Monday, November 7, 2011

Life at present (25)

This is my last week at university. I feel a strange mixture of joy, sadness, achievement, and disappointment.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Life at present (20)

This is my dinner. Campbell's Country Ladle Minestrone soup and three slices of toast. It's a banquet of sorts.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Life at present (18)

This is what is going on today. The books are from the International Critical Commentary series. These ones are on Mark, Matthew, and Luke. The CDs are the great Mark Hollis trilogy of 1988-98: Talk Talk 'Spirit of Eden' and 'Laughing Stock,' and the eponymous solo album. Good times if I wasn't so stressed about getting this Transfiguration essay completed on time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Life at present (17)

Tigga is scared of thunder storms. I am scared of never finishing my work because I am sick.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Life at present (16)

Tigga is helping me with my essay. She doesn't really understand the real error of Arianism, but likes food.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Life at present (15)

Last night Tigga raided our cupboards. She managed to find a box of choc chip muffins, a taco kit, a bag of almonds, a packet of rice crackers, a bar of Whittaker's dark chocolate and the remnants of a Cadbury's Old Gold bar. This is the face of shame.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Life at present (14)

I am at home today with my daughter, cats and dog (not pictured). We are playing 'girls go games,' sleeping and writing an essay. Who is doing what is up to you to work out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life at present (12)

I am having a tea break from Arius and Origen. Beetroot is having a long soak in her reality.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life at present (11)

Today I took my daughter and her friend to the Smurf movie. Not the best movie I have seen, but not the worst.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Linda Rich

Linda Rich was a Christian folk singer who recorded three albums: There's More to Living than I Know So Far (1969), Patterns (1970), and Apple Tree (1975).

All three albums are fantastic: melancholy, spiritual, sparse, gentle, rich, and luminous. her voice is somewhat like early Joni Mitchell (1968-71) but more mezzo-soprano, with fewer melissmas. her guitar playing is functional, but delicate. When there are arrangements, the strings are tasteful. On several tracks on both Patterns and Apple Tree there is some fulte work that gets some spacey-echo happening. It's not quite psych, but very close.

Her lyrics are very Christian, but she also ventures into some searching territory, particularly "An Agnostic's Prayer" from Patterns. I particularly appreciate her more atmospheric lyrics:
"Sun streaming through stained glass windows,
coloured shadows in a darkened room,
red on brown,
make colours sound,
and give the peace of knowing You"
"Stained Glass Windows" Apple Tree

You can download all three of these albums here: The Ancient Star Song

I highly recommend these albums to anyone, Christian or not. There are moments of pure sublime beauty on all of these records, and you can hear the questioning and joy of Linda's faith in all her songs. She doesn't package up Christianity into a neat, happy box; rather she asks questions and admits her failings, yet she also expresses her love of Christ in a gentle joyousness that is sincere and real.

Life at present (10)

This is where I am today.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life at present (9)

This is a photo from the same spot as this time last week. I look at the clock and work out when I can have my next break.

Life at present (8)

This is the infamous library. I will be in there in a minute, researching Arianism and Origen. I may also be listening to Steve Hillage. I may also be depressed and cranky. I may also be snoozing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life at present (7)

This is my friend Jody. She is driving us to Cessnock for a clergy conference. What an exciting life we lead.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life at present (6)

There is a disco ball on the foyer at the bottom of stairs in front of the toilets. I have never seen any dancing there, but I must admit to having been a bit fleet footed on my way there after a day of drinking those green tea drinks.

Life at present (5)

There are positives and negatives about this bridge. On the good side, it means it is very nearly coffee time, or when approaching from the other way, it means library time is over. On the bad side, it means library time is about to start, or when approaching from the other way, it means I start think about how little I achieved while at the library.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life at present (4)

Most mornings I drop my daughter of at school, then wander, as to the gallows, to the library. Between the two there is this woodland wonderland. No elf sightings as yet, but I have seen some lost students.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Life at present (3)

Another part of daily life is picking up mu daughter from school. In front of the church the school is attached to is a statue of Mary. I have beem struck by how this looks on hot Australian afternoons against a backdrop of gum trees, powerlines, and rusty rooves and cars.

Life at present (2)

Another brief installment of what I hope doesn't become a regular series. This is a photo of pre-study: coffee and music. I was listening to Rush 'Power Windows' (1985).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Life at present (1)

This photo is a very accurate representation of life at present: library, laptop, headphones, green tea drink. The fact that I am taking a photo of it and blogging about it suggests the reality: procrastination and distraction.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cathedral Vision

I was told about the Christchurch earthquake while I was at a clergy development day. We were hearing a lecture on Matthew's Gospel.

The priest at the church where I am a student is also from Christchurch. At a bit after 10:30 he came over and told me what had happened. All he knew was that there had been an earthquake in Christchurch, the Cathedral was ruined and there were fatalities.

When he said this, I had a vision, which I have attempted to draw above. It was of the front of the Cathedral and all about was red. What the image doesn't have is the feeling that accompanied it. It was an empty pit, a vast hollowness. It is very had to describe.

I left the room and tried to contact my brother and mother. I couldn't get hold of them. I rang my wife and asked her to try to contact them. I wandered around outside in a sort of daze, having no idea of what was happening back home.

My wife texted me with a message that said "I think I should come and get you." This sounded like very bad news. My first thought was that my mother had been killed. I started to think about my brother, his wife and three kids. My friends started to pop into my head.

Sarah came and picked me up, and we drove back to our house. The news on the car radio said they had pulled out of the rubble. There would be many fatalities. I broke down.

Since then I have been in contact with so many people. My mother was fine, and my brother and his family are ok too. I have had contact with most of my friends, and they are ok too. There are a few not accounted for as yet.

The last few days have been completely surreal. I wish I was back home with my family and friends. There is nothing I would like to do more than have a cuppa with them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Yesterday my home town was devastated by an earthquake. 75 people have been confirmed dead. The CBD is destroyed.

All the while, I watch this on TV here in Newcastle, Australia.

I have never felt so helpless, sick, restless and homesick. There is no way I can understand what my friends and family are going through. There is nothing I can do to help them.

Like many, it was the sight of the Cathedral in rubble that bought the whole thing home. The Cathedral is the centre of the city, physically and spiritually. Christchurch is a predominantly Anglican city, and the Cathedral is right in the centre. It would be hard to live in Christchurch and not have a story or an incident that involves the Cathedral.

As a non-Christian, I used to go to the Cathedral on Friday evenings while on my dinner break from work. I used to sit and listen to the choir as they rehearsed.

The cathedral was the place of my conversion, sort of. It was while watching Midnight Mass at Christchurch Cathedral on Christmas Eve on the telly that I first became a Christian. It was at the cathedral that I had first received Holy Communion. It was at the cathedral that I first prayed.

I was talking with a friend last week about how it was my wish that when I am ordained a priest (God willing) that it might be possible to have the ceremony in Christchurch Cathedral. The chances of this were always remote, but it was a hope.

All of this seems quite pathetic and selfish now. As I sit here and watch the news, read facebook updates on how everyone is, and wonder about those we haven't heard from, my interests and hopes have become insignificant and feel wrong.

I have no understanding of how awful it must be for everyone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Tonight I watched 'The Simpsons' with my family. It was the episode "Jaws Wired Shut." In this episode, Homer gets his jaw broken and is unable to talk. He discovers that his family is quite interesting, summed up with "Wow, Bart has feelings."

The point is that usually Homer is talking about himself and his life, that he does not hear what his family is saying. because he is so involved in his own life, he does not take the time to hear what the rest of his family are saying. Within his enforced silence, Homer becomes a better man. Not only does he hear his family, he hears what they are feeling.

I have been through a similar breakthrough in the past three months while undertaking CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). Within this course, I learnt how to keep myself quiet and listen to patients. Not only hear what they are saying, but what they are feeling.

I am a talker. I like talking, and am guilty of talking about myself. Often. I am quite a selfish person in that respect, and no one would know that better than my family.

However, during the last few months I have found myself listening more and talking less. It has been quite a change. One for the better, for the most part, yet I wonder how long I can keep it up.

The thing is, the quieter I am the more I hear, the more I am tuned in to what is going on. So far, this hasn't all been a pleasant experience. By not filling space with gabble, the more I 'hear' the dissatisfaction in living, my own, and those around me.

There is a positive, and a large one at that. By experiencing quiet, I have been able to hear God more clearly. The gentle voice that has guided me once had to eke it's way through my own nonsense. Now, it is a more regular murmur.

Don't think I'm going crazy and hearing voices. It's not like that. Hearing is the wrong word. Like how Homer started 'hearing' his family when he stopped talking ("Wow, Bart has feelings"), it is the same with 'hearing' God. By keeping quiet, God is revealed in the silence.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Service, music, and another year

Saint Cecilia

Well, 2010 is done, and my blogging stopped in July. It was a very busy year I guess, with a lot more church work and essays and stuff, random thoughts posted online shrunk into nothing over the past 12 months.

The other consequence of the busyness was a lack of music composition. 2010 is the first year since 2004 that I didn't "release" an album or a major work. My intention was to finish a piece that I began in May in the last week of the year, but the process of living meant that Ascension sits incomplete in my hard drive.

This has led to a serious consideration: up until this time I have regarded myself as a composer or a musician. The last break I took was in 2003 when my daughter was born and time and energy to compose was scarce. The reason for a "break" in 2010 was also to do with time, but rather than parenthood it was theological study and ministry that caused the music to stop.

Since becoming a Christian, I have regarded my music as part of my ministry. For good or no, it was part of my service. In 2010 several of my pieces were used in worship and meditation services, often (to my surprise) to great effect. This was an affirmation of part of my ministry, but also a realisation that the pieces may be of limited appeal!

Anyway, I have to consider where my music and how much time I devote to it will fit into my life as of now. I am not ready to give up composing, yet I know that time is only going to become scarcer.

I know I was called into the service of the Lord, and my understanding of that has been as a priest. However, if that means giving up music, is that really serving as best I can?

Now there are varieties of gifts,
but the same Spirit;
and there are varieties of services,
but the same Lord;
and there are varieties of activities,
but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7

This all may sound rather precious and ego driven, but I assure you it is not so. My love of music, my own music, and my thoughts on contemporary church music are at an important juncture. I think most hymns are lacking in mystery and spiritual depth. I struggle to feel connected with God or able to worship to most of the musical drivel in church. The indwelling of Christ becomes a very distant glow that is rather a memory than a moment of oneness when singing most hymns. However at a contemplative service late last year, Christ was present for those present, and it was very humbling that one of my pieces was part of that experience.

The music that I have composed since my conversion has all been with such an experience in mind. To know that in 2010 I let myself down in the creation of a new piece to be a part of that ongoing work is a bit painful.

But, at the end of the day, it is whether the piece will exist or not that is the issue. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says:

Do not say,
‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this
Ecclesiastes 7:10