Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm about to head down to St Kilda to have tea with Uncle Smithamsy, before we go to see Billy Bragg at the Prince of Wales. (Billy Bragg sings songs at people while playing guitar, and he helped get rid of Margaret Thatcher. And he gets guitars for people in gaol so they can escape.)

Monday, January 28, 2008


We (Urban Seed residents) went to Lorne for the weekend.

I've been taking pictures of floating candles in different contexts recently, so I took some while we were in Lorne:

Contemplation in Gembrook

On Thursday we went out to the Gembrook Retreat Centre with some of the Footscray mob. (We take people who come to lunch out there so they can get out of the city, and do a bit of work on the land.) We got there at about lunch time, and after we had lunch I facilitated some contemplative worship based around the first account of creation in the book of Genesis (1-2:3). Outside one of the huts I set up a number of stations with some things to help us contemplate the various parts of God's creation:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
(Genesis 1:1-5)

'How does light travel through transparent bodies? Light travels through transparent bodies in straight lines only. ... We have explained this exhaustively in our Book of Optics. But let us now mention something to prove this convincingly: the fact that light travels in straight lines is clearly observed in the lights which enter into dark rooms through holes. ... the entering light will be clearly observable in the dust which fills the air.'
'I constantly sought knowledge and truth, and it became my belief that for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness to God, there is no better way than that of searching for truth and knowledge.'
(11th Century Persian scientist Ibn al Haytham - considered by many to be the first true scientist)
From the 17th Century onwards there was controversy about whether light was a particle or a wave. Apparently these days it seems a lot like light has the properties of a particle and of a wave. I find it pretty confusing. I wonder if maybe sometimes it helps to think of it as a particle and sometimes as a wave. Apparently light also behaves differently if it's being observed to how it behaves if it isn't being observed. If anyone gets wave-particle duality, can they please try to explain it below? Thanks.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:26-31)
I've recently been reading Education for Critical Consciousness, a collection of essays by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. Freire mainly worked with people who were poor and illiterate, many of them farmers.
Freire says that the thing that separates human beings from the rest of creation is that human beings are creative beings who are constantly altering the rest of reaction, through work.
What kind of a world is our work creating? What immediately comes to mind for me is the city, but I suppose the city (or a small town, or a retreat centre) is made up of lots of little alterations. Which of those alterations are yours? Do you have any other ideas? What work will you have to do to bring them into reality?
Paulo Freire also says that being denied the power to alter reality is dehumanising. Are there any ways that you and your friends are being denied the opportunity to participate in creation?
(Those are from a couple of the stations that I was happiest with.)

Afterwards Alisdair and Naomi facilitated some discussion around Jesus' seed parables in Mark's Gospel (4:1-8, 26-32). After reading them they got us to go and find a seed, and plant it somewhere. I got a piece of tomato (with seeds in it) from our lunch and fed it to one of the goats. So she's probably planted the seeds somewhere herself by now.

We talked afterwards about how we often interpret Jesus' parables as though they are spiritual - but in a way that's somehow separate from 'earthly' things. However, if Jesus is telling a story about people trying to grow crops in places where they're obviously not going to grow (eg. in the street) isn't it pretty significant that he's saying it in a place where a lot of people don't have anywhere to grow food because their own land has been bought up by rich landlords.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Common Ground

This week and next week at Urban Seed we're doing some orientation stuff to start off the year. It's basically training and team building, and this year we're also trying to connect with some of our neighbours a bit, like Dave Wilson and Simon Holt.
This morning Dave Wilson from City of Melbourne came over and was talking to us a bit about how his faith informs his work as a councillor. It was particularly interesting hearing from him about Common Ground, a project he visited in New York City last year, in which inner city hotels and apartment block are being renovated and turned into affordable accommodation for chronically homeless people. There's also support services available for the people who live there, right in their own homes. A few people from Melbourne had been over there visiting at about the same time, and they're in the very early stages of starting a similar project in Melbourne.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Goodbye cockroaches

We've just had pest control people in to come and spray the cockroaches (Blattella germanica). (There haven't been many on level 9, but the whole building is being done to make sure they're completely eliminated.) They're going to be coming in once a month for at least the next year.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blessed are the cheesemakers

Yesterday I bought some Gorgonzola for a recipe I was going to try. After tasting this cheese I don't know why anyone would want to buy ecstasy. Gorgonzola is much cheaper and it's legal. It might be safer, but I'm not sure.
Gorgonzola is proof that God exists. (And she makes cheese.)

Kevin vs Godzilla

K-Rudd has lasers.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Going down to Warrnambool this morning, to visit the Scripture Union folk down there. Trav said they're playing indoor soccer today. Coming back tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

What is our stance on capital punishment?

Barney Zwartz has an article in today's Age about how the Catholic Church is asking Kevin Rudd to appeal for the Indonesian government to spare the lives of the Bali bombers:

The church's move comes after Labor's election campaign altercation on the issue, when Mr Rudd publicly rebuked his then foreign affairs spokesman, Robert McClelland, for saying the Bali bombers should not die — a statement consistent with Labor's long-standing opposition to the death penalty.
At the time, Mr Rudd accused Mr McClelland of insensitivity for flagging a regional campaign against the death penalty just before the fifth anniversary of the 2002 Bali attack.
Weeks later, Mr Rudd's new Government voted at the United Nations for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.
Last night a spokesman for Mr Rudd said he stood by his October 9 statement that he would never intervene to save a terrorist's life.
('Spare the Bali bombers, says Catholic Church')
I am going to send Kevin Rudd a letter asking him to appeal for the lives of the Bali bombers. If you would like to write to him, you can do that here.

Magic smiley face

When Stella moved out last week she left me her magic smiley face.

It is like a magic eight ball, except that the answers it gives are quite strange.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's in Inverloch

So on Monday me and Ray finished clearing out level 7, and then Ben drove in so we could go to Inverloch. This is Ben teaching me about musical theory while we waited for Ray:

On the way to Inverloch we stopped at this supermarket to get some food and drinks:

We had a barbecue with Karen and Nomes (Nomes had drove out to Karen's place on Sunday) and a couple of Karen's friends from uni, and at about 11:30 we went down to the beach. So we were swimming at midnight, when the fireworks went off. I lost one of my old shoes in the water, which was a bit disappointing. Marcus said that it's okay, because I will look just as ridiculous with one shoe.