Showing posts from January, 2010

Switchfoot - "Hello Hurricane"

(The Return of Switchfoot TV [EPISODE 41])

This is a recent podcast from one of my favourite bands, Switchfoot, one of the top US rock bands, who happen to also be Christians. I'm posting this because the first 90 secs. or so give a blast of the opening track from their wonderful 2009 album "Hello Hurricane": "Needle + Haystack Life".

They are a great fun-lovin' bunch of guys and I have always really enjoyed their podcasts. They seem to have a real blast together. But the writing and recording of "Hello Hurricane", which took 2 years saw the band go through a complete reassessment of who they are and why they do what they do. It was a hard, soul-searching experience for them. They were no longer signed to a major label and had complete creative control for the first time on an album: a blessing and a curse, as it turned out.

But the end product is, I feel, their most personal, heartfelt record, perhaps their most overtly spiritual, the lyrics mix…

Holocaust Memorial Day 2010

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day and the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. I gave an assembly in school on the topic, relating it to other genocides of the past 100 years and using resources from the Holocaust Memorial Day website (click on image below) as well as a clip from the wonderful Hilary Swank movie "Freedom Writers".

Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Hugo Gryn, wrote: “You can only be safe and secure in a society that practices tolerance, cherishes harmony and can celebrate difference.”

Think about how you treat other people.Are there certain people that you consider to be ‘different’? Be honest with yourself - do you have any hidden prejudices? Reflect for a moment, and pray that you will be accepting of everyone, no matter what they look like, where they come from, or what they believe.

A Prayer for Holocaust Memorial Day

God who is unchanging and eternal, keep before us the remembrance of the sufferings of humanity; may we n…

La Mennais Friends Network

Last night I created a new Facebook group:
La Mennais Friends Network

Here's some of the blurb from the page itself:

"For all the members of the Mennaisian family, but especially for young people.

A chance for you to
- hear about future events organised by the De La Mennais Brothers
- share photos, videos and stories from youth gatherings, trips to World Youth Day, Africa, etc...
- renew contacts with people we met at such events
- weave a network of relationships like Jesus"

Thoughts for a New Year - pt. 3: Haiti

How can I write anything right now... given what our brothers and sisters in Haiti are going through? Today we heard that 2 of our own Brothers in Port-au-Prince died when their community house collapsed. Another is badly injured. But we are not alone. Other congregations have lost whole communities, the seminary was brought to the ground burying a large number of seminarians, over 100 priests have also perished. But what of the laity, especially the poor? At least we in our congregation have a built-in support network of other communities within the congregation that kicks in at times like this. What of the tens of thousands?
At times like this, what can one say? Cheap platitudes make my skin crawl. All we can do is pray, and seek to suffer-with in com-passion.
But, re-reading what I wrote on that train journey in Brittany, I feel that it is actually appropriate to offer the final part of those thoughts right now. I hope you may see why...


...Though we betrayed God'…

Thoughts for a New Year - part 2

So here is the actual text that I mentioned back on Jan. 3rd, written during the aforementioned train journey:


I feel so blessed to have seen and known true love in the eyes of people, be it fellow Brothers, friends, family. A love that does not seek to possess for oneself, but is rather a giving of self, a love that sets free rather than enslaves...

I am, in one way, the sum of my experiences and of those of my forbears, but I am not a slave to them. I am more than the some of my parts. Since I was a teenager I have sought to know myself better (and through this self-searching developed an interest in psychology) so that I might better serve God and his people. I have sought "to know my darkness and my light, so that I might be whole" (composer Michael Tippett). And all this was necessary. But in reality, it was and is a quest without end here in this life. Such wholeness I now realise can only be found in and through God, by handing over to Him all the…

Tenth Avenue North - "By Your Side" music video

I discovered this young US band a couple of months ago through a Christian music web site. Their album has really grown on me. They won the Best New Artist Of The Year at the US Dove Awards (the Christian Grammys - a big deal in the States). This is my favourite song from their album. This video was done in conjunction with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to promote the work they do with people in need, e.g. here those who have suffered from natural disasters.

The band are an impressive group of young men. Their faith shines out in their lyrics + their music. I love the testimonies that the lead singer/main songwriter Mike Donehey gives in the following 2 videos:

"A cold coming we had of it, just the worst time of the year..."

The current arctic weather conditions here in Britain and the rest of Europe has put me in mind of one of my favourite poems, appropriate for the time of the Epiphany: T.S. Eliot's wonderful "Journey Of The Magi". 

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all …

Thoughts for a New Year - part 1

It's funny how over the years I have found long train journeys highly conducive to creativity, whether it be writing songs (I wrote 2 in one train journey across France about 8 years ago) or writing spiritual reflections. An example of the latter form of creativity occurred yesterday when I was getting the train from Châteaulin, Finistère (on the extreme west coast of Brittany in west France - think the French Cornwall) to Paris (more about why in a later post). As long as I don't fall asleep for the duration, such journeys provide me with time to think, reflect, read, maybe watch a film on my laptop... and do something I have always enjoyed doing: making links between things - between, for example, a passage in a book I am reading and a theme that is dealt with in a film I have seen, or a song lyric, or an event in my own life, and from this more or less spontaneous integration of ideas from different sources then come up with something of my own. In this case it was a very p…