Life carries on…

So. Short post.

We’re in KK, Malaysia. Beautiful place.

A whole bunch of people left, and a whole bunch of new ‘uns joined.

The crazy Swedish dude left my AV team and headed home, after two years on board, and now I’ve got a new American the team. It’s fun training him, although kind of strange. I’ve taught AV stuff to so many people now. It’s hard to remember what I’ve taught to whom. I’ve got a basic Doulos AV curriculum, finally, but it’s difficult to get it all together. Theres so many little bits of randomness.

So now the team is one Korean, one Brit, one American, and one confused-not-quite-sure-ean(me).

Amongst the new recruits is one of my friends from the UK, which is very cool. She seems to be enjoying the ship so far, and is working in the “Accomedation” team, cleaning the inside of the ship, doing the laundry, running the bookshop cafe, etc.

Anyway. So. This was intended to be a short post, and mostly informational…


It’s my girlfriend’s birthday tomorrow. The whole present-buying-birthday-celebration-rituals-cultures-thing terrifies me. Like, I dunno. Something about my INFP/TCK nature, I guess. I want everything I do to be meaningful, and genuine. Especially with those who are really dear to me. That’s the INFP side… But also, I feel like so many things (such as buying presents on birthdays, putting up signs, cards, etc) are very superficial, and just a crass part of some culture.

I want to buy presents that are really real – not just bought “because” of the birthday. Yet I don’t know if buying presents *for* the birthday, like, “doing the birthday thing” is also a way of being real, within a culture?

I don’t totally relate personally to any culture, really, and find almost all cultures have things which offend me, and which I don’t fit into.

Also, on the other hand, more practically, I know that there is an element I also probably ought to have of simply “Daniel, just grow up, accept the fact that you’re not all that great at buying presents, so get over it, stop making all these stupid theoretical excuses and work harder than everyone else to actually do it well, and on time. Stop being so lazy.”

Part 2

OK. So finally I’m getting around to an explanation of the previous post.

My current – I’d use the word dialemma, but it’s not. It’s more a trilemma or quintalemma or something – is (somewhat) about copyright. The laws are fairly complex as what we’re doing here is basically a live theatre venue, church, theatre company, video, dance and creative arts training and production centre, bible-school, and a few other things too. The people who were supposed to be taking care of the whole copyright thing have been doing a really poor – or at least misled – job for a number of years now, either that or else no-one ever bothered even trying to figure out what taking care of it really meant.

We’re slowly getting there, I think, I hope. But currently I find myself saying more and more “no, sorry, you can’t do that, that’s illegal”, without really having much viable alternative to offer.

And that sucks.

Part of the thing is what is copyright law really saying?

“This is mine, for me, and not for you, or for God. It’s mine. Shove off.”

Which people object to, obviously. Thus an argument often raised is

“Well, the artist who made this is a Christian, and so wants to glorify God, right, and we’re trying to glorify Him too by using it, so we’re fine to copy and edit it…”
Well. If the artist wanted you to just use it for whatever you want without checking with them first, then they wouldn’t have put “Copyright 2003. For personal home use only. All rights Reserved” on it…

It gets worse with the internet.

“Hey, my pastor just sent me this really cool video I want to show in the programme tomorrow!”

“Well. The music backing to it I recognise, it’s a song by Hillsong UK, and there is no copyright notice anywhere in the clip at all, one of those opening still-pictures you can see has part of a copyright label in the corner, but half cropped out, so we can safely assume that many of the images are taken uncredited from the internet, and even the one you can half read it’s web address isn’t being credited properly. That interview clip with the kids outside the theatre is almost certainly just filmed without their parents consent, and you want to show this clip to paying public?”

“But they played it at my church last week!”


“So it must be alright!”


“What can we do instead?”


So now the whole issue of making our own material. Last week a couple of the programme staff went out with a camera and asked a bunch of random people on the street questions, then asked me how to edit it (for 2 days later). So I kind of pulled stuff together, found an old recording of a couple on-board musicians jamming which kind of fit.

The end result wasn’t great. In any sense. It shouldn’t even have passed my own quality control.

Nevertheless, I’m trying to get the programme staff to come to us, the AV team, when they want multimedia materials, rather than them spending hours and hours making them themselves improperly, and then asking us to either fix it, or show it anyway.

Trying to build up relationships and trust and the kinds of working interaction I believe is vital for where we MUST go.


A big part of me wants to scrap using most video stuff altogether, as most of what we have, or can do, sucks. I want to have a very high standard, and just drop anything that fails to reach the bar.

But I want to do that with other live programme material too. Skits, songs, dramas, sermons, personal stories (yes, most personal “testimonies” suck. It’s not that the people telling it have anything wrong with them. But they suck at telling it.).

So, if we want to “compete” in the world of mass <-> mass media (to coin a phrase), then we have to have some standards. Most of the visible world seems to not care tuppence for copyright, and is happy enough to disregard it on every corner.

Likewise for many issues of video “quality”. Framing (putting peoples faces (and everything else) in the correct size/ratio in the right part of the screen), using tripods, cutting “with” rather than “without” the backing music, colour correction, audio normalising, S/N, compression, codecs, details, details, details.

We (in both terms of the ship, and the world), seem to have become very used to absolute crap video production quality, and to absolute crap copyright and control quality. Many argue that we should join in the mass production of media as publicity from us. I’ve thought about it myself, it would be very cool to have weekly video “podcasts” from the Doulos.

But can we get the video quality (including copyright) sorted out and good enough to actually DO this at a “good” level?

And production of videos for on board? Even showing of videos on board?

Is my refusing to show a video because it (to me) looks shoddy just interlectual snobbery due to some small background in multimedia?

Is my refusing to show a video because it breaks copyright me being pigheaded and daft over laws which (honestly), no-one in the room watching cares about?

So, personal integrity, and God.

Does God care if we break the law?

I think so.

Does God care if we show crap videos?

I think so too.

“But it’s powerful!”

So are many things. I don’t think it’s stretching the truth to say a vast majority of the church and their spirituality would benefit from being more relaxed, but we’re not going to start distributing tranqulisers.


“The Good is often the greatest enemy of the Best.” – Maxwell
“If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable” – Proverbs 28:9

Which is better, to spend ones time sitting with street kids loving them and giving them hope for the future, or sitting in an office, wading through tedious documents that it’s actually your duty to understand?

Which is more worthy, to slog away at understanding a law you know that 99% of people really care nothing about, nor even believe in, enforcing it over others and creating unheaval and more work and stress for all of them, or to spend time creatively working on more fun and generally well-recognised projects?

How do you find motivation to inconvienence yourself and others to a phenomincal degree, appearing to red-light and be negative to all the other people you want to encourage and help, in order to fulfil a law you don’t even agree with yourself?

For the Christians in mainline western churches:

If your country declared it illegal to meet in groups larger than 15, would you keep meeting
as normal in defiance of the government and protest the loss of your “rights”, or find a way to keep “doing” church and fulfilling the call of the bible within the constraints of the law?

Which is more important: Comfortably doing what you’re used to, or uncomfortably denying yourself in order to be a righteous and unimpeachable testimony?

Welcome back, me.


It is I, author of this blog, and spokesperson of the incredibly inconsideratly inactive bloggers foundation of Doulos, and I have returned! Yea, verily, verily, etc.

So. It’s been 5 weeks since I last posted, roughly. And it has been quite a busy, time, yes, of course, that’s the way it is around here. And is that an excuse for not blogging? Well, probably not. But I’ll use it as an excuse anyway.

We’re currently sailing between Kuching, Malaysia, where we spent Christmas and New Year, to Cebu, Philippines, where we were 2 years ago.

Every 6 months or so we get a new batch of recruits, who go for 2 weeks of safety training, and that group of people is usually fairly “clannish”, and are known as the “Preship” group of whichever port they did their training. So I’m from the “Sharjah Preship”. Other famous past examples would be the Manila Preship, Banjul Preship, Istanbul Preship, etc, etc.

Anyway, 2 years ago we had the Cebu Preship join us, and they’ll mostly be leaving in the next month or so, and the next group of recruits will also be doing their training in Cebu… This is NOT normal. It’s the first time we’ve had this, ever, to popular knowledge. Normally it’s at least 7 or 8 years between being back in the same place at the same rough time to be able to do this, so every Preship is a different city.

This might seem like a very minor thing, and from a completely outside viewpoint, it is. However, Doulos isn’t just a ship full of people from different places, we also have a very strong Doulos Culture, which has devleopped over the decades as result of our rules, regulations, work habits, and the bizarre lifestyle which we have on board.

“Preship” groups are almost like your family, or clan. Whenever someone gets up to say something in a community meeting, for instance at the end of a port when we get together to share stories of what we (and God) have been up to, most people will introduce themselves with something like “Hi, My name is Daniel, and I’m from Cyprus, and the Sharjah Preship!” or whatever. At this point, everyone else from Sharjah will shout and scream or chant, or whatever.

OK, so the people from Sharjah probably won’t, since there’s only about 5 of us left, and we never managed to get a chant to work properly, but everyone from all the other active preships on board will for their people. So, to have two groups of people from different Preships, with the same name, is a bit weird. It’s like having two football teams with the same name. If they played each other, who would you cheer for?

So. There’s a random piece of Doulos culture for you. Now for some thoughts about it.

We are incredibly clannish, and seem, as humans, as christians, and as Douloi, to have an innate capacity to draw lines between each other, and to divide on the slightest pretext. And partly I object to the amount that the training department push Preship identity during the training. I can also see the side whereby this “Preship ” concept can be used positively to establish a home base and place for people to live and identify themselves in the community.

And identity is such a weird thing. Who are we? The good evangelical in me says something like “My identity is in Christ alone! All other things are slag!” And yeah, yeah. OK, so that is true, of course. But we do all seem to use boxes, either rigid or flexible, to put people and everything into. We constantly talk about getting “out of the box” and “not putting people in boxes”, but is that really practical? People’s individuality MUST trump any box we put them into, and anyone MUST be able to climb out of that box, and we must not dump people into boxes and judge them there and leave them forever, but is it possible to truly not create comparisons and labels?

Some days I get really fed up of the boxes and labels, and try to rebel.

“Hey! Are you the AV guy?”


“Oh. Who is working tonight then?”

“I am. I work here, but I’m not the AV guy. I’m Daniel.”

I don’t know. Enough rambling. It’s time for sleep.