Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Thought I'd post this here rather than on the Visions site, as it provoked some interesting discussions in the pub.
( I can hardly say Visions are all behind it) Although we discussed the concepts at the planning meeting, we had some interesting discussions post-service as to whether Heaven is a democracy or not (I stand by what I said, in context) and whether it is a nation-state or not. (I think it is, so there! Its a Kingdom, they are generally regarded as nation states). But then a little controversy to shake people out of the populist clouds and harps mentality is no bad thing I recon.

Voice 1 - Heaven is like a mustard seed. A tiny thing which when planted grows enormous. So big that people fly for miles to live there.

Voice 2 - Heaven is not like a nightclub with a restricted guestlist and room for only a few hundred packed in like sardines.

Voice 2 - Heaven is like yeast that a cook took and mixed with flour. It was so contagious that all the dough rose in less than an hour.

Voice 1 - Heaven is not like a really long church service with hard pews and your least-favourite hymns or a party by an unpopular person that noone would want to come to.

Voice 1 - Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, something so fantastic that its worth selling everythig else to get it.

Voice 2 - Heaven is not like a mouldy old pot hidden in a field which some historian says is valuable but you’re really not convinced. Or a really overpriced Christmas present ....that you didnt really like, but had to smile when you recieved it.

Voice 2 - Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. He spots the “big one” that’ll keep him in cash for the rest of his life, and knows its worth trading all his old stock to get it.

Voice 1 - Heaven is not a like a merchant who has fine pearls and only sells them to the “right” people who wear designer clothes, speak with the right accents and carry platinum cards.

Voice 1 - Heaven is like a net that is thrown into the sea and catches fish of every kind. Even the weird looking ones with big teeth that noone would really want to eat and couldn’t possibly get in (could they?)
When they got the catch in they sorted out the good and bad fish. Funny that, some of the scary looking ones stayed and some really quite respectable looking fish got thrown out.

Voice 2 - Heaven is like a high-interest bank account. You can store up treasure there. You can make a deposit by selling stuff and giving the money to poor people and by being insulted and persecuted and having people say bad stuff about you because you happen to follow Jesus Christ.

Voice 2- Heaven is not like the sort of bank where you have to have references, copies of your birth certificate and proof of address and where they deny you entry based on your previous credit-rating.

Voice 1 - Heaven is a place where the down-to-earth childlike people are the important ones. Its a place you can’t get into if your head is too big and you refuse to shrink it.

Heaven is not an idea or a made-up place, a carrot to entice people to be good or a dream to make death less sad, as Hell is not a nightmare to frighten naughty children.

Heaven is like a big wedding-party. Loads of people get invites but some people just don’t want to come, so they send out folks to scour the streets and grab anyone who fancies coming. Do you want to come? I hear the food is great.

Heaven is not a car park, where you just sit and sit for ages and ages not doing anything because you are dead. In fact if you want to stay dead you generally avoid the place as Heaven is a place of never-ending life.

The Kingdom of Heaven is near. You don’t have to travel miles and miles to get there. You don’t even have to die to get there, because it is a place of growth. It is growing within you, within us, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not stifling stagnation. It is not hate, it is not evil. Heaven is not like a fluffy cloud, a Philadelphia cheese advert, an endless expanse of nirvana-like nothing, a floaty polite thought, a place where everyone wears their nightie all day, Heaven is not disembodied or a-polittical.

Heaven is a kingdom. A political nation-state with a real flesh-and-blood political ruler, whose manifesto contains policies such as “Love one another” . It is also, contrary to popular opinion, a demoncracy in at least one sense. For you have to choose to vote "yes" to the ruler to enter. The government does not violently force itself on you. You may vote "no" if you wish and go elsewhere, but elsewhere isn’t much fun.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

More discoveries...Garage Band.

My other recent discovery has been Garage Band. For years I've been using Cubase to write songs, which has worked very well.
I also have a collection of MIDI boxes and old synths together in my office, connected with lots of spaghetti, but gradually they are dying. My Emu sampler has died. I'm not too sad though, as the best thing about it was the 909 drum samples I took from my friend Paul. My Cheetah cool bass noises box went a couple of years ago, and, although I love my CS1X its a complete pain to program, and I just felt like I needed some new sounds.

That, combined with the fact that I had garage band on my Mac anyway (its free, as it comes with the machine) led me to explore it! Actually I'm pretty impressed. I can't believe a piece of software that is free can do so much. So, instead of splashing out on another MIDI box, I've bought the analogue soft-synths pack for Garage Band and the Jam Pack 2. Tasty! Now I have my cool bass noises back, and my 909 and am hoping this will lead the Abbess into new realms of creativity. Its certainly worked this week. I wrote 3 hymn remixes in one day (but then I did have a deadline because of the wedding which helped!)

If you want to check out my past compositions go to.
Abbess is my band name by the way.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Arkaos (I *love* it!)

Sorry I've not been posting much lately. I've been busy doing lots of stuff for Naomi's wedding (the full multimedia Visions works!) and at the same time trying to write 6000 words on the synod of Whitby for college. Anyway, in between all that frantic activity, I have been making some discoveries. We were asked to do visuals at a recent youth event, and, as not many of us were available (and it was the day before the make poverty history march in Edinburgh) I didn't want to take all our equipment with me. So I downloaded the trial version of Arkaos and just went with a laptop and projector. I am impressed! Its not so good at actual "mixing" as you have to define the transparency parameters of each clip beforehand, rather than mix on the fly. But it is so great at dance stuff, as you have lots of choice of effects including tunnels, cubes, bubbles, filmstrips floating up the wall etc to spice up even relatively simple video clips, and "playing" in real time is really easy. The downside is that playing with Arkaos for three hours gave me some strange dreams of walking up the high street which suddenly wrapped itself around a spinning cube!

The other good thing about the software from a church perspective is that you can buy 6 licenses for the price of 1 and a 1/2
so that your whole church-video-team can have it, play on it and learn to use it. It works on Macs and PCs too.

If you want to check out the software for yourself this is the URL of the Arkaos site.