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And on to Baltimore... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Friday, 02 March 2012 23:22

Next flight on BA App

As if the drive to Kilchoan and back is not far enough this weekend... the Johnstons are all flying out to Baltimore on Monday morning for a week to spend with family. Some of us were joking that it will probably take about the same time to fly from London to Baltimore as it will to drive 150 miles to Kilchoan. He may not be far wrong!

I've been playing with the British Airways app on my phone having booked with them and, surprisingly, finding it was the cheapest option, which is fab. You get your itinerary, your electronic boarding pass and up to the minute flight information all there. So very clever.

The decision to go is one we have been thinking about for some time, but in the end we decided very quickly just to go. However... I am realising that it is not just so easy to drop everything and go, and realising that before a planned holiday one does a lot more preparation for the absence than I realised. Alas not everything will wait until I get back, so I'll need to take a few things with me, but not too much.

It will be lovely to see family and friends on the East Coast, many of whom we haven't seen for four years. A brief trip, but it will be good.

Preparations for Kilchoan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Friday, 02 March 2012 22:52

No Ordinary Man books

Tomorrow morning, early, I'll be setting off with a couple of the kids and with Janette, Linda and Margaret representing St Andrew's at the induction and ordination of Fiona Ogg to the linked parishes of Acharacle and Ardnamurchan in the church at Kilchoan. The service takes place at 1:30 p.m., but it will be a long, slow drive there and back. An early night required for me tonight!

A big thank you to everyone who contributed towards the gift for Fiona from us all, a generous £165! Having spoken to Fiona, I purchased two super books that I am sure she will find very useful in her ministry. The remainder of our gift being presented as a cheque with cards both from the congregation and the Kirk Session. We will, of course, pass on our best wishes to Fiona in the name of everyone at St Andrew's.

I will take my camera, so photos will follow at some point! I haven't checked the forecast yet, but if tomorrow is anything like today, it should be a very pleasant drive into the Highlands.

Lessons from Nim PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Friday, 02 March 2012 14:57

Nim signing with a tutor

Last night Carolyn and I had a rare opportunity to sit down and watch something together. I had a disk of the 2011 documentary film Project Nim courtesy of LoveFilm that it had crossed my mind might be a fascinating film for Cosy Café Sundays. Whether or not we use it at the Cosy Café, it is a heart-rending story about a chimp named Nim Chimpsky (a dig at Noam Chomsky) who was raised as a human in a human family in the 1970s, and taught sign language. This was part of a scientific behavioural study on whether chimpanzees could learn language in the same way we do. Noam Chomsky had said that this was not likely, language was the preserve of humanity.

What the BBC film shows, however, is not so much the sad story of Nim's life, but rather the frailty and selfishness of humanity in dealing with Nim.

More Time-Lapse Beauty PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 17:28

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Having just written about time-lapse cinematography in my last post, here is another example of the modern use of this technique with stunning results. As with a previous example I posted, watch it in HD, full screen, sound up nice and loud!

The creator, Randy Halverson, says about his film Temporal Distortion:

What you see is real, but you can't see it this way with the naked eye. It is the result of thousands of 20-30 second exposures, edited together to produce the timelapse. This allows you to see the Milky Way, Aurora and other Phenonmena, in a way you wouldn't normally see them.

In the opening "Dakotalapse" title shot, you see bands of red and green moving across the sky. After asking several Astronomers, they are possible noctilucent clouds, airglow or faint Aurora. I never got a definite answer to what it is. You can also see the red and green bands in other shots.

At :53 and
2:17 seconds into the video you see a Meteor with a Persistent Train. Which is ionizing gases, which lasted over a half hour in the cameras frame.

The Aurora were shot in central South Dakota in September 2011 and near Madison, Wisconsin on October 25, 2011.

Watch for two Deer at

Most of the video was shot near the White River in central South Dakota during September and October 2011, there are other shots from Arches National Park in Utah, and Canyon of the Ancients area of Colorado during June 2011.

Koyaanisqatsi PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:22

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I love this word! Koyaanisqatsi. Having been listening to the minimalist composer Philip Glass's soundtrack to the film of the same name, I cannot get the repetitive theme out of my mind. It is a word from the Native American Hopi people that is defined at the end of Godfrey Reggio's film as "crazy life", "life in turmoil", "life disintegrating", and "a state of life that calls for another way of living".

I came to the film through the connection to Philip Glass, whose music I enjoy listening to. I must have added the film to our LoveFilm list many months ago, I had completely forgotten about it, but the disk arrived on Monday, just after our Thinking Day service in which we had been thinking about environmental sustainability and the Guides motto this year to "save the planet". This film could not be a better accompanying piece. [There's more...]

Take a Step 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 20 February 2012 11:43

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This morning was the fourth year Assembly at Calderside Academy and the first showing of this video to explain and encourage people to make the most of Fairtrade Fortnight which begins next week. The campaign is seeking to see 1,500,000 steps taken by people to do something to educate themselves or act to support fairtrade practices.

The great thing is that simply through our assemblies, we can add over a thousand steps to the total this week. But the real challenge is to change our buying habits and look out for that fairtrade symbol.

To find out more and to add your own steps visit Take a Step 2012.

Life and Death PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Sunday, 19 February 2012 23:08

Save Our World Posters

It has been an eclectic day. I'm still battling a wretched wee bug that is sapping energy faster than the coffee/diet coke/chocolate can replenish, but I dragged myself out of bed to finish preparations for this morning's Thinking Day Service with the Rainbows, Brownies and Girl Guides. It was a combined service trying to tie together the theme from WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) which was based around the seventh Millennium Development Goal on environmental sustainability which they focused into "save our planet", and also keeping on with our lectionary pattern and the Spill the Beans material which was covering the Transfiguration of Jesus.

It was possible to make the connection between the revealing light of Jesus illuminating new possibilities for the disciples (and, in turn, for us too) within our world, and the need to explore and grapple with new possibilities in how we think and act to protect our planet. The challenge of seeking to serve our neighbours near and far, encouraging people in the poorest parts of the world, by making changes to our own lifestyle needs the life-changing motivation of Jesus' light. [There's more...]

Things I would love to try... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 02:36

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Over the last few years I have got more familiar with a quirky band called OK Go who make some of the most inventively crazy music videos you'll ever see (this one, this one and, for dog lovers, this one are particular favourites). For their latest to the song Needing/Getting from their album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, they have (with the help of Chevrolet) really surpassed themselves, and I would love to try it!

OK Go's blurb:

The new music video from OK Go, made in partnership with Chevrolet. OK Go set up over 1000 instruments over two miles of desert outside Los Angeles. A Chevy Sonic was outfitted with retractable pneumatic arms designed to play the instruments, and the band recorded this version of Needing/Getting, singing as they played the instrument array with the car. The video took 4 months of preparation and 4 days of shooting and recording. There are no ringers or stand-ins; Damian took stunt driving lessons. Each piano had the lowest octaves tuned to the same note so that they'd play the right note no matter where they were struck. For more information and behind-the-scenes footage, see http://www.LetsDoThis.com and http://www.okgo.net. Many thanks to Chevy for believing in and supporting such an insane and ambitious project, and to Gretsch for providing the guitars and amps.

Happy Birthday George! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Sunday, 05 February 2012 17:00

George Greenhorn Birthday

On Tuesday, 7 February, George Greenhorn celebrates 80 years, of which half of those years have been serving as the Church Officer. To celebrate those milestones, George was presented with a cake this morning, which was much enjoyed by all! Happy birthday, George, and thanks for all you do for the church!

The Iceman PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Sunday, 05 February 2012 14:39

Albert Collins signed album

This morning we watched a wee clip of Albert Collins, the Master of the Telecaster, a bluesman of the highest calibre, and I shared the experience of meeting him and his band (the Icebreakers) backstage. I mentioned I had a signed album from that night, which I had forgotten to bring along. Here it is! And in it were a couple of tickets still kept from two of the concerts I saw him at. I knew I had the album cover, but I had not at all remembered the tickets were still there.

The illustration related to the sense of getting close to someone special, the sense that the crowds around Capernaum were feeling as they heard the stories of Jesus going around, and they too wanted to come and touch the 'light'.

Cooperative Ministries PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Saturday, 04 February 2012 16:05

Jen Robertson at Youth Ministry Conference

I hadn't been in Bonnybridge for many years, but drove up the road (through the teeming rain!) this morning to participate in a conference organised for local churches by Rev George Macdonald, minister at Bonnybridge St Helen's Parish Church, and previously from Hamilton South & Quarter, which is how I know George.

The first session I led, talking about our own story here in Blantyre with Hillhouse and Trinity as our youth ministry has become ever more a shared ministry, and exploring the nature of cooperative ministry through this experience.

Jen Robertson, pictured, followed with a superb introduction to how we engage with scripture and prayer alongside young people. Some of the ideas I think will be used tomorrow night at the Cosy Café Sundays when we're looking at the "Big Question" of where the Bible comes from and what it means for us.

Spill the Beans: Issue 3 Online! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Friday, 03 February 2012 21:26

Spill the Beans Issue 3

Another manic few weeks has passed as all the worship and age-group materials has been pulled together for Issue 3 of Spill the Beans, the resource materials that some of us have been working on for the last couple of years.

This is a mega 140 page behemoth, taking you through Lent all the way to Pentecost Sunday, and also includes ideas for Holy Week, an Easter labyrinth (which may look rather familiar to us here in Blantyre!), new songs written specially for this issue, and more creativity and idea-stirring than you can shake a stick at.

I must confess, despite the amount of work it is, that I do enjoy (mostly) editing all the pieces together. The creativity of the contributors is a God-breathed marvel. And on a rather selfish note, it really helps me to think about what we are going to be doing through our worship services in St Andrew's way in advance!

So, if you are wanting to purchase a copy of Issue 3, for the almost give-away cost of £12, then click on the button below and keep on spilling those beans as we share the gospel here, there and everywhere. You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then the file should wing its way to you. You have 24 hours to download the file, so if there is a glitch in the download (there were reports of this for a few folks with Issue 2) then just try again within this time. The Adobe pdf file is 8.38 MB.

Buy Now and Download

Fiona moving to the Highlands PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Thursday, 02 February 2012 21:06

Ardnamurchan View

It is official! Fiona Ogg will be moving to become minister of the linked parishes of Acharacle and Ardnamurchan in the Highlands. After preaching in both congregations, Fiona has received a call to be their minister. Congratulations to Fiona from all of us here in St Andrew's, it has been a real joy for us all to have been a part of Fiona's early days in ministry, and we pray she will be richly blessed in the years to come.

Fiona's service of ordination and induction will be on Saturday 3 March 2012, 1:30 p.m. Looking at the image above, who can deny the appeal of a wee visit to see Fiona?

Heart & Soul 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Saturday, 28 January 2012 11:07

Heart & Soul 2012

In yesterday's minister's mailing I received the first flyer for the follow-up event to last year's Roll Away the Stone afternoon which took place at the beginning of the General Assembly week in May last year. Having learnt a lot from the experience of the 2011 event, this year's Heart & Soul 2012 looks to be an even better afternoon. I was involved as a stage manager last year and can testify that the range of people, stories and fellowship was truly representative of the breadth of the Kirk's interests and abilities, of which perhaps we (in our wee small corners) are not wholly aware.

This year they are planning an even more ambitious programme, and in particular are strengthening what is available for young people. We are thinking about dropping in to Heart & Soul on our way back from Scoughall with the Cosy Café Sundays group that afternoon, Sunday 20 May. However, it is open to anyone to go along from 1 - 6 p.m. and is well worth putting into the diary and making an effort to join. It takes place in Princes Street Gardens. The theme for 2012 is "seek, love, serve".

The worship alone with over a thousand souls gathered was such a memorable end to the afternoon last year, and there is the chance to join the massed choir, though you need to register on the website.

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