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Friday, 29 August 2014

#cranky #beautifulfaith & the city of God @StPaulsForum @CanonOakley @Sarcasticluther

yesterday evening I attended a really good event with this title to hear Sara Miles & Nadia Bolz-Weber reflect on their experiences of coming to faith & living the Gospel in the world.  

The event was chaired in a beautifully thoughtful way by Canon Mark Oakley and took place inside St. Paul's Cathedral London UK under the great dome.

It was part of the St Paul’s Forum programme of events exploring Christian life, ethics and spirituality. 

The handout from the Cathedral and Forum that we were given as we came in had the following brief bio's of Nadia and Sara ....

"Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of the House for All Sinners and All Saints, a mission church in Denver, Colorado. A former stand-up comic and a leading voice in the Emerging Church movement in America, she is also a New York Times bestselling author. Her latest book is Cranky, Beautiful Faith and she blogs at

Sara Miles is the Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, and the founder of The Food Pantry. A former reporter, she is the author of Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion and Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead. Her latest book is City of God: Faith in the Streets."

The event kicked off at 18.30 with an intro by Mark and then Sara and Nadia each talked for about 15 minutes ish each.  After that there was a Q&A.  The event was filmed and what follows are various phrases I heard that struck me.  St Paul's are normally quite good at fairly quickly getting a video of events like this onto their website. have just (1/9) posted the video of the event

On coming to faith and pondering it

- I didn't know any christians but I knew I didn't like them

- I realised that the failures of the church are exactly the same as my own failures

- I can't believe the God of the universe is limited to our understanding of the divine

- Liturgy is a gift caretaken by generations before us so we can enjoy it and pass it on

- At the start of some theological training I attended the teacher starting by writing in large letters on a board the word Grace - and he then said - "everything I'm going to tell you comes back to this"

- Holiness now lives inconveniently in human flesh

- God is less petty than we are

- The incarnation means that the spiritual is let loose in messy us

- Lutheranism in 5 points: 1) God's grace is freely given; 2) Nobody climbs a spiritual ladder; 3) we are all a mix of sinner and saint; 4) the bible is not God, its not part of the trinity; 5) the movement is always from God to us

- God's nature is to redeem all

On being an authentic church community

- A real sign of Jesus' presence at communion is when somebody totally inappropriate is at the table

- Act as if that stuff you do on Sundays means something

- If you're doing work for other people rather than with them then that's a business model - an exchange

- The church building will always be to small to hold God - God has left the building

- Discern the difference between tradition and nostalgia

- Give up control and predictability and you'll be amazed what happens

- There's a way to be reverent without being stuffy

- Be a church with people you didn't choose

- You need to be deeply rooted in tradition to innovate

On the Bible

 Protestants got rid of the pope and replaced him with a paper one

- Always keep hearing the love between the lines

And finally .....

- the CofE has approached the subject of women leadership with the engine of a lawnmower and the brakes of a juggernaut

- the secret of the food pantry - you buy a lot of food and give it away - in 15 years we've had 7 meetings

- some people tell me after events like this that my honesty and authenticity are unusual - which must mean that they think that normally church speakers lie to them and pretend to be somebody they aren't - so the church is setting a fairly low bar for me to beat

- volleyball is the sacred meeting place of tall people

- when asked about thoughts on the CofE's future debate on sexuality - "He said - It is finished"

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