19 July 2009

Gong Alien

This is my last post here on ::not as big as i am::. I've begun a new blog, more about what I've seen or done than about what I've been thinking or commentaries on books. I wanted to begin capturing my life as an alien in Wollongong, Australia. I'll be reporting on my life on that blog. No more posts for me on this blog. So go on . . . Get! :-)

15 July 2009

My Resilient Friend

An admired friend of mine from University has written a book and for almost a year now, I've been receiving his brief excellent thoughts like this one I'd like to share. Perhaps you'd want/need to buy his book, My Resilient Life. ;-)

I love those gracious, wise people who give others space and simply fill the room with quiet grace. By letting me be, they empower me to be...better. Read on for more.

01 July 2009

Waste Not! Food Swap, 27 July

This time Nicole and Ella and I went together and we took Corey and Emily with us. Some of the plants on the table are ones I planted in beds I helped build on a former landfill site. They taste great. We also swapped three lemons from the tree in our backyard, spring/green onions, and some Thyme for some lettuce, rocket/arugula, and a mandarin orange or two. We also took some parsley and cilantro/coriander.

You make grass grow for cattle and make vegetables for humans to use in order to get food from the ground.

Rain and snow come down from the sky. They do not go back again until they water the earth. They make it sprout and grow so that it produces seed for farmers and food for people to eat.

Share your food with the hungry, take the poor and homeless into your house, and cover them with clothes when you see them naked. Don't refuse to help your relatives.

Who, then, is the faithful and wise servant? The master will put that person in charge of giving the other servants their food at the right time. That servant will be blessed if his master finds him doing this job when he comes.

Whoever has two shirts should share with the person who doesn't have any. Whoever has food should share it too.

Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes.

Don't work for food that spoils. Instead, work for the food that lasts into eternal life. This is the food the Son of Man will give you. After all, the Father has placed his seal of approval on him.

They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other's homes and shared their food.

Yet, by doing good, he has given evidence of his existence. He gives you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He fills you with food and your lives with happiness.

27 June 2009

Faith Disoriented

Daniel Dennett, Mother Theresa, and Sigmund Freud walk into a bar. Who do you suppose gets up off the ground the least confused? . . . It's just an introductory joke I made up.

Below in block quotes is a comment I copied from a blog post by Richard Beck. He responds to Daniel Dennett's judgment of Mother Theresa saying,
I see [Dennett's] point. But again, I think he's working with the Freudian simplification: Faith and doubt work along a simple continuum. If she expresses doubt she's got to be an atheist (or she's confused).

But scholars of the religious experience have long said that faith and doubt are two sides of the same coin. Placing them in a binary tension misses vast swaths of the religious experience.

In short, I think a part of what these essays can accomplish is to expose these binary models found in people like Freud and Dennett as well as in many Christians sitting in churches (the healthy-minded who dismiss the sick soul and avoid lament).

The "she" referred to is the saint now known as Mother Theresa. One thing the blog post claims is that not all religious varieties fall into an either/or category of atheism or theism. Faith isn't a light switch that is either on or off. Freud, on the other hand, believed that even if a legitimate faith that was somehow out of science's reach did/could exist, no one would accept that faith because people will only accept faith to provide consolation of their anxieties. People who live with the tension of faith and doubt, like Mother Theresa in India and like Jesus enduring shame, seem to be phenomena Freud ignored. Put simply, Dennett, an athiest, tried to put Theresa in the category of atheist because she doubted.

We trained hard in soccer. Our abilities were sharpened up. Our skills developed, our speed and agility heightened, we scrimmaged the girls' varsity team and won, handily. We were oriented well toward soccer. Then, we played our first real game of the season and lost decisively. For the next practice time, we didn't go back onto the field. We went inside for "chalk talk". If we could've we would've watched video clips to help rehash the most painful parts of our loss in disbelief. Now soccer, the game we thought we knew more or less, had dis-oriented our team. Eventually, we pushed past the loss and somehow ramped our training up even more. In fact, to an extent, the pain of the loss pushed us. The dissatisfaction with loss motivated us toward becoming a better soccer team. We cursed the defeat that eventually blessed us. Whether or not we won a game, that defeat and the practice that followed made every game richer. Soccer became our master again, so to speak. It re-oriented us to soccer in a more respectful way.

Eventually, doubting Theresa recognized God's presence in the times she had been most convinced of God's absence. How long was this sense of God's absence? Decades. She must've passed through dark times of dis-orientation, . . . but apparently later felt re-oriented in a new way more fully aware of darkness. She cursed the doubt that later made her feel most deeply united with Jesus.

I follow Beck in the above comment that "faith and doubt are two sides of the same coin." The Biblical Psalms, for example, witness to orientation, dis-orientation, and re-orientation. The over-arching story of the Bible tells of good, bad, then better. So, doubt isn't the end of faith; it's the beginning of faith's new birth.

In my own story . . . when the recognition for my need overcame the fear of confessing it, I received Jesus as my/the Redeemer and Master of myself/the world. Still wet from my watery grave, I was beginning to feel God's rescue as well as I understood it. Then, a feeling of God's absence replaced the sense of salvation. My understanding was disoriented, confused. Could I continue to practice my faith? If I want to know Christ and the power of his rising, I must share in his suffering, conform to his death.

17 June 2009

Me . . . a Winter Baby?

This is how a girl from Queensland keeps her "born-in-a-Texan-summer" baby warm in a New South Wales winter. I might have endured snow and minus 30 temperatures in Canada; a non insulated apartment and icy cold bike rides to school in Japan . . . but I still call it cold here.

As is typical of homes in this part of Australia, we do not have the luxury of central heat or ducted heating. While the temperatures remain above freezing (lows from 38F and up) and daytimes can even be "pleasant" (highs in the high 50s), we still have to work hard at keeping warm. Our house does well at holding in the cold air -- a good thing for summer days.

Many mornings we put a coat over Ella's pjs and slippers over her feet. There is nothing we can do to keep her hands warm as she crawls all over our wooden floors. And nothing I can do to keep those chilly hands away from me while she nurses! She doesn't seem too bothered by the cold, the attire, or that fact that she'll have many of her birthdays in the dead of winter as long as we live in Australia.

I'd have to say though, that there isn't much cuter than a bundled up baby . . .

12 June 2009

One Thing to Avoid

"Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling" (Proverbs 20:3, NLT)

These are someone else's thoughts I wanted to share:

I’ve found that for most people, it can be easy to start a fight but hard to end one. It’s easy to get offended and say things that we know we shouldn’t, but once you get started, it’s difficult to stop. It’s hard to let it go. That’s why the scripture tells us that it’s much better not to ever even start a quarrel.

If you want God to honor you, if you want to enjoy your life to the fullest, then always strive to be a peacemaker. Be the kind of person who goes the extra mile to avoid an unnecessary argument. Make your home a place of peace. Choose to be in harmony with your spouse and the people you live your daily life with. The Bible says that you are blessed when you are a peacemaker. So today, look for ways to make peace. Choose to overcome strife and wear the mark of honor He has given to you.

God of peace and new beginnings, today I choose to be a peacemaker. Let me break out of my antagonistic spirit and get unstuck from miry quarrels. Let my insisting spirit die. Dice it up with the sword of your Spirit. Let my next argument be to start something life-giving that begins and ends with peace. Let me take the time necessary before I react to begin in peace and let that peace be sustained by your patience. May I wear that mark of honor by avoiding strife. I yield every area of my heart, hands, and feet to You. Like Jesus. Amen.

04 June 2009

A Good Prayer (a poem)

Open up the windows and doors.

Clear out the dusty toys from the attic.

Put on a mask and take out the trash that’s stinking up the basement.

But open the windows.

Don’t let the wind slam the doors.

Let fresh air into the house.

Let the warm, then the cool
summer breeze change the mood of every room.

Take a breath of it. Yeah!

Breathe in, breathe out.

Let out a joyful shout!

Grab a broom and sweep the house out.

Let the warm summer breeze draw you outside.

Under the sky. Under the sun. In the grass and among the trees.

Let the sun warm you up and the breeze cool you down.

Cry a little, but smile, too.

Just breathe in, breathe out.

Go back in the house and put up the broom.

Close the doors, but leave the windows open for now.

Laugh a little now.

It was a good prayer.

“How much do I owe for this sunshine and fresh ai

by Jason Whaley

- - - -

Poem inspired . . .

Matthew 5:43-48

James 1:17

Somewhat by Frank Laubach:
January 3, 1930

To be able to look backward and say, “This, this has been the finest year of any life”—that is glorious! But anticipation! To be able to look ahead and say, “The present year can and will be better!”—that is more glorious! I have done nothing but open windows—God has done the rest. There has been a succession of marvelous experiences of the friendship of God. I resolved that I would succeed better this year with my experiment of filling every minute full of the thought of God than I succeeded last year. And I added another resolve—to be as wide open toward people and their need as I am toward God. Windows open outward as well as upward. Windows open especially downward where people need the most!