Judgey wudgey was a bear

March 22, 2007 at 11:02 pm (Fitness, Horses, Spirituality/Church/Theology)

Not to get all philomasophical or anything, but I had something of a realisation today, at the gym of all places. Mildly embarrassing situation occurred…here’s me, getting dressed in the changeroom, and my trainer walked in and said hi. No worries, she showed me my record card and told me where to find it so I could chart my progress. She suggested I don’t do any weights today after yesterday’s session, but I said I was doing the Pump class (hey, it’s the only one at a good time, so I’m doing it!). All good, off she went to file my card away. I go to the toilet, hear her come back into the changerooms looking for me, but don’t answer for obvious reasons. But she realises where I am (agh, she is stalking me!!! These gym bunnies are intense!) and sings out over the cubicle ‘Don’t do heavy weights in that pump class, you won’t do yourself any good!’ I reply in a non-committal fashion and go wash my hands. To my embarrassment, my pump instructor had been in the next cubicle and heard the whole exchange! I say nothing, and hope she doesn’t realise it was me who was being told to slack off in her class.

Of course, during the class, she makes mention of it…she says ‘Now I heard someone in the toilets being told to back off in their weights…who was it??? Own up!’ She didn’t look my way, so I didn’t, but then she went into a bit of a spiel about how people who don’t teach Pump don’t know anything about it and it’s the best thing ever, blah blah, basically put as much weight on as you like.

All this was a long winded way of explaining how I came to the realisation (wait for it, it’s a goodie) that people are all the same. Told you it was deep. Basically, take a group of people, everyone wants to do things their way and bring everyone along for the ride because hell knows, their way is the only way.

Every group I am involved in at the moment (and there are a few!) has little factions, little conflicts, little defenses and bandwagons.

The horse community is a classic example of course, LOADS of ‘holier than thous’, like natural horsemanship vs every other breaking/handling method; showing vs dressage; TBs vs Arabs (ok, Arabs vs everyone 🙂 ) when really, if the horse is happy and healthy and you’re not terrified to go near the creature and can have fun with it…who the hell cares? (simplistic I know, but there are some vicious leathery old horsey women, and plenty of sly elegant showies and other shameless stereotypes going around to really make people unhappy).

Church is another example at the moment. I am so sick of the ’emerging church’ vs ‘traditional church’ debate. Just get on with things people! If you’re not into it (the emerging church movement, for want of a better handle), try finding a way to ensure your church is performing the way you need it to. Very poor summation (by ‘performing’, I simply mean it is functioning in feeding and supporting a group of Christians who are active and accountable to God…and this will surely mean they are reaching out and serving the Kingdom). If you’re into it, awesome, you’ve found a niche to support your faith and mission that wasn’t around a while ago, so it’s an excellent feeling to find something that clicks.

My homechurch ran the evening service at a local large baptist church on Sunday. Basically we ran a few activities, in an attempt to generate discussion and get people to engage their minds about their church, their worship and their community.

No songs! Lots of discussion! Lots of listening! (I don’t know, are these really radical concepts for a group of supposedly spiritually minded people?) Generally the response was really positive and it was obvious that a lot of thoughts were provoked and possibly some challenges heard. Some of the discussions were puzzling though and I really feel like they were responding to stuff from the past that had little to do with what was happening in front of them. For instance, at our little square table discussion, the talk turned to something of a ‘big church’ vs ‘little church’ argument, and the big church was defended vigorously and people said they didn’t want to feel like a lesser Christian for liking traditional worship services/sermon based church gatherings. Personally, I think if this is indeed the feeling that the emerging church movement is generating, then it needs to take a look at its tactics (now, I do realise that that response probably says as much about the speaker as it does about the actual movement, but the point is still important)…because let’s face it, if we are getting people to change their entire faith-community-church structure out of guilt and judgement, well we are no better than the Catholics! (oh gosh, did I just indulge in some religious stereotyping?!)

What I am trying to say, in a very inarticulate fashion, is that while challenging and revolutionising is all good and exciting, for some people (those who don’t like conflict, like, for instance…ME), it can be incredibly offputting to see people left behind or struggling and not getting any support. When I know that the way to motivate and inspire is to find the key to that person and get them excited about the connections and relations it has for them. Tricky and certainly not ‘one size fits all’, but ensuring that everyone has a chance to get on the ride and not necessarily abandon everything they love or are comfortable with (I am trying to be careful not to condone complacency here), has the potential to be truly truly awe inspiring. I want to write more about this, but midnight is looming and that commute in the morning doesn’t get any shorter. I have the skeletons of my thought process here at least, now it can be ripped to shreds. Oh gosh, mixing metaphors…it’s time to go…

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Musings on music

March 3, 2007 at 12:40 am (Music)

I’ve had something of a UK music fix over the past couple of weeks.

First up in the last week of January, Lucas and I went to see Muse at Festy Hall in Melbourne. Every time I go to that venue, I appreciate its size. It’s mid size, but on the floor you really are never too far away, even if you’re cowering at the back of the crush, like all self-respecting elderly concert-goers do. (Even if they do bring their Doc Martens out of retirement for such occasions). The stage is on the long side of the rectangle too, which seems a bit wrong, especially for the people in the wings who would have a fairly extreme angle to view the band, but all up, it’s a cool venue. I like to think about the thousands of stomping feet the to which the floor has reverberated before encores. Ah if only the walls could speak!

Muse seemed to attract a bit of an older muso crowd (no rhyming pun intended there). I wondered a bit if Muse are the new Floyd, or maybe Queen? Or do they have to be a new something? I was curious to see if they could replicate their huge album sound live, but just looking at the stage setup gave me thrills. The plain, unstained piano, the huge screens, behind giant plastic tubes and the massive light setup (along with these oversize balls lurking behind the crowd in the wings) all indicated this was going to be large. And indeed it was. The sound was simply AMAZING. For Muse anyway…for Ground Components, who were supporting, the sound was painful. I couldn’t figure out if it was because they weren’t any good, or if it was because their mix was so treble-y that it felt like my ears were bleeding.

Muse opened with the opening track from Black Holes and Revelations (I love it when bands do that, you get the same sense of anticipation from when you put the disc on the first time) and the crowd just went into a trance. It’s incredible to think that three people make that symphonic noise. Matt in particular has a hard working guitar tech, rushing over and changing guitars and retuning and moving things. Don’t envy his job. Highlight for me had to be Time is Running Out and Plug It Baby (the first Muse tune I got into, which I have to confess to Napstering back in the halcyon days of such things…I have since bought the disc though!). Matt left his guitar moaning against the speakers after the first break, and the stomping feet and lack of house lights made it pretty clear an encore was forthcoming. They teased us with some piano balladry, before finally finishing with a monstrous version of Knights of Cydonia. The giant balls descended on the crowd (and were burst pretty quickly, showering confetti everywhere), and huge neon signs spelled out the falsetto refrain…’You will never take me alive…’ etc etc. Basically, you couldn’t top that, the crowd were exhausted and slack from the intensity.

Snow Patrol’s show was a contrast in a few ways. For their show I decided I hated Festy Hall, for its heat, for its age and its uncomfortable seats. We took the seating option (well, ok, it was the only option left when we decided to get tickets) and felt like parents to the insanely young Greys Anatomy crowd. Compared to the serious Muse crowd, this group of fashion victims and concert virgins were total lightweights…I mean, who wears stilettos, or even wedges to a gig? Anyway, we were there for the band, right?! Kim, Briedy and I were sitting to the left of the building and towards the back, but like I said, Festy Hall is small enough for these not to be unreasonable seats.

Again, the sound for the support bands (Red Riders, Howling Bells) was noticeably poor, which just made Snow Patrol sound amazing when they came on. They also just looked bigger than the support bands, when they strode on, all in black, strapping Irish (are they Irish? the accent was devilishly beguiling, to be sure 😉 ) lads, with booming deep voices. I know comparatively few Snow Patrol songs, so this probably contributed to me being less engaged in this show than the Muse one, but it was a good, competent show. Chasing Cars is a gorgeous song, and I love Hands Open and they both sounded fantastic live. The singer is right into between song banter, which I am a fan of (otherwise, just get the live DVD and be done with it!) and the general stage set up was really effective. The ceiling was dripping with condensation though, and the occasional asthmatic wheeze from the vents only served to make us feel hotter in between gusts.

Add these two bands to seeing Placebo (same venue!!!) in September, and I think that gives me the UK trifecta. I think for that I win a warm beer and a Union Jack dress.

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