as promised, a couple of movies from feig's feast in gloucester cathedral [see below].
first, walking down from the lady chapel into the nave where agents of future are singing on the labyrinth. if it's a little shaky that's because i have a cup of wine in one hand and the camera in the other!
one of the very best things at greenbelt this year was the bluegrass eucharist service by house for all sinners and saints. they were scheduled up against headline act royksopp, so i had to make a choice of solidarity - i feared they wouldn't get many takers. how wrong i was! they filled the venue and turned 100 away.
and the service was marvellous. singing's a funny thing. so often it's no more than half-hearted mumbling, and some alt worship groups have given up altogether rather than drag an unwilling congregation through the motions. and yet - if you get the style and the songs and the mood right, the results are astounding and transcendent. why did hundreds of people sing so lustily songs that they barely knew printed in that stave-with-words-below format that's so hard to follow? i guess it's one of those things where numbers really do make a difference - the more voices there are, the better it sounds and the more people want to join in. and the style of the music is so cheerfully singable - large chunks of the liturgy were also sung, but what a contrast to the classicising formality of the standard church of england version! the liturgy and music were created by kent gustavson, published as
'light into the world: hope for a new day' and available from amazon
oh, and the sermon was great too. some people at grace feigned shock that i should praise a sermon, but as with singing, what works, works!
i captured as much footage as my camera would hold. first up, pastor nadia bolz-weber introduces the service with some references to the current swine-flu rules - no common cup, servers using hand gel etc - all of which will be subverted by the general hand-shaking and hugging of the peace!
for the second year gloucester 'fresh expression' feig held an event/party in gloucester cathedral the night before greenbelt. i couldn't make it last year because of work commitments, but the word was so good i was determined to go this year. plus i knew that the cathedral [one of my favourites] would be beautiful. and indeed the event was gorgeous. there will be movies of the labyrinth too, but i'm now at greenbelt and can't get the time/bandwidth.
this is my idea of how church should be - a party in a beautiful building. certainly it's how cathedrals should be used. these are places where one is normally a tourist among the crowds, or consciously on one's best behaviour. so to wander, wine in hand, through illuminated cloisters and arches with laughing friends and running children is heavenly.
foundation 'babel' - anointing from steve collins on Vimeo. in this clip people discard their masks and are given a copy of the lord's prayer in a random foreign language, which we will then all say in unison [illustrating the confusion of languages and its overcoming].
at the end we took away key-rings made from small jenga blocks marked with the slogan 'to confuse is to liberate':
i thought i'd see how my new camera performed in movie mode for alt worship, starting with visions' friday night 'transcendence' service. and it worked rather well, and i barely touched my DSLR all weekend except when the battery on the movie camera went flat. so there will be smallfire.org video sections when i have processed all the clips.
in the meantime, here are the transcendence clips [please excuse the weedy bass, attempts at beefing it up only caused distortion]. transcendence is visions' monthly service in the crypt of york minster. the transcendence site has rather superior movies of entire services - maybe i'll work my way up to that eventually.
in putting those greenbelt 98 photos on flickr, i found that i had a whole lot of other greenbelt photos that i hadn't done anything with. so i've made a greenbelt collection. some of the sets are the alt worship stuff that's already up there, but the greenbelt 2003, 2006 and 2007 sets haven't been seen before. neither have the l'arche and labyrinth photos in greenbelt 2001.
when greenbelt festival hit 25 in 1998, it planned to reinvent itself [split into two festivals, change sites and intentions]. so i decided to use my new camera to record the festival, in case it was the last of its kind. indeed, the grace service on the monday night was called 'the last supper', in case it was the last alt worship service at greenbelt. and had the festival ended there yours truly might have been the last 'act' ever at greenbelt, leading a meditation at 1.30-2am tuesday morning [the john 21 meditation in 'alternative worship', written for the slot - the last line was originally 'the world after greenbelt']
of course it didn't end there, but i've never photographed the festival in general since, feeling that i'd done it. but i discovered, late last year, that i'd never actually scanned more than a handful of the photos - just a few of the epicentre ones for small fire. so here, ten years late, is greenbelt 25 at deene park, featuring the legendary epicentre arts cafe.
a note on the venue: deene park was a country house estate, with a natural bowl in the land. the main stage and backstage were in the bottom of the bowl, with everything else arranged along a circular path around the edge of the bowl. this meant that whichever way you went you would always come back to where you started, having met along the way all the people you knew who weren't in the outfield at their tents. finding people was so much easier. everything was under canvas - so there was nowhere warm when it was cold or cool when it was hot, and the noise from the dance tent wrecked all attempts at quiet ambience, silent prayer, meditation. and marquees can get pretty muddy inside, which isn't good for electrics either. after the torrential rain and mudbath of 1997, and the not much better weather of 1998 [see photos], the move to cheltenham racecourse was partly about making sure that at least some of the main site and venues were on concrete or indoors. it took greenbelt 7 or 8 years to recover from the financial damage of the bad weather in 97/98.
photos of the usual unusual, this year's event by graceland at greenbelt 2007. i like what graceland are up to, even though i don't know about the specifics. i like their graphics. i like their disregard for time and venue and liturgy and the other self-imposed constraints of a 'service'. this is more what i was hoping grace would do this year. something that just happens for a while. you saw it or you didn't. make a place using objects that carry ideas. i didn't stay long enough to find out what happened to the pieces at the end, but it would make sense to give at least some away, as kind of 'viral' objects - a liturgy that scatters.
ikon have put their liturgies for the god delusion here, which is a mercy because all the wonderful words fly past in the event and you emerge with a couple of scraps, wishing you could rewind to hear some things again. and they are very wonderful words.
maybe ikon should have a small booklet to give out at the end of their services containing the liturgies/songs/poems so that people can take it away and think about it.