Archive for February, 2011

// sunday music: music for a found harmonium

Just the one pick for today’s sunday music, really – made famous by its appearance in Napoleon Dynamite, today’s music is Patrick Street‘s cover of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Music for a Found Harmonium. It’s marvellous – quirky and cheerful, a lot like the film itself. Listen to it on grooveshark here, or there’s a Youtube video below:

I was also going to post a video of the prom scene from Napoleon Dynamite, soundtracked by Alphaville‘s original version of “Forever Young” and probably one of the most poignant depictions of teenage loneliness that I’ve seen on film. However, it’s not on Youtube, so you’ll have to make do with the tune here.

A band called Youth Group did a good job on it before Jay-Z got to it, too (listen to that here).

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And that’s your lot for today – I’ll see you next Friday!

Sorry about the irregular posting the past two weeks, things have been crazy busy – I’ll be back to normal next week.


// teaching

I’m taking a leaf out of Seth Godin‘s book this week and going for a shorter post instead.

I’m looking forward to watching Jamie Oliver’s Dream School, which starts on Channel 4 on Wednesday this week, both because I admire Jamie’s outlook on the world generally and I think his philosophy will translate well when it comes to teaching. But a few discussions this week have got me wondering what is is that teachers should do and be.

Is a teacher someone possessed of superior knowledge trying to impart that knowledge to others? Is a teacher a facilitator for young people, a spur to revelation and self-realisation? Is a teacher a mentor, a model for how people should live and act?

How holistic do you think teaching can and should be – both generally, and in a Christian context?

And where do you get that from?

Thoughts please.

// saturday round-up (19/02)

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK: “the Holy Spirit, the internet and bloggers like you and me” – Loved this article describing Christian bloggers as “pioneers”, people stepping out into uncharted territory. What do you think? It seems to me like there’s a lot of good in the discussions about Christian faith currently going on online.


// learning how to reach out to all families in your community – Great article from REyouth pastor about holistic and whole-family youth work, which links in well with Krish Kandiah’s article below. Check it out here.

// it takes a whole church to raise a child – On a similar theme to REyouth pastor, it’s great to see this topic on people’s radar at the moment. Check it out here and see if you can shed any light on the conversation or how you can live it out in your situation.

// the beginning and end of marriage – More great stuff from The Church of No People‘s “Love Month”. Some controversial topics for discussion, but all in all a very thought-provoking article from a great series. Go here.

// going solo – Another week where Jon Acuff’s Serious Wednesday post was exactly what I needed to hear. It’s here.


// come alive – Amazing video from CMS (thanks jonnybaker for passing it on) which creatively uses Foo Fighters lyrics to create an excellent, thoughtful meditation. I love this:

// the ‘love chapter’ as you never heard it before – Amazing rendering of a very familiar chapter that brings a whole new freshness to the words. Go here (via. Jesus Needs New PR).

// james blake – If you’ve not heard James Blake yet, check him out here. Echoes of Bon Iver and a really novel approach to music – his album’s streaming all over the place but you can hear bits of it here; it’s a grower, but it is weirdly beautiful.

// spring offensive – Certainly one of my favourite Oxford bands, Spring Offensive are giving away a “pay-what-you-like” acoustic EP called Between You and Me for another two days here. You should get it, and then you should go to see them, too, because live they are amazing.


// awkward “you’re single?” conversations at church – Yep, I’ve had some of these.

// purchase justification – “Is it even possible to make Kingdom impact while using a Dell?” The answer is no (I know.) Brilliant guest post from Tyler Stanton at SCL. Read it here.

// hardcore bible thumping spirit filled jesus freaks: This is just amazing:

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And that’s your lot for today. See you tomorrow for sunday music.

// sunday music update: long distance lullaby

I just realised what today’s sunday music was missing, and it’s this – Oxford’s Stornoway, and their stunning album closer “Long Distance Lullaby”. Best enjoyed through headphones and accessible here, it tells the story of a man who finds himself drunkenly wandering home one night in a tone that both simultaneously resigned and hopeful, like the ramblings of a close friend. For all the melancholy, it’s also kind of life-affirming.

Eccentric, ambitious and building to a stunning climax, it is the perfect love song to be listening to as you step into Valentine’s Day, whether or not you are attached. It’s on YouTube here, but the grooveshark link above is higher quality so I’d advise using that instead. Enjoy:

// sunday music: Valentine’s Day

Well, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and so today here are three (kind of) love songs. Don’t say I don’t know how to treat you:

First up, the joyful Hellogoodbye with “Oh, it is Love!” – on grooveshark here and youtube here (it won’t embed, but the video is worth following up).

Summery, upbeat and exuberantly romantic, you can’t really beat it, especially on a grey February morning:

Pick number two is a whole different kettle of fish, with The National and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” providing an oddly triumphant cry of “All the very best of us | String ourselves up for love” that should provide a fitting antidote to your situation if you’re single and feeling depressed about it. Grooveshark here and watch it here:

And finally, Switchfoot and “Your Love is a Song”, a kind-of love song that provides a fitting coda to this post. It’s not on Grooveshark, so watch it here:

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And that’s all for today.

I love you all, I hope you know that.

See you on Friday!

// saturday round-up (12/02)

Right. Another crazy busy weekend ahead, so I’ll cut straight to the chase today.

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// why God hates divorce: a big life change for me – A really heartfelt post from Anne Jackson announcing that, after some time struggling to make her 8-year marriage work, she and her husband Chris are divorcing. Her story is tragic, but also well worth reading – written with integrity and out of real pain, it sheds a light into some of the circumstances that drive people apart and is an invitation to grace and forgiveness. The “comments” are worth a look too. Read it here.

// love month: justin davies – Matt at The Church of No People is blogging about love for a whole month. There’s some great stuff up there already, but his interview with Justin Davies, marriage coach at Cross Point Church in Nashville, is absolutely unmissable, and an interesting contrast to Anne Jackson’s story. Go here.

// why do Christians give so much power to the negative Christian few? (and update) – Another amazing story of grace from Jesus Needs New PR, with a thought-provoking essay on listening to angry minorities here and then an incredible update here. Brilliant. Another reason why I love this site.

// Granger Church: 2016 vision – This is a very cool church vision statement, don’t you think?



// new “What’s in the Bible?” DVD – The fourth of Phil Vischer’s “What’s in the Bible?” DVDs, tackling Joshua, Judges and Ruth with the aid of puppets, are now here. And they’re going to be epic. Praise the Lord. Watch a clip here.

// the new craftsmanship – I’m very late to the party on Seth Godin’s marketing blog, but it’s full of thought-provoking insights, and none so much as here.



// how to do more in youth ministry in less amount of time – Another great selection of tips for anyone involved withyouth ministry courtesy of REyouth pastor, here. There’s some awesome stuff here – and it’s not just for youth workers.

// what difference does youth group make? – Fascinating sociological study (courtesy of Group Magazine) on the effects of youth group, both positive and negative. I can identify with a lot of what this has to say – how about you? Check it out here.

// 5 youth ministry blogs you should be reading – Work with youth? Need even more blogs to read? Then go here, to Rethinking Youth Ministry!

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And that’s it for today’s saturday round-up!

I’ll see you tomorrow for a special Valentine’s Day-themed sunday music.

Thanks for reading.

// kicking Christ in the chest

My housemate Rachael likes to joke that my temper works in binary – that it only has two settings, “normal” and “furious”. Apparently I display the same level of anger at discovering that, say, we have run out of milk, as I do at discovering that my house has been burned to the ground.

Lately, though, we’ve both been discovering that she’s wrong.

Because it turns out that beneath the surface, beneath the entertaining, socially-acceptable level of anger that you can shrug off, there is a whole different current in me. One that is buried so deep that it almost feels part of who you are, that can’t be easily articulated but that is forged in pain and perceived injustice and remains searing and white-hot even months (or years) from the events that gave it birth. The kind of anger that makes your hands physically shake just at the sight of someone.

That kind of anger is a problem.

And I know what the answer is. It’s forgiveness – resolving to let it go time and time again and accepting that it is done, it is over, you have forgiven them whether you feel it or not. Continuing to choose to forgive rather than to hold onto bitterness and hurt, even when that seems like the easier option. Jesus said that.

But that sounds like a long, hard slog, and not one that has much glory attached to it. There won’t be any Hollywood moments where there is a dramatic, visible reconciliation. Instead it will be a decision of the will, my choosing to keep letting it go, my struggle.

One author I read on this subject this week even suggested that this is what true courage looks like; being willing to persevere in the exhausting, grinding situations where it doesn’t look like anything will ever change or get any better. Maybe so. But that still doesn’t make it any easier.

What keeps me doing it is the cross.

Because whenever that white-hot rage rises in my chest I remember that the same anger was poured out upon Christ’s body in every blow, every lash, every nail. It was my anger that killed him, my anger that he carried, and my anger that died with him. It is finished, and the visible end consequence of the state of my heart is the man hanging dead and bloodied on that cross.

In the broken, beaten body of Jesus Christ I see the apparently lost hope of a people who had desperately cried out for a saviour only to see him fail. The teacher whose teachings promised a new way of life but instead left him naked, bleeding and dying, nailed to a piece of wood. In him I see all those desperate cries for salvation that failed in that bleak hour of darkness.

I believe that he is risen. That everything has changed, and I am no longer the same. That the darkness that lies within me can be buried with him and is being buried with him even now, as hard as that may be while it is taking place.

I remember that even when things seemed hopeless, hope triumphed.

But I also remember that it is because of this:

“Surely he has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our sins;
Upon him was the punishment that brought us peace;
And by his stripes we are healed.”