Yesterday.....England won the Ashes back. I have to confess that I watched quite a lot of the cricket, not all of it by any means, but by yesterday it had become utterly compelling viewing. I can still remember going round to my friend Adam's house on the first day of the first test back in July. I'm not sure I really believed we could do it back then. BUT WE HAVE!!!! It did seem a bit of a farce at the end, what with the bad light/when can we end the game??? fiasco. But that'll be forgotten in due course.
It's probably also worth paying tribute to Richie Benaud, providing us with his wonderful commentary for the last time in the UK.
Towards the end of the day Mark Nicholas, Channel 4's presenter on the cricket said some interesting stuff about tradition....I can't really remember exactly what he said, but I remember thinking that there certainly are times when it is important to remember and honour the traditions which have developed over the years. One such tradition is the 'gentlemanly' way in which cricket is to be played - the great Shane Warne being a fine example of this. Seeing the commerardery between the opposing sides, the concern for the injured etc. makes you realise that it is possible for sportsmen to be compassionate, reasonable human beings. Let's see if the overpaid footballers realise this...
Nicholas also made it quite clear (and I agree with him on this point as well) that the farce over the rules about how the game can be brought to an end, show how rules and at times traditions, can get in the way. The question cricket faces (and indeed the church) is how do we honour the traditions of our ancestors, while working in a way which is suitable for the fast-paced society in which we now find ourselves.
Now I'm not expecting cricket to engage with this issue, but one issue I believe the church must engage with, is whether or not we consider the current nature of society (the fast-paced, efficiency-driven world) to be a healthy thing, and do we actually need to spend some time critiquing culture, maybe looking to transform culture, rather than just work out ways for us to 'do' church within it.
This whole thing about efficieny is something John Drane talks about in his book The McDonaldization of the Church. To what extent does the church bow to the surrounding culture, taking on the quest for more efficient programmes, structures etc.
I was talking with my parents the other day, about church structures and endless committees etc. One thing I have become aware of over the last few years, is the importance of the process. Now I know that a lot of committees can be quite dull, but sometimes I think we can forget that committees provide space for people to think, to talk, to feel as though their voice is being heard. I wonder whether this process, of sitting and talking to each other, of showing care through listening to one another, of builing up relationships with one another, can be lost in the streamlining and drive for efficiency.