Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas at home in Australia

blistering heat
crass commercialism
visiting local Christmas lights
Gracelands and Macquarie Hills
excessive eating
nativity debates
struggles to avoid snowmen
carrots, rum balls and a cold beer for Santa
reindeer footprints in the sprinkled powder
a lack of peace of on earth
mad relatives
bombs in Iraq
boxing day recovery
cricket on the radio
follow up chocolates
packing up the tree
stowing the lights
doing it all again next year!!

Above all the paradox of the weak and vulnerable child born in difficult circumstances living a vision of how the world could be different and getting it so right it challenges the established 'God in a box' arrangements and leads to the death of that child. Not a model for "success" NO but a model for grace, life, hope and direction...

To be reminded of any of this, read the story for yourself... whether Matthew, Mark, Luke or John and the rest...
or catch 'Jesus of Montreal' and give Mel Gibson a miss!!

Happy Christmas from the pumphouse!!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Unreliable Idea # 21 BIG Hair has just featured a great idea for traditional youth ministry/group activity!!
Have a theme focused on creative and crazy BIG Hair.... using temporary spray colours or longer term colours if you're game or have parents permission. Punters make desings and crazy doo's with each others hair eg. hang upside down and have it sprayed...

In Australia you could link this to 'crop a cop' the Police Charity event or 'Shave for a Cure' for Luekemia Research sponsors for your shaved or coloured head on the set Friday annually/

Again, have parents permission/involvement for more radical and long term stuff like head shave or dye!!

Maybe lnk with some biblical characters of note:
Samson, John the Baptist, David [reputedly DDG... drop dead gorgeous]

Friday, December 17, 2004

Our Kylie keeps an eye on the blessed couple Posted by Hello

Graham Norton keeps a cheeky eye on the troubled couple Posted by Hello

Madame Tussauds NATIVITY

Great bit of trashy pop culture from the ax Museum in London [until someone objected and damaged Posh and Becks heads in protest]

ARIA Charts continued...

1. "Welcome to My Life" Simple Plan see 'The Alternative Hymnal"
Great clip from a band who do a good job of lyrcally representing the life of an average adolescent... themes of esteem , relationships, goals and experiences...

The film clip is [deliberately] reminscent of REMs 'Everybody Hurts'

2. "Pointless Relationship" Tammin Sursok
'Home and Away' starlet crosses over with a standard pop rock tune about a non attentive boyfriend and the dilema of hanging in or moving on.... worhty discussion starter for a girls group

3. "Do They Know Its Christmas" Band Aid 20 remake of the original collaboration
Chris Martin, Dido, Bono and the usual chart topping suspects do a good job reworking the fundraiser for African need... Its actually a good soundtrack for real images and questions in relation to Christmas good will and cheer vs a world in dire need!!

4. "Out of the Blue" Delta Goodrem
Another god discussion starter about relationships, transience, disappointment and the talent of such a young artist.

5. "Ten Days" and "Scar" Missy Higgins
Journey songs, somgs of wishing for a scar to remind one so young of what they've learnt along life's so far short but real and meaningful journey...
Great story of a Yr12 Triple J Unearthed winner and her subsequent recordings...
Kicks butt live by all reports!! Upstaging more than one headline act over the last 12 months...

6. "American Idiot" Green Day
Reaction and comment to the current climate in the US and its slipping place in the world. Green Day bring the irreverence of punk and the energy of great musos to a serious subject

Beyond that 'Grinspoon' have agreat album out and are worth a listen!!

Unfortunately someone else will have to bring you Ja Rule, Usher and Co.... I have the integrity to sugges that I can't get near their stuff for more than one song at a time...

Eminem review coming soon!!

Australian Recording Industry Association ARIA Charts

This is the first of what will unreliably be a monthly input about the charting songs in Australia!!

The last few weeks I have continued my usual habit of having Rage, Video Hits and/or Channel V on in the background or as a shared activity with 3 year old Lucy [who loves to dance and is a big Missy Higgins, Kylie, Avril, Hilary Duff.... fan!] despite the curious notion in peoples minds that I'm stuck in a 1980s U2 vortex... which ignores the chart success of albums [and their singles] 'All That You Can't Leave Behind' and 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb'!!

There are plenty of more authoritive sources on chart songs than my humble view, perception or ministry suggestions.... The Alternative Hymnal amongst them!! HOWEVER....

My look at the Charts [ans some songs I've used or will be using away from the mixed audiences of the rarified air of a synod or Sydney based event...

1. "Listen With Your Heart" Casey Donovan
Not her chsoen style of music, but whats an Australian Idol winner to do... Great story of a 16 year olds talent and personality, of the clothing firm working out of Gowings city store who did the makeover work on Casey's skater wordrobe and the blended family as her support base and a part of her indigenous background. Maybe wait for Casey's second or third album to see what she is really capable of?

2. "What You Waiting For?" Gwen Stefani
There's a running joke at my place about how you can't pick up a magazine of any kind without finding a picture of Gwen in it somewhere... often with guitarist boyfriend Gavin...
This is a departure from the music of former band 'No Doubt' and sounds too autbiographical to not be..... Gwen breaking out of expectations, seeking affirmation and struggling to be 'free'... Common angst riddled issues and questions faced by most young people at some point in time

3. "These Kids" Joel Turner and the Modern Day Poets
Joel surfaced doing 'beats' for Idol and is a very talented kid with a Timberlake like voice [no wonder he's toured as Justin's support act]. It's a great representation of the youthful and other voices not often heard...

These Kids
These kids trapped in a struggle and
Don't know where they're heading, no
A head full of trouble is all they're getting
And nobody knows the suffering they go through
And you wouldn't believe 'em if they told you
These kids trapped in a struggle and
Don't know where they're heading, no
A head full of trouble is all they're getting
And nobody knows the suffering they go through
And you wouldn't believe 'em if they told you
So many songs, so many times
The world had to hear so many rhymes
About how life is for strugglers
Minority groups, kids with single mothers
Young homies turn hustlers, stealing for money
It's kinda funny how the crime rate is so high
In suburbs where family ties are low, 'n suicides on the rise
Oh why, so many die coz in their eyes
The mistake they made, cant be erased the only way out is to take their life
And if they dont do it sudden then they'll do it slowly
Polluting themselves with drugs, because they on this world lonely
So we as a nation just class 'em as a waste of space
And if they don't help the economy then strip 'em naked
Put 'em on the streets 'n make sure the police hate 'em
And feed the public phony information on the evening news
Kids may bomb police stations, to get at the boys in blue
This song goes out to the whole justice system
Instead of listening to the kids with the problems
They just tick them off more
Until these kids in prison or dead before they twenty four
These kids trapped in a struggle and
Don't know where they're heading, no
A head full of trouble is all they're getting
And nobody knows the suffering they go through
And you wouldn't believe 'em if they told you
You probably heard the news about the 14 year old kid
Who went to Woodridge to get a stick but got his neck slit
What you'll expect in, the situation that he was facing
With all of these expectations he just wanted to get wasted
But the mistake he made was fatal
What about my mate who put a rope around his neck
But he choked to death instead coz the fall never broke his neck
See both of them, were trapped in a struggle none of us could comprehend
The younger was in need of weed, the other had problems with his head
Now they're both dead, and the same thing happens time 'n time again
Kids dying all the time 'n leave us asking why my friend
And then there is those who run away from home
Live on the streets 'n chrome
Can't deal with tha pain of the world so they get stoned
Sit in a zone, become known as the local drones
With low vocal tones, they communicate with hopeless groans
And nobody knows they came from broken homes
Plus to us they're just emotionless clones
And the pain plagues their brains they can't maintain healthy lives
Change is all but easy, a life of crime is all but nice
Plus life isnt worth living unless ya given the chance to fight
Drugs might not be the answer, but who knows wrong from right
When ya parents drinks 2 whole bottles Of wine, 'n puts the hose in the coke bottle,
A lot of the time, kids dont know any different
It's like they losing their minds, cant get a hold of their visions
Think they're doing just fine, but they still in the struggle
Yeah the kids of this time, in a whole lotta trouble If you in trouble, jump over that puddle
Some where out there someone really loves you
Loves you like you never been loved, yeah
Loves you like you've never been loved
These kids trapped in a struggle and Don't know where they're heading, no
A head full of trouble is all they're getting And nobody knows
Nobody knows
These kids trapped in a struggle and
Don't know where they're heading, no
A head full of trouble is all they're getting
And nobody knows the suffering they go through
And you wouldn't believe 'em if they told you
These kids trapped in a struggle and
Don't know where they're heading, no
A head full of trouble is all they're getting
And nobody knows the suffering they go through
And you wouldn't believe 'em if they told you

Thursday, December 09, 2004

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

This U2 record reminds me about why I like U2s music!
The thing I like most is "listening to it"

There are some great if typical tunes on this record... stuff that would be at home on Joshua Tree and Achtung baby [especially some riffs lifted almost directly from the Zoo Station era]

Of course music is a taste thing and you either like U2 or you don't... I have liked them since the days of listening to 'War' in a former friends car while we took turns to drum on the dashboard and marvelled at this distinctive band who seemed to be saying stuff that resonated with our faith and lives!!


I have used this track as a worship 'Call' or pipe opener for no reason other than the up, rocky sound and the energy.... there are hints of 'the temptation' in this for me and the idea of vertigo is an image worth exploring!!

Miracle Drug
A beautiful song about seeking more than the superficial in a relationship. In fact seeking healing for past struggles and letdowns. Its just a romantic tune!! Interesting style for reflecting on Drop the Debt and African AIDS education!

Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
Inspired by the death of Bob Hewson and Bono's difficult relationship with his dad.... this is one of my favourite tracks!
Its an intimate sharing of things that should and need to be said, its a glimpse of pain and grief and a moving tribute... it sits well alongside 'Kite' as the precursor and a tellig of how Bono was feeling about the need to be together and the need to let go, prior to his dads death.... I doubt there'll be a dry eye in the house for either song LIVE [maybe laye 2005 but likely early 2006 we hope!!]

Love and Peace or Else
A stripped back rocking and drum driven tune that will be one of those 6 to 8 minute concert fillers no doubt!!

Its about priorities and a wish that the person who is the object of the song would focus on peace and love and living life... rather than accumulating stuff!!

Its saying.... with all thats going on.... Iraq, the Middle East etc then what we need is peace and love.... its an urging song!!

City of Blinding Lights
"The more you see the less you know
The less you find out as you go"

Another great listening track with the driving guitar of the Edge!
It would fit onto Joshua Tree with the instrumental driving behind Bono's signature voice!

Its a song of loneliness and seeking connection with the brave familiar one who may sometimes be taken for granted!! Its qritten up in lots of magazines as a song connected with New York and thats obvious BUt its themes are universal...

Crumbs from Your Table
"where you live should not decide whether you live or whether die"
Pop Quiz.... who is that a quote from?

Brilliant psalm and useful 'sending out song' asking that God take and use us for meanigful purposes rather than us wasting our time.... It also acknowledges that we have to 'go through stuff in life' to learn and grow

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist
Take this mouth
So quick to criticise
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
The sun is coming up on the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break
U2 “How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” Island Records 2004

For more info and depth check out

I look forward to exploring these further at our National Youth Gathering NCYC in South Australia in January in a Workshop about U2's music AND a couple of tracks for Easter this year!!
I have amazingly been asked to speak at Uniting Church Easter Camp in the Hunter [Hunter Region around Newcastle NSW]. I've only visited the Camp over the last 5 years after being the resident Youth Worker 1991-2000 and a leader and punter before that stretching back to 1982.
[I have a self imposed limit of 2 U2 tracks for the Camp as my reputation preceeds me!! One Midnight Oil song if any at all as wel!!]

The theme:
HOPE IS... which is a great, scary, powerful, caring theme!!

Time for Review Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Puzzled and somehow getting used to God's 'appearances' Posted by Hello

Joan of Arcadia

Well!! The Nine Network finally let Joan out of hibernation. I wonder if they really did buy it to keep it away from the others...
Is it that Joan's Dad is Police Chief and every episode is snadwiched with a serious or violent crime [in a six feet under sort of way]
Is it the quirk of 'God' turning up as all kinds of people and whether or not they thought this show would really work here??

I like the show... better than I thought I would...
Its not quite Geeks, not Dawsons Creek, not Charmed, it has pathos and developing story lines... some people will hate it!!

Every episode has that one dialogue moment over a 'God question' and those snippets alone will be useful in promoting discussion.....

Guide to follow in a few weeks!!

There are a few more sites linked in a webring

The grungy look, good choice of music and choice of Joan Osborne's 'One Of Us' give this show a depth and I reckon its audience will be a slow grow..... like the Gilbmore Girls here last summer!!