ColumbaFest Blog: LOOKING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK

two columba head & shoulders looking both left and right against a red brick wallThe weeWONDERBOX team are busy preparing for ColumbaFest 2018: Dreams and Visions, a packed weekend festival of faith, culture, and politics in the heart of Glasgow this June. Phones are being rung, tickets sold, workshops programmed, posters printed, and spreadsheets are multiplying. We are delighted to have several contributors, both new and returning, already confirmed. They are a wonderfully gifted and diverse bunch passionate about poetry, politics, history, theology, art and music. Already signed up are John L. Bell, Iain Bradley, Craig Gardiner, Alyson Hallet, Lorraine McIntosh, Carol Marples, Pádraig Ó Tuama and Andy Thornton and more names are coming in. Keep an eye on the blog, social media, and the Wild Goose Resource Group site for more announcements.

As the coffee flows, the biscuit count mounts, and the inboxes fill – the planning team find ourselves simultaneously looking forward and looking back. We look back to the first year of ColumbaFest, remembering where we have been and how we managed to pull it off, and look forward in anticipation to where we will be this summer as we prepare to do it all over again. You could say we are working in parallel, held between the memories and the plans, between nostalgia and hope, between analysis and creation. This process, of holding the past in tension with the future and the present, is reminiscent of how prophets and prophecy tends to work.

The theme for this year, ’Dreams and visions’ invites us to consider the protest and poetry of prophecy and apply it to our lives today. Throughout history there have been a number of prophetic voices, from those Old Testament figures crying in the wilderness, to colourful Saints such as Columba in the middle ages, and those more recently crying out for civil rights and climate justice. Prophets are varied in style and approach but they tend to be unconventional, vocal, and to speak both from and on behalf of the margins.

The planning team have been particularly drawn to the words protest and poetry as ways of unpacking the idea of prophecy. In our discussions we have realised that prophets are not generally concerned with ‘predicting the future’. Instead, they are driven to bring the future and the past into conversation with the present, in other words, how does where we have come from, and where we are going – affect how we live today. Prophets give us the tools to re-examine and reconsider.

There are many different kinds of prophets, but as a rule they speak truth to power even when it is inconvenient, provocative, or dangerous to do so. Prophecy often comes from the margins, the fringes, the borders. In the midst of oppression, heartache, and despair prophets give us the resources to carry on, push on, or simply hang on. They allows us to protest what is wrong and celebrate what is good. They give us the poetry to lament what is awful and to grasp what is right.

The dreams and visions of ordinary, simple people can and do change the world everyday. We would love you to join us as we continue to wrestle with these themes, if you are free and able, do consider joining us at ColumbaFest 2018, a number of ticket options (including concessions) are available and you are free to come for an evening, a day, or the whole weekend.

 

James Cathcart  

 

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