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World Premiere: BASIC.Fear God! with Francis Chan

I was fortunate to be invited to the World Premier of Flannel’s new BASIC.Fear God! teaching series with Francis Chan in London’s Prince Charles Cinema – a hip artsy venue on the edge of Chinatown described in the Evening Standard as “London’s Funkiest Cinema”. I’m not sure why the invite came my way, but I’m glad it did.

Somehow the venue – with its intimate cocoon-like environment –   made for a really good fit for the launch.

Francis – who was in London for the launch – proved to be honest, engaging and profoundly challenging as he shared something of his life story and faith journey.

Before showing the BASIC.Fear God! movie, we were treated to a filmic mash up of outtakes, offcuts and general silliness that actually went a long way to giving those who didn’t know Francis a glimpse of what makes him tick, and why he is such a good choice to be another voice involved in a medium that is already so associated with Rob Bell in the form of the NOOMA videos.

(I’m hoping to be able to see that introductory vid again before too long – hope it resurfaces on the web somewhere)

The short film itself is a really profound piece – in parts unsettling, with a way that genuinely evokes the fear included in title. Yet, for all that ultimately it moves beyond that. I’m not going to go into deep analysis – you need to see it for yourself.

Suffice to say there’s every chance that the series will become a hugely effective tool for those of us who try to walk the Way of Jesus wrestle with what that means, and also a intriguing introduction to the Christian faith for those who don’t.

It’s great that you have the chance at events like this to bump into friends, so it was good to chew the fat with Krish Kandiah and Matt & Jools from KORE. Disappointed that I missed online buddy Billy Ritchie, though, who was also in the audience

If you are in or around London this Sunday, Francis will be speaking at Holy Trinity Brompton….which is a Church, not a top of the line folding bicycle!

HT to BASIC for the image

Blogging Dojo Updates

Check out the latest updates to the Blogging Dojo

Blogging Dojo

iPad envy

On the day we Brits start placing our orders for iPads, here’s a pic of me drooling over one.

HT to Zoe for the image

Jonathan Dotse – Afrocyberpunk

In the mid 1980s I was devouring every piece of cyberpunk I could lay my hands on, reading William Gibson novels back to back for a few years in a row, so I felt a fizz of memory when – prompted by a Tweet from Hue & Cry/The Play Ethic’s Pat Kane - I stumbled on this little bit of prose from newbie blogger at Afrocyberpunk -  Jonathan Dotse, who’s working on a new cyberpunk novel set in Accra, Ghana.

It’s only a short piece, but so good I just wanted to share it in full.

Should be interesting to see how things develop for the talented Mr Dotse

Welcome to Africa.

You are not where you think you are. You are not on a safari, or an expedition, or a mission. Your footprint is not the first here, nor will it be the last. Africa is a tour with no guide and no schedule, a ride with no stops, no brakes, and no particular destination – there isn’t even a plan – so don’t bother booking a return trip; just go with the flow. If you are still looking for African science fiction, I advise you to put away your camera and open your eyes.

Africa is science fiction.

Not the science fiction of your grandfather or the Foundation of your Asimov, no. Africa lends herself to the dystopian gloom of failed states, the iron rule of corruption, cartels snaking cold fingers into the upper echelons of government, and high tech gangs of disillusioned youth. Follow her streets into dark melancholy and taste her despair, the bitter and the sweet simmering together to form her unique flavor. Follow the trails of waste spilling out from her gutters, follow them down to the banks of her industrial empires, her charred forests, and damp mines. You will not find your Jedi warriors here, but you might run into some street thugs or hackers, scammers, drug dealers, con men and women, street children, ritual murderers, street evangelists preaching hope and doom. The only Force here is hard currency, and it’s dark on both sides. Embrace her reality.

Africa is cyberpunk.

What wonders only Africa has seen since she gave us our crawling legs, released us from her nurturing arms to roam the wide outer world, soar up into the sky, the galaxies, and conquer the universe. She has always waited for us to return with our stories of voyages far and wide to add to her rich legacy. Bring her your stories. She will listen. Stand in the city streets or in the market, on the buses and trains, in the towns and villages, and broadcast your story out loud into the networks; fuel the pulse of life surging through the dense grid of veins all around you. Africa is waiting for you, because you are the future of African science fiction.

Welcome to Africa.

As an added bonus, some random Afrocyberpunk Googling for research led me to

Man…there’s a whole world of wonderfulness there…

HT to for Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah the Accra image.

Two Weeks from Everywhere

I knew when I put together the expanded form of my blogroll I’d miss important people out, hence my little disclaimer to say “‘If you’re a friend I’ve accidently left off, please give me a prod and I’ll gladly add you’.

Thankfully my buddy William Stanger took the opportunity to pick me up on the error, and I’m delighted to correct that now.

William’s Two Weeks from Everywhere now gets his own blogpost here at johnnylaird, his own pic – here with Pernell Goodyear – and a link to his Something Beautiful Podcast episode!

Hope that makes amends William :-)

Go check William out, and tell him Johnny sent ya!

“No one really likes to change until the pain of NOT changing is worse than change itself”

“No one really likes to change until the pain of not changing is worse than change itself”

Rock solid quote from Jamie Oliver

HT to the Headphonaught for pointing me in the direction of this great little vid from Coolhunting

More on Jamie at johnnylaird

johnnylaird blogroll S through Z…well, “T” really


Wrapping up the expanded blogroll:

johnnylaird blogroll A to I

johnnylaird blogroll J through R

johnnylaird blogroll S through Z…well, “T” really

  • I’ve been following Scott Hodge almost from the beginning of my own online noodlings (Scott gets shout outs on johnnylaird from as far back as ’06), having originally been drawn in by the captivating story of the transitional journey of cultural change experienced by the Church Scott now leads.
  • Lon Wong blogs at the recently revamped Solar Crash, a blog I discovered trying to get more info on Erwin McManus & Mosaic in LA. I stumbled across this post, and discovered a lot of common ground as I explored the rest of the blog.
  • Stewart Cutler is one third of the presenting team of the Something Beautiful Podcast, and has been a blogging voice I’ve respected for a long time now.
  • Andrew Jones is otherwise known as Tall Skinny Kiwi, and is – as far as I know – travelling the world with his family in a giant truck! …as documented in their “Jonesberries” blog. At the time of me writing this post they appear to be in the Rif Mountains in Morocco. TSK lives a life of extraordinary adventure, not just because of this latest escapade, also because he stretches himself intellectually, theologically, missionally and in many other ways beside. He also has to take credit as the dude who’s blog inspired Problogger Darren Rowse to start blogging! Tall Skinny Kiwi – the blog, and the man – has huge traction amongst the Church community, and ranks high on many other Jesus following blogs. I like his bio: “travelling around the world with my family in a 4×4 truck to see the world that god loves, to eat unusual food {but not too unusual} and to help change the world by telling stories, throwing parties, making friends and giving gifts. I am interested in spirituality and religion as it collides with new media and the emerging culture “
  • Andrew Jones – emerging, missional conspirator from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.

  • The Rubicon is not a blog per se, but is amongst the very best places where members of my tribe – The Salvation Army – wrestle vigorously and honestly about the issues of what is means today to be a Salvationist. Clearly it’s very niche, and not for everyone, but I find it an invaluable aid as I try and understand what we were and are as a movement. If you’re a Sallie and you don’t know the Rubicon, it’s definitely worth checking out.
  • I posted a blog called HT to theWeir earlier this year, and shot him straight into the blogroll. Andrew is one of a whole crew of Tweeters who I maintain a fairly constant dialog with. Catch him at @theWeir
  • This Fragile Tent is an exquisite little blog – full of gorgeous pics of Scotland, and wonderful inspiring thoughts from Chris Goan who leads Aoradh (meaning ‘adoration’) – a Christian Arts community in Dunoon on the River Clyde in Scotland. There’s a real kind of Celtic vibe underpinning Chris’ blog – even though Chris is an Englishman!

500 posts

This is my 500th post.

So…by way of celebration, here’s my first video.

Shaky camera work…done on my iPhone…with my face best suited for radio!

500 Posts from Johnny Laird on Vimeo.

johnnylaird blogroll A to I

It’s always seemed to me that my blog was principally a hub – a landing place – to let other folks in on some of the good stuff I was discovering along the way as I read about, listened to and observed the world around me.
So, my blogroll was always an important part of johnnylaird for me. I always figured it was the best bit.

I’m hoping it will be helpful if I give a bit of a rundown of who’s on my blogroll, and what it was that inspired me to add their name.

So here’s what’s on the johnnylaird blogroll from A through I.

Please check out the blogs listed. There’s a ton of good stuff that’s worth exploring:

  • Danielle Strickland’s Army Barmy Remix is worth watching if you are passionate about Social Justice, especially in the area of Human Trafficking.
  • Charles Lee is a hugely creative ideas guy whose many and varied initiatives are hugely inspirational. His own bio puts in succinctly: “Ideation Strategist, Networker, and Compassionary”.
  • Chris & Dana Byers are great friends and fearless people of faith, willing to follow the call of God, wherever it takes them and however crazy it seems.
  • Deep Church is Jason Clark’s online home. Jason is a Pastor and Academic, and is one of the most informed voices in the UK when it comes to all things Emergent/Emerging Church. (If you don’t know what these terms mean, don’t worry about it too much. Those who do are currently exploring whether these designations still hold water and were ever universally understood by the Church as a whole. Please don’t read this affectionate jibing as anything other than that. I have MUCH LOVE for the E… guys!)
  • Eliacin Rosario-Cruz is a wholly fascinating dude who has so much to say about culture, faith and life. Anyone who includes the phrase “rabble rouser” in their bio is worth a read in my book! He’s recently given his site a re-jig and it’s looking very good.
  • I’ve been following Eric Bryant for a long time, and he’s a top guy, and a key leader at the wonderfully creative community of Mosaic in LA. It was good a couple of years back to hook up with Eric in person. He’s a lovely fellah with a real heart for – and commitment to – ethnically diverse communities.
  • Eugene Cho: I heard about the Seattle based Q Cafe initiative he birthed before I found out about Eugene himself, but I’m glad I discovered him. Eugene has been driving a remarkable charity – One Day’s Wages – in recent months, and has been impressive in the way he’s been able to mobilize people behind his vision.
  • The Movement of One Day’s Wages from One Day’s Wages on Vimeo.

  • Existential Punk is a hard hitting exploration of faith, sexuality, political thought…and poetry. Go there – and be challenged!
  • If you want to explore an elegant – and intelligent – site coming out of Hong Kong, you could do a lot worse than visit Fernando Gros. The “Sound, Image, Faith and Culture” strapline is great, but may not quite prepare you for how good some of the content really is. Wonderful pics, great deep thoughts..and a man with excellent taste in music.
  • Geek-Speak is Chris Hinton – a top & trusted friend who’s been a real help in all kinds of techy areas for me when I recently migrated to WordPress. You’ll find him cropping up on my Blogging Dojo page as well.
  • Headphonaught was one of my earliest blogging buddies who has become a fast family friend. He’s a Maven and Connector all rolled into one and my brother from another mother.
  • I can’t quite remember how Tobit Emmens of Held in Tension drifted into my radar (can you remember Tobit?), but we’ve got a whole bunch of mutual online buddies and I think we share a similar world view.
  • I became aware of Ian Adams’ In the Belly of the Big Fish blog because I used to regularly lurk on the website of the wonderfully named “mayBe” faith community he used to lead in Oxford. Ian wears a few hats around the fuzzy edges of the Church in the UK and describes himself like this: “I’m a writer, mentor and teacher around themes of community, culture, and spirituality.”

More to come soon…

Sam Radford Interview

Quite how I became familiar with Sam Radford has been lost in the mists of time. I honestly can’t remember what it was that started a dialog that has been going on for at least a couple of years now, but I’m glad it happened, cause he’s a diamond. Sam describes himself as a “futurist, catalyst, change agent, tech lover, web designer, and human potential maven “, so it’s obvious to me that he’s an interesting guy.

I recently asked Sam a few questions to see if I could find out a little more about what drives him….and whether he can remember how we started talking!

Sam! Can you tell us a little about your story, so we have a little bit of background? Who is Sam Radford?

Hey Johnny, thanks for the opportunity to tackle these questions. And yeah, I too don’t remember the exact details about how we first connected. Regardless, it was obviously meant to be!

To the question! Well, yeah, who am I? Boy do I wish I knew! Whilst I’m figuring that out, here’s a few details:

I’m 32, married to my gorgeous wife, Rachel, and we have a 14 month old baby called Eloise. I live in Sheffield where I’ve been since 1996 when I came to study Business IT.

As to what I do, the question really is where do I start?! My main paid job is as a ‘technical content administrator’ for a government funded website for over 40,000 maths teachers. No, I’m not into maths! I am however into websites and design and, specifically, I work on the video, audio, and animation that goes on the site.

Also, I am the founder and ‘executive producer’ (still figuring out what that means) for Vox Sheffield. Vox is a not-for-profit creative arts community that is focussed on making the world a better place. We’re all about showcasing creativity, building community, and working together for a better world. We run music, arts and spoken word nights, book clubs, improv. comedy workshops, family play days, etc, etc.

Then there is Mosaic . Mosaic is a faith community that me and Rachel started a few years back. We are all about creating an interesting, inclusive, accessible, and diverse community where people can explore, question, and journey together whilst focussing on and seeking to follow the person of Jesus Christ. It’s messy, informal, and a whole lot of fun!

Finally, Mosaic actually employs me for one day a weeks worth of time to serve other groups and organisations. Specifically, I do a lot of work for Oasis South Africa , helping them with their website, technology issues, and I do strengths training with their staff. I also give quite a bit of time to other churches and organisation in Sheffield doing strengths training. And, thirdly, I use some of that time to help with the International Mentoring Network.

I know, I know. That was more of a ‘what do I do’ than a ‘who am I’, but it’s the best I’ve got for now! Oh, and
I promise my next answers will be shorter.

The words you use to describe yourself online seem to put you at the leading edge. Is that a fair assessment, and if so, how did you find yourself arriving in that place?

Haha! They either put me at ‘the leading edge’ as you put it or just as a pretentious git!

But yeah, I am a very future orientated person. Me and Rachel always joke that she gets to know people by asking where they’ve come from, whilst I always am asking them where they’re going. We make a good team that way.

I am fascinated by the future. I think that the message of Jesus and his kingdom is all about the future breaking into the present. I’m the sort of person who enjoys being out on the edge, trying new things, not being afraid to fail. I’m a pioneering personality. I think part of my role is to pave a way so that others can come along afterwards and do a much better job than we did. But, if we hadn’t gone first, they’d never be doing it.

I’m not sure how I became this sort of person. I’ve never been someone who has settled for the status quo. I’ve always asked questions that others felt they perhaps not even meant to ask. And that sometimes gets me into trouble. I was just 17 when I was first effectively asked to leave a church I was part of for asking the ‘wrong’ questions!

You have a number of connections with various communities or tribes, as well as having a number of roles within them. How does it all fit together?

It fits together as a beautiful mess called life! I don’t really separate these things out. I understand integrity to mean having one, integrated life, rather than a life made up of very different, segmented parts. So Mosaic, Vox, work, IMN, family…they just all blend together. We really don’t as a family ‘go to church’. We are simply part of a faith community, it’s integrated into our lives. Essentially, I just do a lot of stuff that I love and do it with people that I love.

My gift, I think, is to help others thrive. I’m not the most talented person in our community at anything really. But I’m great at helping develop the environments where all those far more talented people than me can actually bring their talents to the fore. That’s my talent. And I try and bring that to all the different communities and projects that I’m involved with.

You help lead a faith community in Sheffield called Mosaic. Were you there from the beginning? What kind of journey has it been with the folks there?

Yeah, as I mentioned earlier, me and Rachel started Mosaic several years ago. We’d both been on leadership (me: assistant pastor, Rachel: worship director) at a Pentecostal black majority church for around five years and had felt that God was summoning us away from there to do something that’d be more accessible for people who would never even venture close to a mainstream church. And so we started Mosaic.

It’s been an fascinating journey since then. We’ve learnt a lot through a combination of mistakes and accidental success! We’ve grappled with finding the right relationship to things like structure. Structure, as we see it, you see isn’t good or bad necessarily; but it is a wonderful servant and a terrible master.

We’re struggled through the challenges of doing something that doesn’t ‘feel’ like church as we know it. It is amazing how much of our faith is directly attached to so many institutional church structures, systems, programmes, buildings and services. And when they get taken away, it can be pretty exposing and unsettling and leave us craving what we had before! Guiding people through that has been interesting and challenging – and we’re still not there yet.

There’s SO much more to share here, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

I’m intrigued about how you came to be involved with Alex and Erwin McManus. How did that happen?

That’s pretty random actually. No time to tell the full story but, in short, it’s thanks to Google! I had had the name Mosaic in my head for a while but couldn’t figure out the reason why. When we realised we were to go and start something new, I immediately knew that it should be called Mosaic. Then, when searching around the word Mosaic on Google, I came across Mosaic in LA . I read through their website and ordered Erwin’s book ‘An Unstoppable Force’ (HIGHLY recommended by the way), and it was like reading something that put in to words all the thoughts we’d been having. Even the five values he talked about matched the things we’d been jotting down!

So, we got in touch with Alex who was the international liaison at the time. And, long story short, we ended up being part of his seven day mentoring immersion ran by the IMN in LA and this included, as part of that, attending Mosaic’s annual conference. And we’ve been in relationship ever since.

I work most closely with Alex as part of my role with the IMN, but I try and catch up with Erwin whenever he’s in the UK and we dialogue via email now and then.

Can I ask you about the concept of “mission”. What is it that informs your sense of mission?

Wow. Big question. This interview is already not far off becoming a book and now you ask me that!

I guess ultimately I’d narrow it down to two things: Jesus and people. I’m a totally Jesus focussed and Jesus centred person. Jesus is the filter through which I see and interpret everything. If he turns out to be a fake, I’m scuppered!

Ultimately, I see my life as being about a continuation of what Jesus started through his life and then brought to fruition through his death, resurrection, ascension and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And what was Jesus’ life all about? People. He was for humanity. He stood up for the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the sick, the lonely, the sinful. You know, people! Us! And that’s the type of person I want to be and what I want my life to be all about.

I think Jesus is the best hope that our world has. I want my life to represent him well and to point people towards him. I want to be a voice of hope.

Did I forget anything you feel it would be important to share?

I think if anyone has made it this far they deserve a simple ‘no’ to this question!