about nic

Laboratory theologian, shepherd of some songs, watcher of vegetables,  dad and honorary girl, multi-instrumentalist (shut that bloody bazouki off). Never short of ideas, always in search of silence. Music on 24/7, thats probably why.

Lately though broken into new territory – Imagemaking. So add to that VJing, DJing and Liturgy curation.


  1. Jan said

    Hi Nic,
    Apropos my latest book about Stradivari violins, see:
    Thanks for your blog.

  2. Uri Brito said

    Hey Nic, I look forward visiting your page again.

  3. Junaid Bedford said

    Hi everybody, this is the first time that I shall be commenting on this blog. I am a Muslim and I want to learn more about other religions and philosophies because as one increases in knowledge it’s as though one rises higher up a mountain enabling one to see a wider and greater view of reality. Thank you for all your contributions and for taking the time to arrive at better understandings.

    I believe in a God of Mercy, of Compassion. I would like to share an Islamic view as regards God Himself. I don’t know yet of other religious views on God as I have not yet put any serious effort in to learn about other faiths, but it is certainly my intention to do so in the not too distant future. I am just very busy at work and with studying at the moment for University.

    The first verse of the Qur’an describes God as the Most Merciful of those Who show Mercy. (Qur’an – 1:1)

    The Prophet Muhammad (s) then further explained this by saying that God has one hundred parts of Mercy and has kept its ninety nine parts with Him and sent down one part to Earth, and because of that, its one single part on Earth, His creations are merciful to one another, so that even the mare lifts up its hoofs away from its baby animal, lest it should trample upon it. (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73)

    I believe that it’s within this context that we should hope to journey to that life which is beyond the grave.

    • Simon Dooley said

      What a beautiful entry. Thank you for your message. I believe your really onto something. Love & Blessings : )

  4. jen newman said

    he is able to abundantly more than we can imagine.

  5. jen newman said

    if i could speak properly i would say.
    he is able to DO abundantly more than we can imagine.

  6. nic paton said

    Hi Jen
    Welcome – you found my blog – how did that come about?

    I agree, he is able to do more than we imagine… what prompted you to say that?


  7. Nic, I thought I’d pass along my response to your recent comment on one of my past blog posts on Burning Man, the Temple, and Memorial Day:

    Nic, thanks for this comment, and the many others you have posted in response to my reflections on Burning Man. I’m hopeful that others connected with Afrika Burns found value in my thoughts.

    This particular topic is near and dear to me. As to what a specific example might be, I would love to see a daring church community find a space where they can receive permission from a city to engage in a burn periodically through the year. Some kind of transitory temple-like structures could be created on the space where people could write poems and words of grief that would be interactive and ritualistic, as well as serve as a place for grief and meditation. This structure would then be burned, perhaps on a semi-annual basis, and serve the function that it does on Burning Man. I believe this would be very powerful and would serve to connect an ekklesia community to aspects of the broader culture.

    Beyond this you will note at the bottom of my post on this topic that I have linked this post to another one I did more recently when I addressed the Dumb Supper and Mourning Tee at the Festival of the Dead in Salem. What about ekklesia communities recontextualizing their own Festival of the Dead and including such elements? Again, I think these would be very powerful. I hope to be able to experiment with such things with others who think outside the box in the near future.

  8. Nic Shepherd said

    my name is nic shepherd, i was looking up my name on google and found this lol

  9. Nic Paton said

    Hi Nic
    Thanks for stopping by.
    Besides having the same first name and both being shepherds, what else do you think we may have in common?

  10. Love your site! Let me know if you are ever in Boston!


  11. Stephen Carpenter said

    I came across your blog by chance.Do you remember Mary Ann and me-from Joweto /Vlakfontein days-we remember your wedding well. Glad you and Ann are still in SA-I heard you had gone to London.You seem to be doing fascinating things
    We live in the Valley of a Thousand Hills -still doing much the same thing-just older and with 3 teenagers…
    Mary Ann’s Mom lives in Cape Town -would like to meet up sometime
    Stephen & Mary Ann Carpenter

  12. Mike Atkins said

    Hi Nic,

    Not sure if you remember me from Glenridge days (early morning home group at the Lawtons), but I am looking for lyrics and (if possible) MP3s of any of the Friends First material.

    First prize: MP3 of “Lament” from “We see a New Africa”
    Second prize: lyrics from “We see a new Africa”

    I do have an LP of “We see a new Africa”, but not sure what the quality is.

    I have sent email with this message to nicholaspaton@yahoo.co.uk (not sure if up-to-date).

  13. just wanted to thank you for writing so many thought-provoking entries on your blog. have immensely enjoyed your writings here (and elsewhere) on burning man, radical inclusiveness, the shamanic shadow, and more.

    i think i first came across your writing through your burning man post on emergentvillage.com … i aspire to one day learn how to be as patient, understanding, and inclusive as you were in the comments section there.

    keep asking such good questions and letting us peek in at your thoughts as you try to unravel the answers!!!

    and just in case you’re curious (i always am when new people post on my blog), i’m writing from Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.A.

  14. nic paton said

    Vanessa – thank you for your words. It’s always reassuring to know that this journey resonates with others. I’ll catch up on your blog soon…

  15. Randy said

    Raised in the evangelical culture in the Southeastern US, and pretty sure that it has great stuff but awful theology sometimes, feeling innately universalist but having a christology a little too high to be a unitarian, imagine how I felt when I discovered Carlton Pearson. He’s my new preacher, though we’ve never met and I’ve never heard an entire sermon, and I’m a thousand miles from Tulsa, I’m just sure he’s the guy.
    So when I googled his name to catch up on any publications, links etc (as I do about once a week) I found your site. Now I’m pretty sure you’re one of the guys too. What a great blog. Wonderful insights.

    Funny, I’m close to Asheville, NC, too, like Vanessa. though I don’t know her.

  16. Nic Paton said

    Hello Randy
    I am glad to be able to provide some food for your journey.

    A few of us (in SA and the US) are discussing the very things your are talking about over at http://inclusivemergent.wordpress.com/

  17. Jose Luis G. Soler said

    Hi Nic,
    nice blog,
    I ‘m disseminating this interesting interview

    and I saw your post about Godfrey Reggio. I hope you like it. ; )
    best wishes

  18. Jose Luis G. Soler said

    By the way, as lab theologian…
    do you know this web…?
    I find it fascinatingly mind-opening:

  19. nic paton said

    Thank you Jose – I really look forward to the Reggio interview.

  20. pam said

    Hi Nic

    just browsing blog lightly – head full of interesting reflections fromGood Friday. Very social gospel emphasis in Marists (Catholic); Jeremy does interesting stuff – has a site called Yukon – more of a ‘spirituality focus’, but inclusive and emergent on some levels…. miss Prashant enormously…. his space was a rare treasure …. say a good solid prayer for the sanctity of his awesome library… hope to have time to read more of your stuff these hols…. Easter blessings to you all

  21. Nic Paton said

    Hi P
    Just to say, Prashant is a great loss. My prayer is that you would be able to be part of holding, keeping open, and filling, his space.

  22. Faith Hooper McDonnell said

    Hi Nic:

    I stumbled onto your blog tonight when I was trying to find Friends First music and/or videos on You Tube. How are you? It’s been a long, long time.
    (24 years or thereabouts?) Hope you are well.

    My life has been more or less immersed in East Africa for the past thirteen years, mostly Sudan. Over the years I’ve gotten to know Sudanese bishops and priests, Lost Boys, refugees, SPLA commanders, Nubas and Nubians, Darfurians and Beja, Government of South Sudan leaders, even count the late, great Dr. John Garang among my friends.

    Also Northern Uganda advocacy. Wrote a book in 2006 about the evidence of God’s faithfulness to Uganda in spite of Kony and his evil, Idi Amin, martyred archbishops and teenaged boys, etc.

    Haven’t gotten to South Africa yet, but I finally made contact with Charlie Bester again a couple of years ago. Sporadic emailing.

    My daughter Fiona (13) and I hope to go to Southern Sudan and northern Uganda in the summer of 2010.

    Do you ever come to the States? I’ve been working in Washington, DC for 16 years now on religious freedom and other human rights, including trafficking.

    Well, old friend, take care, and God bless.

    Faith Hooper McDonnell

  23. Nic Paton said

    Hi Faith
    Thank you so much for your story – it’s very interesting at first glance. There are many points I’d like to connect further on. Do you have a blog?

  24. Jonathan said


    I don’t know if you thought I had stopped, but I posted a reply to what you said in the Circle of Inclusion post if you want to take a look.

  25. Jürgen und Pia Erbach-Adams said

    Hallo Nic and Ann – we are not sure if you remember us. In 1992 we spent aboout a year at the Kehila. It’s nice to see yuo again in that feature. So we hope you are fine and everything is ok.
    With us everything is fine. We have got two daughters (Elisa Dineo, 16 year and Aenne-Charlotta, 13 year) and a boy, Noah (10 year). So you can imagine that our live is very busy.
    Its a pitty that we haven’t got any connections to Joweto-people anymore. So maybe you can help us. Have you got addresses from Gloria Sithole, Kathy Laverty, Heloise Henning, John and Cynthia Muthiani or David and Ansie Venter?
    It would be nice to here from you!
    Lot of Love
    Pia and Jürgen

  26. Dom Hone said

    Hi Nic,
    Just popped bye to say howzit?

    We missed you last night… I will endeavour to write a summary of last nights session if that’s okay and send to you for posting?

    Are you up for a coffee or a walk sometime?


  27. Art Wouters said

    hi Nic
    We left for Melbourne just about when you came to CT and consumed with our struggles with the HBCI leadership. Its my first visit back to CT and staying with our long time friends the Roberts in HB I heard your CD Story. Well done mate! Its the most exciting thing i’ve heard in a long time. I’ve been in a bit of a long lull, trying to find out where i am with music and worship and wanting to shed some of the old scripts, but feeling quite stuck. Thanks for this album. Its a great inspiritation. I celebrate what you are doing and great to see pics of my old mate Jeremy at the launch. What’s the best way to buy 3 copies and take them home with me to inspire others, or even some of the other work you’ve done in the last few years. I wish you well and thriving

  28. Pastor Leonard Jepson said

    Hi Nic, I’m a Lutheran pastor in Indiana (USA) strongly involved in the Emerging Christianity Movement. My sabbatical studies in 2008 included work in Helsinki, Finland with Pastor Valtonen and the Thomas Mass and in Hong Kong with Pastor John LeMond. I attend the Richard Rohr Conference in Albuquerque annually and serve an Emerging Church Congregation. Last Monday my wife and I were flying out of Cape Town to Johannesburg. John Bartmann was sitting next to me and as we were talking about emerging music he told me of your work! (What a great happening this was!) Anyway, I am making this connection with you and look forward to discovering and likely using your liturgies, etc. in Indiana! Pastor Leonard Jepson, First English Lutheran Church, 16495 Ireland Road, Mishawaka, Indiana 46544.

    • nic paton said

      Hi Leonard
      I’m sorry naturally that we did not know of each other while you were in Cape Town. I’d love to hear your perspectives on the city – emergence is viewed with some suspicion by so many church folks here.

      However I have held onto the vision with a number of friends; we have blogged our gatherings over the years on CapeConversation.

      Leonard, I am really interested in developing and building relational links with others where there could be any kind of synergy. Please allow me to serve you in whatever way you might need. I think for now we can just throw some ideas around; I’m quite sure I will have lots to learn from you…

      Points of contact will undoubtedly include Rohr, but there’s also the Scandinavian thing – I’m a great fan of Nordic things especially the music label ECM.

      Blessings –

      • len jepson said

        Thanks, Nic, I am so fortunate to know of you. We are progressing with more liturgies / studies at First English Lutheran Church here in Mishawaka, Indiana. We are on the verge of introducing what will be called “The Explorations Centre” for our city – which will become a new format for our conversations with you. Again, I will be in touch with you with more people from our congregation as well. What a great time my wife Linda and I had in South Africa! Pastor Len Jepson.

  29. Nic Paton said

    Len, let me know when the explorations centre gets off the ground… lets keep in touch.

    • Len Jepson said

      Hi Nic, Since my last contact I have retired from the parish ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (after 42 years) – but even now have a new position as an associate director of the United Religious Community of St. Joseph County, Indiana (USA). I couldn’t be happier with this transition; my passion for ecumenical / interreligious work is served so well with this new role.

      I have come to realize that my work in the global emerging church movement very much involves many religions beyond Christianity, as we experienced with our Interreligious Exploration Centre at First English Lutheran Church in Mishawaka, Indiana prior to my retirement.

      I look forward to new times of communication with you!

      Len Jepson

  30. Stephen Carpenter said

    Hi Nic,
    Will be in CT this weekend (19th – 21st March 2011). Would like to make contact. Please call 0736817766 if this is possible for you.
    Rgds, Stephen Carpenter

  31. jonathan foley said

    Nic I love your blog just perused some of the main features and enjoyed it immensely esp tao testament and comments on parow + die antwoord. Reconciling life, love, culture and jesus is well a conundrum, paradox, challenge of note . Markers, real markers like piled stone cairns on a misty berg escarpment are scarce – thanks for piling some stones up for me today love jonathan foley (from glenridge days simon blanke malcolm peter scott + co) )

  32. Nic Paton said

    Hi Jonathan – thanks for those inspiring words, its great when someone takes the trouble and time to read stuff. I love the cairn image!

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