Blog archive September 2006

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28.09.06 / 01 / world's worst album covers

this file worstalbumcovers.pdf is doing the rounds at grace, but it made me think about representation. leaving aside 70s fashions and unintentionally amusing subject matter, most of these covers are pictures of ordinary or disabled people. what does it say about us, that we find it funny or uncomfortable to see them on album covers, when we would probably accept them without remark in everyday life? is it that an album cover, like a magazine cover, asks us to make an aesthetic judgement of people, in a way that we wouldn't if they were in, say, a family photograph which is a memento to relationship? and many of these 'country christian' covers will have been intended for small and local sales where that 'family photograph' reading is the expected one.

it works the other way too - it's funny and inappropriate when someone in a family photograph is as styled and posed as a pop star. although the ubiquity of cameras and publishing has made inroads into that innocence.

btw you can see even more of this kind of thing at bizarre records and even get to listen to the likes of john bult and joyce [ouch...]. hours of fun.

26.09.06 / 01 / today i handed in my notice

...well yesterday by now. they took it amazingly well, which believe me is a real answer to prayer. since i'm going to melbourne in october my month's notice boils down to only two weeks more at work. new job starts november 6th, working on interiors for federation tower in moscow [though i'll be based in london - there's a russian office we're partnering].



daniel miller

well done steve, sounds like a wise move.

gareth powell

way to go...

jonny baker

Good stuff Steve. Enjoy Melbourne -- it's one of my favourite cities.

craig mitchell

good to be moving along a new trail. hope australia is a change and a rest. peace

julie kenny

25.09.06 / 01 / shoreditch urban golf

shoreditch urban open photos - the streets of shoreditch reimagined as a golf course by shoreditch golf club, for london design week. in case you're wondering, the balls are like those leather juggling balls [but golf ball sized] filled with beans so they don't bounce, don't fly as far and are less lethal in a glassy environment. the holes are utility flaps in the road with flags stuck in them. putting greens and tees are made with green carpet. but the clubs are normal.

17.09.06 / 02 / greenbelt 9 - best quotes

both from the same panel discussion, about doing christian stuff at new age mind/body/spirit fairs as some of us have been doing:

second best quote: steve hollinghurst on his mission approach:

i try to flush out people's personal 'altars to the unknown god'

ref. st. paul in athens. context: discussion whether people's spiritual experiences through new age forms eg reiki healing were evil [as many christians believe] or might be experiences of god even though not understood or named as such.

which led to a discussion about whether we should name other people's experiences as being god/christ when we perceive god's presence - or whether that in our context seems like a power play/stirs up negative stereotypes [i lean to the not-naming myself].

which led to best quote: ana draper on us not having to do all the naming:

we can rely on god to introduce himself many times to the same person until they recognise him when they meet him

both ana and steve were on serious form at greenbelt.

another good quote from cheryl lawrie:

we are allowed to be other than the story that the world has told of us

[not quite right but that's the gist]

and steve hollinghurst also said something about people coming to church to look for spirituality - not in a church service but in the building or place. that the buildings are speaking a spiritual language which the services are not. so how do we recover a spiritual language in our rituals and actions?


" how do we recover a spiritual language in our rituals and actions?"

Well, those coming out of evangelical traditions will need to take a refresher on semiotics for starters. I am continually amazed at the symbolic illiteracy of those coming out of evangelical traditions. The language of ritual and action and buildings and art is symbol, pure and simple.

Missionaries going overseas learn cultural anthropology to deal with this issue. Why should we be any different?

matt stone

17.09.06 / 01 / greenbelt 8 - foundation

foundation photos at greenbelt 06. the hoodie man thing was good.

12.09.06 / 01 / greenbelt 7 - the garden

a few photos of 'true lies' by the garden. i liked this service, even though it was at 9am. it was a telling of the creation story, the story of the universe, as modern science has it rather than genesis 1; but with some agreeable twists:

1: the great extinctions were included as part of the story, as well as the usual god-made-birds-and-flowers stuff. extinctions and catastrophes are generally passed over as embarrassments, apparent failures of management by god, or evidence of evil, or worse, that god isn't quite as nice as we'd like. the honesty of their inclusion was refreshing.

2: evolution, in all its senses, was presented as a process of becoming for the whole creation; so when eyes appeared, the universe could begin to see itself; when sexual reproduction appeared, the principles of the masculine and feminine entered the universe; when mammals appeared, the universe began to care for its young [not quite right but the point is there]; when human self-consciousness appeared, the universe could reflect upon itself for the first time; when humans went into space, the earth could look at itself for the first time. the point being, we are the universe, not separate from it; we are the dust of the stars, looking at itself.

hence the contemplation of the stone. you and it are part of the same story. you are, in some sense, the stone looking at itself. i can't remember if this was said in the service, but to me the implication of the next step is, christ is the universe drawn up into god [his human body, too, made of the stars]. which is that thing in the bible about all things taken up into god through him. i like this story.


thanks for this steve. We were inspired when we put this together by the work of Thomas Berry (a catholic priest and ecotheologian) who advocates that a deep understanding of the history and functioning of the evolving universe is a necessary inspiration and guide for our own effective functioning as individuals and as a species.

I think our plan is to post the text we used on the garden website at some time in the future.

mark barkaway

Wow... a helpful way of thinking about it all, especially with the whole 'Dawkins vs fundamentalist Christians' fight which will probably rear its ugly head again later this month when Dawkins' new book comes out.

Something that really blew my mind recently was realising that at a sub-atomic level we are all as old as the universe - all the particles that combine to form you have existed since the big bang. Except, I wonder what happened to the bodies of Jesus and Elijah when they were taken up to Heaven...?

tim abbott

This sounds like science being mixed badly into esoteric pseodo-christianity.

Science can be taken literally, but if the Christian bible is re-hashed to be inclusive of contradictory evidence presented by science, this is an obvious de-bunking of the very tenants the religion is based on.

Sounds all very spurious and cult like to me.

mark mitchell

10.09.06 / 01 / origami birds

tonight's grace service was a kind of 'new year' thing. our year somehow begins in september - back from greenbelt, return to work/school, end of summer etc. so we were looking back over the previous year, and looking ahead. my piece, riffing off a blog post by jonny baker, went as follows:

summer is over
an end to sitting on the fence
a voice beneath your certainties
shakes the settled patterns
like a colder breeze that heralds distant winter
strange lands lie waiting
beyond your southern horizon
summer is over,
and you must go or perish
here in a world no longer yours
or on the way, but in hope
your star and compass often dark
glimpsed briefly between clouds
at journey's end, another summer
not like the first one
new seeds, new fruit to refresh the migrant
burnt by life between summers
warmed for a season
until the north calls again
like the inner call of the migrating bird, where does god call you?
where is your bird migrating to?
what do you want to do for god?
what do you need along the way?
take one of the sheets of paper and write your hopes and prayers for the journey ahead on the reverse side, the side without the instructions. then we're going to fold them to make origami birds...

and the pictures of the results are here

music was 'sunset' off 'aerial' by kate bush:

who knows who wrote that song of summer
that blackbirds sing at dusk?
this is a song of colour
where sands sing in crimson, red and rust
then climb into bed and turn to dust

every sleepy light / must say goodbye / to the day before it dies
in a sea of honey / a sky of honey
keep us close to your heart / so if the sky turns dark
we may live on / in comets and stars...

01.09.06 / 02 / greenbelt 5 - visions 15

photos of visions' 15th anniversary service. abbess sue wallace explained to me that they had never really celebrated their birthday since it was in august and they didn't do services in august... and then they realised that they did, but at greenbelt. in fact visions are older than 15, since the original event for which they came together was in 1989.

after the service was meant to be a party, but ikon were doing their 'fundamentalism' service in another venue at that time, so the cake-cutting was put back an hour in recognition that most people would go to ikon. i stayed, however. the visions service had put me in a mood that i knew would contrast with what ikon were doing. and for me especially there's a temptation to rush from one service to another just to get photographs, as a consumer of spectacle not a participant. i don't like how that feels inside. and there are other people taking photographs of these things now.

it also seemed good to me to celebrate longevity - visions are the longest running alt worship group in the world now - and not run after the new thing for once. i'll go to ikon's 15th birthday party to make up for it ;)

01.09.06 / 01 / greenbelt 4 - graceland

graceland mount some unofficial worship, or some such thing, in the concourse outside new forms, with people holding white umbrellas as a projection screen. genius, and definite flashmob potential.

graceland's own photos here - check it out.


thanks for the mention. we wanted to do something at gbelt to mark Graceland's 10th year.

we had a real laugh doing the event; the idea was that it was a taxi rank queue, note the cardboard box taxi. we invited people to join in & to tell their taxi stories on the mic, do a bit of singing or dancing, (some of the umbrella dancers were there for 2 1/2 hours), all accompanied by harsh electro / techno, an unlikely mix, but it seemed to work. this was the party remix of our friday night taxi service.

nic walters

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