Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
1) I have lived in Ireland for almost a decade
2) My children (soon to be three!) were all born here
3) Canon Stephen Neill is a good friend (read article)
4) I am a part of the Church of Ireland (Anglican) and I'm employed by them
5) My family and I live in the same parish (church boundary) that Obama's ancestor is from near Moneygall, Co. Offaly, Ireland
Why Obama's Offaly roots help shatter Irish-American myths
PRESS COVERAGE of Barack Obama's election as US president has drawn attention to his connection with Ireland. His late mother Ann Dunham was a descendant of Fulmouth Kearney who left Moneygall, Co Offaly, for the US in 1850.
This connection is of special interest, however, because it casts an important light on the subject of the Irish diaspora in the US. Indeed, it provides an answer to some of the mystery about this diaspora, the full character of which has often been obscured by widely-held myths about both the Irish Americans and the Scots Irish.
Fifty years ago the number of those with an Irish background in America was put at about 16 million. It was assumed that most of these were Irish Americans who were mainly descendants of Catholic Irish who had come to America from the time of the Great Famine on. The family background of Joe Biden, the incoming vice-president, falls into such a category.
This picture, however, was upset radically in the 1980s. The American census results of 1980, which for the first time stated ancestral backgrounds, recorded a figure of about 40 million people who gave Ireland as their ethnic background or country of origin. This figure was much greater than had been expected.
Read on . . .
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
"We live in an inflated society. Individuals and cultural influences are coated with a thin layer of veneer. This thin shiny coating makes everything seem better than it is. Inflated.
At the heart of the problem is that we are living in a time where perceptions have become reality and reality is dismissed with a dose of Prozac. We huff and puff and blow ourselves up, making meaning out of our existence through what others think of us. Or, more accurately, what we tell them to think of us. Meanwhile, our televisions and computers and magazines tell us what we should think, what we should look like, and what we should buy. All the while, we eat our hot dogs, peanuts and apple pie, oblivious to the cultural ramifications of this existence.
As individuals, we make choices about how we consume, how we engage with technology or what we believe with very little thought. Each morning we wake up and systematically put on our veneer - our outlet mall pants, our dyed hair, our white teeth - we then turn on our phones, crank up our blogs, and update our statuses. "Good morning world. I am perfect. I have more friends than you."
However innocent these choices may seem, they carry sincere ramifications. Let's take Facebook or Twitter as an example. We log in and update our status with what we are doing that day. We tweet about a cup of coffee we are having. Outside of being pure digital pollution (i.e., noise that offers no value) these nonchalant actions imply that what we are doing is important and that someone cares to know. These actions feed our ego, a form of narcissism . . ."
Read on . . . (scroll halfway down)
- Søren Kierkegaard, 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Video: Flobots on Faith - The ‘Rise’ of New Music for New Movementsby Matt Hildreth 10-02-2008
(HT: Sojourners Blog)
The article below by Leadership Journal is a welcome note and yet another sign of life breaking through in North American Christian experience. There are worldviews expressed in the article which I can't encourage, but overall, it's good news. Here are just a few tasters from the article:
". . then Lueken took a class at Fuller Seminary taught by Dallas Willard. The experience led to a complete change of course for him and Oak Hills Church.
"[Willard] was teaching on the Sermon on the Mount and conveying the heart of the gospel through Jesus' teaching, and I felt I was sitting there listening to something I'd never heard before," Lueken recalls. "We realized that we had to rethink what the gospel was about. Does the Bible teach only the gospel of heaven and forgiveness of sins? Or is it about a new way of living that involves the power of God, the peace of God, along with your sins being forgiven and going to heaven when you die?"
- Pastors are focusing more on the Gospels than on the Epistles.
- More pastors believe the gospel is advanced by demonstration and not simply proclamation.
- More pastors say the goal of evangelism is to grow "the" church rather than to grow "my" church.
- More pastors believe partnering with other local churches is essential to accomplishing their mission."
"Whatever the particular cause for the shift in these pastors' ideas regarding the gospel and mission, five changes are gaining momentum in congregations all across the country:
- Affirming the whole gospel
- Not looking to a megachurch model
- Focusing on making disciples
- Encouraging a missional mindset as a means of spiritual formation
- Establishing partnerships to advance the gospel."
"Another shift is the growing emphasis on spiritual maturity, not just conversions. Pastors surveyed are pouring more energy into disciple-making even at the expense of programs previously considered sacred cows."
"My ministry used to be, 'Here are five things to know, four things to do, take your devotions and call me in the morning,'" he said. "It was head knowledge, with applications that didn't result in any heart change." "Compared to ten years ago, today's pastors say they increasingly see disciple-making and meaningfully engaging the world as not merely ancillary expressions of faith, but the means through which spiritual formation occurs."
Read the article in FULL . . .
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
(HT: View From The Basement via Mike Todd)
Here are some images of the notes I took when I went to hear Bishop Wright speak in Carlow Cathedral, Co. Carlow, Ireland on November 10th 2008. He was invited to speak in light of the Pauline Year and because of his reputation as a New Testament scholar.
Tower of power lights up London
By Flora Graham
Technology reporter, BBC News
The Aeolian tower - which means moved by the wind - is a 15m steel structure located next to Waterloo Bridge.
The tower is covered with hundreds of tiny wind-powered LEDs. Each one made of a plastic turbine, controlling circuits and three red LEDs.
As wind blows over the tower, swirling patterns of light reveal the strength and direction of the breeze.
"We want to visualize the invisible, making people realize that there's a lot of energy out there that we're not using," said Zena Bruges from Jason Bruges Studio, which designed the tower.
Read on . . .
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
OK, I admit, this is out of the ordinary, but twice now this week I have been 'shot' at (well, one of them I just came across). Here's a link to a page from a seemingly very fearful 'ministry' that believes ancient Christian practices such as 'Lectio Divina' (more on it here) are of the devil. I think it's because the name is in Latin and not bog-standard English!
What do you think?
The fuel reflective journal:
More on the journal here.
This should be interesting . . .
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Here we are on the shores of Lough Derg in the middle of Ireland. It's a misty morning with a heavy fog hanging over the lake but we've had a hot breakfast and are already in the thick of coversation. So far we've begun in depth chat around moving into a Rhythm of Life, setting up a venue at a national artistic music festival and facilitating churches in engaging more holistically with the wider culture through the Arts. Good directions . . .
"Now it's time to say goodbye . ." Here's a shot of my son Aidan and I saying goodbye to Andrew as he leaves these green shores for other adventures. Thanks for coming to Ireland tallskinnykiwi!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
It seems the world was on a euphoric high last week since he was nominated for office. That is, except of course, the President-elect’s opposition. Whether a supporter or not, everyone knows by this stage that one of his more obvious qualities is his ability for clear rhetoric. I tend to believe it was all the persuasive, compelling ‘wordage’ minus the lack of sincerity or meaningful content that ‘rhetoric’ denotes. I recently heard a radio presenter here in Ireland remark that when running for office one must, ‘Campaign in poetry and govern in prose.’ While I recognise the significance of this statement, I hope a good measure of the poetry remains in play with the Obama administration. It has been that ‘poetic’ element of President-elect Obama’s public face that has endeared so many to him. It’s the poetic flare that has generated all of that hope we have heard so much about - and even experienced in some cases. It’s that poetic edge that creates new possibilities in the ‘seed beds’ of prepared souls, the possibility that boldly declares ‘Yes We Can’. While I recognise that hope is not a deep enough resource to effectively guide a country on alone, it would be despairing if it were lost.
Not to be left unnoticed, much has been said about Barack’s intellectual prowess. Again, it has primarily come from those favourably disposed to him, but others have conceded that point as well. I’ve heard comments passed to that effect often enough to make me sick of hearing it. Okay, okay - let’s give that one to the man. He’s got to be smart and very intellectual to have made it to where he is . . doesn’t he?? Doesn’t everyone occupying the position of the ‘most powerful man in the world’ have to be so? **Enter relentless jokes about the present incumbent.** I have to admit, no matter your position or views on our current President, Will Ferrell plays a mean ‘W’! Then again, I can’t help but laugh every time I get a view of the comedian’s face - Will Ferrell, that is. I do recognise an aware and seemingly knowledgeable individual in the person of Barack Obama; but is that enough to effectively govern our nation? Will a ‘heady’ Oval Office provide the type of national leadership we need in our flailing society? It will help, but alone it’s not enough.
In my eyes, one of the most necessary qualities for leadership is a deep-seated personal integrity. Integrity at its root demonstrates a cohesion of person, a trustworthiness of character and honourable behaviour - no matter if someone is watching. A person of integrity is someone who says what they mean and does what they say. Their public face accurately mirrors their private world. This is a quality that has largely been lost to our Western society. Oh, it is valued in personal interactions with others, but a person of integrity is largely seen as a bit out of touch with the rest of the world. It’s a dangerous prospect for all of us when we begin attributing to celebrities the kind of respect and admiration saints once received in days gone past, because of what those celebs possess (cash, homes, influence), as opposed to who they are. More on that another time. I am grateful that, in my eyes, our next President of the United States emanates a certain level of integrity of person. I’m not suggesting for one moment that he is flawless (I’ve been around long enough to realise no one is), but integrity is present. Discerning souls will know it when they see it.
In regards to matters of faith, although relatively little is known of the personal convictions of President-elect Obama, it can be deduced that he does have a healthy grasp on the nature of faith and what living ‘faithfully’ truly means. In Obama’s speech on ‘Faith-Based Initiatives’ that was given in Zanesville, Ohio on July 1st this year, he states:
Come January, I truly hope that the sense I get of a person in which truth dwells deeply within, is not actually another mask put on for personal gain. I don’t think it is. In reality, intelligence is a necessary quality for leaders of nations, but integrity trumps it at the end of the day. Not that we have to decide between them, but in my book there is no contest. Like so many others, I am hopeful for what the future holds - Barack or no Barack - and I am grateful for Providence’s sway on human affairs. From where I sit, the best is yet to come!
Watch for this post (no longer!) on Risen Magazine and make comments there / here.
Following that, he'll be taking part in our annual Dreamers of the Day Symposium on the shores of Lough Derg which will consist of open conversation, food and good drinks. We hope to explore the Dreamers Rhythm of Life which we're attempting to develop as we consider transitioning into a missional order. Check out more on the open Dreamers network here and join the subversive revolution!
Following the close of the Symposium on Sunday, Mr. Jones and I will be hanging with my fam and kicking back next to a fire with our feet up no doubt!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
To get the party started again here are a few images from my travels as of late (don't get too excited):
These shots are from the historic city of Derry (or Londonderry depending on your political slant. Or in my case, reasons for ease of speech). I was there for one night to highlight the Youth Department's new resource called Inspire among some of their youth workers, which I have already blogged about here. Their youth ministry is called DRY which stands for Derry and Raphoe Youth, but their network of youth ministry 'cells' is called Sitting Ducks - pretty cool. I love this city because it's so beautiful situated on the heights around Lough Swilly in the North West and because it's one of Ireland's only walled cities. The pictures are of the Church of Ireland Cathedral in the city which is supposedly the first psot-reformation (Protestant) Cathedral built in Britain and Ireland. Guess the British felt it would cause less of a stir on the fringes of their Isles . . wrong! Magnificent views.
The next is of City Hall in Belfast City Centre with it's ferris wheel. It makes a for a scene like a mini-London Eye (Which I rode on last May). I have not been on this one in Belfast though. Maybe that's something to do with the kids!
The final shot is what a friend and colleague of of mine sees everyday when he opens his apartment door. Scott just took up the new position as Diocesan Youth Officer for Cashel & Ossory in the South East of Ireland. He got set up when he chose to rent out this fantastic place above a new shopping centre in the centre of Kilkenny town - Ireland's Medieval capital and widely accepted as Ireland's current artistic capital. What you're seeing is on top of the shopping centre - awesome!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
The time has come . . I have put myself out there and offered to get involved in an amazing endeavour known as Risen Magazine. I have offered to promote the magazine here in Ireland (both North & South) and I have also committed to begin writing regular blog posts for their website with a small army of others. This should be interesting . . .
While I've sensed for some time that writing could be a significant aspect of my own personal calling or vocation, I have for years evaded it out of some kind of fear. It's really a strange situation; being drawn to something that you sense your destiny is tied up in, yet feeling strangely compelled to run from it - that very thing you desire.
In many ways that scenario is so characteristic of our human nature. Especially in the context of our relationships, it plays itself out regularly. Have you or has someone you've known been in a relationship that was going the right direction and had all the markers of good health about it, yet something in you or in your friend, caused the relationship to terminate 'prematurely'? If so, you're not alone. We all in some way have a 'self-destruct' strand of DNA within us. Some do better than others at avoiding seeing it played out in their life.
It's the same for those of us who are following our hunger for God. As I stated in a post about a year ago regarding a book I read by a Jesuit priest, so many of us claim to have a desire to grow closer to God - to increase in intimacy with Him and we eagerly make strides toward that end. For many of us, at some point when we're faced with the reality of actual intimacy and depth of relationship with Him in Christ, we fumble, we trip, we lose our confidence and turn and run from that very thing we desired most. The illustration that was given in the book I read was that of a person running to the edge of a cliff and realising that the next part of the journey is out of their control (free-falling over the edge), they decide to turn back the way they came.
That's what my journey with God has been like on many occasions. That is what it has been like walking in the direction of becoming that person that God dreams I can become and that He created me to be. I am presented with the option, the choice. I am offered a glimpse of what life could be like. I am even given loads of encouragement along the way. But, in the end, I must choose to walk that way [head nod to RUN DMC & Aerosmith!], to trust enough to become that someone do not know - yet. Writing has been that for me these last few years. I've had enough time in the wading pool where I'm safe as I pump out pieces at my own pace, according to my own desire or interest. I need to step it up. I need a greater challenge. I need pushed. This new endeavour will be that for me.
So, with gratitude, thank you Risen Magazine for giving me that space to grow. Who knows, how key this time will be in helping clarify further the path God has marked out? All I know is I'm up for the challenge and all the criticism that comes with it - the constructive and painfully rude. So, if you have yet to learn what Risen Magazine is all about - why waste any more time?? All I will say is their creative collaboration has inspired me and added more fuel to my fire. I love their presence (image). I love their angle (stance) as they approach issues. I love their coverage (content). And I love the homegrown, but professional vibe. For me, Risen is actually a convergence of those arenas in life which I am most passionate about: the arts, faith and culture. They are experimenting in areas I am hungry to experiment in, namely the inter-relationship of the arts, faith and culture. There's too much in that to unpack now, but maybe it will come - and possibly on Risen's site. So, if you're interested in Risen and / or interested in giving me some constructive feedback on a different level, please keep your eye on this very, very hotspot on the web - RisenMagazine.com.
Watch that/this space . . .
If you live in Ireland, hit me up and I may be able to hand deliver a copy of the magazine to you!
Here's an earlier post on Risen Magazine.