June’s Jam

My ‘May’s Jam’ post doesn’t seem long ago but somehow it’s the end of June so here are my favourite music from June (there’s a YouTube playlist at the bottom)

Candy Hearts

I got into Candy Hearts a while back and this month they released their new album ‘All The Ways You Let Me Down’. The album is brilliant and I’ve had it on repeat, essentially it’s feel good pop-punk with a female vocalist.

In particular I like the tracks ‘I Miss You’ and ‘All The Ways You Let Me Down’.

Linkin Park

This month Linkin Park’s album ‘Hybrid Theory’ turned 15 (which is crazy) and so I’ve been re-listening to it a few times and have a new appreciation for it.

Hybrid Theory was an album that was hugely popular when I was at school and I liked it but listening to it now over 10 years later I love the blend of heavy rock with melodic verses. It’s also an incredibly consistent album and just flows together.

(I still need to buy Linkin Park’s newest album which came out this month)

Brian Wilson

Finally I’ve been listening to a lot of Brian Wilson. Brian Wilson is the lead singer of the Beach Boys and has done a few solo albums. In particular I’ve been listening to his album ‘That Lucky Old Sun’.

The album as a whole is one of my favourite albums because it flows together completely and almost feels like it should be a musical. In my opinion this is the perfect summer album!

Playlist

New Vlog - Unexpected Birmingham Adventure

Last week I was meant to be on training in Birmingham but the timings got changed leaving me with 8 hours to kill around Birmingham so I put it to Facebook asking my friends what I could do…this is what happened.

Should Christians Be Open Minded?

A couple of weeks back I spent the day at the Youth Work Summit event in Manchester where we had a day of ‘TED’ style talks lasting 10-15 minutes each. The overall theme of the day was ‘Open Up' with sessions titled 'Open Up Your Soul’, 'Open Up Your Mind’, ‘Open Up Your Eyes’, ‘Open Up Your Heart' and 'Open Up Your Arms' with speakers such as Kenda Creasy-Dean, Shane Claidorne, and Andy Hawthorne amongst others sharing with us.

The introduction of the day encouraged us to be open minded and prepared to listen to a range of view on various topics.

Topics of the day aside it got me thinking about something I’ve been pondering for a while and that is: should Christians be open minded?

When I used to go to church in Great Yarmouth I remember the Minister on various occasions stating during his sermons that if we disagreed with anything he was more than happy to chat about it, explain his perspective, listen to other perspectives and potentially change his mind.

Compare this to another experience whereby having listened to one church leader preach a sermon which had several (fairly major) inaccuracies in it, I phoned him up to ask about them and was shot down before I could even finish a sentence on each one. The church leader offered no explanation of his view just told me point blank that he was right (my theology lecturer at uni said otherwise).

The point is that one of these ministers was approachable
and the other wasn’t.
One was open minded
The other wasn’t

To an extent this blog title should perhaps be ‘Christians should be open minded' because I struggle to see a side where we shouldn't be.

Surely if we think we have all the answers, a complete understanding of the bible and can explain everything then we no longer need to study it or listen to teaching and have reached a point whereby when it comes to understanding we are on par with God.

On several occasions in the New Testament Jesus challenges the ‘right’ interpretation of the bible that the religious leaders of the time think they have and their response is (more often than not) one that is fuelled with anger and closed-mindedness. They don’t have time for the idea that their thinking might not be what God intended.

It strikes me that if we’re not willing to be open minded, genuinely listen to other views (without our own agenda) and potentially change our minds then we become just like the Pharisees in the bible (or perhaps the Westboro Baptist Church…after all they think they’re right and refuse to listen to reason) - On a side note perhaps the WBC illustrate perfectly that the bible can bring many interpretations and expressions and isn’t simply black and white!

One of my biggest reflections on my faith journey is that my understanding of God has grown but only because I know I don’t have all the answers and the ones I think I do have might be wrong and I’m quite prepared to have those ideas challenged.

It’s not about taking any suggestion anyone says about God as gospel but about being willing to hear those ideas out, let them challenge our own views, reflect & pray on them and see what God says about it.

I think it’s very difficult for someone closed minded to be approachable.

Which brings me back to the minister from church in Great Yarmouth who used to say that with the views he preached he was more than happy to chat about them, explain his perspective, listen to other perspectives and potentially change his mind.

So in conclusion to this blog:

Are we willing to chat openly about our views?
Are we willing to explain our perspectives?

More importantly…

Are we willing to listen to the perspective of others?
Are we willing to potentially change our minds?

This blog is very much a series of thoughts that aren’t concluded (if they were concluded that would be somewhat ironic!) so I’d be interested to hear what you think!

May’s Jam

The end of May has snuck up on me which means it’s time to write about my favourite music of May.

I seem to have purchased quite a lot of music in May and so coming up with my 3 favourites is going to be difficult but I’ll give it a go!

As always there’s a YouTube playlist with 2 tracks from each artist at the end of the blog.

Mike Mains & The Branches

I came across this band a year or so ago and love their 1st album ‘Home’ and have been meaning to order their new record ‘Calm Down, Everything is Fine’ for a while and finally did (the CD is only available on their web-store).

Firstly the CD came signed which I didn’t expect and was a lovely extra…secondly it’s a really good album. It feels more mellow than their first but still has some great rock tracks and I really like the diversity of the album.

Itch

When Itch announced that he was going to do a hip-hop project after The King Blues broke up I remarked that it would either be incredible or awful.

Thankfully it’s the former and his debut album ‘The Deep End’ is really good and has been playing constantly in my car. Itch delivers punchy, thought out lyrics and his various guest vocalists bring some great choruses into the mix.

The Pretty Reckless

I can’t remember how I stumbled upon The Pretty Reckless but I’ve been listening to their album ‘Going To Hell’ loads this month. It’s a very metal sounding album which works really well with Taylor Momsen’s voice.

Playlist

Tech Life Hacks Tested - Vlog

As I mentioned a while back I’ve started making vlogs for mobile network giffgaff. Today a new one went live titled ‘Tech Life Hacks Tested’. It’s only been up since 2pm and has already had nearly 500 views which is crazy!

You can watch it below

(Sorry I’ve been quiet on here lately. I’ve been busy working on new music, new stuff on youthworkresource.com plus giffgaff vlogs!)

April’s Jam

It’s the end of April (where did that go?) which means it’s time to share my favourite music from the month.

I listen to a lot of music and usually there’s some stand-out artists for me however this month nothing obvious that I haven’t already written about springs to mind…but here’s a few artists that I have been enjoying:

Owl City

Owl City released a new song ‘Beautiful Times’ earlier on in the month, it feels like some of Adam Young’s older stuff which is nice…it’s not the best song in the world but it’s quite good.

Train

After watching a film and hearing ‘Hey, Soul Sista’ I ordered Train’s album ‘Save Me, San Francisco’. It’s a really nice, chilled out album with some great tracks on and I’ve kept coming back to it this month.

McFly

Earlier in the month I was in the Oxfam shop in Lichfield and ended up buying 2 CDs for £1. One was S Club 7’s 1st album which led to me driving back to Yorkshire on the sunniest day of the year blasting ‘Bring It All Back’.

The other was McFly’s album ‘Motion in the Ocean’. I’m not the biggest McFly fan in the world (although do own greatest hits) but really enjoyed this album, it’s good fun pop/rock and in particular I really like the track Bubblewrap.

So there you go…my favourite artists from April. There’s a playlist with a few tracks below. I’ve got a load of albums on my amazon wish list I want to order this month so there should be some different things coming up in May!

Heated Debates & Graceful Responses

Over the weekend Christian, theologian, song-writer & blogger Vicky Beeching tweeted her support for the now legal equal marriage law in the UK and then spent the day receiving a variety of contrasting opinions in response. I wasn’t surprised that people had contrasting opinions however the tone of the tweets sent to her from people who call themselves Christian were shocking (Vicky started retweeting some of these!)

These tweets were the final trigger for me to actually write this post, the topic for which I’ve been thinking about for several weeks as I’ve read various stories including Christians dropping support for World Vision following their decision to allow married homosexual couples to work for them in the states (and have since retracted that policy) and seeing the Dr Christian ‘Cure Me, I’m Gay’ programme a couple of weeks back amongst other things.

This blog isn’t specifically about homosexuality it just happens that the triggers for me writing this come from publicity around it. The debate around women bishops is often equally heated.

Let me start by stating 3 things:

1 - I don’t have a problem with Christians having a variety of views, the bible isn’t always black and white and there’s always been a variety of opinions drawn from it.

2 - I think there is a time and place to challenge people on their views.

3 - I have personally found that as I’ve got older, looked more into things in the bible, grown in my relationship with God and developed my thinking that my views have changed. If people didn’t engage in discussions of faith then this probably wouldn’t happen.

The problem is the way in which some Christians go disagreeing. The tweets Vicky Beeching received over the weekend included people calling her a heretic, aggressively telling her to read her bible, telling her she would be going to hell, sending an horrific ‘women shouldn’t speak’ meme based on a verse in 1 Timothy and various other blunt and unloving responses.

I accept that there will be Christians who don’t agree with same-sex marriage but I feel like often with the church and disagreements theology gets pulled to the front and people pushed to the back which, in my opinion is the complete opposite to the example of Jesus!

My interpretation of Jesus and his teaching is summarised best in 3 ways;

1 - Jesus looked at the needs of individuals

2 - Jesus radically challenged the interpretation of the scriptures at the time

3 - Jesus teaches us to look at ourselves before judging others (how can you remove the speck of dust from your brother’s eye when there’s a plank in yours!)

Whenever Jesus came into contact with people he did so in a way which didn’t remotely judge people, He spent much of his time hanging around with those society (especially the religious leaders) rejected and sometimes (e.g. the woman caught in adultery) advocating on their behalves.

It strikes me that it’s very easy with things like equal marriage to strike up arguments of it being unnatural, redefining marriage etc. without accepting that it has a big impact on individuals.

There is nothing wrong with healthy debate, in fact I think it’s really important that we discuss these issues however threatening, carelessly worded generalisations have no place in that, they don’t encourage an open, honest discussion on how 2 people can have different interpretations of scripture which are both equally valid.

In any discussion of issues that Christians disagree on we must to do in a way that is loving, non-judgemental and acknowledges that whilst for us it may just be an irrelevant issue in our own lives for other people the issue of whether they can marry the person they love is a deeply personal issue. In the World Vision debate pulling your support the poor and for those suffering injustice because of a policy in another country strikes me as blowing things out of all proportion.

Summary

So if we disagree we must do it in ways which;

- Acknowledge that the person & people we disagree with are loved children of God

- Encourage discussion are are not blunt or unloving in the way they are worded

- Take into account that the people we are talking about are individuals. If we’re making a general statement about women bishops that statement applies to each & every female priest ordained in the Church.

- Accept that we may actually be wrong…after-all the church spent a lot of time thinking slavery was fine. We make mistakes, we get things wrong and our thinking and understanding of the bible does change with time.

As always, feel free to comment and discuss this post. I’m perfectly open to changing my opinion!

(Note: I appreciate this blog has been a little heavy on the use of same-sex marriage as an illustration, it just happens that it’s been the issue that’s led me to writing this…had there been lots of press/tweets on whether it was ‘Christian’ or not to have tattoos this post would have used those!)

March’s Jam

This month I’ve been listening to a massive variety of music and in particular heavier albums seem to have spent lots of time playing on my iPod (alongside me still playing Colbie Caillat’s album over and over again!)

However there have been other artists I’ve also been listening to, so here are my 3 recommendations from March!

Sarah Darling

I came across Sarah Darling about a year ago and downloaded her EP ‘Home To Me’ and earlier this month ordered her album ‘Every Monday Morning’. Sarah Darling is probably best described as soft-country pop, sort of like a less commercial Taylor Swift. Her music is just really nice and chilled out to listen to and perfect for the few times the sun has come out whilst I’ve been in the car!

Paper Route

I’ve had both of Paper Route’s albums downloaded for a while and rediscovered their album ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ a couple of weeks back and have been listening to it again. I guess the best way to describe them is pop/rock/indie with a really full sound and beautiful production. When I downloaded their album is was also free making it a fantastic find overall!

Of Mice & Men

One of the albums I ordered late in February was ‘Restoring Force’ by Of Mice & Me after discovering them via Last.fm’s ‘similar to…’ feature. Restoring Force is a fairly heavy metal album similar to bands like Bring Me The Horizon and it’s incredibly good! It took a bit of getting into but it’s become an album I can really listen to in its entirety.

Playlist

Here is a YouTube playlist with a couple of songs of the above artists!

As always please comment with your own recommendations…I always enjoy discovering new music. You can also use the ask feature here

Cure Me, I’m Gay - Some Thoughts

Last night I watched Channel 4’s Undercover Doctor: Cure Me I’m Gay and thought I’d blog a few of my thoughts about the programme.

I approached this programme as a Christian and  as a straight male (although don’t like sports, quite like Adele and have mostly female friends!).


As an overall I felt like the programme was fairly well-balanced, I didn’t feel like it suggested that all Christians were anti-gay and pro treatment for homosexuals but it just happened that a lot of those people offering those treatments featured in the programme were Christian, or at least say they are. (I don’t know if therapies like this exist or are promoted in other religions or not.)

My only criticism of the programme was that it didn’t mention the large amounts of Christian’s who are pro-homosexual regardless of their own, individual sexuality.

A few other thoughts…

NHS treatment
One of the things that surprised me was that intensive aversion therapy was available on the NHS until the 80’s, I guess that shows how much our society has changed over the last 20/30 years and how our understanding of human sexuality has developed.

Manipulative Language
I think one of the things that concerned me the most about the Christian therapies was that those offering them often seemed to use language which painted a different picture to what was actually true.

The Doctor from America who made Dr. Christian colour in his brain didn’t really have any training in the field but used his Doctorate/Dr title to suggest otherwise, likewise the UK based evangelical healer with his exorcisms used an array of medical terms to make it sound like he knew what he was talking about.

As a Christian these people being economical with the truth is concerning,I felt the same when I watched Derren Brown’s programme about faith healers. Equally I was uneasy about people charging for these services, after all if it’s something they genuinely believe is what God wants them to be doing then surely they’d do it for free? Jesus never turned his healing into a business and I don’t believe God works like that, even Paul’s ministry was funded by his sideline as a tent maker.

Homosexual Therapy
The problem with homosexual therapy is that it doesn’t really work.

In the few books I’ve read, the interviews on the show and other news articles I’ve seen (including one ex-gay ministry closing) the pointers seem to suggest that ex-gay doesn’t mean feeling sexually attracted to the opposite sex but that it’s people making a choice to be in a heterosexual relationship regardless of attraction, which ultimately when you add an unknowing spouse, kids and it all falling apart becomes something incredibly harmful to all involved.

It was also interesting that none of the ex-gay people Dr. Christian met were willing to go through the scientific test to see if their therapy had really worked…it’s like someone claiming to have had a broken leg healed refusing to have an x-ray to check! 

Final thoughts
Overall I found the programme interesting, sadly I wasn’t shocked by the views of different Christian groups because it’s I expected to hear but I am disappointed because I didn’t feel like any of them really took the well being of the individual into account. However, I think this is a wider issue with the churches approach to homosexuality. More often than not it’s easy to make a judgement or mass statement about a group of people without taking into account the individuals in this group that are effected and hurt by the things said (perhaps that’s another blog in itself).

If you didn’t watch it I recommend giving it a watch. You can find it here.

February’s Jam

It turns out I’ve sucked at blogging this month however things have been pretty busy and I have been producing some content for giffgaff which I’ll round-up on a post next week sometime.

It is however that time when I write about the music I’ve been listening to in February (although Colbie Callait from January’s jam is still stuck on repeat!).

So here we go…

Cassadee Pope

Cassadee Pope was the lead singer of pop-punk band Hey Monday before releasing a solo EP and winning the Voice in America. Her debut solo album ‘Frame by Frame’ is something I’ve listened to a fair amount this month.

It’s by no-means a ‘blow you away’ album but does have some nice tracks on if you like soft country-pop (kind of Taylor Swift-ish)

Ally Burnett

My musical discovery of the month was Ally Burnett after reading that she had sue’d Owl City & Carly Rae Jepson because their song ‘Good Time’ sounded like her song ‘Oh, It’s A Love Song’ (other than the ‘oh’s they don’t at all!).

Her music is, again a little bit like Taylor Swift but with slightly more attitude. Ally has 3 EP’s to her name which I’ve downloaded and have enjoyed them quite a lot. In particular ‘Hell hath no fury like a songwriter scorned’ is a track I really like…largely due to the title!

Falling In Reverse

Finally and in complete contrast to the others I’ve been listening to a fair amount of rock/metal/random-genres-thrown-in band Falling in Reverse. I’ve had both their albums for quite a while but have rediscovered their second album ‘Fashionably Late’ this month and really enjoyed it again…their faster tracks are spot on for the treadmill too!

Playlist

Here’s a YouTube playlist of 2 of each artist. Enjoy…feel free to comment with recommendations. (Warning: Falling in Reverse swear a bit!)

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