Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Greenbelt 2011 Diary: Saturday

Billy Bragg, British musician and activist, at...Image via WikipediaIn a rare burst of energy, we all got up, breakfasted and got across to the Big Top for some morning worship with Rend Collective Experiment. Contemporary worship band, but from Northern Ireland and with a more open-minded view of theology and what worship should be. Slightly crazy shindig finish, and a nice update of the lyrics to Be Thou My Vision. (They felt a fresh translation into English was due, and coming from the island of Ireland felt they were entitled to do one!)

Next up in the same venue was a fascinating interview with Billy Bragg about Jail Guitar Doors, an initiative he started to help rehabilitate prisoners through music, and also use music to process issues in their lives. He also brought along Leon Walker, a former inmate who is now making his way as a singer-songwriter. Billy spoke passionately about the importance of resources for rehabilitation, not out of being 'soft' on crime, but ensuring all is done to prevent further crimes being committed, more victims created and more lives ruined. Leon was even more compelling. He spoke very movingly about how music helped him to express himself, work through his issues, and have some hope at the end. It helped him find a positive focus in prison and a contructive outlet when he got out. Now he's playing gigs.

Part of Greenbelt is the wandering around, bumping into people you used to see more often and hanging around in one of the venues with seating and a coffee stall. The Performance Cafe is one such place. Acts are mainly acoustic, the volume is set well and you can sit further back if you want more conversation. It's good just to be there and see what happens while munching a nice cake and having a coffee. Likewise the CD tent and Christian Aid tent also host music.

At 2pm I went along to an event launching a new study guide and to hear a couple of songs by Gareth Davies-Jones. The tent was nicely filled but not packed, yet we were treated to a Brian McLaren interview, a resource launch and half a dozen songs from Gareth. I think this was the best kept secret all weekend. On to the Performance Cafe for 3.15pm where Yvonne Lyon played a set with her husband, David backing her. Her new album More than Mine had been out one day, so I got a copy later. More piano and quite wistful, it showcases Yvonne's voice superbly. Good to hear some older tracks too.

After a quick tea break, it was off to the Big Top to hear a talk by John Bell of the Iona Community. Titled Ubiquitous Gayz, I wondered what we were in for, but I knew he would be challenging and interesting. This was one of the few big talks I attended, but I'm glad I did. We were taken through a journey of how we make decisions, and what determines the issues that we hold important. It was a characteristically different take on a recurring question for Anglicans, coming from a person who isn't involved in Anglican politics. Challenging, humorous, candid and always taking seriously and grappling with the Biblical text. Well worth a download if you only buy one.

After a delicious crepe from a beautifully restored classic Citroen van and a bit of time with a socket in the grandstand to charge my phone, there was time to chat with friends, catch Iain Archer in the Perf Cafe, have a final drink and finally head back to get some sleep.

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1 comment:

Revsimmy said...

Sorry to have missed you, Mike. Rosemary and I were down for the day on Saturday to meet a number of people whom we know either from blogs or real life, and enjoyed Brian Mclaren, Rob Bell and Phyllis Tickle.

We poth really enjoyed the day, but it did make for a rather exhausting Sunday. Perhaps next year we'll make it for the whole weekend.