What a weekend! Greenbelt is an incredible experience, and sums up for me all that can be wonderful about Christianity in the UK. It can be poetic, mystical, adventurous, challenging, inclusive and prophetic. The scriptures can come alive and faith can become a joyful explosion of experience and relationship. 25,000 people camp in Cheltenham Racecourse and share food, music and stories. It is awesome.
It was spoilt a bit by the fact that I was speaking. This made me extremely nervous, and I spent far too much time worrying about it. On Sunday evening, I was pleasantly surprised to see a huge line of people developing outside the tent I was speaking in. It turned out to be the queue for 'Pie Minister', a food stall. Never mind.
The first talk was a bit rambly, but it was certainly a good introduction to my book, and I hope that it encouraged a few to flick through it at the bookstall. My second talk, on the Monday, went much better - mostly because I decided to listen to the voice of Paulo Freire, (Brazilian radical educationalist), and be as dialogical as possible. I spoke for only 30 mins, to allow for 30 minutes of discussion. This was a wonderful chance to be more spontaneous and hear from some of the extraordinary people who had come to hear the talk 'Dancing in Millbank'.
The plea was that Christianity must be visibly present in the modern struggles to protect the welfare state. We must demonstrate the reign of God's love and peace, even in uncomfortable places that involve protest against war, environmental degradation and devastating inequalities. I think it struck a chord, and certainly the questions and statements were helpful.
Thank God for Greenbelt, and all who make it possible. Thanks to Billy Bragg, and Mark Thomas and the myriad of contributors and campers who made Greenbelt 2011 so memorable. Thanks also to all who came and encouraged my quest for a more 'Just Church'!