Archive for March 2010

Mission set in stone

March 5, 2010

Spent all morning talking with students about the things we can learn about European thought (religious and secular) from its art history. We’ve moved from cave art to Vivienne Westwood’s so-called ‘bondage pants’, from icons to Dali, via van Gogh and Carravagio, etc.

Each of them gives us some insight into how the artist, as a mirror to their contemporaries, sees the world, themselves, and their understanding of God’s relationship to the world and humanity. Some of the art was intended to tell the Gospel story, some of it sets out to undermine the Gospel, much of the post-Reformation art simply assumes humanity’s liberation from the constraints of Christian belief and assumptions.

We ran out of time to discus the relationship that exists (or doesn’t exist) between contemporary art  and mission in Europe. Is there one? Does art pose the questions or answer them? Is art diminished when it’s associated with the mission of God or is it elevated by the association? Shame we ran out of time. Hopefully the conversations will continue.

For more details about the European mission short courses on offer at Redcliffe, you can check the programmes at

Where is Europe?

March 4, 2010

Seems a pretty fundamental question to ask for a Research Centre focussed on European mission. It’s not an easy question to answer though. I’ve decided that most Brits think Europe begins on the other side of the channel (that’s ‘la manche’ in heretic-speak), most Scandinavians who think it begins on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, the Italians who cross the Alps to get into Europe, and the Spanish who have to travel over the Pyranees before they’ve arrive in Europe. This leaves Europe as a 30km x 30km patch of territory surrounding Frankfurt.

The Eurovision song contest includes Israel, parts of Africa are further north than the European island of Cyprus,  Turkey has territory on either side of one traditional dividing line between Europe and Asia (the Bosphorous) and Russia west of the Urals is generally described as European but does that make all of Russia a European country?

When you’re next thinking about your mission trip to Europe – think about the problems you’re going to have about knowing where to book your tickets to. It’s almost as difficult as trying to define what we mean by mission. Which brings me on to another question…