Archive for Family

Looking back before turning the page…

1483104_427050007395728_427193827_nI am guessing that when one is turning forty it is normal to look back and evaluate, how far one has come and what has prompted ones development thus far. In one sense I don’t think that my fortieth is any different from any other birthday, it simply is another step forward.

Still I look back at the spiritual and theological roller coaster I have been on the last couple of years (and I really mean the last couple of years, If I where to reach back further the list of people whom I could not have made it without would be endless) and realise that I would not be here if it was not for some significant voices speaking into my life. So today I would like to acknowledge some of the people that have influenced me or walked with me on this adventurous journey.

Hasse Kjellgren, Henrik Andersen and Vic Poke who believed in me and thought I would make a great Salvation Army Officer and made it possible for me and Hanna to go to William Booth College. All my tutors at college who inspired and challenged me but especially Gordon Cotterill, Brian Slinn and Stuart Watson.

I would not have made it through college if it wasn’t for the transformative message of N.T. Wright (Especially Jesus and the victory of God), Brueggemann (Prophetic imagination), Brian Mclaren (A new kind of Christian, the secret message of Jesus), Wayne Jacobsen (So you don’t want to go to church anymore) and John Eldredge (Wild at heart, Desire). Who all gave me a new way of understanding and reading scripture without loosing my Christian identity. I also wouldn’t have gotten very far without the friendship and support of Will Pearson, Dominic Eaton and Mark Anderson.

Once we arrived in Malmö we have been so lucky to have been encouraged and supported by Jonny Kleman, Mackan Andersson and again Vic Poke and Henrik Andersson while reading and talking to Timothy Kurek (The cross in the closet) and Jesper Svartvik (Bibeltolkningens bakgator).

As we moved to greater understanding and freedom we have had a great cloud of witnesses speaking into our lives and shaping our thinking and I cannot overstate their importance to my own journey among these heroes are: Richard Rohr (Adam’s return, Falling upwards, The Enneagram- A Christian perspective ), Tripp Fuller (Homebrewed Chriatianity), Jack Caputo (What would Jesus deconstruct, the weakness of god), Jim Palmer (Divine nobodies, Wide open spaces, Being Jesus in Nashville, Notes from (over) the edge), Peter Rollins (Insurrection, The idolatry of God, The divine magician), Kester Brewin (Mutiny, After magic), Jay Bakker (fall to grace, Faith and doubt), Marcus Borg (Putting away childish things), Bruce Epperly (Process theology – a guide for the perplexed, loosely Christian), Catherine Keller (On the mystery) and Doug Pagitt (A Christianity worth believing in, Preaching in the inventive age). Some of these greats have taken the time to speak with me (especially at Subverting the norm) and advised me on the way and others have simply done so by being pioneers and trailblazers.

During this whole Journey I am so grateful for the Pirate Church community and especially my Latvian friends, Arturs, Karina, Erika, Marika, Astrida Kozlovska, Anna Marta Sveisberga, Darta Seso and Liene Lazdina who, with their courage and love have pushed us forward along this road.

On our personal Journey I am deeply thankful for the writings of Christopher Ryan, Barbara Carellas, Kamala Devi, and Dossie Easton and the conversations with Linn, Alexandra, Catia, Sara, Charlotte and Alexander Rudenstam who have helped me navigate the more difficult parts of this Journey.

None of this would of course have happened if it wasn’t for our wonderful church and the community that has gathered around it, we have been greatly encouraged and motivated by all the courageous heroes that have been part of our lives the last four years. I hesitate to mention any for fear of leaving some out but I must, Tobias Viltonius, Tomas Hedlund, Erik Andersson, Christoff and Jack Lukkerz, Ulrika Anevska, Kajsa och Aron Tendler, Carmencita Gallardo and many many more.

Finally my greatest debt of thanks and my deepest admiration is still reserved for the beautiful warrior princess Hanna Olterman who have bravely walked this road with me and have been both critical and supportive when needed. I would never have dared to brave this wild and uncharted territory without you, thank you for still choosing to be in my life!

So here we are, turning the page, walking around the corner, jumping of the ledge into the future and for all of you who like me seek the divine outside the box, for those of you who paint outside the lines, for those of you looking for a new way to be a Christian in a new strange world, I salute you!

Falling upwards

311017_10150345372419514_349434286_nI don’t know how it happened, but it did. Suddenly I was forty and the numbers on the cake do not lie. It is strange to wake up and realise that my body is forty even though on the inside I still feel like seventeen.

I have had a great week, last tuesday (my birthday) I was surprised by some of the people that are closest to me that had flown in just to be part of my celebration. I was surrounded by love, gentleness and warm embraces all week. I have spent the time in deep conversation, felt deep connection and have been overwhelmed by the love present in my life.

Now I feel the aching afterglow of true friends absent and I am slowly realising that of all the adventures, all the crazy things I have done in my life the one adventure worthwhile is the adventure of loving someone deeply, of daring to be vulnerable and allowing someone to see the real me and to allow myself to be embraced and loved for whom I really am. I sit and read the kind and gentle words written by my friends in the book that describe the loving friendships we have forged. I am awed by the love penned there.

As I turn this corner and walk into what is the next leg on the greatest adventure of my life, I feel truly grateful and humbled by all of you who make my life special, meaningful and adventurous. Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for showing me the face of god. Thank you for allowing me to be the best me that I can possibly be. Thank you!

Jesus is my brother

Who are you in this picture?

It may seem like an obvious thing to say, if god is our father then Jesus is our brother. There are some people (in the past myself included) who may have a problem thinking of themselves on the same level as Jesus. It seems disrespectful towards the son of god and almost blasphemous.

Jesus himself if not denies, downplays his own divinity. More than that, Jesus deconstruvpct the whole notion of family and proclaims a universal brother/sisterhood of humankind. Jesus also elevates his disciples stating that they will do greater things than he has done.

Paul repeatedly teaches that we are now part of god's intimate family and we need to start acting as such.

The Salvation Army General urged the Swedish Salvation Army Officers at an officers gathering in Huskvarna to: “be Jesus in every community”. Early on I saw my ministry along these lines to incarnate Jesus in whatever community I find myself in. During my officers training this was turned upside down for me.

I came as a cadet to my social practice week to Springfield Lodge in London. My line manager asked me what is social work for you? I quickly answered that, being Jesus for these unfortunate souls, was my mission. He then challenged me saying that maybe I needed to do one better. Maybe I needed to see everyone who walked in the door as Jesus.

Maybe we need to realise that when we say that Jesus is our brother, we need to realize that our brother, neighbour, the other is Jesus in our life and we need to learn to see th other as such.

Life is my religion. Being alive is my daily spiritual practice. Love is my rule. Humankind is my family. Authentic friendships is my church. The kingdom of god runs through my veins. Jesus is my brother. Becoming and being all that I am is my calling. Helping you become and be all that you are is my ministry. My deepest feelings is my guide. All living things are my teacher.


This is my voice

imagesRecently at “Subverting the norm II” I was challenged by Katherine Sara Moody who took the platform together with some heavy hitters in radical theology and opened up with “as a woman and a theologian I am still looking to find my voice”.

She made me reflect, and I think I have been reflecting on, what is my voice, ever since I came back. Apart from realising (once again) that as a cisgendered white male in the clergy I am always going to speak from a position of power and privilege, no matter how much I deconstruct this and show how unprivileged I have been as I grew up. I also realised as I invited all these fantastic theologians to read my blogs that I did so with a certain trepidation. The old fear: “what if they find out that I am a fake”, quickly reared it's ugly head.

It's not that I am ashamed of what I write/have written, I'm not. It is the fact that I do not write with an academic voice like for example Christena Cleveland or with the philosophical depth of Peter Rollins. I write like, well like me.

This is where it hit's me, I am no academic. Don't get me wrong, I love academia, I want to read books that make my brain hurt as I strain to encompass the grand idea, philosophy or theology in them. But I do not write with an academic voice, and I never will.

In my writing, I am first and foremost a poet, sometimes a pastor and often a preacher. I am a pirate and at my best I manage to marry this to being a good parent.

This is my voice, I write not for the academics admiration or to enter into an academic conversation. Sometimes I am philosophical but, I tend not to delve to deep and often lack the philosophical discipline to truly enter into the philosophical dialogue. No, I reach up and pluck ripe fruits from the top of the tree and try my best to serve a nice fruit cocktail for my friends down here on the ground. I am not an academic, or a philosopher, I am a preacher/poet with my feet planted firmly on the ground looking for a theopoetic that will part the veil and allow me to, if only for a moment, experience the divine.

This is my voice.


Oh My Ego!

I am sittning at the Salvation Army leadership conference in Örebro, listening to Tommy Hellsten talking about finding your true self and how the ego must be crucified, taken apart, gotten rid of.

I think of Eddie Izzard that stated last night during his “Force Majeure” show that he had an overgrown ego, he tells an anecdote where he is riding in a taxi back from watching a show at Wembley stadium, the cabbie asks: Will you be going back to Wembley and Eddie thinks the cabbie is referring to his career rather than a return trip in the cab he's currently riding and embarrassing hilarity ensues. (This entire paragraph is just another example of what this post is about #namedropping)

In a moment of clarity I see how often I allow my ego to take center stage. How I make something unrelated about me and about my story. Especially looking back at my latest trip to “Subvert the norm II”, how often did I insert myself in a conversation, making it about me when it may have been something else entirely (and much more interesting) from the beginning. It seems terribly habitual, in every scene from the script of my life, I fall back into this pre-adolescent mode. See me, hear me acknowledge me.

Granted, the reason I went on this trip was to figure out what to do with my life, my calling, my ministry. Even so I break into the ongoing conversation with my story, when maybe listening to the others story might have been what would allow me to be confronted with a subversive story that may free me of my troublesome contemplations.

Henri Nouwen speaks of the wounded healer, but as my beloved mentor and friend Brian Slinn taught us in our understanding people class: your wound is where you find compassion and empathy for the other, but you do not have to bring it out and show it. In other words, our woundedness and the vulnerability we can develop out of it is what teaches us compassion, empathy and gives us the inner strength and integrity to help the other but we do not need to bleed on them.

My only solace and prayer is that someone else may have encountered my story and my journey and been transformed by being confronted with the other, however misplaced my motivations may have been.

I do hope that I will get better at spotting when this happens and say: Oh my ego! Time to shut up! Until that day I give you, my friends permission to speak for me, just tell me to shut it.


Looking for serious conversation

I was asked last week, why do I blog? Do I have a need to be heard, seen or is it something else? This has led me to reflect on why I am writing this blog, I have come up with a few answers to the question.

I write because I need to see my thoughts on “paper” so that I can examine them. Once a blog is posted I can come back later and examine my thoughts critically.

I write because I process through expression, in my mind is a jumble, as the words fall out on the page they re/organise themselves into sentences that carry meaning.

I write because there are people in various places in the world that actually want to know what I think and they ask me to keep writing.

But I think most of all I write because theology cannot be done in a vacuum. I need discourse, I need people who respond, who disagree, who question and who engage with the thoughts and challenge me.

In light of the last point this blog has been a bit of a disappointment. I need more conversation partners, I need more conversations, I need mentors, friends and dissenters.

So if you read this blog regularly, I beg of you. Comment, disagree, dialogue! And if you like send me an email and lets formalise a mentor/mentee partnership. I am not looking for people who think like me, but people who can challenge and gently guide me to greater insight. In this all are welcome! Let’s do theology together!


Marriage is meaningless …

After years of deconstructing both my worldview, my faith, my theology, my sexuality and every other aspect of my faith I have come to this conclusion (among many others to be sure), marriage is meaningless.

Marriage has meant many different things in many different times and many different cultures. Most of the time marriage has been mainly a business transaction, a way to secure land, possessions in a word ownership. It is clear that the “protection” of marriage in the decalogue is purely protection of assets: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours ….. Possessions (wife included).

Jesus both protects and deconstructs marriage/family, you shouldn't divorce on one hand against a child will leave parents etc on the other. It seems to me that Jesus protection of marriage was an act of justice. No you cannot just leave a person (your wife) unprotected and with no financial security, destitute and unwanted.

Today all these reasons for marriage are void, in our post-modern, post-secular society the individual can live alone without the family unit for financial security and protection. The institution of marriage (not instituted or even commanded by god) is very much a human, cultural invention.

Therefore marriage today holds only the meaning we give to it, it contains only the magic and blessing we bring to it. The rules, the shape and structure of marriage, whatever we decide it to be.

In other words, if you want your marriage to be blessed, be a blessing in your marriage, if you want your marriage to be a sacred adventure, live a sacred adventure. If you want your marriage to be an isolated duet close the doors. If you want to include more people (friends, children, co-workers, fellowship), open them. If you want you marriage to be a joint business venture, make it so and if you want it to be your closest friendship work hard to make that happen.

Whatever you do, do not think that marriage can be all of these, human beings are meant to live in tribes, collectives of people who connect with each other in different ways, transactionally, emotionally and or sexually. Some people will have friends outside the marriage with whom they are more intimate than their spouse. Most people especially parents with young children, spend more time at work or with the children than their significant other, these connections are natural and valuable and whether you like it or not part of your marriage. Don't like it? Change!

Marriage is an empty container that will hold whatever you put in it, if you put discontent and resentment that is what you will have. If you put in grace, loving the other, that is what you will get.

Marriage is a piece of clay that we can shape together (Ghost, anyone) to whatever shape we like for it to be.

Let me put this in a different way for my more “churchy” readers. If we by sacrament mean “an outward sign of an inward grace.” Then a marriage is only a sacrament when it is a sacrament. That is, marriage is only a sacrament when it is a positive environment that nurtures and enables each person involved to grow and become the person they where created to become, that is, when the marriage is filled with grace and love. There is no secret magic in the marriage ceremony, no automatic bliss that comes with tying the knot. Marriage just like your Christian life and spirituality takes a lot of work, and while I am sure we get help from god, as so much else, in the end it is up to us.

Personally I think this is good news!

Marriage, if taken as a carte blanche, a contract we have yet to fill with conditions, stipulations, dreams and visions, becomes an amazing adventure of becoming. Where we as partners, co-creators of our lives shape the future we wish and hope for in the turbulent currents of our lives.

Doesn't god have any place in marriage then? Of course, god will be as involved in our marriage as we are. God works in us and through us, when we create our dream marriage god is right there creating along with us, luring us into the future and accepting with loving, forgiving grace whatever we make of it like a loving parent receiving the toddlers squiggles.

If god truly is omni-present, immanent, Emmanuel, god with us then god is already at work within your marriage. The marriage is sacred because you are holy, divine images of the godself. Just as god is also at work in your friendships, business relations and in every other relation in your life, equally sacred because of the presence of the divine in every place, every moment of your life.


Birthday week appeal

It is that time of the year again. Time to realise I have gotten older and ask myself what I did with the last year. As it turns out I have done quite a lot and think I may have much in the last year to be thankful for.  
I am in the middle of a church plant and I think we have come to a point in the planting process where we have found our direction and we are ready to head out into those uncharted waters. I have read more than 70 books since my last birthday, some fantastic adventures and escapes from reality but also some really good theology helping me get a better grip on reality (and in some cases to realise how little I know about reality, thanks Peter Rollins). I have preached many sermons, and think that this year, I may have taken a step forward not only in how to communicate but also in the content (much to be blamed by my incessant reading). Just as I thought I was ready to throw systematic theology out the window, I discovered that I am a process theologian, and that my entire post-it theology fits nicely within the confines of process thought. This has in turn challenged much of my thinking in areas I had yet not processed since William Booth College. In the world of Martial Arts I have been a joyful participant in the birth of the SSG Abrazare system which is a modern interpretation of a medieval martial art. In my quest for Knighthood, I have grown some in prowess but mostly been blessed with the joy of teaching martial arts and chivalry to children. And finally, I have started writing one book and nearly finished another (thanks to NaNoWriMo). All in all, it’s been a good year. 
The last week some of my friends have asked me what do you wish for for your birthday, and so if you have missed the not so subtle hints on Facebook I shall also post it here. As I was answering that question I had a glance towards my Amazon wish list and realised to my horror that the last year I have put over 200 books on my “I must read this later” list, either by recommendations or by reading about the book in question on a blog.  
So I now appeal to you, help me empty my wish list. If you have in any way benefitted from my ministry and want to keep doing so, please invest in my further studies. If you would like to shape those further studies, you pick the books on that vast wish list you want me to read, or if youd like me to expand my reading, pick something not on the list. If you want to contribute to me staying sane pick one of the fictional books. My only caveat is, keep it to ebooks as I want to conserve the environment, my shelf space, my marriage and my ability to pack for my various travels. 
If you want to aid me in clearing my wish list/aid in my further studies you can do so with an amazon gift card or go to my wishlist.  

NaNoWriMo – Feedback needed

So here we are week one of NaNoWriMo over, so far so good, I logged 18.000 words in the first week which si the longest piece of writing I have ever written. I feel a bit like Sam Gamgee when he stops and says: “This is it, if I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been”. It is a good feeling, but a scary feeling.

The worst part is that I have no idea if what I am writing is any good at all, I have nothing like objectivity when it comes to my own fictional writing, couple that with no experience of this process and it’s all disaster. So here goes, I have set up a tumblr where I have posted part one of the book (somewhere around the first 10.000 words. It is all first draft and subject to heavy revision, and it has not even been spellchecked but it’s there. If you want to help me out, drop me an email (find the contact me button here) and I’ll provide you with the Password to: S-tech – Soul Filter part 1, First draft.

Sacramentally branded


IMG_2089A few days ago I was talking to a friend who was showing of a beautiful griffon inked on her arm, I let slip that next time we’d see each other I would be branded, she looked at me nonplussed and said “you have always been branded”. I was stunned into silence by the truth of that statement.

Anyone who has been following this blog will know about my encounter with God in Wales and the giving of my new name. Before I left Wales I had decided to tattoo the name on my body lest I forget who I am created to be. I voiced it as an idea around the campfire the last night as an idea but it felt when I spoke it like a promise to God, or perhaps a promise to myself. And now it is done, I have gotten my first tattoo. My God given name in hebrew.

This name describes the me I was created to be, Gods intention for my life (Calling as a naming process is incidently the theme of the book I am writing in my spare time), something that has been true from the minute I was conceived until this day and will be the truest part of me no matter what I do with my life. Now I have lived most of my life trying to be my own boss, convinced that I cannot trust anyone else and I have not stood as firm as my name suggests, but it is a name to grow into, a calling to holiness and wholeness, a calling to truth and purpose. It is the truest part of me.

And so it is very much an outward sign of an inward grace. My tattoo a visible sign to remind me and others what God’s intention was and still is with me. And so it is a sacramental tattoo. My friend got it right in one, I have always been branded on the inside, all I have done is posted a reminder on the outside.

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