Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Ten TV Shows for 2011

Now this is a challenge... essentially TV this year has just been a series of low lights but I'll give it a stab
1. 'Gruen Transfer/Nation'
2. 'The Slap' but it was on 30-60mins too early
2. 'Spicks n Specks' great entertainment as ever
3. 'Rock Wiz' for lazy Saturday nights, actually scored a five this year once
4. 'The Mentalist' patchy but entertaining
5. 'The Good Wife' even better off the internet in the right weeks
6. 'Big Bang Theory' current season
7. 'How I Met Your Mother' could almost be a must see and is nearly great
8. 'House' was better but still not great
9. '7pm Project' but suffered from George Negus failure
10. 'The Late Show with David Letterman' late night staple
      just to see how stale Dave can get despite some great guests
Q&A. 'The Inbetweeners' and Major League Baseball are just outside the Top Ten for me...
All in all it was a terrible year for TV... and what's with all the late night NZ shows?
I can't bring myself to add NCIS [both coasts] or CSI as they get watched when I can't be bothered changing the channel. Gibbs is OK I guess!!

Best of in 2011 'Music'

This is just the stuff I enjoyed [in no particular order]:
1. '21' Adele a great soundtrack for a rubbish year!!
2. 'Ukele Songs' Eddie Vedder
3. 'The World is a Picture' Josh Pyke from 'Chimneys Afire'
4. 'El Camino' The Black Keys
5. 'Moonfire' Boy & Bear
6. 'Mylo Xyloto' Coldplay up loud though!
7. 'Triple J's Like a Version 7'
8. 'Wasting Light' The Foo Fighters
9. 'Ceremonials' Florence & the Machine
10. 'Duals' U2

And the music that's been played incessantly at my house:
'Party Rock Anthem' LMFAO
'Price Tag' Jessie J
and one of those compilation albums of dance music full of samples, covers and hip hop

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Australia's Summer of Cricket 'Boxing Day Test'

   First we crumbled at the might of New Zealand's 'Black Caps' and now we face the challenge of India [ranked second in Test Cricket at the moment behind England]!! There will be glimpses of promise but I think inconsistency will be the key word this summer. That's what comes with rebuilding a team and the mix of experience and youth in our batting and bowling ranks.
   Yesterday India began their innings after our below par 333. The batters who made a start looked more in command of their own game and more assured than our top order, which comes with an established outfit who know their own game at this level. They also have the best of the conditions and the wicket.
   Cricket is a game of statistics and someone worked out that between one day internationals and Tests, Sachin Tendulkar, the best batter since Bradman,* has made 99 centuries... he was out in the 90s in Mumbai so comes here chasing the hundredth 100... and looked for all money like it would happen this morning until a  false stroke in the 70s.
Apologies to my OS reader/s for three paragraphs of indecipherable cricket jargon!!
   Sadly, technology will be a talking point all summer. The game uses a 'Video Referrral System' to check aspects of the game.
- Whether a bowler oversteps the line in delivering the ball
- whether a catch is taken on the full
- whether a players bat or gloved hands touched a ball before it was caught behind them
- whether a ball that would have hit the stumps is stopped by a players body [principally the legs below the knee] and not their wooden bat

   This last one is the most controversial. The teams have to agree to a set of playing conditions before each series. Whether to use floodlights on a dull afternoon and whether to have the video referral system are two bugbears for the Indians and they don't agree to either.
   Yesterday we saw how farcical that is because the umpire is still able to use video checks to establish whether the bowler overstepped [and he did]. That day before, two Aussie betters were given out caught behind the stumps when they [by all replays] did not hit the ball. They had no recourse to technology.
   There are great cameras used in the sport coverage and for some years there has been a belt strap camera with a stabiliser arm so a walking sideline camera can follow action up close and remain steady. This summer the TV coverage has added a special 'segway' scooter for close ups between official play and around the boundary. 'Joe the cameraman' failed to notice a protective helmet on the ground and ran over it in taking footage of the Aussie team warming up for the next session of play... great youtube blooper tape!!! Technology!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Must Be Christmas Tonight" Not Quite

Didn't have time to do more with individual lyrics lines but here's another fav. tune!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rev. Series Two Episode 7 "Christmas"

I love this show...
I remember reading about it in the beginning of year TV outlines from the UK in early 2010 but which is yet to make it to screens here in Oz!
The first series was only six episodes long and it's been a while until they picked it up again...

   The program tells the story of Rev Adam Smallbone as he and his wife Alex [with her own career as a Solicitor] move to a small struggling parish in London called 'St Saviours in the Marshes.'
   The small band of regular characters provide gritty comedy drama about a whole range of life and faith issues. It is not 'The Vicar of Dibley' because these characters are contemporary, complicated and from across the community on modern London.
   This show nails it in terms of call/vocation, context, mission and the small details that grind away in the face of 21st C challenges for an urban vicar and each and everyone of the characters in the story.
   I don't know what it's like for others but the echoes of everyday amplify the humour and the pathos for me.
   I used two scenes from series one at a youth event last January and there are heaps of small moments and significant conversations bringing a visual reality to the everyday storylines... especially bench seat conversations between Adam and the brilliantly written Colin.

"Tom Hollander said,"[w]e wanted to define ourselves in opposition to the cliché of a country vicar, partly because we wanted to depict England as it is now, rather than having a sort of bucolic-y, over the hills and far away, bird-tweeting England – we wanted the complications of the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic inner-city, where everything is much harder."
   In this Christmas episode Adam is busy doing the details of making Christmas Eve and Christmas Day a meaningful time for all and it ends up costing him at every step... it's advent writ large and I had tears streaming down my face as he attempted to wrangle things into a manageable mess!!
   The pub drunks at Midnight Mass, the stolen bicycle tyres, Colin's punch in the eye... all took their toll!!
Adam perhaps felt worst about missing the final hours of friend Joan's life having promised to visit her at the retirement home and being held up a few times...
   The 'Rev.' BBC website is here

21st December "How to Make Gravy"

Now this is a Christmas song!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Christmas All!!

One of my favourites!!

"White Wine in the Sun" Tim Minchin

  I didn't have time or head space to contribute to friend Darren's playlist for Advent BUT here's a new favourite track for your alternative Advent when you're tired of Buble, Jewel and the rest!!
   In an entirely inadequate way I describe this as evocative of my childhood Christmases with the rel's but also of the context into which the advent message of hope might speak loudly if we could stop getting in it's way with religious piety and irrelevance!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stockland know how to commercialise Space

   The Picadilly complex in Pitt/Castlereagh Sts [attached to the Wesley Mission space] behind the Hilton Hotel is the Uniting Church' Sydney headquarters. The building has been managed by various developers over the years but Stockland are the champions when it comes to commercialising space.
   You often see entry points to the building on the Aussie nightly news because ICAC [The Independent Commission Against Corruption] is in the building [and Graham Richardson lunches contacts at Georges Cafe]!!
   There are occasional celebrity spottos as it's a thoroughfare thru to the Hilton and has a door through to David Jones menswear and down to the foodhall from there...
   As someone with an eye for useless information I have often marvelled at the developers capacity to envisage an opportunity...
- the front wall alcove became a money change bureau
- a wall cavity near a bland rear entrance is now a small coffee cafe
- two walkways have had booths added and are currently a newsstand and phone seller
- as shops change hands they are sometimes divided in two to double the opportunity

   I'm sure the latest 'one sticker' is testing the audience reaction ahead of more possibilities... as the lifts were being refurbished one creative obviously saw the potential of the blank canvass that is the grey lift door... hat tip to Elenie P for the photo... I forgot to take one on the way back down the other day as I was observing the latest innovation.
   Others mind you are annoyed at Coke, apalled at the sight, aware that the full strength version carries 13 spoons full of sugar etc etc... I just marvel at Stockland wondering what's next... corporate jumpsuits on the cleaners? We don't actually have the tabletop adverts at the Level One Food area? 
   And what of the large empty foyer after the couches were removed years ago? Nothing to do with the  huge crowd of english language students who congregate downstairs on their short breaks I'm sure?
   Perhaps 'McCafe','Boost Juice', 'Footlocker','Foxtel' trailer, 'Corn on the Cob'... a branch of 'Uniting Bank'? Now that I won't be in the building every week I look forward to the full makeover I'll notice next time I'm in town!! Spare a thought for the upper floors and the possible nasal spray adverts on their yellow lift doors with a phone number in large red font...
Mea culpa: friends would know I can't be complaining about the commercialism, just noticing... if the advert were for Coke Zero then I'm pretty confident I paid for it. If the foyer had become an athletic shoe sales outlet I'd stop every time on my way through... just to look mind you, gearing up for the annual purchase!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wonderful Farewell Gift

   I've had a photo of Bar Beach, Newcastle in a frame on my desk at the Youth Unit in Sydney. It's been a reminder of one of my favourite places in the world in both good times and bad. At the same time I had talked of my hope to one day have a picture of Sydney Harbour that would remind me of my twelve years in the UCA Synod Youth Unit. The Harbour has always been and will continue to be a favourite spot to spend time. Whether walking there, thinking creatively along the way, heading to the Dendy or a late night meal at City Extra... I'll continue to be found there... just a bit less often!!
   I'm staggered, humbled and very grateful to everyone responsible for a stunning Ken Duncan framed photo I was given as my farewell gift!! In all honesty I'm glad it wasn't a book or another shelf filler but I was surprised to see my dream suggestion taken up... thanks all!!
   Imagine a white spacer and black wooden frame... I'm an urban dweller who considers a walk along the beach to be a stroll along the 2m wide concrete walkway above the sand. In Sydney [especially in spring/summer] I enjoyed the dusk walk to Circular Quay and the whole area pictured... to think, to compose talks, to reflect on meetings, listening and what we were doing... there's no place quite like it...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

OpenAir Cinema Mrs Macquarie's Chair

   For nearly twenty years now we've made the annual trip once and twice BC [before children] to the OpenAir Cinema in Sydney. I think I've blogged about it every year...
   A temporary stand to seat 5000 people is built in the Domain with a view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The seating is rows of locked together sebel plastic chairs. The screen is on a fixed pontoon in the water and it is raised into place ahead of the pre screening adverts.
   The formerly Phillips OpenAir is now sponsored by St George Building Society and large middle section of deckchairs are for a few hundred account holders. There is a VIP sponsors bar for celebs...
   The catering and bar area serve Belinda Franks catered gourmet food and charge the cost of a small child per drink.
   The ticketing has changed over the years with technology and we figure with print at home tickets we now need to queue 30mins earlier from 5.30pm to have a run at our favourite 'general admission' seats.
   You put your name on a card on your seats. One runs there and the other grabs a spot at a table... Apparently the catering area has been redesigned this year to allow more dining seats. We like to get the seating row with the crossover aisle behind for the film...
   The seats are the only drawback so our rule is not to see films over 2 hours... no J. Edgar I'm afraid... perhaps 'The Ides of March'!! Tix are onsale from 9am tomorrow and films will sell out [they keep a few hundred for each night but it's a long queue until that allocation is exhausted... best to pre purchase!!]
   It's a great day of shopping, relaxed dinner and spectacular setting for an outdoor film screening.
   Free ponchos are distributed on showery nights and only extreme weather would see a cancellation... We've been very lucky in all that time... this years weather patterns are not encouraging... check out the season program and details here...

Sydney 'Bucketlist'

   As my time work based in Sydney draws to an end I have really enjoyed the strategy of deciding a few fun things to do during what was always going to be a 'crap' 2011!! It doesn't matter that I won't quite finish the list... I will in coming months anyway... it's been about enjoying the stay, having stuff to plan for that I'd look forward to and making sure I did all the stuff I wanted to across my 12 years with a desk in Pitt St!!
   My next day trip will include a trip to the IMAX to view 'Hubble' or 'Mission Impossible' and lunch in Surry Hills. When I get to the 'Harry Potter' exhibit at the Powerhouse I'd classify it as a one off world class event. I will just need to get to Belvoir St next year and I'll be done!!
   Very soon Sydney returns to the status of 'that place I go to for a day off' instead of the walking path outside my work... any meetings or training I attend, I'll choose... woo hoo!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

These Results will Happen

   Not sure which is the most unbalanced this week... the Australian Test Cricket Team or the Federal Labor Government Cabinet?
   The difference is that the cricket team has a future and a few capable up and comers in the side and waiting to be selected. The team lacks balance with Phil Hughes opening and Ricky Ponting struggling early in the batting order.
   But anyone who remembers the mid 1980s and a few other eras will remember the terrible days, matches and results which galvanise new players and give them a store of performances to improve on. We have to stick with the core of this new mob and manage the retirement of others, knowing it won't work everyday. Am I the only one impressed with Nathan Lyons reaction to being bowled and falling seven runs short. He was 'gutted' and the next time he's in a tough sporting situation he will remember how that felt and find extra motivation not to be back there...
   Federal Labor on the other hand is a conflicted 'team' with infighting, lack of confidence, short term fear and the problem of minority government. It is amazing they have moved ahead on some major agenda this year but nobody looks like they're enjoying themselves... let's see what 2012 brings...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Aussies turn today...

So the aussie cricket team are really trying to make a game of it today at Bellerive Oval!!

Friday, December 09, 2011

NZ 'Black Caps' must have pulled them down over their eyes...

  The kiwi cricket team is on a  steep learning curve this Australian tour as they fell a bit cheaply on a tough wicket in Hobart today. Phillip Hughes did himself no favours once again getting caught 'in the slips' neither back nor forward. It showed he's lacking confidence in his method as he attempts to 'save' his wicket and post a score that will keep him in the team v India later in the summer!!
   Maybe they'd be better to decide one way or the other and give him the next three Tests... he's made three centuries and looks like if he could just cut loose once it might keep happening. His technique means he will get out for a 'zack' now and then...

More on those 'Reasons People Leave'

   I've had a few contacts since the blog about the Barna Group Research here. The first thing to note is that my quick summary doesn't do the findings justice but points to the website and the free intro material!!
   Essentially they outline significant percentages in their research of US young adults who could be described as relating to each reason in some significant measure.
   I too think there's something deeper going on which these presenting reasons describe... I posted it as my own thought starter to return to after the holidays and I'll chase up those comments and connections too...
   Suffice to say the question of motivation, the nature of community and the way in which communities of faith identifying as Christian churches do and don't seem like places for young people to connect is more complex and individual than any sample size.
   For me it's also not about becoming relevant but being 'authentic' and in this 'we' have much to do in addressing who we are in the face of complex contextual and societal shifts with which the 'church' at large has failed to keep up with...
   How true that much of ministry and mission and connections into peoples lives revolves around 'relationship' and whether or not the values, ethos and lived out story make sense... how true that each indivisual will have their own reasosn for joining in and staying connected in ways that fit their 21st C lives.
   What I think the research points to is some presenting issues the church could do something about in reshaping itself to engage in God's mission in the world. The 'reasons' all have some connection to where that activity might be focused or not and many are not even asking the hard questions around this...
   OK, my posts for the next three to four weeks will be holiday and sport related, if there are any at all... for the purposes of my vocation... HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS re-membering the story of God become one of us and the impliactions of the invitation to join the party... see you in the New Year!!

The Black Keys "El Camino" CD

   New work from the 'Keys' whose quirky rock style is occasionally my chosen fix of loud music... turn it up here. They were on Letterman tonight here in Oz and I'll post the official clip of that song tomorrow when I'm actually awake!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

'Pumphouse' Changes...

   Hey it's that time of year and as I wind down to holidays and a new role in 2012 I'm pondering some blogging changes. I might split my blogging between 'Pumphouse' for the stuff 'nobody' wants to read but I want to write and a second more exclusively youth focused blog... with a working title of 'Ideas Big and Small'!! On the other hand it might be just too much to have two spaces... it could just be a facelift and new title... yes my last two years have been that forgettable, painful and in need of moving on from!!
Dunno, but I'll ponder this over the holidays and you'll be the first to know!!

Why Most Young People Leave the Church

   The Barna Group [obviously stealing inspiration from the Uniting Church in Australia] have launched a few years of work focused on 'Next Generations' and this post follows up from one previous entry. There is paid material and resources on their website but also teaser and free material to get you thinking.
   A recent feature focused on 'why young people leave the church' and I do/don't agree with the emphasis transferred to our context here in Oz. This post introduces the topic and you can read all about it here

The article talks about:
#1 Churches seem over protective
   Many mainstream churches are still trying to create 'safe' communities for young people and risking irrelevance as life becomes complex or restricts 'risk taking' adolescents from exploring their values and connecting popular culture and the world they live in.
The article cites attitudes to media, music etc. It's more far reaching than this and relates to the narrow 'salvation' restriction of 'the gospel.'
#2 Teens and twenty somethings experience of church is shallow
Our faith, teaching and the nature of our Christian community does not relate to daily life clearly enough in ways that make sense of the connections.
#3 Churches come across as antagonistic to science
The struggle with 'answers' in our faith and a vocation in the sciences [or working with technology] in a culture still arguing about evolution v creation
#4 Young peoples experiences in relation to sexuality are often simplistic/judgemental
Expectations v he complexity of modern life... judgementalism... two standards...
#5 They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity
Suspicious of anyone's 'truth claims' and have been raised in a climate of acceptance, openness and tolerance...
#6 The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt
Feeling unsafe and not finding places and people to explore with...

   The article questions the polarised responses of either ignoring the world of todays young adults or preferring to adopt their tastes, choices and expression at the exclusion of others. It questions hierarchical ways of focusing discipleship as preparing the next generation for church leadership. The opportunity exists for ministry and mission with young people that's multi-generational, more like the 'body' metaphor and is about the gifts and abilities, passions and questions of all...

OK, there's again much more to be said... but this is a start and I'll pick it up post holidays!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top Tens 2011: Movies

   I begin my 2011 Top Tens today... I must have other stuff I'm really supposed to be doing!! This year the Movies List is a bit different. It usually only includes films I've seen, not reputation, and this time it's about films I enjoyed for some reason and films that 'tanked' with me!! They are not recommendations, just reflections!!

Top Ten Films I Enjoyed in 2011
1. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2' better than it could have been... go Neville!!
2. 'Mr Poppers Penguins' surprisingly moving and a great deep story
3. 'The Guard' brilliantly dry and edgy
4. 'The Adjustment Bureau' could have been so much better but I enjoyed it
5. 'Captain America' appalling great scmaltz... can't wait for the 'Avengers'
6. 'Kung Fu Panda 2' classic
7. Gnomeo and Juliet/Rio as a family at the Heddon Greta Drive In [first visit for 30 years]
8. 'Bridesmaids' just wrong but a quirky likeable character
9. 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' almost rubbish but escapist fun!!
10. 'Larry Crowne' heartwarming and I could relate to the emotions

Lots of the silly escapist comedies I saw made the top twenty as a sign of the year I had but didn't make the final trim down. I might have missed one somewhere and I haven't yet see 'Red Dog'

Worst Ten Films that Didn't work for me
1. 'The Green Hornet' major disappointment badly acted
2. 'Real Steel' oh dear, Hugh? It sounded good, it wasn't...
3. 'Three Musketeers' It ain't no Pirates...
4. 'Thor' Almost but Chris Hemsworth spoilt it for me
5. 'Limitless' a great idea that went nowhere
6. 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' almost but not quite, patchy
7. 'X Men 1st Class' really, Kevin Bacon??? one film too many
8. 'Green Lantern' aweful
9. 'Cowboys & Aliens' so funny but you just shouldn't get funded for this
10. 'Jonny English Reborn' better than the first in my book but the story stopped

Jason Statham's 'The Mechanic' just missed the cut

Friday, November 25, 2011

News on the Vocation Front

Well, it's November...
And I can now share that for the next three years I will be taking up the role of 'Youth Ministry Development Worker' in the Uniting Church Hunter Presbytery [region]!! I'm really looking forward to the role of mentor, teacher, resource person in some great team situations...

I've been focused on NSW/ACT and travelling to a Sydney base for twelve years... I am not going to finish my 'bucketlist' but I'll get close and I'll leave what has been a trying situation for the last 2-3 years [not just the last 12 months] with a 'Closing Time' celebration on 3rd December!! Probably if I visit IMAX next week and have lunch in Surry Hills, return to the Powerhouse Museum at the start of the school holidays then 'see a play' will be left... I missed tix to see Kevin Spacey does Shakespeare and Cate Blanchett earlier in the year...

I look forward to exploring 'capacity building' with faith communities, sustainable discipleship and leadership amongst youth & young adults and mentoring and resourcing great volunteers and others who are already doing what they can to engage in God's activity in the world where they live... and a few other things along the way!!

I am not enjoying looking for a used car... techniques and personality types have not changed in over a decade... having no trade in helps!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fun T-Shirt

But even if I did buy it, I couldn't wear it anywhere could I?

Brilliant 'Rolling in the Deep' cover

Great Adele cover from VazquezSounds

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Myths about Why Young Adults Leave the Church

   The Barna Group are engaging in a five year study about young adults dropping out of church and the desire on the part of communities of faith to encourage growing faith. The Barna Research Group material is always thorough and often translatable to our context [or at least able to be understood for what it is and isn't saying]!!
   In this case they are exploring 5 myths here and give a glimpse for free at the costed resources that flow from the project!!

"Myth 1: Most people lose their faith when they leave high school.
Reality: There has been considerable attention paid to the so-called loss of faith that happens between high school and early adulthood. Some have estimated this dropout in alarming terms, estimating that a large majority of young Christians will lose their faith. The reality is more nuanced. In general, there are three distinct patterns of loss: prodigals, nomads, and exiles.

Myth 2: Dropping out of church is just a natural part of young adults' maturation.
Reality: First, this line of reasoning ignores that tens of millions of young Christians never lose their faith or drop out of church. Thus, leaving church or losing faith should not be a foregone conclusion.

Myth 3: College experiences are the key factor that cause people to drop out.
Reality: College certainly plays a role in young Christians' spiritual journeys, but it is not necessarily the 'faith killer' many assume. College experiences, particularly in public universities, can be neutral or even adversarial to faith. However, it is too simplistic to blame college for today's young church dropouts. As evidence, many young Christians dissociate from their church upbringing well before they reach a college environment; in fact, many are emotionally disconnected from church before their 16th birthday.

Myth 4: This generation of young Christians is increasingly "biblically illiterate."
Reality: The study examined beliefs across the firm's 28-year history, looking for generational gaps in spiritual beliefs and knowledge. When comparing the faith of young practicing faith Christians (ages 18 to 29) to those of older practicing Christians (ages 30-plus), surprisingly few differences emerged between what the two groups believe. This means that within the Christian community, the theological differences between generations are not as pronounced as might be expected. Young Christians lack biblical knowledge on some matters, but not significantly more so than older Christians.

Myth 5: Young people will come back to church like they always do.
Reality: Some faith leaders minimize the church dropout problem by assuming that young adults will come back to the church when they get older, especially when they have children. However, previous research conducted by Barna Group raises doubts about this conclusion."

'Inside Sport' 20th Year

  The marketing and the first edition of 'Inside Sport' magazine promised cliche free insightful sports journalism and has pretty much delivered over the 20 years it's continued to be published here in Oz!!
   My favourite section has always been 'Verbatim' with a page of quotable quotes from coaches, sports people or writers that pick up ones you've heard or read in the papers and can't wait to see if they've captured.
   The action photos are always stunning. The magazine has been strong on the issues of drugs in sport, corrupt bidding processes for major events and heroes with 'feet of clay.'
  It's a couple of years ago now that they made the decision to take the bikini models off the front cover citing feedback from their loyal readers who had reached an age where the purchase had to be explained and justified to bystanders and family members with the familiar 'but it's a brilliant sport magazine!!!'
   I have not missed an edition in all twenty years. I went close when OS for nine weeks but managed to catch that issue from a friend and at the Drs waiting room weeks later. I subscribed early on but because I travel I have preferred to be able to grab a copy on the Wednesday it comes out wherever I happen to be.
   Testament to the magazine is that given the sterotypical choices available for this months particularly celebratory edition it has Cadel Evans on the cover!! He is the obvious unbiased choice... well done 'Inside Sport' and here's hoping you're around for another twenty!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just When I Thought It was safe to Go Back to Youth Focus

   Aussie cricket dipped to a new low in South Africa this week. This will happen in a rebuilding era. There will be days when the side loses focus and momentum. It has to be said this was a day for a Simon Katich type player to step up and make a statement. But then he'd have to have been contracted, selected and not giving the current Captain and administration a shellacking in the media for that to occur...
   In case you missed it or don't care... Australia played well until being all out for 47 and handing momentum back to the opposition. South Africa themselves had only doubled that in their innings but experienced players stood up when the chase became achievable in the second dig. At least the skipper made 150 in his first knock!! It's a long way from here to a Bonds commercial!!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Guest Post on 'More Than Dodgeball'

My post on 'Space, Permission & Validity' can be found here at 'More Than Dodgeball'!! Thanks Graham Baldock for prompting me to write it down and Joshua Griffin for putting it out there...

St Jude's Uniting Church

   Mark Senter III wrote work leading to 'The Coming Revolution in Youth Ministry and it's Radical Impact on the Church' and released the book at the start of the 1990s. I recall mentor Fuzz Kitto showing me a typed copy and suggested I read some of the manuscript on the couch with a good coffee!!  
   To this day I remember that I didn't fully grasp what I was reading but somehow knew that it was important and would one day speak precisely into a context I did understand.
   Coupled with 'Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church' I believe Senter's work has 'arrived' in terms of our current challenges. But more than that the very titles of the books teach me an important lesson. You see I've been talking about them a lot [I'm not one for including subtitles] but not using the full name. '...And It's Radical Impact on the Church' and '...and the Church' don't shift my understanding of the key points very much but they do make sure the focus is on the community of God's people that is currently commonly represented by a local group or congregation. They are key to the future of mission and ministry with young people. This is true whether they are shaped for mission or for getting out of the way of God's action in the world. What I mean is that whatever Senter's wisdom in these books they reflect on how the church engages in or will be effected by the very issues he's raising

Why do I think his work is now more relevant than ever?

   Because of a little hypothetical Uniting Church known as St Jude's. St Jude's could be a small rural church or a high density urban street corner or a large suburban centre or a neighbourhood group in a building too old or too large for their purposes... The congregation or main Sunday worshipping community aren't getting any younger. They as a group represent only a small slice of the culture/s, backgrounds, educational achievements and history of those in their wider community.
   At St Jude's there are a few under 60s but a huge gap between 25 and 45. There precious few youth or young adults if any alongside the remnant of a small infants and primary aged Sunday School with one volunteer teacher engaging with kids right across the spectrum.
   The older members are concerned about the lack of young people and especially the High School drop off rate. Who will we be without the youth? How can we have young people here again? Should we hire a Youth Ministry Worker?
   This is a common scenario and connects strongly with one of the 'Four Views' explored by Senter and called the 'Preparatory' model. Say what you like but the majority of ministry with young people I've seen over the last thirty years is subtly or strongly aimed at preparing the young people to 'be' the church... to take up where they leave off... BUT the global context of these young people has so radically shifted in the last 40 years that the models of church most encounter are simply contextually irrelevant.
   I don't blame the churches. The context has changed rapidly and radically and the generations who've left mean there are few change role models and we are still trying to share faith, foster discipleship and unpack the good news as it was taught to us...
   We need to totally re-orient the church for engaging in God's mission in the world. We need to develop our ethos and values and live those out in the everyday and shape our life by what God is doing. The goal is not church engagement but discipleship or 'following.' So growing faith to maturity is an additional measure alongside attendance.
   We need to develop skills in appreciative inquiry or at least 'listening' skills to understand the perspective of 'the other' not just our own narrowly expressed goal of 'saving people.' If a congregation is truly able to connect with a few areas where they believe God is active in their community then questions of numbers at worship and money through the offering will in time be irrelevant.
   But one key ingredient in this is leadership. People with contextual skills are used to asking questions, adaptation and experimenting with ideas. What if our view of 'church' was that we exist to serve? Or the very radical idea that we exist to create other communities of faith and so initiate our connected groups to 'plant' missional churches elsewhere. They learn the skills from earlier but apply them to a new community. Even one step shy by engaging young people in activity with which they share an affinity and direct social justice action... we could change St Jude's forever... more soon... what are the practicalities...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carrington Bowling Club

   Do you have a spare $150,000 lying around... you could participate in your very own 'Crackerjack' story by providing the funds for a kitchen refurbishment to allow this excellent if rustic community facility to upgrade and survive!!
   Failing that if you can get to Newcastle here in Oz by 6th November [for OS friends that'll have to be via Emirates, Etihad or Virgin at the moment!!] then the Club is holding a fun day to try to give people a chance to enjoy the Bowls Club but also donate even $10 towards their survival... this is a common story but it's a place that has potential as a community space if the work can be done!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rugby mad NZ

From my very first training session for University 4ths in Newcastle I knew I had found my game. A contact sport for all body shapes where stopping was as effective as tackling. In the early 80s it was ok to respect the All Blacks as the best in the apartheid effected game and we all owned steinlager sponsored Canterbury brand jerseys. Later as the wallabies improved it was less ok. Former kiwi team mate Glen Turner told me I hadn't experienced rugby unless I'd been to a Bledisloe Cup game at Eden Park and I'm so looking fwd to this next best thing... I'm so grateful to Simone and my family for this 50th birthday year opportunity for a break and to experience a rugby mad nervous Auckland as this tournament has driven them mad for 24 years. Switching to Wanderers after a season off I then enjoyed more than twenty years playing and later coaching in this wonderful world game.... As someone who enjoyed the physical contest on the field I still miss it every Saturday in winter... But two ruptured patella tendons will have that effect on you!! It won't kick off until 9pm And I have all day to decide whether to update that Canterbury jersey with a clima cool Adidas momento. Bring it on!!! Queens Wharf will likely host 20,000 plus people for the after party.... Will the tricolours spoil the fun. !

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rugby World Cup Final

   OK, so tomorrow [very early] I head to Auckland to catch the so-called Bronze playoff and the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final!! It's a repeat of 1987. This shouldn't surprise as the All Blacks only win the ones they host... and they again front the French team who are capable of anything!!
   Normal 'Pumphouse' transmission to resume next Thursday!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RWC 2011 #09 Semi Final Day

   What a shame for last nights semi-final Wales v France! I commented how difficult it was to sustain defence and keep rolling on when you play a man down for most of the match... bit it is possible if you pull down the shutters the way the French did!!
   Wales were gutsy in their efforts but today the inaccuracy of their goal kicking, three dropped balls and the one kick which went within a few centimetres of winning them the game!!
   France seemed to assume they'd wear Wales down and so tried to play risk free rugby and in some ways save their energies for next week. That said their defence was superb and in the way the game went they did enough... just!!
   It was a shame the rain made Wales expansive style difficult and let's hope that by some miracle the forecast of sunny and a top of 17 is spot on in Auckland today.... of course 23-25 would be even better but this is Auckland we're talking about!!
   In 2003 I read an article on the morning of the match with a comment about the Wallabies needing to keep the ball away from the All Blacks in that Sydney RWC Semi Final and I knew they were going to win... nobody believed me until the All Blacks kicked off and instead of kicking the ball straight back down field and into touch for a lineout the Wallabies ran it from their own 22m, depriving the All Blacks of the ball for up to 22 minutes, then Sterling Mortlock read their play and scored an intercept try...
   Justin Marshall was injured in a fair tackle and from there the All Blacks became increasingly pressured and mistake riddled...
   I've read articles today which describe exactly how this game should be played and won BUT I don't have quite the same confidence this side can do what it says needs to be done!! I agree the first 20mins will be crucial today but so will the ten minutes either side of half time... because that's about sustained effort and knowing when to run and when to consolidate!!
   Come on Wallabies... move up in defence, kick well, run wide straight lines and back yourselves... Pocock and our scrum/lineout are the keys to getting the kind of ball we need for our star backline to have the room to move...
   For the All Blacks, they will be working for a fair share of ball, kicking for errors and then swinging into their disciplined ruck and maul game with the best short back up passing rugby you'l ever see as it seems when you cut down a runner there's always a support player in space at speed to take the ball...

OK... come on Wallabies... I'd love to see you in Auckland on Sunday not Friday!!

Watch out for 'the rude finger'

   My daughters Lucy [10] and Ellie [7] have a lot of fun playing in our fenceless front yard on a street with moderate through traffic as a crossover in our suburb. They climb bottlebrush trees, play hide and seek, tips etc
   From time to time they've run a lemonade and/or craft stall and whatever they're doing they pause and run together to the driveway and wave at passing traffic. One day some friendly local girls gave the gathered throng 'the bird' with a one middle fingered salute. This became known as a 'rude finger.'
   Now it's entered our common language as something is described as being:
as long as...
about as wide as...
as naughty as...
as obvious as...

'a rude finger'!! Thanks those girls in the Nissan X-Trail!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Famine F Word" from ONE

Craig posted a link to this new ONE Campaign clip!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Laman St Fig Trees

The fate of a street full of Morton Bay Fig trees is a big story here in Newcastle. Our City Council is in favour of following the arborists advice and insurers concerns and want to cut down the trees. We're talking major 100 year old canopy across from our city Library and Art Gallery and above a traditional Civic Park and fountain. The Mayor is aligning himself with the community group 'Save our Figs' and there's a call for 'independent assessment.' The Council do have the problem of an insurer now unwilling to cover in the event of public liability vs the PR problem of redevelopment plans and lack of willingness for further assessment. I have to state that I don't find Morton Bays attractive, though this streets cape is impressive. I have read about these trees before when some were removed from Lambton and Islington Parks. It does seem they have a safe and healthy life span of just over the hundred years and do begin to drop branches and start to die. Someone planted them back then... would it be so bad to see them out and new trees planted that we know will in the future give similar pleasure to future generations... It's a really tough call about change, decisionmaking, power and community reaction. At the moment the Security and project costs approach $1 million and the Art Gallery and Library are now apparently closed indefinitely because of security concerns and the need for the workers to have a safe environment... Is it a metaphor for other change scenarios? Does it have anything to say? Is it a reminder of stakeholders around an adaptive challenge and the need to do better at taking people along, explaining what's happening, why such change is needed and what the new future might look like... Even if we can't really see it... I wonder whether the Council should simply have sought the assessment and why there's no other insurer offering to jump in? The trees do look spectacular, but they ruin the footpath and road, are unsafe to walk around if you're not careful it's easy to trip. Other independent articles ive read talk about them as trees with a life span that does end. I think they're ugly at the trunk/roots level... that's just my view. I think I also understand why people want to protest and feel they are not getting a fair go... The whole episode stinks!!! So one lesson is that if you don't trust the decision maker it'll be hard to get people onboard. More soon...

Monday, October 10, 2011

RWC 2011 #08 Semi Finals

   As Rugby Union matches go next Sunday's World Cup Semi Final will be amongst the Wallabies toughest Tests and a massive opportunity!! They take on the All Blacks [tournament host] in their own playground... where we have failed to win a match since the mid 1980s.
   But like 2003 in Sydney we have done just enough to worry them, should have a credible plan and are capable of this huge upset!!
   The All Blacks are an amazing team!! Even struggling against Argentina's dogged defence, they still managed that short passing hand off game they so enjoy in counter attack... little shuffle passes to support players in numbers other sides simply fail to match. They play up tempo. They err on the wrong side of the rules when the ball is contested in a ruck better than any other team and they simply have the best coloured team uniforms!!
   This is the week we find out if Robbie Deans is as a good a coach as his Canterbury record suggests. It starts with how the team 'recover' from Sunday and freshen up for next week... a relaxed day or two and then intense planning, a few sharp training runs and on to the bigger stage in Auckland!! Go the Wallabies!!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

RWC 2011 #07 D Day for Australia

it's nice to have some headspace today to watch the Rugby in an otherwise pretty crappy time!! The Wallabies are capable of winning today! What counts against is the weather, experience and skill of the opposition and the fact I reckon we have to play our best to win while the Springboks could grind out a win at less than their best!! Our advantages include David Pocock, the x factor in attack and Kurtley Beale at fullback... Hopefully they value possession of the ball and realize there's no tomorrow for the team that comes second. The biggest tension will be time... If we are threatened on the scoreboard, the tension will stretch some of blokes! those "we'll win it" calls always bemuse me. What will tell is how the Wallabies start and the 10mins either side of half way... Dare I say, watch for the drop goals!! Come on boys, back yourselves but have pride in getting it right!!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Eavesdrop at Speers Point Park

   We had the extended family of in-laws at Speers Point Park today for Charlotte's 3rd birthday. It's a brilliant use of recreational space with climbing, swings, music, big slide, flying foxes, wet area, scoot track, and growing tree maze with quiet toddler area and action swings for wheelchairs etc. Minding our table I couldn't help but overhear two mums talking about the way kids are learning and the need for them to have to figure things out as against their standard reply of "just Google it mum! Just Google it!!!" in the next breath they were talking about choosing movies and suggesting to her daughter that she "look a few up on the Internet, read about them, watch the trailers and make a choice" Hmmmn... So she should just Google it? There is a serious discussion behind all that which I'm always aware of preparing things and utilizing shared wisdom and creativity. The issue is, what am I putting out there for others to use, how am I developing thought and practice... Am I a member of the YouTube community or just a leech? Will we develop generations of young people who access content without contributing any... How will human wisdom be added to... Don't get me wrong, I think all that will happen in ways we can't yet envisage... It's different to whether you can learn to tell the time with a digital watch... It'll be interesting to watch in coming decades... I'll be able to just Google it of course!!

Friday, October 07, 2011


Asks good questions
Always thinking which way
Helping people work stuff out
'Rocket Scientist'
Helping make space for people to lead
Contextual questions
Seeing things other people don't
Retainer or stories and learning

Problem solving

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RWC 2011 #06 Quarter Finals

What's the likely team for the Wallbies Quarter Final v the Springboks in windy Wellington?
1.Sekopi Kepu
2. Stephen Moore
3. Ben Alexander
4. Dan Vickerman though it seems Sharpey is still in the running
5. James Horwill
6. Rocky Elsom
7. David Pocock
8. Radike Samo
9. Will Genia
10. Quade Cooper
11. Digby Ioane
12. Pat McCabe
13. Adam Ashley Cooper
14. James OConnor
15. Kurtley Beale

 Res: James Slipper, Tatafe Polota Nau, Luke Burgess, Ben Mcalman, Berrick Barnes
    It sounds like McCabe's games against South Africa will keep him in this physical side as to drop him might see him right out of the squad.
Barnes did everything he could to dislodge McCabe and would be itching on the bench to take kicks and come on if Cooper can't bring in a plan b.
    I know Peter De Villiers isn't reading my blog so it's safe to speculate that with Bryce Lawrence as referee (probably the biggest negative of this fixture) the contested ball will be a bar room winner takes all stoush.
   Look for the Wallabies to play straight but a little wider of the ruck with Pocock running the one and two channels and hopefully Elsom will get some space out wide...
   That's if we commit enough blokes to the ball to keep it. I'd be tempted to play Barnes and bring Hodgson straight onto the bench having flown him in as a replacement for Palu (what did I write about him again?) Non comprende?
That's ok, once every four years I get to watch a competition on TV that I know a little bit about...
Less sporting analysis in three weeks!!!
We are in trouble in this match if the weather makes it an arm wrestle...
We will also need to counter a drop goal festival!!! If the Wallabies win this Sunday at least I get to watch them play in a couple of weeks...
After this match it's on to a semi final against Argentina I guess!! ;D

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Space, Permission and Validity

   A new initiative, new form of church or a missional contextual ministry with young people rely on the interplay of [3] things if they are to have any chance. While we live in a western post modern, post church environment with all it's related challenges, there is an opportunity to join the missio dei [God's mission in the world].
  Outward focused, spirit inspired, gift harnessing creativity will always allow people to come up with amazing ministry with young people BUT unless the existing 'church' makes room for this it is always a bigger challenge than it needs to be.
   Space, permission and validity are all needed to give things the best chance of meeting 'the hurts and hopes' of people in your community. 

SPACE includes facilities [and the keys or access] but also attention, support, resources and awareness
PERMISSION means genuine approval to 'be' without 'gate keeping' and unhelpful constraints
VALIDITY is taking something seriously and understanding it as creating new forms of 'church'

   New initiatives or contextual missional activities are often fragile, fringe or experimental ideas. It can be a contest of ideas around 'what is the gospel?', focus, share of attention and 'open or closed set' thinking. That's all great jargon but it means we are not always good at allowing experiments.
   Young people often encounter low or no expectations and are not taken seriously in faith shaping and discipleship. Faith communities can be afraid for the future or guilty of seeing young people as 'the church of tomorrow.' Sometimes SPACE is clearly not free and complaints about how it's left or padlocks on cupboards make that clear. PERMISSION can be conditional on meeting generational or committee expectations. Lots of things are barely tolerated and what we do know is that leaders and young people have good 'antennae' for sensing whether or not they are included.
   St Laurence, Reading is the best example I've seen of all these things being evident just from entering their building and hearing their story. It's not about the billions of pounds spent but the space, permission and validity given to their mission. The same could be done with a flat screen TV, a coat of paint and a set of keys.

- Healthy School Breakfast Programs
- Computer Game Parties
- Homework Centre
- Social Justice Club
- Holiday Clubs for Kids
- Missional Contextual Worship
- Leadership Programs
- Hall Games
- Sports Comps
- Skaters
- Bible Study Groups
- Day Camping
- Theme Nights
- Big Screen Movies
- alt.worship
- Art, Craft & Photography

Thursday, September 22, 2011

UCA NSW/ACT Synod Meeting #02

I don't know about others but I'll be borrowing the VicTas hashtag #synod2011 for twitter during the 18 monthly meeting where the Mod is Installed here in Newcastle on Friday night and business kicks off Saturday at Newcastle University... based on the maintenance mode Reports so far I hope there's more innovative material to come... between the pre-reading our corporatised thinking on structures I'm hoping to at least have some good conversations with some of the younger attendees and looking fwd to their non boomer generation take on the challenges ahead!! Stay tuned I guess... unless our procedures ban social networking, which I doubt will have been considered... and is just an opportunity to flout the rules if it has!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coldplay Done!!

OK, so you've missed it now... but download it from youtube soon no doubt!!

Coldplay LIve on Letterman NOW!! 1pm AEST

   Watch Coldplay streamed live on the net from David Letterman's Late Show NOW!!! here
The internet webby thingy is amazing!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Re-reading "The Shaping of Things to Come"

   Yes, I'm re-reading the Frost/Hirsch 'textbook' exploring innovation and mission for the 21st C! It's helpful because it's thorough, grounding and references the original works from which most of our current popcorn versions draw their inspiration.
   The challenges of contextual mission and ministry and the ideas here are some of the reasons people tell me I speak a different language to them in some workshops and presentations... that won't be changing... but hopefully more people are beginning to grapple with the issues an increasingly irrelevant institution is facing.
   This is diametrically opposed to the 'good news' we believe we share and our hopes for a world lived differently. If people don't see 'the church' as a place to explore their spirituality and life then we are going to find 'attractional ministry' difficult... being seen and helpful , connected and serving communities of people is actually doing and being our faithful selves differently and opens up opportunities for people to encounter God on their territory.
   That said, I laugh every time I read about San Fransisco's 'Subterranean Shoe Room' knowing that he was trying to get a message to Michael Frost, asking him to stop telling the story. The shop ends up being full of Aussie and Kiwi backpackers 'cramping his style'!! whoops... keep it to yourselves!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Event Cinemas: Anything to Learn?

  Greater Union have changed their identity to 'Event Cinemas' in most if not all locations and the other bigger companies have their own take on the local cinema being about more than movies. It seems an interesting diversification which no doubt has more than one motive...
1. Movie pirating and quick release of DVDs necessitate movie experiences you can't have at home
e.g. this week along you can catch the Pearl jam anniversary show 'Twenty' and Nirvana 'Live at the Paramount'
2. 3D has sporting and concert possibilities or even just normal projection puts State of Origin Rugby League or the Rugby Union World Cup Semi's and Final on the BIG screen
3. Live Concerts and alcohol licences will soon combine on site to create new venues
4. It's bigger and cheaper than a 3D TV at home

SO, what lessons if any are there for the Christian Church. No it's not as simple as 'how can we entertain people?' We lost that battle ages ago... I mean what can we learn about the kinds of experiences people are responding to? AND what might it inspire us to come up with as diverse uses of our buildings and gathering spaces?

What are experiences we should be offering through our communities of faith, that you can't experience as well elsewhere? How might new cohorts of people be invited to enjoy communal experiences in our space?
What 'mission' could thinking this way serve???

RWC 2011 #05 Where to from here?

   The biggest problem for the Wallabies now in the wake of their World Cup loss to Ireland is the quality of the remaining opposition... unless the USA can bustle them as the Irish did we won't learn too much in their next two games about possible new combinations or players who 'put their hand up' for a forwards spot!!
   My thoughts... whatever it takes Pocock and Moore must play in the big matches!! and the bigger solution to a problem is Berrick Barnes at inside centre. McCabe is OK but Barnes gives another option alongside Cooper, for clearing kicks, point of attack etc.
   They must commit another man to the rucks and work out how to get forward so Genia has space to organise... that was the killer against Ireland. They played really well!
   What of the pathway to the Final... it will be tougher but wow, what a Cup it would be if we make it!!
They can hope for Italy to upset Ireland but on the other side of the draw the French loom as yet again the All Black achilles heel!! Viva La Francais!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

RWC 2011 #04 Four Penalties and a Drop Goal

   That says it all really!! The Wallabies lacked the ability to go to plan B when a spirited Irish side put it to them in the scrum and out enthused them in defence!!
   I have coached only lower grade blokes Rugby [with a little bit of success!] but I can tell you the secret to winning big games is to treat the ball as 'gold' and hold onto it for as long as you can.
   You can overcome rain, bustling defence, poor timing and diabolical refereeing [everything the Wallabies faced last night] and still win those games!!
   We never recovered from the absence of Ioane, Pocock and Moore. Polota Nau was off the pace and though Mcalman tried hard we missed that on the ball scrounging which may have seen an Irish forward sin binned and not just warned for their disruptive play at the rucks.
   The Irish even used their bench more effectively as we left it too late to bring Hinginbotham onto the field. He and Palu may havebeen handy in that charge to the line inside the last 15mins...
   It's a long way to the Final from here... unless 'the Azzurri' play out of their skins and down Ireland... even then the winner of last nights clash has the advantage!! THAT WAS AWEFUL, WALLABIES!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

RWC 2011 #03 The Ireland Challenge

   It really has been a case of too much rugby too little time for me so far this World Cup but that stops on Saturday night when the Irish front up to challenge the Wallabies. Will it be 12 degrees, raining and windy... probably!!
   The Wallabies should be focused enough to Ireland away unless ill discipline costs them too many 3 point penalties. It's a game the boys in green lift for but if it's 'fair dinkum' we should win by a fair bit.
   In other matches it's been great to see a few sides trouble the northern hemisphere teams. It's a sign the rugby is being played the right way and attractive attack is possible.
   I think the media is right, I expect Rocky Elsom to bounce back from being a bit invisible in the opener against Italy and Will Genia's reputation continues to grow.
   You win World Cups by having [5] world class players stamp their authority on matches. For us it's a group focus on the forwards gaining ground. This will allow our talented but inexperienced backs the room to grow into their reputations. Wouldn't it be great to see Kurtley Beale score three tries on Saturday night.
   Meanwhile if I were the All Black coaches I'd be looking to blow Japan off the park this weekend to get some confidence back into the side. It's time they settled on a winning combo or they risk a soft preparation for matches later on. 'Choking' is not an apt description of their World Cup history, it's been more a case of being too good for their pool and quarter final opponents so when they get to the serious matches they've been untested and underdone... bring it on!!

IKEA Have a Go

 Brilliant!! This is the one...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where I'd Rather Be...

I read three things this morning that made me ponder...
Where would I rather be?
It's been a long week, well two weeks actually, well four weeks...
And I'm not quite at the point where I can stop...BUT...
I'd rather be in:
1. New York City
Exploring more of the other four boroughs....
Brooklyn to begin with as well as catching 'Spiderman' the musical
2. New Zealand for the whole Rugby World Cup
Mind you somewhere actually warm would be better
I guess I'll settle for the week of the Final in Auckland and actually going to the game
3. Doing Laps of Lambton Pool or Homebush or the Cook+Phillip
Woke up after Mondays session at the Cook+Phillip Pool with a terrible throat so that's it for a week
4. Getting Acupuncture on my Sore Foot
It's getting better but not fast enough
5. Taking Photos around Newcastle for my latest Project
I have started and the weather today is magnificent
Maybe I'll take the camera when I go the Chiropractor
It's all manner of therapies here...
6. At the Movies
A couple of new films start today so there'd be something I haven't seen that I'd like to...
Jonny English could be great or could disappoint, next on my list though is 'The Guard'
7. At Bills 2 in Crown St for Breakfast
Mmmm corn fritters and honeycomb pancakes
8. Reading a book
Oh to have the time to stop
9. At the First Assembly for Sydney Alliance at the Town Hall tonight
One of the things this last two years has cost me is the energy and opportunity to fully participate in the community development made possible by the Alliance... I just feel I'm in a dead end with no idea where to next and so while I'd enjoy the interactions and be motivated to contribute I have no idea where it'd be heading... so I just have to wait...
Fortunately I don't need an organisation to teach me what I've done for years in terms of 'relational meetings,' deep listening and mission...
10. Driving to Sydney to see a Play at Bevoir St
Or Sydney Theatre Company
11. At a 'Midnight Oil' gig
Time machine required... Back to Selina's at Coogee!!
Packed in like sardines... too hot really, and the Oils working flat chat through 10,9,8...
And Diesel and Dust

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"RU OK? Day" 15th September 2011

   Tomorrow my time is RU OK? Day here in Oz which is inspired by Gavin Larkin and the story of his own father's suicide. He was a top flight business entrepreneur who took his own life as a result of depression which he hadn't really been open about or sought or been given help...
   Sadly Gavin himself has had his own share of illness and family struggles which are well told in an 'Australian Story' on ABC TV which you could currently view on ABC iView.
   RU OK? Day is about asking friends and relatives that question... not so much just those at risk BUT all people... you can check out the website here
   Schools and students have become involved in NSW through the 'Reachout' website and a group of young people were those who suggested ways to connect including video, facebook etc

"One Day" Movie Mistake


I must have been weary as I trudged off to the George Street 'Event Cinemas' in Sydney last night!! I had read [for read you mean skimmed] a recent article about the project where people contributed youtube styled videos to hopefully be included in the "Life in a Day" movie!! I also noted the session times for "One Day" and turned up ready to go... only trouble... "One Day" is the Ann Hathaway, Jim Sturgess film and not the one I thought...
   That said I really enjoyed it... many won't... it's a small story with big themes and is told in a really interesting way. I didn't get up and leave because I had seen the David and Margaret speil on it a week or so ago and knew they thought it interesting...
   Essentially the story tracks these two people who surprisingly become friends out of University from Graduation Day [15th July, St Swithins Day]and it picks them up on a number of following July 15ths to see how their lives and friendship is going or not, over 20 years...
   The script was quirky but could have been better but the story had some timely themes for me and an emotional setting just about right!! [3 stars].
   I would write a discussion guide or more thorough handout but I can't be bothered...

It did remind me of the Billy Bragg song though, so there is that..

St Swithin's Day
Thinking back now,
I suppose you were just stating your views
What was it all for
For the weather or the battle of agincourt
And the times that we all hoped would last
Like a train they have gone by so fast
And though we stood together
At the edge of the platform
We were not moved by them

With my own hands
When i make love to your memory
It's not the same
I miss the thunder
I miss the rain
And the fact that you don't understand
Casts a shadow over this land
But the sun still shines from behind it.

Thanks all the same
But i just can't bring myself to answer your letters
It's not your fault
But your honesty touches me like a fire
The polaroids that hold us together
Will surely fade away
Like the love that we spoke of forever
On st swithin's day

Funny IKEA Advert

I saw a great IKEA advert at the movies yesterday and came across this short lived one on youtube!! I'll post the other [completely different advert] when I find it... simple but funny!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th 2011 Ten years...

   My favourite place in the world to travel is New York City and I've been lucky enough to travel there three times. We went in 1998 for 5 days of a 9 week holiday from London, through Europe and then across the Atlantic!! It was a warm Spring/Summer and the city was magnificent. We spent lots of time around Broadway, Times Square and many of the usual sites.
   This included a trip to the top of the World Trade Centres Observation deck. We went to a Yankees game [my team] and most of the usual spots. Two returned tix saw us catch 'The Lion King' musical as well.
   Again in the winter of 2000 Simone and I returned to join in celebrating 'Thanksgiving' and to see the Christmas Lights turned on in Rockefeller Plaza. It was soooo coooold!! This was our trip before starting a family.
   In 2008 I was fortunate enough to go back as part of a 'study tour/work exploration trip and checked out a few 'new forms of church' alongside taking in the 9/11 Museum and Walking Tour led by people directly effected by the collapse of the Trade Centres that terrible day. As someone who values stories it's quite difficult to describe the depth of that experience.
   Today people across the world will reflect on the event which has in many ways defined the times. That day when four passenger aircraft crashed in New York, Washington and a field in Pennsylvania.
   Some will be mindful of terrorism, fundamentalist religious distortions and/or where they were!! Others will think about many lives lost in war, in the campaigns since and through violence in all it's forms.
   I will be thinking about the postcards in the basement of the 9/11 Museum and the messages of hope, prayer and support offered to all effected by this tragic turn of events. I will marvel at the thoughts and symbolism which has gone into the design of the Memorial Garden and the new 1 World Trade Centre.
   They will remind me of the importance of faith practices, reflection and creative spaces in which people can grieve, remember and move on... in their way and at their pace!!
   I will be thinking about Tommy whose story I heard walking around the 'Ground Zero' site as told by his mum!! He was an FDNY Firefighter who selflessly raced up the stairwell of the building in the hope of rescuing people and was there when the building collapsed. His parents fundraise for a scholarship in his name and run an annual golf charity day for the Foundation. I will remember that the week I was there in 2008 there was a news item about how one steel beam had importantly been placed in the footprint of the former buildings, because despite recent wet weather at that time it meant the reflective pools would be able to be finished by today... one more weeks delay and probably not!!
   I will ponder God's place in the sorrow, regret and lament and in the faces and lives of all who pause and pray or remember!!


Monday, September 05, 2011

RWC 2011 #03 Sydney Farewell


 I happened to be in Sydney working today so I attended my third ever Rugby World Cup team Farewell at the Town Hall Square. It was an autograph session as well so my cap that will make it's way to Auckland in October got a workout... I wanted to tell Quade Cooper to 'cut out the bad kicks' but he was too distracted laughing at a team photo of Kurtley Beale from someone's poster they were getting signed.
   They looked fit and ready to go and I even managed to jag a word with and signature from the coach!!
I told them I'd see them in Auckland at the end of October... on the Sunday rather than the Friday!! 

Cook + Phillip Pool Return


   It's been a while but after last week's false start I have finally returned to the pool for Spring/Summer and in particular those days when I am seemingly stuck in the city. I know I'm doing well when I can get my act together and head to the pool and so dragging myself through twenty laps today was a great reminder of how slack I've been letting my former 32 kg weight loss slip backwards and I'm desperately trying to get back on track... despite events and moments conspiring against me... anyhow!!
   That's another tick on my Sydney list... now for Homebush and finally a return to outdoors [heated] at Lambton when the weather genuinely warms up!!

Friday, September 02, 2011

"Meaningful Soles" Installation

Do you have or know of someone with a story to tell and a pair shoes they could give or lend to the cause of creating an art/installation/space made up of the shoes and people's stories on paper, with a backing track and a purpose designed space so people can come and circualte and engage with the stories.
The aim is for people to share their values, what's made them who they are or what shapes who they'd like to be... people of any faith or none!!
The space will be used at events and Festivals where young people and others gather and with 'at risk' youth to help them think about life and issues they face!!
The shoes will not end up on ebay...

I have sent almost 200 hundreds letters to people 'cold' when I've heard their story, found a contact or know who they are in the world of sport, movies, celebrity, politics...

I have shoes from:
Matthew Hayden cricketer
Dave Andrews writer/community builder/activist
Lisa Gorman telling her own journey
Geoff Smith and that sense of call/vocation

Who said "great idea but no"
Natasha Stott Despoja
Peter Garrett
Tim Flannery

Who said nothing:
Nelson Mandela
Nicole Kidman

I am now chasing Matt Noffs [Street University] and Juan Mann 'The Free Hugs Guy' [who said he was keen] BUT what's your story and who do you know that has one worth sharing... get them in touch with me.... I can talk postage, lending donation etc etc...

DO IT NOW!!!!!!!
Can you help out???

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Someone Like You" Adele

Wow!! She just gets better and better and this live this morning on the MTV Video Music Awards [VMAs] was amazing!! I'll wait for that live clip but here's the original official video now...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Greenbelt Festival 2011 looks great

It took me just over 20 years to get to the Greenbelt Festival [now at Cheltenham Racecourse] when I made it in 2008. It was a bittersweet experience because it was everything I expected and more and so I've watched and read about it each year since and seen our exploration groups and wished I was joining them. For the trip to London? The visits to interesting communities engaging in contextual mission? Well, that's part of it.... but it's actually because it's a space and a community of people 'who get it' and whose creativity, experimentation, faithfulness, humanity and story are just so inspirational and challenging at the same time!!
The Festival and each of the groups we've visited in recent years are part of those 'thin places' where our awareness of God and our lives touch and where the artificial gap between the secular and the sacred is challenged and breaks.
My trip was full on for a number of reasons and 2008 was an eventful year besides...
It's August bank holiday weekend and a bunch of aussies from Victoria are there experiencing the wonder that is Greenbelt and you can check out the action here and here.
This is an aweful year [energy sapping, boring, de-energising, uncertain etc] counting down to the end of my current role and thoughts and memories of that 2008 trip and al the amazing things I saw and heard about still fuels my thinking and energy for mission, creative endeavour and 'shaping the future.'
Wonder whose playing mainstage in 2012?
I'm also aware that I'm writing these thoughts in a public forum... so trust me it's edited and restrained... but mostly [for me] blogging is one aspect of me processing thoughts and happenings and moving forward [some might call it venting, I think I'm more varied than that] anyhow... no need to respond because I really write for me and anyone finding this in anyway interesting. well that's a bonus... tomorrow is another day!! I will get my camera out tomorrow and express my own creative side and that'll be a nice break!!

RWC 2011 #02 Wallbies v All Blacks

I haven't had my second viewing of the match BUT last nights win in the rugby is good news for the Wallabies who will still need to conquer NZ conditions but who showed if they are totally committed they can win big games. the team mix was good, they kept their heads and the power forwards were up to the task. The coach almost left the replacements a little late but we finally got some second half possession and defended well in the end. Our scrum had some trouble they'll ramp that up should we meet again and they learnt a lot from going up the middle when under pressure.

I still think we kick too much and the tactic of Genia box kicking is suspect, especially given two charge downs and one where he kicked his own player and captain in the head!! I'd have more to say on that after a second view to check alternative options and a look at individual players to see who was still contributing after 50 mins and how much better we did at the breakdown...


Saturday, August 27, 2011

'Kondoot' about to go viral globally

' Come up with a simple idea of how people everywhere can access and add content to the world wide web and set up a website user friendly interface and you could make your fortune and satisfy your creative bent all at once!!'
The Aussie boys behind 'Kondoot' have come up with a website where you can upload and ''broadcast' live and saved video footage for all to see...
Imagine your club, group or friends producing a weekly TV show styled video, sports reports, presentations etc and loading them up onto Kondoot. It's more than youtube/vimeo, different to Facebook and Twitter [yet linkable].
I could do a weekly sports report, youth work resource clip etc and load it onto youtube but Kondoot opens up different ways of sharing, including live...
Looks really interesting but uses flash so I'm still not sure if it was my net connection or my Mac which had a problem but my desktop PC worked well with it's netcam!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

All Blacks v Wallabies Suncorp Stadium

What are the chances? The last time these two teams met was the opportunity to break a long drought at Eden Park but the Wallabies were not able to do it, despite their opportunities. They failed to build any pressure and were denied space and time by the ruthless Blacks defence.
Tomorrow night is not about the World Cup, it's not even about the Tri-Nations... it's about whether the Wallabies have learnt anything and are capable of adjusting their attack to give themselves the time they need. Let us hope the chip and chase does not seem like the answer!!
The blueprint is to control the ball... it has always been the case in big rugby matches... treat it like gold and hang onto it when you have it... tackle, tackle, tackle to get it back when you don't and take any opportunity which comes your way.
The All Blacks should be unbackable favourites but our mob could just put up a better showing with the change of leadership... allowing Elsom to do what he does best without having to try to work out how to steer our backline... double dutch to the non enthusiast? I guess so...