Tag Archive: u2


i know what you’re thinking? What absolute clickbait, right? How could Brett “Fish” Anderson possibly have stumbled on to a real and practical way to achieve peace [of the worldly variety]? Well, what if i told you right off the bat that one of those ways involves flourless pancakes? Exactly. Your mocking is not needed here, chaps. [Nor yours, chapesses although i doubt you’d stoop to that level – you’re just naturally better at some things].

But back to the most serious matter at hand, which was, of course:

WORLD PEACE

Everyone wants it. Most of us fight daily to wrestle back the hopelessness that easily pervades and fills us with such underpowering phrases as “It is only going to get worse”, “There is no hope” or “I can’t believe Telkom still hasn’t sorted out our internet, maybe this week”.

But, as previously, clickbai..um mentioned, i have found two definitive ways of achieving said goal [i don’t want to come across as arrogant and pretend these are the only ways to achieve World Peace cos none of these contain any reference to melted Lindt balls, all night Settlers of Catan sessions or a movie starring Chris Pratt, Kristen Wiig, Paul Rudd AND Johnny Depp, so clearly there may be others…] and here they are:

FLOURLESS PANCAKES 

That is NOT a typo. Actual pancake type things with no flour in them. Not to be confused with the flourless brownies i made from Nicky Lloyd’s mouth-watering recipe that one time when i somehow accidentally managed to omit the entire bag of flour or whatever it was and somehow they still magically and mysteriously tasted flippin amazing [you can leave out the flour, Nicky!]. And what is more we are talking only two ingredients. Three if you count the second egg.

Two eggs and a banana

And look how happy it is…

So to test the power of the internet and whether everything on it can be believed or not, i ventured forth just half an hour ago to test run something i saw but could barely believe. Two eggs and a banana = pancakes. i couldn’t believe it a lot more once i’d chopped my banana into slices like in the picture and added the eggs and had it mixed into a chunky liquidy mess that looked nothing like their i’m-pretty-sure-they-substituted-a-picture-of-actual-flour-filled-pancake-batter pic. So i dived back onto the internet to read, “First mash up the banana completely and then add the eggs.” [They used a lying picture – thankx a lot flourless egg pancake consortium! You have betrayed my trust already, but fortunately i am too far in and so will have to continue].

Then i grabbed a hand whisk and tried my best to get it looking like the fake picture they had submitted which was suspiciously flour-coloured and didn’t look much like the bitty goop i was trying to tease into something more nourishing looking. When i stick my concoction in the frying pan it didn’t look much better and kinda resembled the mess that happens when you’ve finished making your french toast and throw the rest of the egg batter into the pan for a horrendous omelette type creation that NEVER tastes nice.

And then suddenly it happened…

A minute or so i looked back into the pan nervously and an amazing metamorphosis had taken place. Where my squiggly messy omelette flops had been floundering, were now some legitimate looking pancake types and i started to get really excited and hopeful. Like when there is news of a new Star Wars movie happening at the end of the year. But still quite nervousful. Like when there is news of a new Star Wars movie happening at the end of the year. Cos, you know, Jar Jar.

pancakes

But they worked and they were amazing and you should totally try them and if everyone in the world who was fighting or doing bad things to other people in the world just stopped for five minutes and made themselves a batch of two-eggs-and-a-banana flourless pancakes, then at least for those five minutes, the world would be a more peaceful place. Mission very much accomplished. [But seriously, try them and come back and report how amazing they taste!]

EXCHANGE BAGS OF MONEY

i see some of you are still a little skeptical about my Definitive and Practical Ways of achieving World Peace, and if that is you, then handing over bags of money is sure to win you over. Because money, right? Well, at the risk of losing the ‘But what about all the poor people with no bags of money?’ people, bear with me three more minutes [and by that i don’t mean have my children] and take a read of this.

I have been reading this book whose cover is below that i’m sure you can read the title of, and really finding it enlightening.

book

i am still very much quite new in the trying-to-understand-what-is-going-on-in-the-whole-Israel-vs-Palestine-conflict thing and have people [well, a person] telling me this book is more than likely evil [because the internet told him] but i have found it a really interesting read and have learnt a lot about life and nonviolence and perspective along the way. But this morning’s story felt like a must share and if we could harness the heart out of this one, then surely actual World Peace cannot be too much further away:

‘Four thousand years ago, two brothers lived near each other on a hill by Jerusalem. They each had their own farm, but they shared a threshing floor. Every year they would bring in the harvest and divide it equally between them. They they would take the grain to their farms and sell it in the market place.

One of the brothers was wealthy but had no family; the other had a family but was poor. One night after the harvest had been divided into equal measures and taken to each brother’s home, the wealthy brother lay awake in his bed, thinking, “I need just enough grain to pay for my food and servants. But my poor brother, he has so many mouths to feed. He needs the money more than I do.’ He rose up out of his bed and went down to his granary. He lifted up as many sacks as he could carry and started to walk toward his brother’s farm. Just around that time, the poor brother was lying in his bed, unable to sleep: “I have a wife and children who will take care of me and the farm if anything happens to me. But my poor brother – if something happens to him, he will have to pay to be cared for. He needs the money more than I do.” Quietly, so as not to disturb his wife and children, he rose up out of his bed and tiptoed down to his granary.

He lifted up as many sacks as he could carry and walked toward his brother’s farm. The two brothers met midway between their farms, their arms laden with the sacks of grain they were carrying to each other. The full moon shone down upon them as they dropped their bundles and ran to embrace each other. And God looked down and smiled.’

According to legend, on this site Jerusalem was built. With this kind of a spirit, Palestinians and Israelis can move together toward a just peace.

Yeah? World Peace anyone? Bags of grain, bags of money, a loaf of bread, an invitation to a meal round our table, learning the language of ‘the other’, hearing each others stories, giving to people rather than projects… so many streams leading downwards towards this river of World Peace.

Well, there you have it. i guess the irony of Flourless Pancakes followed by a story all about Grain which is used to make flour. i hear the strains of Bono in the distant background crooning out the words, “With or Without Flour…” and maybe something else about “And you give yourself away” or something…

[If you’re a parent, or know one, ‘How To Raise Your Children as World Changers’ might resonate]

this is something that my friend Deborah Dowlath reminded me in her simple blog post, A Drop in the Ocean which included this line:

I wish that followers of Christ would be as vocal about the injustices that occur on a daily basis as they are about the progress of their favourite team.

and this passage:

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

i think what strikes me the most is that i hadn’t thought of it this World Cup yet until i read her post.

it is something that has bothered me a lot.

and maybe, for a moment – which has passed, thankfully – i gave up on being bummed by it, because what is the point…

WHAT’S YOU DRUG OF CHOICE?

# when a new Star Wars movie comes out, people line the blocks for miles sleeping outside, sometimes for days, to get a ticket.

# when your favourite band is in town, you will pay an exhorbitant amount of money for a ticket to a live show.

# last night my mind wandered to the place of trying to imagine – i had no chance – just how much money was spent on fireworks in the Oakland area alone, let alone the United States of Americaland or the world… hm, let me see if Uncle Google has anything on that… [according to Eric Dye over here, it is over $600 million spent on one day’s entertainment although with the conscience-easing quote of ‘You wouldn’t ask Michelangelo how many buckets of paint he used to paint the Sistene Chapel, would you?’ but ending with the more provocative question:

With a nation in debt and a world full of needs, it makes you question the wisdom of burning-up $600 million in one day, doesn’t it?

# don’t get me started on how i get ‘attacked’ on social media [usually by christian friends] for daring to suggest how ridiculous it is to me that football/soccer players are paid millions of dollars in transfer fees [which you can translate to $20 million for an actor to star in a movie or whatever it is singers, politicians, business owners take home]

THE IMPORTANCE OF COUNTING BACKWARDS FROM TEN

i totally believe there is a moral question in here for everyone to be asking, and if we are looking at redressing the balance of the world where [small percentage] of the people own [ludicrous] percentage of the stuff, this would be a good place to start.

but specifically for people claiming to follow the ways of Jesus, this feels like an even deeper, more pertinent question not too many people seem to be asking, or answering.

i remember a few years ago when i helped organise a New Year’s Worship event at a megachurch building in Cape Town where we were hoping to have thousands of Christ followers from around the city coming together to worship God into the new year – and we did. i was purposeful about letting the countdown into the new year take back stage [or no stage at all if i’d had my way] so that we could focus on what really mattered. but somehow it still happened and i remember being broken by the fact that 2 to 3 thousand people seemed more excited about counting backwards from 10 than they were about worshiping the Creator of the Universe and Saviour of their lives.

one of the main reasons we were not allowed to use the same church the following year and the only complaint we received from the church leadership [most, if not all, who had not been at the event] was that we didn’t give the New Year’s countdown a big enough focus. It is clearly important that people are given the best opportunity available to count backwards from ten.

IF WE BELIEVED WHAT WE SAY WE BELIEVE…

then surely this picture would look different.

if we truly believed that there is a God, who created the Universe in a moment [or a million years of moments] who came down to earth and lived among us to save us from ourselves and that this God desired to have intimate and profound world-transoforming relationship with us and involve us in the redeeming of this planet and this people, then surely we would be inspired to do a little bit more than simply attend a meeting once a week and throw the excess money we have in our wallet into the bowl out of guilt as it passes us by.

if we love God more than the Football World Cup.

if we love God more than Star Wars.

if we love God more than U2 or Mumford or The Smashing Pumpkins or One Direction or Beyonce.

if we love God more than J.K.Rowling or Johnny Depp or Lionel Messi or Manchester United.

if we love God more than fireworks and Christmas presents and turkey and chocolate eggs and bunnies.

if we love God more than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube or Pinterest.

then surely, surely, SURELY, things would look different. things would be different.

because clearly we are so much more excited about SO MUCH OTHER STUFF.

does that mean we don’t really believe?

or that we simply see the God part of our lives as significantly less of a priority and focus than a bunch of other things?

“let the person who has no sin cast the first stone.”

i definitely am not without sin here. i HAVE to start this question by asking it to myself. and it is one i wrestle with.

having just returned from a week of speaking to young people about Jesus on houseboats on Lake Shasta, i can definitely say with no doubt that speaking to people about Jesus and writing about Him is one of the things that gives me the greatest joy and feeling of life in life. so passion for God and the things of God is definitely up there.

but there are definitely many areas where my excitement and passion for other things is out of sync and definitely a lot of time spent on things that could be spent on better things. definitely a lot in my life needing to be wrestled with and some changes to be made.

one question i am hoping to better figure out after our next transition [coming August 6th] when we move back to South Africa is which of the ‘least of these’ i should be engaging more with. that feels like a call that has been placed on all of us and something most of us could be more intentional about.

what about you? i would LOVE to hear some feedback on this one based on what you see when you look into the mirror. are you doing well? is this an area that needs some more attention from you? what is your response to the idea that we tend to give so many other things so much more focus, attention and out-of-control passionate support and celebration?

and what does this verse mean to you?

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Fireworks

so by now you have heard of the #neknomination phenomenon sweeping the world [this week at least]

apparently [and i say that because i haven’t actually seen any of the original versioned clips] it started out as a drinking challenge video clip game where someone downs a beer and then challenges his/her mates to up the ante and passes it forward

so stupid that two people in Ireland died from participating [this never happened with ‘Planking’ or so i thought until i read someone’s Facebook comment troll and apparently someone did die while ‘Planking’]

and then it hit South Africa and got turned ON ITS HEAD [yay us!] as first Brent Lindeque [and then every other SA #neknomination video i have seen] decided to use his for good and so instead of drinking alcohol, gave some food to a homeless guy and encouraged South Africans to show that we can do it better and use our #Neknominations for good.

pretty soon after that my friend Howie came to the party doing an impromptu visit and singalong and photo take at an old age home, spreading some cheer and good vibes, and it wasn’t too long before another mate Jono van Deventer was paying for some stranger’s shopping in the supermarket and serenading her in Spanish.

and nominating me!

48 hours before i leave the country – so my last two days in SA – did i mention #Neknominations have a 24 hour time limit in which they need to be filmed? Nice one, Jono. Oh and on a day where i was pretty much busy til 2pm and was cooking dinner for my mates at 6pm and my nomination arrived at 8 in the morning… game on.

THE MOST FRUSTRATING FRANTIC DAY OF MY LIFE?

so while driving in between meetings i am furiously trying to come up with a cool idea to expand on this new craze and then desperately text the people who might help me out [my TheatreSports improv crew who are all busy except Megan Furniss who is super amped but on a bit of  time constraint] and once we have the who then i can start working on the what, only to find out, with Megan’s time furiously ticking away that performing improv in the children’s hospital is not going to work because you can’t take photos of the children there for safety reasons…

same story at Marsh Memorial home… completely understandable but also pretty frustrating…

while speaking at Rondebosch Boy’s High School in between all this, i manage to film them shouting “Let’s nominate this in the neck” cos it seemed like it might be a little something i could slot into the video later as my mind whirls around to try and find a plan B.

Megan suggests dancing around in the traffic with signs inviting people to chill and smile and relax and laugh but we don’t have sign-making materials or much time and eventually i lose Megan…

down to me and now MJ, my other mate who has taken time off work to help me film nothing. oh dear.

THERE’S ALWAYS A PLAN B

so i come up with the almost-but-not-quite-AS-great idea of taking a bunch of donuts to a police station at night [yes, yes, always on the prowl for irony and with a bunch of mates coming over for dinner, i figure i can get them into the mix – in and out in twenty minutes – happy donut-filled police, video done and dusted]

one quick phone call later and it turns out you can’t just give donuts [or anything, according to the station manager i spoke to on the phone, “although call the Colonel tomorrow and see if you can set it up” – no sir, i don’t think you understand the time-constrainted motivation behind me popping over to fatten you up…] to the police… so donuts AND bacon was probably out on that count too and also for the risks of  overwhelming ironic encounter.

so no hospitals or kids homes and no police stations – this day is conspiring against me, and i need to go and start preparing supper for 11 people…

ONE QUICKLY PREPARED SUPPER FOR 11 PEOPLE LATER…

so day gone, time rushing away at a speed of knots, and my man Howard ‘Edit-Thru-The-Night’ Fyvie ready from 10.30pm to edit the video i don’t have… what’s a guy to do?

well, armed with donuts and some mixed video footage from throughout the day and a chance [invited] visit from my mate Richard Bolland who had been expressing some reservations about this whole ‘random act of charity’ thing, we did what we could and so i present to you [and to Bono and Joss Whedon who my #neknomination goes out to] my #Neknomination:

If you are on the Twitterer then please copy and paste this link [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA8vaRX6xmc] and tweet it at @Paul_Hewson [Bono] and @josswhedon [Joss Whedon] and challenge them to take this challenge on… just imagine the effect this will have when they do…

Yes, he was just a man, and should never be seen than anything more than that [and just like all of us he was flawed and would be the first to admit it] but having said that he demonstrated with his life so much more than most men do and so he was a very special man and it is fitting that we take some time to celebrate and mourn and remember the legacy that MUST cause us to examine ourselves and see where each of us can live better.

Some images of some of the different aspects of Nelson Mandela’s life to remind us of his smile, his charisma, his life and humility…

Followed by some testimony from U2 lead singer Bono who in this article gives tribute to Nelson Mandela, specifically to his focus on poverty:

Mandela saw extreme poverty as a manifestation of the same struggle. “Millions of people … are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free,” he said in 2005. “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome … Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.” It certainly fell to Mandela to be great. His role in the movement against extreme poverty was critical. He worked for a deeper debt cancellation, for a doubling of international assistance across sub-Saharan Africa, for trade and private investment and transparency to fight corruption. Without his leadership, would the world over the past decade have increased the number of people on AIDS medication to 9.7 million and decreased child deaths by 2.7 million a year? Without Mandela, would Africa be experiencing its best decade of growth and poverty reduction? His indispensability can’t be proved with math and metrics, but I know what I believe …

Reminding us of his humour and humility:

He had humor and humility in his bearing, and he was smarter and funnier than the parade of world leaders who flocked to see him. He would bait his guests: “What would a powerful man like you want with an old revolutionary like me?”

He finishes off the article by explaining why Nelson Mandela was the man who could not cry:

Laughter, not tears, was Madiba’s preferred way—-except on one occasion when I saw him almost choke up. It was on Robben Island, in the courtyard outside the cell in which he had spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. He was explaining why he’d decided to use his inmate’s number, 46664, to rally a response to the AIDS pandemic claiming so many African lives. One of his cellmates told me that the price Mandela paid for working in the limestone mine was not bitterness or even the blindness that can result from being around the bright white reflection day after day. Mandela could still see, but the dust damage to his tear ducts had left him unable to cry. For all this man’s farsightedness and vision, he could not produce tears in a moment of self-doubt or grief.

He had surgery in 1994 to put this right. Now, he could cry.

Today, we can.

I want to close this post with a tribute sung by Johnny Clegg and Peter Gabriel at the 46664 concert and one of my favourite African songs: Asimbonanga

Mandela

bonoi like Bono. He has always been one of my go-to ‘Dinner with four famous people past or present’ people [along with Johnny Depp and then i usually take time over the other two, tbV will obviously be hosting alongside me and we’re eating bowls of bacon pretty much]

With all the criticism he has taken over the years [and i imagine he will be first in line to admit how some of it may have been deserved] he still seems to me to be a far better theologian than a lot of the people who are being  ‘followed’, quoted and gushed over these days. One of the reasons i believe this is because he generally has a very ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude – he doesn’t pretend to be anything he is not, usually highlighting his flaws and just being honest about his way of seeing Jesus and religion.

Which is why i enjoyed the book ‘Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas’ so much and would be super keen to read it again sometime. It strongly answered the ‘Is he or isn’t he?’ question relating to Bono and being a follower of Jesus that both the church and the media had played up so much when U2 were at their height. He doesn’t leave a lot of room for doubt.

I discovered an excerpt from this book on a site called ‘The Poached Egg’ the other day and reading through it again, i was just inspired again by some of the Truth that Bono speaks in it.

In this first comment, I feel like his first statement just nails it and then simplifies it in a way a lot of people could benefit from:

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

In the book, Bono is being interviewed by a journalist named Michka Assayas who he grew in friendship with over the years as their paths crossed. In this next exchange, Bono cleverly sums up the state of much of the western church

Assayas: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Bono: I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship.

And finally, Bono gives some thoughts on Karma [which he had often spoken about before as the way he felt things worked] and Grace and then, reminiscent of C.S.Lewis’s madman, liar or messiah speech, really puts the focus on Jesus and how He doesn’t leave you too many options in how you view Him:

Later in the conversation:
Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that far-fetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s far-fetched.

Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:

Bono: If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

I follow Bono on Twitter and he doesn’t tweet all that much at all. In fact the one time he retweeted me, it was the simple message of ‘Love God, Love people… all the rest is commentary’ which i obviously got from someone else, but which sounds like a very Bonoesque thing to say…

You can read the full interview here.

 

R2U2… or ‘d’ or something…

so friday nite there was a U2 concert or something, apparently.. you wouldn’t know by being on facebook at all – hardly a person mentioned whether they were going or not going or hating everyone that was going and kept reminding them about it or throwing their Steve Hofmeyer (very pricey tickets) into the Jukskei river (my favourite one) in protest…

and it’s weird cos ever since i knew U2 were coming to South Africa i was super amped to go – they are one of my top four bands (3 now that Tree63 are no more altho have Snow Patrol knocking on that door cos really enjoying them right now) but then when the tickets were released tbV and myself had just bought plane tickets to KZN so we would drive up to Botswana with our good friends Dreadlock Mike and Nancy the Twin and we couldn’t really afford both (not knowing what 2011 held for us incomewise etc)…

so i should have been more bummed or jealous or over the endless stream of statuses counting down etc etc but to be honest i wasn’t – i had actually agreed to speak at a camp for Rondebosch/Rustenburg high school CU groups this past weekend and it was only after meeting with the leaders of the camp and the other speaker (who said he couldn’t do the evenings so i was down for fri and sat nite speaks) that i discovered that the Fri nite was the U2 concert… hm…

and the whole way leading up to the concert i was somewhat convinced in my head that someone would offer us free U2 tickets (happened all around me) for the nite so my head went to ‘”flip, how do i explain to the camp people that i can’t speak on friday nite?” when the tickets come… and then i realised that there was actually no way out of it… and then quite soon after that i realised that actually i didn’t want the tickets to come…

now this is not anything against anyone who went to the U2 concert cos i am flippin stoked for everyone that went and it sounds like it was an incredible show and i am sure i would have loved it – there are some people, like my buddy Craig who is the biggest U2 fan i know, who i am toyoda’ly overjoyed that he was there and still need to hear from him how it was, and my brother and sister in law who got tickets a day before the concert as well, just flippin happy for them… but it was just the realisation for me (as not the biggest live concert guy ever) that for me, i was very amped that my friday was going to be spent with those school peoples at rocklands campsite in simonstown.

i didn’t get offered tickets so i never had to turn them down or anything like that but i had not doubt afterwards that i was in the right place. i don’t think God or those young people particularly needed me there (God could definitely have used a bunch of other people) but i definitely believe He did use me being there and we saw four girls make a commitment to follow Jesus for the first time ever and that really sealed it for me.

i was really encouraged by my good friend bruce collins’ (who was at the U2 concert in Joburg) story of how he was able to have some profound worship moments (during ‘Magnificent’ for example, one of U2’s most blatant lyric’d songs) during the concert and also the story he shared of the girl who got pulled up on stage and so for me it really doesn’t come down to going to the concert was less spiritual than not going to the concert or anything like that – for those who went and had an amazing time whether just a rad time with a favourite band or a great time with a non favourite band (Joel) or a spiritual experience, that is toyoda’ly cool… and for me it was the same not being there.

good weekend all round it seems. hopefully it was for you… as well…

continuing the interview with local muso Ashton Gardner:

what are your thorts/feelings when it comes to worship music? quite a general question but i imagine when someone hears ‘worship music’ they think ‘ah the 30 minute music time in the church’ – do you think it’s bigger than that at all? what makes music worship-full?

-You know Brett, that word is spelt ‘thoughts’. I have been waiting a long time to tell you that. I think all the questions and answers about worships music have been pretty much asked and answered by now. But I could easily give you a very long answer too. I find a diverse range of things in life calling or drawing my heart out to worship them. Broadly speaking, and from our perspective as believers, these would be things that either come from the Father (ie God) or things that don’t. Now music tends to do no more than merely highlight whatever subject is at hand that is currently making a bid for my worship. Define worship? Well, we’ll worship whatever we believe is going to bring us life, or the nearest approximation of that. Perhaps it is a car, you know? But the channels outside the Father it comes through you find in 1John – the lust of the eyes, the cravings of the flesh and the pride of life. Everything else comes from the Father! Generally you’ll find most music is worship’full’. The more pointed question to pose might not be is it worship’full’, but what is it full of? Invariably it is already full of worship.

and when it comes to your music, what would you say is the ashton factor? what sets your music apart from other peoples – ie why should people listen to yours? or what aspect of it do you think or hope will appeal to people?

-My factor might be writing between or around the defined lines of composition sometimes and bringing something fresh to people’s ears as a result. Shame they are abused with so much same old same old! I can’t believe that’s all they really want. I sure don’t. So I will tend to hear popular music and naturally reach out into some unchartered territory compositionally. There might be some pride attached to that, you know, anti establishment and all that, but I think I could do it without unnecessary pride too so as to just enjoy the gift of music rather than define myself by it! But the balance to achieve is to keep it accessible in some way to others too! I don’t think music was given to me for only for my sake; at the same time I need to do what I can which might be unusual, even ground breaking. I feel I do write ahead of myself sometimes which makes it difficult for me to present it. But iIf people can have grace with that and relate to the journey, they might just get into it.

two more questions, one music related, who or what would you say your influences are when it comes to writing a new song? other bands or experiences?

-Definately Crowded House, they are entirely masterful songwriters. Delirious I have really appreciated in so many ways. U2 have written some profound songs too. Muse are outstanding too. Robbie Willams takes ma down a dark path but brilliant songwriting there too. And hardly any will know Deacon Blue but they have brilliance of their own. The list is long really. I could give you twenty more.

and then lastly, what is your understanding of the church? and where do you see the role of music as a part of that, if at all?

I understand the church in reality to be an invisible and in fact non-existent entity on earth but for our love for one another by which people who are not specifically grafted into her will be forced to acknowledge her existence and even believe upon her Head.

I am utterly exasperated with the plethora of denominations and independent off shoots firing off here and there all in the name of the Name. Each having some kind of budget which members must of course buoy up. I know it’s just not necessary! So why do it? But apparently it is not enough anymore for us to meet simply, joyfully, within our lives instead of apart from them. No, if church doesn’t look at least a little bit like a business, you’re left thinking it isn’t going to work. And mostly each new one grows out of some division that occurred in the previous one with a new name dreamed up to define those needing to notify others of their newly found closer proximity to the truth. And so the cycle goes and goes. It is wholly pathetic, troublesome and distressing.

People get worn out and confused and eventually leave to escape the burdens under the assumption of backsliding. One of the marks of the change I discern is willed by the Father will be seen in the complete dissolving of naming churches and denominations, helping to bring us a little nearer to Jesus prayer,’may they be one Father as we are one’. Some will say naming churches is really not a consequential thing. I say it is. It makes no sense to my new mind and I see no record of it ever occurring in Jesus’ mind. Not naming them may sound arbitrary but naming them is an indication of what’s actually going on in us at many other levels.

It shows I think that we just don’t actually understand the real Kingdom. Otherwise we wouldn’t set up all these flimsy peripherals that draw their designs from the world. And music’s role? Gosh that’s another long answer. Look, I do think it has a place. But perhaps not quite as big as we think it does.

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