Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Greenbelt Experience

Science and Faith argue about certainty and uncertainty

Thank you to everyone who came and supported us at Greenbelt this year. We had a wonderful weekend and the weather held up to allow us to conduct 6 services over 2 days without being rained on!

Just before the festival started, Boughton House informed Greenbelt that the trees in part of the site had just been discovered to be diseased and that it was no longer safe to use that section. This caused quite a bit of pain for the organisers, who did a great job of re-homing everyone. This affected us too, so on Friday we were scouting for a new path to walk our service along.

We started by meeting just outside the Kindred Cafe, where Treygard offered waiting walkers a snifter of peppermint tea and some lovely biscuits (thank you Effie). After an introduction, The Guide took everyone over a small rise to a hidden dell and the first 'station', Brokenness. Then on over a bridge to a pair of trees playing home to Science and Faith (pictured arguing above). Just a little further up the path and Apollyon walked out to greet and bring doom, before the group were led back down to the bridge for some parting words.

At the start of the journey we had given everyone bags (with a SUB logo on, naturally) to carry their burdens in. We had rainbow pebbles of many sizes, to represent burdens, and asked people to choose some to accompany their walk. At each station, we presented a new challenge and an opportunity to pick up new burdens, put down burdens now relieved or help other by carrying burdens for them. The service ending with all the burdens being left behind and the participants travelling lighter into the remainder of their festival experience.

We had 70-80 people share the service with us, which was great. Some puzzled faces, some unsure of whether it was supposed to be funny or serious (a bit of both actually, so that's probably a good response!) and most took something positive away from it.

Thank you to those who requested a copy of the service, to either re-enact back at their homes with friends and fellow church-goers or just to study further. We will add the script to the website shortly.

We hope you have a wonderful year and here's hoping we get to come back to Greenbelt next year to bring you another unique worship service (or something else...). In the meantime, we provide weekly content on this blog and will be holding gatherings in the Manchester area that will be announced on this blog and on twitter @sub_kulture.

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Monday, 18 August 2014

Greenbelt is coming

The Quest

SUB have been privileged to host worship services at the past few Greenbelt festivals and this year is no different in that respect. However, it is different in almost every other respect. Moving from Cheltenham Racecourse to Boughton House, near Kettering, has changed things somewhat.

As such, we will be holding a shorter service than usual (30 minutes rather than 1 hour) and repeating it several times rather than running it once. This will allow us to keep the service intimate, with a maximum capacity of 20, while still allowing many people to join us over the course of the weekend. It even allows for some to experience the service more than once if they wish.

Another change for us is to run the service in the great outdoors rather than using an indoor venue. So no big sound and visuals like usual and this time we will take the group on a (short) walk through the service. It will be really interesting to try out - bring your umbrella in case it rains!

So we look forward very much to meeting those of you we already know as well as making new friends. We continue to be experimental in the kind of service we offer the festival goers at Greenbelt and are excited to experience a service in the heart of nature.

The service will start at the Kindred Cafe
(just near the camping ground, the Roots stage and Star Lake)

it runs on
Saturday August 23 at 7pm, 7.30pm and 8pm

and also on
Sunday August 24 at 7pm, 7.30pm and 8pm

Monday, 11 August 2014

More Vikings!

Near the end of my Danish holiday, I visited a small harbour called Hundested where there was a sand sculpture festival. I have to say, the quality of craftsmanship (is that the right word?) and artistry was really high. There were a few Brit's in amongst the contributing artists, which made me proud :)

The theme of the festival was Vikings and Norse mythology, so following on from last week's blog, this was a great chance to have a refresher in the 'old religion'. And again it brought home to me the richness of those stories and some interesting similarities. In particular the creation story, which feels very familiar...

Ask & Embla are the first human couple. The story goes that Odin, Vile and Ve, while walking along the beach, found two trees. Of these, they created the first two humans. Odin gave them breath, Vile gave them sense and Ve gave speech, hearing and sight. They gave them clothes and names. The man was called Ask and the woman Embla. All humans originate from them. The culture is framed by the Midgard Serpent, which holds the world together by biting it's own tail.

Below are some more images from the festival.

Surt, the fire giant, who destroys the world during Ragnarok (apocalypse)

Freya, goddess of love, sexuality and fertility (amongst other, darker things), on a cloud of hearts

Three Valkyries, depicted as clouds, trying to capture a viking ship

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


Reconstructed Viking longship, the Sea Stallion

I'm on holiday in Denmark at the moment, so naturally thoughts turn to the Vikings (their 'age' being late 8th to late 11th centuries). Before coming here, I enjoyed watching season 1 of the Amazon exclusive Vikings drama, which uses the story to explore facets of those communities and that culture. Over the last year or so I've also read my way through the Northlanders comic series by Brian Wood (7 novels in total, all highly recommended). Frustratingly, the longest Viking ship discovered so far, the Roskilde 6 (37m), is on a tour having just been to the British Museum, so I won't get to see it!

That said, visiting the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde has been very interesting to see - the quality of the old ships and imagine the bravery of their men and women to explore the seas, ranging as far as they did (North Africa and Central Asia, not just around Europe). The cross-culture pollination this sea-faring, raiding and trading brought is also intriguing; their rich pantheistic belief system slowly changing into the Christianity of those they subdued and enslaved. Misconceptions of the last few centuries have twisted the Viking legacy (e.g. they didn't wear horned helmets in battle), but there seems to be a slow correction underway, as historians reveal more based on archaeological findings.

Heavy metal bands have loved to explore the mythology and history of this age and rediscover the old gods - bands such as Manowar, Bathory, Enslaved, Ensiferum, Amon Amarth and many more. Some of these groups justify a shift of focus away from traditional heavy metal satanic themes as not wanting to use any form of Christian construct, positive or negative. Others, just want to rediscover the old legends and stories. Viking metal tends to have harsh black metal roots, softened with folk influences.

It's an interesting time to see more revealed of Viking culture, their craftwork and hear more of their sagas.