Monday, June 21, 2010

a new blog for new journeys

for no real reason other than i just kinda wanted to, i am changing blog servers and therefore blogs. now seems to be a nice time with my flight to europe coming up TOMORROW, so from now on any that are following this pls instead begin to follow www.benfoley.wordpress.com

additionally, you can follow my WUCC team, Smurf, at www.smurfultimate.com

its been real. thanks for your support.
ben foley.

Monday, June 7, 2010

two she-bears??

I would like to share with you my favorite bible passage. i first heard this story when I was in america, and I had arrived at my camp and all the leaders were going on a two day hike together to get to know each other. the first night we got together and were asked "would anyone like to share a devotion?" One guy, Chuck, volunteered, and asked us to open our bibles to 2 Kings 2: 23-25, and, in full seriousness, read out loud the following;

He (Elisha) went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.
2 Kinds 2: 23-25, English Standard Version.

Now the obvious question that comes to mind is, what does this passage mean for us today?

Rubbish. The obvious question that comes to mind is, what the crap?! Wow, who knew.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

mmmy greatest albums of all time

In the wake of triple m's disastrous greatest albums of all time countdown (seriously, thriller at number 60?) I have decided that adelaide and the world is ready for my top 10 list of greatest albums of all time.
Although I have gone to great lengths to order these, as I was writing and listening I found it harder and harder to distinguish actual favorites. In fact, my number 1 album is probably the only one I'm definitely sure on. Time and memories plays tricks on my mind, but the music is still good. Get on it.

Let me start by giving two honorable mentions. The first of these is to the band mewithoutYou from Pennsylvania, USA. Although none of their 4 albums made my list, this band is still in my top 2 or 3 favourites ever, and only missed out because all their greatness is spread out over their first 3 recordings. A shame for this list, but means more great music for my listening pleasure. Check them out.

The second mention goes to Meatloaf's bat out of hell. This album narrowly missed the top 10, but gets a mention as it's the only album near my top end that made triple m's 100. What a masterpiece.

Now, coming in at number 10...

10. Dashboard Confessional - The places you have come to fear the most. Vagrant, 2001.
This was a really hard pick. For a long time Dashboard's MTV Unplugged live album has been a big favourite of mine, but I've never been heaps sure if this really counts; it's a live recording, and was it brought out by MTV or dashboard? I don't know. regardless, most of the songs from that recording come from this album. Chris Carrabba's raw sound (a theme that comes up a few times in this countdown) and emotional filled voice moves me every time and the beauty in some of these tracks has no equal. A definite must have for my collection.

9. Emery - The weak's end. Tooth & Nail, 2004.
Emery's debut album is unique in the most sensational of ways; there are no choruses. Although the sheer 'emo' of this album has left it a bit behind my current, 'more mature' musical tastes for years this album was my number 1. I love the idea that the artists had a message or a story that they really wanted to share, and didn't need to write catchy, chorus driven riffs to sell cd's or make number one's on the radio. If you have ever bought an artist's greatest hits album, especially from the last 10 years, you will quickly find that every song is very similar; they were made to sell. This album was made to scream something important to them, and didn't need to revert back to the same lines and repetitive sing-a-longs to get you feeling its' groove. A true work of art.


8. Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue. Capitol Records, 2003.
The pop-i-est album in my list, and breaks my general rules for what makes a good album, but special in it's own way; to me, this album IS summer. I can't say much more with contradicting statements already made, but I love the warmth and feel-good, get-some-sun-and-waves-into-you vibes this album is soaked in. Funnily enough, I've never attempted to listen or own any of yellowcard's other work; this is a one hit wonder for this band.

7. Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal. Tooth & Nail, 2005.
I was listening majorly to this album about the same time that emery and several other 'tooth & nail' bands become the top heard songs from my stereo. And like emery's The weak's end I have absolutely loved it and it has taken a long time for that love to die down. Since the release of this album Anberlin's 3 new records have all disappointed me; I don't think it's that they have changed overly significantly, but somehow this album just hit the mark. The artwork is perfect in itself, the songs flow together very well (though the ending leaves me wishing they cut it two songs shorter) and their mix of pop-rock but raw sound and lyrics comes together perfectly.

6. Dead Poetic - New Medicines. Solid State, 2004.
Although I have always loved this album I still surprised myself but leaving it in the list, let alone at number 6. But it works so well together. With great individual tracks and a great overall presentation, I have come back to this album again and again and still listen to it regularly. Probably fitting in the 'melodic hardcore' category, or somewhere similar, Dead Poetic have provided us with a catchy and melodic yet hard and emotional record.

5. Seraphs Coal! - The more things change... The Revolution Entertainment Group, 2002.
The only SA band making the list, this album changed the direction of my musical life permanently. Given to me for my 15th birthday by my older and wiser cousin, I lapped it up non-stop for longer than I can remember. For at least 3 or 4 years this was probably considered my favourite album ever, and if it wasn't for my new loves pushing it down it would still be up the top. A punk-rock driven sound, this local band has captured for me the heart of Adelaide christian music, good times and faith issues. Can't get enough.

4. dc Talk - Jesus Freak. Virgin Records, 1995.
Interesting fact; dc Talk stands for 'decent christian talk'. This is the first album I ever owned, and, as well as being one of the biggest selling christian albums of all time, starting a 'remember the martyrs' book campaign, and being musically far beyond their years, blew my flippin mind! The trio from the USA were real about faith, honest about problems and decent about music. No more cheap rap for them, this was hard hitting rock and rhythm, stemming from African American roots and capitalising on then modern day pop-rock. If you listen to any one christian album in your life, make it this one.

3. The Forest - Self-titled EP. L'oferve, approx 2006.
You have probably never heard of this band, and never will again. That makes me sad, as these boys (and girl) from townsville had a great thing going and, as far as I'm aware, have ended it far to soon. The 6 track EP is one of the greatest unsigned materials ever created. With a similar sound to mewithoutYou's first recording, they bring very raw rock, screams and emotion to the stage in a not-altogether-too-emo way. The artwork is one of the best I've ever seen, and the overall effect is of a musical masterpiece. Seriously check these guys out, their music is still online; myspace.com/theforestmusic.

2. Jimmy Eat World - Self-titled. Dreamworks, 2001.
Only as I reach the big end of the countdown do I realise how old all my favorite music is. Either nothing good is being written or I've stopped being able to find it. I think it's a bit of both. Anyway, this album is good enough to last me awhile yet. Unlike most of the above, 'poppy', 'catchy' and 'fun' are the first three words that come to mind. Thankfully 'original', 'honest' and 'lyrically beautiful' follow shortly. This album contains two of my favorite songs ever, "A praise chorus" and "If you don't, don't", the latter containing some inspiring poetry in motion that still gets my heart racing. You have probably already all heard this one before, but it's never to late to give it another spin.

1. Manchester Orchestra - I'm like a virgin losing a child. Sony BMG, 2006.
I cannot express enough how good this album is. Every individual track is a work of art, and the entire production a national treasure. Andy Hull is a truly incredible song writer, his lyrics and music moving me to a whole range of emotions and producing a beautiful yet deep cutting sound I can't turn away from. Seriously, this album has changed my life. And seeing them live in 2007 still stands as the greatest performance I have witnessed. I love this album.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

on arrogance

Please allow me to speak on arrogance. I feel that it is vastly misinterpreted and would like to share my views on the matter, as right or wrong as they may be.

If being arrogant was simply portrayed as the verbal description of one's own skills, than Jesus was probably the most arrogant person in the history of the world! Amongst so many other things, he was known to say that "I am the [only] way, the truth and the light. No one can get to the father except through me." In other words, I'm your only hope baby. And there were many other similar lines which I haven't bothered to dig up which are even more forward about how Jesus is flipping awesome, as spoken by Jesus.

But i don't think this is arrogance. Firstly, I think arrogance is a form of sin (which I'll save for another discussion if you disagree, but needless to say most people don't like arrogant people) and Jesus was without sin, therefore, not arrogant. Secondly, arrogance is not the same as knowing and sharing your own strengths (and weaknesses).

This topic is of importance to me because recently I've found that quite a lot of people consider me to be arrogant. I hate that. I don't think I'm arrogant at all; I work hard at valuing people above myself and I am very aware of my own weaknesses. On the other hand though, I am also very aware of my own strengths and, probably most significantly, I like myself.

I don't like myself because I am purely awesome (though in many ways this may be the case - not arrogant) or because I'm flawless, because as stated I know very well that I'm not. I like myself because Jesus has decided that He likes me, and made me valuable with this honor. I have not earned or been born into anything amazing, but Jesus has made me worthy of recieving his value and love, by giving me his value and love. Note that Jesus does this in full awareness of all the crap I do.

So now I don't determine whether I like myself based on my behaviour, my appearance, my friends, my skills. And yes all these things I strive to develop and perfect as best as I am able, but above and beyond all this I already like myself just for being me.

Another, final, point of note is that as well as all the above being true I like to be very frank. Honesty and openness in relationships is of incredible importance to me. The practical outcome of this belief is that I will often openly tell people when I think they are amazing (which the shrug off as flirting or sucking up or something) and openly tell people when I think they are doing something stupid (which they get all angry about and hate me for). Significantly, you should have taken from the above paragraphs that I don't like myself less for the crap behaviour I do. Similarly, I don't like other people less for the crap they do, so when I point it out it's not to cut someone down but either to sort it out or, in the right situation, for a laugh.

I would like all readers to understand that this is my approach, and acknowledge the value in it: relationships are easier and better understood, nobody ever hates anybody and everyone can always feel safer. I would also like all readers to understand that I treat myself the same way; I fairly openly point out and discuss my own flaws and successes.

Just please don't think that when I am doing the latter I am being arrogant...

Friday, May 7, 2010

kids don't get jokes

i've decided that i'm going to try and write one blog here a week until i go to prague, and then hopefully keep people updated on my travels in europe. i decided that over a week ago. not a good start. oh well, one foot infront of the other...

so, i have a funny story to tell. to begin i need to make sure you know this joke, which i think i heard from joel pillar:

joke teller: what's faster, a horse or a piecost?

audience: what's a piecost?

joke teller: about $3.20!

insert laughter. hilarious. so i was working at OSHC and a 6 year old boy comes up to me and tells me that he has a funny joke, would i like to hear it: "hey ben, why the long face?!" um, are you sure your telling that right? he was sure. so i decided to tell him my piecost joke, and the conversation went something like this:

ben: what's faster, a horse or a piecost?

kid: (perfectly replies) what's a piecost?

b: about $3.20!!

k: nah, what is a piecost?

b: uh... its $3.20...

k: nah, what is it? like, is it some kind of vehicle or something?

b: ah, no. it's $3.20.

k: oh, ok... horse!

b: .... i..... uh.... yep, you got it.

k: yes!

what a hilarious conversation. it gets better. he turns to his friend and says "hey, whats the fastest thing, a piecost or a horse? A HORSE!" and burst into fits of laughter like it was the greatest joke in the world. anyway, the end.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

a true story about sudoku's

i wanted this story to be stand alone, but because i haven't blogged for so long there is some news i need to announce first: i am playing with an adelaide mixed ultimate frisbee club called Smurf at the world ultimate club championships in Prague, Czech Republic, in July this year!!

the club has been formed for about 2 years now with this goal in mind, and although i have wanted to play for them for a long time i hadn't previously been able to make the team (i was invited to fill in at the aus mixed nationals in 08, which would have been a step into the final team, but couldn't make the trip). The 'final' team was announced in september last year, which would be playing at the qualifying event in sydney early november (where they narrowly escaped being knocked out). I wasn't on that team.

finally, in february of this year, as they have started booking flights and finalising the squad, i was asked to join them on their campaign. And now that i have this reason/opportunity to travel I plan to spend quite some time in europe this year, which i am very much looking forward to. and now to my story...

one time i caught a plane with, amongst others, my friend BJ and he showed me this sudoku he had spent ages making on his last flight, and told me how on this flight he was going to do it. so he re-drew it with lots of numbers missing and starting working. at the time i thought this was a bit silly.
last week i was flying to melb and wanted something to do with my hands, so i thought "i know, i'll make a sudoku." so i did. it was surprisingly easy and satisfying. while i was making it i decided that when i finished it i would re-draw it with numbers missing and give it to the lady sitting next to me. i rehearsed this in my head; "excuse me, i made you a sudoku."
so i finished, i drew it up, and i said my line to the lady next to me. she said "sorry, my english isn't very good." so after i said it once or twice more and took it back to add some more letters cos it was 'too hard', i asked her where she was from.
The Czech Republic!
boom, that is exactly where i am flying too in june! more specifically, prague, which is where she (until recently) lived. the sudoku was temporarily put aside while we discussed what europe has to offer, what she recommended and etc etc. apparently i should definitely visit berlin; she hates it but everyone else thinks its the shiz.
eventually conversation dwindled and i left her to her sudoku.

The end.

Friday, November 13, 2009

more on money

see my previous post first.

i often find myself spending too much money on things i dont want to be spending to much money on. it appears that my values and where i spend my money don't always align themselves in my head, and there are times when i want to value different things but keep investing money in other things. i think to fix this is to stop spending money on the things i no longer want to value (at all or as much), and start investing/putting my money towards the things i think worth while. it is a physical change that will help the mental/emotional one materialise.

in other words, if i want to change what i value i will begin by changing my spending on it. my external expression of my values will lead the change of my internal ones.

this is true for our faith as well. when discussing 'unclean foods' Jesus talks about how it is the things that come out of a man that show him to be clean/unclean, not the things that go in. it is the practical expression that proves the value, not simply what we claim. James says similar things when talking about faith - faith is dead without actions. This is not to say that it is through works we are saved, but if we don't have any works - if our faith isnt backed up by our action - then we have no real faith. we can say it all we want but it wont be anymore real than me talking about how much i love having a car; i havent put any money into that for years. it means nothing to me.

so, i will start putting my money where my mouth is - on the things i claim to love. and i will start putting my actions where my faith is - on the things i say are worthy.

lesson learnt.