Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Punk Monk

On Saturday I took the opportunity to take up the recommendation of Keith, and picked up a copy of 24/7 Prayer guys Andy Freeman & Pete Greig’s Punk Monk book at my local Wesley Owen.

Unusally, I was wearing full on Sally Army uniform because the stop off at the book store was squeezed into a little time slot I had on the way to a gig with the Salvation Army Band I play in.

Now, I have to confess, there are times I struggle with wearing my uniform. It’s not that I have a problem with being identified as a member of The Salvation Army – it’s just that the style of uniform that I don’t like. It’s too close to a generic traffic warden /prison officer/security guard – whatever; white shirt, dark blue serge and smacks far too much of the conservative, conventional and buttoned-down for my liking. Also, it’s not exactly the most comfortable piece of clothing in my wardrobe.

The uniform is certainly not as readily identifiable as it used to be when The Salvation Army was more of a known quantity for people in British society, so maybe today if it was a bit more striking and individual it may, in turn, become more recognizable?

On top of that, I have a concern that a building full of people looking very similar in their uniforms may be a little overpowering or overwhelming for anyone who had chosen to drop in to one of our gatherings. (someone else might want to comment on this – this is only my perception)

Having said all that…….there are times when the uniform is great as a signal to people, saying “you can talk to me!”. In these circumstances it’s good…and on Saturday it was good because as I walked back from buying the Punk Monk, I bumped into a punk – mohican, studded jacket, tattoos, piercings…the works, who was taking a little time out outside a pub enjoying a drink with some friends. Now, because I had my uniform on, and because he was a decent guy, we were able to get into a conversation for a good 10-15 minutes. His opening gambit was
“I hurt people for a living”.

I asked him to explain, so he told me that he was one of the tattoo artists in the shop across the road. We talked, laughed, had a look at my newly purchased Punk Monk together – a little quizzical about the synchronicity of it all - and shared stories about tattood Pastors like Pernell & Carlos.

The funny thing is, I pass a couple of tattoo shops at least twice a week, as they are both close to The Salvation Army Hall. Something has been eating away at me for weeks saying I’d like to find a way to make contact. - not necessarily because I want to have a tatt, but because these people are real…authentic…our neighbours. We’re fortunate because our Salvation Army building is in a densely populated area, very close to the centre of our town, within stepping distance of a bustling and historic market where life is happening…and our presence there should be a tangible, authentic and positive thing.

I’m looking forward to reading Punk Monk!

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood

John 1:14 (The Message)

Thanks to Sayconnect for the pic of the non-traditional Sally Army uniform


John1954Moi said...

Interesting post - yours was the one that caught my eye as I was going through Sallybloggers in my Google Reader. John.

Johnny said...

Glad you found it interesting, John


darrin said...

Does you encounter actually mean more uniform wearing in going about your normal daily business?

Maybe people respond better when we don't turned up in large numbers mob handed (flaash mob handed?)

Perhaps it just says meeting people just were the are (physically or if you want to stretch the point mentally or spiritually) instead of waiting for them to come to us.

All churches are fairly weird places...ever tried walking into one were no-one knows you or is not of your own tradition.

And that guy is wearing traditional uniform...before it got pimped (now theres a pitch for a new tv programme..'Pimp my Uniform'...this week sally army next week traffic wardens) up with fancy epulettes and badges for this and that

Johnny said...

I quite like the blue jeans & Red Shield t-shirt combo with stand up tunic - got a little bit of the pirate rebel about it! ;-)

Mark K said...

I must say the uniform thing will run for a long time. A few years back we were in the UK for furlough, and went to a London Corps on a Sunday morning in 'civvies'. There were that many people in uniform that we felt uncomfortable, and if I wasn't a 'salvo' I would never have stepped into an SA all again!

Allison said...

Well done! I found this really profound. Breaking tradition and finding connections in the most out of place ways. Thank you for sharing!