Meet James Alison, priest, theologian and author, who tells us more on his upcoming online retreat Basic Christianity: what does the “real thing” look like when all the kitsch has collapsed? which will run from 21 – 26 July 2020.
“As the last decade has been developing and it has been hyper accelerated with Covid with asking what is Christianity all about, what is the shape of Christianity going to be in the future as we see it beginning to become dissociated from all the political and institutional bulwarks that held it up but that also scarred it and made it seem something that it was not.
A collapse to simplicity
“I’d like to start with a quote that is going to guide me in what I am going to be doing during the retreat. It’s a quote by Clay Shirky.
“When ecosystems change and inter-flexible institutions collapse their members disperse abandoning all the beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to. It’s easy to see the ways in which collapse to simplicity wrecks the glories of old.
But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escaped the old system. When the ecosystems stops rewarding complexity, it’s the people who figure out how to work simply in the present rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past who get to say what happened in the future.”
“When the ecosystems stops rewarding complexity, it’s the people who figure out how to work simply in the present rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past who get to say what happened in the future”
“That makes a great deal of sense to me, for what I think is central to my understanding of what is to be a Christian. We’re in the process of re-discovering what Christianity is. Not as an act of rebellion not as an act of revolution.
“Simply because the collapse of so many things that held up historical ways of understanding have turned out to be much more fragile than what we thought and yet it is important to find out what is actually at the centre of the Christian revelation, of the work of Holy Spirit, the building up of people into lives of fullness, happiness and joy. That’s more important than ever.
A need for a new paradigm
“What I hope to be doing is pushing away, nudging at some of the solid-seeming thinking that have hold us up, understandings of power, good, order, and so forth.
To show how actually Christianity and the message of Christ in us is undoing all those things from within and turning us in something different but actually much better. I am hoping to do this by slow patient reading of several Gospel texts leading to a richer understanding of the whole way we think of ourselves as being created, saved, rebuilt, becoming good and holy.
How all of that is requiring a whole different paradigm, richer and healthier paradigm, one where many of the complexities of the past are hindrances rather than helps.”
Watch James Alison’s introduction to the retreat here: