogue with Hebrew Scripture and contemporary governance research. The proposal is that faith resources can be utilised in ways accessible to pluralist contexts yet respectful of the particularities of diverse faith traditions. Governance practices are developed using verbs of serving, gardening, building, resourcing, risking and parenting. Two case studies clarify the nature of governance in innovation. The argument is that in conditions that require the balancing of risk and innovation, a wisdom governance that is trusted, engaging and connective is possible.

Keywords: governance, Wisdom literature, innovation, risk

The book – titled Reimagining Faith & Management – is under contract with Routledge. Dr Edwina Pio is the lead editor. She is New Zealand’s first Professor of Diversity and in 2019, was awarded the Te Rangi Hiroa Medal by the Royal Society Te Apārangi for her pioneering research in diversity, specifically, how the intersection of ethnicity, religion and gender is influenced by the world of work. So it is wonderful to have such a skilled researcher taking the lead in what is an interdisciplinary space that has quite some complexity.

The co-editors are Dr Robert Kilpatrick and Dr Timothy Pratt, whom I’ve kept in contact with since being in Baptist ministry together in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Little did any of us dream back then that we’d be writing in this space together! Each chapter will revolve around managerial concepts within which faith-based aspects will be woven. The twenty chapters will be written by contributors from around the globe, with publication either at the end of 2020 or early 2021.

Posted by steve at 04:32 PM

Thursday, December 19, 2019

When Christmas Angels tweet – a research summary as book contribution

One of my 2019 tasks has been a research project investigating the impact of Christmas Angels, a form of Christian witness that began in the north of England in 2014. (A brief summary for my denominational magazine is here). The research project began on the edges of my sabbatical, a creative break in the grind of book completion. It made possible a conference presentation at the Ecclesiology and Ethnography conference (thanks workplace).

Following the conference, I had an email from one of the keynote speakers, Mary Clark Moschella. They had sat in on my conference presentation and the email was one of congratulations, describing my research as highly imaginative.

It was also an email of invitation. Mary was working on revising Ethnography As A Pastoral Practice: An Introduction. She was wanting to include a couple of brief research summaries as examples at the end of the book. Might this include a summary of my research? She noted my research would serve a number of purposes in a revised edition. It would automatically update the work and appeal to students who are considering undertaking online research. It lifts up the feminist implications of craftivism and would exemplify a fresh approach to practical theology based on making. It was a wonderful and encouraging email to receive.

I had already submitted my research to an academic journal so there were copyright implications to consider. But this request was asking something quite different, with a focus on explaining the research to students in a step-by step way, concentrating on the bare bones of the research methodology and process, the ethical considerations, and theological reflections.

Ethnography As A Pastoral Practice: An Introduction is a book I use in my teaching and to be invited to contribute to a revised edition was a real affirmation of the research and the presentation! So in the cracks of time over the last few months, I’ve been working away on a distinctive piece of writing.

Yesterday I was able send off 4,500 words, tenatively titled – When Christmas Angels tweet: making matters and practical theology in researching mission online, seeking feedback from Mary.

IMG_8035 It might well need reworking, or be deemed not suitable. But it has been wonderful to write, sharing the research journey, including my learning to knit and in conversation with Fieldwork in Theology: Exploring the Social Context of God’s Work in the World (The Church and Postmodern Culture). There is also some new theological reflection, developing a theological reading of the knitting (Buxtehude) Madonna.

The sending brought to 9* my academic research outputs for the 2019 year. It’s been a highly productive year:

  • 1 book – First Expressions
  • 5 academic journal articles (3 accepted following revise/resubmit; 2 revise/resubmit work in process)
  • 2 book chapters (writing up of conference presentations)
  • 1 (successful) $130,000 research grant (further announcements pending)

Obviously the 15 weeks of sabbatical has helped my productivity, giving sustained space to complete a range of products. So also has been writing in partnerships. 4 of the 9 outputs have been co-authored with 3 people in different types of writing partnerships. So has a work situation, which in complexity has required me to re-order where my creativity can be offered. With less creativity required in some areas, an unintended benefit has been increased productivity in the cracks of time. I’m not spending any more time writing, just finding in retrospect, that the time I spend writing is proving to be highly generative.

* My rule of thumb is 1 “industry” ie church-facing output for every 1 “academic” output, in which I seek to express theological thinking in accessible and church-facing places. In 2019, there has also been 19 industry/”church-facing outputs including 11 film reviews in Touchstone, 2 SPANZ columns, 1 Zadok column, 2 Weekly Worship lectionary guides, 1 devozine youth resource, 1 Candour blog, 1 SCM blog.

Posted by steve at 11:23 AM

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

making matters: with a downunder #Kiwiangels hashtag

A piece I wrote last month for SPANZ, the denominational magazine of the Presbyterian Church. It is a popularisation of my craftivism research, with a downunder challenge.

Kiwiangels

Photo by Kayli Taylor

Making matters

God is a master maker, according to Proverbs 8:30. God delights in making, both at creation and among the human race. The chapter begins with the Maker calling in the streets, offering wisdom not inside the temple, but at the crossroads of life, not in the stillness of liturgy but the bustle of the city gates (1-3). The wisdom on offer is fit for daily purpose – words that lead to life offered at the door of every house (34-5).

Making mattered to theologians of the early Church, who wove relationships between God as maker and discipleship as God’s children. Maximus the Confessor called Christian life a game played by children before God. In Acts, Dorcas created a fresh expression of church with the poor through mending and Lydia worked with fine purple cloth, while Paul, Priscilla and Aquila sustained their mission through the making of tents.

The place of making in mission intrigues me. So in recent months, I have researched Christmas Angels, a local church outreach that began in the north of England in 2014. The idea is simple: make hand-knitted angels, attach a tag, and leave for others to find.

Why make? Mystery in mission, was the answer, according to founders, Methodist church ministers, Rob Wylie and David Wynd, whom I interviewed last month in Durham, England. Seeing a felted angel made by Lou Davis (a wonderfully talented pioneer Methodist church leader) a lightbulb went off for Rob and David: “People walk the same route to work every single day. Let’s see what happens when they see something they don’t normally see. What they make of the message will be up to them. An angel turns up and what might change?”

Christianity, like Christmas, has, over the years, become increasingly wrapped in tinsel. What might happen if making, in the simplicity of a hand-made angel, was what mattered at Christmas?

What happened? Well, it seems that local English churches adore making things. What began in 2014 with a few churches near Rob and David, was quickly taken up by churches all over Britain. In 2017, over 60,000 angels, each lovingly tagged, were yarn bombed throughout England. In the dark of winter down country roads and up high streets, outside train stations and opposite local schools, hand-made knitted angels just turned up.

I was curious. What did the neighbours make of the making? Were yarnbombed angels a nuisance? I turned to social media as part of my research. Each knitted angel came with a hashtag (search online for “#XmasAngel”) and I found the neighbours responding (tweeting) online. Words like “lovely” and “thanks” kept being repeated. For one person, the angels meant people were “thinking of us here”. For another it was an experience of “divine intervention”. A mother was moved to tears as she watched her children place their newly found angel atop the Christmas tree. Of the 1,100 responses (tweets), not one was negative. The making of knitted angels brought communities together, made visible the church and materialised joy and surprise in the experience of being found by an angel.

It all makes sense of the angels in the Christmas story. They were outdoors. They were making faith visible, not with their hands, but their voices with songs of peace and love for all humankind.

It also makes sense of the making in Proverbs 8. Making matters and mission needs to be “out and about” up streets and at the crossroads. Making matters as the Church becomes playful, turning “purl one and knit two together” into unspoken acts of public mission.

Are there makers in Presbyterian churches? Yvonne Wilkie, our Church’s former archivist, recalls knitted nativities in Presbyterian history. But that was the past, and we all now live in the present.

The instructions are online (https://www.christmasangel.net/). They are simple enough that, as part of my research, I learnt to make one. Is anyone interested in making and mission, with a downunder #Kiwiangels hashtag? Or are Kiwi summers now too busy and too hot for making to matter?

Steve Taylor

Posted by steve at 09:14 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

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

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