Monday, August 31, 2009

Rugby Finals Time

From time to time here I share a photo as a way of telling part of my story so random readers [all four of you] learn something you may or may not know about this writer and maybe even why stuff gets written here!

It's the end of August and here in Newcastle, Australia it's local rugby union finals time!
I'm in reflective mood and missing playing...
That in the past meant:
  • warming but fickle weather
  • if you're not fit now it's too late
  • magpie attacks when you are out doing extra km's of training
  • Friday salad bar lunch at Sizzler when it existed here and pasta dinner
  • my club and team all still in training
  • contributing something to about 12 Premierships in 20+ seasons
  • my entire family and social schedule is in disarray while we wait to see if we play and if it's Saturday or Sunday on succeeding weekends, then recovery and celebrations!
  • In 2009 all Wanderers senior open men's teams and the women's team have made the semi finals [dare I say, as usual]. A building 1st Grade team are Minor Premiers.

I have seen none of this except vicariously through the newspapers 'every week'. I stopped coaching in 2007 to have some more time for other stuff and because it was still painful not playing. I hope to go back next year [and you never know, World Golden Oldies is in Sydney this time next year!]

I took up rugby at the invitation of Gary White [BHP Time Office] at University when I thought I was going to Rugby League training [until lineout practice]. I discovered under those rules my weakness in one on one tackling was not, because as long as you halted your opponents progress the contest for the ball became 'live'. I loved it but after 2 years hurt my knee and had a season off. Lots of my team mates retired and all my mates from other parts of life were playing for the idiots at Wanderers Club [one O swore I'd never play for after a high tackle split lip and various big noting egotistical opponents.... still my mates couldn't be all wrong could they?

23 or so seasons later, 270+ games, 10 direct and 2 assisted Premierships we owned the Fourth Grade comp... if you wanted to win it you had to take it off us and occasionally that happened. I love rugby... belting people, running, passing, tactics, coaching players, time with the lads, endeavour beyond your own capability but possible in teams. As "Wanderer of the Year" in 1994 I was fortunate enough to Captain Coach my team to a premiership after finishing Minor Premiers as Captain/Coach first time up in 1993 but missing the Grand Final due to some nervous finals and poor decisions on my part.

In the summer of 1993/4 I lost some 15kgs and came back smaller and better but also scored a try in the Grand Final with 15 seconds time left and the nervous conversion kick by Brad put us in front for the first time in the whole game [against University] WIN!! We did the same to them again the next year to the strains of the Uni Club song as Les Sherwood scored in almost the same spot and Peter Harvey banged over the goal, game over!!

The toughest encounters were against Maitland [as many knew I grew up there and gave me hell] and our arch rivals Merewether [we hate the slime!!!!] 1st Grade plays them this coming week in the Qualifying Semi [I feel it my duty to attend and vent my spleen at the green fiends]!!

I have previously blogged about being unfit and on prednisone for food allergies in 2003 when I was hit in a three man tackle and ruptured both my kneecap tendons [surgery, 7 weeks in hospital, 3 months off work etc etc]. I had begun to say I intended to play until I couldn't anymore and pretty much lived up to that... but like anything you enjoy that you lose, I still miss it and 23 years of memories are fond but do not equate to sitting some smart mouth opposition player on his backside on the ground, driving a scrum backwards, hitting a ruck, or running the ball into a 80kg inside centre and leaving tyre tracks up his back as you lay the ball back for someone with skills to score the try!!

Anyhow, go the two blues, and I'll enjoy reading about their endeavours and shouting at idiots in green for a few more Saturdays this year!! There are literally hundreds of characters and anecdotes. Chief among them the Ian Maytom line after a 2nd grade loss to Boolaroo at Boolaroo [nobody in the sheds or the crowd could recall the last one... we played very badly]. In the pained silence Ian suggested it was time for him to "go home, run a hot bath, get out the razor blades, and put on a Tracy Chapman record!" I guess you had to be there but it instantly broke the mood as black humour so often does.

My final story is of Ben Ryan [1st grader with loads of ability but a few issues] who travelled with us to Merriwa for a 5th grade game and while running rings around the opposition, struck up a verbal battle with the granite table on legs who held up the Merriwa scrum... jokes about his mum, inbreeding, playing tips, catch me if you can etc etc... Benny also gave away free kick after free kick and the big bloke kept taking the tap and hitting it up into us 10m away.

I had to tell Benny it was funny, but to stop[ because cranky Frank was belting the daylights out of me every time I had to tackle the steam train...] still, the sight of Benny jogging off to the 'sin bin' for 10 mins in white joggers, for inciting a fight, still giving Frank a mouthful was pretty funny... until he ran into me again!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Mighty Angus Burger from Maccas

Just as I am seriously getting back into my diet, the friendly folks at Maccas introduce two burgers promoting and using prime angus beef, with baps and a home made or gourmet feel!!

The "Mighty" comes without tomato and lettuce so sign me up!! Damn
Of course I look forward to the greenhouse gas offset program for beef production so my burger consumption can be zero impact on climate change!!
Read about it here

What a Week for East Timor

Ten years on from Independence the bike race, concert and ceremonies this week celebrate the world's youngest country. There's between 40-80% unemployment but also slowly improving economics and increased security and policing [since the attempted assasination of Jose Ramos Horta 18 months ago]!!
Australia played it tough with oil and gas contracts early on but hopefully the resource rich little territory can begin to benefit from it's resources and move beyond the pain and disappointment of the world's inaction at the time of the Indonesian invasion in 1975.

Take a sobering moment this week if you catch any of the celebratory footage and get yourself to the cinema to watch "Balibo."
I wasn't quite aware enough in those years [Year 8 but not very worldly aware] of the 5 Aussie journalists and the editor who were killed by the Indonesians as it's supected they had captured footage of the invasion in progress from their Balibo base. The house they shared had a painted Aussie flag on the wall. It was painted by Greg Shackleton who we heard about when he disappeared and were reminded of ocassionally when in later years his wife, Shirley appeared on a weekly kids TV show doing craft and then popped up on other peograms to share the unknown part of her background.
The film is distressing but significant and is a story which must be told. It's framed in the film as part of a young woman's sharing with the 'truth and reconciliation' processes undertaken in East Timor.
Anthony LaPaglia plays ABC correspondent Roger East who is drawn to East Timor by a young Horta and who is determined to explore what happened to the five journo's but ends up in the firing line in the 'Dili massacre.'
There are some very human and very real characters and a touch of humour in this otherwise sad but important story. Make sure that the framing of the film reminds you that while 6 Aussie journos lost their lives, it was part of an intervention where thousands of East Timorese were killed and held under miltary rule from then until 1999.
The whole story is a follow on from the so called Western New Guinea "act of free choice" or vote against independence from 1969 and characterised the miltary rule of Indonesia in various territories of the region. Like the film, these stories need to be told in the interests of truth and reconciliation.
"Act of Free Choice" is the title of a David Bridie album where the mood of the music is all about who we are as societies and countries, our values, how we treat each other and captures the emotions of such history reflectively.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cadbury looks like going Fairtrade with Dairy Milk Chocolate

In a victory for people power it would appear Cadbury's decision to go 'Fairtrade' in the UK will rebound into other markets like Australia and NZ!! There is probably still work to be done on other cocoa based consumption BUT wow!!

When I was in the UK last year I was struck by the number of businesses and church's displaying the fairtrade logo as a seemingly obvious part of their mission. It seemed a really great outward sign to the community that thoughtful people were part of that place.

What a shame I am trying to get serious again about cutbacks, otherwise my annual dairy milk consumption could have saved whole continents let alone countries... perhaps I can still prop up a few villages with fair wages for work.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rob's Wallaby XV vs South Africa this Saturday

Here's who I'd play in the side to take on South Africa in Perth this weekend BUT it might be different v NZ next time around as I think one mistake we make is they require different strengths!!

1. Benn Robinson
2. Stephen Moore [only just]
3. Ben Alexander
4. James Horwill
5. Mark Chisolm
6. Rocky Elsom or Dean Mumm
7. Phil Waugh
8. Richard Brown
9. Patrick Phibbs
10. Kurtley Beale
11. Lachlan Turner
12. Matt Giteau
13. Ryan Cross
14. Drew Mitchell
15. Adam Ashley Cooper

16. Tatafa Polota Nau
17. Matt Dunning
18. David Pocock
19. Will Genia
20. James O Connor

I haven't dropped Al Baxter because of his scrummaging woes because the idiot referees have no idea what they're watching. It's because The other two need to start and Dunning can play both sides of the scrum.

It's time for change and not manufacturing Centres in the absence of Mortlock so I'd bring in Beale for a 'go' but back him for the rest of the series, leave Ashley Cooper at fullback and try Cross who also should be picked for the rest of the series

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Jesus: All About Life"

I note the newspapers are taking the perhaps suitably satirical approach in bringing it's introduction to this Bible Society and ecuemnical partners project... 'Jesus: All About Life." The campaign is built on solid information about how in our wider society many people are skeptical or have had a bad experience of 'church' but that Jesus is perceived very positively.
My struggle is that no matter the media campaign/however clever/with viral video & race cars etc... the journey of Christian faith is so much about 'relationship' and 'community', connections admittedly to the core values and message of Jesus [but you then need to define this]. For those effected by the promotion they will still discover the church as it exists today when they show a crious interest... the same mixed bag of faithful expression, struggling and dying congregations, etc etc... at best the TV spots etc serve to fuel our stereotypes and while some will be motivated into action, others will see it all pass by in a blip and wonder 'when does it start again?'
Or is that just me... ?

Burnside Cafe Eavesdrop!!

Last Friday I was doing some work at the ubiquitous Burnside Cafe opp UTC in North Parramatta!! A cosy little cafe where you're guaranteed to bump into a colleague, a student, a friend and/or one of the extended familiyt members of the hard working tribe who run the establishment.
I was doing admin work in between catch ups and 'could not' seriously 'could not' help overhearing at least the tenor of the conversation amongst a group of six thirtysomething women in the centre of the indoor cafe area.
They were a cross cultural group of differing social background where there was clearly acquantence across the group with some closer friends than others. At one piont they could havebeen indicating they were a Fete taskgroup or canteen mums from a local school or the like.
I was struck by their conversation about former alternative partners and how they came to be in their current relationships, with the ocassional intimate detail or double meaning joke and lots of laughter. There was clear reference to one of the women's recent or at least still acrimonious break up. Keep in mind I was just reading my notes, making a few additions and quite focused on my stuff but you could sense the pain in the sharing.
At one an anecdote about one of the women led to a story of a former hobby of tarot and palm reading, followed by an encouraged reading of each persons palm. She knew some of these woman well and I was tempted to interupt and suggest a neutral example...
As is often the case in my experience, quite randomly the woman with the most recent relationship turmoil was last to be 'read' and tension was in the air as it was the most strained and cautious commentary of the group.
I write about it here because I was fascinated by the topics, vibe and the dynamics of this morning tea. I wondered what I would say given the opportunity of a throwaway line of a sideways look from one of the group just checking their volume in the space.
The group broke up leaving the now slightly strained looking woman and her closest friend from the group who shared about the specifics of the recent hassles. I tuned out but was so aware of just 'pain'... pain shared, pain not yet understood and one person attempting to steel themselves 'not to be walked over' in relation to some joint decisionmaking.
Keeping in mind I was not actually part of the conversation I will continue to reflect on 'what I was really hearing' for some time... sacred moments of group sharing, caring and journeying together!! Some of the women went home with stuff to ponder from their 'reading' and one went home after a long embrace from her friend. I have known something of that lonely need and the places you go when stuff gets hard. Interesting morning!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some Interesting Music: New and Not So

And "Breakeven" The Script with disabled embedding code but view able here

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

UCA Cross Cultural Youth Praise and Worship

We had a great night on August 15th at Bankstown Uniting with a cross cultural mix of drama, music, dance and reflection around the theme "Living Water: Thirsty Land" taken from our national Assembly theme. Since being asked to deliver the 'reflection' months ago I knew straight away I'd be showing the Twist "Woman at the Well" dramatised performance as an opening clip and asking questions from there. I knew I wanted to speak about being honest about doubts, questions, disappointments and the struggles of being someone on the edge of community... despite the confident, celebratory and somewhat triumphal feel of most 'dance and music' group items at such events!! My other contemporary example [to remind us that in the face of struggles, Jesus greets us with compassion, grace and love... not judgement and condemnation] was Jamal and the teacher Erin Gruewell from the film "Freedom Writers". Erin enters this south LA School a little naively and yet qucikly adapts to the challenge of reaching the so called 'no hopers class'. She invited them to journal and if they placed the journal in the set cupboard she agreed to reda them as recognition she did not 'know their stories' but wanted to. Jamal wrote of feeling invisible in his family with a drunk mum and criminally involved older brother. Erin fronts him about his self assessed 'F' in an assignment and makes it clear "I see you, do you understand me... I see you and you are not failing...." I lifted that clip from a behind the scenes doco rather than the film itself... My point was in our honest moments, in the space between the lyrics of our songs and the moments at home alone, we can be honest BUT will also find a Jesus honest with us... in grace, comapssion and love!! Highlights for me included the mix of groups: Bankstown; West Epping; Sydney Korean; Armenian; Wagga Wagga; Garuda Indonesian; Tamil; Peteli Tongans; and more. One performance struck me for the honesty of the rap about being in church asleep and unsure why you're there, wearing black, looking cool but how it was all a bit false.... very powerful honest statements!
This is drawn from the encounter of 'the woman at the well' whose name we don't know but who engages in spirited conversation in the heat of the day at 'Jacob's Well' and has a theological question to ask. Jesus doesn't name her relationship history as a moral judgement, but simply to begin with honesty and have a deep conversation, not a superficial laugh and moving on...

"Youth Ministers" Rethinking Youth Ministry

Saw this clip on "Rethinking Youth Ministry" that with a few cultural references changed [and a few verses added for all the other stereotypes I could think of] is a bit of a chuckle about this crazy task in which we engage!!
The fun of stereotypes is that there are plenty of examples that just don't fit but it's funny nonetheless!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Clear your Diary next March for U2 Downunder!!

I'm breaking my 'no U2' site embargo with news leaked through an interview about what U2 hope to do with the three stages 'claws' they're using to frog-jump the world on their current 360 Tour!! Check out all things U2 here
Send your park location suggestions to the lucky dog "Rev Dr Steve Taylor' [who is presenting a paper at the upcoming 'Hype and Feedback' Conference in the US in October] here

At one of my favourite U2 sites and various others like deTour and Interference there are references to the Mark Fisher interview about their hope that the stages could be installed in Parks somewhere 'downunder' as concert venues in their own right... read about it here or at:
There's lots of stuff around about more recording of tracks that missed the last 2 albums and a new record at or beyond year end.... AND as pictured above the band have just played to a Wembley Stadium record 88,000 crowd this week in London.... what a shame Nic will just miss the chance to head to Millenium Stadium Cardiff on the Greenbelt Trip!!
OK.... back to the silence pending official emails and my special U2 advance ticket offer email!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vale Les Paul

Les Paul has made the shortlist for my 'Deadpool' entry for the last few years but not the final list. His demise was slightly exagerated about four years ago and under current rules he's only worth 6 points... however...

However, the man was a legend... not only invented the flat backed electric guitar but also multi-track recording... truly two enabling inventions leading to the creation of what we now know as 'rock n roll'!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

'Breathe' National Inservice Conference in Adelaide

Despite being hopefully in the last throes of a four week chest infection I am in recovery and still thinking about 'Breathe' which I attended only by sleeping most of the day and trying to catch Steve Taylor's input sessions!!
I have previously blogged that it was Lucy and Ellie's 8th and 5th birthdays that week but having discussed it with them I had decided there were a limited range of speakers I'd list who would see me still attending. Steve makes that shortlist as I have enjoyed reading his stuff over the years and knew his input would be affirming, expanding and challenging... and it was... despite my limited 'out loud' engagement.
I have learnt that I best process input by 1. drawing or writing while listening and 2. interacting. adding comment or asking questions and both of these in preference to small group interactions. It was frustrating not feeling energetic enough to engage in that until the second last day BUT I continue to think about the implications of stuff.
It's cost me $115 in books already between Andy Crouch's "Culture Making" and 2 or 3 John Drane books about 'spirituality'.
I have heard of them before but in living up to my 'lethargic academic' self description and not really liking reading I have ignored them and many other books.
"Culture Making" sounds just like some stuff I bang on about and will help me extend my work on 'stories' and accessing creativity for worship and discipleship so we are engaging with culture not simply as critics or consumers but 'culture makers'.
My symposium paper picked up the theme of "Movie Tickets, Ipods, Satchels and Imagination" and will be a theme I develeop further and deeper, like my storytelling stuff. It includes an outline of the philosophy behind our NCYC Bible Study and other uses of music, movies, story, art and exploratory spaces!!
More on Steve's input soon!!

"2012" movie

John Cusack rarely makes a bad film [these days] and this one looks interesting, if only for the main cast and Director. Roland Emmerich directed 'Independence Day' and 'The Day After Tommorrow' and the 'Industrial Light and Magic' SPFX look impressive.
It appears ancient Mayan civilisation predicted the end of the world on a day in 2012 and it may just be happening...
From the trailer the cracking Cystine Chapel roof and Washington landmarks crumble with dramatic effect!!
Without seeing the film yet it's one of so many lately on the theme of 'fate', future, apocalypse and potential world ending disaster. It's part of a pattern of exploring such themes with one liners about God, comments about faith, hope or future... more on this once I've seen the film!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Elements" CD 'Launch'

Free Image Hosting at


A few of the artist featured on our most recent Youth Unit new music CD 'Elements' are finally coming together in a cafe styled event to showcase their music and make copies of the CD available through the event cover charge!!
See the included publicity and buy your tix ahead of the night... August 21st at the UCA Centre for Ministry, North Parramatta!! Seeyou there!!