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faithscape21



traversing the terrain of a third millennium soul



Updated: 2014-10-03T04:09:16.480+00:00

 



Follow Me!

2009-11-23T19:29:23.177+00:00

I'm no longer blogging here but if you resonate with the kind of stuff you find on this blog you may want to follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/mattwi1s0n or check out my occasional posts on the 'urban notebook' at eden-network.org

Matt ;-)



Urban Imagination

2009-08-21T23:10:02.993+00:00

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I've been steadily building up a bank of urban images in hope of one day finding the time to create a visual backdrop to complement this stunning song written and performed by my friend Andy Smith. Finally I managed to find the time to fasten it all together in iMovie and this is the result. If you like it, share it!



Eternal Life, Quality vs Quantity

2008-12-26T10:06:19.846+00:00

(image) Christmas. Jesus. Baby. Manger. Hay. Doting parents. Awestruck shepherds. Nonchalant livestock. It's surely the ultimate divine comedy that God answered Mary and Joseph's frantic prayers for a room in a B&B by providing a parking space for their donkey instead. So who was he, this holy infant so tender and mild? Why did he come? What did his words mean? How should his actions be interpreted?

Probably the most famously used abbreviation of this remarkable life is the one found in John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life'. As it happens I've been thinking a lot lately about this eternal life. I'm far from convinced that it is at all synonymous with the much loved idea of 'going to heaven'. ‘Perishing’ has always struck me as being a greengrocer sort of image. We have a fancy silver bowl in our kitchen that frequently contains perishing fruits of various types. Leave them in there long enough and they'll all perish into various forms of fungus and fuzz. None of them have eternal life. You see the things of this world deteriorate. There is a peak of life, energy, vitality (that I passed many moons ago) and beyond this zenith life grows less and less. The words of Jesus quoted in John 3:16 seem to be suggesting that God desires to gift to us, through his son, a state of being with the fear of rot removed, a permanent peak, no morning after the night before.

Related to this, I find that all too often, at mention of the phrase ‘eternal life’, my mind races off into the future searching out to measure the length of that promised infinity. This of course produces nothing but an ‘error’ message in the brain, the concept of eternity is as troubling as it is promising. But what if I were to consider ‘eternal life’ in terms of quality- a fruit of spectacular taste and texture, rather than quantity - a fruit with no best-before date. Do you get me? I think I'm trying to say, what if the linear dimension of time were not my singular reference point, but rather I managed to gain a glimpse into a life being lived in and measured by fullness. And after all, wasn’t the language of fullness used very interchangeably with the language of eternity in the words of Jesus, and later of the Apostles too, most notably Paul?

Anyway, to draw this to a close, suffice to say, this Christmas I’m trying to remember that Jesus came to open the way for me first and foremost into a quality of life, with the quantity of that life finding relevance merely as a shadow finds relevance from a solid object. Is that a bit too philosophical for Christmas Day?



Hallelujah for Saturday night TV

2009-03-02T22:54:45.167+00:00

(object) (embed) Confession: I have been known to get a lump in my throat during the X-Factor. Okay, maybe once or twice I might have got a little moist in the corner of my eyes too. Yes, I know, street cred in tatters etc etc. Last night, as most of the nation knows, was the grand final of the 2008 series, and round at the Wilson household events were carefully planned around it. Would the night end in the indignity of a little Irish munchkin scooping the prize or would a contestant with a bit of genuine talent eventually triumph?
Well, as it happened the former scenario was thankfully evaded as Eoghan was ditched at the first hurdle leaving solo artist Alexandra and boy-band JLS to battle it out for the top spot. And then things got interesting. For some baffling reason (perhaps the same baffling reason behind last week's performance of 'Amazing Grace' by Italian quartet Il Divo?) the final head to head song turned out to be Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. The classic Simon Cowell line, "Who on earth chose that song for you?" does spring to mind at this point. And yet it was a truly inspired song choice. Yes, this dark/light, folk/gospel, poem/ballad seemed to totally make sense, even on prime time Saturday night TV. The response of the studio audience and the judges to wave after wave of the song's 'Hallelujah' chorus belted out with passion and sincerity was probably the closest most people in this country are going to get to Christ this Christmas. Unless they go out and buy the single that is; because then they could have their very own dark/light, folk/gospel, poem/ballad worship time in the comfort of their own home. Which is actually quite exciting.



Be angry, be very angry...

2008-12-06T12:30:35.011+00:00

I've been doing at bit of homework recently on the development of Hydrogen fuel cells thinking that I might invest a bit of money into a company involved in their development and production - let's face it, the age of oil is over. So I signed up to a few email circulars that promised to offer info about 'CleanTech' stocks. Soon after I got sent a link to a site and innocently clicked through to this: "The 21st Century's Most Precious Natural Resource is turning out to be the investment opportunity of the decade! It's history's most illustrious, least appreciated, most essential resource. Without it, manufacturing would cease and the world economy would die. And we're using it up at a frightening pace. You can bet you'll be hearing a lot about this precious commodity in the coming months and years. In fact, it's already starting to attract attention: * Already, there are armed conflicts over its control in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, and Yugoslavia... border skirmishes between the U.S. and Mexico... even terrorist threats to halt its supply in Asia and the Middle East. And now it's about to become the biggest boom industry, one that could make early investors very wealthy! Bigger than railroads in the 1880s. Bigger than aerospace in the 1950s. Bigger than Big Pharma in the 1980s, tech in the 1990s, and petroleum in the 1920s and early 2000s. Those who take control of this neglected resource will control the world's wealth. And the best news is... the boom is just starting. China is investing billions. Closer to home, the Carlyle Group and Morgan Stanley are committing up to $20 billion. What is this mystery sector I've been talking about? An essential and irreplaceable product -- drinking water. Potable H2O is the oil of the 21st century, and one would be hard-pressed to find a more compelling investment story. The bottom line is there's a fixed supply of the stuff and demand for it is exploding around the world."And so it goes on, you can check out the link for yourself here>>>Now, bear in mind that I'm a James Bond junkie which means I've recently watched Quantum of Solace (and I hope you have too!) The premise of the story is that a company is beginning to monopolise the world's water resources by taking advantage of the fragility and corruption in developing world countries. Now we all know that where Bond goes, the world follows (no really - remember the Space Shuttle!) Anyway, it just beggars belief that in our world, in which 1 billion extremely poor people lack a basic clean water supply and almost 2 million a year die from diseases carried in dirty water, people would want to move in on this as a profiteering venture. Most reports agree that for around £15 billion EVERYONE ON THE PLANET can be given access to safe water. You can quite literally bet your bottom dollar that big corporate interest out there doesn't want that to happen because it would undermine their desire to make a fat profit.My wife and I will be travelling to Haiti in January with a bunch of friends and amongst the projects we'll be visiting is a clean water facility we're helping to build for a community of thousands of desperate people. Can you imagine us standing there when it's opened and asking people to scrape together the few pennies they do have just so that they can have a taste? The thought is just obscene.Like I say, be angry, be very angry, it's a greedy new world we're entering.But don't just be angry, be generous, give some water today:Water AidTearfund [...]



This Little Light

2008-12-02T21:20:49.114+00:00

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Friday night we held a huge gig at the Manchester Apollo. The place was packed out with teenagers from local high schools, it was a great night. One of the highlights was the 'world premier' playing of Lz7's new pop video. We're hoping to get a million downloads of this in the next few months so go on, give it a click.



Sinner?

2008-12-04T19:23:03.285+00:00

(image) First taste was in the dark
with the sound of crying echoing off the walls.
Your crying.
You have every right to cry.
You’re only 9 weeks old and the virus in your chest burns like hot coal.
Outline of sleep-deprived parent appears over the cot,
a fierce voice barks hot breath into your face.
Hands grab your little arms a bit too tightly.
There’s a heavy pause, followed by unrecognised words,
“Sorry… I’m sorry… It’s OK…”

Sin and repentance.
Simple and quick.
Sour and sweet.
It won’t always be so.
By the first sound of the school bell sin has struck more times that you can count.
This is the world that makes all Victim.
Worse.
This world turns all Offender.

Close fleshy lids and recall the times you’ve been scorched
by lies and scams,
by names called and rights revoked,
by property taken, identity mistaken,
your body used, trust abused.
Coerced and compromised.
Even if you resist its name you know sin’s forms
the way Adam knew Eve.

Now look about.
This talk of sin occurs on the salt plains where
there is no topography of differentiation.
Dirty fingerprints are on us all.
Beauty and beast find empathy in their scars.
But who invited this?
This life?
This world?
This injustice?

Tell me how an innocent bush-boy becomes a stoned-soldier;
how in a twist of fate the victim becomes the perpetrator.
His broken heart becomes cold and calloused.
And with every crime he tells our story.
For we are all enlisted, young.
Now our grown-up minds store toxic pools,
our tongues razors.
Cats claws have grown in our paws
and the truth sags through lack of exercise.
Actions provoked reactions and it happened.
Sin found a host, a home.
A soul to shame,
a name to blame.



The Manchester Congestion Charge - which way to vote?

2008-11-26T20:34:30.720+00:00

(image) Today I got my Manchester Congestion Charge ballot paper through the door. Now I face the dilemma of which way to vote. Let's face it, Democracy = Compromise, there's never a black and white answer. Here's the tension I find myself in: On the one hand I absolutely hate traffic jams, they're so high on my list of things I hate that when I once found myself on stage with David Cameron in front of a huge crowd and TV audience and he asked me "What would you change if you were Prime Minister?" I responded, "I'd get a gadget in my car to turn traffic lights from red to green." Seriously, I did. He was expecting a profound statement about social policy, I was thinking of the glory of the open road (I did come up with a proper response shortly afterwards). Then on the other hand I hate injustice, and I consider the T.I.F. proposals to be fundamentally unjust at the core. No investment in roads, but all the cash drivers pay goes to subsidise other people's travel (I generalise), that's just wrong.
So it's a dilemma, whichever way I vote I'll be compromising on some level. I do of course have my own ideas about how to sort things out, based on my own deeply considered opinion about what's wrong. Clogged arteries. That's the problem. Like an old heart Manchester's vehicle routes in and out are just too narrow. The A6 coming in from Stockport is useless, those ramshackle old shops through Levenshulme and Longsight need bulldozing to make room. Then we need to get some of those elevated roads, they're proper cool, look at any great city around the world, Skyways they call them in the states, we need lots of them, fpr starters all the way from Cheetham Hill to Victoria Station, swooshing in like a Reticulated Python. Then we need to fly in a whole load of those traffic cops from Madrid, have you seen them in action? Nothing stands still when they're on the case. Combine this with a properly funded Oyster card system like London and a bunch of cameras zapping the idiots who block all the city centre box junctions and you're sorted!
But back to the ballot. Sadly I don't have the option to vote on my own proposals, I have to vote on theirs. It's gonna cost me money that's for sure, about £20 a month based on my typical movements. Will I feel the benefit of reduced jams? Probably not. The only people likely to benefit at all are those who travel by train or those who've been waiting for the Metrolink coming past their house for years. I'm not in either of those categories. The question really is, What are the implications of a No vote? Will the city centre die a slow painful death? Probably not. It's knackered either way, after all who would want to site a business there if all the staff and customers have to pay for the privalege of trucking in? Maybe it will be good for the flagging city centre property market though? People currently driving in from the suburbs might decide to relocate. Or they might just get another job. One thing's certain, a No vote would be a huge embarrassment for the city, we'll be the butt of all the jokes. And if there's anything I dislike more than traffic jams it's embarrassment. Maybe for that reason alone I should vote Yes?



Music and motivation

2008-11-21T22:07:52.359+00:00

(image) It's fair to say that I've been struggling a bit with motivation the last few weeks. The fact that my blog's suffered is just one little sign of this. My life moves at such a pace that from the outside looking in it's unlikely that anyone else would notice anything's changed, but hey, I'm just being honest. So what moves me to hit the keys now then when I've been unable to do so for weeks on end? Well, it's nothing short of the pure, undiluted power of music. Yep, just window-shopping in cyberspace I stumbled across a music-geek type blog, not the sort of place I'd usually hang out but on it I found a link to a mashup of one of the greatest club tunes of 1990 (which was a stunningly good year for club tunes) - the acapella version of 'Everybody Everybody' by Blackbox.
When I was 17 and at the peak of my raving career (ponytail - puffajacket - the works) my parents dragged me off for a holiday in Florida. I remember sitting in the back of a people carrier on Daytona beach while the sun scorched outside and tourists tanned their pale bodies. All I wanted to do was listen to this song at full blast with the windows up and the aircon on. My mum, dad and sisters thought I was proper wierd but in my mind I was back on the dancefloor (this one!) with a sweat-soaked t-shirt tucked in my jeans and the smell of Tiger Balm in my nostrils.
It was literally half a lifetime ago but behind my eyelids I'm back there again.
This is motivation.



Bored...

2008-11-16T22:02:20.043+00:00

In case you hadn't noticed I've become a bit bored of my little blog.
Maybe I'll get a second wind.
Maybe I'll wrap it up at Christmas.



Atheists Going Public

2008-10-23T22:24:10.398+00:00

(image) You may or may not have heard about the British Humanist Society's plans to begin advertising on buses with the catchy slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." It's an interesting development within the larger debate that's been rumbling on for some time now - whether or not faith is a public or private matter. I'm a passionate advocate for the place of faith in public life. Privatized beliefs are utterly pointless, I mean, why bother believing anything if it has no connection to the way you live your life and if it isn't worth sharing with someone else? Books like the God Delusion and poster campaigns like this one (which probably doesn't even need to run now as it's attracted so much publicity already) bring the God conversation into the public realm and I love that. Faith is such a deliciously juicy subject to discuss and that's why it drives me nuts that it's too taboo to bring up in polite conversation. If only people could get beyond their cultural conditioning that schools them to resist any situation in which their worldview might be challenged. Pesky memes, they spoil all the fun.

For an interesting look at the 'Probably' bit of this poster see my review of the book 'Deluded By Dawkins'.



Post-Charismatic? - review

2008-10-12T20:43:49.232+00:00

(image) For the last couple of weeks this book has had me hooked. Post-Charismatic?(image) covers a colourful spectrum of well-researched material mostly drawn from the last 100 years or so of Charismatic experience. There are laugh out loud stories of early Pentecostals who, having just begun to speak in tongues, jumped on boats to far flung destinations only to find out that the cultures to whom they felt called had absolutely no idea what they were saying. There are serious exposés of a number of key 'Charismaniacs' examining their dubious theological tenets, wild prophetic machinations and disturbing manipulations of the faithful. And amidst all this there's a consistent focus on learning from mistakes and looking hopefully towards the future. This isn't an angry book, quite the opposite - it's hugely gracious. It's tone is probably best summed up in this little section from the prologue,
"...many post-charismatics... find it too difficult, or too emotionally exhausting, to sort through all the practices and teachings and discern the good from the bad. They simply withdraw and consider that chapter of their lives closed."
By the end of the book it's apparent that the people in this category are probably Rob's primary audience. This is why he structures the book in two clear halves; the first a headlong plunge into the present mess of the Charismatic Church and the second a valiant effort to describe a way by which the bored, the confused and the hurting can enjoy again a relationship with the Triune - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the closing pages he admits that 'post-charismatic' is far too limited and loaded a term to do justice to this new possibility and so he borrows a phrase from a blogging friend: charismissional. I quite like it.



Mike Frost in Oxford

2008-10-09T21:43:25.799+00:00

(image) Early this morning a bunch of us drove down to Oxford to hear Mike Frost (author of 'Exiles(image) ' and 'The Shaping Of Things To Come(image) '). Mike is one of the world's foremost writers and thinkers on Incarnational Mission so the potential for new learning was very high. It was a long way to go for a day conference but it was well worth the drive. His morning session was basically the best presented case I've ever heard for why and how church as we currently know it must change - and fast.
He summarised church as consisting of 4 basic elements: worship, community, formation and mission. His next observation was that whilst each of these elements is vital, one of them has, throughout the Christendom era, acted as the 'organising principle' of the others. That element is worship. Then, for the rest of the morning he went on to describe what church might look like in our Post-Christendom world if we re-oriented around mission as our 'organising principle'. What really set this session apart were the many examples taken from his own church (or 'faith collective' as he cheekily referred to it) which goes by the name of 'Small Boat Big Sea', as well as a whole bunch of stories from his mission buddies around the world.
Perhaps the one thought that impacted me the most came during his exploration of the Mission Dei, the self-sending God, who he described as having a 'human-shaped hole' in his heart. That possibility had never stuck me before, but I instantly got it.
Nice one Mike, hope you have a safe trip back to Oz ;-)



Opt In or Opt Out

2008-09-26T20:54:26.095+00:00

(image) I had a brief conversation yesterday whilst down in London. It went along fairly classic lines. My question: 'How can we get more missionally-minded Christians to move into council estates and inner city areas?' The response was all too predictable, a wearied frown and a small but perceptible dropping of the shoulders: 'But that's a very special kind of calling...'
The guy should've known better, he grew up on a council estate and is heavily involved in urban ministry with a very significant church. And he was talking to me. But we'd not met before so I didn't chin him.
I'm totally convinced of one simple thing; as long as ministry that impinges on our middle-class comfort is considered somehow 'special' we'll never see 'Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.' As long as we keep acting as if the great commission (that pesky 'Go' thing Jesus said) is something we are expected to opt-in to things will never change. Basically the orientation is as follows: there's a lot of mess in the world and I should assume that God wants me out there in the thick of it unless I am given explicit instructions to the contrary.



God's Politics?

2008-09-21T13:31:30.951+00:00

(image) The Labour party conference has been going on here in Manchester this weekend so all the Government bigwigs are in town along with a huge fringe of party members, lobbyists and general tagger-onners. Apart from causing me a fair amount of inconvenience trying to drive through the city centre on Friday evening it has given me the opportunity to catch up with an old mate who now works in Parliament.
It's been a long time since I've had chance to have such a deeply involved political conversation with someone who actually knows what's going on from the inside - my friend literally spends every day in the palace of Westminster meeting with MPs across all parties. One of the main circles of our discussion concerned the Labour party - the place where historically (in terms of culture and heritage) both our affiliations are found - but a party in which it is incredibly difficult to be 'out' about Christian commitment. For example, while David Cameron is busy courting the support of prominent Christian activists, particularly in the big cities, Labour's union base are busy villifying Joel Edwards upon hearing of his appointment to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Having just watched Charlie Wilson's War last night I find myself hopeful again that one man (or woman) in the right place, at the right time can change the outcome of the direst situation. I believe my friend to be such a man - God's man.



Small Ritual

2008-09-18T21:34:57.532+00:00

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Every now and again I find something on the internet that is jaw-droppingly cool. Yesterday I was having dumb fun generating geeky pictures of myself (not hard) at www.yearbookyourself.com. Today I was simply letting my eyes dance and my mind race as I flicked through the pages of Small Ritual. It basically combines two of my favourite things in the world: kick-ass graphic design and forward-thinking Christian faith. Bookmarks at the ready...



No Big Bang just yet... but give it a few days....

2008-09-10T21:28:38.457+00:00

(image) So despite many idiots out there on the Manchester roads I made it to work safely today. What a relief. And I also avoided being sucked into singularity at the speed of light. Yes, the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) deep below the Swiss Alps was revved up at 8.33 our time without creating a Black Hole. Phew. Although saying that they haven't actually collided any protons together with 'cataclysmic force' yet. So maybe the world will end next week instead.
One of the things I love about this story is that the journalists reporting on it clearly don't quite know what to do with the basic premise of the experiment. What I mean is, the media with its overwhelmingly secular worldview likes to report science as solid reassuring fact. But the reason £5 billion has been spent on this Scalextric track on steroids is that there is actually a heck of a lot that science still can't tell us about the universe we live in. Now don't get me wrong, I don't roll with the 'science explains all this and God explains the rest' crowd, all that achieves is a shrinking God as science advances filling in more of the gaps. No, all I'm really happy about is the welcome reminder of the essential mystery that remains at the heart of everything, 'Dark Matter' and all that invisible stuff that scientists believe in even though none of them have actually ever seen it or even detected with their clever gadgets. Sorry, I mustn't mock but hey, who knows, maybe in a few weeks the headlines will tell us that they've finally observed the wrly dubbed 'God Particle'. And hopefully we'll all still be here to scratch our chins and wonder if that will get us to work any quicker in future.

The universe around us is not what it appears to be. The stars make up less than 1 percent of its mass; all the loose gas and other forms of ordinary matter, less than 5 percent. The motions of this visible material reveal that it is mere flotsam on an unseen sea of unknown material. We know little about that sea. The terms we use to describe its components, "dark matter" and "dark energy," serve mainly as expressions of our ignorance.
David B. Cline, Scientific American, 2003




Everything Is Spiritual

2008-09-06T14:20:50.817+00:00

(object) (embed) Binging. That word looks wierd when you spell it out doesn't it? Binge. Come to think of it that's not much of an improvement. Anyway, whatever the word used to describe it, today I may have had a bit too much Rob Bell. Now I know what you're thinking - 'Matt Wilson suggesting you can have too much Rob Bell?' Well no, you'll be pleased to hear that my Rob Bell groupie status is still intact. It's just that I'd taken a break from the spectacled wonder for a little while and now I'm realising again why I liked him so much in the first place.
Everything Is Spiritual is the name of the new DVD Rob has released, an hour and a bit of one man theatre theology produced off the back of his 2007 tour of the same name. I actually bought it because I thought it would be a great way to stretch the minds of some of our gap year trainees. Now having watched it (3 times!) I'm pretty sure it would just go right over their heads. The material in it is just superb - from theology to cosmology, blending observational humour with philosophy, bringing quantum physics to life with doodles and wisecracks... "because we all know how exotic leptons can be right?"
For everyone who worries or wonders about the shallowness or the narrowness of the arguments on both sides of the faith / science divide this really is a feast. For everyone else, well, there's a reason they don't stock this at your local Blockbuster.



Formation vs Information

2008-09-01T21:19:46.118+00:00

(image) On Sunday I took part in a TV debate about violent crime and what if anything can be done about it. It was pretty humbling to meet some amazing people like Angie Lawrence from Mothers Against Violence and Helen Newlove whose husband Garry was kicked to death only yards from his own front door by a gang of drunken thugs.
There was general consensus around a number of points such as the joke that we know as the British Criminal Justice system. Host Terry Christian seemed to have a bee in his bonnet about providing jobs for the unemployed in deprived communities. It's always hard to get a word in on these sort of shows so I had to wait for a chance to get a point in that wouldn't just be an echo of what everyone else was saying. That opportunity came when we got on to the subject of education.
One of the things I have concluded after years of working with young people is that lots of people are prepared to offer them information. We are after all in the 'information age'. Schools try desperately to fill young heads with facts that can be regurgitated later in the exam hall. If they're progressive they might offer specialisms in 'information technology'. I've sat in on council youth strategy meetings where Connexions and the Youth Service bleat on about frameworks for offering young people IAG (information, advice and guidance). That's all well and good but what about formation?
Formation is the development of deeply rooted character attributes, the shaping of attitude and the expression of human qualities such as empathy, forgiveness, compassion, patience, generosity and humour. I'm becoming more and more convinced that the only way to change our nation is to emphasise and maximise the formative potential of our social environments. The home, schools and colleges, workplaces, recreational spaces, faith communities, with a bit of re-imagination they can all begin to contribute to bring about the change this nation so desperately needs. It also happens to be an area in which those of us with spiritual insight ought to be able to provide real leadership.



WKD = Wasted Kid's Despair

2008-08-30T16:25:13.794+00:00

(image) When I'm zooming around from place to place there's not much can stop me in my tracks. But yesterday I saw something so heart-breakingly staggering that I literally screeched the car to a halt. By the side of the road, at the end of a set of guilty looking black skid marks was a makeshift shrine. I've commented about these before (here) but have never seen such an 'impressive' example before.
The shrine was a couple of miles east of Manchester city centre in a place called Openshaw, somewhere that many of my friends have chosen to live so that they can be salt and light in this needy community. And what a powerful reminder of why they need to keep up their efforts. The real tragedy in this image is not that a young life has been lost (the flowers read RIP DALE) but that the friends' tribute is so completely without irony. If you can't make out the photo which I hastily took on my mobile phone let me explain it. Flanking either side of the 20 or so bunches of flowers are at least 100 empty bottles of WKD, with a few bottles of Jack Daniels and Smirnoff thrown in for good measure. Every single bottle has the appearance of having been 'downed in one' and is planted in the earth by its neck.
If ever there was an image that summed up the utter numbness and hopelessness of today's urban generation surely this is it.



The Language of Love

2008-08-28T20:52:19.841+00:00

(image) I would rarely ever turn to the book of Deuteronomy for inspiration. Yes I'm sure that there's loads of great stuff in there but I'm just being honest. Anyway, prompted by my 'New Best Friend' Eugene Peterson (OK I've been reading his books) I've been taking a fresh look. In particular my attention has been caught by the prominence of the word love within the book (29 uses)...
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deut 6:5
I now find that wherever I seem to turn in scripture this single line, this simple but heavily laden injunction follows me around, the perfect example being when Jesus himself verbally affirmed the primacy of this command, which of course he also physically embodied. And it's this second element of loving God that I'm most profoundly challenged by. I can mentally ascent to the fact that I need to love God, after all 'He first loved me'. But how do I live that love? In the pages of scripture it appears plainly that higher than believing in God, higher than trusting God, higher than even worshipping God is the invitation to love God, which is a fusion of believing and trusting and worshipping plus a whole lot more.
I want to love God, I really do, but love just doesn't seem to be a language I'm very fluent in.



Mike Guglielmucci - a sad, sad situation

2008-08-22T13:22:19.227+00:00

(image) Just a couple of days ago I posted a YouTube clip here featuring the cancer-fighting testimony of Australian pastor and worship leader Mike Guglielmucci. As you can see below it was a story that really moved me - moved me enough to want to share it. Well, I now find myself wishing I hadn't. Hillsong Church have removed the clip from YouTube now because it has emerged over the last 24 hours that his condition is not cancer at all - rather he has been existing for some time now in nothing short of a self-delusion. In the words of another famous song 'it's a sad, sad situation.' The guy has conned his church, his friends, even his wife and family. Very, very sad.
I actually got a phonecall about 48 hours ago to break the news to me as I'd used the clip in a talk at church on Sunday - something I won't be doing again of course. As I write I'm at the Soul Survivor 'Momentum' festival where Mike Pilavachi this morning broke the news to a stunned audience. He confessed to the thousands of students and young adults that his first reaction had been to comment to a close friend 'It just goes to show, you can't trust anyone anymore.' That friend was wise enough to reply 'Mike, that's exactly what Satan wants you to believe.'
And it's true, we all know where lies and deception originate and it's not with God. At the end of the day whilst I feel sad about this I don't feel rocked in the slightest. It was quite some time now that I realised that every circus has its clowns. Every genuine move of God will attract the damaged and deluded as well as the solid and sincere. The challenge is spotting the difference which can be very difficult to do.



Healer

2008-08-16T21:16:23.090+00:00

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This clip connects with something deep down in me. Maybe I love it because it illustrates that intersection in life between faith and 'reality'. Maybe I love it because it's a great example of how we live in the time of 'now but not yet'. Maybe I love it because it's not an overly simplified testimony of 'zap-pow' healing. Whatever, I really love this clip.



The Best Song Lyrics In The Universe... EVER!

2008-08-11T13:41:14.873+00:00

(image) OK, so we all cringe during the adverts at yet another over-hyped compilation album promising to whip us up into a frenzy of ecstasy/nostalgia/romance. And of course how can they ever deliver on these promises. But I wonder what songs would be on a compilation album that put together the 10 best opening song lines ever written? I love words, especially lyrics, with a passion (which is probably why I hate the majority of contemporary worship songs) and so having been blessed with a long weekend of doing not very much I have a few suggestions to make. I'd love to hear what yours would be.

1. Depeche Mode, Enjoy the silence: "Words like violence break the silence, come crashing in, into my little world"
2. Oasis, What's the story morning glory: "All your dreams are made when you're chained to the mirror and the razor blade"
3. Coldplay, Clocks: "Lights go out and I can't be saved, tides that I tried to swim against"
4. U2, Crumbs from your table: "From the brightest star comes the blackest hole"
5. Prince, Sign o the times: "In France a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name"



Connectedness

2008-08-09T08:37:28.483+00:00

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Trade justice campaigners will sometimes ask us to pause and think about the question, ‘If your clothes could tell a story, what would that story say?’. And we know that if we shop at Primark the story probably isn’t likely to be a happy one for the producer of the garment. But just the other day I was presented with a new twist on this. I’d taken a day off work to go and visit my elderly Gran over in Yorkshire. We don’t get to see her very often and she likes to see how quickly Izzy is growing up.
When we got to her little council bungalow she was sat outside the front door on her electro-scooter thing (she has very bad arthritis in her feet and can’t walk very well). We went inside for a cuppa and there as usual was a pile of knitting on the sofa. Gran is always knitting, there’s lots of great-grand kids appearing on the scene at the moment so she’s kept busy. But just in passing she said, ‘Oh, they’re for the kids in Darfur.’ I was pretty stunned. Gran has never to my knowledge shown any interest in any sort of charitable work, she’s not churchy either. But there, in her lonely little lounge (Granddad passed away 5 years ago) she is quietly doing her bit to make a difference in the world.
If only those little hats could tell their story. Soon, some tiny little refugee kid, displaced, disconnected, will be given a little wooly hat to keep out the cool evening breeze. And in a strangely cosmic way that kid becomes connected to my aging Gran. That's cool isn't it, 'One World - One Dream', as the Chinese were so keen to stress as the opening ceremony of the Olympics yesterday. Except none of the kids wearing my Gran's wooly hats will ever know about her, which is a real shame. And she'll never meet them, which is a shame too. 

Clothes really ought to be able to tell their story.