Thursday, 12 August 2010

Tracking Theological Trajectories



In July I attended my first ever large scale Newfrontiers conference - Together on a Mission. Since I'm doing FP next year I know that it won't be my last. The various seminars and meetings I attended were brilliant but I missed out on the excellent series called "Tracking Theological Trajectories" that the Leadership part of TOAM (I was on mobilise). I love theology and believe that it's essential for worship leaders to be seeking to be theologically sound especially when writing songs and choosing song lists.

The "Tracking Theological Trajectories" covered 3 books - Tim Keller's Reason for God (need to read), Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis (need to re-read) and N T Wright's Surprised by Hope (need to finish reading!). The 3 books are extremely popular, especially in my age category and so it was very interesting seeing what the Newfrontiers theology big wigs had to say about them. On my gap year I was positively recommended Velvet Elvis and Surprised by Hope by the church I was attending, and my housemate is a big fan of Keller. I've worked my way through the talks on Bell and Wright, and listening about the one on Keller.

It's been challenging listening to the talks as it's made me rethink what I thought about some of what I've read (esp Bell's Velvet Elvis). Perhaps it's due to me maturing in my faith but I would have to agree with a fair bit of the criticism aimed at Bell. It has been a bit of a journey for me as when I was about 18, the people I was with only talked about how amazing they thought Bell and Velvet Elvis/Nooma/anything he touched was, and so the new shift as I've spent time with a more conservative/less liberal (?) crowd which seems to have an almost entirely negative view of him. As always I'm quite against people simply criticising someone's work if they haven't even had the time to read the book (which is why I can't comment on what they said about Tim Keller), but being given a very different perspective on the books by people who have got to grips with the books has certainly been stimulating.

The talks have also been great at being balanced and not attempting to simply point out what is wrong, which I think is brilliant. I'm hoping that next year they run something similar on some other books. If you're a big fan of the 3 authors/books or enjoy theology/debates definitely check them out. I've managed to get through them on my way to work so I'm sure others can do the same.

You can find the talks on the link below -
http://www.newfrontierstogether.org/Groups/131508/Newfrontiers/Resources/Talks_and_Preaches/Select_Event/Leadership_International_10/Training_Tracks.aspx

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The wait is almost over (for the new EPL season to start...)



In a week and a bit the football season shall return and there shall be a big smile on my face. The World cup in my mind was a disappointment on many levels, and so the beginning of the new season can't come quick enough. Once again I'm brimming with optimism for my beloved Arsenal despite a lack of stand out signings or that fact that as always we're being written off as challengers before the first ball has been kicked.

 I agree that we lack some squad depth but I don't see us as miles off the rapidly ageing Chelsea team, an Man Utd team that in my mind may struggle (over reliance on Rooney? Ferdinand permanently injured? etc..) and Liverpool... well enough said. Though I agree Man City have improved vastly, their new signings aren't much of an improvement over their current squad (David Silva aside, he is world class), I don't see them overtaking us. Spurs well we'll see... I'm not sure they have the experience (or a manager experienced enough) to be able to sustain a title challenge/europe/various less important cups to be quite there yet (see Everton's ill fated attempted at Champions league in 2005/6 as a potential outcome for Spurs).

So then what of Arsenal? We lack a solid keeper, yes... We've lost a number of centre backs, yes... and our captain is being courted by everyone from Barcelona + their dog. Perhaps it's not the ideal situation for preparation for a new season, but then again we don't have the power to stop this ridiculous Spanish media farce unfortunately so we'll just have to live with it. I once held Barcelona in high regard, seeing them as like a second team, but this summer has meant any respect I had for the club has been left in the gutter along with their dignity as they show how to be the prime example of a class-less club.

Anyways rant over... we've added a solid big centre forward who should hopefully fill the void that Emmanuel  "delusions of grandeur" Adebayor left. We still need to add some more centre backs still due to the various departures of Sol Campbell, Senderos, Gallas and the bald headed one. New boy  Laurent Koscielny could turn out to be another Vermaelen but we'll wait and see. The only other new transfer rumour is that perhaps we're going to sign some 29yr old centre back from Montpellier... sounds and smells like Wenger so probably will happen.

I hope to see a new keeper added as well as a quality centre back/s. If possible another defensive midfielder could help ensure that if Song get's injured that we're covered though Frimpong has looked like he has potential in preseason. Whether this will happen is unlikely but i'll wait on the edge of my seat hoping on the last day of the transfer window.

On our day we can dismantle almost any team and we're consistently unlucky with injuries in my mind. If Van Persie can stay fit he's can reach the calibre of Torres/Rooney/Drogba, if Cesc stays and has the same desire as last season then he'll challenge for the title of best midfielder in the Premiership. The rising star of Wilshere could potentially breakout this season in the same way Ramsey was last season and could be a new weapon. There's definitely potential in the team. My heart tells me we can take the title but my head might point towards the many bitter disappointments of recent years.

 Below are 2 previews about Arsenal and I'm sure many more will come out soon

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/aug/02/premier-league-preview-arsenal

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/424927-a-realistic-preview-of-arsenals-season-transfers

Welcome back (proper) football, I've missed you and wait expectantly for the classic highs and lows, sublime goals, ridiculous fouls, as well as everything in between!


(some highlights of last season... I have no idea what the music sounds like as I don't have the sound on so apologies if it's poor...)