Bucking authority

Ben just sent me a picture he took when we were at the block course in Papamoa.

 Having seen the sign, and it being literally next door to the shop, i couldn’t resist…

Talking of block courses, im heading down to Invercargill this afternoon for our South Island block course.

I doubt we will be having ice creams though, given that they are having torrential rain and mass flooding in Southland! Yikes.

Knapp is back with controversy

On another continent, some 9,000 miles from the United States, is a corner of the earth where there is no internet, no electricity, no telephone. From wherever you stand, you see red dirt and sky, well-adapted wildlife, rock piles next to dirt roads that seem to go on and on forever. Desolate but not empty, the Australian outback offers people the chance to revel in the open space and solitary oneness this striking terrain provides. Had you travelled that same path years ago, you may have passed Jennifer Knapp along the way, a Grammy nominated, Dove Award winning Christian artist, who was happy to let go of all the success she had to live a very different kind of life, travelling to the most remote corners of Australia, looking to reclaim a part of herself she felt she lost in all the excitement of her accomplishments.

And then one day she decided to come back…

The one long standing rumour that raised the most ruckus among her die-hard fans during her disappearence was the one which has proved to be true: Jennifer Knapp is gay.

Knapp has burst back onto the music scene with news of a comeback and a coming out ; her new album will be released in May, and she has revealed that she has been in a same-sex relationship for the past eight years.

The revelation has rocked the Christian music scene, where Knapp was a darling of fans and critics before her self-imposed exile.

Jennifer Knapp’s music has had a profound impact on me and my faith, especially in the times of struggle. She was an artist I resonated with, someone who sang of faith and love and doubt and grace and all the space in between. She made Christian music that was a world away from everyone else, yet far more tangible and rich to me. In fact, at her height I would say she was unsurpassed as the Christian female singer songwriter.

And while I admire her openness and bravery in her return, it’s hard to hear some of the stuff she says in the interview, especially as many will construe it as a lack of repentance and real acceptance of her situation.

But to God, one sin is not more egregious than another. But it is in the struggle against our human nature where grace abounds. Repentance is a “turning away”. Some of us repent and immediately head in the opposite direction. For others of us, the process of repentance is a slow, but sure arching curve; but, the point is, we should never come to a place of acceptance when contemplating sin.

Should other believers shun her? Of course not…although some undoubtedly will. We must love as Jesus does but it is also important that people should continue to speak the truth in love, she has a responsibility as a Christian to not cause others to stumble.

Many know her to be a sincere person and I believe she truly loves God, but I’m pretty taken aback by the fact that she states she doesn’t struggle with the sin aspect of her sexuality. Many of us deal with issues and sins on a regular basis but we should never try to justify our actions by saying “that’s just the way I am”. It’s that kind of apathy that leads to more serious consequences and possible further distance from God.

Unfortunately, Jennifer’s story and life choices will no doubt fuel the fire of both the pro and anti gay agendas in the church and make them completely forget that she is a person. Also, satan will use her story to stir up the people mentioned above and cause nothing but confusion and pain. I find that very sad, and I’m sure it’s not what she would want (or any of us would want)

I admire Jennifer Knapp’s honesty in being upfront about her life, her music and her faith. However, in her interview, she appears to interpret Scripture through the lens of her life experience and doing so gives her carte blanche to justify the life she is now living. Any one of us who does that, puts themselves on dangerous ground both inside and outside of the church.

In recent days, she has taken a lot of flak for some of the comments in her interview but as she points out

“I would rather be judged before God as being an honest human being. If I am in any way unpleasing in his sight, I can only hope and pray that he gives me the opportunity to find who I am supposed to be.”

God only knows the state of her heart and only He alone knows what will transpire from here. I hope she does find out who she is supposed to be in Christ. Below is a little reminder …

A gem of a performance

The week before last saw Claire, Nikki, James, Ingrid and I at the Ruby Lounge for Anna Coddington’s gig.

 Anna Coddington is one of New Zealand’s foremost heroines of independent pop music. With the release of her debut, self-produced album, “The Lake” in 2008, Anna established herself as much more than just a blip on the NZ music radar.

She is the former front-woman for alt-pop gems, Handsome Geoffrey and Duchess, and her unique voice has graced the tracks of some of New Zealand’s finest artists (Bic Runga, Dimmer and Anika Moa).

Anna Coddington grew up in the sleepy seaside town of Raglan. By age 11 her Dad had taught her a 4/4 drum beat, by 14 she had wrangled a few guitar chords out of her Mum, and by age 16 she was fronting and writing for her first band, Handsome Geoffery. She later filled the same roles in four-piece band Duchess whose single “Raglan City”, garnered the Juice TV “People’s Choice” award in 2007.

After Handsome Geoffery and Duchess, Anna completed an M.A. in Linguistics, a black belt in karate, and toured the world as a backing singer and support act (I saw her and Anika Moa supporting Bic Runga twice on tour in Bristol!). Finally, in 2008 Anna made the decision to distil ten years of song writing into one masterpiece recording and made The Lake. The melancholy, hope and humour of the songs on The Lake will make your heart sink and soar in equal measure yet.

With the recent release of singles T-Shirt and Never Change, and performances last year in NZ’s favourite collaboration wonder-bands Fly My Pretties, and Eru Dangerspiel, Anna has proven herself to be a writer and performer to watch and her gig certainly reflected this.

With a great band comprising Rikki Gooch, Ned Ngatae, Paul Harris and LA Mitchell together with Eva Prowse (Fly My Pretties) it made for a sublime mix of musicianship.

There was a large amount of material from her album The Lake (‘Come Now’, ‘Hold You Here’, ‘ Never Change’, ‘T-Shirt’) some new material and a great cover version of Burt Bacharach’s ‘Walk on By.’

From ‘Sentences,’ her opening ‘love song to music’, she used subtle variations of tempo and mood to keep an appreciative audience well interested in the varied menu. Hard driving rhythms of songs like ‘Never change’ provided great contrast to the sweeter  sounding numbers like ‘Low Tide’ and my favourite ‘The Lake’

She witched easily between electric and acoustic guitar, threw in some early harmonica and was well backed by the band and some sweet harmonizing by LA Mitchell and Eva Prowse.

Her newer stuff was a bit more upbeat and rocky with songs such as ‘Open’, ‘Bolt’, ‘Heavy Boots Blue Skies’, and ‘Little Islands’ pointing to a potentially more diverse second album.

 Anna joined with LA Mitchell and Eva Prowse in amazing harmonies on the beautifully tender ‘Garden’, which was a huge contrast as she rocked it on the electric guitar for ‘Beat Repeat’, both songs of which she had performed as part of supergroup Fly My Pretties.

To top it all off, Anna and band had a belt-it-out finale of Raglan City’ which seemed a good way to end.

It was great to see Anna live by herself at last and it was well worth the wait, as it was a gem of a performance at the Ruby Lounge…

Winging my way down South

With Vineyard College having another block course at the end of the month, it gives me another chance to explore another art of New Zealand i haven’t been to yet, and it also marks my long awaited return to the South Island.

At the end of the month i am having my first trip in a propellor driven plane; a Bombardier Q300 turboprop…

…and will be winging my down to Invercargill; is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world.

Apparently, its also home to the only indoor velodrome in the ocuntry…

We are expecting all the students from the South Island to come (15 of them) and we will be hosted by Danny Steel and the friendly bunch at Southern River Church down there.

As we are heading into Autumn, it will definitekly be cold…especially as the nearest land mass south of Invercargill is Antarctica!

Time for the North Face technical jacket to make an apperance i think!

Meeting Steve Irwin

A couple of weeks ago, Steve Irwin was in Wellington…and i went on board to say hello!

The MV Steve Irwin is a 59-meter (195 ft) ship owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and used in their direct action campaigns against whaling and other activities the group animal rights group opposes.

Sea Shepherd had previously christened the vessel the MV Robert Hunter after Canadian Robert Hunter, co-founder of Greenpeace, but was renamed in honor of the late Crocodile Hunter host Steve Irwin on 5 December 2007. Irwin had considered joining the vessel on a voyage to Antarctica shortly before his death, and the renaming was endorsed by his widow Terri.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is a non-profit, marine conservation organization based in Friday Harbor, Washington in the United States. The group, which is often linked to the radical environmentalism movement, uses direct action tactics to protect sealife. Sea Shepherd currently operates the vessels MV Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, and most of the group’s activities take place in international waters. The group has a strong focus on public relations to spread their message via the media.

The organization was founded in 1977 under the name Earth Force Society by Paul Watson, an early member of Greenpeace, after a dispute with that organization over what Watson saw as its lack of more aggressive intervention.  It has received support for its tactics against fishing, whaling, and seal hunting from quarters such as media personalities, and the Dalai Lama has expressed support for its volunteers, while critics have condemned the violent nature of the actions.

Various governments and organizations (and even members of the society) have referred to the group as pirates. While they have a jolly roger flying from the mast, it doesn’t mean they act like pirates.

Operations have included scuttling and disabling whaling vessels at harbour, intervening in Canadian seal hunts, ramming other vessels, trying to temporarily blind or disorient whalers with a laser device, throwing bottles of foul-smelling butyric acid onto vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizure and destruction of drift nets at sea. Sea Shepherd claims that their aggressive actions are necessary as the international community has shown itself unwilling or unable to stop species-endangering whaling and fishing practices. Some governments and organizations have referred to them as terrorists.

While visiting Wellington, the crew of the Sea Shepherd was trying to raise awareness of the incident involving the Ady Gil and it’s captain Pete Bethune

Ady Gil, previously known as Earthrace, was a 78-foot (24 m), wave-piercing trimaran, which was originally created as part of a project to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat.

In late 2009, it was announced that the boat, now repainted black and named Ady Gil, would be participating in anti-whaling operations under the lead of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. During operations in the Southern Ocean, the vessel and the Japanese whaling support vessel MV Shōnan Maru 2 collided on January 6, 2010, resulting in loss of the Ady Gil’s bow and one of the Ady Gil’s six crew members, a New Zealand cameraman, sustained broken ribs.

Crew on three vessels, the Shōnan Maru 2, the Ady Gil, and the Bob Barker, a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society support ship, took footage of the incident, and video of the incident has been released by both the Institute of Cetacean Research and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

The video below shows you what happens. I think it is fairly clear that Japanese whalers have little regard for anyone who gets in their way:

The captain of Ady Gil, Pete Bethune, boarded the Shōnan Maru 2 on February 15, 2010 to present the captain with a citizen’s arrest warrant for attempted murder and a $3 million bill for his lost boat. He was taken into custody by the ship’s crew and was taken to Japan, where he was arrested by the Japanese Coast Guard for trespassing on March 12. He is now awaiting trial in Japan on 6 charges.

Sea Shepherd expected Captain Bethune to face a trespassing charge but all additional charges are being made for purely political reasons, to set an example of Captain Bethune for alleged actions that are absolutely trivial in comparison to those of the Shonan Maru No. 2; whose captain is not even being investigated by Japanese authorities after ramming and sinking another vessel at sea.

This is an embarrassment to the Japanese criminal justice system, a further slap in the face to the international community, and proof that Japan will continue to do what it wants regardless of international law or public opinion. 

Protest against Japan, support Sea Shepherd and help save our amazing ocean wildlife for our future generations.