The view from the sauna window and pool! Wisla
The final day. I didn’t get much sleep and had the usual mentoring meeting at the ridiculous hour of 7am. So I was pretty tired when I went to our seminar. It was a panel discussion which was ambling along fine until a question was asked about homosexuality. The Dutch panelist mentioned in passing that his denomination accepted active homosexuals as members (but not leaders). I was astounded – not least the this went unchallenged. Not for long! Anyway the whole thing got me reflecting on the relationship between church and culture. Maybe all of us have let the culture change the church rather than vice versa. If the Dutch are caving in on the issue of homosexuality that is a disaster for the gospel. But maybe the American church is still struggling with the issue of race, or the English with class, or the Scots with tribalism?
On that latter aspect the comment was made in a church leaders meeting I was in that the UK was the most tribalistic of all the countries when it comes to church’s. I won’t comment on that just now – its been filed in my ‘final reflections on ELF’ folder.
This years ELF highlight for many people was Peter Williams talk on the reliability of scripture. I understand that it is not to be put on the web – which is a shame because the rest of the Church could do with hearing it.
The place I did my reading!
Last year the highlight of ELF for me was reading Os Guinness’s God in the Dark. It was life changing. This year I had the same experience – but with a different book. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning’ accompanied me to the pool and sauna. It was a devastating, enlightening, stimulating and most of all Gospel affirming book. I read it with wonder, delight, horror and thankfulness. Being so close to Auschwitz made it seem so more real. And that raised another question in my mind -how much of what we are doing at ELF is really relevant to what really matters and what is going on in Europe today? That is a genuine question – I’m sure there is plenty that is but I just feel that there is an unreality and superficiality which is concerning. I was really disappointed that only five people came to the talks on secularism and atheism. I know it’s not sexy and I am not a big name speaker, but the subject itself is vital. Unless we understand the context in which we operate, I wonder how effective we can be?
The psychiatrists couch!
All this thinking helped when I had an informal consultation with a psychiatrist – which was actually very helpful…and then I had a great chat with CARE, CMF, EA and LCF leaders! Then I went to my room to pray for my dad in hospital. Somehow the trivial fades into insignificance when faced with the eternal and ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.