procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

underworld etc

the end of all things is past - the end of living in Bondi, the end of going to Wild Street Church, the end of MTS, the end of a long time with my flatmates and my friends of many years, the end of relative freedom, the end of love, the end of hanging out with people at UNSW with CBS.

and for all this, the uncertainty of 4(?) years at Moore Theological College in Newtown, going to church in Lindfield.

a myriad of changes. lots of opportunities to trust God.

but with not much else to do (except doing a full-time locum at Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick), i've written a review of Living with the Underworld, by MTC lecturer Peter Bolt, for AFES's webzine, SALT. Check the mag out here, and my review is here!

i may post the whole article soon.

photo from matthias media

apologies for the self-promoting nature of this post.
but, c'mon, it is a blog, after all

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

materialism vs hedonism

reflecting tonight on old friends who would work all summer, yet spend their entire wages on weed and grog (marijuana and alcohol), a friend's remark really got me thinking. he said,
"i have much more respect for a hedonist than a materialist."

i guess i had never really tried to work out which i preferred, but in essence he was saying,
rather be the perishing, who echo "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," with those of 1 Corinthians 15 (and interestingly also Isaiah 22)
than the arrogant (who will obviously also perish), who says "I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods." (Luke 12)

indeed, in the Bible the fool who is perishing is to be pitied, rather than put down, unlike the arrogant farmer of Luke 12.
for instance the words of King Lemuel (from his mum) in Proverbs 31:6-7,
Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.

but what difference is there really between the perishing fool who thinks there is nothing beyond the grave but rot and decay (the hedonist), and the arrogant fool, who believes that he is in control of his own destiny (the materialist)?

i ask this because at the end of the day there is none.
in Luke 12, the purpose of his materialism is that he may say to himself, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."

the materialist is really a hedonist, only with superannuation.

well actually,
the materialist responds to eternity by carving it up into manageable chunks (80 years or so),
whereas the hedonist faces it a day at a time, squeezing the most out of every minute.

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Happy Invasion Day

or Happy Australia Day, depending on how you like to see history.
yes, that's right, 220 years of colonisation of this great nation.

to commemorate the occasion, one of my favourite presenters on local ABC, Richard Glover, wrote this celebratory piece in yesterday's Herald.

here are my favourite pickings:

You know you're Australian if …

  1. You believe that stubbies can be either drunk or worn.
  2. You think it's normal to have a leader called Kevin.
  3. You waddle when you walk due to the 53 expired petrol discount vouchers stuffed in your wallet or purse.
  4. You've made a bong out of your garden hose rather than use it for something illegal such as watering the garden.
  5. You believe it is appropriate to put a rubber in your son's pencil case when he first attends school.
  6. When you hear that an American "roots for his team" you wonder how often and with whom.
  7. You understand that the phrase "a group of women wearing black thongs" refers to footwear and may be less alluring than it sounds.
  8. You can translate: "Dazza and Shazza played Acca Dacca on the way to Maccas."
  9. You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep.
  10. You call your best friend "a total bastard" but someone you really, truly despise is just "a bit of a bastard".
  11. You're secretly proud of our killer wildlife.
  12. You believe it makes sense for a country to have a $1 coin that's twice as big as its $2 coin.
  13. You understand that "Wagga Wagga" can be abbreviated to "Wagga" but "Woy Woy" can't be called "Woy".
  14. You know that certain words must, by law, be shouted out during any rendition of the Angels' song Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again.
  15. You believe, as an article of faith, that every important discovery in the world was made by an Australian but then sold off to the Yanks for a pittance.
  16. You believe that the more you shorten someone's name the more you like them.
  17. You understand that "you" has a plural and that it's "youse".
  18. You know it's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle.
  19. You still think of Kylie (Minogue) as "that girl off Neighbours".
  20. When returning home from overseas, you expect to be brutally strip-searched by Customs - just in case you're trying to sneak in fruit.
  21. You believe the phrase "smart casual" refers to a pair of black tracky-daks, suitably laundered.
  22. You understand that all train timetables are works of fiction.
  23. When working on a bar, you understand male customers will feel the need to offer an excuse whenever they order low-alcohol beer.
  24. You get choked up with emotion by the first verse of the national anthem and then have trouble remembering the second.

Happy Australia Day.


Friday, January 18, 2008

the science of religiosity

a colleague alerted me to this article from ninemsn, entitled Trendy spiritualism 'breeds unhappiness'.
this backs up Arthur C Clarke's thoughts that i mentioned several months ago here, that it may be "better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is best of all to be sane and happy."

however it is interesting to see the afore-mentioned article taking this thinking on.
although the tack it takes is slightly different, saying not simply that it is better to be un-sane (ie religious), but that it is better to follow a "real" religion, ie not a made-up one.

how many times do you talk to someone who says, "i don't like to think of God like that - for me, he's more like this..."

but not just saying that this is irrational, the article wants to talk about religious belief from a health point-of-view.
indeed, the article says, reporting on a Queensland* study,
Young men who held non-traditional religious views were at twice the risk of being more anxious and depressed than those with traditional beliefs.
the author of the study goes on to say that,
"This study suggests that new forms of religiosity demand further research attention to understand the extent that religious change is linked to population mental health and social behaviour among younger generations."

now i don't want to string too long a bow here, but does Romans 1:18-32 have anything to add to this research? perhaps not, but it's definitely a thought-provoking article.

* the north-eastern-most state of Australia

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

to forgive is human, grace divine.

last week was the 2nd in our now annual summer series (well the 2nd of something makes it annual, does it not?), entitled the untouchables (check out for further details); the topic this time was domestic abuse.

in thinking about what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has to say on the topic, you would assume forgiveness would be one of the main things.
indeed, the gospel allows the victim of such a heinous thing as domestic abuse to offer forgiveness to their abuser.

however, the definition of forgiveness given in the talk was that for full forgiveness to be given, there needs to be repentance from the abuser: they need to recognise their evil, admitting their culpability; their repentance recognising any forgiveness they receive would be completely undeserved.

when pressed on this, the idea was that forgiveness is a motion towards reconciliation. further to this, the normal context of forgiveness in the Bible is in that of seeking reconciliation.

which of course brings us to grace.
grace, Biblically, is the idea that forgiveness and reconciliation are given, not because we deserve it, but in spite of ourselves, in spite of our unrepentant sinful hearts.
as Ephesians 2:8-9 so well puts it,
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

indeed, a helpful book put out by matthias media, Forgiving Hitler explains, understanding that grace from God through Christ means we are able to give up our need for vengeance, to give up the requirement for the injurious party to seek forgiveness.

but still, after discussion, and in the case of domestic abuse, it was clear that without repentance there can still be only a partial forgiveness. the abused can never feel safe and secure in the presence of the abuser, the abuser in remaining unrepentant, only multiplies their gross sinfulness.

my question remained, "but can we not forgive with grace - not requiring their repentance?"

but that, it seems, is for God alone.
what in this case is impossible for man, ie forgiving and reconciling despite the enormity of the sinner's actions, is possibly - nay, is done, in Christ.

and for this we can give great thanks.

if you would like to do some more thinking on forgiveness, i can recommend byron's short series on forgiveness (1st post)

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Manga Bible!

this article this morning was a nice wake-me-up.

some comments are always a little disturbing, tho, with this:
"You stay in the culture and we'll come to you."
being one corker.

you can get this bible in the full text version, or just the pictures (i guess at the same level as the brick testament

it was also especially nice to hear mention in the secular media of the Kriol Baibul, a bible published in May of last year (i think) in a language spoken by around 30,000 indigenous Australians in the top end.
in the afore-mentioned article, there's quite an aside about this

i pray this article indeed does great things, not that all will necessarily want to read the manga version (or the Kriol version either), but i pray that people will think anew about what importance this book holds, that it can be read in any language ever spoken, without changing the meaning, without affecting its inspiration, or truthfulness.

of course, there is more work to be done, for whilst you can now read the manga, kriol, and even klingon translations, there are still vast numbers of people without a translation, and even more without access to a bible.

we need to keep praying for people and working towards this, that all may know of our God's messiah, that all may have life in his name.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

darjeeling ltd.

not much to report from my break
sydney work, canberra christmas, sydney new year, sydney work, move out, house-sit.

i did watch a movie with my friend robin and my cousin michelle, the new wes anderson film, darjeeling limited, which i greatly enjoyed

i think the thing i like about his films is the way they grow on you. you're along for the ride, and you just take what comes.
his other films,
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
  • Rushmore (1998)
  • Bottle Rocket (1996)
    at once are not, yet are, road movies, but they all feel like they are.

    the thing i find with road movies is that you expect them to change. which they do - except they don't. the characters have these epiphanies, these experiences, which is great. but they're all external. they all happen to you.
    what therefore depresses me is that we expect them to be different, we want to believe people can be changed by what happens to them, by putting yourself in a position where things can happen that will affect some change in you.
    but as a rule, people are who they are, and any change is a rarity.
    we may learn to adapt differently, but that doesn't mean we stop some of the more negative things that just keep happening to us.

    so i still long for that life changing road-trip, i feel it's almost hard-wired into me. yet, still being a strong believer in a sovereign God, i need to keep reminding myself that the only thing that can truly affect lasting life change is a renewal in the Spirit.

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