Flashback Friday: Look! Don’t you see it?

Originally posted on October 15th 2007

*Update*: Part of the reason for posting this post this week, is that last weekend I felt strongly that I needed to dig the pendant out of the trinket box I’d kept it in for the last few years and pass it on to someone who is about to move to Aberdeen to study at university. This was also the story I shared with campers during ‘testimony time’ at Surf Camp this summer, though I think I missed out the part about the pendant.

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Look at the new thing I’m going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in the dry land”

Isaiah 43:19 (NCV)

This is one very special pendant. It’s purple and turquoise coloured, and is a cross inside the icthus sign. But that’s not why it is special. It was a prophetic purchase made by one of my friends…and given to me.

In August 2001, this friend bought two pendant necklaces. One for her sister. And another. God told her that the second necklace was to be given to a person she would meet who was going to become a Christian that year.

This girl went to university in Aberdeen, and she really wanted to be all out for Jesus when she got there…but how to bring up the conversation with her new mates at uni? She prayed to God for the opportunity to share her testimony in Freshers Week.

And here is what happened…

I arrived in Aberdeen, a year younger than everyone else, confused, and not sure of where I stood or what I believed in. I was looking for a way out of the mess that was my life in Edinburgh, and felt strongly that moving to Aberdeen was going to help me to find it. I’d been given advice by some graduates to try and get involved in all the Fresher’s Week activities except any to do with the Chaplaincy Centre, because only the ‘sad’ people went there. Having left school a year early, and under 18, a lot of people expected that I wouldn’t stick out first year. A lot of people thought I was just going through ‘a phase’ when I decided to apply and my family wanted me to stay at home. I was ready and up for anything (except any weird Christian church things) because I was determined to prove to them that I could do it.

Two of my friends from home went to church and SU camps every summer. They wore bracelets with the letters ‘WWJD’, but they wouldn’t tell me what it stood for. I figured out it must be a Christian thing, because they’d usually talk to me about anything – but they were well aware of my thoughts on Christianity (I made them pretty clear – church is boring, pointless and full of judgemental busybodies; bible is a bunch of fairy tales).

When I arrived in halls, a girl (the one who had bought 2 pendants) came bounding up to me in the corridor. I introduced myself, and she just screamed ‘Ooooh! you’re Scottish‘ revealing a southern English accent. Anyway, just about all our corridor (21 girls) went to dinner together, and I noticed she was wearing one of those WWJD bracelets. I pointed to it, and asked her ‘What does that stand for? Is it a Christian thing, because 2 of my friends have bracelets like that and they wouldn’t tell me what it means‘…

God had answered her prayer. Here was the opportunity for her to give her testimony to well…pretty much everyone!

She told everyone how she had become a Christian, how her family was against it so she had to sneak out her house to go to Church. How she’d come to understand and believe in the bible being God’s Word.

I wished at the time that I’d never asked. I would usually have slagged off her beliefs, but I wanted to make sure I made a good impression to everyone in Fresher’s week.

Over the next couple of months, we’d have many deep and meaningful conversations late into the night. And I kept meeting more and more Christians. In my tutorial group. In my lectures. In halls. In pubs.

It got really annoying.

11th November was Remembrance Sunday, and I decided to go to church with one of the Northern Irish medics who lived on my floor. I was shocked at how welcome everyone made me. How unjudgmental, caring and friendly everyone seemed. I had never experienced that in church before. Everyone in that church seemed to genuinely love and care for one another. They all seemed to have something I didn’t have, and I really wanted whatever it was. I asked her if she’d drag me out of my bed every Sunday to go to church come rain, hail or hangovers – and she did.

I called my old school friend, who doing a gap year with SU to tell her I’d started going to church. She was totally shocked and said…

‘Of all the people I thought would become a Christian, you were the last on my list

When I came home for Christmas, my family laughed at the thought of me being a Christian.

How could someone as un-Christian as me become a Christian?’

I went to church on Christmas Eve with my school friend’s family. They were willing to answer so many of questions no matter how simple they seemed. For the first time I began to talk about my true feelings on what life had been like before I’d left Edinburgh, and share with my friend what had been going on to make me the angry and depressed young woman that had left school at 16, only to return months later for 5 highers and a UCAS form. They encouraged me to go on an Alpha Course and to start going along to the CU.

In January, I went to my first CU meeting. I can’t remember who the speaker was that night, but the talk was on God’s gifts. They handed out little notebooks we could use as prayer diaries. Something began to click, and I was challenged.

‘What were my gifts? How was I going to be able to use them to honour God?’

That night (unknown to anyone) I went back to my room and prayed to God…I told him that I wanted to know how to get to know him, and asked him to guide me to do the things He wanted me to do.

2 girls in halls started talking about starting a prayer group for revival. I asked them what that was. They told me. I asked if I could join them. They couldn’t hide their shock but agreed that I could come along. We started praying for one of our friends to become a Christian, and I invited her along to Alpha. I thought it would be great if she became a Christian.

I still hadn’t.

I got asked to join the worship band. I said yes. I didn’t know any of the songs, and got really upset about it. On the Friday night, I broke down in my friend’s room, and confessed to him why I thought I couldn’t be a Christian…he began to point out bible verses to me talking about God’s forgiveness. He took me through the basics of Christianity, and prayed with me. I became a Christian that night. I was bouncing around full of the Holy Spirit for about a week. Timely, since it was the AUCU Mission Week!

Just over a month later, my friend who I’d invited along to Alpha became a Christian too.

At the end of my first year, I was asked if I could write my testimony to go on the CU website and I wrote this…

I know that if someone who was as ‘un-Christian’ as me can become a Christian, then anything is possible – because this is the way God has made it. I had scarcely become a Christian myself when someone I thought would never believe became a Christian too. It’s great to be proven wrong sometimes.

If you see me around Aberdeen, you’ll notice that I’m probably wearing a pendant round my neck. It’s the icthus sign with the cross inside it. My friend bought it before she came to uni not knowing what she was going to do with it and gave it as a gift to me soon after I became a Christian…it reminds me of the work that God is doing around us and through us…even when we don’t realise it’s happening – as He constantly has to say to me “Look at the new thing I’m going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?”…

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Flashback Friday: Let’s Not Be Cookie Cutter Christians…

Originally posted on June 20th 2007

Cailin is a Gaelic word for ‘girl’. And it’s what I really struggle to be. Yes, weird I know that I say that when I am one!! When I was a teenager, I desperately wished that I was a boy – I was a bit of a tomboy at Primary School, and to this day I’m most comfortable when wearing a pair of jeans. I often find it easier to talk to guys than I do to girls, because I find that I relate better to them. My friends from Edinburgh apparently consider me as ‘an honourary guy’ (apparently this is a compliment?!). I can’t sew, my ironing skills are appalling. I hate romantic movies. I do wear make up and used to be addicted to straightening my hair. I love shoe shopping, but don’t often shop with girls because it just takes too long. I like to watch football (and for the actual football not to watch guys in shorts). I love camping. My favourite shows include Grey’s Anatomy, Without A Trace and Top Gear. I’m pretty blunt and up front too.

I think I’ve struggled more with this since I went to university and the more I’ve hung around church. In Halls, I lived with 20 other girls. Utter madness. Most girls spent their entire week planning their Saturday night outfit, and I really just didn’t care. The girls who didn’t, they were generally really good cooks, could do all those things like card making, embroidery or whatever. I just never felt like I fitted in with either ‘girl type’, and as a consequence, I would often find myself over with the guys on a different floor so I could watch football, gossip less and not have to be questioned a million times about make up, hair and tops!

When I became a Christian, I quickly realised that I REALLY didn’t fit in. There seemed to be this unwritten rule that as a girl, you were at university to find a husband. You would of course get engaged in your last year of university and marry this man (destined to be a doctor, youth pastor, engineer or minister) shortly after graduation. You would spend your first year or so working and getting to know other women in the church – doing lots of babysitting, sunday school, cooking at Alpha etc. And have people over for dinner (which you cook from scratch) and when you have kids you would then end your chosen career to become a full-time Mum. Now there is nothing wrong with any of that – but it totally isn’t me! First of all, it seemed shocking that a girl learn guitar, or be a worship leader. Second of all, it seemed to be expected that when the CU is having a bake sale to raise funds for a mission or whatever that it would be the girls that baked for it. I really don’t bake. I like football but Christian guys do not include you in this social activity – instead it seems I should be reading Jane Austen books and their seemed to be a thing with Christian girls and watching Pride and Prejudice?? Oh, and tea drinking.

For years, Christianity seemed like some secret society that I didn’t know the proper etiquette for. I didn’t mind that the girls had different gifts, likes, interests etc from me, it was more that all of them seemed to have the same interests, likes etc as each other – but none of them were characteristics that I could find common ground to build a friendship on with them. In fact, I felt a bit like a pariah whenever I found myself in a Christian activity and anything which was a ‘women only’ event filled me with great dread.

Luckily, over time, I discovered that there were other sisters who shared my frustrations. I was lucky enough in my later years of student life to be surrounded by girls and guys who were each unique in our likes, dislikes, hobbies, what we wore, hair colour, hair style, career choice and how important being married and starting a family was to us. We shared one common love – Jesus – and found friendship over that a different things for each one of us.

Speaking to younger girls in church who are coming up through university I think there is enormous pressure to find that ‘perfect Christian man’. How many Christian girls have given themselves that ‘you’ve got until you’re 25 rule?’. How many times have girls gone around church or CU or been on mission or a festival/conference and eyed up what potential husband material there is in the room? How many mothers are putting pressure on their daughters by commenting on any guy they’re friends with. How many couples have the word ‘wedding’ mentioned to them when they’ve barely started dating? I’ve experienced dating in a ‘goldfish bowl’ myself where as a Christian couple you seem to be hot topic of conversation in all Christian gatherings…’do you think they’ll get married?’ ‘when do you think he’ll ask her?’

Singleness is a gift from God. And we all need to use it and cherish it like we should have done our childhood. Most likely, if we are to be married, that guy will turn up when we’re least expecting it. And to be honest, I truly believe that if we can’t handle life on our own, the less likely a relationship will be successful. Because relationships are hard without being self-reliant on a human being who is imperfect as opposed to being reliant on God.

It’s also ok to be yourself. God made each one of us different. You can have a different hair colour, it can be long or short, if you pierce your ears more than once you’re still a Christian. You can be sporty, or into reading, a worship leader, or be tone deaf. You might be amazing with kids and a fantastic children’s church leader. Kids might terrify you or just not be your thing. Some guys love chick flicks, some girls hate them – and vice versa. Every marriage and family is different and that’s ok too. And being a Mum is definitely one of the most difficult jobs in the world. If you can do it without another job on top – amazing. If you can do it while working full-time or part-time – also amazing! Let’s also remember that some people may get married, but not have children, and that’s ok too.

Diversity is good. It speaks of God’s creativity in this world. Don’t be tempted to change your colours (so to speak) just to blend in with those around you.

Comments from original posting:

Paul: wow this is a great post, thank you! We are all so diverse that it really isn’t good to compare ourselves to each other, infact I think St Paul goes as far as commanding that we don’t…

“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Gal 5:25-26

So in this you and St Paul hold a common and vey inspiring view:)

When we can’t see the water for the sea…

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And so another year…another surf camp over. I took this photo on Tuesday morning, as I joined some of our campers and leaders in a tradition that began last year to do the ‘Early Morning Dook’ – where two leaders (or more) and any campers who want to can go down to the beach next to our campsite and have a quick dip in the baltic North Sea before breakfast.

It was a stunningly beautiful day – the first I can remember of this year – and even at 7.30 a.m. the sun was warm. I’d forgotten to pull on my hoodie and soon realised I wasn’t actually going to turn blue without it. What makes me giggle though, is that as I  walked behind the huge pile of campers and leaders that had decided to go down that morning, marvelling at the deserted beach (except for us), the clear blue sky, the large sun beating down on all of us feeling so peaceful (a rare thing at camp) I had no idea this would be the start of the most challenging 36 hours of camp.

I’m a planner and I like to be prepared. I like to know what the plan is ahead of time, and so I can organise my resources and time accordingly and mentally prepare myself. The lead up to surf camp did not allow me to do that.  I had volunteered to help as a kitchen assistant instead of being a group leader because we hadn’t been able to find a person who could help with catering for the whole week and we knew we needed 2 cooks to help our awesome chief cook. To top it all, the day before camp I became ill after eating some food and wasn’t even able to start packing until about 11.30 p.m. that night. Starting camp drained, sleep deprived and nauseated is less than ideal. And I arrived to discover that they still had me down for a role as one of the First Aiders as well as my roles in the kitchen and helping to lead worship.

So to that Tuesday. I already knew that things would be a little more manic than usual because the day before a camper’s medication had effectively been drowned in the sea despite being in a waterproof medical bag while they were coasteering the day before. There had been calls between parents, GPs and pharmacies and we had a small window to drive to the nearest town to pick up the prescription. All good. All sorted…until…45 minutes after this photo one of the campers came speeding into me during our leaders team meeting saying “Come quick – xxxxx has been hurt!” Outside the sight a First Aider dreads – a camper sprawled beside a skateboard in tears. The tears were not just from pain but of the fear that they would not be able to surf that day – their first time getting to waves.

And so a trip to town didn’t just include a trip to the pharmacy…it was now going to be a trip to the town’s small hospital. Calls to parents. Calls to the duty manager at SU. A trip to there resulted in being sent up to the minor injuries unit in the nearest city. More calls to parents. A lot of giggles at my (in)ability to drive hospital wheelchairs. A very snotty and slightly rude nurse freaking out my camper and making for some frustrated parents (and to be honest made for a disgruntled first aider – who doesn’t like to complain about NHS staff, but my campers come first!). Meanwhile I was aware that I had totally abandoned my kitchen duties.

It was 8 p.m. by the time we got back to camp. Deflated and exhausted.

Cue some of the campers deciding Midnight was the time to start duck taping up their fellow camper and ‘waxing’ his head with said duck tape in the corridor outside the dorms.

The next day was what I think I’ll now nickname ‘Wacked out Wednesday’. Every Wednesday marks the midweek point where campers and leaders are all exhausted and just go a bit loopy, quite often when you get the most little injuries and campers feeling a bit out of kilter because they haven’t been going to sleep at bedtime. Last year ‘Wacked Out Wednesday’ involved me having a First Aid queue and having to get a leader to take our Assistant Team Leader to A&E for an x-ray, while we moved his family to another set of rooms on site as they’d discovered an issue with the boiler that put them in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if they remained in the room they were staying in. I woke up feeling like I’d already done ‘Wacked out Wednesday’ on Tuesday, and just didn’t have the energy to do another!

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I prayed for another sunny day (hey, I hadn’t been able to enjoy the one on Tuesday because we spent it in cars/hospitals). And instead God sent a thunderstorm. In hindsight, it was great for our injured camper – it meant none of the campers could get out surfing so they weren’t alone in missing out. However, chaos for the leaders who had to constantly keep reassessing and switching around the plan for the day according to the ever changing weather. It was also the afternoon that our chief cook had off, and I was cooking something I had no idea how to cook – while our female campers were having the hen party we’d planned for the evening in the afternoon instead. Which involved using the kitchen to make mocktails.

I may have burst into tears and had to go into the pantry like Nora Walker does in Brothers and Sisters.

On the Thursday evening I took my turn sharing a bit of my story of how I became a Christian to the camp and I began by confessing to the camp how close I’d come to calling up my friends a couple of days before to apologetically say I just couldn’t do it after all this year with everything going on  with my flat, and my fruitless job hunting. I shared with them about a verse I had discovered on my early bible exploring tactic of randomly opening up the bible and sticking my finger on a verse just to see what would happen. The reason for sharing is that a conversation on the very first night of camp when I was confessing to my fellow female leader roomies how guilty I was feeling about being so underprepared and useless for camp, not to mention jealous of friends and perhaps even resentful of those able to share how God was doing amazing things in their lives. And then one wise roomie said something that reminded me of the first verse I discovered on my own from the prophet Isaiah.

And so I told the campers how even though it was feeling like in the lead up all of the previous surf camps life was crummy and I didn’t understand why and perhaps lacked hope that things would get better – it is perhaps because when we are in the middle of the story, we don’t fully see the bigger picture and what may end up coming out of it that is good. As I groan and moan about how hopeless everything in the world seems right now, God says “Laura Anne – do you not see what I am doing? Look, it’s already begun!

So although I do not know why one of the campers got injured this year, or why I still can’t find salaried work, or why I couldn’t finish my Masters degree this summer so I could graduate with my class, or why I’m spending a summer making day trips to Aberdeen and paying for expensive repairs and fighting with company who is trying to force me to pay my runaway tenants’ unpaid bills…I have to have hope that somewhere in all the crappiness something good will come out. And I have to say that this year’s camp was the best so far. It just seemed like nothing was forced, the leaders and campers felt comfortable to be themselves. It was incredible to chat with returning campers who have become trainee leaders and see how they’ve grown into wise young adults (and know that they don’t hate me from last year when I apparently told them off for playing loud music and dancing in their dorm at 1 a.m.). I also love that some of our campers joined in with the worship band this year – and we gave each of them a toy camper van which they immediately decided to decorate with paint pens calling our band ‘Spiritual Wipeout’.

It made me smile.

Over the next year, I will continue to wonder about them all and hope good things are happening to them. And of course my fellow yellow ukulele player that our team leader popped on my music stand last year at camp always reminds me to pray for them.

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Quote of the week 6: Learning from those we disagree with

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I had a small rant on facebook last week. The previous weekend my twitter and facebook had filled with overjoyed atheists and angry Christians sharing a link to a video of Stephen Fry going off on one in response to a question about what he would do if he met God (or something like along those lines). I’m a fan of Stephen Fry’s work – particularly on his documentary series raising awareness about endangered species, LBGTQ related issues and bipolar disorder – so I do follow him on Twitter and watch interviews with him on talk shows, so I’ve heard him and seen him talk in this way before. At times he is respectful of a person’s right to believe differently from him and other times he’s come close to suggesting or insinuating that being a Christian should be outlawed. And I do take issue with that latter take on things. It’s this kind of fundamentalism that I find quite terrifying wherever it comes from. Because I find the idea of trying to enforce people to sign up to one particular worldview (or that we should outlaw and stigmatise one particular type of worldview) very disturbing. Because you can take one look at recent history to see what it can lead to.

Genocide. Holocaust. Murder. Hate crime. Stigma.

A lot of people thought my rant was directed at what Stephen Fry said, but it wasn’t. It was at the comments several of my atheist friends had made while sharing articles and memes that the video going viral had inspired as a result which seemed to all take the view that if you believed in God you were uneducated and idiotic. I did make the mistake of taking them personally. My thought process on the sight of them was: “well, if that’s what you think about Christians, that’s what you must think about me“. I’m sure that in reality they didn’t give it a second thought when they shared stuff or how it could come across. I know I’ve been plenty guilty of sharing opinions in a ten second ‘share’ on social media that could be misleading to my actual thought process.

But just as I was posting my ‘Quote of the Week’ on my facebook (which I do every Monday or as close to Monday as possible after the post goes live) this appeared on my feed after being shared and ‘liked’ by a friend. The comments underneath it were all talking about how stupid and incapable of thinking Christians are.

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It was as they say ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. Had it not been the timing of seeing that, I probably would have sighed and moved on. But I do love my quotes, they do keep me going. Some of the quotes on my wall are passages that talk about love, grace and faith. Heck I have a Zulu word that means hope and faith permanently tattooed on my foot! Is it wrong to be inspired by acts of love, grace or faith? I’d had enough, and having spent the better part of the last 19 months critically thinking (whether I want to or not…just about my whole Masters is about critical thinking and questioning everything we are taught!) and the fact that pretty much anyone who has studied the bible or discussed matters of faith with me can most likely tell you how much I rant about the need for choice, to understand that preachers are capable of talking crap as much as they are capable of speaking truth, challenge and encouragement. Or my frustration at times when I’ve watched Christians lap up the words of the most currently fashionable Christian preaching celebrity on the block without critical reflection on their teaching (and whether it matches up with their application). Actually being church with me is probably quite exhausting.

And so with anger and hurt I took to my iPad…

Apologies to those disappointed in the atheist republic community that my quote of the week choices so far this year have not included fluffy flowery words such as love, faith and grace. Blessed was included last week so hopefully that counts and gives you a little fuel to make me out to be a brainless idiot who doesn’t think for herself. You may think I’m weird for believing in a God who gave free will to choose what we say, do and believe in because of course it does mean we have the ability to both help as well as damage the world. Maybe I’m weird for being glad we are not all programmed to think and act the same way. I kinda like having friends who can both share and differ with me on their beliefs about all sorts of things in politics,artistic taste, lifestyle choices, family culture, laws and the existence of god(s) or lack thereof.

People on Facebook seem to love a good quote meme. And most of my friends who told me I should keep sharing my favourite quotes and reflections on them don’t believe in god so I’m guessing they don’t find my thoughts on life totally offensive? I’m hoping they would tell me of they did. So I’ll keep sharing my “fluffy” quotes each Monday.

I’m off to wash my hair.

I just want to thank two of my atheist friends who were the first to hit ‘like’ on that status, and another who asked me about the rant the next day – leading to a great discussion outside a lecture theatre about religion, atheism, history and the way the institutionalisation of education is affecting our abilities to critically reflect and consider beliefs that we don’t hold ourselves. I really appreciated that and encouraged me that even if we don’t believe the same things about the existence of anything spiritual, we do believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion (for want of a better term) and mutual respect. Because I do love having discussions about the deeper issues of life…values, culture, morals, ethics. And I especially love it when I can radically disagree with a friend and yet our friendship not be damaged by disagreeing because we will take time to try and understand where each other are coming from.

I had respect for a friend who made this comment in response to my facebook rant:

I may not agree with your beliefs but I respect the fact that you stick to them. I admit, I find the idea of religion silly and I can only hope someday you leave your faith and come over to the dark side (we have cookies btw) but until then, by all means, post whatever you want.

I loved that, and had to giggle because I feel the exact same way – I respect my friends for sticking to their beliefs and feeling able to voice them, but at the same time would love them to know God the way I feel I do. But I would never in a million years want any of my friends to feel that I think they are dumb for rejecting the idea that there is a God or worse (as one friend once mistakenly believed) that I thought they deserved to go to some weird cartoon like hell with horned creatures, flames and pitchforks.

I feel I should also point out that I constantly question God, and spent a long time during my first years of faith being really angry at things that had happened in the world and to me as a child. A couple of years ago I really questioned if God even existed as I questioned the teaching of church leaders who I believe abused the authority they had been given. And I questioned whether the God of the bible had values that I felt I could follow. Did God and I agree on issues I felt passionately about? So I’m not sure how much I really ‘stick’ to my beliefs! Certainly I will stand up for them and voice them. But it would be wrong to say I have not had doubts, questions or that they’ve not changed as I’ve studied the bible and reflected on life experiences, books, art, culture and other media I’ve been open to learning from.

Oh, and PS I love this response to the Stephen Fry video very thoughtfully written by my good friend Rebecca. Rebecca is one of the most un-judgmental people I know and I don’t think she’d mind me telling you that we’ve had many conversations about life’s big (and small) questions. I was most disappointed to hear that, a bit like when our mutual friend shared about her atheist beliefs on her blog, some Christian bloggers stopped being friends with them. Their loss, I say. And I reckon Dudley Field Malone would agree.

Because we learn most when we disagree – and we continue learning when we learn can see past that to the human being, the experiences and thought processes that have led to their conclusion, and have them be willing to listen to how we came to ours too. Sometimes it means we will be shocked, sometimes it means our beliefs will evolve into something that looks a little different, sometimes it leads to us deciding we aren’t sure what we believe is right or wrong, and other times it plain just doesn’t matter but it has been an interesting conversation.

Q Commons Edinburgh

I have this strange relationship with faith, my values, secular and church culture. They seem to be constantly dancing around the same dance floor, and I’m still trying to work out if they can be in one dance together. I am a community developer. I realise now that I always have been, the desire to build community seems to be innate in me (is it the same for everyone? I don’t know). And of course now I study it at one of the world’s oldest universities with a whole bunch of people who challenge, encourage, agree and disagree with each other.

For years I went to Christian conferences feeling like I was being preached to. When my friends travelled to Q – a conference held in the USA every Spring, they came back inspired. They told me stories of people who weren’t just preaching dos and donts but sharing journeys and ideas. It wasn’t about telling people what to do. And it had me intrigued. Like maybe this was a conference run by Christians that I would feel welcomed at. It was about putting forth an idea, or sharing a tale of ‘good practice’, or sharing the story of a journey so far. And then it was about letting it simmer…amongst the delegates over coffees (or wines) and meals, amongst their friends when they came home. Pondering questions – how to we take those ideas and put them into practice for the common good of our communities? What would that look like? What would be the process to make that happen in our local context? What do we define as the common good in the first place?

Q Commons has given the chance for more community leaders to experience this type of discussion and idea sharing, as it hosts three live 9 minute talks that are beamed out to every event across the world, and then at each event has three local speakers giving 9 minute talks. There is a chance to network, and a chance to discuss. It is not a ‘this is how you should think’. It’s about posing questions and together coming up with possible solutions that may bring equality and justice into our locale. And then going forth into action with our communities.

And so if you’re in Edinburgh, you might be interested in this event. Tickets are limited, as the Q Commons events are deliberately kept intimate and intentional so that those attending can get the most out of not just listening to talks, but the conversations they have with the people at their tables in between.

Q main speakers will be:

Malcolm Gladwell – bestselling author and journalist

Soledad O’Brien – broadcast journalist

Mark Burnett – TV Producer & CEO 

Q Commons Edinburgh local speakers will be:

Phillip Benton ( talking about living spaces for justice)

Keith Millar (talking about education and redemption for children who have been excluded from mainstream school education)

Heather McGibbon (talking about talking about a movement to get a place of sanctuary for Syrian refugees in Edinburgh )

If you are interested in coming to the Edinburgh event, which will be held on Friday 27th February from 7-9 p.m. at Central Hall, West Tollcross. The venue is wheelchair accessible, with a lift at the side of the building which brings you into the main floor where the Q event is held. Tickets are £19.10 each (with a small discount for married couples wishing to attend together) and you can book by going to the Q Commons Edinburgh website. It is an e-ticket, so please be aware all the information will be sent to you electronically not by post.

And if you are elsewhere in the world you can find out if there is going to be an event on the 26th or 27th Feb (depending on time zones) in your area by clicking here.

Maybe see you there? 🙂