Saturday, March 28, 2009

Christianity 21

"Christianity 21: Faith in the 21st Century
21 Voices
21 Ideas
21 Minutes Each
We live in a time of epochal change.
Many find this change exciting; for others, it’s a challenge.
Call it globalization, pluralization, or postmodernism, this change affects our economy, politics, government, and education—all of society.
And, of course, our faith and our churches are not immune to change.
So we have gathered 21 of the most important voices for the future of Christianity—21 voices for the 21st century—to speak into our future as people of faith in this age.
They represent a diverse array of backgrounds, interests, and passions, and they will provide a wide range of innovative and challenging presentations.
Christianity21 is less a conference and more a happening, an event—a gathering of voices and ideas that will shape the future of our faith.
And to the 21 voices, we want you to add your voice, whether you’re a seeker or skeptic, leader or layperson, disciple or doubter."
9-10th October 2009

I came across this reading the always self effacing and interesting Nadia Bolz-Weber [The Sarcastic Lutheran] and wish I had time to spare in October!!
Having decided in 2007 not to attend anymore conferences or seminars [because it was a waste of time unless I was actually going to DO something and maybe should JUST DO IT [hey there's a good slogan for an athletic shoe and clothing company!]... this looks like just the sort of thing which could be combined with a visit to Solomon's Porch and Luther Seminary to catch up with Roland Martinson and the work on 'exemplary youth ministry' happening there!!
For those not able to make it our UCA National Inservice [for Workers with Children, Youth, Young Adults and/or Families] BREATHE is on August 2-7 in Adelaide with the inspirational Steve Taylor AND like 2007 there are plans for a symposium of 30min Papers and Presentations on excellent stuff you've been part of, seen or have studied/been exploring!!

YOU could write and present! Encourage someone you know to do just that! and/or Learn from others! More details and registration here

Friday, March 27, 2009

Best Adverts on TV

Each of the footy codes in this country do a reasonable job with their inspired and inspiring advertising BUT the AFL [Australian Rules] consistently either briefs their agency brilliantly or chooses the right bunch to come up with ideas!!
Here's their 2009 promotion which tells a story to local fans but wouldn't be out of place in taking the game to a worldwide audience!! IMHO! For OS readers Aussie Rules was invented 150 years ago and is derived from gaelic football with goal posts modified to four vertical posts and no soccer styled goal where you get 6 points for an on the full kick between the centre posts and 1 point for betwen the centre and outer posts... that's right you get a point for missing!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Unreliable Idea: Faith Shaping Diary

In recent weeks and months I've had a few creative ideas [some have made it to these pages] and hopefully a few will 'see the light of day.' This is not the usual sense of too many ideas, too little time BUT rather that I believe the ideas come from having successfully made some space for reflection and thinking stuff through and also from the increasing sense of wanting to work on stuff that's actually energising and closer to my motivations and purpose... can't go wrong that way I reckon!! They won't happen without collaborators though!!
So the current idea [while I distribute 'We Believe' invitations for another one] is that of a diary based tool for encouraging young people to explore, grow, question, resource and take action about their own faith and life!! I guess it's inspired by "Ways to Live," our QLD counterparts work on 'The Fridge' and 'SKey' coming out of their 'Growing Apostles' and the current energy being put into the notion of 'portable faith' but a general sense that young people are basically needing to explore faith for the most part 'outside' or independent of the existing church... well that bits not rocket science!!
Places making genuine space for young people, starting new things and helping young people find identity, meaning, belonging and shaping faith are the exception NOT the rule!! The beauty of this idea is can only be enhanced by integration into a group or program or place!!
THE IDEA.... I have purchased a 'Week to an Opening' Diary and will now roll out invitations to young people and those engaged in ministry with young people to provide content for what would become a non year specific diary with stuff to explore, questions, websites, topics, activities etc...
I think there's wisdom in a seven area compendium but I also think there's wisdom in a daily, weekely, monthly discipline or option including the motivator that ocassionally you've skipped a bit and it's time to revisit....

I'll be doing a survey of a significant number of young people about topics, needs, questions, ideas... inviting artists, writers etc to contribute..... who knows....

It doesn't have a working title yet... I call it 'Splash' but...

Friday, March 20, 2009


"God help us to change.
To change ourselves and to change our world.
To know the need of it. To deal with the pain of it.
To feel the joy of it. To undertake the journey without understanding the destination.
The art of gentle revolution. Amen"

At our staff meeting this week we spent a deal of time thinking and talking about CHANGE! It was masquerading as the reality of our financial future and the fact that events will overtake the status quo and mean consolidation, loss of roles, morphing into a new structure etc.
As I've thought about it since [my contribution is sadly always contradicted, made sensible or is actually on topic in my own head later on after time to think... I wish that clarity happened at the time].
In one way what we were really talking about was finding a way to help our whole institution deal with CHANGE.... vision, structures, missional congegations, wider resourcing, property rationalisation, learning, history and all our different perspectives!
One message which needs to get out is that not only has the world changed [the normal approach] but the church has also changed, it's already too late... people react:

1. As though we have a choice
2. Out of their own paradigm
3. As if any voice for change is heresy
4. Gravitating towards what power can be wielded
5. With Turf wars
6. Changing stuff that's irrelevant
etc etc

I started with the Michael Leunig prayer because coincidentally I had included it in a worship outline for an assignment just this week. Then I also read it in a post on a blog by Steve Taylor who will in fact be speaking at our UCA National Workers with Children, Youth & Families Inservice in South Australia this coming August.
I'm still pondering one key idea from our meeting about modelling the change. This will mean 'giving up' things ourselves. This could include:
1. Giving away some security
2. Pushing further with our staff and cross Board initiatives
3. Giving energy to our 1.5 and 2nd Gen young people
4. Being willing to engage in lateral and costly thinking
5. working across our interconciliar appraoch to broker new ways of working
For me I hope the work I'm doing and the things I'd like to see happen with Salt [Factory] might be a way to envision and be engaged in 'the new'. I think it's what the future development of 'congregations' could be like... I guess we'll see!!
Anyhow I'm babbling now with a big day on the schedule tomorrow so I will come back to this... how can we think missionally about the future structure of our institution and act for change within it... the cross we bear!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One More Time

Before normal transmission resumes... there is no video which can quite convey the experience of seeing the Oils live!! But there's a selection on youtube which won't yet download that give you some idea! Even these crowds were a mix of diehards and the curious and so nobody was quite 'going off' in the way Coogee or Newcastle Workers crowd would!!
If you look hard you can see friend Lucian's sizeable head in frame and occasionally I annoyed this video-er by waving an arm in front of camera...

Check out one example here

I'll have a more varied review of 'Sound Relief' in coming days/weeks when I've watched the 10 hours of video!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Midnight Oil in Canberra

Last night a whole bunch of us from Newcastle & Sydney joined expats and friends in descending on the first of two 'warm up' gigs by the Oils ahead of the Sound Relief Bushfire Concerts this Saturday. Rumours quickly spread when these shows were hastily arranged and I'm grateful to Andrew for the warning, Kim at Ticketek and Gary Morris [Oils Manager] for the chance to score up to eight tickets in the end. I wished Simone could join us but she gets the obsession and graciously accepted the reality I'd do 'anything' to be here on the night!! Had my calendar looked different I would have joined Lubo again tonight for Part Two...

There was much conjecture and speculation about the gigs [including myself]:
How would they go?
What songs would and wouldn't make the cut?
Would this be the same bitter sweet experience as four years ago?
So excited to be seeing the boys yet soaking up every beat and rythmn as the last...
How would Peter negotiate the immature media coverage of his lyrics?
Would we get a classic 90min set of vintage live rock from Australia's finest?

Now, this is old ground... and music is taste driven, but ask any first timer who was there last night whether 'something special' happened... ? Far from being ageing rockers, the musical excellence, energy and raw passion were all part of the show... how old effervescent drummer Rob Hirst?

Here's the setlist for last nights 2 hour brilliance:
Redneck Wonderland
Brave Faces
Under The Overpass
Blue Sky Mine
Only The Strong
When The Generals Talk
Golden Age
Read About It
River Runs Red
Power and the Passion
One Country
Luritja Way
King of the Mountain
Dead Heart
Beds are Burning
Best of Both Worlds... just sublime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Encore One:
Too Much Sunshine
Forgotten Years
Encore Two:
In The Valley
And it may vary tonight for the second show!! BUT that's huge... songs I love, songs I haven't heard for 15-20 years plus all the classics. Sure 'US Forces' was missing but can we decide the world is different and Gen Y share little of my own growing up under the imminent nuclear equation... post 9/11... small price to pay to be able to play at all!!
Bob Brown is master of the Simon Creanesque 10 sec media grab so with a huge oil slick off the QLD coast I suppose "the Midnight Oil is burning but the Environment Minister is nowhere to be seen..." is clever but neither is it solving the problem of oily birds and the spreading slick.
While I shed a few tears during 'The Deadheart' and 'Best of Both Worlds' I was much more bouyant this time around than in Manly/the SCG four years ago... maybe this too is not the last time or maybe it was just a precious bonus to jump, sway and shout aloud every lyrics, screaming "Ooooiiillls!" I am not looking forward to the letdown in a few days... note to self to set the vcr for Channel [V] on Saturday but give me a band who sing about stuff that matters any day!! Community, development, indigenous culture, politics, history, values, Australia, media, and huge fun along the way!! By my count I've now seen the band about 40 times in 25 or so years!! Remnant of the 80s? If you've not seen them live you don't get it... and you never will!!
Anyhow, back to recommending The Fray, P!ink, Kings of Leon and Kanye West for all my Youth Worker colleagues contextual discussions and input!!
Thanks to my fellow travellers Geoff, Eve and Nic [who can be asked what it was really like] for the journey, the t-shirt and the limited edition screen printed poster!!

After setlisting it as a maybe for Thursday night, Friday's first encore included "US Forces"
"Ooooiiillls!" "Ooooiiillls!" Very cool Pete!!
And thanks to Arlene Brookes at the Oils Office who responded to my speculative email to the old address I had scribbled down...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


This week U2 have announced their so called World Tour [of Europe and the US] but don't hold your breath for Aussie dates!! The big splashy website revamp and details include a radical new stage giving rise to the 360 bit where apparently the stage will rotate with a baskteball like bank of speakers and screens above their heads in the centre!! Check it out at here
Unless they can squeeze in Asia in December you could look forward to a visit in 2010 but probably 2011!! Anyway, we'll see!!
In the meantime the band were enthusiastic, high energy and good fun for the five night history making stint on Letterman's Late Show which we saw here on Oz TV until Monday night!! Pictured above is the naming ceremony where part of W53rd St right outside the Theatre was named U2 Way

Monday, March 09, 2009

Unreliable Ideas: Photovoice

I'm participating in the opening two day Retreat of our UCA Board of Mission Leadership Intensive this week [which will be hugely beneficial and has already left me brain drained today!!] and at dinner tonight we heard from a local family sharing in a community meal, open house, and various other mission activities which line up with their purpose and passions!!
A great idea I was introduced to is called 'Photovoice' which is defined by wikipedia as follows:

"Photovoice is a methodology mostly used in the field of education which combines photography with grassroots social action. Subjects are asked to represent their community or point of view by taking photographs."

It basically involves giving people a camera and working on a storyboard to help them provide a photo essay representing some part of their life journey! To me it has huge potential amongst communities of young people, in camping programs etc

It's especially used in many places as a tool to tell an 'alternative story' or bring a different perspective and to give communities of people voice!!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Worship Unplugged # 59 'Speakerdogs'

Creative genius Wes Champion agreed to help out with our junior leader Saturday night program at this years 'Kids Campout' and in the creative process was reminded of a string of ideas that come out of a keen and geek filled fascination with designer toys!!

Needing to work on paper... 'Speakerdogs' that looked like TVs on legs [with speech bubbles] are cutouts you decorate individually and WE used them as a tool for an audio-visual 'prayer of thanks.'

The punters decorated, cut out and glued their speakerdogs and we set up a white backdrop to photograph them. We used 'Photostory 3' so the uploaded pictures and soundtrack were created as window media in minutes. The prayer drew applause the foillowing morning!!

These could be used for reflection, small groups, community building or an entire worship built around the creation and finishing phases...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Row M Seat 30 "The Combination" rated M

Set in the maligned western suburbs of Sydney, Lebanese-Australian John gets out of gaol to discover his younger brother Charlie is caught up with drugs, hookers and crime. Charlie oscillates between the streets and school. Daily clashes between Scott and Charlie's gang escalate. This feud spills into the streets in a territory and identity battle that turns bloody. The Combination dares to shed light on the racial tension that has often boiled over into incidents like the Cronulla riots. Suburban stereotypes are challenged when John falls for an Australian girl named Sydney. She presents an opportunity for a new start - yet with each step closer to her he is made painfully aware of the choice he will have to make - family or love.
'The Combination' has a unique place in Australian cinema history since some disputes and violence broke out at an early screening and led Greater Union to pull it from screens over the weekend!! There were conflicting reports about whether this was a response to the film from viewers, clashing gangs or a coincidental event. The Distributors and Theatres have since struck a deal involving security and a pre screening adress from the Director...
It's the films second media splash with one of the actors having been arrested a few months ago in relation to a street brawl!!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Worship Unplugged # 58 Tracing Artwork

Here's an idea I found looking at clips and ideas for a Camp theme of 'Telling Stories'

The story was about a community building project using the histories of notable local figures from the neighbourhood in question but one way the people participated was to trace an artists black and white portrait outline projected onto the community space wall using an overhead projector [a data projector would work]!! They seemed to start with the black outline and then add colour later...
People stood in front and obscured parts of the picture but only as they worked on the part they could see...
I imagine callico or white cloth banners, painted mdf sheets or the whole youth centre wall adorned with relevant artwork or mural!!
As the project unfolded there was a buzz or energy as people met each other, talked about what they were doing and the the story of the picture they were drawing!!
Check out the original story here

Worship Unplugged # 57 Collage Art

I spied this great idea reading the 'Sarcastic Lutheran' otherwise known as Nadia Bolz Weber!! The idea is to have an artist/drawer sketch an outline for a poster/banner/home made icon and mark what colours are needed where... in the original case it was an advent reflection so colour 'wish books' or shopping catalogues were cut up and pasted on as needed to create a textured and vivid image for relfection or focus.

This idea could be applied widely for different themes> pictures> digital images> banners> a worship station> etc>

"No LIne on the Horizon" U2 One Review

So friends have been waiting to hear my review of U2s latest offering... essentially this post follows on from my initial thoughts about the album generally!!
It's not stunning, earth shattering, landscape changing... but it's not bad!!

The Brian Eno/Danny Lanois [lan-wah] influence means that this record has echoes of former eras especially familiar riffs from 'Boy' and 'War' mixed with under produced and stark musicianship. It is one of those albums yoiu'll enjoy the more you listen!!

But there's no anthemic, seminal, 'you have just got to hear this!!!!' kind of track... it's more ambient and sparse.

Love is a dominant theme and to some extent the undesereved or more importantly unfettered love and grace of God woven through episodes and aspects of life!!

That said there are at least three songs that'll make brilliant wallpaper soundtracks for photo reflections or audio-visuals...

"...only love can leave such a mark/But only love, only love can heal such a scar"
This is an ambient reflection on place and belonging given the restorative and healing power of love on a grainy life lived in the moment.

"Moment of Surrender"
This is my favourite track from the album!!
"'s not if I believe in love/but if love believes in the moment of surrender/of vision over visibilty/I did not notice the passers by/and they did not notice me"

To me these songs are about 'feel' and this for me feels like an Easter Friday tune... it would be great with black and white artistic images of the Easter story, the cross and stuff that's happening around us from news, nature and life...

"Cedars of Lebanon" picks up on the imagery around the shade of a tree, it's place in the landscape and the history of the place... and to me has a confessional element.
"...the worst of us are long drawn out confession, the best of us are geniuses of compression..."