Monday, June 30, 2008

Time for spontaneity

I love this piece by my good buddy Duncan, which has just appeared in The Salvation Army’s UK in-house magazine “Salvationist”:

A few stand out phrases:

In our heavily structured lives, do you find yourself not having room to be spontaneous – that if it’s not in the diary a month (or two or three) beforehand, it’s probably not going to happen? It’s not just meals, either; hooking up with friends or spending time with someone who wants to chat with you just gets more and more difficult.

I often speculate that had Jesus and his disciples just sat and ate their packed lunch and not shared it with the people who had just heard him – no doubt teaching about loving their neighbour, how to live in community with God and each other, and how to live justly – they wouldn’t have had much credibility.


Time for spontaneity

I struggle to find good quality time to eat with friends and family on a regular basis, and guess this could be true for others…….some of us are so busy trying to do, that we forget just to be. There are many people that need me just to be present and attentive, so that we can both work in each other’s lives – even over a simple meal. Jesus shows us very clearly that sitting down together is central to his work.

Duncan & his wife Anita are co-ordinators of our Fellowship Team at church

Friday, June 20, 2008

Booth & Bono

I’m looking forward to seeing an article that Randy Bohlender says he’s been working on for RELEVANT.

Randy had Twittered the thought
"I'd like to see a cage match between Bono and William Booth",
which put together two of my big heroes in one intriguing sentence, and captured my imagination.

I wonder what’s coming?

…should be a good read when it comes out.

BTW, I first came across Randy a year or two ago by some random Googling of "Burning Man" and "Christian". Check out this fascinating & uplifting piece about his experiences at Burning Man

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Punk Monk

On Saturday I took the opportunity to take up the recommendation of Keith, and picked up a copy of 24/7 Prayer guys Andy Freeman & Pete Greig’s Punk Monk book at my local Wesley Owen.

Unusally, I was wearing full on Sally Army uniform because the stop off at the book store was squeezed into a little time slot I had on the way to a gig with the Salvation Army Band I play in.

Now, I have to confess, there are times I struggle with wearing my uniform. It’s not that I have a problem with being identified as a member of The Salvation Army – it’s just that the style of uniform that I don’t like. It’s too close to a generic traffic warden /prison officer/security guard – whatever; white shirt, dark blue serge and smacks far too much of the conservative, conventional and buttoned-down for my liking. Also, it’s not exactly the most comfortable piece of clothing in my wardrobe.

The uniform is certainly not as readily identifiable as it used to be when The Salvation Army was more of a known quantity for people in British society, so maybe today if it was a bit more striking and individual it may, in turn, become more recognizable?

On top of that, I have a concern that a building full of people looking very similar in their uniforms may be a little overpowering or overwhelming for anyone who had chosen to drop in to one of our gatherings. (someone else might want to comment on this – this is only my perception)

Having said all that…….there are times when the uniform is great as a signal to people, saying “you can talk to me!”. In these circumstances it’s good…and on Saturday it was good because as I walked back from buying the Punk Monk, I bumped into a punk – mohican, studded jacket, tattoos, piercings…the works, who was taking a little time out outside a pub enjoying a drink with some friends. Now, because I had my uniform on, and because he was a decent guy, we were able to get into a conversation for a good 10-15 minutes. His opening gambit was
“I hurt people for a living”.

I asked him to explain, so he told me that he was one of the tattoo artists in the shop across the road. We talked, laughed, had a look at my newly purchased Punk Monk together – a little quizzical about the synchronicity of it all - and shared stories about tattood Pastors like Pernell & Carlos.

The funny thing is, I pass a couple of tattoo shops at least twice a week, as they are both close to The Salvation Army Hall. Something has been eating away at me for weeks saying I’d like to find a way to make contact. - not necessarily because I want to have a tatt, but because these people are real…authentic…our neighbours. We’re fortunate because our Salvation Army building is in a densely populated area, very close to the centre of our town, within stepping distance of a bustling and historic market where life is happening…and our presence there should be a tangible, authentic and positive thing.

I’m looking forward to reading Punk Monk!

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood

John 1:14 (The Message)

Thanks to Sayconnect for the pic of the non-traditional Sally Army uniform

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've nicked this picture from Lloyd, just it's because it's a great shot of two of my greatest friends, Duncan and Anita, who I love very dearly...


CNN currently have a fascinating feature called "JUST IMAGINE…what will life be like in 2020?” on their site.

It includes a feature on the inspiring Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx, who I first learned about though Duncan McFadzean’s What’s your point caller? blog at this post. Thanks for the heads up on this, Duncan!

There’s also piece on Community from Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen.

…a lot of good stuff to dig into in this feature, which means you may need to keep going back to revisit it.

If this kind of eco and urban renewal stuff floats your boat, you might also be interested in The High Line in NYC – an initiative to turn the historic High Line rail structure into a one-of-a-kind recreational amenity: an elevated public park cutting though a district in the city, above street level. I’m all for greening the city – makes sense to me.

The High Line blog
The High Line site
The High Line portraits

Pic straight from CNN

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Little shuffle

…not really due for an overhaul, but I did want to make a few small tweaks in to the johnnylaird blogroll

ABC Pastor goes in (I blogged about Lawrence Tom here)
• I’ve added Lard’s family site too
Scott was posted about here, and makes the blogroll
• Ian’s In the Belly of the Big Fish blog and Pace Bene site go on
• Stuart Watson’s Speirer blog is an interesting one for Salvationists. It’s early days for this one, so I’m not sure what themes will be covered over time, but Stuart has posted on subjects that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately namely Duty and Sabbath. My guess is this one will be an interesting one to watch as later in the month, Stuart & his wife Marjory leave the UK to begin a new life in California. Stuart will be working as the Music Education Director and Marjory as the Creative Ministries Director for The Salvation Army on the US West Coast, based in LA.
• …been finding a few things on MOOT’s blog that have grabbed my attention, so it’s going on the ‘roll
Matt Ingram – How could I possibly not? Matt’s Hawaiian adventure is going to be great to read about because it will bring back so many memories of that beautiful place

I also wanted to include some sites of various good people I hooked up with when I spent a day with Eric Bryant and the guys from the Mosaic Alliance UK, so in go the following:

Keith Ayling
• Sam Radford of Mosaic Sheffield blogs at The Sixth Sense
• Not strictly a blog, but a funky little Church site from ICF London

RELEVANT makes the mags, partly because it’s so relevant, and also as a sign of my support for the mighty Lard

Lastly, I wanted to give a shout out to my blogging buddies Thomas and JB, who’ve just started a new podcast at Something Beautiful.Stop by if you can.

When I do one of these periodic jigs of my blogroll, I’m hoping whoever is reading this blog finds a few things that might interest them and that the various strands of my own little cyberworld might gently collide with each other and find some common ground.

(There's a lot of linkage to sort now, but I'll get to it!)

Books and stuff and Haruki Murakami

When I left school – way way back in the early 80s, there was a period of time when I simply did not read. I had abandoned reading for pleasure, probably as a result of delving deeply into all kinds of stuff which I had been directed to as part of my studies. I had dutifully worked through the usual English syllabus of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Hardy, EM Forster, Beckett, Joyce and the rest of the usual suspects. After that, it all came to a grinding halt for a few years.

My reading after school was almost entirely made up of editions of Downbeat and Guitar Player magazines, which I read, re-read and read again. I never did master the guitar, but I could talk the talk, and fool anyone into thinking I knew what I was talking about when it came to guitars! I’ve forgotten most of it now, so don’t test me.

Then, on one specific day – and I can’t remember what the catalyst was to encourage such a focused response – I made a conscious decision that it was time to read again, so I went to a book store and made some purchases:

• To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
• Lake Wobegon Days – Garrison Keillor
• On the Road – Jack Kerouac
• The Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger
• Neuromancer – William Gibson

These books started a journey that has never stopped, and I suppose if I really sat down and took the time to analyze it, the day when I bought those five books would have been the kick off point for a daisy chain of a reading pattern that would find me searching out a book that had some kind of connection (which was sometimes deliberate, and sometimes subconscious) to the one I had just read. I would settle on an author any read several of their titles, or I would by a biography of the author that would open up another world for me – I rattled around the works of the Beats for a year or two, and racked up a whole collection of William Gibson cyberpunk novels. Eventually, the whole thing blossomed into a reasonably wide portfolio of reading stuff.

The reason I’ve remembered all this, is one of those authors I focused on for a while was Haruki Murakami. I love his surreal, contemporary Chandler-esque tales, written in a clipped, sparse way that leaves enough space for your imagination to fill in the gaps.

Murakami featured in a really interesting piece in the Saturday edition of The Guardian, where we talks mostly about the other passion in his life, apart from his writing – running. Murakami, I now realize, is a dedicated long distance runner, with many marathons under his belt, and talks about the similar discipline he applies to his writing and his running.

For more stuff on Haruki Murakami and running, there’s a Runners World interview here.

I’m kinda hoping the inspiration I initially got from reading a few books, might work for me in getting me off my backside, and doing a little better than the periodic mile and a half stagger across the field and around the local park. There’s something appealing about running that is somehow at odds with my normal preference for sitting around and drinking coffee!

Hat tip to Naxos Audio Books for the image

Currently reading NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope

Friday, June 06, 2008

Say Aloha to Matt!

...wanted to give a shout out to the baby-faced and frighteningly talented Matt Ingram, who's just arrived in beautiful Hawaii for the summer, and will be blogging about his experiences here

Matt's a lovely fellah, top musician and all round good bloke

Thursday, June 05, 2008


For a long time I’ve been an admirer of the ministry of The Freeway in Hamilton ON, and regularly visit their website, as well as the blog of their pastor Pernell Goodyear, but somehow this quite beautiful outline of their story had dipped under my radar.

I love the way they describe the early days of The Salvation Army, and smoothly move into their vision of their new and current expression of Christian love in their community.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Praying Pete

As is so often the case, I’m late to the party on this news.

24/7 Prayer
head honcho Pete Greig has become “Director of Prayer” for Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London.

24/7 Announcement
HTB Announcement

It’s an interesting appointment in all kinds of ways, not least because 24/7 has quite recently grown rapidly as a prayer movement from a humble, organic little huddle of people to something of a global phenomenon seemingly overnight, whereas HTB has been around since the 1800s, and is the home of the hugely successful Alpha Course.

My own tribe have had a long and happy relationship with the 24/7 guys and have a department focused on 24/7 prayer, so I’m glad to see 24-7 Prayer’s continuing impact on Church communities and the wider society. The story about that relationship between 24/7 and The Salvation Army is outlined here. It really is worth the read.

Pete has written a number of books, but the two that I particularly found helpful are Red Moon Rising and God On Mute. If you’re not familiar with them, they are worth checking out.