Friday, September 30, 2005

Who's the addict?

One question we asked a few times this week at Urban Seed was, 'Who's the addict?'
Twenty-five percent of Melbourne's heroin use takes place in the laneway behind Collins Street Baptist Church. At the same time, near the front entrance, someone is spending thousands of dollars on a shirt or tie. However, these two addictions are seen very differently.
This led to talking about how our addictions to consumption effect other people (like the people who make our clothes or grow our coffee) and the idea of getting addicted to good things, like prayer or reading scripture or recycling. Marcus told us about this guy who got off heroin by getting addicted to Catholicism.
At lunch yesterday I talked to a guy who's been off heroin for seven months, with the help of more socially acceptable drugs: alcohol and marijuana. He's hoping to eventually get down to just tobacco, and then give that up too.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Mission Exposure Week

Well, last night I had a big change of plans. Today I was supposed to be going up to Ballarat to enrol in off-campus classes. Then tomorrow I was supposed to be going down to Geelong for the rest of the week for the Ignite Warrnambool team-building camp.
However, last night I got a call from Urban Seed asking if I wanted to come to Mission Exposure Week, because a heap of people who were meant to come pulled out. So, seeing as if my application for residency there is successful I won't be able to be on the Ignite team anyway, I'll be at Urban Seed most of this week instead.

I won't be blogging for a little while, so go and join in at Narrative Free-For-All. (If you remember Battle Blog, it's possibly kind of similar, but better organised.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Home Interweb cable repairmentage

Earlier this morning, as I was plugging the Interweb cable for my parents' computer into the wall, the plug fell to bits. This was largely due to someone having a tantrum and ripping it out of the wall many moons ago.
Luckily, Burna managed to repair it with foil from the garlic bread we'd been eating.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hurricane Katrina: punishment?

Recently there’s been Christians saying that Hurricane Katrina ruined New Orleans because the people of the city had done bad stuff, like having lots of abortions and being poor. (Basically, karma.) Just been reading about how Jesus responded to similar ideas:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.'
(Luke 13:1-5)
So Jesus says that people who die tragically aren’t any worse than people who die peacefully in their sleep at the age of a hundred and four. But he also says that this will happen to everyone who doesn’t return to God. At first this seems pretty contradictory to me.
I’m thinking now that Jesus is suggesting that a person appearing very unfortunate during their life isn’t necessarily a bad person, and that a person appearing very fortunate during their life is not necessarily a good person.
He seems to be saying that we’re all just as bad as each other, but that this can be accommodated and fixed if we agree to be reconciled with God.

More on hypocracy

When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
Then the Lord said to him, 'Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
'Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
'Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
'Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.'
(Luke 11:37-44)
For some reason this reminds me of a clip from a surrealist film called Le Fantôme de la Liberté (Phantom of Freedom) we watched in Film Movements and Theories a few weeks ago. It’s a satire of the bourgeoisie (French middle class).
At the start of the clip it appears that a number of people have turned up to share dinner together. However, when they sit down at what appeared to be a dining table, it turns out to be surrounded by toilets. They all drop their trousers and skirts and sit down. As they use the toilets together they talk haute couture and complain about the smell of Madrid, until one of them excuses himself to go and eat.
And then, look! There’s me watching this clip, feeling distain for the middle class, and feeling that I’m so much better than them. Without God helping me change I’d be stuffed.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Jesus goes home

This is about when Jesus went back to his hometown and got to be the guest speaker in the synagogue:

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn't this Joseph's son?’ they asked.
Jesus said to them, ‘Surely you will quote this proverb to me: “Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.”’ (Luke 4:22-23)

It seems like Jesus is suggesting that they’re going to try and injure him, and see if he can save himself (‘Physician, heal yourself!’). Reminds me of later, when he’s being crucified, and people say, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ (Luke 23:35)

Now Jesus says something they don’t like too much at all, and they do try to injure him:
‘I tell you the truth,’ he continued, ‘no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed — only Naaman the Syrian.’
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
(Luke 4:24-30)

Is God generous?

I’m in Melbourne at the moment, so tonight (Sunday night) I went to my old church, where I was baptised four years ago.
We read the parable (or riddle, as I’ve been thinking of them) about the workers at the winery (Matthew 20:1-16), and then Mark (the pastor) got us to talk about whether God is generous. He got us to look through some papers, and talk about whether the things that we found made God seem generous or not.
What stood out to me was a photograph of this guy at his eightieth birthday party. I thought, Maybe that’s an example of God being generous; he’s let this guy live to see his eightieth birthday. It was in the ‘Review’ section of The Age, in a review of a book about the last fifty years of African history. I then realised that it was Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe. This made me really angry. Why should this corrupt politician get to live to see eighty years?
I realised later I was being a lot like the winery workers who worked all day. They were cranky because they’d worked all day but got paid the same as those who’d worked only a little while. I was cranky because I thought God shouldn’t be generous to Mr Mugabe. I thought I was better than Mugabe because I’m only a corrupt, European civilian, which is (supposedly) much better than being a corrupt, African politician.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Baptist John on ubuntu

'What should we do then?' the crowd asked.
John answered, 'The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.'
Tax collectors also came to be baptized. 'Teacher,' they asked, 'what should we do?'
'Don't collect any more than you are required to,' he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, 'And what should we do?'
He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely — be content with your pay.'
(Luke 3:10-14)
'Ubuntu and shalom'

The voice of God

Thursday night, Shaun, one of the guys at the writers group, was talking about one of his regular customers who talks a lot about his Christian beliefs. Whenever Shaun asks this guy how he knows any of the stuff he believes, apparently this guy just says, 'Because God tells me.'

But that's not exactly what I want to blog about. I probably won't be able to blog about what I want to blog about, because it's not very coherent.
Anyway, I might have been thinking about how one hears God's voice.
There is an artcile here at Internet Monk about such things. And I'm not necessarily asking, 'How does one hear God's voice?'
What I'm thinking is something like: Surely if God says something to someone, that person is going to know it. I can't really imagine God saying, 'Damn, they didn't get it. I'll have to speak louder.'

Here endeth the incoherency.


The last two Friday nights' I've been out at Mt Helen res, playing a nerdgame (RPG, like Dungeons and Dragons) with some people from the writing group.
The game we've been playing is called Deadlands, which is a Western, but with a lot of with horror, fantasy and steampunk influences.
My character is an explorer who is famous for discovering gold in Mexico, which he was then forced to hand over to the emperor of Mexico. His main disadvantage is that he is quite insane, which gives me a excuse for making him throw nitro at a robot horse or making him scream back at the monsters in an effort to try and scare them instead.
(According to some I have a tendency not to play games the way I'm supposed to, but to make up my own rules instead.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism

Noticed this at BoingBoing a little while back. Noticed it again just before at Signposts.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.
(Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster)
Flying Spaghetti Monsterism (or Pastafarianism) is a religious parody created by people as a protest against having intelligent design taught in American schools.
When will we Christians learn that forcing our beliefs on other people just makes them angry? WWFSMD?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Calling all writey people!

Are you a writey person?
(Do you write stuff like fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, comics?)
'Yes ... maybe ... sometimes?' I hear you say?
Well, why not come over to the Grainary Writer's Group website and join our forums, where you can submit your writey stuff, give and receive creative criticism and exchange banter which may or may not be friendly.

Ubuntu and shalom

I had a feeling that the Zulu and Xhosa idea of ubuntu (which I blogged about earlier today) might be similar to the Hebrew idea of shalom.
Shalom is more than just peace. According to Walter Bruegemann,

The central vision of world history in the Bible is that all of creation is one, every creature in community with every other, living in harmony and security toward the joy and well-being of every other creature. ... Shalom is the substance of the biblical vision of one community embracing all creation.


Stumbled across this idea thanks to this article at Waving or Drowning?
Desmond Tutu explains ubuntu like this:

A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
Any ideas as to how one person's benefit might be the benefit of all?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

'early quantum state phenomenon'

Velma from randomness blogs about something she got from an episode of Joss Wheldon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer)'s space western, Firefly:

See I think too many times we try so hard to force the Bible to make sense. We try to compartimentalize it and dumb it down so we can make it fit into what we want it to say. We want it to say things that we already understand so we don't have to change. If we can change the Bible up enough then it will not require me to do anything.
(full post here)
I've been thinking along similar lines recently from starting to read John Shelby Spong's A New Christianity for a New World. He basically says that it's silly to believe anything from the scriptures that can't be explained scientifically and rationally and logically. Very modern. Thing is, a lot of people are over modernity now anyway.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Started writing this last night, inspired by John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. I think it's going to become a short story in a series of short stories. It could end up being a novel.

Prochorus is sitting on a bench by the road. There’s a notebook in his lap. He’s waiting for a tram.
A heavy weight hangs between his shoulders and his soul. An anchor.
People hurry past Prochorus as he sits on the bench. But it doesn’t seem right to put it that way. He is surrounded by the people, the traffic, the cables strung overhead, the towers of images, the distant clouds. But all of it seems distant.
Prochorus looks through the notebook. It is his book of clues and hints. Things that have been niggling away at the back of his mind. Photographs, newspaper clippings, scribbled ideas, scraps of photocopied records. A feather. A map. A dry leaf.
He slumps.
‘What do I do?
The old woman sitting next to Prochorus suggests several options. He does not find them particularly helpful.

I'm posting the novel as I write it, here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Magnetic letters

You want to play this game:

Tribalism in New Orleans

For anyone who'se interested in Western tribalism: Found this article (via boingboing) about the formation of tribes in the French Quarter of New Orleans, in order to survive the aftermath of the hurricane.

That weird Jesus guy

Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes.
(John 9:6)

Scribbling in the dirt

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
(John 8:3-6)
Because of what Jesus eventually ends up saying*, it's been suggested that Jesus could have been writing down the sins of this woman's accusers.
One idea I had when I read this last week was that he could have just been scribbling, testing their patience.
Another idea I had, while typing this up, is that maybe he was doodling to help himself think about how to respond.

Another thing I notice is that there is only mention of the adulteress. There is nothing said about the man she had sex with, as though he could do what he wanted, just because he was a man.

*'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.' (John 8:7)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Seed of Urbanity

Today I went to visit Urban Seed in Melbourne (that big place I used to live in) to help out and talk to them about maybe being a resident next year.
Spent most of the morning cutting up vegetables for the lunch they provide.
During lunch today some lawyers came to help out people who'd been given fines and stuff. Tomorrow a councillor is coming, and some accountants are coming on Thursday to help people out with their tax.
After lunch Paul Toms showed me around the place. In the process of being shown around I met EcoPaul, who is in a film. He said I looked like a lazy American, with my hands in my pocketses.
After the holidays I'll stay there for a week, and then I'll (probably) apply to be a resident.


I saw this on Craig's blog, and then Trav's, so I thought I'd probably better pretend to be possibly cool and do it to.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Read Trav's post first.
Last night Av was talking about surrendering everything to God. One part of the scriptures he talked about was the bit where Jesus feeds over 5000 people with five pieces of bread and two fish (John 16:1-15).

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, 'Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!'
(John 16:5-7)
It seems to me like Jesus is giving Philip an opportunity to surrender something - either some money to get some food, or even just some of his time and energy* to go to a town and get some food. However, Philip didn't see the point, as he reckoned there wouldn't be enough for everyone.
Then this little kid shows him up by surrendering just five bits of bread and two fish, which feed the whole crowd.

*I just realised that I'd prioritised money as being more important than time or energy.