Tuesday, November 30, 2010

U2 Remember the 29 miners in 360 #2

Pretentious, tosser, self absorbed, rockstar, peaked in the 80s... hypocritical yep, yep... and your favourite band sucks too by the way!! I know people are sick of hearing about them but I'm part of a community/organisation/mission which is struggling to have 1% of the authenticity, impact, reach, transcendence, emotion, heart and gatherings around the same values, outlook and faith which is shared by this band... While a top ten single may ellude them despite that aspiration still, theor contextual skills are 2nd to none...
Look beyond the big stage [the usually frustrating huge outdoor venues] the screens and effects and onstage you'll see four schoolmates having a great time playing music which speaks to their ideas, their lives and invites us into a story much bigger than any one of us...
One of the features of U2 is their ability to hold lyrics 'lightly' and to perform well worn tracks from the 1980s until today with different tone and relevance to todays news and life. 'Bullet the Blue Sky' and 'One' are great examples... for a deep and rigorous take on this read Steve Taylor here
After I blogged about their offering to recognise the loss of life at the Pike River Mine I caught the actual clips rather than just media reports...
Notice the genuine unspeakable grief and sharing, notice the lead singer not bouncing around, booting a camera, or drawing attention to himself, rather inviting all to 'just sing.' The band invited people to open their hearts and 'sing out' their experience, lament and sorrow... and the red balloons were a perfect symbol of 'tears running to the sea'...while the names of the miners scrolled down the 360 screen!! No pretention, no tosser, just genuine feeling!!
When I head to Sydney on the 13th and 14th for a nosebleed seats and standing room double header I look forward to an all too rare experience!! As someone with a pretty tough exterior I am ever the person of contrast... stoic or teary, rarely in between!!
While I ponder the dilema of Bono's billions of dollars raised for HIV research and to 'make poverty history' cf the French Riviera lifetsyle and movement of band income offshore to minimise tax in the face of new Irish laws taxing artists, musicians and creatives... I will attempt not to overintellectualise my experiences and just to allow the music I love to work in me for the good of others and the world as I am again inspired to live out the values they espouse, in my own little corner of the planet!!
On your tribute to the NZ miners and attempt to connect in a real way with the mourning nation, well done U2!! On stadium shows, money and all the celebrity hoopla... please come back and do a gig indoors at Homebush or the Ent Cent one day... a space where God truly 'walks through the room!!
In the meantime I return to exploring the current top 40 ARIA chart for tracks to use at NCYC in January... Pink and Eminem already have a spot!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

U2 Remember the 29 miners in 360

Commenting that when the Irish experience such grief 'we sing' U2 offered up 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'One Tree Hill' [a rare track inspired by the death in a motorcycle accident of Steve, Bono's friend and assistant who happened to have been a Maori] at their opening NZ 360 concert... if there's one thing they bring to their songs it's lament and this would have had echoes of the 9/11 names on cloth screens at the Superbowl half time show in 2002!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Cold Cold Change" Midnight Oil

"Cold Cold Change" Midnight Oil 1979
Cold cold change, we were so excited
But you came and went so soon
Cold cold change, we were not invited
We smiled all the while we were taken in

Cold cold change, bringing in the winter
Freezing up the water, closing up the mind
One more danger, gonna have to deal with
One last moment fading all the time

But no lasting change, well we were turned around
We jumped in the air to see over the wall
No master plan, it's a bad design
Significant time in spite of us all

Cold cold change, we were so excited
Waiting on the outside, waiting to begin
Left us all angry and bewildered
Laughing at the way we were taken in

You better lock the door, turn it off (the light)
We'll leave the nights alone, better keep me hoping
That the change is over, the ice is gone
And when the weather's warmer you can hear me shouting yeah

This song was released in my final year at High School when I thought the 'the Oils' were that endless noise my surfie mates listened to... then came '10,9,8....1'!! Amazing!

This clip was the JJJ Youth Refuge fundraiser at Wanda Beach!!

The era is different yet some of the themes still describe the interesting times in which we live!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Greymouth Miners Lost

It appears a second and larger explosion in the NZ coal mine where 29 miners have been trapped for 5 days has led mine officials and Police to feel that nobody could have survived the blast!!
In the wake of 'successful' rescues across the world and the frustration of families and rescue workers that gases in the mine shafts prevented any action... this must be devastating news!!
I was fascinated on the weekend with our News Ltd tabloid 'Daily Telelgraph' inviting people to 'Pray for Them' on its front page and have listened to the coverage over several days as people have wrestled with this tense situation...
My prayers are for the families whose anger will exacerbate the pain of their experience and that they would know these are not things God does or allows but things God stands with us in and seeks to help us through... I hope the community surrounds these families and helps them make space, deal with their loss and move on as they are able!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Change, Budgets and the Future!!

Some regular skimmers of my musings may be interested to know:

In our Uniting Church NSW/ACT Synod there have been months of discussion around merging our Boards of Mission and Education due to two factors 1. the need to trim our bidget by some 13% plus and 2. the fact both Boards forecast this over 2 years ago and the decisionmaking bodies who heard, took that as information they could do nothing about rather than facing the questions and plotting a more holistic answer to the question of how we find our missional reinvention through ministry and consultancy which will never generate it's own budget... the final motive is that in this continuing challenge, other ideas have been tried, and if we change [and demonstrate being able to let go of precious stuff] then other thinmgs may change!!
On the coming weekend a Combined Boards Working Group will present the chosen of three canvassed options for the future shape of the new Board and then on Monday 29th we have a meeting to be told of the outcomes!!
My role was reviewed recently and it was a very positive review [much better and more affirming than I expected] but of course the best offer was to the end of 2011 in the wake of the merger [fair enough]!!
I should make it clear I have and will spend months thinking and praying about my future direction and wait for what options emerge and what things wise people invite me to consider... including what creative and suited options might emerge from this weekend [certainly don't want to burn my bridges there]!!
But because I'm sharing out loud and about this topic I have to say I wish we'd had our meeting this week as scheduled so as to be told what was going to be presented and recommended, with a follow up on the ouctomes. I believe we are mature and invested enough to gain from knowing what was put forward and then how that decionmaking body dealt with the suggestions and what emerged... we have been asked and facilitated in sharing our ideas, concerns and suggestions... very much so... but what has been missing is any feedback loop sharing 'here's what we've heard' from your various papers, ideas and discussions... anyhow too late now!!
So if you're of a mind there are tens of people waiting to hear on Monday whether their role changes, disappears or is available for them to reapply given some change of focus, staff numbers or emphasis... all of which are possible and likely in a mix of changes... a few of us plan a quiet lunch and beverage afterwards to commiserate... I say that because any reduction in what these two Boards have been offering, based on funding squeezes, is a huge waste of past work, gifts and team.
It's unhelpful for me to speculate about likley scenarios but on the whole I feel deflated, pessimistic and disempowered about the future for a dedicated Youth Unit!!
Anyhow, hopefully if it simply isn't a good idea the decionmakers 'knock it back' and ask for different work to be done rather than making some noise and a few harmless edits!!
The tricky thing for me is that I believe we need 'change' motivated by our missional imperative but robust up against the funding problem and I have interest in some areas of what could be future work [yet might not be]... and while ministry with young people remains a huge challenge I accept that it needs the co-operation of all ages, needs to engage public spaces and is about experiments and trials which don't seem to be the culture we'll build!!
Partly I want to delete this post and start again BUT essentially I am inviting all comers to take me on over ideas, to pray for my colleagues and to think again about what it would look like to focus on growing people of faith...

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Colleagues put me on to this brilliant BBC TV series of an initial six episodes of Rev.
It's about a newly appointed country Minister and his inner city London congregation. It's pathos, irony and humour are sharp and gritty as the leader in this small congregation attempts to navigate the 'missio dei' [or God's activity in the world] around him! Bring on the second series...
The minister, Adam Small Bone, confronts a struggling congregation in a post modern society, the demanding Arch Deacon and my favourite episodes are a. when a neighbouring evangelical congregation 'borrow' the church for Sunday worship and smoothies and when Adam has self doubt after a mystery sermon review in the newspaper... there are two great expository scenes in those episodes... one about Adam's thoughts on what worship is and how he views the Bible and the second about who are his friends c.f. those he ministers to...
Comparisons with the Vicar of Dibley are short sighted... this is more reality than farce while both have something important to say... or is that just me!!

Catch explantions and previews here

Macbook Fun!!

Well, as they say 'back up your computer!'
So I had a 1TB My Book at home with everything up to a few months ago on it from my PC and Windows Laptop BUT I had been dithering about what hard drive to buy so I could use it exclusively for the Macbook Pro...
Away working I must have bumped a key so the cursor disappeared and when I clicked the spot I was up to it began to 'think' and 10mins later was still doing that... One forced shutdown later it wouldn't reboot... hard drive issues!!
Turns out the 'geniuses' at Apple replaced several components including the hard drive, only to discover it was a flex cable fault... which means my data has been migrated to the new drive and appears to be OK... I will know when I pick it up tomorrow and run some files!! Phew!!
I will also not leave the Apple Store without aformentioned external drive for backing up the entire machine!!
Normal transmission will soon resume!!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Top 100 Aussie Albums

It's a 'no brainer' that Midnight Oil's 'Diesel and Dust' would be number one but also seeing '10 to 1' on the list confirms these critics judgement!!
Check out their task here and keep your eyes out for the book and the CD colelction with one song from each choice... let the fun begin in finding who missed out!!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"Thin Places" and Powderfinger

Other colleagues have written about and designed liturgy around the celtic notion of 'thin places' or places where any space between the sacred and the secular is 'not really there.'
I had been reflecting on this last week and remembering that I don't think there is a gap but rather it's our experience of the world, worship and God. The 'thin places' can be a surprise, are not under our control and are something I try to help people see from our culture and context when they least expect it.
To this end in recent weeks I have been showing people the clip for Powderfinger's "Burn Your Name" with it's location of an asian market festival letting fly 1000s of paper lanterns!! and I've since seen it in the media in various ways and hoped that those at ACOMP, Adamstown Camp and my Presbytery colleagues might have seen that...
So tonight I'm tuned into the ARIA awards [with it's millenial flavoured presentation right across the outdoors of Sydney's Opera House] and what song should Powderfinger play for their final TV performance.... but "Burn Your Name"...
It's about a girl I guess, but could be a 'worship song of confession, redemption, adoration and at least has a mood of vulnerability and honesty!! I sit on my lounge [yet again in tears] wishing we had the connections and langaueg to share faith with that rawness and naturally... a thin place between creativity, God and God's people...
I'm not even describing what I am trying to say very well but it was a gift for me to listen and I hope someone somewhere whose heard me banging on about it in recent weeks was watching and thought 'hey isn't that the song........ wow!!........'
I look for these thin places wherever I am... not just inside church building.... I encourage you to do likewise...

“Burn Your Name”
I was stumbling right by
Like a wreck I came to you
So I staggered through the night
Seeking out your rescue blues
Gonna burn your name right across the sky
So I never forget what the feeling's like x 2
I want every single soul to know
That I love you for what you are
So I sound the bells that praise your precious heart
So tomorrow will arrive
And I burst a broken light
And a spell will hold us back
Shattering like glass
I want every single soul to know
That I love you for what you are
So I sound the bells that praise your precious heart x 2
Burn your name right across the sky
So I never forget what the feeling's like x 4
I want every single soul to know that I love you for what you are
So I sound the bells that praise your precious heart x 2
Gonna burn your name x 2
Universal Music 2009 Powderfinger ‘The Golden Rule’

Friday, November 05, 2010

Bi monthly or so Board Report for November 2010

Byron Bay [East Coast] "Bluesfest" Easter 2011

1st artist announcement for next years 'Bluesfest' has a few reasonable musicians on it....
Bob Dylan
BB King
Michael Franti
Ben Harper
Indigo Girls
Kate Miler Heidke
Elvis Costello
The Cat Empire
Saltwater Band
and my highlight from 2010... episodes of 'Rockwiz' from SBS TV

Keep in mind there will be 2 more major announcements with tens of bands in each one...

This year three of us made it to enjoy the weekend but also to experiment with how you'd do a young adult weekend.... it would be brilliant [if expensive]!! I don't yet know what I'll be doing but we're being 'merged' so nobosy knows the implications of all that yet!!
Fundamentally my point was that to do a young adult weekend and focus on engaging in the world where God was active it made less sense to put on your own event when something so brilliant was available [cost aside!!].
There were plenty of transcendent moments, opportunity for mornings together before heading into the fray and brilliant music besides!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Row 'M' Seat 30 "The Social Network" rated M

Here's a JPEG image of my 'Resource/Review' for this film which will soon be available for download as a PDF here