However, the opportunity to meet a few of the people who comment here, and on whose blogs I comment, was too great to resist. And so Saturday morning 27th August dawned bright, and Mrs Tree and I whisked down the A46 to glorious Cheltenham for the day. Even with a breakfast stop near Alcester, we made it into the racecourse in time to catch Brian McLaren about 5 minutes into what turned out to be a very interesting take on the Israel/Palestine conflict. As an American with an evangelical(ish) background, it was clear that he is used to dealing with a Christian Zionist line, which he critiqued heavily. This drew forth a fair bit of applause from his audience – though I rather feel that the British church, outside a particular sub-set of evangelicalism, is much less Zionist than its American counterpart. Rather less enthusiastic support was shown for his plea not to give uncritical support for the Palestinian cause. The subsequent Q&A session was limited by the mass movement of people towards the Rob Bell talk on mainstage.
I may blog about that another time, as I will about the talk by Phyllis Tickle I heard.
While the talks were all very interesting, the highlight of the day was the opportunity to meet people. Some of these I already knew from Real Life, others only from encounters on blogs and email exchanges. Among the former were friends from theological college and couple of friends from Liverpool who were helping out with the Messy Church events. But I am now also able to put real voices and faces to @RevdLesley of Lesley’s Blog and her husband Alan, to @Artsyhonker (Kathryn Rose) ,to @Gurdur (Tim Skellett) the administrator of The Heathen Hub and author of the Stranger in an Even Stranger Land blog. I also met Anita (of Dreaming Beneath the Spires) and husband Roy, plus Savi Hensman of Ekklesia.
The day was a wonderful one. The weather was mostly kind, with only a couple of show, and a fair bit of warm sunshine to compensate. Although the day left me quite tired for my 8 a.m. Communion service the following morning I wouldn’t have missed it – some challenging talks and wonderful people
I’m already pencilling in the dates for a longer visit in next year’s diary.