Rude Britannia | Dirt | Nothing Going on in the UK Church?


Had a fine morning yesterday with Barry Taylor at the Tate Britain. We went round the very wonderful Rude Britannia exhibition, which is a lot deeper and richer than saucy postcards, though there are plenty like this one above to tickle your fancy. Different rooms of exhibition have been co-curated by the likes of Harry Hill, Steve Bell and the cartoonists from Viz, and offer a huge range of perspectives on satire, political commentary and the plain absurd. It’s very funny, and also offers great relief (no jokes please) as one is left with the feeling, looking at political cartoons from 1780, that nothing has changed: dirt and heresy and tricksterism is still a hugely important mode of cultural expression, one that, by saying the unsayable, attempts to change the unchangeable. And gradually, it does.

In a way, that’s how the conversation fell with Barry afterwards over a coffee. What’s going on in the UK church that excites you? Barry asked. It is likely a critique of my own failings, but I struggled to find anything I was really excited about. It seems that we are in a bit of a doldrums time, between one phase of emerging expressions or whatever, and another, and with many appearing to move back towards the institutions who can offer support and security, rather than risk remaining on the edge. I wonder whether others feel the same? Can anything change? And who are the tricksters out there offering dirty bridgeheads into those new territories?

It was great talking to Barry though, who, as a Brit living in LA has a unique perspective. I really hope we can hook up on some stuff in the future. He’s off to Italy, lucky guy. Perhaps he’ll get some better football out there than the rubbish we’ve had to put up with over here!


4 responses to “Rude Britannia | Dirt | Nothing Going on in the UK Church?”

  1. Hey Kester!

    Loved this thought bro. I am the opposite, an American living in the UK, and from even an outside perspective, I feel like there is the same feeling, and not even necessarily in a comparative sense. But that somehow the UK has a lot to offer in terms of Church, but for some reason (I am sure there are many!) it doesn’t. It does seems like there is a lot of striving but nothing more. We have a mutual acquaintance in Pete Rollins, I would love to catch up with you on Skype sometime bro. I think we need more dissidents here in the UK. More subversive agents of grace. Would love to connect. Hit me up bro!

  2. There are lots of alternative Christian thinkers in the uk – the only thing is they think they’re alone! Have a look at my website and also read my autobiographical ‘The Prodigal Prophet’ for free at
    In my experience there are many post-post evangelicals out there! Let’s not have a conference though and do the institutional thing like so many reform movements! My email is if anybody wants to communicate. I live in the Lincoln area and love to talk about spirituality and the failure of religion to defuse the angst within! Regards Charlie

  3. Here in Wales – where we don’t necessarily like to be referred to as the UK church 😉 – there is also a sense of those emerging being drawn back into the institutions. But it is quite lonely out there – so for many of us, while we would like to break out, it feels easier somehow to think/talk/write emergence – without actually pushing for something new.

    Linking with others is good – and a conference/gathering of some sort may not be such a bad idea.


  4. I would like to stand up and be counted as someone who is excited by the local ‘institutional’ church! It’s not perfect, it can be a struggle, but it’s also an engine of life transformation and community hope. I ‘went back’, but certainly not for support or security! I would describe my calling as pioneering and prophetic and firmly at the heart of the inherited and institutional. 🙂 x