procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

no it's not hugo chavez...

from a couple of weeks ago, Paraguay has a new president, a Bishop become Socialist President.

he's already banging out great quotes, like "from now on the whole country will be my Cathedral."

as a lefty-pinko-commie-socialist christian, i find it quite exciting to see a Christian in the last 50years from the left side of politics going alright. (i guess we've got one in our own Kevin07, although suggesting the australian labor party is even remotely leftist feels a faux-pax these days!)

furthermore, it's fascinating to see someone getting one up on big brother (ie the US), although this article suggests why this may be the case, with this quote:
some say Iraq saved Latin America, that with the Bush administration’s focus on Iraq, that the Latin American governments have much more reflected the base, the people in their countries, rather than pressure from the United States.
hopefully this will be the beginnings of a good step in the future of latin/south america


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jude: whaddya do?

the context for Jude is v4:
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
so the question is: whaddya do? do you withdraw? By no means!

rather, you
  1. look after yourself, v20-21:
    But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

  2. look after others, v22-23:
    Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear— hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

  3. look to God, v24-25:
    To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.

hopefully someone who hears (or heard: I, II) my sermons will add this to the list of stuff i told them


Sunday, April 20, 2008

oprah dreaming

doing some thinking for my Jude sermons i came across this clip on the church of oprah

now i realise this clip is a little alarmist, but it makes a good point:
when you hear something from the bible you find immediately hard to reconcile with how you've got God pictured, you can immediately reject your instincts and blindly agree with the bible; you can think some more about what the bible's on about, do a bit of thinking, reading and praying and work out where either your understanding was wrong or what you first thought it was saying isn't; or you can reject what the bible says, trusting your gut.
it seems Oprah has done the latter.

but that’s what happens if you’re relying only on your own instinct,
instead of God’s wisdom,
his word,
his commands,
the counsel of Godly brothers and sisters God has given us.

i don't want to particularly hammer Oprah, but as the vid says, she does have a viewership of millions, who respect and listen to her.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Jude 17-23

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Pop songs are best represented by graphs

people on facebook have way too much time. for 160+ graphs like this, click here


Saturday, April 12, 2008

fun with fitna

ever since Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilder's film Fitna was released a week or so ago, there has been a furore of anger, from those agreeing with his sentiments, from those arguing that Christianity is every bit as evil as Islam, from the atheists arguing that every religion is equally evil.

the film has been removed, replaced, removed, replaced, many times over. last time i looked you could still watch it here.

the first voice of moderation came from Richard Shumack's article, followed by CPX's directors' discussion of it:

these encourage the viewer to actually listen to a Muslim hermeneutic of their own text.

a Saudi blogger Raed al-Saeed responds with the following film, an interspersing of OT verses mainly about God instructing Israel to take posession of Canaan, with images of Gulf War II and the documentary "Jesus Camp".

there are plenty of other video responses, most of them having lost any sense of reasonability.

an article on by Rolf Krüger, here, maintains the critique of Koran inspired violence is valid, whereas al-Saeed's twisting is not - yet his reason seems to be more emotive than hermeneutical.
for whilst i disagree that the US-led invasion of Iraq and their behaviour there as seen (heard) by the leerish voice in al-Saeed's film are in no wise representative of Christendom, and "Jesus Camp" is likewise a scary indictment on how not to do church, the fact remains that for some Christians they somehow do see these things as representing them, and are proud to be associated with them.

so in the same way as we may see the attacks on the west as the valid working-out of Islam - as doubtless there are some Muslims who do too - listening to these as representative is unfair, and unreasonable.

if one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame

Proverbs 18:13

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Friday, April 11, 2008

who said these words?

"Your words and the promises you bring are fair indeed. But because they are new and of uncertain import, I cannot give assent to them and abandon those things which I have for so long observed, in company with the whole XXXX people. But because you have come here as travelers from afar, and as I think I see your intention was to communicate to us those things which you think true and very beneficial, we do not wish you to be harmed. On the contrary, we are taking care to receive you hospitably and to provide you with such food as you need. Nor do we forbid that you should by preaching join to your faith and religion all whom you can."

the options are,
  1. King Ethelbert to Augustine, as reported by Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (chXXV),
  2. Australian PM to Greg Clarke and John Dickson at the launch last night of the Centre for Public Christianity
  3. the president of Tajikistan to NGOs trying to help his people in the grips of HIV/AIDS

cast your vote NOW!

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

being broad - in a good way

read this quote, and then my comments, and then the quote again.

The contemporary world is thus doubly hostile to truth procedures. This hostility betrays itself though nominal occlusions*: where the name of a truth procedure should obtain, another, which represses it, holds sway. The name “culture” comes to obliterate that of “art.” The word “technology” obliterates the word “science.” The word “management” obliterates the word “politics.” The word “sexuality” obliterates love. The “culture-technology-management-sexuality” system, which has the immense merit of being homogenous to the market, and all of these terms designate a category of commercial presentation, constitutes the modern nominal occlusion of the “art-science-politics-love” system, which identifies truth procedures typologically.
Alain Badiou (translated by Ray Brassier), 2003, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism. Stanford University Press, California, p12

* nominal occlusions - the subversion of a true term, a broad, rich, meaningful term; in favour of another, more precise, yet in it's nature less true.

this is what i find a particularly interesting idea - as we define things to aid understanding, we cannot but occlude the true meaning.

i remember N.T. Wright saying 'the gospel is a story', meaning, as soon as you try and pin something down, giving a dictionary definition, you loose the true breadth meant by the term (c/f this on the way this works in Hebrew Poetry). we are too quick to condemn as heretics those who would emphasise one area of a doctrine over another, forgetting the context they speak from and the errors against which they must polemicise.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Miss Landmine 2008

coming to my attention was the miss landmine context, according to Fox, combining Angola's 1/ love for beauty pageants, and 2/ the devastating toll of Landmines in that country.

from my previous life as a prosthetist, this is both encouraging, yet saddening. the winner receives a top-notch limb from a scandinavian prosthetics supplier. it does seem a bit tokenistic, but when you look at the stats for the distribution and continued supply, you wonder whether, on a human level, much more can be done.

listed as 'partners' in the contest are the countries who continue to produce landmines*:
  • Burma
  • Iran
  • Russia
  • Cuba
  • Korea (N/S)
  • Singapore
  • China
  • Nepal
  • U.S.A.
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Vietnam

* Landmine Monitor 2006

how i long for the day when the promise made to Isaiah is fulfilled (25:8):
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.

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walk-up lines

just back from a week of mission.
among other things, this involved lots of door-knocking and walk-up evangelism.
doing this sort of thing at a university campus, you start getting an idea of what works and what doesn't, but in a diverse suburb like Kingsford there never seemed to be a clear tack to take.
one that we started using was:
Hi. We're not Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons; we're just going around asking people about Jesus.
this seemed to get us a little further into the conversation than otherwise, particularly with one Greek Orthodox lady - who about 5 minutes in, and after said introduction, asked whether we were JW's!
another line we tried was hi, we're giving away FREE Bibles, which worked for one person.
for some overseas students, they had actually never even heard the name of Jesus. which drives home the need to continue talking about him to people from all nations. and reminds us to give thanks for his patience:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

have you got a good line for talking to strangers about Jesus?

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

fave bible verses

well, at least ones that make me chuckle:

  1. ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
    (Acts 26:14)

    it was particularly funny until i actually looked up 'goads' in the dictionary, but i still giggle

  2. [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 Kings 2:23-25)

    i'm not sure if it's the 'go up', the 'baldhead', or the 'she-bears' that particularly gets me. or the way the story just continues on, completely disregarding the fact 42 youths have just been mauled!

  3. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

    (Galations 5:12)

    reminds me of a joke. which i shan't tell. about a blind rabbi.

got any others to contribute?

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