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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, October 23, 2004
    The duty of privilege
    Plenty of fun on Iona, plenty of affirming exchanges, plenty of good singing, good eating and drinking. Plenty of good thinking too. We spent the mornings taking various shots at the Community's first rule - a commitment to regular bible reading. On day one Lesley Orr said that the bible was so full of violence and gender oppression she struggled wondering if there was any worth in reading it at all today. On day two Martin Scott gave us a thorough lesson in how to read scripture against the grain, using a hermeneutic of suspicion. And on the third day Susan Miller and Stephen Smyth gave us a taster of the Scottish Bible Society's Conversations, a contextual approach to sharing the Scriptures in groups. Lessons learned: take nothing for granted, be creative in criticism, enjoy doing it in context.

    In the evenings small groups of members and staff got together for a series of conversations about environmental issues, from which I came away with a poem in celebration of Bulky Bobs, a written exercise which showed my CO2 emissions are well over average because of car use, some good books to follow-up, and plenty of prompting about things to get on with during this Year of Living Generously.

    Plenty of great words shared, plenty of inspiration. Privileged to be part of all that, as I'm privileged generally in life.

    Wasn't till the journey home, though, on the road somewhere past Lochgilphead, that I found the phrase which seemed to capture everything the week had taught me, in one of John O'Donohue's Greenbelt talks. A phrase which rewards much revisiting, which would trigger much good change in anyone taking it to heart:

    Because so much has been given to us
    the duty of privilege is absolute integrity.