Posts Tagged ‘Robert Cotton’

Book launch of Reimagining Discipleship

October 23, 2012
Robert Cotton speaking from the pulpit used by Lewis Carroll

Robert Cotton speaking from the pulpit used by Lewis Carroll

Re-imagining Discipleship - Robert Cotton

Reimagining Discipleship – Robert Cotton

Following the anti-cuts rally last weekend Giles Fraser, former Canon-Chancellor at St Paul’s (the man who a year ago said St Paul’s in-the-Camp could remain) and now Priest-in-charge, St Mary, Newington, commented: Didn’t see one church banner on today’s march.

A damning indictment of the church today, and why many people see the church as an irrelevance. A church that grew out of a small Jewish sect led by a charismatic leader who did not hesitate to get his hands dirty, who walked among the poor, the diseased and disadvantaged.

I rarely set foot inside a church. Nay correction, I rarely attend a service, I am happy to set foot inside. The reason why is that I cannot stomach the hypocrisy. It is as though the world outside the church door does not exist.

It is not just the poverty and greed that sits cheek by jowl on their own doorstep that is ignored, they turn their faces away from what is happening in the Middle East, where Christians ask why do they ignore us in the West?

In Russia we have seen two members of Pussy Riot, having been sentenced to two years in a Stalinist-era show trial, for what was at worst a misdemeanour, now being sent to penal colonies, the modern day Gulags.

Jesus spoke out against the corruption in the Temple, the abuse of power and was crucified. Pussy Riot spoke out against the Mafia Monks of Moscow and get two years in a Gulag.

Had Giles Fraser been in St Mary’s in Guildford this evening for the book launch of Reimagining Discipleship he may have in part had an answer.

After offering everyone wine, which I thought was very generous, Canon Robert Cotton spoke from the pulpit, the very same pulpit from which Lewis Carroll delivered the occasional sermon.

Reimagining Discipleship is a book in three parts. It draws on anecdotes and his experience of being part of and working with communities in Guildford.

A sense of space. St Mary’s provides a sense of space, a safe space. As do in a different context the Street Angels who work on the streets of Guildford late at night until the early hours of the morning.

Shakespeare Guildford Company was given as a community group, the community plays, the community is the audience.

We cannot manage volunteers. We can only lead by example, inspire.

Robert is a very good speaker and it was a disappointment he did not speak for more than about ten minutes. He said he did not wish to say too much about his book, he would rather we went out and read, but in the meantime, please enjoy the wine, circulate and chat to each other.

I had an interesting conversation with the lady who was sitting next to me.

What Robert was embracing, was a cultural shift that is taking place. Two strands are coming together. One is the people who occupied St Paul’s in-the-Camp (and curiously church people were very heavily involved) who are seeking alternatives. The other is poor and disadvantaged who have no choice than to explore alternatives (something Robert would have seen and experienced in South Africa). We have a soft revolution, not a hard revolution, existing institutions are being hollowed out from within or rendered irrelevant.

St Mary’s was packed. Many times the number who attended the e-book debate at The Electric Theatre, and unlike the Electric Theatre, no childish prohibitions on taking pictures.

Robert kindly signed a copy of his book with a lovely dedication. I shall look forward to reading it.

We had a brief discussion on the possibility of two writers for next year, which if comes to fruition, will very much be the stars of the Book Festival.

Canon Robert Cotton is Rector of Holy Trinity and St Mary’s. An unusual parish as it has two churches.

The book launch of Reimagining Discipleship was one of the events of the Guildford Book Festival, an annual ten-day book festival in October that takes place in Guildford.

Earlier in the day I had spent a misty afternoon in Godalming. In the Parish Church I lit candles for Canon Andrew White (who is currently undergoing treatment in Holland), writer Paulo Coelho and my lovely Russian friend Lena.

On my way into Guildford I noticed Eden People were meeting at The Keystone. I would have liked to have gone along, but decided to go home. Somewhat depressing, no information put out for this meeting. Only last week, I had someone ask me when were Eden People next meeting at The Keystone. I said I did not know, as I had not heard anything lately, and I was in The Keystone that evening.

Passing through Aldershot Station, a very unpleasant incident, a man fell down the stairs and smashed his head on the ground, he was not moving, his head in a pool of blood.

Top Story in Publisher’s Daily (Wednesday 24 October 2012).

Misty afternoon in Godalming

October 23, 2012
candles lit in Godalming Parish Church

candles lit in Godalming Parish Church

amazing tea set

amazing tea set

It was not cold, though it felt cold and wet, water dripping from the trees from the mist in the air.

Train to Guildford, then train to Godalming.

I do not know why, but Godalming always feels colder than anywhere else. Maybe it is the presence of the river nearby.

I wandered into the Parish Church. Lit candles for Canon Andrew White (who is currently undergoing treatment in Holland), Paulo Coelho and my lovely Russian friend Lena. I also wrote out prayer cards.

There is something very satisfying about lighting candles. I had what seemed at the time to be a clever idea. Light a tissue and have smoke curling around the candles. Very aesthetic. I burnt my finger.

In a charity shop I found the most amazing tea set. I hope they sell as a complete set. They have a bad habit of selling off piecemeal.

Lunch at Café Mila. Very quiet.

I asked in Waterstone’s, did they know when Manuscript Found in Accra was due out. No, they did not. But to the credit of the girl who checked, she was aware or found it in Portuguese.

I asked about Amazon deleting books off a Kindle. She knew nothing about it.

I asked in Oxfam about a shortage of secondhand books. They said a shortage of all donations.

Walking through Godalming, the 71 bus passed through on time. Usually it is at least ten minutes late, but today I was going in the opposite direction. Luckily I did not have to wait for a bus to Guildford, indeed I had to run to catch it.

In Guildford, I popped into W H Smith. During Guildford Book Festival they are running Kobo workshops, but not today. Kobo section like walking into a mobile phone shop. Guy claimed Kobo would not delete. In reality he did not know. I asked that he asked the Kobo team. One good thing I learnt which is a plus for Kobo over Kindle, they do not use a propriety format for their e-books, they use an open source format, which make the books transferable between devices.

I then went along to St Mary’s Church for the book launch of Re-imagining Discipleship by Robert Cotton. An excellent, if somewhat brief talk by Robert Cotton from the pulpit used by Lewis Carroll.

As I came into Guildford, I saw Eden People were meeting at The Keystone. I would have liked to have popped along, but decided to go home, via Aldershot, to save a long walk.

At Aldershot, tragedy struck. Walking down the stairs in the underpass, a man seemed to keel over, maybe he tripped, he fell down the stairs, he smashed his head at the bottom, a pool of blood started to form.

I shot back up the stairs, called for an ambulance. The ambulance centre asked me to go back down and describe the scene to them. They asked were there station personal around, if yes, were they First Aid trained? If not, would I ask everyone to back away from the man, including the station staff. The station staff were not trained in First Aid, when asked to back away, they started arguing with me, a yob threatened me (this is after all Aldershot). Station staff threatened to evict me from the station.

Ambulance station managed to speak to station staff, said it was ok, they would talk to them and thanked me for keeping them updated.

I left, as I was leaving, I directed the ambulance crew, well actually para-medics, to where the man lay.

I was appalled by the behaviour of the station staff. What is also appalling is that no one on the station trained in First Aid.

There is a problem with the stairs at this underpass. Some months ago I fell, I injured arm, knee and leg. At the time I thought myself lucky as I fell going upstairs, not down.

I hope the man is ok, though he did not look too good. I think he smashed his skull open. But maybe it looked worse than it was. He fell on face and maybe his nose acted like a cushion and all he suffered was a bloody nose. But the way he fell (I was just behind him), he probably fell on his forehead, and he did not move, a pool of blood started to form around his head. I waited a second, saw he was not moving, shot back up the stairs and called an ambulance.

When I got home I found myself feeling very sick. Whether it was delayed shock from the incident or that I was not feeling well I did not know.