Posts Tagged ‘gothic’

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-indieĀ  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 gay.bi 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.