Greenbelt 2013…

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Will and I are just back from GB 13- the 40th year anniversary of the first festival, back in 1973. We had a lovely time. I spent time with some old friends and as ever immersed myself in new music and ideas.

I did not take a camera this year- we were on the train as far as Preston and so took a minimalist approach (the photos here are all pinched from the GB website.) However, I thought I would pick a couple of highlights from each day;

On Thursday Will and I were picked up at Preston station by Andy and Hannah, and set off down the M6 into bank holiday traffic. The inevitable happened- and accident closed the motorway in both ways and so we all got out of our cars and had a chat to one another. In fact, Will and I went over onto the empty opposite carriageway and had a game of cricket. That evening we really enjoyed Eliza Cathy and Jim Moray.

Saturday, rather amazingly belonged to Graham Kendrick. Firstly he did a worship set- all the old favourites, including the dreaded ‘Shine Jesus Shine’. Kendrick was charming, in a geeky slightly fey kind of way. We even had a ‘give God a round of applause’ moment. Hands were waved and (please do not judge me) I cried.

I think I cried for what I was, what I loved, what has gone, but was (despite all the foolish edges) still beautiful. Music does that to you.

Later Kendrick did an acoustic set of his folk songs- the things I listened to back in the early 80s when you were listening to the Clash and the Sex Pistols.

The other highlight for me was Dave Andrews– telling stories of a life of community activism- trying to live a life motivated towards the poor.

Sunday highlights would be; Jim Wallis, another man living a life of protest against those in power. I also enjoyed John Bell’s talk about the operation of power. Musically, the Moulettes were simply stunning- unusual, quirky, gorgeous music, including the use of a Bassoon.

I really enjoyed the wall of noise that was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club too…

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Monday morning saw Will and I listening to Pete Rollins, weaving stories, jokes, theology and philosophy together. He is very entertaining, and some of his points hit home. There is a knowingness about Rollins that has an elitist edge however which I do not warm to. He seems to be at his most creative out beyond the edge, looking at us all with a sardonic grin. It is an approach that excludes and intimidates me a little.

Finally, I might as well mention the Greenbelt institution that is Martin Joseph. Songs that are mixed out of fragile emotion. Each one teeters and might fall on each note, but in spite (or because) of this it all soars heavenward.

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Dave Andrews on violence and the Beatitudes…

Is it possible to turn from violence?

It is there in all of our interactions. As Dave says- plan A is usually to repay violence with violence. To take what injury we feel, and look to make someone else pay- either as an individual, or as a group.

I have been thinking about this in relation to the place of my work. Those people who treat me badly- whose interactions are characterised by hard, angry and overly rigid attitudes. Or at least it seems that way to me and those with whom I confide.

And I find myself carrying this violence into my own responses- it shapes the way that I defend, then set up my own small plans of violent resistance.

Sometimes I manage to carry the beatitudes into these interactions- not just outwardly, but actually in the way I think and feel. But not often.

So that is my prayer. To be Christlike.

To measure victory not in terms of overcoming by violence- but in overcoming by something far deeper- called (for want of a better word) love.

God grant me the serenity to not want to change the people that I want to change…