Monday, August 29

Greenbelt 2005

Just got back from the Greenbelt Festival which was refreshing and full of inspiration. I always feel slightly reluctant at the thought of Greenbelt - four days of thinking, camping and general uncleanliness. This year I came away feeling positive and motivated (and unclean). Greenbelt has become for me the spiritual new year after which I feel inclined to make a fresh start and some serious resolutions.

So what did I think of it? My first impression was that there was a good turn-out, and indeed the organisers are saying that after nearly twenty years the festival will have cleared its debt. This year I was very aware of the diversity of the festival including a very well defined youth area around the YMCA tent and many families. If I'm honest though, (to quote Greg Dyke), the crowd may have been "hideously white" and mostly well off.

There were some very interesting visual arts exhibitions. Life interrupted was an show of photographs on HIV/AIDS in Africa by photographer Don McCullin. His very sensitive and yet challenging images told powerful and moving stories.

Jake Lever's very expressive images of hands were accompanies by an opportunity to use a range of materials make a hand as a gift (see opening photo).

A little gem was the Sunday morning worship with Chris Hales and Delhi-born Peter Hicks (Aradhna), whose guitar and sitar music was beautiful. The Grace team was there of course running this year's interactive installation on Creation. Around 500 people took part.

Deborah my wife contributed to Pip Wilson's Level Five session. The idea being that we have five levels of conversation - cliche, facts, opinions, feelings, total honesty. Pip's proposition was that we rarely have conversations of depth and should find the people and space to do so.

Social action is always a big part of Greenbelt and two of the seminars I visited were very depressing (not that the speakers were). Clive Stafford Smith told stories of injustice from Guantanamo bay including the story of the fourteen year old imprisoned for "salad" dealing (a tragic mistake in translation). John Bell gave an impassioned rant on the subject of truth in relation to Iraq. And he asked if the tele-evangelist Pat Robertson would be excluded from Britain for inciting violence. Quoting Robertson on the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it, It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war." These two session made me feel angry, especially reflecting on the BBC and the Hutton outrage and the absence of any apology for the terrible course this has taken.

I'd like to say a big thank you to the organisers of Greenbelt for an excellent festival


At 8:04 am, Blogger Alcuin Bramerton said...

No longer young,
She makes her way
To the Greenbelt Festival
At Cheltenham Racecourse.

It is a sacred site;
Full of Celtic ghosts
And the sense of
Abiding loss.

In her mind
Is the hope
That she may be able
To rediscover
Something of the energy
Of spiritual fascism
Which so excited
Her internal juices
All those years ago
At university.

She is disappointed.

Plenty is happening
At Greenbelt,
But none of it has to do with
Spiritual fascism,
Or internal fluidity.

What is happening
At Greenbelt
Is the spiritual self-congratulation
Of materialistic Middle England
As it tries to remember
What all the fuss was about
In the olden days
When angels seemed closer,
And churchianity seemed more
Than just gender-posing,
And God existed
As a vital,
And cosmetically expedient
Fashion accessory.

To be a survivor
At Greenbelt,
You have to be
An out-of-date

And to be
An out-of-date
You have to be
A card-carrying
Associate member
Of the human race
With a half-finished,
On "God as Dolphin Mother."

It is all rather disappointing.

But, this year,
The intense quality
Of the disappointment
Is somehow
More gratifying
Than usual.

At 3:18 am, Blogger jon said...

After we paid for our kids summer camp activity we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!


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