Past experience has taught me that I ought to write up my thoughts on Greenbelt as soon as possible, else I end up saying nothing at all.
There’s something somehow unique about Greenbelt. I just love it. Unexpected tragedy excepted, the end of Greenbelt is the saddest time of my year, in a way that even the end of Glastonbury can’t match. Greenbelters sometimes joke that it’s the third festival after Christmas and Easter, made all the more apt this year by the peculiar preponderance of carols. So, to misquote Wizzard, today I really do wish it could be Greenbelt every day.
That would, of course, be both foolish and impossible. Festivals exist to celebrate and inspire the lives we live for the rest of the year. So what were my highlights of this year?
First, Beth Rowley, who was simply stunning. And she played Greenbelt before she went massive, so it felt like one of our own coming home. Stephen Sizer never ceases to impress, with both his factual knowledge and his ability to cut through theological nonsense. He also pretty much saved my faith a few years back, by being the only writer able to offer a comprehensive biblical explanation for why my God is not a racist, so that was another point in his favour. Following her appeal last year for the church to rediscover the sin of usury, Ann Pettifor was this year calling for a Grand Jubilee cancelling all first world debt. Yes, that includes your mortgage. Her place in my mind as the greatest prophetic voice of our time is just about secured. Finally, Believe is a terrifyingly brutal yet thought provoking play in which Linda Marlowe portrays four women from the old testament and forces us to consider the impact of faith in today’s world. I needed a visit to the organic beer tent when it was over, but it’s probably a highlight not just of this Greenbelt, but of all eleven I’ve been to.
I guess part of what I love about Greenbelt is that, after all that time, I can barely walk around the site without bumping into someone I know. So my lowlight would be not having had the time to catch up with everyone I would have liked to, knowing I’d not even spoken to others, and also that some who should have been there weren’t.
Oh, and seeing my name in the programme was kind of nice too. It made me feel important, even if it wasn’t really deserved.