Monday, September 09, 2013

Tying truth's shoelaces together

"A lie can travel half way round the world while the truth is putting on it's shoes"   
Charles Spurgeon
I remember once, a few years ago, writing an email that I felt tremendously proud of.  At the time I thought that upon clicking send I would be injecting such challenging & arresting truth into the life of the recipient that they would be arrested by my wisdom & razor sharp critique.

I thought their whole world would be redefined because of my brilliance.

Surely they needed to hear what I had to say.

So I clicked send.

Unfortunately for both of us the reality is something altogether different.  Within my email's paragraphs were line after line of damaging, hurtful criticism untempered by any kind of grace.  I had originally thought it inspired.  But on reflection my words were fuelled by huge measures of arrogance, hurt & a tragic lack of self-awareness.  It was full of self-centered lies which suffocated any hint of the truth from which they sprouted.  Yes, there was some truth.  But it was smothered.

An email written in haste.  Sent in haste.

Needless to say the phone call I quickly received back from the recipient rejuvenated my evidently residual supplies of humility.  I still feel the pang of shame as I remember the episode today.

Spurgeon died in 1892.  He didn't know about my email.  Nor for that matter did he know about aeroplanes, the atom bomb or facebook.  (In fact, when I wrote that email I didn't know about facebook... but that's beside the point)

More to the point I'm sure he had no idea how the wisdom quoted above would resonate and clang with ever deepening gravitas in a contemporary world where gossip & lies are spawned, shared and strengthened in the time it takes to tap a return key.

If today you have, like most of us, the opportunity to post your status and comment to the masses then do so But think twice unless you want to make the same mistake that I made. Sometimes... no... often it's better to not say anything at all rather than risk perpetuating something you know with cool  judgement to be hurtful, ungracious, unkind or simply unhelpful.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Mission Symposium

A few weeks ago a few gathered at William Booth College to think about the missional focus of The Salvation Army. Where is it headed.... now... in 3 years... in 10 years?

My experience of the 'Symposium' was, I suppose, unique.  A group of us were invited to attend a song writer's stream - with the challenge to begin a process of crafting songs which echo themes presented at the Symposium. We were to attend as many sessions as possible and then assimilate that which we heard into song.

My reflection is that we had some small success in this too.  I think that the songs we landed on did indeed point towards themes explored in the main sessions.  In many ways the process of writing was chaotic... perhaps in the best sense... Our aim, we decided, was purposefully to create as many songs as possible in the time that we had with a view to crafting and honing these later; after the event.

On Wednesday evening we shared the songs we had written to a patient and kind congregation of the symposium.  By no means would I say the songs we had written were works of art - far from it - but there was something of a knitting together of the message, the undertone, the momentum of the event.  It did feel as though God was opening our eyes to something.  Something on the very edge of the canvas... and it was beautiful.

My reflection as a worship leader is that i would never even think of using so many baby fresh, brand new songs in an act of worship so I think this was a courageous & trusting move.  It was an exercise that we as an entire symposium were in on together... indeed we had to be as there was a great deal of vulnerability laid on the altar. And it is something you could only do in certain contexts.  But we need to have space for this, and I believe the symposium was an appropriate space.

Would I have suggested we do things differently if we did them again?  Yes.  Probably.  

I think the artistic out-working of the symposium could have been more multifaceted. We could have and should in the future invite Salvationist graphic artists, film makers, bloggers, sculptures, poets, rappers, electronic musicians, et al to join in and interpret.  

Any rekindling of vision & momentum within a movement should result in an explosion of art.  This is something we can encourage on every level - and have more than half an eye out to recognise the prophetic voice through this medium both; within and alongside the scholarly.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

December 2007

December 2007 is racing away with itself. It's hard to believe that I get married in three weeks and 3 days but that is in fact the truth.

I've been so busy I've hardly had time to think about it which is sad but I am now starting to get excited, nervous and excited... but mostly excited. After all I think Chell is mighty fine and I love her!

Things I'm looking forward to:
- The big day. Hanging out with all our friends and family and celebrating with them!
- Seeing Chell in her dress!
- The Honeymoon. Going somewhere warm in January... who'd of thought it!
- Actually being married, after all this time!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Number 8... the final Omnisonic gig... Dundee

Wow. What a night and what a crowd! Tonight was a great gig and marks the end of an awesome ten days on tour. It was a tiny stage but a fantastic venue that took us through the finishing line and completed our tour. Which was a tiny one by Delirious' standards, and a big one by ours.

Sound was great tonight. Big and powerful, even though the stage was so small that I had to put my amps underneath it! I liked that - it felt like I was being clever.

We spent the time that Delirious were on stage in the VIP lounge overlooking the venue, apparently they could see us up there. I wonder if they were jealous of our lovely soft, white leather seats and colour changing mood lighting while they were getting all sweaty on the stage? Perhaps?

I'm going to sign off now - sorry it's a short one. I'll reflect on the tour properly later, but for now it's time to get some rest before the long drive home tomorrow.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gig 7 - Aberdeen

We're sitting in our dressing room having just played our set. Delirious are on stage playing their set. From the murmurs rumbling through I can guess that they're currently playing 'Rain Down'. Things are good.

A starting point. Aberdeen is flippin' cold! All the buildings are made out of granite, which is apparently radioactive - cool. But granite is grey - not so cool.

Tonight I think we played well. Levski thinks he had an off night but I'm not so sure that anything was dramatically bad at all! Apparently there was a slightly challenging drunk bloke in the front row who was shouting 'who are ya..?!' as we walked on. I didn't hear him even though he was right in front of me...ah the miracle of in ear monitoring! Awesome.. Didn't hear him therefore confidence wasn't knocked therefore still played decent guitar and sang in-tune.

Before the gig tonight Delirious called us through to their dressing room to pray with us. It was a cool moment.. it was great to hear their heart for us through prayer. It was really affirming and supportive. The heart I heard was that they are for us and what we are doing. Which is kind!

Tonight we're leaving for Tillycorthie which is about 10 miles North of Aberdeen - even higher up! Crazy... we're being put up with a friend of the promoter from this gig, then tomorrow we're gigging down in Dundee, which is about 1hr 30 South. After that? Home time. We'll be driving home on Sunday... but none of that yet... we've got another gig todo.

Gig 6 - Belfast

Tonight we played the Spring and Air brake venue in Belfast, N. Ireland. It's a tasty, small-ish venue just off the city centre and along from the BBC building. It was the craziest smallest stage of the whole tour so far. We ended up cramming our gear and ourselves onto it for soundchecks and our part of the gig. Unreal.

It's been another great day. As I write this I'm laying here under a teenage mutant hero turtles duvet, on a bunk bed in the parental home of Matt White (who is, for lack of a better all-in-one title: our roadie / drum tech / spiritual guidance counsellor) and I am feeling really happy with the 75% of the tour that we've experienced so far. With just two more dates to go it's pretty exciting to think back to where we've been over the past week and what is in store for us over the coming 12 months.

There's talk of trips to Europe and Canada and a new album looming. Who knows where it's going to go? I suppose that going home with this experience under the belt is going to be helpful and enlightening.

This evening's gig was a bit hard work, although we were assured afterwards that we played well and the crowd were with us, it was difficult to sense that on stage; not helped by a poor monitor experience for me. Where did my Bluesbreaker go in the mix? Who knows... all I know is that wasn't the same mix that we sound checked with. Nevermind - 1 out of 6 ain't bad!

I've been offered one of Martin's guitars to buy...I'm thinking about it, but I'd have to sell my Les Paul first. If anyone wants to buy my awesome sunburst Les Paul Standard, for around £800 then let me know?

Tomorrow brings a new day, and new country (bonny Scotland) and a new audience, who we would love to take along for a musical and spiritual journey... Aberdeen should be good I hope...just need to re-nail that monitor mix!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

...the night before tonight. Gig 5 - Dublin

Temple Music Bar. Last night. Great venue in Dublin, which is a place I've never been before, in fact I've never been to the Republic of Ireland before. It's nice there.

The big news of the day was concerning one Martin Smith. When we arrived we heard that he was still on the bus. When he didn't turn up for sound check a few enquiries later we discovered that he wasn't well. Apparently he had been sick as a parrot. And here's the big news...

Over tea I sat with Stu Smith (Delirious' drummer) and he told me that Martin would probably make it for the gig but wondered whether I knew many of their songs. Which I do. But not the words. But he said that I was the back up plan!

Now I'm sure this was tongue in cheek... but I can now say that I have been officially asked to sing for Delirious. I am Martin Smith's understudy. 'I'm gonna be....a history....' etc. Nevermind, I'll settle for singing for E=.

The gig was great, there was a real spiritual vibe about the gig - it felt like there was something more going when we were playing. We sensed that even before we played. Awesome night.

After the gig for our accommodation we ended up 30 miles south of Dublin in a place called Greystones (I was excited to see another place later on called Blackskull - if only they could do a 1/2 and 1/2 name swapsee). We stayed in a Theological College there and were hosted by a bunch of enthusiastic students from the college. Many many stories of Chipper shops (see Matt Whites blog) and awesome breakfast venues...

Anyway for now...I shall sign off cos I'm being antisocial and I need to blog again in sec about tonight!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ferry...cross the Irish Sea

Last night at 10pm we left Liverpool docks on a P&O Irish Sea ferry, bound for Dublin. We were allocated cabins as, to our surprise, (and prompting a quick rebooking) we discovered that the ferry journey was 7.5 hours! Bleurgh.

So, after an evening meal aboard the ferry we retired to bed in our little cabins... thus beginning one of the worst night's of sleep that I've had in a long long time. I woke up in the morning (5 am!) to discover that my sheet had slipped off the bed and I was baked from the 2,000 tog duvet provided. We went down for breakfast then left the ferry in the still dark streets of Dublin.

me in the car getting ready to leave the ferry

After being misdirected by the TomTom for 30 mins we decided to get out the town and headed for Howth Castle, to the west of Dublin. Once we arrived in the mega metropolis of Howth we discovered:
1) Free parking!
2) The sea
3) That we were tired enough to fall asleep again.

Fast forward 7 hours and here I am sitting in the Temple Music Bar in Dublin, waiting for sound checks to begin, so I thought I'd give a quick update.

Still having tons of fun though...just feeling a touch jaded