Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all ingmarhingmah readers out there.

May God bless you as we remember our Saviour Jesus.

Things will be a bit intermittent on this blog for a couple of weeks. Just so you know!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Starting to slow down

I'm starting to slow down.

Thinks: Must reach Christmas...must...reach...Christmas!... Everything's white and blurry...maybe if I light a fire and sing...'Good King Wenceslas looked out...on the Feast of Stephen...gasp...choke...

Monday, 22 December 2008

Proselytize!



I got this off Mike who got it off Pyromaniacs. It's quite remarkable—it's the case for giving someone a Bible, from an atheist.

Five Bells

Time that is moved by little fidget wheels
Is not my time, the flood that does not flow.
Between the double and the single bell
Of a ship's hour, between a round of bells
From the dark warship riding there below,
I have lived many lives, and this one life
Of Joe, long dead, who lives between five bells.

Deep and dissolving verticals of light
Ferry the falls of moonshine down. Five bells
Coldly rung out in a machine's voice. Night and water
Pour to one rip of darkness, the Harbour floats
In the air, the Cross hangs upside-down in water.

Why do I think of you, dead man, why thieve
These profitless lodgings from the flukes of thought
Anchored in Time? You have gone from earth,
Gone even from the meaning of a name;
Yet something's there, yet something forms its lips
And hits and cries against the ports of space,
Beating their sides to make its fury heard.


Kenneth Slessor. More here.

The imagery evoked by the lines that follow has been lodged in my mind for many years:

Are you shouting at me, dead man, squeezing your face
In agonies of speech on speechless panes?
Cry louder, beat the windows, bawl your name!

But I hear nothing, nothing...only bells,
Five bells, the bumpkin calculus of Time.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

All the world

I made a post with a mistake.

I am deposting it while I think for a bit.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

-to the tune O Christmas Tree.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Our last trip to Melbourne

13.10.08

In the holidays I went to Melben it took ages to get to Melben we even drived a lietle bit in the ngit ferst we went to Marie and Bassams house On the way to Melben and back we sar tracks with fary lits o them. We counted 200 14 I had a lot of fun at Melben. the secend plas was a Mhotel too that was clos to a somemoren [submarine] we went on the somemoren We bided a toy to remyned us of Melben Matilda got a little ber and she named it melidy Ruby bort a thing that you dror on I got saning that gos arord in the wind I named it ranbow because it had all the callos of the ranbow.

—From guest blogger Lily Violet, who turns 6 today.

I hope you caught that bit about seeing trucks with fairy lights on them. We did in fact see 214 of them on the Hume Highway, between somewhere and Holbrook, the place with the somemoren (I assumed that was 'submarine', although I suppose it could be 'some moron').

What's that you say? You want another story? Oh alright then.

16.10.08

Mr Zebedee lived in a house by the zoo. that night the animals had a party. they sang what a horoble hobball. Mr Zebedee said I ckart sleep the animals are singing at the zoo. Mr Zebedee sended a fax to the zookeeper alltheo the zookeeper was asleep then the munkes' said lets dance so the animals' danced they hopt and they popt all over the zoo. Mr. Zebedee said I carnt sleep the animals' are dancing at the zoo. Mr Zebedee sended anaver fax to the zookeeper. alltheo the zookeeper was still asleep. wen the sun came up then the hipopotomese said lets sleep so the animals' sleped and the zookeeper wack up and rede the faxs' oh no ther is a holbloo at my zoo I havto go altheo wen the zookeeper got ther the animals war sleeping then the zookeeper sended a fax to Mr Zebedee alltheo Mr Zebedee was a sleep too and Mr Zebedee was ma[d]

****

Mr Zebedee sounds like my kind of dude. Sending faxes to right the wrongs of the world, getting mad when the solution rebounds upon him. The story is so creative that I suspect it is plagiarized from class reading time, but please don't tell Lily Violet that this thought even entered my mind, or ented my mine as Lily might say.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The presumption of atheism

The presumption of atheism is, at best, a methodological starting point, not an ontological conclusion.

-Antony Flew, former atheist, There is a God, p. 56.

That's quite an important little distinction he makes there.

Thank you

Just wanted to thank you all for your comments and prayers about me finishing up at Matthias Media, here and on facebook.

We are going pretty well and there are some good possibilities for future employment out there.

Playing the man and not the ball

Just to be clear, let me say that I think Brian Houston, Rowan Williams, NT Wright and Karl Barth are false teachers.

I'm angry at people who treat their teaching seriously, in the same way that a few years ago, there was a sense of outrage that racist politician Pauline Hanson got any thoughtful attention at all from political leaders.

So I wrote this post on the Sola Panel.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Business card

I picked up a business card from the desk, with an ornate leafy pattern on the front.

On the back it says N —— M —— [that is, her name], Mum to R ——

Plus the other details.

That's a good business card!

Friends with Andrew Katay

My facebook friendship request has been pending for a year. But now, he has accepted it!

I think this tells you something.

I am pathetically grateful.

So close

I am so close to doing some work this morning that it is not funny.

If I look back at this morning's achievements, it is even possible that I will be able to categorize them as work, and so kick back for another hour or so.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Lily Violet's sixth birthday

It's Lily Violet's turn to turn a different age, in just a few days. This means birthday parties.

We went to Blenheim Park with some of the girls from Lily Violet's class. Fifi has been doing a super, great, excellent, wonderful and magnificent job of organizing the whole lot. Today she made a hedgehog cake, which Lily loved, and which due to certain design idiosyncrasies ended up looking, for mine, not unlike a half submerged sea mine of the WWII variety. It tasted a lot better but, or I imagine so anyway, never having tasted a half submerged sea mine.

That is two birthday parties down and the fridge shelves are groaning under the weight of cream, blueberries, pavlova, strawberries, yoghurt, chocolate sea mines, rockmeron, and watermeron. Anything else goes in, it will explode.

I shot a fridge into the air,
it fell to earth I know not where.

Finishing at Matthias Media

The recession is biting, and sadly I am taking a redundancy package and finishing work at Matthias Media on January 31.

Although the sales performance of the organization has been weak all year, and the board have kept us well informed, it nevertheless has come as a shock. November sales were worse than expected, and after an emergency board meeting some difficult decisions had to be taken, of which my redundancy is a part. I am quite confident from my discussions with Ian Carmichael and Tony Payne in particular that this was not a decision that anyone wanted to make, but in the providence of God this is a necessary result.

I can't help thinking about this as a very specific answer to prayer, indeed one way or another some of you may have been a part of this. As a direct consequence, despite the shock and surprise associated with the situation, one of my strongest responses to what has happened is a deep sense of thankfulness to God. That thankfulness extends beyond the immediate circumstances to include my 5 years of work at Matthias Media, where at every step of the way I've been treated with extraordinary grace and patience. Some of you know that I joined Matthias Media after some fairly major traumas to do with my previous employment, and at the time Matthias Media proved to be a direct instrument of God's grace to me and to our family. That has continued, up to and including the way my redundancy has been handled.

I am often struck by the fact that although human institutions and even friends may fall short, God never does. He has always shown grace, most especially through his Son Jesus Christ, but so also in the daily experiences of life, even the darkest moments. This moment now is not one of those, but it remains clear to me that God continues to shower his grace on us at this time.

Those of you who are in the habit of praying may like to ask God to continue to show his grace and reveal what he has in mind for us next. I haven't ruled out any obvious options, ranging from church planting through to parish ministry, perhaps even secular work. I teach a mean piano lesson I can tell you. But let me share a few Bible verses that I think God has been drawing to my attention recently, as I've worked through Romans. They are a theme of Matthias Media's ministry, and to some extent a theme of my life as well:

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, [1] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.


-Romans 16:17-20

So much of Christian ministry is tied up with the refutation and opposing of false teachers, together with the encouragement of Christians to be wise, and the expectation that the Lord Jesus will certainly return and show grace to his children, whilst at the same time crushing Satan under our feet in fiery judgement. It is a ministry of grace; one that Matthias Media is a part of, and one which, by the grace of God, I am also, together with all who love the Lord Jesus.

I have more brilliant insights along those lines—brilliant I tell you—but I will save them for the Sola Panel and give you a hoy via this blog when the relevant post appears.

In the meantime, thanks be to God and to my friends and fellow workers (note to the reader—understand what this means!) at Matthias Media.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Peter Costello again

Now look, I DON'T want to be the one to say I told you so.


BUT...

I need friends

No really, I do. I know I've said this before, but this time it's true.

On facebook, that is. I was so desperate to make some more friends that I even had to include one or two people I'm not sure I really like, but the other 806, well, I love youse all.

And I will love you too, with a love that approximates to the love I hold for those 806, if you will just befriend me. Try it! You'll like it!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Matilda

Matilda is ten years old today.

How did that happen so fast?

"Matilda, what is the best thing about turning ten?"

"Presents!"

Thursday, 11 December 2008

If a numbskull

"If a numbskull comes to the seminary and comes away a numbskull, do not blame the seminary."

-A.T. Robertson, quoted on Theologica

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Derek Kidner has died

According to Justin Taylor's blog.

I was blessed by his commentaries on Genesis, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs.

Australia: the movie

Peter Costello points out one or two errors of fact.

Big job losses in the CBD

Estimates for Sydney are between 5000 and 19000 in the finance industry alone.

From Jessica Irvine in today's SMH.

I wrote a tract about the financial crisis recently called When Money disappears overnight:

Here’s a story from Paul Sheehan, a senior correspondent with the Sydney Morning Herald, about some questionable advice he received shortly before recent stockmarket crashes in 2008:

I was advised by a very wealthy friend to borrow the full $1 million and put it into super. The cost of servicing the debt, he said, would be covered by tax-free dividend payments, and the rising value of the super would be free money. He made it sound so simple, and inevitable, perhaps because he had done so well for so long by borrowing to the hilt.

That was 18 months ago. Since then his company has collapsed. He has sold his waterfront mansion. He has left the country, with no plans to return for the foreseeable future. I did not take his advice. I borrowed nothing. Rather than leverage up, I de-leveraged down. I have no debt, no mortgage, not even a car. What I wanted was the ultimate luxury good, something invisible but palpable - peace of mind.


No doubt the collapses of various share markets in 2008 left quite a few rich individuals feeling slightly rattled about their ability to predict the direction of their investments. The world financial markets will occasionally deal out sharp and unpleasant reminders, on a massive scale, that it is possible to get a great deal of wealth together in a hurry, and then lose it even faster.

One of the most alarming aspects of these sudden losses is that even though they are, in one sense, completely predictable—yet in another sense they can catch us completely flatfooted. Here’s a similar, slightly older story involving the loss of money and far more:

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘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. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”


Let’s highlight some observations about both stories, for they are quite similar in some striking ways, even though they are separated by some 2000 years.

The first thing to notice is that the capacity for rich people to do and think stupid things has not changed with the passing of time. Rich people in particular have a tendency towards arrogance, and arrogance in turn means that we are sometimes blind to the obvious—such as, for example, the possibility that you can lose money at any time, and that when you die, you will lose it all. Now if we are honest, we are all capable of doing and thinking similarly silly things, but somehow when the folly of rich people is exposed it is more public and more embarrassing and—just quietly—more satisfying.

The second thing to notice is that despite this, and on the face of it, the wisdom of rich people makes a lot of sense. There are all sorts of reasons for this. The rich person, after all, must have done something right to get to where they are, even if it’s something as basic as handling their finances sensibly. If you follow their advice, there is a good possibility that similar wealth can come your way. And once that wealth has arrived, why not do what the man in the second story does, and step out of the rat race? “Relax, eat, drink, be merry”, says the rich fool to himself. Retiring early and enjoying the result of your labour just makes a lot more intuitive sense than working to satisfy greed—your own, or someone else’s.

The third thing, however, is that the loss of wealth is completely out of control of the clever schemers and dreamers who accumulated it in the first place. In the story that Paul Sheehan relates, another clever person might be able to say, ‘Well, if they had just gotten out of the market at the right time, they would have been fine’. But the whole point is, they failed—and no-one with any sense believes that failure can be avoided forever. Death, as Jesus’ story of the rich fool demonstrates, is the ultimate example of a failure that will part us from our money permanently. Death highlights, more effectively than any other means, the ultimate stupidity of putting trust in wealth.

A closer look

Having considered these two case studies of failed wealth, we could easily leave it at that. The message of these morality tales, and others like them, is fairly straightforward. That is, if you think that money buys happiness, then you are a fool. A satisfying end to the story, especially if you happen to be a bit challenged in the wealth department.

But there is a little bit more to Jesus’ story, and it is a message that turns out to be well worth paying attention to, whether we are rich or poor.

It’s worth saying, for example, that in the story of the man with big barns, the problem is not the amount of accumulated wealth. There’s a hint of the real nature of the problem when we realize that the man in question is talking to himself! Some would immediately say this is a sign of madness. But think: who else does the man have to turn to for advice? The fact that he can only speak to himself suggests the answer—no one. No family, no friends, God plays no part in his life. We don’t know for sure whether the man was actually alone, in reality. The story doesn’t give us that detail We can conclude, however, that this rich individual was completely self-absorbed and self-centred. The only one who mattered was the man himself. As a result, he dies alone, facing an awful question: “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

One of the most fascinating things about the story is that Jesus ends up talking about a subject that he considers far more important than money. Recall that a man in a crowd has asked Jesus to settle a dispute about an inheritance: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

In his answer, Jesus absolutely refuses to judge in a matter of dollars and cents. But he doesn’t simply stop there. Rather, he points to a far greater judgement that is coming our way. It has nothing whatsoever to do with money, and it is relevant whether we are financially rich, or stricken with poverty. “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

This night your soul is required of you

This is the real punch line of Jesus’ story. Rich or poor, we will have to face God one day.
Just before Jesus tells his story, he’s said this: “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

This is where the real message lies. It’s not enough to realize—true as it is—that we can lose our wealth in an instant, whether through stock market failures, death, or some other terrible turn of events. Jesus warns that there is a greater crash coming, and it lies in wait anyone who dies unprepared to meet God. The Bible makes it very clear that God is our maker and our judge, and he will judge every part of us—our use of money, our selfishness, our greed, and even the moral failures that have little or nothing to do with dollars.

So the real issue here, in Jesus’ story about wealth, is whether or not we are ready to meet a God who will judge everything we’ve done, thought and said.

Just one more thing

If we have not considered God’s judgement, Jesus’ words warn us that we should get ready for it.
But what next? Can we really find true peace of mind by forgetting about money and thinking instead about the judgement to come?

Elsewhere in the gospel of Luke, Jesus meets all sorts of people with varying attitudes to money. Some have a lot of it. Some have none. Some want more of it; some are already aware that at the end of the day, a lot of money is not going to be of much use in facing God. But Jesus’ message is the same whether he is addressing rich people or poor: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

If you are worried about the value of your wealth in the face of God’s judgement and the threat of hell, Jesus offers comfort. For Jesus is making far more than a simple observation that money can’t buy happiness. He is saying that rich or poor, if we have lost our way, he is able to save us from the judgement of God and has come into the world to rescue us in a way that money never can. Will you trust him?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Words expunged from dictionary

We're losing some words from the dictionary.

Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity"


From this report in the UK Telegraph.

Lenny Bruce is dead

Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on
Never did get any Golden Globe award, never made it to Synanon.
He was an outlaw, that's for sure,
More of an outlaw than you ever were.
Lenny Bruce is gone but his spirit's livin' on and on.

Maybe he had some problems, maybe some things that he couldn't work out
But he sure was funny and he sure told the truth and he knew what he was talkin'
about. Never robbed any churches nor cut off any babies' heads,
He just took the folks in high places and he shined a light in their beds.
He's on some other shore, he didn't wanna live anymore.


-The Bob.

Some sayings

One Desiderata or Kahlil Gibran poem is enough to carry this blog writer through many, many months, yea verily years. But occasionally you just need a top up of profound zingers to get you through the day, so here we go, and may your day be as uplifting as the sunset sinking slowly into a land of contrasts.

1 * Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can't push.

9* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

14* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18* A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.


With thanks to Rowland Croucher, who picked them up from I know not where.

Obama in Iraq

Obama's policy on Iraq now looks like a continuation of the Bush Administration's position.


Now there's a newsflash, or not as the case may be.

From Gerard Henderson in the SMH.

Monday, 8 December 2008

So much to say

But so little internet connection.

Fixed tomorrow, Optus willing.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Messiah

We've had a lot of rehearsals—Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Nothing today, but a performance tomorrow night, then on Saturday afternoon, then on Sunday night.

There's a family version of this, with Christmas carols and the boring bits edited out, on Sunday afternoon, so if you happen to be around come along! (C reserve tix are $45, click on the link above for info and tickets for all the concerts). It's sounding sensational.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

God bless America

God bless America (and everyone else).

Is my working title for my Bible study on Romans 15:14-33.

You tell me if it makes sense. In my own mind, it's brilliant.

Nearly finished Romans.

I'm so close. Do you know the major theme of Romans, from beginning to end, is the judgement of God.

Beware anybody who wants to soft sell the subject of divine judgement. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."

That's Romans 1:18.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Utzon and the Sydney Opera House

A report in today's SMH.

The architect Richard Johnson, who has been working with the Utzons on the renovations, said some aspects of the building should never be altered.

"One should never touch the sails, the shells, the fundamental processional route into the building. But there's a lot that can be changed to be closer to what he originally intended."

Joern Utzon

Joern Utzon has died.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Preachers

Preachers

It doesn't matter if you don't say it very well.

It is probably better if you don't.

For if, in trying to frame words of eloquence

to speak the glory of the Lord

it happens that you

bark like a dog,

or croak like a frog,

philosophers may choose to pass you by.

But the dogs and frogs will understand,

and with one voice glorify

the Lord of all creation.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Sin

Despite some fine intentions I have been unable to resist the temptation to pick up and read.

Unfortunately what I picked up was the eminently readable and hot off the press Briefing, so hot off the press that if you click through on that link today it will still be the old issue.

Some seriously uncomfortable words about sin from Tony Payne, reviewing John Owen's book Sin and Temptation. I'm told John Owen is virtually unreadable, and frankly that is what I need right now to stop me from picking stuff up and reading. Thank you John for saving me from that.

Here we go, let's pick up Tony first because he is comprehensible. This is him talking about Owen's unreadable book:

It's a book, in other words, about self-understanding: "The man that understands the evil of his own heart, how vile it is, is the only useful, fruitful, and solid believing and obedient person" says Owen (p. 283)


What's so hard to understand about that, Tony? I hate the message, but it speaks direct to who I am.

OK, here's Owen expanding on the point:

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that I cannot do the things that I would" (Gal 5:17)...

There are these contrary principles in the hearts of believers. And if they labor not to be spiritually wise, how shall they be able to steer their course aright? Many men live in the dark to themselves these days; whatever else they know, they know not themselves. They know their outward estates, how rich they are, and the condition of their bodies as to health and sickness they are careful to examine; but as to their inward man, and their principles as to God and eternity, they know little or nothing of themselves, Indeed, few labor to grow wise in this matter, few study themselves as they ought, are acquainted with the evils of their own hearts as they ought; on which yet the whole course of their obedience, and consequently of their eternal condition, does depend.


Hmm, OK, there is a bit of work involved there. Not so much at the level of comprehension, though. The idea that we would know how much money we have and how healthy our bodies are, yet remain completely ignorant of our spiritual state, is easy to understand. But it is quite hard to hear.

Anyway I am glad, Tony, that you said it is difficult reading and I will trust your word that it gets a lot more turgid than this.You've given me another good reason for avoiding books that aren't the Bible and getting on with my work. Thank you!

Kid solves puzzle in quick time

TWO years ago a 27-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry set the Guinness World Record for the fastest completion of a sudoku puzzle. His time was two minutes and 8 seconds.

Last week Lucus Yeo, an 11-year-old boy from Castle Hill with a passion for formula one racing, smashed that record.


Isn't that marvellous?

How can you not love stuff like this. Years ago I wanted to be a numbers nerd, but just lacked the commitment and talent. But how wonderful to see others at the top of the game.

"To do it effectively he has to hold those 81 spaces in his head simultaneously," said Mr Mullan.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Inflatable subway animals!

Hey everybody take a look at this short clip Fifi found for me!

It is tres cool.

Inflatable subway animals!

Click through, you won't be disappointed.

Letters to the newspaper

I keep writing! I keep failing!


What's the fuss about choirs singing at St Andrew's Cathedral?

Firstly, they are, and they're doing it regularly.

Secondly, who cares? I sing with the Sydney Philharmonia, and as a supporter of choral music my view is, let people come and hear our choirs sing 'Messiah' this December because they love it, not
because it has been imposed on them by traditionalists.

Yours sincerely,

The Rev. Gordon Cheng


Yet another letter that didn't make it in.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Screwtape letters read by John Cleese

[updated]

For CS Lewis fans, I heard that this is online.

But for copyright fans, a friend who knows the law expressed some concerns that this breaches certain provisions. So I've removed the link to be on the safe side. (The site in question claims that the recording is copyright free.)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Page 56

Picked this game up from facebook. Give it a go for yourself:

Rules:

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.

* Turn to page 56.

* Find the fifth sentence.

* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall/blog

* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


"There seems to be something very wrong here."

That is from a book called 21st Century Living...1st century wisdom.

It is in answer to the question "Is it morally outrageous that God inflicted punishment on an innocent victim?"

Iran

Will we see war in Iran?

The head of the Israeli defence forces offers an opinion about Mid-East politics:

Military intervention would not be one strike. It needs to be a sustained operation … Any military strike in Iran will be quietly applauded by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states. It is a misconception to think that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most important in the Middle-East. The Shiite-Sunni schism is much bigger, the Persian-Arab divide is bigger, the struggle between national regimes and jihadism is much bigger. And I can't imagine the US will want to share power in the Middle East with a nuclear-armed Iran.


-Paul Sheehan in the SMH.

Bike riding

I used to ride the bike in Melbourne all the time. So did Fifi. Negotiating traffic in Sydney, however, is pretty hairy and scary sometimes. Today's SMH has a report.

Here's a statistic from the report:

But one estimate, based on Sydney's Anzac Bridge, showed that by diverting 10 per cent of car occupants to bicycles - or about 730 cyclists an hour - the life of the current bridge would be extended by about eight years, a saving of $46 million based on present-day construction costs


There are huge benefits to both cyclists and car drivers if some people, who would normally be driving cars, are encouraged onto their bikes. That's just one example.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Mr Pernickety



There he is on the left.

Funnily enough, my children have been calling him 'Mr Finickety', which appears to be a portmanteau word made up of 'pernickety' and 'finicky'.

But who could be bothered pointing it out?

Friday, 21 November 2008

Ruth

Before I did the asparagus, I tied up an interview with Barry Webb on the book of Ruth, which could equally be called the book of Naomi.

Naomi comes back to Israel complaining that she went away full, but now she has returned empty. The only way she can really think like this is if she imagines Ruth to be a liability, which is unkind, to say the least.

By the end of the book Ruth has placed a baby in Naomi's lap. It is left to the women of Bethlehem to bless God. And in so doing, their blessing gently reminds Naomi that she is indeed full. And she is full, because God has made it so. And she is full, with a son who will become the ancestor of David, of Christ.

How good is our redeemer!

Asparagus

So Fifi's out tonight, dinner with friends.

I put the girls in bed, and feel hungry. Boil the water, toss in the pasta, then the asparagus, which is fresh. A quick shower, and by the time I'm out the simmering pasta and asparagus are moved aside. Onto the flame goes the fry pan, half a little jar of anchovies, throw in a few sundried tomatoes, go to look at the computer.

I'm called back by the sound of sizzling, so I tip the boiled water out of the pasta and asparagus, tip the pasta and asparagus into the fry pan, stir it round.

And now I'm eating and typing, and maybe will go to bed in a moment.

A sad story

What a terribly sad story this is.

Shane O'Neill, a 28-year-old butcher who was soon to be married, drowned while trying to save his sons, Riley, 4, and Travis, 15 months, after the boys fell from the wharf at Tathra, near Bega, on Tuesday night.


SMH today.

Violet read

Violet narrated for a play at school today.

Hesitation? Anticipation?

None of the first and some of the second, but both words were negotiated with consummate skill.

A bad book

A friend wrote a bad book.

That is, I'm told it is a bad book, and if it is true, then I am trying to work out whether or not I should read it.

I haven't read it, and I've been avoiding reading it, because if it really is a bad book, I will end up needing to say so, which will cause problems.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Stem cell therapy that works

Here's another stem cell breakthrough—the world's first transplant of a whole human organ (a windpipe) grown from stem cells.

Not, mind you, embryonic stem cells, which involves experimenting on and killing human embryos. In fact, to date there have been no successful medical therapies emerging from embryonic stem cell experimentation. This score card, though now just over 18 months old, remains substantially accurate.

But if this report is right, the need for actual embryonic stem cells is now redundant, as other cells which share the same characteristics can now be produced in significant quantities.

Hillsong Conference 2009

I just received a letter inviting me to Hillsong 2009, telling me that they will be championing the causes of local churches everywhere.

But this is what they told me would happen in 2006, and if they didn't do it then, why should someone expect it to happen this time?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Prayer and theologizing: Andrew Barry

Andrew Barry has started blogging over at the Sola Panel.

I've only met Andrew once or twice, but ever since I started reading his personal blog I've been hooked on the way he works to connect up his bible reading, his theology, and the way he looks at life. Here's what he says about Job:

Rather than being just a book about the problem of evil, Job contains a sharp and scary message for would-be theologians. These people actually infuriate God with their endless discussions if they are not men and women of prayer (Job 42:7). Perhaps, at least in part, the message of the book of Job is a word of strengthening to people who pray.


How's that? Job: not an erudite experiential theodicy or a chance for further inward spiralling and navel-gazing theology, but a confrontation with God that drives us to our knees in prayer.

Long may you blog, Andrew.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Living sacrifice

The expression "living sacrifice" is from Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 12, verse one, which says:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.


"Living sacrifice" is a paradox, because sacrifices are dead.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Water or Goo?

This book was quite good. I liked the bit were the toilet at Emily's house exploded. I don't really get it when Daniel was on the TV screen, Dad got angry. It was good how in the end Shanti and her village got water that was clean, and it had a bible verse to it. Thanks Penny, for writing this book!

Matilda Cheng :-)

[aged 9. blogged with permission]

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Peer reviewed scientific publications

Letter in SMH.

The system of peer review in science has become corrupted, with rorts such as rampant cross-authoring (putting names of non-contributing colleagues on papers to build their CVs) and "coffee time" agreements to approve each other's works.

Almost all grants, funding, pay, promotions and accolades are as a result of numbers of papers published. A far more useful statistic would be the number of citations, a measure of the work's usefulness.

As stunning as it is that most published papers are found to be false within five years, two other statistics are even more blunt: 50 per cent of publications are never read by anyone, and 95 per cent of peer-reviewed science is never cited, other than by the authors themselves.

In other words, most peer-reviewed published science is useless rubbish.

Jon Jenkins, Bogangar


I've often suspected that the quality of peer-reviewed science publications suffer from a 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' arrangement.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Gillard bats away

"Ms Gillard greeted her inquisitors with the quietly confident air of a $10,000-an-hour alimony lawyer arriving at her first bout with Eddie Murphy."

-Annabel Crabb

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Hear Messiah

Our choir is singing Handel's Messiah for our next concert, December 4, 6, 7.

Let me know if you want discount tickets, through facebook or through the comments (mark 'Not for Publication' if you don't want it to appear)

Lust

There's plenty of it about, and lots of good advice for coping with the problems it creates.

But I am often surprised at how the advice Christians give completely overlooks grace. I was talking to Mike yesterday and he reminded me of Titus 2:11-14.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.


Yes, the world is full of good, practical suggestions that good, practical people make and good, practical people will take up.

But if you haven't got grace, you got nothin'. The grace of God in Jesus Christ is not just an initial infusion of righteousness that then leaves you doing the best you can, giving the Lord a hand. That grace is the powerful Holy Spirit, changing us into the likeness of Christ. See the note on the Spirit's work in Titus 3:5.

I find it distressing to see Christians compartmentalizing their lives away from their doctrine of God's saving grace, and it seems to me that lust is one area in which such legalism reigns supreme at the moment. And legalism is a far worse problem for Christians, because it strikes at the root of faith.

Christmas comes




Another image from Michael Leunig.

Click through, there's a Christmas poem!

Con Campbell and Greek stuff

Con Campbell says that "Perfective aspect is like a reporter who describes a street parade from a helicopter."

Useful!

He applies his understanding to this verse.

"For while we were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6)

Some commentators write that because an aorist is used here, Romans 5:6 proves that Christ’s death was a once-off event, never to be repeated, and therefore Christ could not be reoffered time and time again in the Roman mass. While not wanting to deny the once-for-all nature of Christ’s death (cf. 1 Peter 3:18), the aorist in Romans 5:6 does not prove the point at all. If we look ahead a few verses, we come to 5:14 (see above), where we see an aorist that plainly depicts death reigning from the time of Adam to Moses. To reiterate, this is not a once-off action. It is not punctiliar.


So all you Hellenophiles of the koine variety, head on over to this blog and be helped further.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Barth: smoke and mirrors

I suspect that he has confused many, like a squid with ink in clear water.

Check out the Sola Panel for some selected quotes by some evangelical theologians.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Cricket writing

Good cricket writing can be as absorbing as the game itself.

They betray the profound confusion that has pervaded cricket since India's triumph in the Twenty20 World Championship set in motion the juggernaut of the Indian Premier League.

This is a shame because the two days were among the most involving and absorbing of recent memory.

Saturday's first session contained only 46 runs, but once the Indian tactics and Australian response were clear, each ball was loaded. A wicket or two would change everything. On the stroke of lunch, a reverse-swinging yorker from a toiling fast bowler in the eighth over of a persevering spell; an hour later, an acrobatic save and return by a tyro on his Test debut.

For the rest of the afternoon Australia's batsmen were like all the king's horses and men after Humpty-Dumpty's fall.

For the media to complain about the entertainment value on the basis of the runs scored was like a complaint against Picasso for using too few brush-strokes.



From Gideon Haigh.

Monday, 10 November 2008

What is ethics?

This is what Rick Creighton thinks:

“Being what we were created to be” is a pretty good summary of what ethics should be all about.


And here's where he says it.

I'm sorry, I can't read that

Occasionally he changed a diaper, emptied the dishwasher, or even vacuumed, but usually with a remark to Debbie about hiring a maid, to which she responded with a gigantic roll of her ocean-blue eyes.


No, I'm sorry, you've lost me right there. After a sentence like that I'm going to need a couple of days off work, and even then I guarantee nothing.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Barbecue

My goodness I have a lot on my plate today.

The biggest thing is I had to fix the barbecue, and I'm hopeless at that.

I just cooked some stuff on it just now, a bit of salami and some leftover pasta, as a sort of a test.

It worked, and that's good, and it's better than it was. But the true test remains. A really large piece of meat.

Lola?

Obama's new dawn

The headline in the online Australian.

I put it to you that on the grounds that Obama is only a politician, there is no dawn associated with his election.

A big wave

A picture and an article, here.

Art and Morality

Hugh Mackay writes in today's SMH

Sydney is endowed with a rich artistic life. Writers, painters, poets, photographers, singers, dancers, actors, architects and designers thrive here. From the beginning, serious attention has been paid to theatres, galleries, concert halls - as well as public art - for the delight and stimulation of the populace.

Yet Sydney continues to suffer from the social ills that plague most large cities. Our enthusiastic attendance at galleries, theatres and concert halls doesn't appear to subdue our anger, relieve our stress, or incline us to become friendlier to each other. Those of us who love the arts like to believe we are "improved" in an almost mystical way by our exposure to various art forms. But where is the evidence that theatre or concert goers are better citizens - more attentive, say, to the needs of the marginalised or disadvantaged - than non-attenders?

In her modern classic, Everyday Ecstasy (1985), the English writer Marghanita Laski examined whether the ecstatic response to art is translated into enthusiasm for, say, charitable works designed to alleviate the suffering of those who may never experience such ecstasy. Is that how it benefits society, by making us more sensitive or compassionate? Her reluctant answer was no.


Art is for enjoyment. We shouldn't confuse it with something that's doing good to art consumers.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Kingsford bags

I love shopping at the Kingsford IGA. The plastic bags are so...capacious.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Encouragement

I wrote a book on Encouragement which is being distributed as a freebie at this conference.

A preacher's blog

It's here.

I'll be reading it regularly, hoping for help.

Sydney Phil reviewed

Harriet Cunningham's review of the concert Saturday:

NEXT year Sydney Philharmonia Choirs will present a concert entitled Amadeus, and Mozart's Requiem will no doubt feature prominently as a key work in the mysterious (and probably apocryphal) tale of the rivalry between Mozart and contemporary composer Salieri. This year, however, the Symphony Chorus is presenting Mozart's Requiem straight, and a very fine performance it is too.

On Saturday the 50-strong choir sang from memory and, with no score in between them and the audience, the music came through with huge immediacy. Furthermore, without a book to hide behind, all attention was focused on the conductor, Brett Weymark, who led them through the work with rock-like reliability and discreet flashes of brilliance.


In the SMH. If you are in Sydney and free this Thursday it's worth trying to get along.

Monday, 3 November 2008

McCain v Obama

A good summary.

Bots on the Ground

For all you sci-fi fans and lovers of Star Plot:

No less an authority than Bill Gates, in a recent Scientific American article titled "A Robot in Every Home," announces that the next big technological wave sweeping the world is robots. He compares their rise to the PC revolution he helped lead.


-from Joel Garreau's article in the Washington Post.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Pyros post again

Good to see the Pyromaniacs posting again after a month's break.

It's another fine Spurgeon quote entitled Unity at all costs?, and here's an extract:

The largest charity towards those who are loyal to the Lord Jesus, and yet do not see with us on secondary matters, is the duty of all true Christians. But how are we to act towards those who deny his vicarious sacrifice, and ridicule the great truth of justification by his righteousness? These are not mistaken friends, but enemies of the cross of Christ. There is no use in employing circumlocutions and polite terms of expression:—where Christ is not received as to the cleansing power of his blood and the justifying merit of his righteousness, he is not received at all.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

50 marathons in 50 days

Here's an article about the man who did it, Dean Karnazes. I don't know whether this is good, as amazing as parts of the story are. His life was out of control when he started, it's out of control now.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Sydney Uni ovals run

Ran the ovals at Sydney Uni this morning. St Andrew's, No. 1, No. 2, St John's...ending at St Paul's and then to where I was staying in Newtown.

I can't for the life of me work out why they needed to put in an extra oval since I ran this 20 years ago, nor even how they managed to fit it onto such a crowded campus.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A couple of thousand words

I am trying to think about subjects that could helpfully be addressed in a couple of thousand words.

They need to be about what Christians believe. They need to be worth reading for anybody who would not call themselves a Christian. They need to be interesting, even if they are not popular.

I'm trying to write some short tracts; at least one.

Ideas I've had so far.

Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan becomes a Christian.
Bob Dylan drifts away from Christianity.

So that is three brilliant ones already. But your interests may lie elsewhere, and that is what I am hoping to find out.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Gospel ministry: How to blunt the edge

The Sola Panel continues its brilliant work:

Last millennium, I got ordained as an Anglican minister, and Jean Penman, wife of Archbishop David Penman of Melbourne, presented each of my group of candidates for ordination with a copy of John Stott's excellent book I Believe in Preaching. David had died suddenly, but the note from Jean said that David had originally intended to present this book himself. It was a great idea to have a book entitled I Believe in Preaching, especially as, quite frankly, most of us didn't—including the leaders of the silent retreat that all the ordination candidates were invited to attend.


;-)

Being deliberately offensive


Michael Leunig is one of my favourite artists in the world.

There was a good article in the SMH this weekend, with an extract from his book, where he wishes out loud that religious leaders would be more offensive.

Yes please!

Thanks to Mark Barry for taking the trouble to type out the relevant part of the quote.

And 'mealy-mouthed' is such a good word.

Disappearing wealth

Paul Sheehan in today's SMH

I was advised by a very wealthy friend to borrow the full $1 million and put it into super. The cost of servicing the debt, he said, would be covered by tax-free dividend payments, and the rising value of the super would be free money. He made it sound so simple, and inevitable, perhaps because he had done so well for so long by borrowing to the hilt.

That was 18 months ago. Since then his company has collapsed. He has sold his waterfront mansion. He has left the country, with no plans to return for the foreseeable future. I did not take his advice. I borrowed nothing. Rather than leverage up, I de-leveraged down. I have no debt, no mortgage, not even a car. What I wanted was the ultimate luxury good, something invisible but palpable - peace of mind.


From here.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Bob

"Everybody likes motorcycles to some degree."

ORICA

Observation

Reflection

Interpretation

Correlation

.

;

:

Application

When I get older, losin' my hair

My daughters are in the next room singing When I'm 64.

They changed the words to 'When I'm 46'.

('You do the Olympics and eat Weetbix')

But I'm 47!

Friday, 24 October 2008

I worked it out!

People wake up at 4 in the morning to pray. (not me)

I get up at some time after 5 to beat my kids to the computer.

Perhaps I missed something

But if someone asks, can the answer be 'no'?

And if someone says 'Because you must', can the answer be 'why'?

I've always taken the view that you give your answer and you deal with the consequences, for better or for worse.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Misunderestimating

"Young men tend to overestimate how much they can accomplish in the short term, but underestimate how much they can accomplish in the long term."

That's true of all sorts of things in life. I got this comment off the 9Marks blog, an anonymous church elder's comment. The long-term accomplishment, under God, is what counts, and people consistently think they can't do much. Marriage, work, all sorts of things.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

For your entertainment

For the entertainment of blog readers, and particularly for those of you who have had to put up with working with me closely on any project that required significant attention to detail, I submit an extract of the final comments on my Masters thesis from one of the markers:

Report on G.Cheng Thesis
3 August,2008

[stuff]

His bibliography has been improved in scope and use, but I am still irritated at the number of omissions and inconsistencies, which suggest that the candidate is not good at accurate checking, or does not believe that such matters are important. If the candidate is to go on to doctoral studies, he will have to improve in this regard. There are mistakes in citation of sources, which I have indicated in the margin.

[stuff]


Yeouch! Cop that!

Well, guilty as charged your honour. I admit it. I am lousy at paying attention to typographical and publication details, and probably quite a bit more besides along similar lines.

Only, if I may be allowed the smallest of responses, may I point out that the title of these comments, 'Report on G.Cheng Thesis' does not conform to the usual way of citing such sources. Nor does it provide sufficient information to accurately identify the publication referred to.

In addition, the formatting of these comments is sloppy, noting for instance the absence of a single space after the fullstop in 'G.Cheng'[sic] and the similar absence of a single space after the name of the month in '3 August,2008'[sic].

There, got that off my chest. Now I better stop being a smartmouth, before my marker googles these comments and threatens to challenge the awarding of the degree. As you were, everybody, move along, nothing to see here.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Dilmah is the world's first truly ethical tea

Explain the logic underlying that conclusion.

Especially since, on the other side of the pack, you tell me that you are 'proud'.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Marriage enrichment weekend

Fifi and I are going away on a marriage enrichment weekend. We're running it!

Our dear friends Keith and Sarah Condie gave us their notes from similar weekends that they've run, together with a lot of reading material.

I'm excited about this; one of the greatest traumas and sadnesses in our society is marriages that don't work. What we are trying to stress on the weekend are two things:

1. God favours marriage
2. Marriages that are also friendships work well.

I am so thankful to God for Fiona's friendship over more than 23 years, and I would like to help other people who are married work on their friendships with their spouses.

Friday, 17 October 2008

My pants are fat!

Hey! How come my pants are fat!

I know I'm not.

The Lord, Jesus.

Clifford Warne lectured us in second year of Moore College.

One thing that stuck with me was that in conversation with friends, he always used to say "The Lord, Jesus". They used to say "The Lord Jesus".

It took several conversations before they worked out that he was being deliberately offensive!
We've reached a crisis. Could I ask those who are in the habit of praying to ask the Lord Jesus what we should do next? Thank you.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Singing about divine judgement

There just ain't that many songs about it.

Good on you Simone R. for writing one.

From the song:

The lion roars! Oh nations will you heed the warning
Before in judgement stubborn hearts are torn?
For every knee will bow and every tongue will worship
Flee to his side find shelter from the storm.

Public transport

At the moment they work out fares for planes, trains, buses and taxis roughly on the basis of distance travelled, ie

Fare = z + Fd

Where d is 'distance travelled', z is 'base cost' (things like 'flag fall' in a taxi) and 'F' is fudge factor.

But if they worked it out in a multifactorial way, on the basis of weight of passenger and distance travelled, such that lighter passengers travelling the same distance as heavier passengers paid less, this would be more accurately reflective of actual costs. The formula would be

Fare = z + Fdw

where w is 'weight'.

Not at all complicated; you would be weighed when you stepped onto the bus, or whatever, and the ticket seller would automatically offer the relevant fare scale for your weight. Except in the case of anorexics, there would be clear health benefits to the society that would no doubt offset the initial cost of weighing equipment over time.

Think about it folks, this idea has legs!

PS And that's this blog's 1000th post.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Thoughts scribbled on a piece of paper in a doctor's waiting room. A couple of weeks ago.

Some random musings. If you spend enough time in a doctor's waiting room, anything becomes blogworthy.

And if you spend long enough in the doctor's waiting room, nothing is secret. All will become known, as announced by the receptionist, who repeats addresses, phone numbers and medications in a voice for all to hear. I might as well put it on my blog.

On the radio, which is presumably playing to drown out the sound of the receptionist announcing medications and addresses: We believe all classic hits deserve to be played. Really? Including Denim and Lace by Marty Rhone, Bang Bang Boomerang by Abba, and Never been to me by Charlene?

Why?

Time in waiting rooms is dead time. I forgot to bring a book. The magazines are not worth looking at. Maybe I should do some singing practice, or some push-ups. Hmm. No, better not, that receptionist is already giving me a funny look. I wonder if you could do like they used to do in Moscow, which is to pay someone a small amount to wait in your place. There must be some truant kid from the local school who'd do it for two bucks and text me when it was time.

I've got to think!

Maybe I'll try to sing Mozart's Requiem in my head like these dudes.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Peter Jensen in the SMH

The SMH chose to report Archbishop Peter Jensen's comments on the economic recession:

"We are experiencing a significant economic downturn, with a possible increase in unemployment, poverty, homelessness - even of hunger."

What sort of people would we be now? he wondered.

"Our investment in secular individualistic values will prove as illusory as our investment in some parts of the market. Choice will disappear for many; tolerance will prove too cool for comfort; work may be harder to find."

If Australia did better than other countries in the crisis, it must bear an even greater responsibility for the poor of the earth, he said. If it suffered with the rest, then "the days ahead may well test our capacity to love each other in our community, to be real neighbours, true mates".

Dr Jensen called on Christians to lead the way by providing faith, hope and love. He cited the example of R.B.S. Hammond, the rector of St Barnabas Broadway, who once displayed a sign reading, "This state has the best politicians the breweries can buy."

During the Depression, Archdeacon Hammond had given away his clothes to the needy. "A beggar once asked him for his trousers. Hammond refused on grounds of decency. They were the only pair he had left."


From here, part of Peter's presidential address to Sydney's Anglican synod.

The 80 minute audio file of the address is here.

Michael Kellahan highlights Peter's comments on GAFCON and church planting, here. Mike highlighted these comments:

I have always thought that part of the answer will include a dedicated evangelistic fellowship, a local missionary society. I have looked to create something like that without success. As we have prayed for our city and its region this year, there has been what seems like a remarkable spiritual movement summoning young men into church planting. Is this an answer to our prayers? I think that this could be exactly what it is. Something is happening and it may be of great significance. Our local churches need to be on top evangelistically. Connect 09 is part of that. But for whole areas of the city and whole tribes this is not going to be enough. I hope that when we meet again next year I will be able to describe the way in which a movement of the Spirit has begun.


It's a safe bet that what Mike blogged is closer to the heart of what the Archbishop was speaking about.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Abortion in Victoria

Abortion in Victoria has now been decriminalized, and made easier to obtain even for unborn babies older than 24 weeks. Doctors who oppose abortion are now compelled by legislation to refer women seeking abortion to doctors who will provide it.

Trevor Cairney has a worthwhile article on the CASE website summarizing the current state of play.

Trevor concludes:

My point in writing this post has not been to be judgmental and simply to take the high moral ground, it has been motivated by sadness at the rejoicing in the streets by some, that it has just become that little bit easier in Victoria to terminate life than it once was. History will judge us badly when it considers that in Australia alone up to 100,000 abortions are performed each year.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Bathroom Rhapsody

Lily Violet, age 5 1/2, is singing in the bathtub.

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine-
Body's aching all the time,
Goodbye everybody-I've got to go-
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth-
Mama ooo- (any way the wind blows)
I don't want to die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all-


The words are mostly correct, except for 'Sends shivers down my spine', which comes out as 'Send shiver to my spine'

The original.

Back from holidays

We had a wonderful time in Melbourne, seeing many friends (not as many as we would have liked) and visiting many favourite places.

We got back a couple of hours ago. Amongst the junk mail, bills, and local newspapers I found a letter that said

The Board of Studies at its meeting on Friday 26 September resolved to recommend to the Governing Board of the College that you be awarded the Master of Theology.


So that's OK, after 20 years.

I'd like to thank Fifi, my supervisors, my markers...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Requiem

At rehearsal the other day the choir director decided we would be singing Mozart's Requiem, the whole darn lot, 90 or minutes or so, from memory. So we went from 'hey this is pretty cool singing this' to 'GAAA'.

Trying to learn it now. Here's a bit of it from the movie Amadeus, unfortunately mythical but still good in parts.

Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis,
voca me cum benedictus.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis,
gere curam mei finis.

When the accused are confounded,
and doomed to flames of woe,
call me among the blessed.

Internet challenged

I'm a bit internet challenged for a couple of weeks.

"You're a lightweight. You're fired."

-Alan Sugars The Apprentice

Or at least, taking a holiday.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Gravity

Hey daddy, isn't it funny that 'grabity' has the word 'grab' in it?

Yes, darling, it is funny, in many, many ways.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

One for culture vultures

There's a discussion about what culture is and how significant it is for understanding the Bible, happening here.

Have at it, ye landlubbers, arr harr.

Oh, sorry, I'm still gettin' over International Talk Like a Pirate Day, ye scurvy dogs.

Men and women and criticism

I'm reading lots of marriage books lately, got a marriage weekend coming up and have to think of worthwhile ways to use people's time on the weekend, given that the husbands and wives coming could just as easily have gone away for a weekend with each other.

Lots of random thoughts keep popping into my head as a direct result.

Women are very sensitive to implied criticism, aren't they?

I'm now imagining a possibly female reader of this blog thinking 'I wonder if he means me?'

The answer is, no.

Although actually, if you thought the thought, maybe I do...

(the dreaded ellipsis!)

Nitschke, Jennings and euthanasia

Back in June, Caren Jenning was found guilty of the manslaughter of Graham Wylie, despite claims by euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke that this was not murder but assisted suicide.

Last Friday she committed suicide.

One of the creepy aspects to this is that Dr Nitschke now appears again:

Caren Jenning, 75, died alone on Thursday night, the euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke confirmed yesterday, calling her death "inevitable".

"It is not unexpected given the treatment and persecution she received at the hands of the legal system in the past few months," Dr Nitschke said.


Every time Nitschke materializes, he seems to come equipped with another story of how a particular death is inevitable and understandable—never tragic or avoidable. Even troubled teens may have reason for seeking a way out.

Meanwhile, the daughter of the murdered Graham Wylie offers her comment:

Prosecution was the only way to deal with death

Date: September 25 2008

Your article states that Caren Jenning failed to mention during her trial that she bought the drug Nembutal for herself, as well as to kill my father, Graeme Wylie ("Suicide accomplice, a modern whodunit", September 23). She did mention she had planned to do so on one trip to Mexico, but said she lost her nerve. Her dear friend Philip Nitschke has now admitted she bought a bottle for herself. Even on her deathbed the woman has been caught lying.

She mentioned being persecuted by the legal profession. But how is one supposed to treat someone who has imported illegal drugs on more than one occasion, been involved in the death of a person, fabricated evidence for the Supreme Court of NSW, and consistently denies any of it?

The police and the Director of Public Prosecutions had no choice but to take the matter to court. I had the right to know what happened to my father and I thank them for finding out some of the truth. At no time did I see them act inappropriately to Jenning.

This woman was given every opportunity to own up to her involvement in my father's death, yet she consistently denied it. I understand that in NSW no one has ever been sentenced for assisting a genuine suicide. Why didn't she stand up for her beliefs? What would be gained by consistent lying about having nothing to do with it?

I can only imagine she was hoping a doctor would provide another medical certificate to keep her out of jail. I eagerly await the autopsy result, as she told me on the night she was involved in the death of my father that she was cured of her cancer.

As the supportive co-ordinator of Exit NSW, she made a good pair with Nitschke. However, yet again he is left holding a news conference, with another dead body in his tracks.

Nicola Dumbrell, Spit Junction


From here.

Lance is back

Lance Armstrong is back and he's coming to Australia.

AFTER Lance Armstrong confirmed that Australia's Tour Down Under would be where he will launch his comeback to road racing, it was revealed the seven-time Tour de France champion intends to resume where he left off when he retired in 2005 - by winning.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Michael Kellahan has started a blog

Welcome to the world of blog-posting, Mike!

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Victorian abortion law

The Catholic hospitals in Victoria are threatening to disobey the proposed abortion law.

Report in the Age.

Beam me up, Scotty

Sky hooks are on the way (SMH).

JAPANESE scientists are attempting to build a lift that will take passengers into space, marking the realisation of a vision that has inspired science fiction writers for generations.

The lift's carriages, which will themselves require new feats of engineering, would move up and down 35,000 kilometre-long cables. Those cables would need to be stronger and lighter than any material ever woven.

They would be anchored to the ground and disappear into the sky, eventually reaching a satellite docking station orbiting above the Earth.


Carbon nanotubes to the rescue! Yeah!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Super choral concert coming up

I am singing with my choir in a couple of concerts at the Opera House on November 1 and 6.

We've started rehearsals and from the sound so far, this one is going to be fantastic. If you have never been to a choral concert before, and you have even vaguely thought you might go one day, this is one worth turning up for to find out what it's about. Here's the ad.

The Dies Irae from Mozart's Requiem was used for an ad a few years ago, might have been the Melbourne Grand Prix, might have been Firestone tires; you will recognize it even if you aren't a classical music buff. Spine-tingling. Here 'tis on YouTube.

I can get cheap tickets for you (15% off A res, B res or C res) if you let me know soon enough, just respond with a comment and mark it Not For Publication if you don't want it to appear on this blog.

Free Esther!

The ESV Study Bible notes on Esther were written by Barry Webb, lecturer in Old Testament at Moore College. I interviewed him for the Sola Panel here, and if you head on over you can download the complete Esther notes for free!

A current pet peeve of mine is people who want to insist that we be culturally savvy in our understanding of our own culture and the culture of the Bible, and that this needs to happen before we can really get the message from the text. It seems to me a subtle attempt to deaden and dull the immediacy of God's living word. So my ears always prick up when I get the hint that others see this as a problem too. In the interview, Barry says:

The Jewish people during the inter-testamental period even added a bit to the story of Esther, and this has been preserved in the Septuagint [the traditional Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament]. In these additions, whoever wrote them seems to have wanted to exonerate Esther from the charge of having broken the law and behaved immorally.

So one of the exciting and fascinating things for me was when I read the book of Esther, having questions about their behaviour, and then discovered that the Jews of the inter-testamental period had the same thoughts. It was a good example of a modern reader reading the same text, with my questions coming not out of my modernity or my Christianity; it was a real issue that arose for earlier readers too.


I am not sure at all that Barry shares my annoyance with scholarly attempts at authoritative cultural exegesis. But his observations about the continuity between BC culture and his questions—my questions too, when I read Esther—help us see why it is that the Bible speaks to day. It's God's inerrant, infallible and true word, applied by his Spirit to people who have been made in his image. It's an image that remains despite the passage of some two and a half thousand years between when God first addressed his hearers, to when he addresses us now.

Crucial?

I read this comment about the literary and historical context of some of the New Testament letters:

But the epistles themselves don't leave many explicit clues, and since a lot of scholarship discounts patristic testimony and limits itself to internal literary evidence, it is hard to be certain of a great deal in this crucial area.


But if the epistles themselves don't give clues, and internal literary evidence doesn't answer the question either, then how is it 'crucial'?

Answer? It's not.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Broughton Knox writes about his theology

I'm quoting from the unpublished manuscript by Broughton Knox entitled Robert Banks—a Reply, subtitled The "Apologia Pro Theologica Mea". The explanatory note underneath says it was "Written almost immediately after the publication of Banks' chapter in God who is Rich in Mercy, 27.2. 1990—not looked at since". It is a response to Banks' assessment of Broughton's theology in this book.

From page 4:

I hate having to justify myself but I am told I have an obligation to so as no one else is in a position to.

Robert Banks begins his criticism with the statement, "DBK seems to have developed his theological method too independently of the wider world of theological discussion".

Because he has had the slenderest personal contacts with me he has perforce to base this comment on my theological writings. He bases his comment on the fact that I am not constantly citing and footnoting references to contemporary scholars; but to assume that consequently I am unacquainted with modern theological scholarship is non sequitur, it doesn't follow logically. It is a question of what I am aiming to achieve, to accomplish by my theological writings.

By God's providence, from early youth, I have had very great opportunities of personal relationship and theological cross-fertilisation with scholars in the universities of England, Scotland, and America, and by their visits to Australia. And, of course, I have had access to the great libraries of England; the Bodley, Oxford, Cambridge, London, and the British Library, as well as the growing libraries of Tyndale House, Cambridge, and of Moore College, Sydney. I do not believe that I am unacquainted with the writings of modern scholarship.

If I do not normally constantly refer to them in the pages of what I write, it is due to my understanding of how theology should be written, or what the objective is. The objective is to make clear some aspect of "the whole counsel of God", and to then see how it applies to our life.

True theology is an explanation of God's revelation. Therefore there should be constant references to holy Scripture to assure the reader that what is being said is well grounded; but there is only need for an occasional reference to a writer in the last half-generation.

Most of Christian theology has been done in the past. A theologian should be very well acquainted with the pivotal thinkers of the past and of the present (of which there are one or two). Their thought will enter into his own thinking but, unless he is writing a history of theology, they will not be referred to by name.

A reason—and a most important one—that modern theological writers are not of much help—except to provide an interesting stimulus here and there, is that the presuppositions of their theological writings are so different from classical Christian theology that it makes much of their conclusions of little value. True theology must be based on, to quote our Lord, "What God has spoken to you". This is the Scripture as we have it in our hands. What God has spoken to us must of course be true, infallible and inerrant. Any other concept is unthinkable. Yet the members of the wider theological reading to which Banks believes I should be constantly referring reject this view of Scripture, which was the view of Jesus and his apostles and of all the theologians up to a generation or so ago. The "modern theological academy"


p.5...

has such a fundamentally different presupposition on which their theological thinking is based that an eclection that chooses this or that among their conclusions to include in the theological whole is likely to weaken rather than strengthen the result. This does not mean that a theologian should be unacquainted with modern writings, but it is more important to be acquainted with the older writings. My object and consequently style of writing does not quote either older or modern writers. But I am not criticised for not quoting the ancients, but only the moderns, and the deduction is drawn that I'm unaquainted with these latter!

Finishing Luke

Have you noticed the final words of Luke's gospel?

and were continually in the temple blessing God.


It is the description of what the disciples were doing when they discovered that the mysterious individual who had been appearing among them was, as some suspected, the Lord Jesus risen from the dead.

Remember at the beginning of Luke that the reason he writes is for Theophilus,

that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.


By the time that Luke finishes his gospel, he thinks he has achieved his goal. The result? Those who have certainty are in the temple 'blessing God'.

The Christian life is characterized by thankfulness, focussed on and inspired by the mighty work of God.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Attacks against Christians in India

They continue, in the east and in the west.

Pray for them.

Go Penelope!

The government ought not to fiddle around with the Edmund Barton building.

Hands off you Philistines! Go Penelope!

Tomb

Ruby asked me what a 'tomb' was the other day. We'd been reading about how Jesus was buried in a tomb after he had been crucified.

What is a tomb?

A tomb is a room where they put dead people. Then you close the door, and they never come out.

A tomb is a room without a view.

You would not have put Jesus in a tomb if you were not very sure that he was dead.

That's pretty much what I said.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Violet age 5 and a 1/2


Oune I axudently frode my toy Charile up on one of the school roofs and at the end of school befor we went hame I tode my dad I axudently frode charile up on one of the school roofs and my dad tride to get charlie down but my dad cad ned get charlie down so my dad said he wode got Charile trmoroe and the next day my dad brang a stail and he went into athdelrey and got a char and I said what are you going to do? you well see then it didntd werck so my dad went bake to antterrcur and gave the char back and my dad got a ladre and theen he got charile down.


She speaks a little bit like this too.

Pakistan v Afghanistan

AN excellent article by Fraser Nelson in London's Spectator in July put it as succinctly as I have seen it: "At a recent dinner party in the British embassy in Kabul, one of the guests referred to 'the Afghan-Pakistan war'. The rest of the table fell silent. This is the truth that dare not speak its name.


Christopher Hitchens talks about it here.

Sex and ministry

Jen B makes a mighty fine attempt at eviscerating a common argument about sex and ministry, here.

From the post:

Sex within marriage is not for ministry. Sex within marriage is for the husband and wife of that marriage.


This is well said.

I did have a question, though, about whether sex is also for children, as in, the producing of them. And if so, I wonder if it affects the shape of the argument? Being fruitful and multiplying, after all, has as its aim the establishing of God's rule in his creation—Genesis 1:28. And once we introduce the idea that sex might not be solely for the husband and wife, but have some external purpose in view as well, we are back into the question of whether or not you might have sex (within marriage of course—that's assumed) for reasons other than that you simply enjoy it.

Another verse that comes to mind is Malachi 2:15

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.


I don't really know what this verse means. But the bit that I understand again seems to point to a view of sex that says it is about more than mutual enjoyment, as terrific as that is.

Now what Jen eviscerates, stays eviscerated so read what she said and feel the weight of it; feeling the weight will paradoxically result in a great burden of guilt being lifted from some, particularly wives of ministers. But there is more to be said; something Jen herself would likely acknowledge.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Immigration under Ruddock

I don't like the way detention centres were run under the previous government, and Phil Ruddock must carry a large part of the responsibility for that. They kept people imprisoned, including children, on the grounds that they had not yet shown that they were genuine refugees. A friend of mine spent more time in a detention centre than he would have in jail had he been found guilty of murder. Eventually his status as a refugee was recognized, and he was released into the community. His is not an isolated story.

However this has to be acknowledged:

Ruddock’s place in Australian political history will record that immigration grew every year after 1996, rising from 67,100 in 1997 to more than 142,000 in 2006. The fair-minded will call that a genuinely compassionate outcome.


From here.

Stem cells from cloned human embryos

Sickening news on the research front. The first licence has been issued for a company to attempt to produce cloned human embryos.

From the report:

The director of Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research, David van Gend, criticised the issuing of the licence by the National Health and Medical Research Council. He said cloning research was no longer necessary because of recent advances in stem cell science.

"It is unspeakable that we should continue this project of creating living human embryos with the sole purpose of destroying them when the compelling justification for such experiments has gone."

Crabb on Turnbull

Funny as always:

Turnbull does additionally have something of a money problem. He's got too much of it; side by side yesterday, he and Julie Bishop looked like the Blake and Krystle Carrington of the Liberal Party.

It's an awkward fit for the present political culture, in which the hard-luck story is king, and any candidate unlucky enough to have enjoyed a happy and comfortable childhood in a stable family unit starts very much behind the eight ball.

Fortunately for Turnbull, he was abandoned at the age of nine by his mother, who probably had no idea all those decades ago just what a handy future political service she was rendering her son.


From the SMH.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Oikophobia

Learned a new word today: oikophobia.

From here.

On the support Greens give to terrorists.

Abortion funding faces review

Report in the SMH today.

A matter for prayer.

From the report:

Both anti-abortion and pro-abortion campaigners believe the inquiry will turn into a de facto investigation into the numbers and cost of abortions in Australia.

The pro-choice MPs fear the timing of the inquiry, which is happening as the Victorian Parliament debates whether to decriminalise abortion.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Nelson v Turnbull

It's on.

Not sure what this achieves from Nelson's end. An extra month or two?

Meanwhile Costello hasn't resigned. I don't think we will know the end of this story for at least 12 months, but instability in the party favours him over the long term.

UPDATE: For Nelson, it achieved early retirement from the job as leader. If Malcolm T performs well, that is not just the end of Nelson but certainly farewell for Costello, sooner or later.

Peter Jensen reviewed

Peter Jensen's book The Future of Jesus, was reviewed in The Australian over the weekend.

I have laboured these matters in rather simplistic political terms because I want to encourage secular Australians, especially those on the Left, to read Jensen's book.


(From the review by Roy Williams)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

I don't know

I don't know who Mark Driscoll is


And it is possible that he hasn't heard of you either, but it is such a refreshing line that it is worth repeating.

From here.

Saddle sore

Weekend away with some families from school.

One of them had a spare mountain bike, so I went along for the ride. First time ever, easy for some but a bit terrifying for me.

Prayed for a chance to talk about Jesus, and ended up having a conversation with M, who told me about the Fourth Way, of which he's a member, and he sent me off to Wikipedia to find out more.

I thought Irenaeus did a pretty decent job of dealing with this sort of stuff in the second century, but it is the nature of hydras to return with extra heads.

The big question is why would there be a secret message hidden in the four gospels, when the obvious message is astonishing and salvific enough?

The girls had a lovely time.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Hey Mike I guess you saw this!

Hey Mike K, I added a comment to our discussion here and then read this letter in today's SMH:

Little chance of fair trials when so many articles imply guilt

Date: September 12 2008

Bouquets to the Herald for publishing Belinda Neal's staunch and quite proper defence of her right to silence over the Iguanas affair ("Media chip away at a cornerstone of our rights", September 11).

The right to silence is, and must continue to be, one of the linchpins of a civilised criminal justice system. It applies to all Australian citizens and does not disappear just because a person has been elected or appointed to some high office.

Brickbats to the Herald for describing, in the same issue, Dr Graeme Reeves using a pejorative phrase better suited to a member of Hitler's elite. This is, of course, a description used by nearly all media outlets of recent time. No doubt it sells papers, brings in viewers and thereby raises profits. It does not profit our society, however, when the use of such terminology makes it nigh on impossible for the accused to receive a fair trial. Apparently the presumption of innocence must make way for the right to pen an eye-catching headline.

I wonder if any editors take pause to contemplate, when deciding to run with any given story, whether the person named therein will have their right to a fair hearing irreversibly prejudiced.

It is simply not good enough to argue that trial judges can warn jurors to put such reports/descriptions out of their minds. Mud sticks.

I wrote in the Herald more than five years ago, when I was still a senior NSW crown prosecutor: "Perhaps the time has come for the federal government, as well as all states and territories, to legislate that there shall be no publication of any material which might identify an alleged perpetrator until such time as the relevant tribunal has made a finding of culpability."

Those words fell, and continue to fall, on deaf ears.

Nicolas Harrison Lismore


The media does seem to manage to find all sorts of ways around sub judice matters.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Criticizing Driscoll

I appreciated Mark Driscoll's visit to Sydney and have posted about him a couple of times already, while promising a bit more at some stage. That's going to have to wait for a bit as things are a bit tight just now, but in the meantime, I don't find a lot to disagree with here or here (both posted on the Sola Panel).

Belinda Neal's right to silence

Think what you like, but she does have a point, you know.

Why we should read the Bible in schools

Greg Clarke argues the case in today's SMH.

From the article:

I have a vested interest in biblical literacy; after all, I'm a Christian and I think there's something to the big, unfolding story it tells. But I'm also a literary academic, and I can't bear the biblical ignorance students display. Regardless of whether you find something alive and kicking in the Scriptures, there is a strong argument it should be somewhere near the foundation of Australian education.


It's not the strongest argument for Bible reading, but it's a powerful ad hominem case to make to the secular, elitist readers of the SMH.

OK maybe he is going then.

Costello in the SMH.

Maybe he is going then.

UPDATE: Or not.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Hell

Found an old post of Al Mohler's on it, here.

All sorts of people are finding ways to preach on the topic less, or apologize for it. No wonder we lack a sense of urgency.

From Al's blog:

Those Friedrich Schleiermacher called the "cultured despisers of religion" especially despise the doctrine of hell.


Resolved: Insofar as God allows it, to become a fire and brimstone preacher.