Sound and Silence

when necessary, use words


June 2007

undefined liturgists – “held”

Main ScreenHoldingWe Loved

 Constantia, Cape Town 24/06/07

A small gathering of 9 adults (and 13 under-10’s) met in and around our living room to celebrate/experiment with a liturgy called “held”.

Exploring the idea of “God in all and all in God”, we used image, recorded music (Crowded House’s “Fingers of Love”, Massive Attacks “Protection” and Stereo MC’s “Connected”), scripture, song, Eucharist, and statement-response to explore the sub-themes afloat, forsaken, letting go, lifted and sustained.

HoldingHoldingThe overall feeling was positive if somewhat muted, as everyone weighed up a new approach. The classic alt-worship question “But is it worship?” was not explicitly broached, and discomforts included the chaos of kids, distaste with the too responsorial or the too dancey.

For the most part, however, contemplation prevailed. But there was a surprising outburst of theological energy over lunch, and a robust debate around Universal Restoration v Eternal Damnation ensued.



The scandal of Bishop Carlton Pearson

Carlton PearsonCarlton PearsonCarlton PearsonCarlton PearsonI mentioned in my post about Universal Restoration  the story of Bishop Carlton Pearson. For those who have any interest in the debate concerning beliefs around eternal destiny, aka Heaven and Hell, this man’s journey is significant.

Pearson was branded a heretic by the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops in 2004, for his version of UR, called the “Gospel of Inclusion”. For the sake of his doctrine (read “faith”), in giving up hell, he found that his congregation fell by over 90%, he was forced to give up his church building, and he virtually lost his entire ministry.

Most painfully, he fell out with many friends and loved ones including the great (in pentecostal-charismatic terms) Oral Roberts who saw him as a son. He paid a heavy price to break away from the 1500 year old ideology of Ultimate Fear, and embrace a radical expression of Grace.

The scandal of Carlton Pearson is qualitatively different to what we have come to expect from the Church. Crucially it has not involved hypocrisy, as in extramarital liaisons, pedophilia, embezzlement, or substance abuse. No, the scandal of Pearson is not unlike the scandal of Christ, who took on the religious-political-cultural establishment for the sake of G-ds rule of Love and Justice.

Take a listen to Carlton’s Story on This American Life.

Watch the MSNBC coverage.

Browse to the website for his church, New Dimensions

Pearson links on Universal Restoration website Tentmaker.

His involvement with Wisdom university in his hometown Tulsa, Oklahoma, at a seminar called Sacred Activism and the Power of Inclusion.

In memory, a letter

Jonathan Stewart Paton 5 July 1936 – 26 June 2006

So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed
and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

Colossians 1:19-20 (The Message)


The peace with which you departed last midwinter, has held me close this last year. I remain thankful for how things came together at the end. Your lifelong struggle against the authority-based religion imposed on you at a young age by cruel forces beyond your control was not in vain.

Our hard earned honesty meant you knew where I stood, you knew I rejected your petulant juvenility, your indulgence, your inability to hold me, your absence. But regardless of that, I now remember you as a lamb, an ungrown, a sort of innocent, whose very passivity brought salvation.

It went against all my hubris, all my action, my iron will for meaning, and in a sense you have prevailed. You were the Dionysus to my Apollo, you were the pleasure seeker to my meaning addict, and I the father to your child. Actually, this argument has been won not by you or I, but by Grace.

Umzimkulwana ceremony 2Umzimkulwana ceremonyI have no doubt that you saw how we as a family scattered your ashes into the Umzimkulwana River. You saw how out of your legacy we managed to hold a ritual rich and generous in honor of your life. Without priest or leader, meaning simply flowed as each and every member of your family gave something of themselves, back to you, back to the waters, back to our shared origins. We each took several handfuls of ash and within a few days, those tokens of your earthly life were in the Indian Ocean. Rejoined with the oneness of all creation. Free at last.

As you are now. And us to, us too.

Looking a lot thinner now...
The Awe
Song of sadness

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