Meet Helen and Phil - this weeks guest bloggers

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Another week another couple of guest voices joining the conversation and helping engage our thoughts and showing us different view points. I hope you enjoy what they have to say and feel free to join in with the conversation and share the thoughts and feelings they inspire in you...

To help you get to know a little bit more about Helen and Phil they've agreed to run the gauntlet of a mini interview...

Please welcome Helen...

Hi Helen, could you tell us a little bit about Who are you/what are you doing/being at the mo?

I’m a stay-at-home mother of two (aged 11 & 13) who doesn’t go to church anymore.

In the internet world I’m blog manager for Off The Map. I host their blog conversation at the edge and help with their other blogs.

I also have a website of my own which I converted into a blog last month. There’s a bit more about me on my About page

Thanks Helen, we're big fans of Off the Map round here, but could you tell us how you've ended up joining the emergent chuch conversation, especially if you are an ex-church goer?

I hadn’t heard of the emergent/emerging church until last year when I started reading Off The Map’s site.

Since then I’ve found out a little about it. Emergent/emerging (which is it??) Christians seem to have some of the same concerns I do about the church they’re emerging from. I’m interested to see what solutions they come up with. (Unlike me, quitting church altogether doesn’t seem to be the direction most emergent/emerging Christians are going)

Good to think that there are different answers to the Q :). Ok, time for a little dreaming, please could you tell us if you could be anything you wanted to be, other than what you are now, what would it be?

You’ll find out if I ever achieve it! ;-)

Ah keeping your cards close but you won't escape that easily, well I am nosey, so please could you tell us one thing that most people would be surprised to discover about you?

Hmmmm….if there’s nothing surprising on my “About” page you could try my blog tag post about five things most people don’t know about me.

Bloggers, gotta love 'em ;). So who inspires you, who are your heroes and heroines and why?

I'm inspired by anyone who

1) not only says they care about'but proves it by giving away time and/or attention and/or money to them.

2) has survived very difficult circumstances

These people inspire me because if they can do it, maybe I can too.

Paul, you’re one of my heroes because from what I see, you’re a great friend to Jason. I’ve seen how you help with Jason’s blog and my guess is that you help him in lots of ways I don’t see too. You’re also one of my heroes because you listen to people and are interested in them and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Thanks Helen, from zero to hero, I really appreciate your kind words. Now do more ducking the spot light, here's the tie breaker Q... how would you describe the Kingdom of God in 5 words or less?

This is my favorite description from the words of Jesus, according to the gospels:

A tree birds rest in (See Matt 13:32 and Luke 13:19)

I wrote about why I like this tree picture on my personal blog here

Thanks Helen, looking forward to your ongoing inspiration round here!

And now give it up for Phil...

Hi Phil, welcome to you... Please could you tell us a little bit about Who are you/what are you doing/being at the mo?

My main occupation in life is teaching church history at a small evangelical school in the heartland of the U.S. called Winebrenner Theological Seminary, at the University of Findlay in Findlay Ohio.

I am also involved in planting a new Anglican Church at the University. I

am married to a physician, Carol, who specializes in geriatrics. We are blessed with vocations that serve others in significant ways... for me, the younger generations who are called to serve Christ's church... for Carol, the elderly, many of whom have been there and done that and now look with bemusement at all the transformation taking place in the spiritual landscape of our culture.

Speaking of the elderly called to serve Christ's church... Jason is co-ordinator of Emergent-UK so could you please tell us how/why you are interested/involved in/with emergent/emerging church?

I became interested in the emergent conversation a few years ago when I began studying the phenomenon of deconversion in contemporary or postmodern spirituality, first in the USA, then in the UK and beyond. Deconversion is an experience of turning away, rather than turning to, some particular way of being spiritual. It has many of the qualities of conversion, but sort of in reverse and with more ambiguous outcomes. A deconvert is more precise about what she or he has abandoned and doesn't like than what she or he is seeking or headed toward in their spiritual journey. I think deconversion, not conversion, is the main story-line or autobiographical narrative of our culture. As I looked at contemporary evangelicalism, I began to see emergents moving beyond the traditional identifiers (behaviors as well as beliefs) of the evangelical subculture and speak/write more in terms of deconversion than conversion. I have been studying this phenomenon ever since. And, yes, to some degree I am a participant-observer in this movement!

Thanks Phil, could to have your participation here! Please could you tell us who inspires you, who are your heroes and heroines and why?

OK, here I have to confess my historical orientation-- I'm pretty fanatical about studying the historic "cloud of witnesses" and being in conversation with those who experienced many of the same dissonances and struggles we do today. But even when Christians from bygone eras don't seem to be in similar circumstances, I think they have something crucial to say to us-- they are always looking over our shoulders. After all, without them we would not have received anything to pass on. Now, back to the question...

I am piecing together a series of short studies of specific individuals and communities from the history of Christianity who seemed to exhibit a corollary apologetic of the Gospel, especially those who put their theology into formational practice, taking the spiritual disciplines very seriously. My work began with the Didache community--from the last 1st century, probably in Syria, and their catechesis-driven community of disciple-making. A new translation and commentary on the Didache by Aaron Milavec opens up new understanding and, potentially, application of community-formation and disciple-making. I find a practiced wisdom here regarding the steady nurture of alternative modes of life and witness in a predominantly pagan cultural setting. I guess I would have to say that in many ways this achievement counts as heroic--the Didache community experienced "deep church" in a very tumultuous context.

Did i say I'm happy to review a copy of your book, it sounds awesome :). So how would you describe the Kingdom of God in 5 words or less?

"not my will but thine"

Thanks Phil, so great to have you here as a guest blogger!