Monday was a fascinating day. We began with an early breakfast with members of Solas, the new European print magazine and the Spanish based Evangelical Focus http://evangelicalfocus.com/ the new European online magazine. The upshot of this is that we will hopefully be working together.
After this I did about two hours worth of video interviews and then went to my network to hear Peter Saunders, followed by Glynn Harrioson talking about identity – this latter was heavy going but really worthwhile. It is such a key question – and confusing for so many people. One thing that is not working in our groups is the five to fifteen minute group discussions – you cannot really have a serious discussion within that time. Its what I call “tweet discussions”.
Monday lunchtime is Expo. Packed lunches are handed out and people then run the gauntlet of numerous stalls in order to get out. Needless to say Solas had a stall and our boys done good in ensuring that no-one got by without a magazine
. And then for me the rest of the afternoon was spent in the most wonderful and relaxing spa I have ever been in. I enjoyed sitting at the poolside reading Charles Taylor’s ‘A Secular Age’. A heavy but fascinating book. I interspersed it with looking at the England/New Zealand cricket scores….I was amused by a comment that it was the gospel truth that New Zealand would win, because they had Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in their team!
In the evening we had our ‘national nights’ where those from particular nations sat together at the same table. In a reflection of the new politics for the first time the UK group was split into England and Scotland (and I assume Wales, although I could not find them). The Scots were given a group of tables in the main hall, the English were sidelined to their own room which despite the UKIP style sign saying ‘England only’ on the door still managed to contain a few Scots!
The evening culture concert was excellent, despite the incomparable compere the German Alexander Fink, once again proving that Germans and jokes really do struggle to go together! I loved him because he laughed so much at his own jokes! But it was the music, with the wonderful Ruth Naomi Floyd fusing jazz and gospel in her own unique way, which made it a good night. Her version of Micah 6:8 complete with Jazz sax was powerful. The most unusual act was the cellist Jozef Luptak who played a modern version of Bach on a electric cello, complete with mouth music and beat boxing! Has to be seen to be believed! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1h_4wkc3ebQ His playing a Jewish prayer in remembrance of Auschwitz and his own song without words, will not be easily forgotten!
Finally we finished off the evening by opening a one litre bottle of Talisker, that Jim Crooks (from Dundee) had brought for me in the airport. There was no way that I was going to take that home, so I invited anyone who wanted to share with us in ‘uisge beatha’. I suddenly had lots of friends. We got thrown out of the hotel bar, understandably for providing our own drinks, but we had a pleasant evening sitting outside and sharing stories and fellowship with one another – real Christianity!