It is a half year ago now that I wrote especially to you a blog, my friends from far away who I know from Facebook, AirBnB and LinkedIn. Friends also I know from long ago and different occasions in the course of time. Friends I love, but who mostly could not read some text from me, which is further going than the daily news, so to say. Many greetings to you.
It is the beginning of a new year also. Let me start with that fact.
I wish you all have it good next year. All of you in your own different context. In Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa and Alaska. In Russia and France, Italy and Norway, Great Britain, Ireland and Germany. Whereever. That the contexts are so differrent I realized last month in a correspondance I had with one of my South African friends. It was summer there (winter here) and she was glad that it was raining. We would love to see that it is dry and warm (not hot), when we have summer here. For us rain is a sign of a bad summer. Also of a bad winter, by the way, like we have in our region now. For her rain was welcomed, because it had been for a very long period so dry, too dry. Rain, water as a costful chrystal. In a country and part of the world, where we have far too much from water, it is also good to realize again that we in a way really might be thankful to that. And not only, because it is so nice to see, like here in Deventer. The river IJssel is very high again and has become nearly a see. People talk about it and love the sight, like they love their lively old pittoresque town, which is belonging together.
So, I wish you all have it good next year. All of you in your different context. Good with your friends and family, good in your societies. I hope that everywhere in the world we manage to connect with others of good will and find effective ways to struggle the unrighteous side of our societies. Just also, because everywhere in the world we are confronted with the same structures which make the rich even richer and the poor even poorer. I come back at this point later on in this blog, because it is a main action-theme in my life anew.
Between Christmas and now I had to try and write different texts. Not easy to find time to that now, because Christmas and Silvesterabend/NewYearsEve were in the middle of the week. This text is one of the three texts to write. The other two I will say something about. They together show important sides of my work on the moment. Also can they be seen as examples of how I can be writing at my book and at the same time I am not directly doing that.
1. Manifest-action 'for social in stead of liberal politics'.
Summer last year me and some friends took as church-people the initiative for a Manifest with this title. The 12th of September there were elections for our national parlement. The strong flow of reactions from at least half part of the people we asked to subscribe this manifest (about 60 people) has warmed us as the ones who took the initiative. We are some few months further. There has come a strange government: Right-wing Liberals and Social-Democrats together. Allthough the Social-Democrats said they wanted to stop neoliberal measures, they are supporting them now in the government-statement. A real anti-neoliberal party, the Socialist Party, was at first very big in the polls, but fell back into their amount of seats they allready had (15 seats, that is 10%). An other strange thing with these elections.
We plan now to open a site where people can go on uttering their views or questions about the direction that should be found for actions against Neoliberalism in general and the expressions of that ideology in concrete government-measures. We will start this new interaction with a text concerning the evaluation of this Manifest-action and what kind of followup is needed (one of the texts I shall write in these days). We are curious whether again there will be many or at least quite a few who will give their reaction. Furtheron: This interactive activity might function as a kind of collective preparation of a debate-meeting somewhere in March or April. We are organising this meeting together with an other organisation, the congregation of Huub Oosterhuis, De Nieuwe Liefde (link). Huub Oosterhuis is in many christian circles all over the world among other things well known as church-songwriter. 'We' that is the Association for Theology and Society (VTM) (link).
Important at this meeting is that we find quite known people from left-wing parties and trade-unions to join us and by that open the public to not only christian people. Important is also that we now not only analyse our society, also in its globalizing dimensions, but analyse with an eye on how effectively to fight the asocial or even anti-social sides of this ideology and practice. Maybe we can also start a view on in what perspective there are some good sides in this marketcentrism. Cooperation between left-wing parties and movements as well as trade unions can not only be a nice word for elections, but need to be based in actions at the grass roots. In many countries you see big action-movements against the crisis, like in the South of Europe. Also were there the initiatives of the movement 'Occupy'. In different christian circles are many austerity-measures as well looked upon as not good.
2. View at the future of my congregation.
As a journalist I am writing and will write some articles in papers/magazines about the themes connecting to above mentioned ones. As a minister in my congregation in the last period I had to write a text on the future of this united protestant congregation. The concrete future, because my colleague and I myself will be still in this work for about five years. We both will arrive then at the age of a pensionado and so will leave the active work as a minister. But also more abstract a view on the future of a congregation in which many older people are still quite active and do a lot of work together. When there does not happen anyhing, the question will be also in about say five years, whether there will be still enough to do the work.
Main themes in this congregation are: being church in the neigbourhood - an open and hospitable congregation, directed upon meeting people and creating community. There is a tension in how people see these main themes. Consciously wanting to be church in the neighbourhood can be looked upon from within the church (then we look at how we can get people in into the church?) and from out of the neighourhood and the questions there (interculturality, poverty, loose communityfeeling and how they influence the way of being church). Community can be looked upon especially as directed on the congregation itself and also as contributing at community in the neighbourhood together with others. I find it important that differently oriented congregation-people find each other here and accept that both ways of looking just exist. When we accept that from each other there can grow a common feeling of motivation. We accept each other in each of our ways of looking and so there can be a common fire in the work.
Important in my view is that we choose for quality in the work, so a common drive based upon theological views and our concrete history. There is the tendense to choose for quantity. Thinking in terms of how to get more people in the church and so: how to generate more money to conserve the church. What kind of church is in that view not important. I want a church and not a group without any qualitative direction and orientation.
There must be a finishing touch so steady on. I am writing a book on 'the mission of the church in the neighbourhood, seen in a globalizing context'. In these textparts you can see both dimensions of the direction I am planning to follow in my book. Writing the book is before other things reflecting about my work as a minister and together with my congregation. This reflection goes all the time again in a different way. Sometimes I must first create a practice on which I afterwards reflect. Sometimes is it the other way around: my theoretical reflections on my work and its societal context are helping me to formulate directions and concepts for my work and for the work of my congregation. Reflecting on Neoliberalism is reflecting on the globalisation of the world and reflecting on the context in which the church has to be church.
There is not always time to just write at my book as such. And sometimes are all kind of other texts in fact allready writing parts of my book. A complicated, but very interesting way of working, I feel. It is only not easy to answer questions of people on 'how is the book going?' or 'how is the writing going?' None of the texts I had or still have to write in this period f.ex. are texts which go directly in into my book. At the same time I am busy writing my book.
There are or can be also other themes I am working at. In these days and in between other things I am writing smaller stories about whatever, where I try to reflect atmospheres in daily life or about what I see, when I am travelling. Just now I started looking after publishers who might be interested to publish these stories.
Have it all good, Han