August has been a funny month and as I’ve had most of it off work it’s been very musically oriented both from writing/recording and also from watching a load of bands at Leeds Festival. So here are my 3 favourite artists from August.
As always there’s a YouTube playlist at the bottom.
I finally got around to buying some of Carrie Underwood’s music this month. Carrie is fairly similar to Taylor Swift during her more country time and she write nice soft country pop!
Family Force 5
I’ve been a fan of Family Force 5 (who are a fusion of all kinds of genres) for a while but their new album ‘Time Stands Still’ arrived this month and it’s so much better than anything they’ve done in the last few years giving me a new love for them.
You Me At Six
I’ve been listening to You Me At Six for a couple of years now but saw them play live at Leeds Festival and really enjoyed hearing some of their new songs played live…I’m also going to see them & All Time Low in Birmingham in February which is exciting!
The end of July is approaching and with it comes some of my favourite music from July (although not on the list below it’s also worth checking out Colbie Caillat’s new ‘Gypsy Heart’ EP and Luke Leighfield’s new song ‘Begin Again’
Here’s my 3 July favourites. As always there’s a playlist with 6 tracks at the end.
BriBry is an Irish pop/folk singer/song-writer mostly famous for his YouTube channel. BriBry makes fun music which is perfect for the summer and his strong Irish accent comes through in his music which I really like.
I ordered Katy Perry’s MTV Unplugged CD/DVD earlier this month and whilst it’s a few years old it’s still really good…especially the jazz influenced version of ‘I Kissed A Girl’…Katy Perry certainly sits up on my guilty pleasures list!
In contrast to the 1st two artists Linkin Park recently released their new album ‘The Hunting Party’ and I think it’s probably the heaviest album they’ve ever done but it’s also incredibly good and I’ve been listening to it a lot!
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)
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’.
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)
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!
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!)
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 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.
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.
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!
Live Below The Line Vlog on giffgaff
Some of you will know that recently I’ve started making vlogs for giffgaff. Today one all about the Live Below The Line campaign went live. You can watch it above or click here to see the post with accompanying blog over at giffgaff.
New Vlog - Why Do We Have Daylight Savings Time? - Here’s why we lost an hour’s sleep at the weekend!
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.
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!)
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!
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!
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.
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
Vlog - Barcelona, Seductive Giraffes and Technology - A few weeks back I went to Barcelona to the Mobile World Congress and did a little bit of sight-seeing…I made a vlog about it!
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!).