Thursday, September 30, 2010

Penguin Book Chase

This is my kind of trivia game. Normally I hate the sport questions and the entertainment questions. Though I don't know that I'd be that crash hot at this specialty game in reality (I'd have to skip sci-fi and crime).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hurry Hurry

Yesterday facebook sent me off to listen to a song premiere called Hurry Hurry by Jessie Baylin, because my new music friend Thad Cockrell co-wrote it, so I had a listen. It’s outside of the usual though rather undefined box of music I like, but I do like it – it’s like a return to 1960s swoon. It’s fun, and feels like a song for Spring.

Life lived according to love

The last stanza of the poem I posted on Friday was a rather unintentional segue into this one (though I did think along these lines when I posted it).

Yesterday at my church we had a women’s teaching morning from Steph Menear on Identity, which was very encouraging and helpful. It’s easy to say we know our identity is in Christ, but we need to ask ourselves occasionally are we living like that’s true. So we started with reminders of the truth: that we are made in the image of God, yet that image is distorted in us, but we have a humble dignity that still remains; that we are a new creation in Christ and the gospel changes the way God sees us and the way we see ourselves; and how the gospel reorients us to live for Jesus and love like Jesus. Then we had some discussion question time and morning tea before moving on to the application. This was really useful material on how we might go about moving “Christian” to the bottom layer of our identity and warm ourselves at the fire of our identity in Christ (with some credit to Tim Keller for these ideas). Then we looked at what this means in how we respond to praise and criticism and how we function in relationships.

See, part of the sadness of the last stanza in that poem is that the women in it, if they have been sitting in church or soaking up the gospel for any length of time, should know that they are loved – that God loves them and delights in them with a love that’s all surpassing. And when our identity is found there, “a sense of life lived according to love” does then become the “difference they could make by loving others”, rather than a craving to be loved or an ache for "all they might have done had they been loved". This is how the gospel reorients us to love like Jesus.

Anyway, this is my half-baked, hurried Sunday morning post (plus this could be one very long post if I started elaborating), but yesterday we also had a book review of the book Mirror Mirror by Graham Beynon, which is apparently an excellent book that covers (at least some of) this material. So I have added it to my Book Depository wish list (where you can get it for $10).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Poetry Day - In everyone there sleeps

Today I have another poem by Philip Larkin. This poem has been known to make my eyes a little misty. I love the insight and compassion it shows towards those we might otherwise view as just a little bit ridiculous. That and what it says about the influence of caring (though it's not without a touch of satire over the question of whether the faith healer genuinely cares and is the appropriate cause of such joy).

Faith Healing

Slowly the women file to where he stands
Upright in rimless glasses, silver hair,
Dark suit, white collar. Stewards tirelessly
Persuade them onwards to his voice and hands,
Within whose warm spring rain of loving care
Each dwells some twenty seconds. Now, dear child,
What’s wrong, the deep American voice demands,
And, scarcely pausing, goes into a prayer
Directing God about this eye, that knee.
Their heads are clasped abruptly; then, exiled

Like losing thoughts, they go in silence; some
Sheepishly stray, not back into their lives
Just yet; but some stay stiff, twitching and loud
With deep hoarse tears, as if a kind of dumb
And idiot child within them still survives
To re-awake at kindness, thinking a voice
At last calls them alone, that hands have come
To lift and lighten; and such joy arrives
Their thick tongues blort, their eyes squeeze grief, a crowd
Of huge unheard answers jam and rejoice—

What’s wrong! Moustached in flowered frocks they shake:
By now, all’s wrong. In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures. An immense slackening ache,
As when, thawing, the rigid landscape weeps,
Spreads slowly through them—that, and the voice above
Saying Dear child, and all time has disproved.

I copied this poem from here.

Life and books

I have one of those weekends ahead of me that looks full and on from here. Tonight is a book club meeting over dinner, tomorrow we have a women’s teaching morning at church, then tomorrow afternoon is the next Christian Writer’s Group in the city, after which we usually have dinner together, and if I get home from there with time and energy to spare it’s a friend’s birthday party. All great things, but there is not much, if any, space between them.

I look forward to each of these things though.

Tonight is my first night at this book club. I wrote a post about it a while back then took it down for some reason. But as I said in that post, I have been thinking for some time I should join a local community book club to get involved and so on. In the end I’ve joined one full of Christians, just because they asked me. But given that I do actually spend most of my week amongst non-Christians, I figure this can’t do me any harm. This evening we have a “double-whammy”, because last month didn’t work out, of The Boat by Nam Le and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. The History of Love I really enjoyed (see earlier posts). I haven’t actually read all of The Boat, because it’s a collection of short stories and I ran out of time so skipped a few. It’s good but a little “rough” in places, which is one thing I don’t appreciate so much about some modern fiction. I don’t necessarily get excited merely by the power of description. I can appreciate that the writing is good, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy the content. To me it’s the combination of both that makes for a good book.
So, since tomorrow has got the better of me and time has temporarily flown away, I am going to post a poem today.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The silver lining

*Boring post alert*

This post is purely another public service announcement. I mentioned the other week that I surprised myself in face-planting the footpath, took the day off and walked to the chemist to buy some wound supplies (yes, it was a fascinating post). The sequel is, that when I was in the chemist I picked up these elastoplast patches that said “silver healing” and were basically just adhesive pads like I was looking for for my hand but with silver ions in them, which are supposed to aid wound healing. So I bought some, without too much thought or research into the phenomenon. If I do think about it, I am something of a sceptic, because I wonder whether in fifty years time they’ll discover that absorbing metal ions is not such a great idea, like the ladies of old who died from using face powder containing Lead. I also bought Vitamin E oil, because we all know Vitamin E is good for wounds, and at least it’s not a metal.

Anyway, turns out that my chin was mostly only a shallow graze in any case, but at night I smothered it in the oil then went to bed with a magic silver patch on my face. It’s hard to know without any sort of “control” experiment here (I should have thought to enlist one of you to face-plant the footpath and then not use silver-healing patches) but I think it made a big difference. A couple of the people who saw me at Connect Group on the Wednesday night with my festering chin then looked at me on Sunday night at church and said “wow – you can hardly even see that thing on your chin anymore”. So, should you face-plant the footpath, and you’re willing to risk metal poisoning, you should try them.

The sequel to my previous public service announcement is that I could get quite hooked on Long Tall Sally. Nice clothes arriving in the mail is too easy, and almost as much fun as good books arriving in the mail. I bought a few things and liked them so much that I bought a few more. Now I have to stop. Like all these online stores they now send me emails, and it works, because I look at them and get ideas … But can I just take this (never-before-encountered) opportunity to declare to the world that I am short and small! The 36 inch trousers are too long (they go up to 38 inches! - I am just a stumpy thing), and the medium-sized clothes are too big. I would have worked this out if I’d read the size guide properly, but I couldn’t bring myself to order “small” over the internet initially, just in case. Once I worked it all out I ordered a jumper from their outlet store, which was described as “oversize”, and “small" was sold out so I got “extra-small” and it is plenty big enough. Of course, it would fit just about everybody reading this post, but that is not the point – the point is that on my label it says “extra-small”. It is nice not to have to up-size things to get some extra length. Anyway, it's not opp-shopping, but the exchange rate is very good at the moment, and for what they are the clothes aren't expensive, according to me – but I still have to stop!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I know there are good things about renting, and in many ways it might be less hassle than owning your own place, but here’s one thing I don’t like – the owner of our place wanted to come by at 7.00am this morning, with another fellow to measure for new blinds. 7.00am. So instead of my usual morning routine I thought I’d better be dressed and ready for 7.00am to deal with them. So I am flying around trying to achieve this and the door buzzes at 6.45am. 6.45am - that’s fifteen whole long and necessary minutes early.

If you are a perfect stranger, and you want to come to my house at 7.00am, to go through every room in it, even around the other side of my bed, you don’t get to be 15 minutes early!

But anyway, I then got to work nice and early, so now I can go home nice and early.

Monday, September 20, 2010

How long's a piece of string

This is from the novel within the novel:
So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon'tgoItoobelievemy-bodyismadeofglassI'veneverlovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgiveme...

There was a time when it wasn't uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bundle of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string.
Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person's silence.
The Age of String
The History of Love
by Nicole Krauss

Too busy ...

No time for blogging - too engrossed in The History of Love. I'd never heard of this book, a 2006 Orange Prize finalist, until I joined the bookclub I am in, and I approach contemporary fiction with caution, but so far I love this. So, for today:

Picture from here - just take no notice of the blog it originally came from - I'm not an advocate of that word becoming some kind of colloquialism.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sacrificing the world

I am currently reading The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, for a bookclub I am in. So far I like it. One of the plot lines is written by a teenage girl from a family in which the father dies. Here is an observation she makes of her mother.


She's kept her love for him as alive as the summer they first met. In order to do this, she's turned life away. Sometimes she subsists for days on water and air. Being the only known complex life-form to do this, she should have a species named after her. Once Uncle Julian told me how the sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti said that sometimes just to paint a head you have to give up the whole figure. To paint a leaf, you have to sacrifice the whole landscape. It might seem like you're limiting yourself at first, but after a while you realize that having a quarter-of-an-inch of something you have a better chance of holding on to a certain feeling of the universe than if you pretended to be doing the whole sky.

My mother did not choose a leaf or a head. She chose my father, and to hold on to certain feeling, she sacrificed the world.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Poetry Day - No road

This is a rather sad poem, about a relationship wherein, spoken or otherwise, there is an agreement to let it wither and overgrow, till with the passing of time you'd never know there'd been one.

No Road

Since we agreed to let the road between us
Fall to disuse,
And bricked our gates up, planted trees to screen us,
And turned all time's eroding agents loose,
Silence, and space, and strangers—our neglect
Has not had much effect.

Leaves drift unswept, perhaps; grass creeps unmown;
No other change.
So clear it stands, so little overgrown,
Walking that way tonight would not seem strange,
And still would be allowed. A little longer,
And time will be the stronger,

Drafting a world where no such road will run
From you to me;
To watch that world come up like a cold sun,
Rewarding others, is my liberty.
Not to prevent it is my will's fulfilment.
Willing it, my ailment.

Philip Larkin

Images from here and here.

Getting myself a guitar

I’ve discovered there are good reasons for sharing your dreams with all and sundry in the interwebs. I am the proud owner of a free guitar! Now I just have to put in the hard work of learning to play it.

There is actually a guitar hanging around at my Mum’s place that used to be my Dad’s. My older sister took off with it for a few years but now my Mum has it back and wants to keep it there. She doesn’t really have much that belonged to my Dad (they were still living like church mice and he didn’t actually own many belongings at the time he died) and various visiting relatives have pulled it out to play in holidays, so that is nice. Perhaps I shall become one of them.

Several of my Mum’s siblings have dabbled in music bands over the years. My Aunt and Uncle and their friends were actually the support act when In the Silence, the band that used to be fronted by lead-singer John Dickson, came to Tamworth and did a concert in my school auditorium (I think this would now be a source of amusement for all concerned). I still have my In the Silence t-shirt, because my friends and I were groupies. I want to wear it somewhere one day for John Dickson, who is now Director of the Centre for Public Christianity, to see. I still reckon he should break out into Steamboat every now and then.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Singled Out

I've rather dropped the ball on this one, but this month over at the EQUIP book club, Dani Treweek is reviewing the book Singled Out: Why celibacy must be reinvented in today's church by Christine Colon and Bonnie Field. I haven't read the book, but I went to Dani's elective on singleness earlier in the year at the EQUIP conference and it was very good. The posts are taking the form of an interview with the book authors, so you might like to pop over there and read them through.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three good things

What's not to like about this. Mumford and Sons rip Sufjan Stevens's arrangement of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (well, it's not the best video, but it's good all the same - starts at 1:00).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blog dreaming

I want to learn to play the guitar. I'd actually like to play the cello, but cellos are more expensive and I’d have to take lessons because I haven't a clue. I’d also like to play piano, but who in a share flat in Sydney gets to have and play a piano? However I feel like there is enough “guitar for dummies” information out there and (only just) enough space in my room that I could possibly get a guitar and teach myself. I used to play the flute a lot, but flutes are now very uncool, and I haven’t actually played music in a long time. And I like it. When I was supposed to be studying for the HSC at home is when I’d pull out sheet music, write in the base clef in alphabet letters (because I couldn’t read it fast enough) and teach myself piano songs (I have a repertoire of about three).

In one of my many alternate lives I am a songwriter. I mean, listen to the lyrics of pop songs – how hard can it be? I’d say singer/songwriter but that might be too fantastical. However, one day when I worked for the Qld Parks and Wildlife Service I went to Redlands Bay with a semi-retired entomologist from CSIRO in search of a rare butterfly. We waded out into mangrove swamps up to our armpits in pursuit of this elusive creature. He’d told me to bring a spare pair of shoes, that’s all, but in his enthusiasm we went further and further out till I was holding my gear above my head and finished up, quite obviously, soaking wet. Wet shoes were the least of my worries. I also nearly climbed on top of this poor old chap as we were walking on dry land when two Doberman dogs flew out of the scrub at us and I thought they were going to bite my legs off, so out of pure fear and instinct I grabbed onto my companion and was going to let them bite his legs off instead. Then he completely let rip with the dog owner who appeared out of the scrub after his runaway dogs, which shouldn’t have been in a nature reserve in the first place, and I thought there was going to be a fist fight (meanwhile I was poised ready to go up the nearest tree because I still didn't like the dogs, but I might have come to his defence with a butterfly net). Next we went to visit a retired medical professor, who’d discovered something very important about cancer (can’t remember what) but also held Australia’s largest private collection of butterflies and had been involved with the research of the butterfly I was then writing the recovery plan for (the Bulloak Jewel Butterfly if you’d like to know). So I arrived at this fellow’s house, which could have been an antique museum, soaking wet, and was ushered into a purpose-built room in which the smell of naphthalene was enough to send a person unconscious, to look through drawers of pinned butterflies. Just another day. But in the course of that day the semi-retired entomologist says to me “have you ever considered being a singer? – I’ve known a lot of singers in my time and you have the speaking voice of one”. So, maybe.

This dream could come and go like many dreams. I did read this post though and reckon I could have fun at lyrics. Music, however, is quite another question. And because I learnt the flute without theory I don’t know a lot about chords, yet anyway, so it could all be a lot of hard work. We’ll see ...

The Koels are back in town

Last night I went to bed ridiculously early, because I was wretchedly tired (I missed crafty night unfortunately, as not even crochet was going to keep me awake), but lying there hoping to go to sleep soon I heard the first Koel. It wasn’t in my own fig tree, alas, but it was there all the same. Koels are to me one of the heralds of Spring. They are birds (in case you’re wondering) which migrate to Papua New Guinea and areas of South-East Asia in March for the winter, and return to our neck of the woods around late September/October. You might think you don’t know what a Koel is, but I am sure you do if you've ever heard one (if I knew how to write their call I would) and while they are not very visible birds and can be quite elusive they are actually quite large. You can read more about these lovely winged creatures here (and you can actually listen to their calls down the right-hand side - listen at about 11 seconds for their distinctive escalating call).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Poetry Day - In the fields

I thought it fitting to post another of Charlotte Mew's poems about Spring.

                In the Fields

Lord, when I look at lovely things which pass,
    Under old trees the shadows of young leaves
Dancing to please the wind along the grass,
    Or the gold stillness of the August sun on the August sheaves;
Can I believe there is a heavenlier world than this?
    And if there is
Will the strange heart of any everlasting thing
    Bring me these dreams that take my breath away?
They come at evening with the home-flying rooks and the scent of hay,
    Over the fields. They come in Spring.

- Charlotte Mew

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Even I am little bored with this blog lately, and if I snooze a while it’s because I have another little writing project to do for church that they want by the 16th September. It’s not major, but it has to be done all the same and I am a little out of practice at writing such things. I also have these phases where I feel like the blog is a fa├žade on my real life, not because I don’t want to be authentic but because one can’t just blog everything, and times like that make me question what I’m doing here. But it’s not like I haven’t done that before.

The biggest news I’ve got to share right now is that yesterday morning I went out jogging and I tripped on the concrete and went all the way over onto my chin. Last time I scraped my chin in a fall is when I came off a bike about 14 years ago, and while I occasionally trip while jogging these days I don’t usually face-plant the footpath. I wasn’t even running fast, because it was one of those mornings when getting out of bed was hard and my legs felt heavy to begin with, then I seemed to fall in slow motion – knees, hands, chin. The side of my right hand about the base of my pinky and round to the front is strangely gouged up, and I think the keys I was carrying must be responsible for that (one of them has two rows of sharp teeth), which might be why my hand-brake failed and I banged my chin.

So anyway, I was a big sook yesterday and actually stayed home, which wasn’t necessary for my "injuries", mainly it was just taking me a long time to get ready because I was trying to get dirt out of my face and hands and my right hand was slightly incapacitated and bleeding. Then I wasn’t sure if I should go to work with my chin oozing at everybody or get something to cover it, plus I really needed something a little better than a bandaid on my hand or I’d be smearing goop all over paper. So I trotted up to the chemist later for tripping-over wound supplies. I also don’t have a whole lot to do at work at the moment as there is a hold up in the supply of material, so there was no reason to break a leg (or push myself with a bruised knee) to go in. That meant I could do some work at home on the above-mentioned project, which was a bonus. Oh and I had two naps just to make a "sick day" worth it!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Kiss me like you mean it

This is an entertaining piece by Annabel Crabb on negotiating in the new political paradigm. H/t Craig.

The trees are down

Yesterday I went home and faced a tragedy. The glorious big fig tree in front on our flat is gone. The rest of the trees in the street are still standing, but for some reason they took this one out (I think the roots have actually been interfering with some electrical work). I walked down the street just as they were carving up it's last remains with a chainsaw. Devastating. I wish I'd known it was going so I could have said my farewell and prepared myself. Last night I lay in bed with no leaves outside my window, no longer nestled into the canopy of a tree, just up there bare against the sky. And now we face the western sun of summer without it's shade. So, in honour of this momentous event, I thought I'd give you one of the more famous poems about the falling of trees. It's perhaps a little pantheistic, and takes a verse out of context (and is a pretext for a prooftext, or whatever Carson said, if ever there was one) but it suits how I felt about my tree.

The Trees are Down

-and he cried with a loud voice: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees - (Revelation)

They are cutting down the great plane-trees at the end of the gardens.
For days there has been the grate of the saw, the swish of the branches
                         as they fall,
The crash of the trunks, the rustle of trodden leaves,
With the 'Whoops' and the 'Whoas', the loud common talk, the loud
                        common laughs of the men, above it all.

I remember one evening of a long past Spring
Turning in at a gate, getting out of a cart, and finding a large dead rat
                        in the mud of the drive.
I remember thinking: alive or dead, a rat was a god-forsaken thing,
But at least, in May, that even a rat should be alive.

The week's work here is as good as done. There is just one bough
       On the roped bole, in the fine grey rain,
              Green and high
              And lonely against the sky.
                         (Down now! -)
              And but for that,
              If an old dead rat
Did once, for a moment, unmake the Spring, I might never have thought
                         of him again.

It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees, it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the 'Whoops' and the 'Whoas' have carted the
                        whole of the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.

It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the hearts of the
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains,
              In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from the
                         great seas.
              There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
              They must have heard the sparrows flying,
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying -
               But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
                        'Hurt not the trees.'

Charlotte Mew 1869-1928

Pictures from and

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


So I wrote about hearing Thad Cockrell's album To Be Loved at the ENGAGE conference the other week. If you go to ReverbNation you can play the track Rosalyn. It's one of the most "pop" songs on the album, with a little banjo, but I like it! You can also listen to Oh To Be Loved, which is something else again.

The Pope embraces hip hop

It's hard to believe this is quite serious - you must listen to this extraordinary piece of dubbing.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Matters of the heart

I'm currently reading this book in bits and pieces. Have been meaning too for some time since I started seeing it around the interwebs (and I alluded to it way back in this post) and now seemed like a good time. I may or may not write more later (because, you know, some things are embarrassing). It's written in street-manual style and so far has been the fairly basic godliness material (as least that's the way I see it - and I mean basic because the bible's pretty clear on it, not basic in the sense that's it's always easy), but it's getting more curious.

The conversion competition

It would seem I've inadvertently entered one. Just now I gave my friend at work's Tim Keller's Reason for God, trying to be all "no pressure" about it and all (she asked me if it was "philosophical or dogmatic", because she didn't want dogmatic). So she said she's going to get me a book on Buddhism, with a smirk, and then added "we'll see who can convert who first". So, fair enough, I guess I'm going to have to read it. We're on.

New clothes

This morning I was running late leaving the house for work, just faffing about at home. But this worked to my favour, because something which I consider to be quite astonishing happened. During Friday lunch time last week I placed my first ever order with Long Tall Sally. They were having a '30% of things already on sale', sale, and I'd been eyeing off some things on their clearance list, so Thursday night I got out the tape measure to see if I could make sense of British sizing, then Friday did the deed. So, I was just about to leave the house this morning when the door buzzed, and it was a delivery. The only thing I was expecting to my home address was my new clothes, but I thought surely? ... Anyway, there they were! I'm very impressed. I could hardly have got here quicker myself from England. I haven't looked at the contents yet, but that fun awaits me when I get home.

In future you might actually see me getting about with my clothes dragging on the ground. See I get away with, sort of, regular old jeans from the shops which are 33 inches long, but I ordered some pants (just trackky-type things) from LTS that are 36 inches long. That's three whole extra inches of material goodness! There are two things in this life that are made for Mrs Average, and they are tracksuit pants and pyjamas. Pyjamas are always something stupid on me, and mostly I don't care, but I took a splash and decided to get some long ones. How nice are they going to be ...

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The city by night

I don't really know why I take pictures on my phone, or why I then blog those I do, but here are some shots from the other night when I was in Kirribilli with my friend from work. For those of you from foreign shores, here you have the Opera House, Sydney city and the Harbour Bridge (plus the odd palm tree).

Confession and change

Here are two more prayers from Michael Leunig. I'd love to know what you think of these.

God help us to find our confession;
The truth within us which is hidden from our mind;
The beauty or the ugliness we see elsewhere
But never in ourselves;
The stowaway which has been smuggled
Into the dark side of the heart,
Which puts the heart off balance an causes it pain,
Which wearies and confuses us,
Which tips us in false directions and inclines us
        to destruction,
The load which is not carried squarely
Because it is carried in ignorance.
God help us to find our confession.
Help us across the boundary of our understanding.
Lead is into the darkness that we may find what
        lies concealed;
That we may confess it towards the light;
That we may carry our truth in the centre of our heart;
That we may carry our cross wisely
And bring harmony into our life and our world.


God help us to change. To change ourselves and to
change our world. To know the need for it. To deal
with the pain of it. To feel the joy of it. To undertake
the journey without understanding the destination.
The art of gentle revolution.


Picture from here.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Poetry Day - Prayers for Spring

Recently I picked up a book of Michael Leunig's prayers from a second bookshop, a really nice hardcover book with his quaint illustrations. They are the sort of thing to be read with discernment (what isn't): some of them a good; some of them are weird and some of them are quite wrong. But they provoke thought in their simplicity. So here are couple pertinent to spring. (And I edited one under the burden of blog responsibility ...)

Dear God,

We celebrate spring’s returning and the rejuvenation
of the natural world. Let us be moved by this vast
and gentle insistence that goodness shall return,
that warmth and life shall succeed, and help us to
understand our place within this miracle. Let us see
that as a bird now builds its nest, bravely, with bits and
pieces, so we must build human faith. It is our simple
duty; it is the highest art; it is our natural and vital role
within the miracle of spring: the creation [cultivation] of faith.


God bless those who suffer from the common cold.
Nature has entered into them;
Has led them aside and gently lain them low
To contemplate life from the wayside;
To consider human frailty;
To received the deep and dreamy messages of fever.
We give thanks for the insights of
this humble perspective.
We give thanks for blessings in disguise.


Picture by Michael Leunig.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Spring Dinner Menu

I just received this email, containing a Spring dinner menu, from Donna Hay and now I am sitting here salivating.  Check out, especially, how easy the Blackberry Cheesecake pots are. They are served with a piece of biscotti instead of making the base - brilliant!

Temperament in the Bible

I read something the other day, in a moment of revisiting temperament types (it’s what I do when I feel like I must be the world’s biggest fruitcake) and I have to say, this amused me. I’m not putting any stock in it, but it’s a nice try!

The observation of a four-part human nature dates back even further in Judeo-Christian writings. As early as 590 B.C. the Old Testament prophet Ezekial beheld mankind as embodied in “four living creatures” each with “four faces”—that of a lion, that of an ox, that of a man, and that of an eagle—a vision repeated around 96 A.D. in The Revelation of St. John. Also the Church chose to have four gospels in the New Testament, written by men of four temperaments: the spontaneous Mark, the historical Matthew, the spiritual John, and the scholarly Luke. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, explained (in 185 A.D.) why four gospels were necessary: “Living Creatures are quadriform,” he wrote, and so “the Gospel also is quadriform.”
People Patterns: A Modern Guide to the Four Temperaments, by Stephen Montgomery.

But could this be some proof that Irenaeus was, at least in some ways, influenced by prevailing philosophy/psychology (namely Hippocrates and Galen, who got their ideas of four "humours" from Plato and Aristotle)? :) Though I'm not convinced that's quite what Irenaeus had in mind (see point 8 here).

The history of these ideas is really quite interesting.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A surprise prize

I got something lovely in the post today, and just thought I'd show you. I won it over here (and you can buy them from the Harrysdesk etsy store here). Now I just have to decide what worthy thing is going to be written in it.

All the single ladies

I came across this series on Blessings of Singleness via Radical Womanhood and In the Woodshed (and I know, you might want to groan and think you're just going to be told you have more spare cash, but the series is also called Singleness Sufferings - read the introductory post to find out why). The posts didn't all seem to be coming up under the series tag, so I have put the individual links in here. I particularly like #4, and #3, and #1, and #2, and #6 ... and well, all of them. I did find #5 a bit odd with it's notion of "fasting". If she was thinking along the lines of 1 Corinthians 7:5 (and possibly the rest of 1 Corinthians 7) then perhaps it works, but I haven't signed off on that one yet.

Some Talks on Singleness

The Blessings of Singleness #1: Loneliness

The Blessings of Singleness #2: The Pain of Freedom

The Blessings of Singleness #3: Losing Control

The Blessings of Singleness #4: The Pain of Rejection

The Blessings of Singleness #5: Lack of Physical Intimacy

The Blessings of Singleness #6: The Pain of Misplaced Shame

Misplaced apostrophe spot

Has anyone else seen the advertisement on the side of buses, for who knows what, that says "it's you'er than you" in massive lettering? Why is there an apostrophe in youer? I'd like to see "you're" used correctly more often, but don't know what this is about. Dr Seuss didn't use an apostrophe! It took me a good few seconds of looking at the advertisement to even understand it what it said, which doesn't make for great bus advertising. Surely a hyphen, if anything, would have been more appropriate.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I ♥ Kirribilli and Jesus

Last night I took a colleague from work along to see the I ♥ Kirribilli Art Exhibition that is currently running at my church. You can read Hayley's post about reason for the exhibition here. I helped out at the opening on Saturday and we gave out six hundred cupcakes to locals - I was amazed!

But, back to my colleague, I've done the occasional thing outside work with her such as going to a movie, going to hear Alain de Botton speak at the Opera House, she's come over for dinner etc. I always find her quite a formidable discussion opponent - she likes a good debate, she's very intelligent, she reads government policies online for fun, she's done her own vast exploration of most things she believes and if she has a conviction about something (and she has lots of them!) she has her own very good reasons for it and holds her opinions strongly.

So, anyway, we had a bit of fun exclaiming over and discussing the artworks, then went for dinner down the road, and she opened more than she ever has there about her personal life, times when she's homesick (she immigrated from Scotland on her own) and it was a nice time of just sharing life. Then we strolled around the waterfront admiring the city lights, goofed around in front of the ghastly Luna Park face and so on. It wasn't till the car ride home that we got to the serious "God talk", and then I ended up parked out the front of her place for another ten minutes or so as we continued. To be honest, I feel like I botched it. I felt like my brain actually packed up about 2 pm yesterday and I wanted to sleep at my desk and I had had a congestion sort of headache all through dinner (had a cold over the weekend, but there is no way I am going near pseudoephedrine again!) and she was countering me with a lot of Buddhist philosophy that left me floundering on a number of occasions. But all up, when I think about the evening, we made good "progress" (sounds all very technical but you know what I mean) in terms of deepening the relationship and also the conversation about life, the universe and everything. I was actually quite suprised when she told me she is no longer an atheist, whereas once she was, she just thinks God is a concept, or "life force", not a being or external authority (classic Buddhist ideas really - she even told me she thinks Jesus was a Buddha and there is good evidence for that?!).

I did come away feeling like I was a bit rusty in certain areas though. Once upon a time I even went a Credo apologetics conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, at which William Lane Craig was the speaker and hung about at L'Abri reading Francis Schaeffer, but for some reason last night didn't feel like I could get a cohesive response out. One of the things that frustrates me about trying to share the gospel with people is that I never seem to get to draw Two Ways to Live on a napkin, I always end up mired in the other person's world-view along the way (funny that about people - they will insist on being other people!). And I wouldn't ever say that we need clever arguments to effectively share the gospel, but I do usually end up feeling like I need the clever arguments anyway. I'm tempted now to go, 'let me just tell you exactly what I believe' and get the gospel out there clearly so at least I know I've said it! But, I just need to keep praying to the God who changes hearts instead of having mental conversation re-runs.

I haven't read Tim Keller's Reason for God yet, but I think I am going to get my hands on a copy and see if it's suitable to hand over. She's an avid reader and said several times last night that she thinks you need to work these things out for yourself and not just because someone tells you and so on and gets most of her ideas from books. She wasn't really interested in coming along to church (she went to Sunday School every week till she was about 12 in Scotland, so I thought she might like to see how we do things here) but she might read a book.

Tonight I am back at the exhibition with my connect group, to be the helpers for some of the evening, then we'll have dinner together afterwards. It is fun - and well done. There's live music playing, the artwork is interesting and it has a cool vibe. If you live around the area, you should come and bring your friends!