Anne Morisy is a community theologian and scouser and is speaking at the Breakout Pioneer conference. She works for the diocese of London.
Anne Morisy has her roots in Faith in the City from twenty years ago. She hopes to help us think about the explicit domain of church, the foundational domain of faith, and the invitational domain.
The explicit domain is of preaching and bible study. This is where we get a systematic faith, a domain in which we can say a creed. However, this is often at too high a level for those who haven’t a familiarity with the explicit domain. It is about formation, but is also has club attributes. I is built on the legacy of Christian culture which is the assumption that we are powerful and that we know how to make the world better.
Anne thinks we have moved to a time of a theology of resilience.
The explicit domain (traditional church) has a high expectation of policing orthodoxy and maintaining power. It requires a high level of specialist resources just to maintain it. One church can cost £120000 per year, quite easily. You can feel the pressure.
The foundational domain hasn’t had to be done until about 60 years ago. Until then most people had an inkling about what fist might be about.. They could oscillated between having confidence in God, or quietly thinking it’s dated. Now people might have confidence in the possibility of god, but not in God himself. “there’s more to life than meets the eye’ is a phrase that tells people that they are just thinking about being free of the materialism of secularism. This is a place in which we must encourage imagination, beyond mundane symbols, re-enchanting our view the world.
do we entertain people talking about th spirits of their dead granny?
We want people to meet the living God expressed through Jesus. This is what we’re pioneering.
We can see the tension right here in swanwick this week – the black shirts of the polish catholic priests, the suits of the healthcare chaplains, and the rabble of the pioneers! We don’t look like the orthodoxy.
Pioneers need to be skilled at code switching – treating sub-Christian ideas with respect and giving them value in a commitment to hospitality and helping people to articulate their experience of ‘the other’. This is the beginning place that we need to find and it may be quite a long way from the systematic theology of the explicit domain.
Added to this – we are creating community. It the days of faith in the city, they had a saying that you couldn’t ‘church’ without community. (she will say more about community later. Creating a place of reflection where people can start to hear themselves think can be a start of community)
skills for the foundational domain
Soft eyes. Subliminally we are lays reading people’s eyes. Wherever we move our eyes will be read. The gaze that we can offer can open up or close down, heal or wound. When we look at the fad Edf a baby, our eyes invariably soften. Foucault talks of a medical gaze which compartmentalises the body so that it can be dealt with by various specialists. The body becomes a problem to be solved. This affects the whole way in which we relate. What we can bring is that we take people as a whole person. The way in which we represent that is the language and the gaze in which we use. We should not be afraid of finding that difference makes us uncomfortable. But we should have a longing to find that common ground.
Conversation as informal education. See infed website. Conversation Is the means by which that people see and change their view of the world. Thought conversation we are ruminating and distilling what we are coming to know. We help each other to do this. Without others we simply ruminate and feed our ego. Until we hear ourselves speak we are unable to recognise and own the insights that we have assembled. Here there is scope of a class situation when people get the opportunity to hear themselves and others think.
Conversations are risky as opinions and emotions are shared, and we cannot guarantee that people are not going to get hurt. This is particularly risky in a small community. There is no guarantee agains misinterpretation.
conversation is always an experiment with results that can never be guaranteed
Micro actions are at the heart of conversation. Jesus’ conversation wit the Samaritan woman is end longest recorded conversation he has with anyone, and communicates more than the words that are used. Micro-actions in this conversation:
1 the powerful person in the conversation speaks from a position of vulnerability
2 Jesus steps outside of tribalism.
3 he engages in friendly banter to initiate the encounter. There is mutual commitment to maintain the encounter.
4 Jesus says “go call your husband”. This is a micro action to be sensitive to her circumstances, as to sustain a conversation with a woman by herself would damage her reputation.
5 “I have no husband” Jesus understands her situation.
6 Jesus now is able to make more sense of why she is in this situation in the middle of the day. A sudden insight into the life of the other person.
7 the woman then realises the dangerous and vulnerable position she is in and tired to change the subject and retreat to the abstract.
8 Jesus responds with a new inclusive paradigm – a God of truth whom everyone can worship.
9 The woman’s personal experience and knowledge start to come together. She knows something about this – the messiah is coming. An equivalent today’s might b to ask if there has ever been a time when God has been particularly close.
From these micro actions, we get a macro action of the woman dashing back to the village to tell everyone who she has met. She has transformed massively from muteness about her situation to shouting about her new situation.