Here we go-let’s out up this dusty almost forgotten blog place. Hello one and all. Turns out it has been a good while since I’ve done much here. I’ll get back to that but right now, let’s look back on Greenbelt 2018.

So this was actually I think possibly the third year in a row of us going along to this black sheep of Christian UK events/festivals. Personally as a ‘born again’ kind of guy I sure as heck don’t really dig the vibe of New Wine or Spring Harvest at all, and coming from a very political, philosophical, and arts background this is the event I can go along to with more ease.

So as the months of 2018 moved along we waited to see who would be announced on the website and line-up who may be of interest or people, bands, artists we recognise or know. When the official line-up did come up early summer it was kind of a let down I’d say. Okay I recognised a few people and bands listed but nothing looked amazing, no person I was really excited to see or hear talk. Is that the point of Greenbelt? Maybe not but it is a very big part of the experience for me at least.

So we tried to get up early on Friday, get all the stuff into our car, stood by the car and noticed a bit of an issue. Basically we had to spent over two hours driving between car garages, mechanics, ford showroom places until we bought a part, took it back somewhere, had it fitted, and finally hit the motorway around half five.

We got to Greenbelt around half eight at night, set up our tent only just before daylight had totally gone and this didn’t leave much time to check anything out. Kind of got confused and missed out on the late night Goth Eucharist which was a bummer. Who decided to put Carol Ann Duffy on at 5.45 on Friday evening? Missed. Kind of was interested in seeing John Bell…missed that. We did however trundle along to the Canopy tent to check out comedian Mae Martin. I thought I’d seen her on late night tv or recognised her face so thought we go along. She was funny, deciding to casually tell us all about her life, addictions, interest in stand up comedy from a very young age and the awkward but often hilarious experiences it all involved. Quite a bit of swearing and surprisingly right out there jokes about sex, gender of all kinds which was great, totally fine. So actually, great start to the weekend.

Saturday we had looked over the festival programme for things to go along to, see, hear. Almost got knocked down by a surprising number of people who decided to do the early morning run around the festival grounds for no real obvious reason. Pah, fools. I just needed the porta loo and my Shreddies from the car at that time of day. By the time we had breakfast, got sorted, we walked to the main stage to listen to Vicky Beeching talk about her life of mega selling successful Christian worship musician in America which had to come to and end as she finally decided to come out as gay. It was a very moving talk, at times very sad, a little funny, but hopeful in the end. I want to see her do great things, be free to love who she wants to love, help Church embrace and understand LGBTQ people and help them with God.

Around two o’clock we returned to see Pussy Riot talk about their experiences we had of course heard much about in the last few years. These were very interesting, radical, brave women who challenged Russian authority, church and went to prison but soon came back out and are continuing to spread their message of brave defiance, questioning, and resistance of institutional hypocrisy and corruption. Quite inspirational to hear. We later stood in the very long que to meet Masha and get a signed book.

Saturday evening we stayed at the Canopy tent for a few hours to check a few interesting and entertaining musicians and bands-the kind of surreal slightly avant garde jazzy Alabaster De Plume with his strange spoken word poetry and deadpan style between songs, after that The Carny Villains from Bristol (?) gave us a mix of lively folk gypsy rock n roll with a bit of swing and surf rock style-very rousing stuff. Finally, sometime around midnight we witnessed the super sparkly camp hilarity of Bourgeois & Maurice. A kind of dirty, sexy, bizarre kitsch ‘alternative’ cabaret act which filthy but funny songs about Brexit, Christmas, love, sex of various kinds, much innuendo. Really worth staying up late and shivering in the cold outside for.

We actually decided to miss the big Sunday morning communion event this year-so it felt more relaxed but with a bit of a guilty feeling but hey, I personally am really uncomfortable with communion. Right, we had breakfast, needed to check on when we could go have a quick shower as we’d forgotten to book slots, and then went along to catch Cole Moreton with his Daily Mirror newspaper review ‘show’ thing. I always get us to go along at least once, some years we’ve gone every morning to this. It’s funny, informative, sometimes challenging, heartwarming and has a variety of people on the stage who are usually appearing elsewhere in the festival over the weekend. It doesn’t seem to go over as many news stories as usual, but then as my wife pointed out they did pick up on a couple of fairly heavy, meaty things such as John McCain’s death, Catholic church and those scandals/child abuse in society.

Went and had our showers while the rain stopped for a brief while before going along to listen to the radio legend that is Simon Mayo. He was talking about his new fiction book. After writing a few YA/younger aimed books, this new one is inspired by real historical events and facts he came across from the 19th century in the UK. Set in Dartmoor prison, it sounds good and has already been picked up for possible film adaptation. I was interested to hear him as I am a bit of a writer myself.

After that we joined almost everyone else it seemed around the main big tent to witness Pussy Riot perform their live act. A mix of performance art, punk and avant garde sounds, projected imagery and powerful messages it repeated some of what we had heard in their talk earlier but was great to see. I did hear some people walking about saying that it was not exactly their thing, or they didn’t ‘get’ it, or didn’t agree with it but that actually probably a really good thing to have at Greenbelt; something to really provoke a wide variety of reactions and opinions and discussion in a respectful way.

Later on we walked down to the Canopy tent to catch the main musical act I had found interesting from the website. Called Yama Warashi, they mixed a blend of Japanese/Eastern sounds with a variety of instruments and some electronic, experimental elements. Kind of had a slight Bjork sound to it, and sadly only caught the last two or three songs but it was good. Should also mention that on the Friday night before Mae Martin we caught the end of a fast female fronted punk band called Hex the Patriarchy. Very political and hyper bouncy punk style and a nice surprise.

I think after that we wandered around checking out the food stalls and the shops stalls, trying to hold back from buying everything. We did get some very nice African street food-mix of fiery rice, fried banana chips, chicken and more. Had to wait until after eleven at night for another strange and unusual event called Void/Null which…well didn’t know what to expect really except that it would be some kind of arty sound and visual installation. I dig that kind of thing. So yes, it was in the new Telescope area of the festival in a small tent, all dark as laptop generated sci-fi influenced CG visuals played out along and changed onscreen in time to glitchy electronic music. Some of it resembled shots from 2001 A Space Odyssey, some of it more minimal and abstract but intense and a strong thought provoking experience which tried together themes and questions of space travel with refugee travel, being alone in space with being alone in the world.

On the Monday we never really know how long we might stick around before the kind of long drive back up North. Kind of depends on how dry the tent is, the weather and what talks and music if left to check out. Frustratingly some interesting things were still due around five in the evening on Monday such as more Pussy Riot, Peterson Toscano, June Sarpong, Steve Chalke, the But I’m not racist! Am I? talk.

In the end we did our four or five walks to the car as we packed away the tent while the rain held back. I struggled without a coffee well into the afternoon for some reason…oh right, yes we only did make it along to the all-ages day time Goth event over in the Shelter venue on the grassy hill. It was interesting to see how they planned it to appeal to kids and casual adults who may have wanted to see what a Goth worship event can be like without them thinking they’ve walked into a Hammer horror film. It was great, I really loved what the reverend had to say to inspire us and left with some good thoughts as usual from that event.

The last thing we caught was a talk from author Rebecca Stott about her early life in a very extreme Brethren cult, based on her book which won the booker last year. Quite shocking at times, but her memories and experiences had similarities to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Amish style of living, Scientology and she discussed cults in general briefly as well. Just a bit shocking that kind of thing was happening in Brighton UK in the sixties, and in some way still continues.

We had one last walk around the stalls, bought a couple of books and drove home after this. Of course we missed out on many possibly very interesting talks, bands and worship over the weekend. We may download or buy some from the website.

Overall opinion of Greenbelt 2018 personal experience-did not expect to much this year, but the theme of acts of the imagination and focus on black inclusion/windrush and with artists like Pussy Riot it turned out to be a surprisingly provocative and possibly challenging year but still entertaining and spiritually invigorating experience.


Snow and steam out of my ears…

Posted: December 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

Hello all in this chilly winter Brexit land we are drudging through. Thinking of Christmas? Thinking of Gluewine and mince pies after more beer or regular wine? Wondering how to get that stupid fad toy present for the kids before Xmas eve rolls around?

I’ve got some of that going on…not much but some. Also though bit of a moan to let out. You know, I’m in a regular working class job, just above minimum wage. I got my degree but things get very muddled and life happens. I am proud of being working class but I kind of hope I’m not boring ‘look-at-me-martyr’ in the workplace. I do try not to be any kind of stereotypical Christian saddo. I’m sure the ones I work with don’t really think I’m too much of anything like Ned Flanders of The Simpsons. They know I’m a rock n’ rollin’ weird arty bloke with some kind of faith. But I may still be too nice.

See I usually don’t work Sundays and I’ve got my reason. I’ve got my head screwed on, and kind of know my rights but…I may finally have been just too soft with my bosses. Now, is this about me and my faith? Am I being too dramatic? If it is about the principle of not working Sundays how much does it really even matter now?

Some of it personally is also about family time and keeping a day for that. I’m in the UK-we tend to work longer hours that most other countries all around us for…well no good reasons at all really. This British complex about wanting to look so very hard working…sigh. For what? For who? And then what is the effect on families? With working adults often clocking in possibly around 50 hours a week give or take some, how often do kids see their parents? How often do partners spent quality time with each other?

Are we working ourselves into early graves all because to have huge mortgages or super-expensive cars and lifestyles? Just what do we stand for now, and why do we do it?

If I now cave in and join in with the rest am I throwing away my principles, beliefs and values to please others? Because I am ashamed, afraid to stand for my faith and beliefs at work and face scepticism, ridicule? Right this may seem really unusual in the UK, but I wonder if this is more of a regular personal struggle or has been in the U.S.

I know some Churches are now actually pondering if worship really needs to be on a Sunday always or any day of the week, any evening of the week as long as it happens. That may be the way, but we possibly should not loose our faith and identity getting to that change.

Greenbelt 2017 Review

Posted: September 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

Hello again. Well we’re now almost a week since 2017 Greenbelt festival, which had the theme of The Common Good. How did it all go this year? Better than last year? Not as good?

Well let me start with a shock-besides about half an hour of rain early Saturday morning, this year the festival was mud and rain free. It was also very, very hot and sunny. I think this confused but also pleased many people. The funny part alongside that is that my wife bought some new crazy striped wellies for the mud which never came.

So look I would say I was perhaps struggling with some personal things at the last Greenbelt-mostly my religious or church attitude, some class problems and stuff. This year I found I was much more relaxed and happy with myself, the festival, life in general. I think the great weather did help with that.

But really this is a festival about very many things in life-faith, culture, politics, the environment, inclusivity, hope, fun, and much more. The difference this year was that there were not really any major speakers, authors, bands on the bill that I was immediately interested in seeing. That was fine as it would be one of those years where my wife and I just amble around and decide what to go see and hear once we got there. Plus we did see the line-up on the website weeks before the festival and of course there were still many very interesting things put in place, people and music and more.

So I’ve been to Greenbelt around five or six times now and there are some things they have on the programme every year which we usually go and check out-writer/journalist Cole Moreton’s Daily Mirror newspaper review panel with Cole overseeing it along with a panel of famous or known writers, politicians, musicians. Then there was the Goth Eucharist which I don’t think happened last year and made a good return this time.

I was camping in a new tent with my wife (oh I’ve got to say this tent- so good, so comfortable) and walking to the festival grounds to back to the tent and even to our car regularly takes up a fair bit of time over the three and a half days but we still saw very much and had a really great time.

I think we got the tent up surprisingly quickly and went into the festival, smoozed around taking in the sights and then caught a band on the main stage. This might have been King Porter Stomp. I soon remembered that we had seen them before at Greenbelt- as they themselves told us-back in 2015. They were better than I remembered, a good mix of reggae, hip-hop, ska and afro-beat sounds. Good lively way to start the festival. We stayed up late and after standing around beside the lake in the dark we headed into the service by SUB group from Manchester. This was a sort of subculture/alternative service (put together by some very nice metal/goth/alt people) with the theme of blood in religion and faith and our culture. It had a few minor problems with equipment and the small new canvas tent venue but was a good effort.

Saturday we woke with just that short period of brief rain before entering the festival to check out the first Daily Mirror with Cole Moreton and friends. It was good but seemed to fly by quickly and didn’t cover as many newspaper stories as previously. After that, the rest of the day was to be more random and casual as my wife and I just sort of pick chose the next thing to see of find around the festival. Oh yes, hang on-we did actually see John Bell speak on the Glade Big Top main stage before Cole-Mr.Bell’s talk was called Rampant Heterosexualism. I think some people may have not have enjoyed it or been frustrated by it, but it was more than I initially thought it would be and he told us that he has been a gay rev in the church for many years and while some things he told us were very sad recollection of some committing suicide because of a clash with religion and their orientation he seems to be a great man doing great things.

I we went and made some late lunch on the stove back at the tent after Cole, came walked around the festival for a while and caught an interesting talk about middle eastern/Palestine/Israeli religious and cultural tensions. We later caught a band on the main stage called La Chiva Gantiva who mixed together Latin funk Cuban afro salsa and even brief rock sounds in a great infectious groove of sounds. We then continued on late to eleven at night and around to the Canopy smaller stage to see what CC Smugglers where like but you know-not my thing really at all. Some kind of old time swing/classic safe jazz/Mumford bumpf but hey many did seem to like it.

We were intending to check out the two new tents this year- the Red Tent, which had talks around many areas of feminine gender, and the Amal Tent which showcased Islam and Muslim culture and music.

My wife also wanted to go catch prayer time with the Franciscans but just never got around to it….maybe next year.

It was up fairly early on the Sunday and down to the Glade Big Top main stage for the gathered festival communion. Huge crowd and sometimes I feel uncomfortable or out of place with this (communion in general) but this time a short while into it was just hugely emotional and moving. Instead of a well known speaker from a political or religious background as previous, this year we hear a speech from a young teenage girl called Becky who has Cerebral Palsy. She was telling us how she can’t really move or get around in life physically herself and was talking with a machine like Stephen Hawking using here eyes but with a young female voice. Thinking about it right now I’m almost crying again (no, I am) as she has such hope and optimism, faith and is thankful to God where many of us take so much in life for granted and don’t thank God enough. Lovely young girl, and wonderful speech.

I think we went to see Cole’s Daily Mirror again after this but that may have been Monday morning…it gets confusing at this point. So much was going on and the weather was so unusually great and sunny, and actually hot. We did eventually go to the Amal stage and watched a demonstration of old Eastern dance styles and music.  I think we then quickly rushed over to the main stage to see a few minutes of Joanne Taylor Shaw -excellent blistering blues rock sounds.

Again we somehow stayed up late enough to go along to the Goth Eucharist around half eleven at night in the canvas tent beside the lake. They did some slightly different things this time with the goth rock music adding in maybe some violins and extra tribal style drumming. They focused on the tenth anniversary of the death of Sophie Lancaster, beaten and kicked to death because she was a goth or ‘mosher’. This linked with a reading from the Bible and then call for us to unite and embrace our uniqueness.

We usually try to pack up our tent early on Monday and catch a couple of things before driving back home. We did this, catching a talk called Christ of the Comma-a lady talking about helping a refugee from Calais into London and our homeless problem. We then went to the Canopy stage to see a great African band called Thabang Tabane and Sibusile Xaba- good driven percussion and passionate vocals but surprisingly short performance.

I think that is where the festival ended for us. We walked around all weekend seeing many different sights and surrounded by happy faces in possibly the most friendly and relaxed festival around these days. Oh we also did that thing where driving back home my wife and I started talking about things at Greenbelt so much we missed our turn and had to drive back up the road a while before getting home (we think the same thing happened last year.)

It was a more relaxed, more sunny, dry and emotional Greenbelt this time I think. As ever, too much to even hope to see and do all weekend and will definitely think about going again next year.


Been away too long…

Posted: May 28, 2017 in Uncategorized


I’m back- never really been away-I’d sort of neglected this blog page for what actually seems to have been a pretty darn long while. I was waiting, leaving it for when I may have felt inspired or had some good tale to tell…well sometimes you just need to write any old thoughts down, and well I should have been doing that a while back.

So…how are you all? Doing good? Some interesting or eventful things moving your life and path these days?

So look I’ll just make this a quick return post for now, mention a few interesting things. Let me think…well I went to Greenbelt again last August-good time, but may have been feeling as I do not need to really go again too soon (even thought probably will be there 2017. )

I haven’t been at my regular church every week- this ain’t a real shock. Yes, I struggle with how I feel being there, my place in being there, if its the right church for me etc.

There’s tons more of course-music, art, films have been happening. Twin Peaks is back y’all!! Can you even believe it? Good start to it so far as well…

We’ve had a really great new Demon Hunter album released about a month ago-big success on release it seems. The new The Letter Black album out this week. Good to have them back. Latest Mastodon album seem one of their best since Crack The Skye.

So look I’ll post again very soon (no, I really will) and I’ve got things in mind to write about here. Keep good and safe, positive and keep the love.

Clearing the leaves…

Posted: January 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

Hello everyone. How are you keeping right about now?

I return here, to this blog of hopefully humble thoughts and contemplations with the experience and dealings of another week behind me now.

Hold on there, I need to change this music…

I can only listen to bagpipes for so long. Right then, on we go.

So look, this week has been not highly unusual but eventful near the end. My own thoughts of faith, God and purpose have been turning over in my mind. You see, I often observe people, our culture, the world events, national and world news and consider what is going now here, why and how and for what reasons. With this I then think about how I fit into all of it, in the best way.

There are many different things going on spiritually all over the world. Maybe we here in the UK have a largely faithless or agnostic culture, but it cannot be denyed that humanity has and continues to look for and worship God in many ways. Is it a natural, expected thing, a deep-rooted human part of living which will never really leave us, whatever science or Western culture may argue?

I did end up having some form of feeling of guilt personally today. This was about myself, where my faith may be, what I may or may not be doing as a Christian, how I may or may not be living. This feeling has drifted now, and I am not precisely clear why or where it came from. I am not Catholic and have not done some drastically serious crime as far as I know. No, this was just a regular spiritual kind of guilt.

Was it brought about by church? Well, possibly but much more than that.

Anyway, this blog post is not me feeling all guilty and moaning. Things have turned around. You see, I am just very concerned for our culture, the country I live in, the divisions, the ways that many of us are afraid, made to feel fear or confusion by the media, the ways we hurt each other.

I see hope thought. There are lots of problems. Hey maybe this is still me grieving for the loss of David Bowie (we should make him a Saint now right?). The start of this new year has been a struggle. Both Bowie and the legendary Lemmy of Motorhead passing away days apart. Just why? I mean, rockstars are never really immortal, but seriously God-taking them so quickly one after another-it hurts.

The floods, the extreme weather in the United States, the continued terrorist threat. But there is much to look forward to in this year, we have so much to be thankful for still. I know this, I see this and I relax a little more.

I am who I am, I don’t think there is much wrong with this at all. Let us drink or listen to the lasting great music of Lemmy and Bowie and be thankful for it in our world.

There may be more people around me and us who do believe in God or a higher power, more people who want to love, help others, know our neighbours, help others when very bad things happen, when low emotions pull us down.

I think I’ll go listen to Bowie’s Blackstar album again with a smile and peaceful night ahead.


Yeah, I somehow managed to make it back along to the bigger modern local church again this morning with my wife. This was after problems with the house door, waking up and getting dressed quick enough to walk super-fast along the main road just as the service was starting.

So already was in a bit of a ‘not totally awake and grumpy’ mood on stepping into the church. But as the songs and service continued, it cheered me up surprisingly quickly.

Thing is, right now in the last week or two the crazed advertised hype and marketing and commercial aspect of Christmas has come down upon us fast and without mercy. The many regular atheist or secular floks around me in work and daily life are thinking about expensive presents, what the festive seasons means-i.e.- often or usually many chances or excuses to get shockingly drunk and do really stupid things and work parties and in pubs and clubs with the get-out of ‘hey,it’s Christmas’.

Brief note-I’ve no problem with people drinking and being merry at all-drinking way too much, acting like total fools, starting fights, hurting eachother verbally etc.-that sucks.

So I was at the chuch this morning after a week or two away. Many kids, young ones around, big mass of people all happy and spiritual etc. Great, good times.

After all the songs, the sermon things started. About a couple minutes in the speaker-well known and respected nice fella-accidentally swore, mixing his words. Many people laughed, possibly uncomfortably. So that was funny.

It was the a sewrmon connected to the start of Advent of course, and he was highlighting the link with Christmas and Jesus’ death on the cross, but we should not forget the time between he was suggesting. very good. Some of it was maybe pushed a bit much toward the end, but it was very good overall.

After all this, well-pluss the ‘mingle part midway-came the really uncomfortable walk around and chat part before leaving. Look, for some of you, just casually chatting away to others or even stranger may be the easiest thing in the world. Great for you. Well done, have a gold star.

It’s not that I’m shy really-at this point more probably that I don’t want to offend others with some of my views and beliefs. And having noticed that some may not be Guardian readers-which is arguably the most relevant, essential, modern, connected, non-bias, open-minded, wide reporting world and national newspaper-well that made things suddenly even more difficult. I’ll try to connect and know and be friendly with all and any kinds of people, I really will. But if I’m surrounded by a load of Dail Mail reading narrow-minded, conservative, Tory-voting, paranoid, materialistic, upper-middle class ‘spiritual’ people…that is fairly hard.

Churches are closing regularly in the UK, some remain open or expand due often to money from wealthy middle-class folks. So in some ways, hey maybe the poor and confused peeps like myself don’t matter so much to churches. I can’t pay for a church extension, I don’t look like a member of Mumford & (Wealthy)Sons.

Godbless, I’m off to think things over, listen to some tunes, better than apathetic, feminized church tunes or christian ‘safe’ pop ditties.


Hello all. Here we are on Sunday midday, morning after Halloween 2015. I did not end up doing much last night. This is the usual event really. So look, I don’t know what you think about Halloween, the notions about spirits, devils, witches, celebrating things creepy, spooky, ghoulish and evil. Do you approve? Kids walking the streets, maybe with parents, knocking door to door and asking (or begging, depending on your point of view) for sweets or a ‘treat’. If they get nothing, they may then feel like giving people a ‘trick’. Or just simply throwing eggs at your windows.

I was at work for some of the night. Some of my colleagues were dressed up in costumes, all bloody and ugly. I wore an old great Alice Cooper t-shirt and had some plastic fangs if I needed them.

I saw many families and some groups of friends, some couples on their way out or having been trick or treating. People seemed happy, in good spirits (pun intended).

So should I dissaprove of all of this, as a born-again God-believing person?

The answer may be a yes or no, but mostly personally I do not really mind it all. You see, I am also a big fan of horror films, horror books. What I do not like is when it gets out of control. There were reports in some of the local newspapers of people who had been attacked on the streets last year, their money stolen, hurt with knives. Some people beaten up by groups on the dark streets under shadows. It can be a dangerous night. I worry about the young children and kids wandering around. Older kids may chase or attack them, steal their sweets, steal their money, beat them up or worse. These things do happen.

But then, some people have a really good time, really enjoy themsleves. Many folks were going to Halloween parties-we are becoming so very much like America now with our October 31st. This is consumerism, selling an event, an excuse to get drunk and merry. Maybe we need this, want this, or just accept one more on top of all the other social big occassions now. For non-religious people (most folks in the UK) it is a chance or excuse to get merry and have fun. Well, that’s fine.

How about all of the old thoughts about getting too close to ‘evil’ or bad spirits? Are we actually taking a big, possibly dangerous risk, tempting fate with all of this ghoulish behaviour? Many Christians would certainly think so.

Do I think like that? Possibly just a little. But then, part of me maybe thinks that it is also good in some ways to acknowledge and confront the notion of evil, danger, dark forces, evil in the world. Danger, death, fear are part of living. Death is a part of life at some point. This is how I see watching horror films and similar things. To shy away, is to deny this. To confront fear and horror, is to also possibly enbrace life from that. Confront mortality and remember how blessed we are. To also remember that there are dangers in life and the world around us. Some people-many Christians may live a life, with almost all or every kind of uncomfortable, nasty, troubling event or thing around is edited out, or ignored which may not be the best way to live.

There is danger, darkness, things that spook us and scare us in this world. There is then also love and light around and beyond that waiting for us.

Hello all, here I am with a new post, it has been what? A few weeks? I was waiting for something I don’t know-important, real, right?

So look, this has been another week of ups and downs, moments of strong and mercyful faith, moments of sin, confusion and distraction as ever. But then here is the part that may end up most challenging or interesting in some ways. The day before yesterday a couple of my work colleagues seemed to have learned or guessed that I am Christian.

So look, I have never really hidden this, but I suppose I have not always shouted it from the rooftops-some reasons for this are linked to not working Sundays, and a previous manager not wanting me to encourage other staff to do the same.

So yes, these are both two younger guys I can mostly view as friends I would say-especially the one who just suddenly, but in a friendly way looked at me and said-

‘Are you a Christian?’ (He did say it with a curious smile, not in a vindictive way)

I was not at all expecting this, just going about with the usual tasks in work. So I possibly hesitated for a short couple of seconds-what is the right way to confirm this, in 2015?-I said, with a smile…

‘Well, yes I am, in my own strange way’ (or something very close to this, it was a rushed, surprise moment so some of it s lost to me)

So then began a casual but unexpected conversation in a friendly manner about my faith, my view of what/who God is or might be, what I think about Jesus, my friend’s own beliefs, childhood religious upbringing. The other guy there just quietly said he was probably atheist while the one talking a lot I think decided that he was possibly agnostic these days. He had been put through a religious school period with nuns, that Catholic kind of thing I think.

At first, he expressed just how shock he was in some ways-

‘But you like Lamb of God and listen to metal!?’ he said.

‘Well, I don’t love Lamb of God, but yeah I like metal and rock music…so?’

So I expressed my current personal views-briefly, I mean, were at work, and this just suddenly happened. Well, at present he is still my friend, and had the view of ‘to each their own, fair enough’. One of the others guys I saw at work yesterday and was not too sure if he was really wanting to still know me now. But it seemed that he was okay still like he always has been, I think. I think it probably helps that they have known me for a good while previously, so they’re not suddenly meeting a ‘Christian’. They know me, how I am, what I like, my interests. I told them ‘look, I’l be first to tell you church music sucks, that’s why I listen to a good few christian metal and rock bands’. I have previously lost some friends when they have found that I that I have this particular kind of faith, and just hope that these guys still want to know me and that we can continue to work well together as we usually do.

Here I am, around a day now since I returned from my first trip to the UK festival GREENBELT for the first time in possibly three or four years.

If you have never heard about it, GREENBELT is a UK annual faith-based (Christian) festival featuring many kinds of talks, art, crafts, music and more. It celebrated 40 years a year or more ago now, which was a major achievement and say a lot about the reputation it has and why people keep returning after decades.

My wife introduced me to it many years ago, she a friend had taken her years before that. I was looking for a festival to go to among the UK Christian ones, and this one is less intimidating and almost seems just like some of the other big major music and arts festivals.

It is also to some believers viewed as the suspicious, and controversial Christian event-too liberal, too open and questioning. It is a place where people can question their faith, the Bible, consider different views, interpretations, faiths, cultures, how faith connects to music, art, words and more.

So my wife and I packed up and got in the car, travelling to the new location for GREENBELT 2015 (we also had not been camping for around 2 years, and so we made a few funny mistakes along the way.)

We did arrive a little late due to overrunning work/life stuff and so pitched the tent, got set up and went for an events programme. They had run out and some printing problem had happened. So Friday night was about just simply looking around the festival, finding something unexpected and relaxing.

We got some good noodles, watched a mainstage musical piece which connnected with some significant and very old industrial photographs. Interesting stuff. Later we came upon some good music in one of the smaller tent venues-a bit indie folk rock sort of thing.

Saturday was the first time we got out and saw the festival in full day light-and it all looks great. We had a very different location to look around and explore. The event now takes place on the large country grounds of a well known country manor house. There is a beautiful wide lake and shaped small river alongside it, and around the paths many full and tall trees. These were all lit up in blues, greens and orange light at night reflecting the theme of ‘The Bright Field’ this year.

Now you see, there is always so much to see, do, watch, listen at GREENBELT- you just can’t take it all in. The many talks featuring guest speakers ranging from well-known newspaper journalists, writers/authors of many kinds, comedians, tv/radio presenters and more (many not Christian), are soon available to buy of CD’s or downloads after the event.

We went along to see author and newspaper writer Cole Moreton lead a casual newspaper daily review/discussion- Saturday featured Giles Fraser and Madeleine Bunting and some acoustic tunes halfway and after. Moreton is a funny, friendly chap, leading a discussion intended to be respectful, honest, and challenging on the news from the day’s papers. While he joked that the tent was probably mostly full of Leftie liberals who did not read the Daily Mail, he hoped someone might and we could listen and consider their view of things with respect. It was funny, engaging, and great to hear an unscripted mix of opinions and views being voiced and considered.

We had a mid-afternoon camping emergency and returned to campsite later to catch some chilled folk-indie  sounds with added electro elements from The New Portals in the Canopy tent out among the trees. We missed a few things-I may haved liked to have seen Simon Mayo the radio presenter discuss his new Y.A. book. This was a festival for relaxing and spiritual thoughts besides music and camping and some of the weekend just had to be random and hit-and-miss.

To be honest, I spend most of Saturday thinking about the Goth Eucharist which was due around 10:30 at night. We had gone along this at a previous GREENBELT and I am a big rock fan, so this to me is a very interesting and engaging alternative form of worship.

As the night came, we had some food outside our tent, walked to the festival village again, and caught some brief bits of music and talks around while we waited. We found the Treehouse venue later and sat down among a crowd to wait for the Goth Eucharist. Like last time, it was started later than planned. This time however the venue was outside-just a tent with now walls. Last time, if I remember rightly, Goth Eucharist was more like a gothic rock nightclub event, with familiar rock/goth/industrial tunes all with similar themes of faith, God, and spiritual thoughts connecting them. Rockers and goths danced, some with glow sticks and between songs, hymns and scripture was up on wall ovehead projection.

This time, the event was more stuctured like a regular communion at church except the vicars involved all wore black, some with black dreaded hair, purple hair, goatee beards. The service began, and the music was actually very dark, heavy celtic worship. There was a choir/band involved at the front which included the four or five dark gothic vicars and a group called N-Chant. Some of the words were like ancient Celtic or some other kind mixed with regular worship parts.

There was bass, guitar, bongo style drums, and a huge black harp with the female player singing and leading the music at the same time. The service reflected on the dark times in our lives, what the dark of night can be and offer and how God is there and will take us from it. Very different, but very cool.

Sunday morning was as usual, when almost everybody at the festival made their way to sit under and around the main big top Glade stage/tent for morning worship/communion. There was bishop Libby Lane from Stockport, Manchester and Pushpa Lalitha from South India involved as we prayed and broke the bread and drink the wine in huge numbers on the field. It closed with the Lord’s prayer, an Indian blessing from Bishop Pushpa and then some Japanese folk music as we all seperated to the morning events.

My wife and I had a relaxed gap of time until the afternoon and so looked around the festival at the various stalls, market shops, a small exhibition about Irish political wall murals. Lunch and then we watched a reading from very well respected and acclaimed author A.L. Kennedy, who read from her recent Dr.Who book and current more adult literary manuscript. Funny and interesting, as I write myself. We split up during this and my wife listened to a talk called ‘Is the right to offend Sacred?’ which I just caught the end.

We later got a bit lost, seperated, saw more different music until catching the end of a talk called ‘Angels and Cyborgs’ which looked at robots, robotics, technology today and robots in films and television. Again, very interesting-might have to get the audio recording of that one.

After that we watch a performance piece called ‘Gender Outlaws in the Bible’ This was from a gay American guy, exploring and considering possible and trans characters previously ignored or left hidden until now. Very interesting, funny but could have been uncomfortable for some people. Greenbelt is a place where you will see or meet gay, lesbian, bi and other kinds of Christians who may not be able to be so open and comfortable in their own churches or communities but can feel relaxed and happy to express themselves and their way of faith and life around others at this festival.

So finally Monday arrived, as usual, just as we get used to camping and the way of festival life again. I never really know when to leave exactly at this point. I think Greenbelt seems to last longer than in the past, as it still went on until Monday night, but many people already did leave or were packing things up. We went to the main big top tent/stage to listen to Steve Chalke talk about life as a narrative, combining Aristotle, Kierkergaad philosophy with his own thoughts on the Bible and jesus and our way of living and life. We then caught the last morning newspaper discussion with Cole Morton which also included Steve Chalke, a female vicar from tv reality show and young female lesbian political folk singer. This again was a very challenging, engaging but also funny event.

By this time, the rain had been lashing down through the night, mud was getting thicker and gloopier all over, and we started to pack the tent and belongings back into our car. We drove home half covered in mud but taking home some great experiences and memories as we hoped we would.

Okay, continuing on from the previous post I having been reading more of the weekend article about LGBT tensions with faith and church.

The brave and bold reverend from the UK I mentioned was Sally Hitchiner-a wonderful young lady of faith, and yes also gay. She works with Diverse Church in UK, and they attended London Pride recently. Many LGBT people really seemed to react well to the unexpected support, and message of God’s love waiting for them.

Diverse Church handed out leaflets stating- ‘We’re sorry if anyone has ever told you that God doesn’t love you. God loves everyone’.

This just simply warmed my heart so much. Simple honest love spread out to all.

One slogan seen around the area read ‘Queerly Beloved’ as joyful music played loudly at the Pride march.

We have some great supporters of LGBT and gay rights  from our world of faith here in the UK now, including Ms Hitchiner, Vicky Beeching-evangelical musician/theologian, Steve Chalke-social activist/leader of Oasis network, but also Tony Campolo has shown support.

The UK CoE Anglican church of course remains tongue-tied and hesitant, only just about managing to get to grips with the problematic (but not really) issue of female Bishops recently.

Must must listen, show love, respect, and listen to God, not simply our possible fearful or confused conservative cultures of old.