Personal Identity 1: Fitting You into your Box

Over the last few weeks I have had some interesting conversations about identity. As I have a little time to think I’ve decided to write a few blog articles about the concept of ‘identity’ as I unpack a few of the main issues we have raised. With a fair wind behind me I may even be able to convince Ruth to add a blog about this given that her psychology doctoral thesis was largely about ‘identity’.

Here come the Goths

20130501-101338.jpgLast week Ruth and I met up with a lot of “Goths”. We went to Whitby Goth Weekend where we regularly go to meet up with friends from our university days. Whilst we are there we help raise money for the Bat Conservation Trust on the bring and buy stall. When we arrived on Friday morning we went to the beach (a particularly Goth activity) where we met our friends. As we walked back up the beach a photographer asked if he could take our picture. We obliged and carried walking up the beach. As we did our friends said “You’re in Whitby for an hour and nothing. Two minutes with Robb and Ruth and already someone has taken our picture”.

As we continued on our journey, we were intercepted on the stairs up the cliff by a group of eight A Level sociology students. They asked a variety of questions about why we were there and what we were doing? It was quite entertaining when we were asked what we ‘did for a living’ – mirth and hilarity abounded as we discovered that two IT professionals were in our group. This is not a stereotypical “Goth” occupation!

The final question in the survey was “how do you feel about the word ‘goth'”? This led to all four of us looking at each other and saying things like “but I’m not really a goth”. None of us really identify as “goth” per se. This lead us to have a lot of conversations over the course of the next 24 hours about what all of this means.

From Whitby, Ruth and I dashed back home for me to be “the vicar”. Sunday services and an APCM were the order of the day. Then we rushed from there into the deepest darkest South of England to meet some new people. We’ve been invited to be involved in the organisation of the Goth Eucharist at Greenbelt this year. Again, the question of “what is ‘Goth’?” was raised by everyone. Am I ‘goth’? What is ‘goth’? Am I ‘goth enough’ or just an interloper? This seems to be the inner existential crisis experienced by most people who are ‘goths’.

For me, the honest answer is ‘no’, I’m not a goth. I don’t think there are many people who say that they are. It is usually something that other people say to identify people. Personally, I usually describe myself as a ‘hairy biker’. I’m often found wearing black and riding a big black Harley with the internal soundtrack supplied by George Thorogood whilst I’m doing it. I listen to heavy metal, have long hair, tattoos and piercings. I’ve been known to dye my hair on occasion. I play guitar in a heavy metal band and have some pretty funky clothing. ‘Goth’ isn’t a term I use to self identify, it is a term that other people use to categorise me.

Human beings like to categorise the world around them. They like to compartmentalise the world so that they can store the information in their brains. This is so that they can take a complicated question and come up with a neat and easily identifiable answer. When the world is presented with a large number of individuals who don’t fit into a category it feels the need to create one. In this instance we have the word ‘goth’, a generic coverall that encompasses just about any type of ‘difference’ and makes it ‘the same’. At Whitby Goth Weekend and the Goth Eucharist you will find Metalheads, Steampunks, Cyberpunks, Rockers, Glam Metallers, Trad Goths, Emos, the ocasional cosplayer and probably some people who just like good old fancy dress. And the world can’t cope with all of these individuals. It needs to find a way of categorising them so that it can go back on with it’s business. We must compartmentalise!

Now of course I have put myself in the position of having written Leonard Nimmoy’s “I Am Not Spock” by asserting my individuality; I Am Robb. To redress the balance, I will continue to write about identity tomorrow and draw the Goth*/Priest strands of my existence together for your entertainment.

*See that? I just identified myself as ‘goth’. See how readily I conform!

Metanoia T-Shirts

A lot of people have been expressing an interest in a band T-shirt for Metanoia before Greenbelt.  I’ve spoken to the company who made our Silverthorn T-shirts and they will be able to sort out a run of screen printed shirts with the Metanoia Logo on the front and the Rock Mass “Follow Me” logo as a full back print.  From experience, it is better if people let me know what size of T-shirt you want.  I have to pay out for a run of 50 in one go.

If you would like one, please could you let me know (click email me icon), and pay in advance?  I know it sounds the wrong way around but 50 T-shirts is quite a lot

 

as they are costing £10 each.  If I am going to see you in church on Sunday we can sort it out there.

They will be ready before Greenbelt so I can give you them there if you are going.  If you are local to me (Yorkshire), we can meet and pass the merchandise over.  If you need it posting, It will be £2 for postage (If you are outside of the UK, no problemo but it will be at cost, sorry).

Mens fit or ladies fit, let me know.  If you don’t pre-order, I’ll only have mens fit left.

If you would like a hoodie I can get them for £25 but only as a special order.  If you want one, let me know before hand as it will be too late after that.

I personally will be having a T-shirt and a hoodie.

Greenbelt 2012 – U2charist

As you probably know, Ruth and I are involved in a couple of services at Greenbelt this year.  We’ve had details confirmed about when the U2charist will be happening.  It is going to be in the “InSense” venue at 5pm on Monday.  The worship is being organised by Luminous in Lincoln.  Metanoia will be leading the musical aspects of the service with a selection of U2 songs.

It’ll be great to see you there!

Metanoia at Greenbelt

Greenbelt 2012 is fast approaching and Metanoia are going to be involved in two of the services there.  Blesséd  are once again providing alternative sacramental worship and we have been asked to collaborate with Fr Simon and the team once more.  This year we are doing the opening act of worship in the Big Top at 5pm on Friday.  What the organisers were looking for was a ‘charismatic’ service of benediction.  Needless to say it will have a distinctive @metanoiauk feel to it.

There was also a request for a live band who would be able to help Luminous stage a U2charist.  Fr Simon suggested that we would be able to help out as we played a couple of U2 numbers in the big top last year.  Not quite sure which venue the U2charist is in yet or at what time but I’ll keep you up to date!

So who is coming then?

Blesséd @Home @ Greenbelt – The Video

This is a video of the Blesséd Alt:Worship Mass at Greenbelt last Friday night.  Unfortunately the battery ran out before the end but you get the idea.

I wish we had someone operating a roving camera as well so that you could get the full effect of being there as the bubbles filled the whole place during the confession liturgy.  Very well done to Fr Simon and the Blesséd team!

So here you go, me playing guitar with Metanoia – the first time I’ve put that on the blog!  Moshing in church?  8-o

Now I’d better get back to planning The Rock Mass at Dewsbury Minster!

Blesséd Liturgy from Greenbelt

Fr Simon has made all of the resources used for the Blesséd Eucharist at Greenbelt publicly available here.  It was great to be asked to be involved with the music!!

Rob Bell

It doesn’t matter what perspective you come from, if you are in any way involved with Christianity you will probably have an opinion about Rob Bell.  This past weekend at Greenbelt was buzzing with talk of the man who would take to main stage on Saturday morning.  People were intrigued by what he was going to say or do.  Everyone loves a a scandal or controversy.  Later when talking with people about who they had seen so far, Rob Bell seemed to be the topic of conversation that they would inevitably return to.

I don’t really have an opinion about the Rob Bell I saw at Greenbelt weekend.  When I went to the big top for a later talk he was sitting on the grass four feet in front of us.  I can confirm that Rob Bell is a mortal man.  He eyeballed me as he left the venue and they are very much the eyes of a normal guy looking down the road in front of him. 

There is a much more interesting take on the engaging nature of an encounter with Rob Bell on John Khurt’s blog.  Here there is a fascinating post entitled “An Atheist’s Encounter With Rob Bell”.  I suggest you read the whole thing as it is a great read.  For now I will leave you the concluding paragraph (spoiler alert).

We live in in an age of continuous scientific development and this continues to raises doubts about all forms of faith. Rob Bell and like-minded Christians offer a potential conduit towards the restoration of credibility for Christianity. Furthermore, from a self-interested perspective, although not ‘a believer’, I feel more involved and included and, most importantly, open and curious towards faith and the message of Jesus.

Whatever your view of “that bookthis is the sort of encounter with Christianity that the world is seeking.

Greenbelt

Apologies for my absence on the blog.  It has been all go round these ‘ere parts.  One thing that I have been doing is preparing for Greenbelt festival.  I thought I’d let you all know what’s happening and where you can find me if you are coming to Greenbelt this year.

This has involved a long distance trip for Fr Simon who came all the way up to God’s Country to rehearse for the Blesséd Mass on Friday night.  Metanoia (the band for the Rock Mass) have been preparing for the live music aspects of the opening service of the festival.  It has been fantastic working with Fr Simon and the Blesséd and we’re really looking forward to worshipping together.  I’ll probably grab two minutes to say more after the service itself.  Please come along to the Big Top on Friday evening at 5:30 to be truly Blesséd.

I will also be helping out with the social media surgeries for Graham Richards.  I may also be in The Jesus Arms.  It’s just possible.

If you are going to Greenbelt this year, please come along and say hello.  I’ll probably be tweeting throughout.