Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

YOU WERE NOT THERE!1111

May 13, 2007

It seems BBC reporter John Sweeney’s been getting a bit hot under the collar about Scientology:

This clip may or may not be shown on Monday night’s Panorama programme, which is a special investigation by Sweeney into the darker side of the brainwashing cult — oops, I mean fine, upstanding religion, of course.

For the full background story (at least from Sweeney’s point of view) on the above shouting match, you can read this BBC news story. Here’s a relevant quote to whet your appetite:

While making our BBC Panorama film “Scientology and Me” I have been shouted at, spied on, had my hotel invaded at midnight, denounced as a “bigot” by star Scientologists, brain-washed – that is how it felt to me – in a mock up of a Nazi-style torture chamber and chased round the streets of Los Angeles by sinister strangers.

Back in Britain strangers have called on my neighbours, my mother-in-law’s house and someone spied on my wedding and fled the moment he was challenged.

Do you understand?

UPDATE 14/07/07: You can watch the full report on the BBC Panorama website now. It’s seriously sinister.

Alla y’all playaz better recognize!

June 22, 2006

When M-dawg and his homies are waxin’, maxxin’ an’ relaxxxin’ in the studio, this is how it all goes down:

Mark’s video on MySpace.com

So, what’s actually going on in the above 7 minutes and 13 seconds of visual virtuosity?

For about four days in April this year I found myself in a recording studio in Newcastle upon Tyne. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up there, but it may have had something to do with the fact that, for the previous six months, I’d been involved in a musical “project” with a friend of mine, Mark Nichol.

Mark’s a drummer by trade, but he also plays guitar and writes songs. At this point, alarm bells should be ringing; we’ve all seen and heard what happens when you let drummers write songs: Ringo, Slipknot, Phil Collins, Kaiser Chiefs… You see? The list speaks for itself. Except that, this time, the songs are really good and Mark wanted me play guitar on them. (Before that, you see, we’d been in a band together and I’d somehow managed to convince him that I was a halfway-decent guitarist — PFSHAWW! Enough of this false modesty rubbish; I’m at least a decent guitar player.) How could I resist such an offer?

As you can see on the video, it wasn’t just me and Mark who were involved in this musical gat attack. Also present are: John Pattison (gangsta name: J 2 tha P) on vocals; James Main (gangsta handle: JJ ‘Phreaky-D’ McPhly) on keyboards (or just “keys” if you’re a pretentious pillock); Vanessa Nichol (gangsta ID: V-Loc) on vocals; and Steve Caithness (we never asked Steve for his gangsta name but, if I had to guess, I’d say it’d be: Crunk Caithnizzle) on bass.

Finally, orchestrating the whole shebang from behind that Yamaha DC-5400 SoundstaticXtreme Professional sound-desk you can see in many of the shots is none other than Fred Purser. Yes, that Fred Purser. Latterly of the Tygers of Pan Tang and 70s punk band Penetration. Suffice to say he’s like a scientist on the knobs. A magical scientist. A magical musical scientist. He’s good.

If you’ve read this far, you probably won’t be averse to a small plug at this point. So here it is: Go to www.myspace.com/marknichol and you can listen to four of the songs we recorded and read some more about our antics in the studio in Mark’s blog.

As you’ll see if you read the blurb and the blog entries on the site, these songs are essentially an expression of worship to God, giving thanks for who He is and what He’s done for us. I think they’ve come out pretty well. But you can go and listen and judge for yourself!

For the most part, the songs are guitar-driven rock in style, but they’re poppy enough to have a wider appeal than the lank-haired, black-t-shirt-wearing metal crowd (apologies if that includes you; it used to be me). The lyrics are also available, for those who want to check the theology’s sound, or if you just like reading words that rhyme.

Peace out.

This is the way; walk in it.

May 30, 2006

I can be a bit thick sometimes, especially when it comes to hearing God’s voice.

At church on Sunday night we committed a Bible verse to memory as part of the service. The verse was Isaiah 30:21, and it goes like this:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

At the time I thought nothing of it. Actually, that’s not quite true. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what it was saying–and maybe I still don’t–but I made a mental note to go away and read the verse in context to try and get a handle on it.

The verse comes in the middle of a chapter (and, in fact, a series of chapters) prophesying woe and doom. God is disciplining His children (and other nations) and showing them the error of their ways. But, even though they have worshipped false gods and idols, God is always longing to show mercy to His people if they follow His ways:

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18).

God is saying that, even though we have been disobedient, all we have to do is cry for help (Isaiah 30:19) and As soon as he hears, he will answer you. He’s saying He’s a gracious and faithful God, in other words.

Which brings me to my current situation. I’m coming to the end of an eight-year stint in higher education. At the moment I’m in the final stages of writing up my PhD thesis in linguistics at Newcastle University. It’s been a fun ride, though very hard at times. However, all things end and now I’ve got to head out into the big world and get a job… At 27 years old. Pretty shameful, I know.

Now, I know the general area I want to work in, but I’m still utterly clueless about where I’m supposed to go. Jobs in the academic-related sector are few and far between and, generally, when they come up, you have to go for them. So I’ve been sending out applications left, right and centre to universities up and down the country. Throughout this time, Jen (my wife) and I have tried to stay open to God’s will; we’ve basically said: “whereever you want us, Lord, we’ll go. But try to make it obvious, please!”

Well, God’s already answering that prayer. All of the applications I’ve sent out so far have come back with a resounding negatory. Nothing. Not even an interview. Of course, this makes me feel pretty crap, but if I believe God is faithful, then I should give thanks to Him for answering my prayers!

More generally though, I don’t have a feeling of being “called” anywhere in particular. When this whole process started, I made a point of saying that I don’t just want to stay around the North East simply because that’s where I’ve been for my entire life, or because it’d just be easy to do. Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to stay here. We’ve got family and friends here and it’s a fantastic place to live. But I felt it was important to give all that to God and stay open to His direction.

I suppose I expected God to tell us where to go. Maybe audibly. Or maybe by dropping an email in my inbox. Or possibly even a little more esoterically by placing a glowing halo around a job advert or something. I don’t think I even considered something a little more conventional, like, oooh, drawing my attention to a verse in the Bible… A verse like Isaiah 30:21, perhaps.

I was praying and meditating on this verse yesterday as I walked home from university and I felt God gently prod me and reassure me at the same time. I think this verse is God’s way of telling me that I just need to listen to His voice and follow His ways. I’ve been fretting about where to go and how I’m going to get a job, but God’s telling me whether I look to the right or to the left, I’ll hear His voice and He will be faithful. I believe that God has a plan for our lives and I believe that He’ll reveal it to us if we stay close to Him.

Sometimes God reveals stuff to us one step at a time. This is the way, says the Lord. All we have to do is walk in it.

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