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Posts Tagged "Big Bible Project":

Global Village House Group for Lent: How it Went

In February I wrote a post called ‘House Group for the Global Village (Join Lay Anglicana for Lent)’: this is the follow-up.

At the bridge table, after a hand there is often a post-mortem, but it is understandable that after every military exercise the similar process is instead called ‘a wash-up’. For some reason, the Americans prefer the expression ‘hotwash’ (perhaps they have been at too many British cold water versions?). At any rate, the military version traditionally begins with: ‘What Went Well’*.

So what went well with our online house group, that is to say the discussion in the Lay Anglicana forum of Mark’s gospel, using Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone?

  • It happened. Every day, the extract from Tom Wright’s book appeared in a forum post, together with his version of the text. This was thanks to 12 Baskets and SPCK, who had exceptionally given permission for the text to be made available in this way (in the interests of copyright, we will retroactively condense these extracts once the discussions are over). Ernie Feasey, a joint organiser of  Lay Anglicana who is studying for the priesthood (and a fellow Digidisciple) wrote his own commentary every day, in which he teased out the words of the gospel and Wright’s commentary, and offered a few insights of his own. He also posed a question every day for us to answer.
  • It was useful to be able to supplement our own comments with input from the Big Read 12 Facebook page, which we in turn contributed to, and from the Big Bible Project – Big Read website.
  • The ‘usual suspects’ who were already regular contributors to the forum took part: lay Anglicans like Ernie, Joyce, Charlie Farns-Barns and me. But we also had contributions from priests, in particular fellow Digidisciple Dr George Morley whose latest post was cross-referred in the forum: she also became a regular and provided a useful trained eye, if she won’t mind the description. And we had contributions from several new people, including one from New York City and one from an American living in China. We had no trolls or other vexatious persons.
  • There have been 413 posts so far – Tom Wright’s commentary extends throughout Easter Week, so we are not through yet.
  • It has been a good bonding exercise for those taking part, and a good Lenten discipline having to read (and where possible comment) every day.

What Went Wrong?

  • Nothing really went wrong! But one or two unforeseen things happened…
  • We ran into difficulties when one of the contributors objected that Mark’s description of the Pharisees was anti-Semitic. This was an unexpected point, and the contributor was not just making an intellectual point, (s)he seemed genuinely indignant. I put out a plea on twitter for help from someone more versed in biblical knowledge and one person, thank goodness, replied  in the forum. Unfortunately, the original complainant did not return. Two of my priestly friends offered help and advice on twitter, but did not put their comments on the forum. I was better informed as a result, but would have felt uneasy about lifting their twitter comments (which are ephemeral) and copying them to the forum, where they are likely to have a considerably longer cyber-life. I think that the default netiquette position is probably that it is wrong to do this, certainly without permission? What do you think?
  • The other slight hurdle we faced was a distinct flagging of energy around the fourth Sunday of Lent. This must be a general problem, because the Church has already come up with a solution: it is called Rose Sunday or Refreshment Sunday or Laetare Sunday. But we rallied, recovered our energy and continued.

Would I do it again?

Yes, absolutely. Would others join me? I hope so!



The illustration, called ‘Journey of Faith in God’ is by David Perry via 12 Baskets and he asks that this text accompany it: “Imagining the Lectionary: Impassable, impossible or imperative – the improbable pathway to Easter and beyond

* The leader of our Lent group offers this explanation of military exercises in general and the house group exercise as a whole:

Yes, flagging at the fourth Sunday, is correct. It’s interesting that at the start, I was excited to wake and to go to the forum, to read the latest episode (a bit like following a good serial drama on TV). I’ve found it easy to follow my instinct in what I draw from the verses and text, rather than try to seek some deep theological things to say.  Perhaps writing from the heart best describes it.

I’ve found the feedback useful and helpful and while not trying to be provocative, I have sometimes stretched my posts in slightly  different directions, from Tom Wright’s guidance.  It’s been empowering to draw on life experiences to illustrate some of my points.

I would definitely do it again.

And, just a trivial observation, we ex-military types after an exercise have a ‘Hot-Debrief’ followed by a thought through ‘post-exercise (or ‘post-operational’) report (PXR) (POR) where we do a detailed study of what went right and what went wrong and what we can do to get it right next time.  I wouldn’t decry the American experience as a hot wash after a long exercise or operation seems a most neighbourly thing to do, as BO can be a factor in all of it. 🙂

A House Group for the Global Village? (Join Lay Anglicana for Lent)

We are social animals

It is a truism to say that we live in a global village – my twitterverse and blogosphere (and I  imagine yours as well) include residents of Australia, Canada, Guatemala, New Zealand and the USA. These ‘groups’ are permeable, transitory and fluid.  Because my major interest is in Christianity, and I am guessing that if you read this website yours is too, it seems likely that many of the people in our separate groups overlap. This is truly a ‘Big Society’!

‘Genesis…tells us of the provenance of human society in a world in which it is not good to be alone. Adam and Eve’s togetherness is fundamental to who they are; it is the state in which they exist, not chosen but given…our social state is just as real and …there is no way of escaping it; we are social creatures whether we like it or not…Hooker…reasoned that…rich forms of being together were necessary if people were to be true to their human nature. ..Four centuries later William Temple said much the same thing…[they] contend that alone none of us can live the life we aspire to: we need other people to make up for what we lack. A life lived in profound relationship with others is a successful life.’

So say Malcolm Turnbull and Donald McFadyen in ‘The state of the Church and the Church of the State‘.


A house group for Lent

If you accept this, it is understandable that when we study the Bible, many of us like to exchange ideas with others about the interpretation of texts that are nearly two thousand years old, and almost no one is reading in the original language. Hence, in part, the Big Bible Project and the Big Read 2012.

This year, we at Lay Anglicana thought that we would try to form a permeable, transitory and fluid house group on our forum to join the Big Read 2012 in studying Mark’s gospel and Tom Wright’s book. There is something rather special about joining in with people from all over the world to discuss the same gospel extract on the same day: we will really set the ether buzzing!

The idea is to use the existing Lay Anglicana Forum. One or two people have suggested possibly more exciting ideas such as Skype, MSN and Google+. It is true that forums (OK, fora!) are “so five years ago” as someone said, but they have the advantage of offering the time for considered assessment and still seem to work well for the Ship of Fools, who have been discussing John’s gospel since 2006 and have only just reached Chapter 6 they have so much to say to each other! Their discussion is on the Kerygmania  board, and is extremely erudite. I hope that we will take our ‘Goldilocks theology’ line from Tom Wright so that any erudite theologians amongst us will temper their exegetic wind to the shorn lambs in the group!


Please join us

If you would like to join us, I am afraid you will need to register as a member of the forum here. I am sorry that it is necessary to ask you to do this, but spam members and comments have made it necessary. (This is not an ulterior way of recruiting you as permanent members – I will cheerfully cancel your membership after Lent if you would like me to do so!). You may find it helpful to get a copy of Tom Wright’s book on Mark, but it is not essential as we will be putting up the relevant extract for each day, together with Professor Wright’s translation of the relevant verses.


How it works

I am hoping the mechanics need not be too complicated. We will ask you to begin by reading the chosen extract from Mark each day, either from your own Bibles or from Professor Wright’s translation.  The relevant Wright text for the day will be posted on the forum (in maroon typeface to distinguish it from our comments) There will be podcasts. We will then discuss. Let’s hope it works!


The illustration is ‘The Word’ by Tim Coleman via 12Baskets. He says:

The image is about the Bible. It rests on the earth; Scroll = old testament; pages = new testament; dove = inspiration of the Holy Spirit; Tree = root of Jesse; Pathway = Highway of holiness; Signpost = John the Baptist; path way leads to the cross the tomb and the Heavenly city; God the creator speaks (top RH corner)


This post was originally written for the Big Bible Project, for whom I write as a digidisciple.


I wish to record our thanks to SPCK, the publishers, and 12Baskets for enabling us to post the extracts from Tom Wright’s book on the forum.

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