ALTHOUGH the Greenbelt festival relocates to a new site in
Northamptonshire in August (News,
13 November), familiar names will be there to welcome
The festival organisers say that they just "couldn't make camp"
without a slot in the Big Top for the singer Martyn Joseph; and, in
the talks programme, the returning names include Brian McLaren,
from the United States, who will be talking about his new book
We Make the Road By Walking.
One or two names are expected to enliven the line-up, however,
not least Sinéad O'Connor (right). Since her time as a
number-one artist, O'Connor has been a campaigner on issues such as
child abuse, pacifism, and gay rights, while maintaining a
recording career. She is also a priest in the Irish Orthodox
Catholic and Apostolic Church.
O'Connor once tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on the
American TV programme Saturday Night Live, as a protest
against what she saw as his oversight of clerical child abuse. The
New York Times wrote: "After Madonna had herself gowned,
harnessed, strapped down, and fully stripped to promote her album
Erotica and her book Sex, O'Connor stole the
spotlight with one photograph of a fully clothed man."
A survivor of abuse herself, she has said that her Christian
faith gave her the strength to live through, and then overcome, the
effects of that abuse.
Also attending this year will be the left-wing columnist and
author Owen Jones. Jones's book Chavs: The demonisation of the
working class, reignited a debate around class in the wake of
the London riots. He argued that policies on poverty were being
complemented by a cultural contempt for the poor among those who
were better off.
At Greenbelt, poverty abroad is considered alongside poverty at
home, and the festival will also welcome the Revd Mpho Tutu, a
preacher and public speaker who wrote The Book of
Forgiving with her father, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Ms Tutu
runs the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in South Africa,
which campaigns for an activism inspired by theology (Back Page
interview, 4 April).
The line-up is as serious about having fun as it is about the
politics, and the folk band Stornoway will be adding some shanty
song-craft to the mix. An old-time band for the modern era, anyone
who's heard their "Zorbing" or "I saw you blink" will expect to
leave the new site dancing.
Feature: Dave Walker visits the
Greenbelt festival site. The Church Times is
Greenbelt's media partner.