Christian Discourses and Cultural Change
The Greenbelt Art and Performance Festival as an Alternative Community for Green and Liberal Christians
Keywords:Greenbelt festival, Liberal Christians, Green Christians, sacred space, Christianity and politics, audience involvement, religious leadership, modern Christian discourses
The article examines the Greenbelt festival in the UK, looking at how Green and Liberal Christians experiment with sacred spaces during worship occasions, talks and workshops. I show that Greenbelt represents a syncretic encounter between the modern festival culture on one hand and Christian community experiments and aspirations on the other, some that can be traced back to the nineteenth century Romantic Movement. I posit that the festival represents a trans-denominational community of choice for a progressive faction within the main Christian congregations in Britain, and in particular the Anglican Church. Furthermore I discuss ways in which participants experiment with cultural change, adopting a circle model of spatial organisation or via artistic expression. I observe relations between speakers and audiences, showing that a discourse of "openness and vulnerability" represents a critique of the "rigidity" of the Church, whilst a discourse of "secret meanings and misunderstandings" functions as a mechanism for revision inside the tradition. I postulate that the multiple outdoor spaces and fields of the modern art and performance festival can better accommodate the wider contemporary "believing and belonging" spectrum.
Aarons L.F. 1970. “Getting High On God: New Hippie Revivalists Junking the Junk for Jesus.” The Washington Post. (1959–1973), B1-B2. 18 May. http://search.proquest.com/docview/147828338?accountid=13042
Bourdieu P. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Bowman M. 2007. “Arthur and Bridget in Avalon: Celtic Myth, Vernacular Religion and Contemporary Spirituality in Glastonbury.” Fabula 48: 16–32. https://doi.org/10.1515/FABL.2007.003
———. 2016. “Seeking, Finding and Experiencing the Special in Westminster Cathedral.” In Religion Beyond the Textbook. The British Association for the Study of Religions Annual Conference. 4–7 September. University of Wolverhampton.
Brewitt-Taylor, S. 2017. “Christianity and the invention of the sexual revolution in Britain, 1963–1967.” The Historical Journal 60: 519–547. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X1600011X
Brint S. 2001. “Gemeinschaft Revisited: A Critique and Reconstruction of the Community Concept.” Sociological Theory 19: 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1111/0735-2751.00125
Campbell C. 2010. “The Easternisation of the West: Or, How the West was Lost.” Asian Journal of Social Science 38: 738–757. https://doi.org/10.1163/156853110X522911
Campbell D. E. 2004. “Acts of Faith: Churches and Political Engagement.” Political Behavior 26: 155–180. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:POBE.0000035961.78836.5f
Campion N. 2016. “The Glastonbury Festival: The Rock Festival as Sacred Space.” In Festivals, Performing Arts and the Sacred. 11 November. University of South Wales.
Charmaz K. 2006. Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. London: Sage.
Clements J, Xiao C and A. McCright. 2014. “An Examination of the Greening of Christianity Thesis Among Americans, 1993–2010.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 53: 373–391. https://doi.org/10.1111/jssr.12116
Copson, A. 2017. “Engagement between religious and non-religious in a plural society.” In Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide, edited by A. Carroll and R. Norman, 210–220. Abingdon: Routledge.
Corrywright D. 2004. “Network Spirituality: The Schumacher-Resurgence-Kumar Nexus.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 19: 311–327. https://doi.org/10.1080/1353790042000266336
Davie, Grace. 1994. Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing Without Belonging. Oxford: Blackwell.
———. 2000. Religion in Modern Europe: A Memory Mutates. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davies, D. 2011. Emotion, Identity and Religion: Hope, Reciprocity and Otherness. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199551538.001.0001
De Groot, G. J. 2009. The 60s Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade. London: Pan.
Dinkler, M.B. 2016. “Suffering, Misunderstanding, and Suffering Misunderstanding: The Markan Misunderstanding Motif as a Form of Jesus’ Suffering”. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 38: 316–338. https://doi.org/10.1177/0142064X15621649
Ehrenreich B. 2007. Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. London: Granta.
The European Vales Study Survey. 2008. https://europeanvaluesstudy.eu/methodology-data-documentation/previous-surveys-1981-2008/survey-2008/data-and-documentation-survey-2008/
Fairclough N. 1992. Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.
———. 2006. “Global Capitalism and Critical Awareness of Language.” In The Discourse Reader, edited by A. Jaworski and N. Coupland, 146–157. Abingdon: Routledge.
———. 2013. “Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Policy Studies.” Critical Policy Studies 7: 177–197. https://doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2013.798239
Forest. 2017. “Communities of the Mystic Christ, Forest Church.” http://www.mysticchrist.co.uk/forest_church/
Fry J. and Binner J. M. 2016. “Elementary Modelling and Behavioural Analysis for Emergency Evacuations Using Social Media.” European Journal of Operational Research 249: 1014–1023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2015.05.049
Greenbelt. 2017a. “Greenbelt: Acts of the Imagination.” https://www.ukfestival-guides.com/festivals/greenbelt-festival/2017/
———. 2017b. “About Greenbelt.” http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/about/about-greenbelt/ (Accessed 20 August 2017).
Guest M. 2007. Evangelical Identity and Contemporary Culture: A Congregational Study in Innovation. Milton Keynes: Paternoster.
Habermas R. 1991. “Weibliche Erfahrungswelten. Frauen.” In der Welt des Wunders.” In Auf der Suche nach der Frau im Mittelalter, edited by B. Lundt, 65–80. München: Fragen, Quellen, Antworten.
Heelas P., Woodhead L., and Seel B. 2005. The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ingold, T. 2015. The Life of Lines. Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315727240
Keener, C.S. 2003. The Gospel of John. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
Lassander, M. 2014. Post-Materialist Religion: Pagan Identities and Value Change in Modern Europe. Beaverton: Ringgold.
Livingston, J. C. 1971. Modern Christian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Vatican II. New York: Macmillan.
Low, M. 1996. Celtic Christianity and Nature: Early Irish and Hebridean Traditions. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
McKay G. 2015. ‘The Pose... is a Stance’: Popular Music and the Cultural Politics of Festival in 1950s Britain.” In The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture, edited by G. McKay, 13–31. London: Bloomsbury. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781501309038.0008
McLeod, H. 2007. The Religious Crisis of the 1960s. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298259.001.0001
Morrison S.S. 2000. Women Pilgrims in Late Medieval England: Private Piety as Public Performance. Abingdon: Routledge.
Morton R.T. 1960. What is the Iona community? Glasgow: Iona Community.
National. 2016. “NatCen’s British Social Attitudes Survey: Religious Affiliation Among Adults in Great Britain.” http://www.natcen.ac.uk/media/1469605/BSA-religion.pdf
Nita, M. 2014 “Christian and Muslim Climate Activists Fasting and Praying for the Planet: Emotional Translation of ‘Dark Green’ Activism and Green-Faith Identities.” In How the World’s Religions are Responding to Climate Change Social Scientific Investigation, edited by R. Globus-Veldman, A. Szasz and R. Haluza-DeLay, 229–243. Abingdon: Routledge.
———. 2016. Praying and Campaigning with Environmental Christians: Green Religion and the Climate Movement. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
———. 2017 “An Altar inside a Circle: A Relational Model for Investigating Green Christians’ Experiments with Sacred Space.” In Material Religion: The Stuff of the Sacred, edited by Timothy Hutchings and Jo McKenzie, 133–151. Abingdon: Routledge.
Nita, M. and S. Gemie. 2019. “Alternative Pilgrimages and the Making of Modern Festivals: Counterculture, Local Authority and British Christianity at the Windsor and Watchfield Free Festivals (1972–1975).” Twentieth Century British History 30(1): 1–28.
Schleiermacher, F. 1890. Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher. Translated by M. F. Wilson. Edited by W. Robertson Nicoll. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Shilling C. 2018. “Embodying culture: Body pedagogics, situated encounters and empirical research.” The Sociological Review 66: 75–90. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026117716630
Stewart P.J and Strathern A. 2014. Ritual: Key Concepts in Religion. London: Bloomsbury.
Sutcliffe S.J. and Gilhus I.S. 2013. New Age Spirituality: Rethinking Religion. Durham: Acumen.
Taylor B.R. 2010. Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future. Oakland: University of California Press.
Townend S. 2011. “The Story Behind ‘Vagabonds’.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zryGXQb_yXI
Tusting, K., Guest M. and L. Woodhead, eds. 2016 . Congregational Studies in the UK: Christianity in a Post-Christian Context. Abingdon: Routledge.
Van Leeuween T. 2006. “Sound in Perspective.” In The Discourse Reader. Second edition, edited by A. Jaworski and N., Coupland, 179–193. Oxford: Routledge.
Wilkinson, K. 2012. Between God and Green: How Evangelicals are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199895885.001.0001
Winter E. 2017. “An Activist Religiosity?: Exploring Christian Support for the Occupy Movement.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 32: 51–66. https://doi.org/10.1080/13537903.2016.1256648
Woodhead, L. 2012. “Introduction.” In Religion and Change in Modern Britain, edited by L. Woodhead and R. Catto, 1–34. Abingdon: Routledge.
———. 2001. “Christianity.” In Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, edited by L. Woodhead, H. Kawanami, and C. Partridge, 206–234. Abingdon: Routledge.
Wuthnow R. 2003. “The New Spiritual Freedom.” In Cults and New Religious Movements, edited by L. L. Dawson, 89–111. Oxford: Oxford Blackwell.