procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Set List

Walk to Beautiful Fundraiser - 28/5/09

  1. All Blues
  2. Blue Bossa
  3. I'm Beginning to see the Light
  4. Nature Boy
  5. Autumn Leaves
  6. Satin Doll
  7. Mercy Mercy Mercy
  8. Chamæleon

let's see how many we get thru.

any requests for other songs to play on our international tour (assuming recording companies sign us up as a result of tonight)?

(if you haven't got tix yet you're too late - they're all sold out. how much that's due to the pulling power of and how much that's due to the movie and the cause will be told at 7:15 or 8 - the movie starts at 8.)

Labels: , ,

the basis for blogging

on monday there was a flotilla of bloggers (not sure of the collective noun) - mark justin michael craig george and karen (erro turned up 20min after the advertised finish time - i don't think that counts as attending. not really). (i think mark has the blog links all set up).

conversation started by thinking about 'why blog?'; it turns out for quite varied reasons.
  • some as a postcard to home,
  • others don't blog so much as comment,
  • some i know use their blog as a prayer letter,
  • others are using each post as a chapter for a book or a hoped-for book,
  • some want to challenge world-views by being provocative and testing how far they can push the boundaries,
  • there are blogs that are a window into a soul - or a magnifying glass, bringing you closer than you ever could be meeting them in person,
  • there are comedians,
  • agony aunts,
  • artists,
  • film/art/music critics,
i could go on.

in this 259th post, i wonder why i blog, and i think it's the same as when i began:

writing something down in public place (on a wall, on the internet) is both cathartic and stimulating. as opposed to writing an invariably unpublished letter to a newspaper, or a song that is never sung to anyone, or a play that is never performed (all of which i've done), even if noone ever says anything (comments, scibbles it out, yells at you, doesn't speak to you), at least it's out there. you've said 'this is what i'm thinking about this at this stage of my thought life. i think this is a fair presentation of it. if you want to say anything, please do, but you don't have to.'

i think that's it. but enough about me, why do you think i blog?

Labels: ,

Monday, May 25, 2009

religious? moi?

i listen to the radio a bit. mostly to 702 ABC Sydney. they often have interviews with various people, and they often get asked the 'so are you religious?' question.

and i can't remember yet hearing anyone say 'no'. and this frustrates me. partly because making up your own religion doesn't make you religious; if anything it says you're deluded. secondly because being superstitious about which sock you donn first does not equate with trusting that your eternal salvation is in the hands of something or someone greater than yourself.

but i think the final reason i find such a response so frustrating is that i spend so much of my time trying to explain that i'm NOT religious, that Christianity is a-religious, that Jesus didn't spend much time going around exonerating the religious leaders of his day, rather hammered them for being false shepherds, hired men, duplicitous wolves. i therefore go to great lengths explaining the difference between following Jesus and religion.

am i right to do this? or in this culture of postmodernity does everyone have the right to determine for themselves what religion entails?

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

sermon downloads a plenty

if you don't find my voice whiney, nasal, dull, or patronising, you may be tempted to listen to some of my sermons which are available to download.

09 Mar 2008 Grace that Works Philippians 2:12-30
    i particularly liked the way Daniel 12 helped us think through what this meant.

15 Jun 2008 Between A Rock & A Hard Place Exodus 16-17
    i tried something quite different here - i tried to start with the OT, jump to the NT and explain how that increased our understanding of what is going on in the OT. i wanted to get away from the 'here's the OT, but don't worry about that so much: here's where it points to in the NT' - as if there were no value in it of itself, as if the OT were only of value for showing us the NT. tell me if you think it worked!

20 Jul 2008 The King with Authority Luke 4.1-13
    how to do a sermon on Isaiah 61 without really going there properly

11 Jan 2009 The Blessing of Forgiveness Psalm 32
    interestingly, i did a sermon in October on Matthew 18 also on forgiveness (the guest speaker in the evening is the one who made the web page, mine obviously didn't make the cut), so i really enjoyed having a second dip into this really tough topic.

19 Apr 2009 The value of wisdom Proverbs 1-3
    an introductory sermon on the prologue to Proverbs, focussing on ch3

i'm also on tonight, talking about prayer as mission, but the boss is speaking (as i write this!) on the same topic: i'm assuming i won't make the cut, but thinking about how our prayers promote the gospel has been quite rebuking for me as i think through it. perhaps i'll post some thoughts on it sometime.


24 May 2009 Promoting Jesus :: Our prayers Matthew 9:35-10:5
    trying to think through where prayer fits in in promoting the gospel. i wonder where you might have gone, what you would have emphasised, whether you would have done a bit more of a systematic theology of prayer.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

a new reading group

a friend has asked if i want to come along to an LXX (the greek translation of the hebrew scriptures) reading group.
apparently only few are christians; most are jewish, trying to get a different perspective on their scriptures.

i've never made much effort to get into the septuagint, except to have a look when the hebrew just seems wacky.
unfortunately whenever i think that the LXX will fix it up, it generally doesn't.
some things have been quite interesting however, such as in Deuteronomy 30:14(13)

ESV: But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
LXX: The word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, and in your hands to do it.

so it's actually just making a bit clearer that doing it (the commandment that Yhwh commands Israel) isn't just about your words or your thoughts but your hands - something that could actually be implicit in the 'do it' - indeed the LXX could be a little tautologous by adding that. although at the very least poetically, it's good to have 'mouth, heart and hands' - a real sense of completeness.

anyway, that's on tomorrow. no idea how it'll go. but do pray that some great conversations may come out of it as we chat about how God reveals himself in his Word.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

walk to beautiful

we're putting the band back together. we're playing at a fund raiser for the fistula hospital in Ethiopia. if you don't know what a fistula is or why they would have a hospital for them, you should probably find out.

we're playing and then they're screening the film about women who've been involved with the hospital:
This award-winning feature length film tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer devastating childbirth injuries and portrays the hope provided by Dr Catherine Hamlin A C & Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital (The Hospital by the River).

Date: Thursday 28 May

Time: 7:15 pm refreshments & jazz band
8:00 pm screening

Venue: St Alban's church hall
Corner Lindfield Ave and Tryon Road, Lindfield, Sydney, Australia

Price: $20; $15 concession, includes refreshments

Tickets: Available after each service from Sunday 3 May or from the church office from Tuesday 5 May - call in or phone +61 2 9416 1703

Find out more about the film at

This screening is a fundraiser to mark the Hamlin Golden Jubilee of 50 years in Ethiopia. See

Please come and celebrate the occasion.

And, as i said, you can hear the band. Back together.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

David Hume could out-consume

6. Locke, Hume and empiricism: In what ways do these thinkers differ from Descartes?

It seems the empiricists, most especially in Locke and Hume, were the new sceptics. They sought to question knowledge, truth, work out on what basis we know things. Locke questioned in particular how we connect with objects in the real world – and decided that we didn’t! Rather, we have ideas in our heads of objects, and it is in the world of ideas that there is interaction, rather than physically coming into contact with another physicality. However these ideas we contract from experience (a posteriori), and only after seeing something can we have an understanding of that object and others like it. It is as if we are blank slates, who accumulate forms as we go, and build on these more simple ideas to understand more complex ideas.

However, Hume’s thinking in light of Locke about how we gain knowledge led him to question the idea of causality – concluding that we believe the idea of cause and effect, but only from habit, not from any abstract reasoning. In the famous billiard-ball analogy, we may expect a certain result from one striking another, but there is nothing inherent in one billiard ball that should mean its interacting with another ball should have the expected result.

From a small amount of reading, it seems as if the empiricists are leaning towards an atheistic, or at least deist, world-view, whereas the rationalists (in Descartes) saw God as the glue that held everything together. When Descartes asks why a thought leads to an action, he cannot see this as anything but secondary to the will of God who first thought and acted, and from whom all thoughts and actions stem. The empiricists however, although publicly agreeing (Locke more than Hume) that the idea of God ‘makes sense’, see God as having no part in the process – the mind wills and the arm moves. Why does it happen? Because we’ve seen it happen before.

This idea of a general movement towards atheism (or deism) is further shown in Hume’s discounting of miracles – his experience tells him that the normal way of things is for miracles to not happen. If given the choice between miraculous and the empirical, he concludes, the sane man has only one choice.

this is part of a series

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oliver Cromwell

i've been pretty busy
drowning in a church history essay
there's no answer.
so i turned to my old friends, monty python, for some themed comic relief.

this is a pretty nice little vid put together by 4x4wheeldrive productions, whoever he/she/it is.
the song was on a CD i had called 'monty python sings'. i don't know who borrowed it. it's sad. so long ago. and i probably used to know this song off by heart too!!!

for those interested, my (unanswerable) question is, How important was Geneva in shaping English Protestantism? possible answers so far: not very. heaps. a bit. depends who you ask. depends how you define 'geneva', 'english' 'protestantism' 'important' and 'shaping'. tho i'm sure there are some nuances to 'how', 'was' and 'in' that i haven't thought thru yet.


Monday, May 04, 2009

The Reason for God - a review

I did a pop quiz at 6pm church this Sunday. I asked, ‘What are the top 5 reasons that people think Christianity is unreasonable, not even worth thinking about? what are the top 5 arguments that knock Christianity out of the water?’

I got four hands in the air:
  • Science has disproved Christianity
  • Christianity is a straightjacket, it curtails your freedoms
  • how can we say Christianity is right and all the others wrong
  • suffering and evil show there’s no God

They weren’t primed, but coincidentally, these were four of the seven topics that Tim Keller, the author of The Reason for God (Penguin: London, 2008), deals with. He doesn’t dismiss them, but essentially says – no, wait, don’t write us off that easily – we HAVE thought about that – we don’t exist in a cocoon – we HAVE thought about these issues, and are Christians not just despite these problems, but indeed, often because of them.

Apart from engaging thoughtfully and rigorously with these questions that would disprove God’s existence, he also raises suggestions why we should at the very least consider Christianity anew. Quite cheekily, he even suggests that the most hardened atheist, deep down inside of them, knows that there is a God (check out ch12 – the Knowledge of God).

Keller talks through all the big things. He goes places others might be scared to; he is open in sharing his own doubts and struggles, but he also shares with us the vast time he’s spent not running away from these questions, but chatting through them, reading through them, and praying through these issues.

At the end of the day, when everything else has been stripped away, we’re left with the cold realisation that “if there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with him.” (p256)

The Reason for God helps us all to think through how we are going to respond to this God. In what is arguably the most important decision we will make in our whole lives, we need to ask ourselves whether we are going to obstinately refuse to think seriously about him, or whether we’ll give him an honest attempt.

as soon as church's website is back up, this review should end up there.

Labels: , ,

my first poll (ahhh) reprieve.

UPDATE: snappoll doesn't like apostrophes.

third time lucky (the cut and paste option failed also)

here's the new one: snappoll

read on for the instructions:

it's up to you to decide how this blog should look, as regards my previous post, regarding RefTagger.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 01, 2009

minor change

after a recommendation from Reuben, i've decided to add RefTagger to my blog. it basically means when i write a bible reference like Ezekiel 33:11, if you move your cursor over it, it should just pop up! it's that easy. no running around to find a bible, no opening a bible gateway (or your bible viewer of choice's) window. just hover. like a hovercraft.

speaking of which, what ever happened to hovercrafts?

anyway, talking about minor change, here's Django Reinhardt (legend) with minor swing:

Labels: , , ,