This is one of those days where suddenly it just shows me again how I struggle with my place in faith and my place and view of modern UK society.

If you might be in America reading this, you may think ‘what’s the problem?’ (We tend to often percieve Americans as being less obsessed with class and the class system over there). Yes again, I find where I am, what I am, and how I am a problem. Should I?

I should be who I think I am, who I feel I should be right? The difficult problems is often that I have family and friends who live life a certain way, or do not feel so strongly about certain issues but these things are in me. My own mind and thoughts do regularly think about how and why we have so many shops which sell so many things that we just do not need, such rediculously expensive things. There is a limit to what we need, what we use and we seem to gladly go way far past that limit without much thought about the ethics of what we are purchasing and why.

I am not against material posessions, but extreme gratuitous consumerism does make me almost feel actually sick inside. When I just happen to be aware of the many countries globably and even towns and cities in this country which struggle to just eat, keep a roof over heat, find clean water, electricity-the basics-I feel then very sad and frustrated.

This does relate to my attempt at Christian faith in 2015. Just how many churches are run by and filled with mostly middle-class members? This is not me having a go at the middle-class specifically, but just look at how few working class even consider stepping anywhere near a church today. Why is that do you think?

I have a sort of middle-class education but remain mostly working class at this point. I will not get too specific with politics here, that is not my focus. I simply believe that Jesus would not have been too happy with this endless rampant materialism, almost material worship of products, lifestyles, social status and relentless consumerism.

The problem then is that I sense that the majority of people I meet in some of the churches I visit at times, do not begin to  consider any of this or just are middle-class and simply accept the consumerism and materialism where it is at as a ‘good balance of the economy’. Hmmm, kind of don’t think that makes much sense…

Is it the generation that I come from? How many from the last couple of decades seeking faith have been working class, recieving middle-class eductaion and then come to this social and spiritual conundrum? Not enough it seems.

Two great musicians unite for new album…

Christian Rockers Online

SweetandLynchPhoto
Album Slated for Release on January 27th via Frontiers Music.

Exclusive Pre-Order Available via PledgeMusic at
http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/sweetlynch

(NASHVILLE, Tennessee) — Stryper’s Michael Sweet and Dokken / Lynch Mob guitarist George Lynch have combined their talents and long running legacy of hard rocking excellence together in the project Sweet & Lynch. The outfit will release their debut album, Only to Rise, on January 27th via Frontiers Music.

And while Sweet and Lynch’s names form the moniker of their partnership, their band also includes a pair of well-known rock names. Brian Tichy, who has spent time behind the kit with rockers like Whitesnake, Billy Idol and Ozzy Osbourne, will man the drums for the band, while James Lomenzo, who has enjoyed stints in Megadeth, Black Label Society and White Lion, is handling bass duties.

“When I was approached to help put together an all-star lineup, I initially thought of George Lynch,” says…

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Now I Understand

Posted: January 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

The Ramble

I’ve been a Skillet fan for a few years now, but although I love jamming to their music, I never really understood why. Now I do, and I think I understand why Christian rock music is so big in music nowadays.

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Music Junkie Press

sno

SnoCore Tour have announced their coast to coast itinerary and we are excited to see that there is a scheduled date right here in Sacramento at the Ace of Spades on March 11th. The lineup for the tour  will feature Flyleaf as headliner and direct support from Adelita’s Way, Framing Hanley and Fit for Rivals. The tour is set to begin on February 3, 2015 in Charlotte, NC at Amos Southend.  The on-sale goes live on Saturday, December 6 at Noon via www.snocore.com. Check the dates below and see if they will be coming to a venue near you:

Confirmed SNOCORE Tour appearances include these markets with additional dates to be announced shortly:

  • 2/03     Charlotte, NC                                                 Amos South End
  • 2/04     Baltimore, MD                                                Rams Head
  • 2/06     Clifton Park, NY                                            Upstate Concert Hall
  • 2/07     Manchester, NH                                              Jewel
  • 2/08     Lancaster, PA                                                 Chameleon Club
  • 2/13     Syracuse, NY                                                  Lost Horizon
  • 2/14     Buffalo, NY                                                   …

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Alright, I do often write up film reviews on my other site and blog, but I will try to keep things even more relaxed and casual here.

So last weekend I went along to see EXODUS  with my wife and a friend, and it had not been seriously planned. I was aware of the film when it came out around Boxing Day time at Christmas, and I am a serious film freak so usually keep track of things like any new Ridley Scott films on the way.

I think that at first, I decided not to really get too exicted about it because the last few Scott films did not really amaze me (apart from Prometheus, yes I did like it-probably one of about five people) and his epic historical movies just don’t really grab me or seem to do what they should. Plus this time, EXODUS featured Christian Bale…

Hold on there, I don’t hate Bale, but after three films of his over the top super-gruff uber-macho Batman voice, I really find it hard to give him much time. He had sort of acted himself into a corner recently. But I agreed to go along and see this film anyway.

I was expecting huge epic visuals, continually grand visions on screen-this is what I got. It was good, it was exciting and largely very entertaining all the way. There have of course been so many film adaptations of the Old Testament tales over the decades, and from the begining of this film, it does not immediately seem much different from some of those. The scale of the images of Egypt and the middle eastern lands around on screen are much more detailed and evocative than they ever have been in a religious movie I think.

I will admit that the tale of Moses leading up to his eventual final events and the commandments were a little vague with me, being a while since I have looked over the Old Testament. Honestly, the acting and dialogue may be a little basic and simple but then, this is a biblical film and it is going to stick to most of the actual known modern international bible text. What makes the film move along and pull the viewer in is the soundtrack, the cinematography, and direction. We all know most of the story, and at least toward the very end of the film we will probably know how to expect the film to end. No real surprises…well actually there were some…

Like one or two of his other historical movies, Ridley Scott here added in a level of authentic related culture in the clothes that the characters wear, how they speak with elements of arabic and other minor middle eastern traits. This makes the film more interesting, engaging and authentic to some degree, or to a modern audience.

Thankfully, I found that Christian Bale toned himself down after a while when as Moses he left his safe position in leading Egypt and walked away in shame and guilt. Soon after, when he takes a simple and humble life, finds a wife he then experiences the changes personally which take his life in a spiritual direction.

This is where there are some serious and possibly radical changes in the way the story is presented to us.

*Spoiler Alert!*

This I had heard about around the time of the release of the film in from reviews and some criticised it, or it could be seen as a compromise to modern cinema audiences and how to depict an epic biblical tale on screen in our times now. In this film, Moses has an accident and falls, hitting his head badly. He is knocked down and rests for a short time. From this point on, he begins to speak with God. He hit his head…

It can be seen in this film, one view, that it might be suggesting that Moses knocked his head or something similar and in some way was simply delusional. A madman, a crazy person, who imagined that he heard the voice of God. Was he a dangerous madman? Was he even perhaps schizophrenic, split personality? Is it even then, suggesting that same thing about many people who believe in God or have a faith which might be irrational? I do not think that Ridley Scott is specifically suggesting this, but he has put this in, and it possibly serves to allow many viewers to enjoy the film without having a faith or being reigious at all-this is just an epic Hollywood historical drama. That is if you go with that viewe of the story.

Beyond this, even bigger spoiler sorry-God is shown as a small boy. Yes, you did read that right, God is a small little boy this time. I think I can actually understand this, as a small child can be seen as innocent, loyal, sensitive. Also it is suggested by Jesus that we should be like children.

So the film continues on with Moses meet the boy in the wilderness every so often (sorry that does sound strange) while Ramesses opresses his slaves in the building and construction of pyramids and temples. Moses warned of the wrath of God, that the people should be freed, Ramesses defiantly disagrees and then we see the legendary plagues. This is where the film really gets truly epic and apocalyptic onscreen. The crocodiles rise up in the sea, blood fills the screen-this is a real sudden shock. The plagues pass very quickly, one after another, but each very intense and vividly depicted, graphic and tragic like really never seen in previous version of this tale in a movie.

Bale could very easily hade just ran off and gone full-til gonzo nutty with Moses, but somehow he keeps his acting restrain and this is probably due to Scott keeping all elements of the film tight and controlled well. The tale is edited and chopped up, which I can understand as a Hollywood film on the big screen does not need to have every little detail up there-we understand and know much of this story. Cinema is visual most of the time.

This all of course leads right up to the final cross and parting of the Red Sea. Like his relation to God, this part of the tale is shown different to how it has been seen many times before. It does actually feel a slight let down, but it does makes sense really. It all seems to come down to a quiet humble ending, and the last scenes and image of Moses is a contemplative and thoughtful one.

I was glad that I did eventually see this film, and on the big screen. It did make my faith shine brighter for a while, it did make me think about my relationship with God in a way that I may not have for a while. Go and see this film, it is a good challenging movie. A movie about identity, faith, conscience, hope.

‘Tis the season…ho,ho,ho…

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hello all, how are you all coping with this crazed, commercialised, manufactured, hysteria inducing festive time right now?

Right here in my little part of the UK, things are wet, dark and rainy and have been most of this week. Next week of course is actually Christmas week…oh how really look forward to stepping into various local shops purchasing a few nice last minutes things, some lovely fruit and veg and food for Christmas (yes, this is serious irony here.)

I have sort of slipped up on advent things and church lately, maybe a good or bad thing. I do though feel that I might want to experience midnight mass again this year-I am not Catholic but I did go to one a couple of years ago, and it was a strange, unusual and nice experience. I have a feeling that I also would like to give to various charities again, possibly get involved in some charity help over the festive days of Christmas.

All that I am hearing and seeing on television and on news media (mainstream news media-yes there is a difference…) is concern about the present not being delivered on time from those huge tax-avoiding online retailers, possible postal strikes…oh hold on, there’s a nice Salvation Army advert on tv…

And then those stupendously over-the-top sugary, Americanized tv adverts from the supermarket chainstores. Hand me the sick bag please…

Honestly, I really am not a Grinch at all…)

What do you hope for this Christmas? And I am not talking about presents from the big fat man dressed in the colours of a well-known sugar filled soft drink.

What would you like to be different about this Christmas, your Christmas? How could this Christmas be a fantastic one that might make you proud to be a Christian, follower of Jesus at this time of year and all year and celebrating his birth?

Just maybe think about those things over the next few days. I will too, and have a nice Christmas time, godbless you all.

Who knows that you are a Christian?

Who does not know it? Why not?

Who found out, and who did you choose to tell?

You don’t have to give me answers here, these are just some thoughts. It might be very different for many kinds of Christians, in all different parts of the world. I am here in the UK, many of you might be in the USA. Generally there is probably not too much danger in revealing your faith in these countries of increasing multiculturalism, If I lived in other parts of the world, I really might have to seriously keep my faith hidden for fear of extreme danger, abuse, or worse.

Here though, revealing my faith can just be a social problem. You may think ‘Why is a problem to be proud of your faith, share it with others and embrace it?’

You live in a different part of the country (or another country). You may be a different age, you might have a different social background, known other kinds of people. We all have our own challenges in life.

The UK/England is a fairly tolerant, liberated, open-minded and progressive nation. We do now in 2014 have so many kinds of different cultures, faiths, people of no faith, people of various genders, working class, upper class, squeezed middle class and more. There are many social groups for all ages across the country-golf club folk, football fans, video gamers, skaters, wine party people, music and band people, people who spend most night at the pub with mates, people who gather and hang out watching box sets and movies, gym people, sport addicts and more.

There are the people that you work with, every day of the week or just some days-do they know the faith you have, and should they know? If they do, is work life easy? If they don’t know, do you want to tell them but just don’t know how? Is it more that you fear the social stereotype?

Christian faith is or has declined in this country-yes, that will depend on where you live, how rich you are (sorry, but yes), and other things. I am a fairly positive person actually. Do I wish that many more people were spiritual and Christian-of course I do. Do I think that will genuinely happen very soon? Well…

There are some who say that the Christians in the UK are being ‘persecuted’ while the increase and attention on other faiths a concern. As a level-headed guy, the answer is no, we are not persecuted, or just not on any serious level as those in some eastern countries where a Christian may be beaten, attacked or more. Here in the UK, especially if you are a Christian say, under fifty you will probably just be mocked, ridiculed and laughed at a little at times.

Some of you may not believe this, some may think ‘well I am a Christian under 30, and a have great understanding friends, and a great life’ -well fantastic, well done, but…you are a minority in reality.

Historically, this is a proud Christian country, but in 2014 the population is a fascinating mix up of atheists, agnostics, those not interested, those who hold strong faith in science, those who worship another God or Gods, those who just want to do some drugs, chat about celebrities and pop culture, play video-games, watch sport and go shopping.

Some people around me-most of my close, long-time friends, some at work-they do know that I am some sort of Christian, but also hopefully that I am much of a regular kind of guy, who knows a bit about movies, sport, I have a laugh like others about everyday things, I can talk about everyday stuff like others.

Some may think I am weird, dumb, ignorant, stupid, confused, or more. They may not understand, may think I am playing a joke on them if I tell them, or having a laugh, a wind-up. Then there are people under 30 or 50 in some churches but do they cut-off from mainstream regular pop-culture, try to keep clear of the immoral dangers of modern life just a little too much? So much that they can’t relate to the majority of people about regular, everyday things in the world and only related easily to their own safe Christian club of pals?

Like Johnny Cash, I try to ‘walk the line’ on a regular basis.

Do I wish more people knew that I have faith? Yes. Do I wish I could easily tell anyone, at any time? Yes.

But…other cultures and other faiths which have entered and arrived at this country are a little more interesting, fascinating, or simply culturally ‘hip’, just a bit trendy or cool in some ways. Christianity mostly is not.

But then, should I worry if my faith or church is not cool? Of course I probably shouldn’t. Well I do wish that more people, of many ages would or could go to a church, be honesty interesting or curious in going to one. It could be that churches have a bad reputation-in various different ways-in the UK, but also that the image has become very out-dated and old (in most places, not all I know that.)

I try to have an honest faith, be honest about it, and go with what feels right. Some of you may think ‘well no, go with what the Bible says is right’. That might be true, but I am also thinking culturally, and socially here.

Well I suppose I will end this post by saying, how about we tell others when it feels right, and don’t worry about others finding out too much. I have a faith in God, I know my life is better that way than before.

Okay, relax the title of this blog is not my Christmas list and it was not what I was trying to get on the just recently passed ‘Black Friday’. Oh yes, what a terrible, horrible day that turned out to be over here in the UK. Is it always that bad in the US?

I am sure not all Americans go stark raving nuts like that, climbing over each other, shouting and arguing with each other over who grabbed the tv/Ipad/Hoover first etc. but that was just crazy. I myself thankfully was at work, never even considered lining up early in the morning outside a big chain store to get some questionable ‘bargain’ deals. Should I have done so? Would it have been worth the trauma?

I do not want to make myself out to seem so totally perfect and level-headed because I had some restraint and stayed well away from the shopping malls and department stores on Friday. You see, I think that I can understand that some people may have gone along because despite what some confused politicians in the UK seem to think, the recession is not totally over yet, or at least the money is not finally trickling down across all areas of society and many are still struggling and will for time to come. So this means that some people may have decided to take up the dubious ‘Black Friday’ offer in order to get the Christmas presents their loved ones may be in need of or desire.

There are various sides to this day of sales and so-called bargains…were shops and retailers taking advantage of naive consumers? Were they not well enough prepared with security? Was it all a disgusting con, a lie and exploiting of the lower classes?

Soon after and during the day, there were scenes on the national news of the crazed masses fighting and arguing over televisions, other gadgets and more. Reports were appearing of people around the country hurt, injured, attacked for these bargains in various shops and stores. What does they say about the British public? Just what will we do for material possessions, the latest or most popular phones, tv’s, gadgets? Why do we need these things so badly (or think that we do)?

Should a large amount of blame be directed at advertising and marketing-the television and news media hype of the day before it arrived? Let’s be honest here, we have a capitalist system here, in the West, in the U.S. and U.K. We have serious economic problems, class and wealth distribution issues. Shops, stores, shopping malls and traders are concerned that they will not make enough profit over the Christmas period, and so we took up this handy event from our friends in America. Well, that you very much indeed.

Thankfully, there were very many serious, and not so serious protests and campaigns against ‘Black Friday’ on the day, the biggest known as ‘Buy Nothing Day’, and many people in cities here and in the U.S. dressed up and ‘consumer’ zombies walking through the streets, mocking the mindless purchasing madness. Now also we have seen more images and footage on television and in the news, and at least some of us are questioning why we went along with it at all, and feeling a little shame at the whole experience.

Are we mindless consumers, just continually craving whatever is advertised to us in the news, magazines, on screens even if we really don’t need those things? Are we just following our friends and peers, desperate to keep up with the latest trends, gadgets and hoping not to seem like we are ‘out of touch’ with modern life?

Was it actually good for our economy, boosting income and sales? Did it all dirty our innocent little souls a bit more?

Well, it will be another year until we have to face such an event once more. Before then, maybe think about what you can give and not get….