Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kudos to Apple

I had a major disaster today with my iPad with which I am normally very careful!! I picked up a paper, book and the iPad from the car seat [i don't think I even knew I had the iPad... it slipped in my fingers, detached from the 'smart cover' and fell onto the concrete face down... the whole screen was cracked, smashed and shattered AND Apple replaced it as a courtesy for free [I do have Apple care that would normally make it a $450 purchase!!] so now it's 'restored' and running.
Just this week I ordered a shell that works with the smart cover [though it would not have prevented this] and just yesterday was talking with Lindsay who had a similar experience just a few weeks ago!!

"Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon" Review

Peter Travers from 'Rolling Stone" magazine gives a 'nice subtle' review of the film here
I am trying to figure out whether I agree but I certainly think some of the actors potential to bring the human story to life were steamrolled, literally in some cases, by the attempt at a 3D fest.... Disappointing at best!! 150 plus minutes at worst... Damn you Speilberg... Steven started the trend of movies over the 98-107 minute tolerable length... To which some recent films had returned.... !!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

U2 at Glastonbury

Interesting times at the postponed headlining gig for U2 at Glastonbury Festival! A protest group were subdued [maybe heavy handedly] by Security after inflating a 6m balloon protesting U2's offshore tax arrangements in the face of their stance on campaigning against poverty and in light of the economic situation in Ireland. Read the story here
I love U2's music and the mystique around their fame, their stories and the pop culture phenomenon the band have become... having liked the sound of Larry Mullen's drums from the first time I ever heard them in the 1980's. I find their music, themes, ways of portraying life and it's multi-faceted nature quite stunning and meaningful. At the same time I have always understood how much they are just like the rest of us... fallible, especially when it come to image and all the hype [the sunnies, private jet, summer homes in southern France etc etc!! Isn't the tax story just a reminder that none of us is perfect?
The tax story has an interesting twist that prior to recent years the Irish had tax exemptions for artists, actors, musicians but introduced those [no doubt because of current struggles] and around that time U2 moved their tax centre off shore... like many athletes and musicians across the UK, a few notable Aussie tennis and golf stars etc... should they be paying the right amount of tax in Ireland... absolutely... does it devalue their anti-poverty work... sure does... does it mean some of their music no longer fosters my spirit and gives me space to explore who I am and what my hopes for the world might be... no way!! The weekend's media has all been about the protest, I wait with interest for the big silence or the half baked response from the bands 'machine'...
"U pay tax 2!!"

Two Clever Advertising Campaigns

Often an advertisement speaks to the creative cleverness of the storytellers. Whatever the mining industry goals in these adverts, they are sharp, emotional and good stories...

The second is an broad campaign by 'Mastercard' with the "Witnessing History: Priceless" tag and vignettes from Rugby World Cup history such as Brian Lochore's billeting of the All Blacks with local NZ villages in the lead up to the RWC 1987. This is part of campaign where you can add yourself and 'where you were' to a video timeline on the website here for a chance to win World Cup tickets. Clever and you can view it here

Friday, June 24, 2011

'Go Back to Where You Came From'

Many people have been blogging and talking about this Oz SBS TV documentary taking some very ordinary Aussie [read quite remarkable people after all] and thier journey being exposed to the people and stories who become asylum seekers in African and Australian refugee camps/facilities. The series is viewable online and predictably opens people up to more than slogans, aussie taxpayer dollars being splashed around and fears for national security...

Check out the details here

"The church hasn't caught up with God"

While this Season 7 of 'Grey's Anatomy' on Oz TV attempts to rediscover some mojo, I enjoyed the imagery in this scene and the idea that in relation to what a marriage was and who or what God is "the church hasn't caught up with God yet." It was a great scene!! Interesting! Reflecting on the nature of 'love'

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Phil Waugh retires from all Rugby at Year's End

NSW Waratahs and Wallabies legend Phil Waugh yesterday announced he'll retire from all rugby at the end of 2011... hoping for a swansong in the World Cup squad for September/October in NZ!!
Phil has been a tenacious openside flanker for club [Sydney University], state and country with a long period of jostling with George Smith for the Wallaby starting role, to the extent various coaches shifted George to number 8 or played them both at 6 and 7 to capitalise on their strengths.
In recent seasons Phil has given way to David Pocock and others but is still a dominant figure at state level. Some argue too dominant as he's see away at least 2 coaches and is in part responsible for some of NSW more boring performances, calling them back to a train track style of play to best suit his on ball abilities in retaining posession... often only to see a dropped pass or poor kick squander the opportunities and make the attack look inept at best!!
It was 'the right time' for Phil to hang up the boots with persistent injury and a few candidates 'in the wings' lining up for his spot [where this hasn't always been the case]!!
Phil Waugh is the kind of experienced hard nut every rugby team needs, combining superb skill with tenacity and unflappability... the perfect foil for a backline like the Tahs, if a little stiffling at times. Rain, mud, cold, altitude or shine, Phil Waugh is a Wallaby hero. As ever Phil's got the timing just right!!
Unless there are some injuries I don't believe Phil will get his wish of a World Cup finish, but if one or two other candidates don't handle the lead up or Tri Nations, we would be well served if he did make it!! I hope Phil gets a baa baas invitation at years end to play against the Wallabies in the UK!! [as the World Champions of Rugby of course!!]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

'52 Suburbs'

Louise Hawson spent 52 weeks photographing and blogging about a different Sydney suburb every week and this has led to a 'simple but brilliant' display at the Museum of Sydney [cnr of Phillip and Bridge Sts in the city]. It's $10 entry with several other exhibitions onsite at Sydney's original Government House.
I finally got there today [and resisted the $40 coffee table book version at least so far] and it fits my measure of creative ideas that really work as 'simple things done well!'
The photos are collaged with a simple white backboard, numbered and named as their suburb around a large room with a few on back to back boards in the centre to create an intimate space.
As well as appreciating it for it's own sake I always enjoy thinking about how/what I'd do along similar lines and in missional frame of mind for any local Uniting Church e.g. photo essays, exposes of local characters [ala Trinity Church Wall St in New York which I visited to check out their 'our neighbours' series], iconic spaces and buildings, promoted to the local neighbourhood and either displayed in a community space or if you think people would come then at your property. Staffed by congregational volunteers with the only agenda being one of celebrating community and story where you are...
Imagine a local Newcastle suburb, for arguments sake Hamilton, chose to do something like this... iconic Beaumont St buildings, the local Barber, a character who still frequents the Kent Hotel all these years after the earthquake, Gregson Park, the boys at the Gallipoli Club, the Italian Centre and so on.... [especially including a couple of the UC's older congregants and their story of the suburb] blow up the collage of images around different themes on matt photo paper A3 sized with very simple labels.
Affix them to homemade mdf display boards painted white on each side and set up in the hall or in the worship space beyond 'Bill's Place Fairtrade Cafe' and suddenly a whole new group of people are exposed to the space, the people, the vibe and the creativity and celebration of Hamilton's multi-cultural life.
Expand it further to include all the suburbs of Newcastle and advertise accordingly, maybe using a space from 'Renew Newcastle' in the city or the University OR TRANSLATE THESE TO YOUR OWN LOCATION!!
It would even be worth buying someone a Canon EOS camera to go out and use and encouraging their development... money well spent!! Wallsend's coal history, Adamstown's mix of anglo, sudanese and Macedonian citizens, The Junction/Merewether or the beaches and suburbs...
52 suburbs blog is here

Friday, June 17, 2011

Trinity Sunday

Andrej Rublev 1410
It's Trinity Sunday unrolling yet another conundrum about faith in a seemingly and at times invisible God and the 'counter empire' claims of Jesus Christ. No illusions of water, steam and ice here... It's also the closest Sunday to the birthday of the incredibly movement which is the Uniting Church. The three year lectionary cycle brings us to Mathew 28 and the so called 'great commission' to 'go and make disciples of all the nations' given 'all authority in heaven and on earth.'

Resources for
Contemporary worship
Worship House Media Matthew 28
The Work of the People Make Disciples
The Text This Week various resources
Mustard Seeds here

The Matrix and 'Trinity' 01 02 03
Babette's Feast 01
and about discipleship....
'Amelie' helping the blind man
'The Adjustment Bureau'
'Spiderman' ht to Jon Sargeant where Spidey and Dr Oc are fighting and he's just about spent and the crowd from the train saving step in saying 'you'll have to go through us first'
'Evan Almighty' the scene where 'God' talks about changing the world, one random act of kindness at a time

Children and Youth
See post about Digestives, white icing and red icing to make biscuit UCA Logos
and other ideas

Use a series of 'stations' around a breakdown of the UCA logo:
1. Black circle
Write words with white or silver texta on the cardboard as your hopes for a world and it's dark places, absence of compassion and grace. Trace a prayer in the bowl of sand alongside.
Maybe using looped 'Fragile' by Sting
2. White cross
The symbol of Jesus 'solidarity' with us as 'one of us' and staying true to the truth despite the risks involved. You could do something around the vertical and horizontal with the discipleship passage on a poster asking how you might build on your vertical relationship with God and the horizontal outworking of that in the world
3. White 'U'
What do you celebrate about the Uniting Church, what's a question, what's a hope and/or a way this U can become more like a completed circle...
4. White dove, red wings...
Peace... prayers for the world.... tealight candles and world map
Red wings, the spirit of God, fire...
Use red cards to write on with white textas/pens and adhere to a black cloth
Pictures of people inviting reflection on who/what how God is active in the world and how we might be invited to join in.

More traditional worship*
I agree with Bill Loader that this passage is significant where consistently Matthew highlights the women [or those who are often discounted] do not doubt in their encountering Jesus contrasted with the male followers who 'ought to know.'
Jesus claims authority from his resurrection [or his ministry in Q] and relates a connection with God which speaks to who has authority and where power is sourced in the battle for hearts and minds in an occupied land. Matthew links God's wisdom but in some ways doesn't keep the threads around 'trinity' despite lots of OT links... Jesus speaks and acts for God and in this story passes on the authority to others... BUT what the heck does that have to do with today...

What the story means is that the followers were 'sent' to teach what they had been taught' and they had been taught about 'relationship' and engaging your whole self in God's activity in the world... and the values of God [God's will some would say].... but still what is that.... it's the challenge of the people of God to be people of compassion and grace, holding judgement, being careful to take the role of servant and building communities based on these values... who or what is God calling us to be at this time in this place?

It's outworking today comes in:
- inclusion [genuinely seeing the face of God in others]
- fair trade and social justice action
- seeking to hear and respond to people's own stories
- asking who we include, what we create and reflecting that in how we gather
- joining the campaign for action on climate change
- opening property up to the community
- etc etc

Making disciples is relational, counter cultural, and begs the gathered group to be asked for their stories so I'd have invited three people from different age groups to share a story with the group about their discipleship with a couple of possible angles... And 'in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit' fits and gives a shape for reflection to this day!!

Choose a traditional selected prayer and handout a sheet breaking open some of the phrases and ask people to reflect on what the words mean for them... who are the communities or people they think of... and what is it they'd 'share' with others and who it is they believe they're sharing!!

Wherever I Go Robin Mann
God Version 1.0 Robin Mann
Praise with Joy the World's Creator TiS 179
Send Me Jesus TiS 749
Billabongs AHB and TiS suggestions
David Beswick's liturgy and music


Every now and then you see an image that just says what you need to say!!
Another great photo from Jonny Baker

'Unfiltered Youth Ministry" # 02 Andrew Root in Canberra

It was a great weekend last weekend, exploring the writings and presentations of Andrew Root, at the Chapel of the Centre for Christianity & Culture in Canberra!! It was a weekend of mixed feelings for me... I welcome learning and really enjoy the gymnastics of figuring out how something affirms or challenges my views, teaches me something new and/or relates to my understanding of God, practice of ministry and or who I am... The fractures, apathy or missed opportunities in our networks makes this a rare occasion and that's a shame. Darren, Duncan and Matt are to be congratulated for pulling it together...
As I had written before, Andrew's re-emphasis on authentic relationships for their own sake, drew me back to my beginnings and the things I hold dear... more recently expressed as the notion that 'every person has a story and every persons story is worth hearing.' The Day Two focus on 'children of divorce' was something we were privileged to be participating in... deep sharing and a dose of reality around an issue that has nothing whatsoever to do with the 'naval gazing' of a church struggling for survival and all the ridiculous distractions this provides... Instead it highlighted what a significant thing 'engaging in God's activity in the world' is when our desire to share compassion and grace with others coincides with a burning need and while feeling 'at home' in the conversations I am convinced of it's wider relevance and my ability to 'transition' my gifts/skills/knowledge/self into a different setting, bringing the same 'above and beyond' energy!!
Alongside this, the girls came with me for the weekend, enjoying Cockington Green, a six hour visit to Questacon and the National Space Museum/NASA. I skipped Saturday night for a family dinner in Manuka and so we enjoyed the space and time together. I'll get them to the National Museum eventually.
Trying to sort out my future before or after December this year, I found myself fitting what we were talking about 'like a glove' but unable to picture where or how it will be applied.
It brought an edge to the fact I know I'm entering a time of change and the very real possibility of needing to find employment elsewhere... while I jest about the door greeter role at Bunnings [stay tuned]
I cannot commit my hopes, frustration, anger, willingnesses and recent reminders that the church does not get 'youth ministry' as anything other than playing in the sandpit, to cyber space because it comes without context or conversation...
Anyhow... it's that conundrum...
Every so often the 'wheel turns' in this crazy flawed thing called the church... and you're reminded of how vulnerable you, you're self image and your passions are... amidst mixed messages and very human fallibility... while those you know and trust happily re-affirm you!!
I've been re-reading Andrew's book 'Unfiltered Relationships' and was reminded of a film clip which fitted the weekends themes really well. It's the story of teacher Erin Gruwell as told in 'Freedom Writers.' Erin sets an assignment but notes one student who is struggling with setbacks as his brother receives a jail [US film/US spelling] sentence and he has given himself an 'F' in the self assessment task. Erin invited the students to fill in journals which she offered to read to learn about their stories and he had written about feeling 'invisible.'

"I see you... do you hear me, I see you... and you are not failing!!"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

'Unfiltered Youth Ministry' Weekend Workshop

Had a great weekend in Canberra listening to and talking with Andrew Root from the US (who is fully aware of his surname in an Aussie context) with a bunch of energetic Youth Workers from various backgrounds. Andrew writes and advocates for stuff that takes me back to my beginnings and reinforces the reasons I'm a Youth Worker and what I try to focus on in stories, place sharing and relationship building for it's own sake!! It was great to be affirmed while tired from the struggle with those who see it so differently!!
More in coming days BUT it was a great time at a time when I am otherwise struggling with and wrestling with my own future and broader contexts for ministry and mission wher I would remain an advocate for those on the edges and whose voices are not heard...

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

'Chocolat' A missiological Fable

One of my favorite film stories for thinking about the struggling and displaced organisation I feel called to be part of [the church] is 'Chocolat' The film adaptation of the original story sees Vianne and her daughter literally blown into the town by the wind and they land right in the middle of 'Lent' (or the time of going without) over 40 days.
Vianne rents a space and opens a chocolatery at this time and immediately causes a stir and earns the ire of the Compte or Mayor who is the Senior Priest in the original story.
This disrupts the community value of 'tranquility' so important to the Compte yet so stifling to true community and doing a poor job of papering over: the Compte's marital difficulties; domestic violence; moving on from grief; and appearances. The river Gypsies stretch the villages facade to breaking point as all the fear, anger and certainty shake everything up.
The story speaks to: the challenge of societal and values change; the hypocrisy of retaining a holy image in the face of understandable human frailty; and the threat of the new... Which demands SPACE, PERMISSION and VALIDITY and bring new life the old cannot domesticate easily... Tending to the lowest common denominator in response...

- How does someone perceived as being from the edges give leadership in the middle
- how does someone whose heart is in change and the new make a case for working with what exists
- why is it so often what exists which holds up the new
- &@$!? it

- I know they can stay on the edge but when what exists attempts to squash, domesticate or castrate the new it's missing out on regrowth, resurection etc the move might be necessitated by opportunity, funding, to begin to work at what stands in the way of the new and bring a fresh perspective.... Or because the edge is always uncomfortable on some level and that wears you out or becomes too fragile so often...
- I'm always disappointed when opportunities are missed, by me, by others, by working groups or communities of faith, by structural reviews, by committees or again by me
- peripheral stuff so often seems to take up the oxygen when a little bit of creative difference would be actually about giving the space, permission and validity to the new...

OK just thinking aloud... In the words of my neighbor "I'm over it!!" today that is...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sydney 'Bucketlist'

A good 'Burger' is serious business!! While I'm doing more research and still intend to head to one of Newtown's Burger outlets in coming weeks/months I did cross one more thing off my list of things I'd like to do in Sydney before the end of the year!!
There's a new 'food atrium' on Level 5 of the Westfield redevelopment in Centrepoint and it includes 'Charlie & Co' Burgers and I can now recommend the 'Waygu Burger' [without the gherkin]. While the chips looked good I resisted!! And I note an excellent BLT and Chicken Fillet Burger...
I discovered some new 'Grill'd' outlets alongside the Darlinghurst one but because I can get one of those at home it doesn't count and I was searching for just the right spot...
The place I'm thinking of in Newtown will be a [3] meal substitute but todays was a great dinner, especially at $16 not $23 which you can pay...

Thursday, June 02, 2011

"A New Culture of Learning"

For a couple of years I have been trying to track down the name of a guest on ABC Radio 702 'Conversation Hour' [now known as 'Conversations'] who worked in Schools in western Sydney. My memory of the dialogue was not so much about schools and education but the framework he advocated for learner centred education and creating spaces for engagement. I particularly recalled talk of designing and redesigning schools, refurbing foyers, atriums and libraries as inviting learning spaces...
I had trawled the podcast list but was 'looking for a needle in a haystack' and just this week stumbled on the right one which while labelled with a topic sentence, didn't step out and hit me, previously... I'm talking about Greg Whitby and I've re-engaged with his podcast and am even more sure that his contextual skills and insights have direct relationship to the task of faith formation, discipleship and engagement with young people. Greg would be a great resource for thinking about what kind of environment you'd want to create for ministry and mission with young people where you are!!
For ministry, mission and indeed discipleship to grow I am convinced there needs to be 'space', permission and validity... Greg speaks to all [3] in a school education setting and I believe would be an excellent catalyst to our conversations.
To this end I was pursuing him to come and share his insights with a bunch of Youth Workers in August... we have since hatched a slightly different plan, just as I've found Greg... now I'm thinking how else this might work...
In the meantime his website included a post about a book which I thought could similarly speak to our discipleship task... many Christian books are caught up in where they sit on the theological spectrum more than the idea they are attempting to address and this one would lead to a process of asking how it informs or challenges your existing ideas or something new you hope to hatch... you can then bring your own biases onboard!!
It's called "A New Culture of Learning" by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown and you can read more here or Greg's post here

To mark this theme I have just downloaded the book via the Kindle Store to my iPad!!