There is the Greenbelt Festival here during August.
Nothing to do with judo …
“Packed with music, workshops, performances, debates, talks, activism, faith and worship, Greenbelt is a great place to be – whether you’re with a gang of friends or on your own.”
The tickets aren’t cheap – adults £160.00+ and children £50.00 (per child). But it’s a “proper festival” – with camping and loos and showers and glamping and overpriced food and drinks – and even lighting and paths – and all the obligatory festival infrastructure.
As an asker of questions, Greenbelt was recommended to me some years ago.
Some find it gives spiritual nourishment enough to last the year. Others that it has a tremendous freedom compared to the confines and routine of “normal” church life. And much as teenagers love their “secular” festivals for the rebelliousness of being rebels together – so too (it seems to me) Greenbelt and the religious culture. One can explore “radical faith” safe in the knowledge that come the usual Sundays everything is back to normal (just with “Spiritual Energy+”).
I never “got” festivals – secular or otherwise. Much like I never got the much-touted “retreats” – or the “to Sabbath” – or so much of the church-faith-spiritual-speak. Just like management-speak, spiritual-speak has the same tendency towards “clubbiness”: you are either in or not-in – and the “influencers” are in (and the rest not).
I have suggested in conversations that whilst church and religion is a great “starter pack”, just like kindergarten, there should come a time when “church” says, “That’s it – now leave here and find the world, find others like you, grow as you will never grow staying here – goodbye.”
I have never had a positive response to that.
Either “The bible says we should gather together – that is church”, or “But where would we go, and how would we find others like us?”
Just like questioning Easter. Tinkered-with and sexed-up to keep it fresh – but essentially the same thing year after year – a surprise party without the surprise.
Does this sound jaundiced?
Because the alternative I have found is a freedom to grow in wonder and curiosity and relationship. A freedom to think outside the (religious) box. To allow God out of this box we seem programmed to contain Him within. A curiosity as to why we seem to need to constrict each other’s spiritual freedom. To need to “worship” with “reverence” and all that church-speak stuff. To not grow (other than in certainty our belief is correct), to change little (other than tinker with the periphery), and to seek “rebelliousness” and alternative “feeding” (in the likes of Greenbelt Festival) before returning to the (slowly draining) normality of church-life – with social events and career-volunteering filling the void – “good works” and all that.
Yes it sounds jaundiced.
Because there is an alternative. To actually be one of those “radical faith festival celebs” (just without the festival or the celeb). Radical faith is no more than thinking outside the (religious) box – enjoying the freedom to allow God out of that box – finding “nourishment” more and more in the everyday AND the everywhere AND in everyone.
It’s cheaper than crashing out on tickets and all that camping/glamping … it’s there for the taking (and giving) day-after-day … it requires no diary … There are no in-crowds (or out-crowds) …meeting each where they are is easy (once all that “baggage” is discarded) … Burning-out is a thing of the past … “Seeking guidance” is available in everything and everyone … Relationship is key –
Just not with “clubbiness” and church-life.
I mean relationship with the moment … Valuing the moment … Valuing me in this moment … Valuing you in this moment … Valuing saying no as well as yes … Valuing not having to be and do all the time … Valuing not having to live-up to some imposed standard … THAT is freedom … THAT invites growth …
Does that sound “jaundiced”?
Happy Good Friday!
(if this one is less than expected – there’s always next year)