Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Greenbelt '08 - the Rising Sun

Boo- hoo!!! Just back from Greenbelt '08. A fab time was had by all, as always. There was a significant amount of mud. Well the theme of this year's event was 'the Rising sun' so what do you expect? The Greenbelt communion service was at 3pm this year and the heavens opened right on cue. Oh, the irony!

The big memory of this year's event was the people. Having spent the year virtually connecting with a bunch of people at ASBOJesus it was great to have the opportunity meet up with a few of them at Greenbelt. Top of the list was creative genius, Jon Birch, who gave life to ASBOJesus. His blog of quirky little cartoons has grown into something of a community. I have known, for a long time (well, not that long in the grand scheme of things), that Jon has an enormous generosity of spirit, but to see him in action, the authentic enthusiasm and love for people was amazing. What a beautiful man! I was equally bowled over by the warmth and friendliness of Jon's wife Clare and good friends Sonia and Iain from the Sanctuary community in Bath. It was great to finally meet Robb and Dr Ruth who consistently contribute so much good sense and humour to the ASBO debates and Janetp who has more recently brought a new insight to the blog with her thoughtful and intelligent commenting. Caroline Too, I did enjoy meeting you - embrace your 'poshness', it's part of who you are. I was also privileged to briefly meet the ultra-cool (I am seriously not worthy) Jonny Baker, Jon's creative partner in crime with Proost. Far less scary was the introduction to Dubb aka Harry Baker. A fresh talent with a great future.

There wasn't much on the music programme which tickled my fancy but I did enjoy Emmanuel Jal. I forgot all about Daby Touré. I missed a few things that I wanted to see - damn Greenbelt programme! When are they going to come up with an online personal programme planner, which you can log into and input all of the things you want to see and the system generates a best fit before you arrive on site? I wanted to see Brian McLaren but only managed one talk which I wasn't particularly inspired by. I gave John Bell a miss this year. Best talk treat was Philip Yancey, whose books I love. I also went to Jenny Baker's talk on gender difference/similiarity with particular reference to church leadership. It was entertaining. I remember going to a workshop session on prayer which Jenny did with Pete Greig at Spring Harvest in 2002. This was a different set up, of course but she seemed a lot more feisty than I recalled from back then. Or was it just a different approach for the mainstream Spring Harvest punters? Best discovery was Pete Rollins. I went to his talk on Monday afternoon simply because I'd heard of him and there was nothing else on. I don't know how I got the impression, but I'd kind of thought of him as some cool, academic type (there is nothing I've read to reinforce this false impression). He looked about 15, and talked too fast. I figure if he had a fag in one hand and a pint of Guinness in the other, it might have stopped him playing with his hair so much. I have met pub philosophers a bit like him before but he has clearly developed the style to a fine art. I'm not altogether sure my brain had the time to process everything he said, but he said enough to stimulate my brain cells and stave off Alzheimer's for a week or so...or possibly advance it. It was a lively and entertaining performance. I sense that he is a work in progress and his ideas may be a bit more intelligible a few years down the line. I liked him.

Well, the tickets for Greenbelt 09 are already on sale. Things to do before next year:
(a) Grow a third arm - invaluable when you are trying to balance paper plate of food, paper cup of drink, bag of essential items, programme and folding stool.
(b) Contact Greenbelt organisers with a view to setting up a new venue - a tent where you can go to catch up on lost sleep. Suggested name for venue : Rest in the Spirit.

Island in the Sun....

This year, for the first time in donkey's years, we decided to take ourselves off for a fortnight in the sun. It's been a bit of a stressful year, with one thing and another and I just needed the excuse to work hard at doing naff all! So we booked ourselves a holiday in Menorca, in the quiet resort of Santo Tomas. We'd actually been to Santo Tomas before - in about 1991! There's a bit more to the resort now but it is far from overdeveloped and still peaceful. Menorca is the shy, retiring younger sister to the more extrovert Majorca and Ibiza (though I love Ibiza, too. She is not a bad girl, just misunderstood!) We spent rather more on our break than we could probably afford - our youngest being 15, we had to pay for 4 adults, whereas most of the other families were clearly taking advantage of free child places. The resort was quite expensive (the days of a 'cheap' package to Spain long since gone, bargain-hunters now flocking to Turkey in their droves) and this wasn't helped by the strength of the Euro. The hotel was pleasant and even though it was a family oriented hotel, it wasn't noisy. We just did our own thing. The hotel was right on the beach and the sea was shallow. The best bit was the evening walks along the paseo which ran along the shoreline. We saw some fabulous sunsets and it was a lovely opportunity to just talk about 'stuff'. It was horrible having to come home. I'll have to save up my pennies for next year...maybe I should think about getting a job.