Category: delightful Intermissions

We can not always be contemplative, diligent, or pragmatical, abroad; but have need of some delightful Intermissions – John Milton

I can only imagine


I got the opportunity to see the film called “I can only imagine” in a the cinema this week. I can only imagine is a faith film, its entire reason for existing it build up the faith of the viewer. I hadn’t seen many faith films but I was open to see what it was about. It was sold to me as the movie about why the guy had written a famous song. I have watched a number of documentaries which deal with one song or one artistic life, (Glen Campbell: The Rhinestone Cowboy comes to mind), but for this movie I didn’t know the song the film was dealing with.

Watching the movie, the acting was solid, and the story was reasonable. The film felt coherent with moments of comedy and moments of darkness beings solidly balanced. I felt the film was enjoyable without living with me afterwords. It showed relations in families are not easy, and that living without success is a hard slog. As I watched I wondered who is this film for? People who knew the song, was the answer, but this is a limited audience not including me. But it should be me. I knew christian music of the Era. I am inside Christianity and know a wee bit about Christian music of the Era contained in the film, but the film didn’t really affect me.

The problem with a faith film is if I am not asking the question the film answers (why was a song written?), how does the film build up my faith. Any type of testimony speaks of God’s reconciliation, the message that Christianity carries, humans can be reconciled to God, is a good one. The problem was the film wasn’t content with this message. As a bio pic of very successful band detailing a song which sold millions of copies, the film ended with the story of reconciliation with God of the father, the father mending his relationship with his son and then reconciled, his son was successful (writing a song and selling millions of records). That story of sucess does not build up my faith, nor does it speak of how I think of God.

There was a moment in the movie where the father, played by Dennis Quaid, says

“Dreams don’t pay the bills. Nothing good comes from them. All it does is keeping you from knowing what is real”

What is real is being honest about our experience and film details real life well, but it says that worship music is space where we can be real. The film hints at the moment that Contemporary Christian Music stopped being about music which was similar to normal music but had christian lyrics, music as entertainment, (perhaps best exampled in the history of Tooth & Nail Records) to becoming music as worship. The moment where DC Talk, Newsboys and PFR were having records simultaneously released in “normal” shops and also in the “christian music” shops to the moment were the Newsboys were issuing worship records to christian shops only. There is a story to be told around that time, but this film only hints at this issue.

As I watched the movie I wanted it speak more and to explore the story more. Like a trailer I had seen for a small film that mixes up real life, intermingles it with religious life, it seems to say something about faith and real life that was missing. “Parallel Love“.

I was thinking of what it means to struggle outwith the Christian world as a christian artist, the movie that tells the story of Daniel Smith and the Danielson Famile from a while ago.

Danielson: a Family Movie from JL Aronson on Vimeo.
In many ways the faith based film sector does not speak outside of itself. This was this a story well told and solidly acted. But did its target market go outside of faith community, did it even go outside of American Christianity, that is debatable.

So I left the cinema thinking. The film was ok, and if you like the song, the film is something that is decent and tells a story you may be interested in.

Playlist of influence.


I have many different playlists across various services. On iTunes I have about 60 different playlists currently. I have about 20 playlists on Spotify. Some of these are functional collecting a genre or artist together, some are something more life giving. I have a playlist filled with songs I like driving to called “driving”. I have one filled with songs of that help my think about faith called “Worth”. I have a playlist of fragile songs called “fragile”. On the more frivolous side I have a playlist called “six” that just has the sixth song off of a load of albums and one playlist called “way” that only has songs with the word way in the title. I even have an entire history of a band, the blue nile, or list build from the a set list of a concert I have seen, Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil.

Tonight I have been listening to one of the playlists called “40”. The playlist aims to draw together one album from each year I have been alive that means something to me. (The albums don’t really need to be one a year but roughly so). They start with the music of my father and mother, Cliff Richard, the Beach Boys and John Denver. The music of my brother including the band he sang in. The music of my teenage, my Contemporary Christian Music leanings through to today and the dream pop leanings. I don’t often listen to this list, but tonight it has been on. The Boy has enjoyed it being on.

I have always known that the power of song is significant but tonight it struck me just how much of my belief is informed and reinforced by song. How much I am uncritical of songs but adopt them as my own and have a view of faith I have found through song. I learned and identified with song. In listening to this playlist I have been revisiting my initial thoughts about my theological worldview and discovering how much it has shaped me. I don’t quite know what to think but in the meantime I will enjoy.

part 2(016) by Laconic Hegemony (vol 13), a #mixtape for you.

laconichegemony

The new Laconic Hegemony “part 2(016)” is now out. Laconic hegemony is a small mixtape I put out with my favourite songs of the past year. You can listen to all, some or none of it. it is your choice. All these songs have been songs which have accompanied my over this year and mean something to me in some way, but I am aware they do not currently mean anything to you. Think of it as a c60 (roughly) of goodness to accompany your work rest and play!, and is so inclined, let me know what you like from the mixtape.

Mixcloud Mixes Object

Technically my mixtape are hosted by mixcloud.com who provide the free widget above, an app for listening on your smart phone or even using a website, (A website, can you imagine!) The reason I use mixcloud.com is they are free, (which is important) and also they use their advertising income to pay royalties to the featured artists. I guess it is not a lot of money but I like the idea that the artist will make something from this randomly being played on the internet.

Album of the Year 2016

In all my busy-ness I realised I needed to sort out my best albums from 2016.

the long list is, (in no particular order).
Human Performance by Parquet Courts
Is The Is Are by DIIV
Bitter Charm by Dunes
I Had A Dream That You Were Mine – Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
Heavn by Jamila Woods
Walls by Kings of Leon
Visions Of Us On The Land by Damien Jurado
Good Grief by Lucius
Vitals by MuteMath
Ballard Of The Broken Few by Seth Lakeman
Front Row Seat To Earth by Weynes Blood
Light Upon The Lake by Whitney
Wow to the Deadness (EP) by Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil
Colouring Book by Chance the Rapper
Yoncalla by Yumi Zouma
A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

the top three are

number 3

Bitter Charm By Dunes.

This is great wee album of post punk beauty which borders on dream pop. Yip possibly my favourite sound in the world.  although they are knocked off a point by only releasing the album on cassette.I don’t mind vinyl, but I am not returning to the world of cassettes.
Link to the SFsonic review

number 2

HEAVN by Jamila Woods

I don’t often got for R&B, but her voice is delicious. the album is great and avaialable for free to stream or download from the artists Soundcloud page.https://soundcloud.com/jamilawoods/albums it is a great album i find myself returning to often during the last year.
(Link to the Pitchfork review)

number 1

A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead.

well of course it was.
constantly on repeat, offering something different each listen, melodies to die for.
It is wonderful.

link to the Guardian review
Link to the pitchfork review
link to the FT review

Films for youth work


On the plane to Australia I had the chance to catch a few films, including the recent film “Sing street“. The film centres on a group of young people being young people in Ireland, during the nineteen eighties.

As I watched this I thought this is a great film. Then I wondered if this would be a great film to use in a youth work setting. I think so, and at the end of the film I started a small list of films that say something about being young that I would show a group of 12-15 year olds.

the list currently is.
Gregory’s Girl 1981
E.T. 1982
The Breakfast club 1985
Clueless 1995
Romeo & Juliet 1996
10 things I hate about you 1999
Ping Pong 2002
Napoleon Dynamite 2004
Pitch Perfect 2012
Sing Street 2016

What should I add or take away?

Is the quality of Youth Ministry generally going down dramatically? 10 questions for Mike Pilvatchi.

Soul Survivor promo

So recently the world of youth ministry, (well the readers of youth work magazine) were rocked by the following bit of an interview with Mike Pilvatchi in the magazine. In answer to the question “What shifts have you noticed among youth workers over the last 25 years?” Mr Pilvatchi who is the leader of Soul Survivor, Watford, and the Soul Survivor week long bible festival summer events, answered…

Generally, the quality of youth workers has gone down dramatically. I love the Anglican Church but lots of our best youth leaders are now getting ordained and I begged the Archbishop – I went and saw him, and asked: “Please could you establish a diaconate for youth leaders?” We’ve just got to raise the profile of that, otherwise it’s like you do youth work for three years until you’ve practiced with the little people and then you do the proper ministry. We’ve got to break that.

Honestly, loads of youth leaders don’t even know what they believe. And they’re petrified of looking at certain issues – especially sex and sexuality. The numbers of youth leaders after we did a series of talks on sex and relationships who said: “Thank you for doing that because we can’t talk about it”. Really? I asked this years’ Soul61s, which is our discipleship year – there are 25 of them and they’re the ones that raised £6,000 each to spend ten months with us so they’re pretty committed – I asked them back in January: “How many of you have never talked about sex and sexuality in your youth group?” Half put their hands up. Half!

Mr Pilvatchi goes on to lament the lack of bible teaching in the early days of Soul Survivior, wishing they had less funny stories, and more bible stories. Concluding with the observation that the church now has a biblically illiterate generation. You can read the interview here. The sense I get is this is a big questions on the end of a promo interview for a book, I am not sure Mr Pilvatchi had time to consider his answers as if this was the subject of the interview. But I think this is an observation which needs to be considered seriously. I wonder if this is true for Scotland, and specifically for the Church of Scotland.

So as I have been involved in youth ministry for 25 years this year (I know I don’t look old enough!), and as this is National Youth Work week 2016,  I thought it would be good to consider this issue a bit more. th achieve this consideration I am writing 3 blog posts on the topic. This is post one entitled – 10 questions for Mike Pilvatchi.

10 questions for Mike Pilvatchi (a series of questions to try and tease out a bit more of what this is all about.)
1 – What is the point of youth ministry?
Looking at the answers in the interview, I am guessing you consider the point of youth ministry is primarily christian education i.e. to teach bible stories and principles to young people. But I think I need to check that assumption with you.

2 – Why do workers move on from youth ministry to ordination?
What are the issues that being a youth worker poses, that becoming a full time Rev. answers? What is stopping quality people from working in youth ministry long term? Have you seen where this is an instinctive move from youth work to work with all people within a congregation, and as such can viewed as an extension of an existing ministry rather than a change from a lesser ministry to proper ministry? What does it mean for a worker who hasn’t been ordained after 25 years?

3 – Would a diaconate solution solve these issues?
Within the Church of Scotland, the diaconate is a small and little known ministry of the church (unless you are a keen observer of such things). Would appointing youth ministry professionals to this ministry status really answer the issues raised by question 2?

4- What needs to be put in place to support and improve youth ministry as a whole?
Not all youth ministry exists within the anglican church, or christian education so while the Diaconate solution may work in that context, the issue raised needs a bigger structural response. With Oasis College in London recently stopping new entries to under & post degree level courses, what new structures are needed to support youth ministry generally?

5 – If the quality of youth workers has gone down dramatically, was it always high or is this a regression to the normal level?
I wasn’t around in the 50’s or 60’s, but I have read some of the literature of the time, I am curious to know if you think the youth ministry of the 60’s was better than the youth ministry of 80’s, and if they were both better than youth ministry in the 00’s, this would establish if this is a steady decline or if the identified decline is an unexpected drop off.

6 – How do you judge quality?
You seem be talking about the quality of person available, (as a youth worker still working within youth ministry for 25 years, I already have a healthy view of my own limited skill set!), then later you lament the practices of the current workers in talking about sex with teenagers or doing bible teaching. I am unclear if you are talking about people or practices primarily, (although I realise they are inherently linked).

7 – What data are you measuring this criteria against?
How do you judge if something is better now than it was a while ago, usually you would look for an evidence base of some sort, so I am also interested to consider what evidence or data sources you would point to when making this judgement about worker quality?

8 – You were invited to comment upon youth workers, what other things do you consider influence youth workers and how would you consider these influencing others have shifted over the last 25 years?
No youth worker is an island, so in thinking about the quality of youth worker, how much strength or affect would you ascribe to developments in parenting, childrens ministry, education policy, theological thinking, the professionalisation of youth ministry, cultural changes, social changes, economic changes, government policy, and other factors that all influence and shape youth ministry?

9 – Sex and sexuality is an interesting focus, why choose it?
Within the church of Scotland, there are ongoing discussions, that have resulted in sex and sexuality being something to discuss very carefully (going so far as to prevent ministers from commenting upon sex and sexuality debates for a period of time.) The Church of Scotland is and has changed its position on this and various ways forward are being discussed and put in place by the CofS nationally. Given this is a live issue where church ideas are/can be controversial, a reticence to lead discussions on the topic would be understandable. Within such a context of whole church review is it fair to consider sex and sexuality as the primary example then of quality youth work?

10 – What shifts within youth ministry have been positive over the last 25 years?
I don’t believe you are inherently negative about youth ministry, what are the good things you have seen as it has developed and changed in the last 25 years?

meeting people. considering #people in #meetings

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Over the last few days, Monday and Tuesday, I have been involved in two similar efforts be two different organisations. Both efforts tried get a similar outcome while using two different processes. The aim of this post is to try and consider both processes and critically engage with them. I am not trying to comment upon the content of both conversations as this is not public information, and it is not my place to reveal that content.

Effort 1 – Format
Effort 1 was on behalf of the Church of Scotland, the effort was to answer the challenge given by General Assembly 2016 to the Mission and Discipleship Council.
Instruct the Council to report to the General Assembly of 2017 its initial outline of a proposed theme(s) for the following five years from 2018 onwards to focus the worship, witness and work of the Church on every level throughout the Church of Scotland’s parishes, congregations and communities.
The process used was to widely invite representative stakeholders from the Church of Scotland to a one-day conference. This conference would enable conversation and an emerging set of themes to answer the challenge.  The conference was well attended (around 50 people) and seemed to have good participation.

The format used was a form of the World Café method. Having read about world cafe as a method within my academic research I was keen to see it in action. At a basic level it is a way to get allow large groups to divide into smaller groups and allow for the group to split up and form new groups regularly. Functionally a volunteer “Host” stays at each table in order to anchor the conversation at that table and allow others to join in and build upon the previous conversation strands.

Effort 1-Reflection
When I say a “form of “above, my brief reading of world cafe had informed me that the world cafe method works with tables of 4 people and 20-minute conversation sessions therefore it should be short and sharp chats. The format we used yesterday was tables of 6 with 50 minute sessions which surprised me as going about 5 people seems a non-negotiable for the world café people.

Our facilitators facilitated us. The facilitating seemed a bit awkward during the introducing to the world café and the presentation of the café etiquette, although I wonder if it was just me, it felt hesitant and unsure, rather than calm, confident and paced. During the introduction section there was a deliberate and conscious repetition of words like “purposeful” I wondered about why this was emphasised, I guessed it was an attempt to emphasise that we as participants had made a participation agreement with ourselves and everyone else in the process, but at the time I heard it as a warning rather than an encouragement to participate

In the conversation groups there were times when I felt they had got too large to keep focused. The questions in section two were too big. The conversation times were too long. In one group there was a couple of times where the conversation seemed to draw to a close naturally or conversely go too far down side alleys. When we came to the third session as a group we started by sitting in silence as trying to sum up the wide ranging conversations all six of us had been party too was overwhelming for all of us. This seemed to have a detaching effect. There was a dissonance between the conversations we had and the way we were attempting to summarise and reflect back.

I had to leave before the final session so I am conscious I have only a broken form of the model to reflect upon. I am not sure it worked well to achieve the aims of the day. I think it did allow for lots of different conversations to happen and I am positive about that although I wonder where these conversations go after the day. I am also hopeful for the results which will come from the day. I left with a feeling of dissonance, of being unsatisfied.

Effort 1 -future development
The facilitators will write up a report which will go the Mission and Discipleship Council. The Mission and Discipleship Council will then report back to General Assembly 2017 on these themes.
This is a reasonably clean method of getting a result with participation and consultation with stakeholders in a defined timescale.

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Effort 2 -format
Effort 2 was in response to an open request from the primary school my children go to. The school sent a letter inviting parents to a consultation upon a set of values for the school. The session was attended by 4 parents who all contributed.

The format was in 2 stages the head teacher introducing the context from a policy and educational background which was motivating this development and the second section was the parents discussing and working on a vision statement for the school and motto, aims and objectives which would support this vision and an initial list of supporting values. This section was unstructured. (I am unsure if a larger attendance would have been handled in a different way.)

Effort 2 -reflection
The slideshow introduction was helpful in clarifying what was wanted as an outcome.

There was a lack of guidance as to how to go about the task of writing vision statement for a school. This was the first consultation in the process and as such we (the parents) didn’t have a guiding foundation to work from. That stumped us for a few minutes, the head teacher waiting with us in the struggling to work out a way forward without imposing or suggesting a method. for a process which was absent. as soon as the group took control to get the job done it was done quickly with agreement and contributions from all. (thankfully amongst us was a parent who had a background in facilitating meetings within large multinational companies. Our wee group flew with skilful facilitation, producing a solid set of answers for the Head teacher to work with.
 
It was notable that half the group had a professional background in business where achieving tasks within timescales is a key skill. This maybe a key skill but I am not sure we got to actually converse about the issues before getting to the task. I felt that was an absence from this effort.

I felt like this had something substantial and that we got something achieved as we walked out the door

Effort 2 -future development

The group asked the head teacher to take forward the future development in a specific way. The head teacher accepted that, and outlined a larger process that would now take place including, a full consultation with all other stakeholders of the school, including a wider internet survey open to all parents, as such the process has a long way to run.  In some ways that is frustrating as our effort maybe amended beyond recognition when actually it is ready to go tomorrow should it be wished. as the facilitator at effort on emphasised “Hold your ideas lightly during this process.”

Curiosity
It has been an interesting two days and the contrast between the methods significant.  One is big and varied and felt too long, the other is small, focused and fast. I really enjoyed the space of effort 1’s big conversations are fabulous, and effort 2’s tightly packed let’s get this done now attitude.

For the positives effort 1 left me with a dissonance between conversation and outputs while effort 2’s brevity and ability to reach a quick conclusion may turn out to be pyrrhic in the long term.

The highly guided form of world café method seemed to not give the outputs the focus it needed while the method of an absence of guidance seems dangerous while the outcome is possibly as important and long lasting as a school vision statement could be. As methods for working with groups to achieve specific outcomes I am not sure I would want to use either of them again in the forms they were presented over the past two days.

I wonder how I will feel about both efforts in May 2017 as the results from both are made public and put into action.

Footballer gets sent off for passing wind during game. a google translate story.

So the BBC Website has the following story.Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 09.09.52

“A Swedish footballer was sent off for passing wind during a match – with the referee dismissing him for “deliberate provocation” and “unsportsmanlike behaviour”. (Sport Bladet)

I clicked the link to Sport Bladet – it is a newspaper in Swedish. I so not speak the Swedish so I looked at the picture and decided the referee was correct to send off this player.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 09.10.06

I then copied the text of the article into google translate. An internet tool well known for its hermeneutic skills. What proceeded from Google was I believe a word for word translation of the article. (note to self, Swedish newspapers may not prove a long term reading source.)

Adam Lindin Ljungkvist offered lead after smoking.

It ended with a red card.
– I was bad in the stomach and in the last minute I put a fart. Then the judge came and gave me a yellow card, then a red, said left-back.
The strange expulsion occurred in Division 7 match between Järna SK’s reserve team and Pershagen SK, which Länstidningen Södertälje was the first to draw attention.
In the final stage was Pershagen SK’s Adam Lindin Ljungkvist, 25, sent off after receiving receiving his second yellow card. Adam Lindin Ljungkvist, playing left back, saw the red card due to a fart.
“It was heard properly”
– It was a strange penalty, I can hardly believe it myself. I was bad in the stomach and in the last minute I put a fart. Then the judge came and gave me a yellow card, then a red card. It was my second warning and I had no track of my first at all. I had no memory at all. Then I was a little angry at the judge, I could not quite believe what had happened. All around stood asgarvade says Lindin Ljungkvist.
– That I can suspect is that he thinks I did it against an opponent. But to provoke anyone with a fart is not particularly smart or normal. No, but I added just a fart and I got the red card. The judge said it was unsportsmanlike behavior.
It must have been a fabulous …?
– Haha. Yes, it must have been. I saw that they had asked one of Järnas law and he said it was heard properly. Sometimes one can not see whether there is the small or large. It is believed that the little comes out, but it still allows.
You broke up with the judge afterwards?
– No. I asked him in a bad way, but there was no bad words. I was annoyed, while I could not believe I was sent off.
Was it a fisförnämt verdict?
– I think it was a crappy judgment. Now I just laugh about it. There is no one else who has heard of this before, I’ve never heard of anyone who has been sent off to be farting.
“Said something about that I was a spray launcher”
No, exactly. But what is the spontaneous gut feeling in the situation?
– My spontaneous feeling: “huh, are you kidding me?”. Then I questioned him before I went away.
You cleared the air?
– He said something about me being a spray-makers. There was no such thing. It was not that I stood there for several minutes. I said he was a “buffoon” and then I went to plan …
… It was just to let it go.
– Exactly. Yes, it was the last thing that happened. It was in 93 minutes.
Have you got any shit for this?
– For fart? No, haha. People have laughed at that. Nothing negative. I do not care that much either. It’s natural to add a fart and then.
How do you see the rest of the season for myself – it’s just that the gas on?
– Yes, ha ha. Just to drive on. We lost 2-5. But it will probably be better the rest of the season.
You are a player with a lot of speed and excitement …?
– Yes it’s me.
But you have to hold tight back …
– Yes. And thunder down the cross in from, haha.
Pershagen SK lost the match by 2-5.

#Bestof2015, musical albums, the Long List of Long Players.

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So in 2015 i got some music and liked a lot of it. here is the long list from which my top three albums of the year will be chosen in some order. As always all musical albums I heard for the first time in 2015 are eligible for consideration and the selection decision is my own.

What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World by The Decemberists
Stranger Kings by Stranger Kings
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Think by Courtney Barnett
Short Movie by Luara Marling
The Shakes by Herbert
The Scene Between by The Go! Team
Growing up is for Trees by I’m From Barcelona
Goon by Tobias Jesso jr
Apologues by Masatoshi Fujita
Song Spells, No. 1: Cedarsmoke by Sea Wolf
Hello I Feel The Same by The Innocence Mission
Eas by Iain Morrison
Amor Supremo by Carla Morrison
Depression Cherry by Beach House
Currents by Tame Impala

and in case you missed it, below is volume 10 of my mixtape series Laconic Hegemony, “20fifteen” containing some of my favourite songs of 2015

20fifteen (Laconic hegemony volume 10) by Sch3lp on Mixcloud

20fifteen (volume 10) by Laconic hegemony, a #mixtape for you

laconichegemony

The new Laconic Hegemony “20fifteen (volume 10)” is now out. Laconic hegemony is a small mixtape i put out with my favourite songs of the past year. you can listen to all, some or none of it. it is your choice. All these songs have been songs which have accompanied my over this year and mean something to me in some way, but I am aware they do mean anything to you. so feel free to have a listen and let me know what you like of the mixtape. think of it as a c60 (roughly of goodness to accompany your work rest and play!

20fifteen (Laconic hegemony volume 10) by Sch3lp on Mixcloud

Technically my mixtape are hosted by mixcloud.com who provide the free widget above, an app for listening on your smart phone or even using a website, (A website, can you imagine!) The reason I use mix cloud is they are free, (which is important) and also they use their advertising income to pay royalties to the featured artists. I guess it is not a lot of money but I like the idea that the artist will make something from this randomly being played on the internet.