Wednesday, 14 July 2010

No Better Sea Bathing in the World II

What couldn't you see at Sutro Baths? Egyptian Mummies? Stuffed birds, stuffed apes, stuffed snakes fighting stuffed jaguars? Totem poles? Cigar-store Indians? How about tropical plants? Pinned insects? Coin collections? Photograph collections? Fine Art Collections? They were all there. Oh yes, you could also see up to ten thousand bathers (the capacity, by the owner's estimate) swimming, diving, sliding, swinging, soaking and lolling about.

One could enter the pools in a number of ways, thanks to Sutro: trampolines, flying rings, slides, swings, toboggan slides, and diving platforms surrounded the water. All the bathers were required to use the establishment's suits: floppy looking, gray in color with white stripes around the bottom edges. Women's suits had a skirt, often stretched from innumerable launderings, Men's suits had half skirts in front until about 1925.

No Better Sea Bathing in the World

A man named Adolph Sutro opens these public baths in 1896 right on the coast of San Francisco. So bizarre. Now they're a ruin but then it was a phenomenon.

Click on this link to see Thomas Edison's short film to see the kind of fun you could have at the Sutro baths. :)

The description of this short 'movie' is

"One of the sights of San Francisco.
A 50-foot slide is used by the bathers,
who toboggan down its slippery
surface in all positions.
The bathers are clad in black trunks,
making fine contrast with the flesh tints."
Filmed August 22, 1897.

So I suppose the baths were a kind of public amusement place and the brother who built it was fairly eccentric because not only were there numerous amounts of pools with a huge glass structure around it, but it had an aphitheatre that could seat 3700 people! It could hold 25000 people, housed toboggan slides, swinging rings, spring boards and 517 private dressing rooms!

An excerpts from a 1906 advert:

"What will be found in Sutro Baths?
No better sea bathing in the world!
A museum which deserves the attention of visitors,
especially as an object-lesson to young people and children.
The collection of shells is a marvel,
and one of the best in America!
Admission: 25c."

It burned down while being demolished in 1966, and now all that remains are some ruins and a really great bistro overlooking the sea nearby. I don't quite know why but I find the whole thing quite charming.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Casa del Harris

Vacaville. Spent the afternoon with Michele Harris (the other half of legend Rob Harris) driving through the Napa Valley, stopping for wine-tasting and then dinner at Rutherford's. Grilled artichokes never tasted so good. But that might be because I've never eaten an artichoke in my life before. :) Beautiful area, kind of got that Stellenbosch feeling, with less hills, a bit dryer, and the most beautiful houses. Small towns along the way, St Helena, Calistoga. Quaint little towns with plenty boutiques and art galleries. Good times.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Blue Skies and Snowfall

Thank you God
for blue skies and snowfall
for tall pines and aqua lakes
for sunshine and parades
for flowers and blended mocha
for photo's and hikers
for fallen logs and stretching highways
for ham sandwiches and pickles
for fresh cherries and clear water.

Thank you for the open road
thank you for colour and creativity
thank you for fireworks and popcorn.

For all things beautiful, thank you.


A Smorgasbord of Thoughts

I love the word smorgasbord. I just wanted to use it. To be honest I feel pretty overloaded with stuff that I've received and am left with some thoughts that are strung together in a relatively incoherent fashion. I wanted to keep writing here, and this is what I have for today, no particular theme or teaching, just thoughts dotted here and there...

Great time meeting up this morning with Belinda Wrigley (worship pastor from Jozi HP) and Freddie (man of awesomeness) , just to chat about what we've experienced here and our thoughts on going back home. We got to chatting about recording and Joburg's experience with their album, how we've felt stretched here, how our paradigms are shifting and living out the principles of freedom, grace and responsibility as leaders and followers. I think we all feel like there are things we've seen in action here that we're hungry for, ways of relating that are beautiful, a freedom that is releasing, and all within a culture of honour. More than anything, I think a change in our thinking is what is required. If we can change how we think, we'll be on the road to changing the world around us.

Back to worship. I've been thinking about what it would take to build a culture within a local church where worship can explode. What would it take?

Right relationship...
...between worship team, worship leader and pastoral leadership. This is a biggie. The whole culture of honour and the value placed on relationship and brave communication. Not buying in to that temptation musicians face - 'no one understands me', or 'leadership has it in for me.' No! Breaking that thing and intentionally going after unity by building open and honest communication between the worship team and the senior leader. Lets all get on the same page. This is illustrated so beautifully in Kim Walker's life. She is so free, so running in the path of who she truly is, and yet her heart is fully submitted to the father's in the house. It is a delight for her to be submitted, she's safe and protected, while at the same time set loose to be the best version of her there can be. Usually you find this odd polarisation of the free and rebellious, or the submitted and boxed-in. None of that here. Honour one another. Permission granted to be yourself. What else?

A priority on creativity
A good understanding and a hot pursuit of the new, the fresh, the now. Setting up a culture of creativity. Art inspires art. Read more good books. Watch more good movies. Listen to more good music. Pick apart songs that work and figure out why they work. Get in the presence of God and be inspired by his beauty. Don't get stuck in maintaining how things are now. Push in to new realms of creativity. Go to heaven and see the colours there. Hear the songs there. Bring them back. Bring the glory realm to earth. Don't settle for same old same old. If you look over the song you just wrote and you've heard all those lyrics before, start over. Ask God for the new. Listen, learn. Be on the lookout for what God is saying in all of life. What is a fresh way to say something timeless? What is a new way to express something we all believe? What metaphors speak to our generation? What is the heart cry of our nation? What prayers are we praying over our city? Put it in a song. Don't get stale. We're all bored of being bored. Do we really want to keep singing 'Holy majestic awesome one' again?

This is a message I've heard again and again and again. Being fresh doesn't necessarily mean being complicated. Repetition is allowed. We're leading worship not for the fancy complicated muso out there, but for 'Jo the plumber.' The average guy on the street who doesn't necessarily have an ear for music but wants just as much to express his heart to God. If he can't pick up on the chorus by the second time you've gone around, you've probably lost him. And you've probably lost most of your congregation. And worship is not for the band. Its for the people. So if we can't lead with simplicity and build a culture of simplicity where it is not difficult to enter in, then what are we doing? And who are we doing it for? There's room for self-expression, but perhaps it is not in corporate worship.

This kind of ties in with the last point. We're looking for connection. We want to connect to God and people. We are shepherds over this flock to lead them into the presence of God, to facilitate an encounter with Him. That means we've got to be connected first and foremost. We've got to be in His presence. If we're not encountering him, then how can we be an encounter. And then we've got to connect to people. As worship leaders it is so easy to get fed up with the congregation (bad sheep) and get frustrated with how they 'aren't following'. But how are we leading? Are we making a connection with God in worship possible, or are we leaving people behind? We don't base our leading on people's response, but we are here to serve. And if we can't lead with humility, then what are we doing? We've got to have a heart to connect and build that as a value within our worshiping community.

A Prophetic Flow
I think this is crucial. What song is God singing over the corporate body of Christ? What is the heart cry and petition of our generation? What sound is going to release people from bondage in this hour? We've got to know what the now word of God is over our lives, over our churches, over our cities and nations. Imagine a space where singers AND musicians are so overflowing with God's word and so skilled in the prophetic song that we are able to draw people into new experiences with God on a weekly basis. What aspect of God's character is he revealing? In which areas is he bringing breakthrough? What is the sound he is releasing? What is the dance that he is expressing? Ministers of the prophetic song. Skilled. Trained. Sharp. Accurate. Discerning. Hitting the mark. Taking us up levels. Not blurry, hazy, fuzzy, not constantly hopeful but always missing the mark. Those who will not only sound a clear call in the Spirit and announce what God is doing currently, but who have the grace upon them to release that in the moment. Bring it on.

Building a culture is perhaps a little less clear cut than following a formula. It means standing back and asking, what is it that we want? Its about dreaming with God. Its about imagining what kind of community we could have and then bringing those building blocks to the table. And then setting people free to run within those principles, to push further, to reach higher, to make it happen. I want to see a free worshiping community, where we build from the inside out, where we place a priority on creativity, where we love His presence, and where we connect to God and each other, where we release the now word of God, as we honour who God has made each of us to be.