Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Welcome to the Welcome Wagon (attention Sufjan fans)

Wow! The 'Welcome to the Welcome Wagon' is really something.

The Welcome Wagon are husband and wife - Rev. Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique. Vito is a Presbyterian minister in the States.

It's an album of old-time religious country-ish songs given all kinds of special twists by producer Sufjan Stevens who also plays on the album. Here's some of the blurb:

The debut album by The Welcome Wagon unveils a ramshackle sing-a-long enterprise of a Presbyterian pastor (the Rev. Vito Aiuto) and his wife (Monique) wrestling out the influences of folk music, religion, popular culture, and church tradition in a collection of songs that is as soulful as it is good-humored. This gorgeous brew is reflected in the group’s repertoire, which unflinchingly consolidates a vast history of “sacred” song traditions: from Old Testament psalms, to Presbyterian Psalters of the 17th century, to iconoclastic pop innovators of the 1960s (The Velvet Underground), to charismatic Catholics of the 1970s (Lenny Smith), and into the melancholy lovelorn pop of the 1980s (The Smiths). There are even a few originals. Armed with a particleboard parlor guitar and a plastic glockenspiel, pastor and wife stumble their way through an arresting catalog of hymns—hallowed and unholy—with the simple desire to know their Maker—and to know each other—more intimately.

I got my copy free via Todd Fadel who is putting together a new network called 'Love is Concrete' and is offering the album to entice you to sign up (worked for me!).

To read more about the album - it's worth investigating believe me - and get a free download of one of the tracks go here. Or go to the 'Love is Concrete' page and e mail Todd to get a link to download the whole thing for free.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I enjoy getting Richard Rohr's daily e mail. Today's was particularly good I thought.....

"The reason we have trouble with the full incarnation in Jesus is probably that we have not been able to recognize or admire our own limited incarnation. We also have a capacity for the divine.

Theological doctrine we can deal with, but ourselves we cannot. It is comparatively easy to admit to a historical divine/human integration or personification, but it is apparently difficult to accept that same integration or personification within our own remembered and regretted lives. But this little self on its insignificant journey is very likely a microcosm of what God is doing everywhere and what God did perfectly in Jesus. If we are to believe the whole, we must start by trying to believe the part. If we are to love God’s beginning and God’s conclusion—Jesus—then we must try to love God’s process—ourselves. He is Alpha and Omega, but we are beta, gamma, and delta. It is all one. Truth is one. And we have been made one by God’s yes to flesh in Christ"

You can sign up to get them here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sainsbury's - a bit like Helm's Deep

I was in Sainsbury's quite late last night - picking up the glasses for our Carol service on Sunday. It was eerily quiet but there were LOADS of teenage staff stocking the shelves...stuff everywhere.
Today (Saturday) is supposed to be the busiest supermarket shopping day in the whole history of the planet or something. So they were preparing for the onslaught.
It kinda reminded me of the scene in 'The Two Towers' where all the good guys are in Helm's Deep preparing for Sauron's army which they know is coming!

Friday, December 19, 2008

BBC releases iPlayer for Mac & Linux

Well they've taken their time about it but BBC's iPlayer is finally
available for the Mac.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Earth from the Air exhibition @ Oxford Castle

We went out for breakfast at Carluccios's at Oxford Castle yesterday morning as part of our wedding anniversary celebrations. Great food - certainly a whole lot better than the meal I had the night before at Loch Fyne which was very ropey and disappointing.

Anyway - when we came out of Carluccio's we found ourselves drawn in to the spectacular free exhibition of very large photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand that are all around the exterior of the castle complex. His work is marketed as 'The Earth from the Air' and is now rather ubiquitous having been made into books, T-Shirts etc. (you will probably recognise the middle bottom image from the montage above).

BUT - it's really worth seeing. I found it to be quite a spiritual experience - wonder, awe, a recognition of how small we are and how beautiful the earth is. The photography is amazing - brilliant to see very large, original prints which the images above and others you may have seen on the web don't do justice to.

The exhibition runs to January 11th and if you're local to Oxford I highly recommend you see it (especially as it's free!!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

free music

Church of the Beloved - sister church to Church of the Apostles (COTA) in Seattle - are offering an album of new music FOR FREE!! Gotta love that generous spirit.

Judging from the first track (the only one I've had time to listen to so far) it's a cracker.

Download 'Hope for a Tree Cut Down' here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

new blog

I have decided to begin a new blog. This is perhaps foolish as I am such an infrequent writer on this blog. But one of my frustrations with this blog is that it is quite muddled content-wise. So my new blog - which I will keep alongside this one - will have writings on prayer and spirituality and nothing else. My old blog (the one you are reading right now) will have all my general news-y type stuff. I will also link between the two.
'The Inside Word' (which I have decided to call the new blog) will help me to process some of the stuff I have been learning over the last few years about the the contemplative path. I am not claiming to be an expert in this field by any stretch of the imagination. I am a seeker just like many of you. But I find that writing helps me to process and remember what I am learning. So perhaps I will be writing there for my own benefit more than anyone else's.

Anyway - if you're interested you can follow my meanderings at

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Really pleased to be able to tell you all about an exciting new venture I am involved in.

StillPoint is a new collaboration between Ian Adams and myself. It's a 'Centre for the Practice of Christian Spirituality in Oxford' aimed at nurturing spiritual practice. Right now it's a Centre without a physical centre - we will be putting on a range of events - conferences, arts events etc. - in different venues across the city in 2009 and beyond.

Most importantly we are having a launch night in The Phoenix Cinema here in Oxford on Wednesday 4th March, 2009. The Bishop of Oxford will be in attendance (great to have his backing and blessing) and - as part of our presentation - we will be showing some chapters of One Giant Leap's film 'What About Me'. We're really excited that Jamie Catto from One Giant Leap will also be joining us for the launch night and taking part in the evening.

You can find out more about StillPoint on our website and if you would like to come to the launch then please let me know and I will send you an invite.