Thursday, February 19, 2009

Malawi!

Short and sweet... Agape Italia does a summer trip to Malawi. This trip is for Christian's and non-Christians, is a sweet way to show God's love to those in Malawi by building a school/well/latrines. One of the guys on staff here, Haswell, is from Malawi and his heart for his homeland is a beautiful thing. Check it out... it is in Italian, but it still looks cool, even if you can't read Italian :)

CLICK HERE

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bluetree

In January, I saw a band called Bluetree perform at an Agape UK conference in Nottingham, England. The journalist in me took notes, wanting to write a speedy concert review. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. These past two days I have been in leadership meetings for all of Agape Italia. It has been some heavy thinking, some fantastic teaching, and great application points. So I should write about that, right? Well, needless to say, my brain is a little fried and I need to write about something a little lighter. Hence, I give you my personalized, unjournalistic (because it includes first person and heavy opinion) concert review of Bluetree, a month and a half late.

As the lights dimmed, I had no idea of what to expect. The only thing I had heard of this band was that they wrote a fantastic song called “God of This City.” But looking at the stage, I wasn’t exactly expecting a Chris Tomlin carbon copy; the electronics and two Macbooks just screamed “high tech hipster pop punk.”

The six boys from Northern Ireland trotted out and didn’t waste time; the electronic beat began its metronome time from the keyboard, the bass kicked in with the drums, the keys adding color and suddenly the stage exploded with sound as the rest joined in. This was not going to be a low-key worship service.

Soaring above the wall of sound was lead singer Aaron Boyd voice, somewhat similar to his British Coldplay cousins, yet rarely having to revert to falsetto to hit the high notes. Instead, the full extent of the rockstar yell was employed, capturing the passion in the music. As he smiled and rocked back, reaching down to fire from his six-string notes to attack the silence, the joy was palpable.

Both visually and audibly landing between the pulpit and the pub, the scarves and ties were paired with tattoos, sacred lyrics with good Irish rock. In what I consider one of the hardest feats for a worship band, they had fun and put on a great performance without being pretentious, without a “look at me” attitude. They even did the seemingly impossible; they played “Light the Fire” and made it cool.

Their sound was at times influenced by the “techno madness” served up by Pete Kernoghan, at times by chunky chords and other times by U2 atmospheric rock. Solidly landing in the rock category, it rarely felt recycled, or typical, avoiding most Christian clich├ęs and feeling genuine. Soaring at times, at other times it quieted to an intimate encounter between the individual and God, with the band simply providing the background music.

The audience loved it and the band loved the audience, frequently making jokes, pulling members on stage to do actions or sing with them. Their self-depreciating humor reached its pinnacle when they rocked out to Jock Jams on stage for their encore, dancing with unbridled idiocy to the solid 90’s beat.

The Christian music industry, specifically worship music, often catches flack for mediocrity, commercialism and lack of creativity. It is a beautiful thing to see a band of Irish musicians turn those assumptions on their head, sticking out like a blue tree in a forest of green.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Somebody pull the Brakes!

Somebody pull the brakes on this train called life! I am a slacker when it has come to the blog this New Year and for that I apologize. Here is a quick rundown of my life since the last post: 2.5 days in Dublin, Ireland, 6 days in Spain, back in Rome and running like crazy with ministry! The team that I go onto campus with has gotten reshuffled so now I am on a team of 7 (Gigundateam or The Magnificent Seven are possible team names) and have been crazy hectic busy planning and meeting with students/friends. I am training for the Rome Marathon on March 22 and I got lost yesterday running 11.5 miles and had to ask a prostitute for directions. First time I have ever been propositioned, which was kind of weird but she did give me the right directions. I have also joined a basketball team, which has been great for meeting more guys. Ok, I realize all this is summary and not my deepest or most profound thoughts, but my brain is so scattered right now I couldnt give you that. So here are some pictures instead... Starts in Spain, ends in Dublin (sorry, reverse order) Enjoy
This is where I spent a few hours with Jesus one of the days in Spain... and a few more later that night smoking a pipe and talking with good friends.
Squadra Rome + Team Istanbul = sweet prayer partner love
Make up your own caption for this one!
Dance party... and this is not what it looks like, I promise. But it is hilarious!
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome "Smooth Sam and the Fabulous Five!"
I get to go on dates with my girlfriend in Spain... my life is crazyAt the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
And a sweet door at the Alhambra... so intracate
I like the reflection

A beautiful girl overlooking the lovely city of Granada, Spain
He's happy, I'm happy, we are all happy!
The view out my window in Nerja, Spain: Our Creator is a true artist
They could dance... for real
So amazing I have to invent a word to describe it. Scrumtrulescent. Yes... tis true.
The dude on the flute (L) was amazing. The music was amazing. Loved the tradition Irish music. Loved it.

Went on a tour of the Guinness Storehouse; it was this guys birthday and he sang on the mic at the bar at the top of the Storehouse. It was sweet.
Click on this picture and look at the sign behind Jimmy

Pouring rain, gusting wind, and Guiness Lake in the background... beautiful

A beautiful old Monastary in the Irish hills
Have you seen the movie Once? These guys were playing on the same street a lot of that was filmed on.