Monday, October 26, 2009

I bought a flatcap... aka I make my own tradition

Flatcap (camerabag'd helga) (298/365)

I bought a flatcap a couple of weeks ago... and I've been meaning to share its significance with you for a while.

In doing so... I want to stress that this was my own decision - Olly hates them... she thinks I am too fat to carry it off. She associates them with old men... farmers... men who like men... and thinness, for some reason. I do not fit into any of these categories... albeit... I have been accused of walking like a farmer... but then that was a good many years ago when wearing Doc Martens and rolled up jeans made sense to me.

Why did I buy a flatcap? Well... because I think they are cool. They have a timeless appeal to someone in his mid-thirties going through some form of obsessive-compulsive midlife crisis where the seeking out... and accumulation of... the "authentic" is becoming increasingly important.

They are "up there" with Polaroid cameras & charityshop'd 501s. Part of a anti-fashion / post-fashion / anything goes / dare-I-say-hipster aesthetic... or at least my inadequate version of.

I have to stress here and now that the purchase of the cap was my decision... I was not forced into it... not was I indoctrinated into it... it isn't a "family thing" - My father only wears hats when he's on holiday... miles from anyone he knows... with sun beating down on his easily-lobsterized face... whereas my maternal grandfather was more of a Trilby wearer. My paternal died when I was 9. I never really got to know him but I do remember a dapper moustache & a fondness for stuff (maybe that's where who I inherited my love of stuff from?). I don't remember Papa Davey as being a hat-wearer.

Anyway... a flatcap isn't a family thing... nor is it a cultural thing... certainly not a current cultural thing. The flatcap is no longer the symbol it was... of the working class man or the landed gent at leisure. I do appreciate that aesthetic... but the baseball cap has replaced this in all intents and purposes where I live, work & play.

So why? I appreciated the aesthetic and wanted it to work for me... I saw the ability to contextualise it to my own liking. Like a soundtrack to a movie I have never seen... I had the ability to rewrite its context for me.

It is also a symbol for church... or at least my church experience & understanding.

I don't want to inherit someone else's idea of church... I don't want my father's or grandfather's church. I want my own.

Nor do I want what my culture indoctrinates or imposes as being the right expression of church. I want my own.

I want to actively recontextualise my understanding and expression of church so that it works for me. I want to own it... live it... breathe it... passionately participate within it and outwith it... I want my own church.

Please don't misinterpret me as some mad heretical egotistical separatist who wants to form "the cult of Thomas". Whilst my ego likes this idea... its not where I am going with this.

I believe church should be about participation... where you can shape it as much as it shapes you... your experiences will create new understanding... and your new understanding will create new experiences. I want my relationship with God to be vibrant... dynamic... alive... 1-to-1.

As I consider "Reformation Day" I want my church... my understanding of God & His calling for those who follow Him... to be something immediate... with no barriers between God and I. No priest to get in the way. No obstacles. I believe this immediacy comes through participation... through collaboration... through active questioning... challenging... debating... toing-and-froing... I don't want to take someone else's word for it... I don't want to be bound by someone else's understanding... I want to make my own mind up... I want to own it for me.

I want my own tradition. I don't want your tradition... in fact, keep your tradition! If its yours... great... own it. If its not yours... if you have inherited it from someone else... where you haven't been an active participant in the writing and understanding of its orthodoxy AND orthopraxy... then, can I ask... is it truly yours?

That said... I am taking this to an extreme. I don't know Hebrew or Greek... in fact its all Greek to me... and I have to rely on the translations of others. I am also made up of the ideas and writings of other: Brian McLaren... Rob Bell... those folks on the something beautiful podcast... those who have inspired me... including my wife... my kids... my parents... my friends;

Where I am going with this is that church should be about an active choice... about ownership... and not the passive "we've always done it like this" approach that I know only too well. Each of us should write their own tradition... in keeping with their experience and understanding of God & His saving... transforming... empowering grace.

But then maybe that's why people hide behind their inherited experiences... because they haven't experienced the wonderful gift of grace? Because this whole "church thing" isn't real to them.

I want a tradition that is real to me... that expresses who I am in and through Him who transformed and continues to transform me. That's what I want to own.

Tx

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