Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sunday night at the movies: Always look on the bright side of life.

Don't click through if offended by pretend crucifixions. Also has one swear word.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Oddly disappointed

A longstanding family friend gave up smoking.

He's in his 70s.

Always used to enjoy our smoke-wreathed conversations at family BBQs.

Just a kiss

(K.D. Lang)


Don't like 'em. Never have.

"Please let me commandeer your church meeting so I can make a video in which people look at me".

Those of you who enjoy them, enjoy.


Yep, cranking up. Got to write a talk or three.

2:1 And Hannah prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

2 “There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
and on them he has set the world.

9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the power of his anointed.”

Well, that's my prayer. Hannah is, for better or worse, my role model.

My goodness again.

My goodness I say some stupid things.

Frequently, and regularly.

No, no need to ask, if you do I'll just say it again in which case we'll have tears before bedtime.

Busy busy busy

But doing what I love! In this case, having a day off. Might go out with Fifi. Might stay home with Fifi. Might go out.

I've got to think!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Meeting first years

What a great time! At Cumbo campus meeting first years, and asking them if they wanted to join us in reading the Bible.

The vibe was good, the sausages were cheap, campus security moved us from a reasonable spot to a better spot (I don't know if they meant to do that), and about 30 first years had given us their contact details by morning tea time.

So now we get on with doing our thing. Which in this case is Tuesday at 12, Luke 1:-4.

1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Genuine certainty is a rare thing.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


My goodness I've been busy.

I feel pressed in on every side.

I'm going to have to make a ... jailbreak!

There was a friend of mine on murder
And the judge's gavel fell
Jury found him guilty
Gave him sixteen years in hell
He said "I ain't spending my life here
I ain't living alone
Ain't breaking no rocks on the chain gang
I'm breakin' out and headin' home

Gonna make a jailbreak
And I'm lookin' towards the sky
I'm gonna make a jailbreak
Oh, how I wish that I could fly

All in the name of liberty
All in the name of liberty
Got to be free

Jailbreak, let me out of here
Jailbreak, sixteen years
Jailbreak, had more than I can take
Jailbreak, yeah"

He said he'd seen his lady being fooled with
By another man
She was down and he was up
He had a gun in his hand
Bullets started flying everywhere
And people started to scream
Big man lying on the ground
With a hole in his body
Where his life had been
But it was -

All in the name of liberty
All in the name of liberty
I got to be free

Jailbreak, jailbreak
I got to break out
Out of here

Heartbeats they were racin'
Freedom he was chasin'
Spotlights, sirens, rifles firing
But he made it out
With a bullet in his back!

See this poem as it was meant to be performed, here.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

What predicts success in a school teacher?

Not the sort of things you'd think—like maybe charisma, the ability to perform in public, or even a caring attitude:

What did predict success, interestingly, was a history of perseverance—not just an attitude, but a track record. In the interview process, Teach for America now asks applicants to talk about overcoming challenges in their lives—and ranks their perseverance based on their answers. Angela Lee Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues have actually quantified the value of perseverance. In a study published in TheJournal of Positive Psychology in November 2009, they evaluated 390 Teach for America instructors before and after a year of teaching. Those who initially scored high for “grit”—defined as perseverance and a passion for long-term goals, and measured using a short multiple-choice test—were 31 percent more likely than their less gritty peers to spur academic growth in their students. Gritty people, the theory goes, work harder and stay committed to their goals longer. (Grit also predicts retention of cadets at West Point, Duckworth has found.)

But another trait seemed to matter even more. Teachers who scored high in “life satisfaction”—reporting that they were very content with their lives—were 43 percent more likely to perform well in the classroom than their less satisfied colleagues. These teachers “may be more adept at engaging their pupils, and their zest and enthusiasm may spread to their students,” the study suggested.

In general, though, Teach for America’s staffers have discovered that past performance—especially the kind you can measure—is the best predictor of future performance.

Here's the full article by Amanda Ripley in the Jan-Feb 2010 Atlantic.

Be interesting to start measuring the communication effectiveness of clergy with their congregations.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Global warming and Sola panels

I can't believe it! The subject of Global Warming has invaded even one of my favourite blogs, the Sola Panel!

In the comments, one reader wanted to link up the Christian attitude to global warming with the Christian attitude to apartheid:

I hope this following comparison isn’t too emotive. I do think we need to heed the warning of the experience of CESA - our evangelical friends in South Africa. They chose a path of political quietism during the apartheid years.

Read the rest somewhere here.

Left a comment as well, which I'll try to rescue from blog comment oblivion, with typos removed, by posting here:

...[T]he comparison with apartheid may or may not be emotive, but it's hard to see how it's relevant.

Discrimination on the basis of skin colour is a sin, the only exception being the positive discrimination associated with the attractive and slightly olive coloured skin of me and my daughters.

By contrast, refusal to be persuaded about whether we've heated the world, and are continuing to do so, is not a 'sin' under almost any meaning of that word. Sure, it may well be silly to fail to be so persuaded. But being silly remains allowable even in these enlightened times, and not being at the top of the class is never singled out as being problematic—not by the Bible, and not even by the Roman Catholic church.

So average people like me still haven't been completely convinced that the world is being heated to perdition, not unlike the biro I stuck on the bunsen burner back in Year 9, and remains fused (AFAIK) to the tripod Mr Boddy took away from me and into the Science staffroom for closer inspection.

And if the right wingers are to be believed, (and even the left wingers, according to this right winger), the climate-change consensus is collapsing anyway.

Whatever the case, those who kept on with their rather foolish and simplistic gospel message will keep doing so whatever the barometer outside the building is telling them.

But those who wanted Christians to switch to the gospel of global warming are in trouble, if the promised warming fails to materialize. They will need to find another clever thing to scare us with.

And let's not even begin to ask how many lives could have been saved if the 'let's stop global warming' money had actually been spent on something that is currently killing people, like malnutrition.

In the meantime, I'm not worried about any of this temperature nonsense. I'm worried about gospel preaching. And what's more, I'm worried about Peak Lithium, really I am. When the supplies of this important metal run out, where am I going to buy my rechargeable batteries?

And so on.

Friday, 5 February 2010

School league tables and School Scripture

So around NSW we are all—those of us with kids—eagerly checking onto the myschool website to see how my school compares with yours (It goes without saying that mine's better, but if yours is better, there must be a reason ;) )

That's not a bad thing, but it may not be a good thing either.

My own thought was that it would be well worth the while of someone who had the time to check out the correlation between schools that allowed and welcomed school scripture, and those that don't. I don't know whether results would be good, bad or ugly. But if results were good, it would be a help to those who are struggling with getting Scripture, Religious Instruction, or what have you, included as part of their curriculum.

If the results were bad, we would feel disappointed and carry on teaching children that good or bad, the Lord Jesus judges us not according to our merits but because he is good, kind, faithful and gave all he has for us.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Global warming farce

You can feel the tide turning on this, or the wall crashing down, or the 'what' entering the 'whatever' (whichever metaphor grabs your fancy).

It's not so much that Paul Sheehan has written a somewhat sceptical article, it's the fact that it appeared in the SMH, until quite recently an unashamed promoter of the ideology that not only is global warming happening, we must all pay lots of money to stop it.

Here are 10 anti-commandments, 10 selected facts about global warming which have been largely ignored amid the orthodoxies to which we are subjected every day. All these anti-commandments are either true or backed by scientific opinion. All can also be hotly contested.

Sheehan then goes on to provide a random grab-bag of things that are most likely true and most certainly underreported—the polar bear population is increasing, Barack Obama wants nuclear power stations to multiply, the scientific consensus on global warming is a myth, etc etc.

The two from Sheehan's article that, if true, ought to make Christian bandwagoners on global warming ashamed:

6. The politicisation of science leads to a heavy price being paid in poor countries.

After Western environmentalists succeeded in banning or suppressing the use of the pesticide DDT, the rate of death by malaria rose into the millions. Some scholars estimate the death toll at 20 million or more, most of them children.

7. The biofuels industry has exacerbated world hunger.

Diverting huge amounts of grain crops (as distinct from sugar cane) to biofuels has contributed to a rise in world food prices, felt acutely in the poorest nations.

Those who have used the global warming momentum to push Christians (and others) to take costly action now (though the exact actions are frequently vague in nature, imprecise in application and uncertain in effect) have by and large remained silent on the real, current impact of a Western world largely sold on the reality of the still uncertain phenomenon of anthropogenic global warming.

The greater and possibly less visible sin of Christian apologists for global warming is not about how money and effort has been mis-spent, however, but how it's worked to distract some from the true end-time scenario; that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead.

Facing cancer

An AP report on Matt Chandler's brain cancer is here.

From the report:

Chandler never thought such a trial would shake his faith. But until now, that was just hope in the abstract.

"This has not surprised God," Chandler says on the drive home. "He is not in a panic right now trying to figure out what to do with me or this disease. Those things have been warm blankets, man."

Chandler has, however, wrestled with the tension between belief in an all-powerful God and what he, as a mere mortal, can do about his situation. He believes he has responsibilities: to use his brain, to take advantage of technology, to walk in faith and hope, to pray for healing and then "see what God wants to do."

"Knowing that if God is outside time and I am inside time, that puts some severe limitations on my ability to crack all the codes," he says. "The more I've studied, the more I go, 'Yes, God is sovereign, and he does ask us to pray ... and he does change his mind.' How all that will work is in some aspects a mystery."

Since falling ill, Chandler has gotten letters from the governor and pastors in Sudan. He has tried to steer attention to others, including a 6-year-old Arizona girl with cancer.