join us at grace to celebrate pentecost by exploring landmarks of the Spirit in our lives...
so i was flipping through guardian articles on my phone while eating porridge this morning and clicked on an opinion piece about beyoncé's new album lemonade. i am not really a beyoncé fan - never owned a track actually. but i like to keep up with the zeitgeist and i absolutely loved her performance at the superbowl and the video of formation that went with that track - which was powerful, defiant and prophetic.
anyway this opinion piece is an amazing piece of writing - i could almost feel the empathy, tears and passion coming off the words. i haven't heard a single track off lemonade or seen a single video but having read this opinion piece i think i'm going to have to. here's a piece mid flow...
We are the women left behind. We are the women who have cared for other women’s children while ours were taken away. We are the women who work two jobs when companies won’t hire our men. We are the women caring for grandchildren as our sons are taken by the prison industrial complex. We are the women who march in the streets and are never marched for. We are the women expected to never air our grievances in public. We are the women expected to stay loyal to our men by staying silent through abuse and infidelity. We are the women who clean the blood of our men and boys from the streets. We are the women who gather their belongings from the police station.
have a read of the whole piece. i may about to purchase my first beyoncé album. this piece reminded me of the track black woman by seun kuti which was one of my favourite tracks last year and i put on full blast driving up the m40 to oxford today. of course the former is from the perspective of a black woman and the latter a man but somehow they connected in my mind.
as promised here are my favourite photos of mel from our portrait challenge. in the photo group i am part of we have occasional challenges. a recent one was to be paired up with someone at random and take portraits of each other to then show the group. i took photos of mel which was great fun and she kindly said i could post them in flickr. there's a set of five here. it's actually quite a scary challenge both to be photographed and to photograph someone - there's a vulnerability all round. it's probably why i usually take other types of photographs normally. but we both ended up enjoying it and it's given me confidence to think i can and like photographing people. me by mel are here if you missed them
in the photo group i am part of we have occasional challenges. a recent one was to be paired up with someone and take portraits of each other. here are the results of me by mel- she has mainly abandoned using her camera and now takes photos with her phone and posts regularly via instagram so wanted to experiment to see what kind of results you could get with a phone. so this is me posing for mel! i'll post some of my results of taking photos of her later in the week when i get a minute...
i was excited to see an album from gav mart and martin daws out on proost - bring it down. gav is a musician and singer and martin is a wonderful spoken word poet. i love the blend of spoken word and music in this way. they have been touring so it's great to see they have put an album out. available here...
proost is on a roll this year with some great material - it's worth subscribing then you can log in to the back end whenever you like to download resources. don't forget if you are in the usa there is a us site here where you can pay in dollars.
i really hope it is!
i am so pleased that someone has leaked the panama papers. they show what we all know really. the so called democratic world we live in is one in which greed rules. the rich and powerful are able to make obscene amounts of money, hide it out of sight of the system and regulations, whilst at the same time not giving a s**t about the poor. in fact the poor don't exist in their world because they can lived in gated communities and go to private members clubs and avoid them. the thing i hate about it most is the sense of entitlement - people start to believe that they are superior, that they deserve it, that they are entitled to it. i really hope that this exposé will shine a light on at least some of this practice. and to state the bleeding obvious - we do not have to run a society this way. in fact it is a rubbish way to run a society. it makes my blood boil the way it is ideologically driven by the ludicrous idea of deregulation and a free market - i.e. if we leave things alone and don't intervene everything will go well. WRONG! what happens is greed rules the waves as is being demonstrated again and again again. it needs to be addressed through regulation and taxation. i think this economic disparity is the big justice issue of our time (the environment is the other huge one that we have still got our heads in the sand about and of course they are related). it is compounded by the fact that it is hard to make sense of - the financial systems seem so confusing (to me at least) that it is like dealing with smoke and mirrors; and it is hard to know what exactly we can do about it other than tweet or write a blog post. because often those rich and powerful are cozied up with the media and elected to run our governments. i am being dramatic i realise but this is an incredible drama we are witnessing.
i went to see misty in roots in concert on saturday night. they are a brilliant reggae band made famous through john peel's love of their album live at the counter eurovision in 1979. what i particularly loved about the gig was the blend of spirituality and political insight. the opening song was a praise song to god (jah - his most excellent greatness) - i recognised the words as from psalm 150. it was so uplifting (and i'd love a worship band like this!). the second song was 'poor and needy' with lines such as
Deliver the poor and needy from the hands of the wicked
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?
Defend the poor and fatherless,
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
this was then followed by 'babylon's falling' railing against corruption and hypocrisy of the powers that be through the image of babylon - that puffed up city and empire whose rulers thought they were gods and could never be called to account. but of course like all empires babylon fell in dramatic fashion. and the concert went on flowing with a spiritual and political message of lament and hope. i have been thinking about it ever since for two reasons..
the first is it reminded me of how reduced our repertoire tends to be in today's worship in churches. when did you last hear a song lamenting the state of the economy and calling for judgement on the wicked? at best we will get that in a reading. but the hymnology has generally collapsed into the private sphere where god is close to me but it makes no difference in the rest of my life, or is so abstracted up in heaven on a throne that there is no connection. it is a regular occurrence for me to go to a church and find no connection between the worship songs and what i want to express. (i am reminded of robert beckford's book jesus is dread where he asks whether you can have a black political christianity.) the size of the problem was brought home to me in a sermon i heard a while back that defended stephen green from the pulpit as 'being a nice guy' and a christian whilst making absolutely no comment on the scandal of banking he was involved in - i.e. faith collapsed into private sphere with nothing to say to the bigger justice issues of our time. i regret that i didn't stand up and shout the preacher down to be honest - i was hopping mad.
the second is that this language and imagery of babylon seems so poignant in today's world - and the panama papers is the tip of the iceberg of those who think they are like gods but for whom their empires will eventually fall and they will be called to account.
right i am actually meant to be packing my bags to head off on a silent retreat for the week - see what i hear in the presence of silence
if you like piano music nils frahm put up some free tracks that didn't make it onto his album solo last year - they are really beautiful - solo remains. i love music like this to listen to, and as background soundscape for worship or prayer. there are some free piano tracks here if you scroll through this piano day page - for example olafur arnolds track is downloadable and lovely.
while on the subject of soundscapes moby has put several 20 minute plus tracks here for free that you might want to check out - i have downloaded but not been through them yet.
yes before you complain i do know it's easter week and am personally reflecting on stories of the resurrection but... tuck this away for next year or something - stations of lament: hope and the poetry of pain. jason miller sent me a link to some things they had done in ohio in lent and holy week this year. i have blogged about his stuff before (though can't find the links). i don't know many communities using lamentations for worship but think there should be more. anyway one for the right season. and worship trick 62 in series 4 (that very slowly developing series!)
follow this link to the books, chapters, articles and music i have published.