Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lent 4a The Blind Man Charlestown UCA

So here's what I've sorted out for worship this Sunday night as an attempt to explore the breadth of John 9: 1-41 The Blind Man and it's broad themes related to 1 Samuel, Psalm 23 and Ephesians 5.

I'm responsible for the 'preaching' so we'll have a 2 minute intro and then loop "Gurrumul History [I Was Born Blind]" by Geoffrey Gurrumul from his solo album [that'll be 10-11mins] to then explore five 'stations' cracking open the themes.

Light/Dark Seeing/Blind Faith/Unfaith

Station #01
John 9: 1-41
Exploring the Bible story with some discussion questions
The story will be blown up onto A2 with highlights, arrows and notes [yet to be done]

Station #02
Handout Sheet to read and sketchbook for responses or questions [as above in jpeg form]

Station #03
Lament/Lent or wooden bowl with ash/muddy paper
The paper will have words written and sitting in the bowl
This Bible story comes in the fourth week of Lent, the time of focus and preparation for Easter
Inviting reflection

Station #04
“Gurrumul History [I Was Born Blind]” lyrics
A world inviting us to see... as you listen

Station #05
Shoeboxes with pinholes
Pictures with light
What do you see, what does this image have to do with mud, light?

Some will involve cloth and tables or easels and corflute around the space...

I'm still designing these as suggested and kindly resourced by egroup participant Megan T
I am thinking of an image in the end of the box, a pinhole in the other and a small LED light in each angled to invite the viewer into the image. The images will reflect on blindness, light, mud and faith... no I haven't finailsed them all and think you'd be best to choose your own images if you felt inspired at midnight on Saturday to have a stab at this... mayne one image will feature here by the time I've finished this post...

Gurrumul History [I Was Born Blind]
I was born blind, and I don't know why
God knows why, because he loves me so
as I grew up my spirit knew
then I learnt to read the world of destruction
united we stand, divided we fall
together we'll stand in solidarity

Ŋarranydja dhuwala
Batumaŋ ŋarranydja dhuwala
Djarrami ŋarranydja dhuwala
Djeŋarra' ŋarranydja dhuwala
Gurrumulŋa m..m

I heard my mama, and my papa crying their hearts
in confusion how can I walk?
Straight and tall in society
please hold my hand
trying to bridge and build
Yolŋu culture
I've been to New York
I've been to LA
I've been to London

ŋarranydja Gurrumul
United we stand, divided we fall
Together we'll stand, in solidarity
Ŋarranydja dhuwala
Barrupa ŋarranydja dhuwala
Dhukuḻuḻ ŋarranydja dhuwala
Maralitja ŋarranydja dhuwala
Y..e, wo wäŋawu Garrapala Dhamutjpirr, Dhamuŋura
(english) I am Batumaŋ (ancestor)
I am Djarrami (ancestor)
I am Djeŋarra' I am Gurrumulŋa (ancestor) m..m
I am Gurrumul I am Barrupa (my ḻikan)
I am Dhukuḻuḻ (my ḻikan)
I am Maralitja (my ḻikan)
I am Ŋunbuŋunbu (my ancestor)
Y.e wo of the country
GarrapalaDhamutjpirr, Dhamuŋura

Top Ten Most Powerful Movie Scenes

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial at MOVIECLIPS.comThe FILMCLUB website has listed the results of a survey to determine the top ten most powerful film scenes stretching back to 1925!! What do you think?

The full Top 10 is…
1. E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial (PG, 1982): E.T. says goodbye to his young friends.
2. Toy Story 3 (U, 2010): The toys hold hands and face their fate.
3. Rocky (PG, 1976): The emotionally charged big fight.
4. Bambi (U, 1942): The moment when tragedy touches the young life of Bambi.
5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (PG, 1969): The moment when the besieged cowboys leap out of their bunker, all guns blazing.
6. The Wizard of Oz (U, 1939): When Dorothy opens the door of her grey house onto a world filled with colour.
7. Battleship Potemkin (PG, 1925): The influential 'Odessa Steps' massacre scene.
8. Mr Smith Goes To Washington (U, 1939): The filibuster scene makes a powerful case for justice: "I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause."
9. Network (15, 1976): When news anchor Howard Beale announces "I'm as mad as hell".
10. Miracle in Milan (U, 1951): Final scene when Toto and his friends rise into the sky on brooms.

Read more here

Art Express Art Gallery of NSW 2011

I got there! Yesterday I put one more tick against my Sydney 2011 'bucketlist' and spent 45mins engaging with the collection of chosen works from Year 12 HSC students in NSW for 2010... there are some remarkably talented artists of that age around.
I went in with renewed thoughts about 'curation of worship' and curation generally in mind and enjoyed the mix of: painting; video loops; sculpture; photography; textiles; 3D depictions and the sophistication of the materials used.
There were piles of wool which had been used in images, a doorway mirror which had been placed all over Sydney for still pictures but the visual diary was included below it and incorporated the parking ticket for the necessary 4WD parking illegally outside the gallery for that shot within the piece. Bill Viola inspired one video loop through the image of the creation of light in Genesis.
I loved a bush image on a huge canvas with the front 2cm of two timber desk drawers and a collection of stuff poking out the top of the drawers.
Various collections travel regionally so see how far away the collections are here
Visual Diaries and other explanations can be found through the excellent 'Inside Art Express' website here.

Robert Bunsen's 200th Birthday

So today Google is celebrating the 200th birthday of Robert Bunsen! [the inventor of the Bunsen burner] This will no doubt spark reminiscences of fireballs, burnt desks, smouldering ponytails and tortured insects amongst former and current High School students across Australia and the rest of the world!! Vale Robert Bunsen!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

"We weren't tough enough upstairs"

There's a great article by former Australian Rugby Captain John Eales in this weeks edition online of Rugby Heaven! I think his observations offer a great insight into sporting team mentality but in certain situations in life as well!!
Check it out here

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fixed Four Year Terms Seemed Like a Good Idea

Overnight here in Oz our NSW State Labor Government has been predictably routed after four years of disfunction and eight years of empty political policy announcements. The outcome reflects the infighting amongst Labor over the privatisation of 'electricity' in NSW.
They dumped a Leader then spent 3 years fighting over the decisions while about once a month a Minister resigned due to corruption, mismanagement or scandal [often undeserved but brought to light by enemies]!!

Even so it comes at the end of a period of total disfunction:
- Announced, re-announced and cancelled rail projects
- Electricity
- Parachuting of candidates
- Corruption amongst powerbrokers
- Colleagues turning on each other
- in house leaks against Ministers
- Cross City Tunnel
- Sydney Metro
- It goes on and on...

The problem goes way back to a perception we were sick of quick Elections and the bringing in of fixed four terms... which seemed like a good idea at the time... and even saw the Governor seeking legal advice 12 months ago as the public outcry to 'bring it on' dominated mainstream media...
Basically, the state has been waiting for March 26th to turf out a poor government which shouldn't have been elected four years ago but confirmed that every month since. Nathan Rees was a good Leader who was axed after infighting and Kristina Keneally would have made a good Premier. She is a person of insight, intelligence and gravitas who is well grounded and did a credible job of 'reinventing.' But as they say 'the people had stopped listening' and this was always going to happen. That to me explains the poor polling and lack of impact of the generational change.
Never in my lifetime did I ever expect to talk about "The Liberal Member for the State Seat of Newcastle"!! Jodie McKay has done a good job after being 'parachuted' in and causing major ructions last time around... to no avail in the end.
Prior to all this I had been thinking about 'getting involved' and had identified that the local branch meets monthly at a local Club... I'd love to be engaged in community political activity and have carried that since High School BUT my own future is suitably in flux at present and I didn't have the energy right now.... in any case the local Member Sonia Hornery has done well despite marching to a different drum than the party machine in advocating local issues!!
Finally, the Greens and Independents have shown how their fortunes are tied to public perception and 'the times'... Independents came in due to disaffected Nationals voters who showed their feelings about the decision to back Labor Federally and I think the 'carbon tax' cost the Greens...
Climate Change needs a big picture focus on language which allows the public to enter the debate and to clearly understand what measures will help and what they'll cost... the sooner the better, just not simply tied to the sometimes extreme 'green' view.
Hmmnn, interesting times... 'Liberal Member for Newcastle' are you mad!!!!
At the end of the day privatisation, failure to tackle long term issues like transport, health and planning show self interest, lack of compassion and people unable to translate their community minded motives into constructive change and progress across the state... "Blessed are those who use public office for their own advancement ahead of the future of a statewide group of people" I guess...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Annie Leibovitz at Sydney MCA

Annie Leibovitz photographs are icons of popular culture and moments in time capturing friends, family and the famous at significant times in their lives. Apart from that she is a pretty good photographer. It's was on my Sydney 'bucketlist' to go see her exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art [MCA] in Sydney's Rocks and it was well worth the $15 entry!!
There are photos I've seen on the cover of 'Rolling Stone' magazine and news worthy snaps, family pics and giant b&w landscapes... I was struck by the large prints of General Norman Schwartzkopf and Colin Powell... there are light and shade and body lines you don't notice on a busy magazine which show character not just light... e.g. the b&w of Robert De Niro is poor 'Godfather'!!
It reminded me of the power of large b&w images and text which are accessible for worship and reflection these days through various digital photo outlets...
I will be thinking about what I experienced and learned for some time... it's that curator/leader/facilitator thing again...

World Cup Follow Up

Yep, well as predicted 'Punter' scored a ton BUT needed it to be 120 and you can't win in India if your spinners twenty overs collectively yield 1-83 ish....
Oh, well the rebuilding begins... keep learning your trade Steve O'Keefe!!

World Cup Cricket

Now we finally have the preliminary rounds done we focus on a slowly building Aussie team who have run into India too early and may not get the chance to go further!! I have been telling anyone who'd listen this last 2 days that 'Punter' Ponting would make a 100.... so far so good... now we need to restrict the Indians after an early onslaught by fighting back with a few middle order wickets... it can be done and won!! We'll see I guess...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What I would have done!!

Some of my reader/s will know that over the last year plus, our state body in the Uniting Church has been working on the latest [most urgent] attempt to reshape in the face of increasing challenges and decreasing resources. There were 'special disbursements' due to previous share market dividends, courageous decisions to spend bequests and to recognise that if some resources were 'for a rainy day' then it's friggin' pouring... the particularly galling 3 years of budget cuts to create a circuit breaker pool of funds to reorder how they were spent... and now the merger of our Boards of Mission and Education... meaning more than a dozen jobs end in December 2011 and a handful will be reshaped and advertised [sometime].

Affirmations or Givens:
- All these things are honest attempts by committed people to meet the challenges of our current context as a church shrinking and stuttering at engaging in God's mission in the world in 21st C ways
- Both Boards leadership has been telling our decisionmaking bodies for at least three years that a solution was needed and none was forthcoming from those bodies
- A Board Merger was 'almost inevitable' in the circumstances
- What's been planned offers a chance to break the mould of our incrementally changed former roles, Units and groups who all laboured hard to stay relevant and to address the real issues in our regions, congregations and how we fund our mission and discipleship
- After 11 years in my own current role it was time to look elsewhere anyhow BUT some plans had been considered and the timing was set to best allow good decisions around a hosting of our national youth event NCYC [or not] and that's been compromised
- The full positive potential for the merger has been limited by the 'non negotiables' which came into the idea once talks began. Creative ideas to value add to some of those areas were heard as something other than ideas of focusing the work so jobs that have been lost might have maintained some edge but been added to those ongoing areas.
- Some resources which could be diverted have been seen as not part of the equation as they don't 'cost' but instead the question could be 'are they a priority' or is that the best way to reflect this missional priority and could the resources be used differently on what things are a priority
-2011 is the year of the ticking clock for myself and all my colleagues and some around us are clueless, incapable or not interested in the personal cost of these journeys. Others are endlessly supportive and we all know God is at work in all the mess, creativity and possibilities.

A proposal had developed alongside merger talks for a wider strategic review and I for one believe the 'wider' is important but that this review was not necessarily the right one. I said so to whoever asked, would listen or on bodies I participate in who asked these questions. I have also been active in the merger process when we've been asked for ideas and even see some of those concepts in the current plan... SO... I feel able to reflect and comment and mean no criticism to any group who've been trying to do what's been asked of them...

We need a 'mission review' across the life of our mission field, the Synod of NSW/ACT. Not a structural review, but a discussion about who we are and why... to the point of practical resourcing...
A Steering Group could/should design consultation/s with local and regional stakeholders who come together for a facilitated discussion which doesn't ask 'what do you want to grab?' or what have you been unhappy about but draws us back to questions of 'who God is calling us to be in this place or places at this time?" OR 'where do we see God active in our communities that we are called to participate in and what wider resourcing would enhance that effort?'
Personally I would design a one day process for dealing with our annual Synod meeting business and devote the rest of the time to including that meeting as one consultation and then the following time it could work through some practical outcomes focused decision making. A Consultant and Team would drive the process towards a picture of our call, priorities, non priorities and then resourcing and institutional frameworks could be set up and reshaped accordingly...
Such a process would take seriously 'the five marks of mission,' the extent and need of our property resources and where we hold capital and property which could be sold and invested in missional activity.
This current context calls for changed institutional arrangements and we've been making small steps around funding focus, breaking open grants and special projects, regional generosity and use of the sales proceeds from property... are we up to the bigger stuff now. The one certainty is 'change' and the rest is about how we meet the adaptive challenges it presents. A 'ground up' consultation process is less about a large institution trying to reshape itself and more about individuals and groups envisaging what we need the monolith to do so what shape is needed becomes clearer. Previous Presbytery/Synod dialogues have by all reports been a blamefest and a standoff... we can no longer afford this...
The trouble is none of this is easy or orderly so people will be displaced either way. This idea is about asking who we are and whose we are, from big picture through to concerete arrangements. Others better at organisational structures than me could design central and regional resourcing to meet the plan. Maybe we could even include the voices from our 'growing edges' of: non anglo groups; young adults looking for new forms of church; and a few larger contemporary groups as we grapple with what that means across the theological spectrum.
To date the oft chanted criticism of our synod decisionmaking [that it's top heavy with employed leaders] could for this instance be true in some spheres where the problems have been examined... simply going ground up without a good process is no better.
Second lastly, we should adopt the Parramatta-Nepean approach of a fifty year plan... some find it amusing or befuddling... I think it's the only way to go.... we make the same kinds of cases for infrastructure and public transport in NSW and it doesn't have our contextual issues, mostly just funding pressures... that we have in common!!
Lastly for this post, these are the crazy thoughts that fill my sleepless and restless head... nothing more, nothing less... so perhaps more clarity will emerge in future posts... Anyhow, I'm just thinking out loud... a dangerous thing usually!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

Unbelievable!! After all the floods and Cyclone Yasi, the Christchurch earthquake and the wave of violence across the Middle East and Arab world comes the devastation in Japan!! The images were destructive and disturbing as whole towns were washed away and left a number missing in the ten thouands... prayers, thoughts and national resources are with the people of Japan as the stuff of CGI movies comes to life in their backyards...

Those looking for worship resources could start here at Text Week

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Book Crossing

A guest on local ABC 702 radio here in Oz was tonight talking about sustainable living, community and sharing resources. As well as agreeing that bike helmets were the downfall of Melbourne's 'bike share' project he mentioned a website and idea called 'Book Crossing' which has a website here
The basic idea is to share your books by registering on the website and putting a Book Crossing ID [BCID] sticker in the book. After you've read the book you could leave it: on a train; at the shops; in a park etc. If anyone picks it up they might register the code on the website and you could follow your books journey across the country and perhaps the world.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

iPad 2

In a rare moment of responsible purchasing I have been saving a few dollars here and there in a jar while impatiently waiting for the rumoured launch of the updated iPad 2 and this time it's been worth the wait with a hopeful date of March 25th and not delays until May [we wait to see the reality!!].
Having trialled the boss' original for uses, apps and limitations it has a few of all of these but would still be a useful tool beyond the 'iPhone on steroids' call and not quite Macbook niche!!
I'll use it for AV stuff, notes, meetings, calendar and on the spot web stuff I can't read so well on the phone... bring it on!!

Check it out here