Monday, May 08, 2006


So - I finally get around to blogging the rest of the trip (now that we are back in the UK and we've got our jet-lag on). First up (following Vancouver (see post below)) - Seattle.
We had such a good time there. Very people intensive. Karen picked us up (we took the boat from Vancouver Island) and we headed straight to Brouer's Bar where they have the finest selection of Belgian ales known to man.
We were staying in the COTA Abbey (pictured) in the Fremont area (North Seattle), courtesy of our good friend Abbess karen. It was great to see how creatively they use the space and also to see their plans for the future of the building - transforming it into a totally multi-functional arts/community/worship/cafe space.
So we were there for the day conference on new-monasticism that COTA hosted, and it was great to connect with guys from the east coast - Shane Claiborne and Amber from The Simple Way in Philadelphia, and Chris and Cassie Haw from Camden House in Camden, New Jersey - and to hear about their communities, as well as hearing about the monastic element of COTA. I shared a little of our journey in the monastic tradition here in hOME, Oxford.

I think it's true to say that the East Coast guys represented one stream of new-monasticism (probably Franciscan - very involved in living amongst the poor as the primary expression of their faith (and it was amazing to hear the kind of radical lives they are living in community) - and COTA and hOME representing another stream of new-monasticism (probably Benedictine - more of an emphasis on prayer and spiritual practices). At some point I would like to develop further this idea of the different streams of new-monasticism as reflections of the different streams of classic monasticism - where are the new-Dominicans, the new-Jesuits etc.??

On the Thursday evening - after the new-monasticism day - we headed to the COTA Theology pub (in Ye Olde English authentic pub called 'The Reading Gaol' - v kitsch, especially with Pip actually coming from Reading) with Travis in the chair.

The Friday and Saturday were spent participating in Tom and Christine Sine's 'Church has Left the Building' conference along with Mark Pierson, the guys from Thursday, Rachelle Mee-Chapman, and plenty of others who I hadn't met before. It was a good time. Mark and I had a little freak out moment when we both thought we were covering the same material in our repsective seminars - both drawing from the 'slow food' movement - but as it turned out, he was taking it in a worship direction (local tastes and flavours etc) whereas I was talking about spiritual formation.

My seminar seemed to go well (you can never really tell - Christians are always so nice!) but, rather ironically as I was talking about slow-church, I seriously struggled to keep to time and had to rush through some of the interactive stuff that I had planned to linger longer on.
Perhaps I shouldn't have spent the first 5 mins talking about The Waltons but I couldn't resist it after I found a great rocking chair which I decided to sit and rock on whilst doing the talk (see pic - I know, it looks like I've rocked myself to sleep!).
Pip was worried that my Bristish humour (and that of Eddie Izzard of whom I showed a couple of clips) wouldn't translate. But people seemed to laugh in the right places. Again, perhaps they were just being kind!
Anyway, the material was a kind of theological reflection on mine/our journey over the last number of years from what I would call a 'fast-church' model (un-reconstructed charismatic-evangelical) - using phrases like 'revival fatigue' and 'spiritual viagra' - to a more blended-spirituality that I was calling 'slow-church'. This isn't the place to unpack all the points I was making. Another time maybe.
So it was fun to connect with people from Evergreen church in Portland, and also Nadia from Colorado (who I had met previously when she and her husband Matthew had visited the UK recently) - all of whom were also staying in the Abbey.

Anyway, we finished the conference with a meal at the Sine's house along with the other participants. And then on Sunday we took a look around the Fremont area (including the famous 'Fremont Troll' - thanks for the tip Sue!) before the COTA Taize service.

Then after a fantastic meal out on Sunday night with Karen and Travis (see photo), on Monday morning Travis took us to the airport for our flight to San Francisco.
At some point I'll put a flickr album up. Well done for reading such a long post!

1 comment:

jonny said...

sounds like fun! tough life eh?

be great to have your slow church presentation at GB or at a blah sometime (no rush ;-) )