Monday, October 30, 2006

Seth Lakeman - Freedom Fields

As previously confessed on this blog, I have a bit of a folky streak which I have lived in denial of for some time. I guess it comes from the same place within me that enjoys a good, organic, cider occasionally (I know - my emerging church, belgian ale drinking, credentials are now in tatters).
Anyway, I have recently discovered the wonderful Seth Lakeman - nominated for the Mercury Music prize this year - and his debut (I think) album - Freedom Fields. It's really beautiful stuff - especially if you like your folk with some vocals and singalong tunes.
One thing I have noticed about folk though is that although the music is very often beautiful and you find yourself humming along quite quickly, when you listen more closely you find that, lyrically, the subject matter can often be quite bizarre. Take Seth Lakeman's new single as an example - it's a gorgeous song but it appears to be about a white rabbit. I guess I should have worked this out from the title - 'The White Hare' (ok so not a rabbit exactly, but you get my point). I know it's probably a metaphor for something (haven't listened closely enough yet) but you can be driving along singing the song to yourself and then be slightly alarmed by the fact you are being moved by a song about a rabbit!
Do have a listen though - you can hear the song in question on his website here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Nativity Story

New Line Cinema - makers of the Lord of the Rings trilogy - are releasing 'The Nativity Story' this December. It looks like it's surfing a kind of post Passion-of-the-Christ sort of wave - same look and feel judging by the trailers - gritty and pretty faithful to the texts by all accounts. I know some people really didn't like TPOTC but I did and no doubt will like this one too. It would be easy to be pretty cynical about it and say that it's obviously just a cash-cow for the studio (who no doubt saw what an amazing money spinner the Mel Gibson film was and thought "we'll have a bit of that action"). Maybe I'm playing right into their hands. But you can make up your own mind - more info here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bill Viola - The Messenger

As I was walking through Oxford today - on my way to a joke shop to buy a ridiculous Mexican moustache for a Mexican party tonight (where do we get these stereotypes from? Do all Mexican men have moustaches?!) I happened upon a poster for a Bill Viola installation that's happening down the road from us here in Oxford, in Dorchester Abbey (which also happens to be the fantastic old monastic Abbey where we have our Service of Vows at Easter). It's called The Messenger. I have no idea what it's about but it's on for the next week each evening (it's only visible at night) and I plan to go tomorrow night. I saw some of his work - following a tip off from Jonny Baker - earlier in the summer at the Haunch of Venison gallery in London. Viola's medium is High Definition video installations. Should be good. More info here. If you're local to Oxford I recommend you going to have a look.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bring Back God!

I don't think I could ever justify paying £55 for a T-Shirt but I thought this was a note-worthy one to bring to your attention. It's by the designer Katharine Hamnett who is well known for her commitment to fair-trade and ethical fashion and who has designed T-Shirts in the past for a friend of mine - Greg Valerio - who runs CRED (now the sole importers of fairly traded platinum into the UK (I think). Anyway - I love the strapline that goes with this shirt : 'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'. We might need to pinch that one! (Thanks to Barry Taylor for the link).

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Firefox 2

So the new version of the Firefox web browser has just been released and I seem to be an early adopter. It's generally more of the same but better but I particularly like the way you are able to specify which feed aggregator you use (NetNewsWire Lite in my case) and then when you click on the feed button for a particular site it will subscribe and load it up automatically. Looks like Andrew Jones has had a party to celebrate its release and dedicate it to God - which I thought was hilarious, very Andrew, and great.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Man, I'm such a Geek

Off to a lecture this lunchtime by Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple with Steve Jobs) at the Said Business School here in Oxford. He's talking about the development of Apple, and his new book iWoz. Here's a picture of the two Steves back in the early days of Apple - Wozniak is on the left.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lectionary Reflection

today we remember St Luke the evangelist, and today's gospel reading is from Luke 10. There we read the familiar words, "the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few".
I want to suggest that when it comes to evangelism (which I would see as one part of mission) we often get this completely the wrong way round. Our attitude seems to be that the harvest is pretty feeble. There are not many people who are interested in becoming disciples of Jesus, so it would seem.
But Jesus suggests the opposite: there is nothing wrong with the harvest, that's not where the problem is. The problem is with the lack of labourers to gather the harvest in.
Perhaps we need to balance our prayers for the world - which are right and good - with prayer for ourselves, that we might be better labourers in the harvest field.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gloria EP - new preview track on MySpace

There is a new preview track from our EP - Gloria - on our mySpace site. Go here to listen and here to purchase.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Kate Rusby

Pip and I had the great pleasure of seeing kate Rusby at the New Theatre in Oxford last night. She was wonderful as were her band - the standard of musicianship was amazing. So it's time for me to 'fess up': I may have given you all the impression that I only listen to electronica but actually, sometimes I listen to folk music. It's ok, it's under control. I could stop at any time. It's only a small amount. I've heard it said that folk music is a gateway and can lead to 'harder' things, perhaps like Latin, or Prog Rock, but I'll have to take that risk because sometimes it's just so darn good.
I have a little daydream that when I am old you will find me in the corner of a pub out in the countryside somewhere playing folk tunes with others near a roaring fire - I will be playing something like a bodhran or pipes or a whistle.
Have I gone too far?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Training Day: Spiritual Direction

If anyone reading this lives in the Oxford area hOME is hosting a training day this coming Saturday (7th). The subject is 'an Introduction to Spiritual Direction and Christian Listening Skills' and it's being led by the wonderfully named Barbara Doubtfire. Barbara is the Diocesan spiritual direction co-ordinator and a former nun.
We're looking more closely at this subject as it's an aspect of what God seems to be saying to us as a community at the moment about the subject of hospitality.
Hospitality is actually all about listening. Listening deeply to the lives of others that God brings to us.
If you live locally and would like to come along then do drop me an e mail - - and I'll let you know the details.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

new Album Leaf record

The Album Leaf have been one of the greatest joys of my musical life over the last few years so I was delighted to see, whilst browsing in Fopp yesterday (surely the best record store chain we have) that they have a new album out, entitled 'Into the Blue Again'. For those who haven't yet experienced the delights of The Album Leaf they have a MySpace page where you can listen and also download one track. Enjoy!