Sunday 3 October 2010

Silence Over

As can be imagined, I am in a new place to live, still with unopened boxes and unpositioned items (mainly paintings - hooks can go on the walls but these walls are all so well whitewashed and presented!). I have only just got a new broadband service up and running after some puzzlement.

All was just in time to make a CD that becomes an integrated means to provide music for this morning's Unitarian service, numbers depleted by the atrocious weather. The weather reminds me of when we moved to New Holland in 1994, when then there was a week of high wind. It was almost as if that was the climate for the area, and it was depressing. I am reacquainting myself with Hull, where everything is nearer now but, on the other hand, the car doesn't do 60 miles per hour almost immediately. Nearer but slower then.

The service this morning was harvest, delivered fairly traditionally in terms of sources and understanding - the Lammas celebration early being replaced by an Anglican invented tradition from the nineteenth century of harvest festival. The reduction is that it provides an opportunity to say thanks. I am not sure how much my incidental music gets noticed: John Barleycorn Must Die is all about barley and brewing, for example. Had I done the service it would have been about economics and surpluses.

Once again I live very near an Anglican church, this time 3 minutes walk away rather than 30 seconds. It is in the next street, over the road from the pub. My intention, which curiosity might defeat, is not to become involved, but to focus on the one place at Park Street. I get the feeling that the set up here in Sutton is rather moribund, that it cannot overcome the deep secularisation of the area that makes this one of the least churchgoing places in the whole country. One of the team ministry churches is or was strongly evangelical - it was in my Ph.D (this hardly gives anything away) - and I wouldn't be involved in that or anything near it at all. On the other hand I like meeting people, capable of holding and expressing my own religious stance (and haven't yet really met any locals).

After all, I believe in the idea of a free and open space for religious exploration, drawing on as many resources as the people present wish. That space needs the effort of development, not something that has a different 'sign-up' ethos. At the moment there are different service takers each week and it adds to the variety, and makes more real the notion of a space for reflection and exploration. But this is a very tough part of the world for this sort of activity, and is a struggle but there still should be a number of people who would regard this as a valuable moment in a week as regards a non-directive spiritual search.


Hugh said...

I hope you're new abode serves you well Adrian .

Oh , and WB :)


Erika Baker said...

Good to have you back, Adrian! And I hope you'll settle soon.

Tell me, and this is a genuine question, why are you looking for non-directional spiritual search from a Christian context? Isn't it likely that it will be a hugely frustrating exercise as those who are genuinely searching non-directionally have either never been in a church context or have outgrown it?

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

It isn't necessarily a Christian context. The identity can be, but doesn't have to be. One of the challenges of the Unitarian movement, given its history, is that it can access those who are non-Christian. We have a Muslim attender who observed Ramadan and hears other perspectives.

Erika Baker said...

Sorry, I misunderstood you, I thought "Park Street" referred to the Anglican church you talked about, not the Unitarians.