Greenbelt blog: day 3
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Date: August, 2006


Philip Purser-Hallard isn’t at Greenbelt for its final day. So this is the blog he would have written had he been here. If you see what I mean…

Hello? (Tap, tap.) Is this thing on?

Today’s Greenbelt blog is, as it were, pre-recorded. I can’t be at the festival for most of Monday, thanks to a very dear friend who’s most inconsiderately chosen that day to be joined in holy matrimony with the man she loves.

So I’ll be getting up hideously early in order to shower, dress in my wedding outfit (carefully kept mud-free) and drive to the ceremony – only returning to Cheltenham in the evening, too late for what would be (if, obviously, I didn’t love my friends unconditionally and without any trace of annoyance or regret) some extremely tempting events.

This, then, is the blog of what I won’t be doing at Greenbelt on Monday.

At 10am – the time when I really should be arriving at the church and finding a pew for the ceremony – the high-profile peace activist Norman Kember (who read the extract from the book of Exodus at Sunday’s communion service) is being interviewed by Lucy Winkett.

How to write

Admittedly to go to this I’d have to have missed Simon Morden’s second session in the Bookshop, on How to Write: What Makes a Good Story, but I think the numbers for that seminar are limited anyway, so that would probably have been all right.

At 11:15 – roughly when I’ll expect to be watching the happy couple exchanging vows – the up-and-coming theologian and philosopher Pete Rollins is giving a talk with the fantastic title The Fidelity of Betrayal: What Would Judas Do?, based on the premise that in order to be genuinely true to Christianity we must first betray it.

I heard Rollins speak for the first time last year, when I found his idiosyncratic, strongly thought-through blend of mysticism, heresy and apophatic theology profoundly inspiring. He argued then that Christians must also be ‘a/theists’, acknowledging that our limited and limiting ideas of ‘God’ do not reflect reality.

Fortunately, his equally excellent worship group Ikon is running a service (entitled Fundamentalism: Because We Know We’re Right), which – God and the Greenbelt queuing system willing – I’ll have been able to get to on the Sunday.

At 3:15pm – when we wedding guests will be vacating the tables and preparing for some kind of entertainment (or I suppose, if we’re really unlucky, still listening to the speeches) – Dave Tomlinson, the author of the seminal Greenbelt text The Post-Evangelical, is speaking on Gut Level Religion and ‘the healing wisdom of the twenty-third psalm’.


And at 4 – when I really ought to be thinking of making my goodbyes and finding my way back to Cheltenham – the alt-worship group from Journey Metropolitan Community Church is leading a superhero-themed worship session, I Need a Hero!, which sounds like just the sort of blend of playfulness and prayerfulness that I’d appreciate.

I may or may not be back in time for the annual Festival Feedback Session at 5:15pm (by which time, in any case, the bride and groom will have disappeared en route to their honeymoon), but I will, with luck, be at the Breath service run by Foundation, the Bristol-based alternative-worship group whose services I attend when I manage simultaneously to have the time and the inclination.

After that, who knows? There’s a rock band called Titus who look quite fun, or a panel discussion on Christianity and psychology, The Mind of God.

Alternatively I might track down one of the remaining comedy sessions, or do some last-minute worship before heading back to everyday life.

I don’t need to choose yet, after all.

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