30 September 2008

Seven Ways to Change the World

Who has read Seven Ways to Change the World: reviving faith and politics by Jim Wallis, (2008)?

Wallis has long been trying to shake lethargic Christians out of their padded pews.
He's probably too liberal for me, but he's out there doing more than most and stirring others to get up and get going. While I may not sign off on each point, I admire his passion and his heart for justice which kinda reflects something I see in Jesus.

Here's a review of his latest book.

This new generation is looking for a ‘Religious Centre’.
The progressive Evangelicals in this group are reading theologians like
Bishop N T Wright, who in a little book (Simply Christian) introducing
thoughtful people to Christianity covers topics such as poverty, the
environment and human rights. Thirty years ago, says Wright, these were
secondary issues. They’re majoring on Jesus rather than Paul; their
commission for mission is in Luke 4 (good news for the poor) as well as
Matthew 28 (go and preach). They’re studying the prophets, with the help
of scholars like Walter Brueggeman, and re-discovering that God hates
injustice, everywhere.

Wallis writes that his concern for social justice has led him to embrace
many aspects of Catholic social teaching, with its emphases on the
well-being of the community as well as the rights of the individual.

Reviewed by Rowland Croucher

‘The worst evils in the world are not done by evil people, but by good
people who do not know that they are not doing good’
Reinhold Niebuhr: (p. 214).

It's not just Fontera in NZ

Cadbury says Chinese-made products questionable By MIN LEE Townhall.com

British chocolate maker Cadbury said Monday that tests have "cast doubt" on the safety of its Chinese-made products and ordered a recall, the latest foreign company affected by China's tainted milk scandal.

Meanwhile, two U.S. food makers were investigating Indonesian claims that high traces of melamine were found in Chinese-made Oreos, M&Ms and Snickers.

Cadbury said in a statement it has recalled 11 chocolate products made at its factory in the Chinese capital Beijing, which are distributed in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia.

Tests "cast doubt on the integrity of a range of our products manufactured in China," Cadbury said in the statement issued from its office in Singapore.

It was not immediately clear whether the tests revealed melamine, the industrial chemical at the center of China's recent milk scandal.

An Asia spokeswoman for Cadbury did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

The company said all of its dairy suppliers have been cleared by government milk testing.

China's recent food safety scandal started with the discovery of melamine in baby milk powder.

Four deaths have been blamed on the bad milk, and some 54,000 children have developed kidney stones or other illnesses after drinking the contaminated baby formula.

Authorities say suppliers might have added melamine, which is rich in nitrogen, to watered-down milk to deceive quality tests for protein.

Two U.S. food makers were investigating Indonesian claims that high traces of melamine were found in Oreos, M&Ms and Snickers, but stressed the same goods tested negative in other Asian countries.

They said they were looking into all possibilities, including counterfeiting.

The milk scandal erupted this month when the public learned that melamine, which is used to make plastics and fertilizer, had been found in milk powder and was linked to kidney stones in children. Contamination has since turned up in liquid milk, yogurt and other products made with milk.

Four deaths have been blamed on the bad milk and some 54,000 children have developed kidney stones or other illnesses after drinking tainted baby formula. Countries across Asia have removed items from shelves or banned them outright.

Myanmar added its name to the list Monday, saying dairy items from China would be barred from entering its military-ruled country. The Philippines, meanwhile, warned exporters they would be locked out of the market if they did not fully disclose the origins of their products.

29 September 2008

Read Deeply & Widely

'Beware of the man of one book'
Thomas Aquinas.

'The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency - the belief that the here and now is all there is.'
Allan Bloom .

Frugal Gardener: Benefit & Design of Raised Beds

I've heard gardeners talk of raised beds as the answer to so many gardening limitations. One friend had a real boggy area. Another had stoney soil from past construction projects. Others have limited space. The Vegetable Garden Guide tell you everything you need to know about this and many other gardening topics!

Create Raised Garden Beds for Higher Vegetable Yields
Raised garden beds have been used for centuries and with good reason – they're not only better for all the vegetables that you intend to grow but they're also easier on your back - built at an appropriate level raised beds can help reduce the aches and pains produced by kneeling or bending over a vegetable patch.

They can be built using wood, landscaping ties, decorative paving slabs, or stone - with or without mortar (use your imagination for other materials). They should be no wider than 120cm(4ft) so your vegetable plants situated in the middle of the bed can be reached from both sides.

Raised garden beds are the perfect answer if your topsoil is thin or full of stones - they are especially useful where space is limited in your vegetable garden as the spacings between plants can be less.

These type of beds make it much easier to introduce a rich and balanced growing environment. Do this by filling the raised beds with the soil of your choice and adding plenty of well rotted manure or compost, then maintaining and adding to this over time.

Soil conditions and types can be controlled more efficiently in a raised garden bed and can be varied easily from bed to bed.

Importantly, soil in raised beds does not get compacted because it is not walked on - soil needs water and air to function, compaction robs it of both. Therefore soils that aren’t compacted have a greater ability to hold plant-available-water, are less cloddy, allow for greater vegetable root growth and give higher plant yields.

Soil compaction can reduce harvest by up to 50 percent - so compaction is serious.

Organic matter like composted manure or your own garden compost can be increased in larger quantities without getting bogged down. Soil in raised garden beds warms up faster in spring because it drains more efficiently than soil at ground level - thus enabling earlier planting of spring vegetables.

Jill's Note: It's just another way we can use resources well, growing for ourselves and possibly sharing the surplus. The process is good for our souls too.

Measure of life

My dad sent this as a response to what he read on my blog last week.
Thanks, Pop!

"Our limited perspective, our hopes and fears become our measure of life, and when circumstances don't fit our ideas they become our difficulties." ---Ben Franklin

28 September 2008

James Whitcomb Riley Poetry

A BOY'S MOTHER

My mother she's so good to me,
Ef I was good as I could be,
I couldn't be as good - no, sir! -
Can't any boy be good as her!

She loves me when I'm glad er sad;
She loves me when I'm good er bad;
An', what's a funniest thing, she says
She loves me when she punishes.

I don't like her to punish me, -
That don't hurt, - but it hurts to see
Her cryin', - Nen I cry; an' nen
We both cry an' be good again.

She loves me when she cuts an' sews
My little cloak an' Sund'y clothes;
An' when my Pa comes home to tea,
She loves him most as much as me.

She laughs an' tells him all I said,
An' grabs me up an' pats my head;
An' I hug her, an' hug my Pa
An' love him purt' nigh as much as Ma.

James Whitcomb Riley,
A Hoosier poet.

Without Wax: I'm Tired of this Game

In preparing to speak to his faith community, Pete Wilson had these simple but profound thoughts: Check out the comments from his readers on Without Wax September 24, 2008 64 Comments I've linked to Without Wax in my blogroll, not just because he uses Mac stuff as examples.

Now from Pete:
This week we’re talking about envy and this afternoon I’ve been focusing on “comparisons” and how they feed envy inside of me. I play this game all the time.
I wish I could lead like . . .
I wish I was creative like . . .
I wish I could preach like . . .
I wish I could cast vision like . . .
But comparison is a deadly game. The danger of comparison is no matter who you do it with, eventually there is always someone whose prettier, smarter, faster, more connected or higher-up then you. They’re more _______________________.

There is always somebody more.

The danger of comparison is that we find ourselves looking to other people for our value and determining our value by how we compare with other people.

You put two similar things side-by-side and compare them. We all do it when we comparison shop. It’s okay for cars, golf clubs, and shoes… but not for people. For people, comparison is deadly.

We have a tendency to keep looking over our shoulder to see who gets the car we wanted, the job we needed, the spouse we desired. Who has the most gifted children, the bigger blog, and whose got the latest iBook, iMac, iPhone or anything else that starts with an i.

I’m tired of playing this game. How about you?

What kinda fruitless and frustrating comparisons do you make?

27 September 2008

What I "see" has much to do with "me".

"The main thing to avoid when meeting people is to be suspicious — from which comes adjudgment. I have many examples, which prove that everyone judges others according to his spiritual circumstance. For example, imagine that it was necessary for a person to stand by the roadside at night, and walking past him were three people. On seeing him, one of the three would think that he is waiting for an illicit rendezvous; another would imagine him to be undoubtedly a thief — he looks suspicious; the third would think that no doubt the person arranged to go to church with someone and was now waiting for him. Thus, the three saw the same person, in the same place, but concluded about him entirely differently. And this evidently, corresponds to their spiritual situation."

Any examples of this kind of misjudgement in your experiences?

I heard Ken Blanchard say,
"Have you ever seen a motive? No?
Just as you cannot see a motive, you cannot judge a motive."
You can see what someone does or hear what they say, but that is really all you have to go on.

Jesus had something to say about it too,
27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, . . . 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. . . . 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

38Give, and it will be given to you. . . . For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 7

Andrew Murray… A response in painful times: Hope For Daily Living

Cheryl writes:

"I just reviewed this and entered in my journal. I can’t remember where I found this. It may be in Hannah Whitehall Smith’s writings? Either way, I appreciate it very much.

A Response In Painful Times

In response to a difficult time in his life, Andrew Murray sat down and wrote these words:

“First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.”

Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.

Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, working in me the grace He means to bestow.

Last, in his good time He can bring me out again — how and when He knows.

Let me say I am here… By God’s appointment, In His"
Andrew Murray

Can you top Kerre's crazy link to Underpants Toast?

I found a link to Underpants Toast on Kerre Woodham's website. What a hoot!

When I first say the reference to NiceCupofTeaAndaSitDown I thought, "I wish I'd named my blog that!" I love a cup of tea and a sit down with a book or a friend, sometimes both.

Bu then when I saw what Kerre had linked to, well, you gotta laugh! You just gotta. What next?

Went to a Do tonight at West Lake Boys High School on Auckland's North Shore. The cricket teams was serving and were dressed in white shirts and nice ties. One of the boys had to go on Google to see how to tie his tie! His grandfather would have shown him, but was in Australia!

What's a fun website you've found out there that tells you something fun or useful that we can benefit from? Come on! Suggest a link, or two, that will add value or laughter or something to the conversation.

26 September 2008

What are Christians for?

I tire of Christian telling me what they are against.

What are you for?

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT

What do you expect?

What should we expect?Where do our expectations come from?

Cultural expectations change over time. People still pretty much do the same things they've been doing for generations, but the cultural norms of propriety have evolved.

Family expectations change with seasons of life, with maturity of kids, in retirement.

Expectations if unfulfilled lead to confusion, frustration, disappointment and possibly ANGER.

Is it ok to be angry with God? If you feel He’s let you down? Well, were your expectations valid, based on fact?

Let's play with semantics now. Is it ok to be angry BEFORE God?

Psalm 13 A psalm of David.

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

4 and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing the LORD's praise,
for he has been good to me.

If David were to walk in to any of the "positive thinking" prosperity driven churches and speak as he does in Psalms, they'd probably say, “Shhh man! You’ll embarrass God! We only sing happy songs here!”

Can God Not handle our honesty? Is our relationship secure only if we speak nicely?

Look at where David arrives in verses 5-6. He voices his honest feelings, but with faith.

Can you be angry and maintain faith? Yes, IF we’re sure of the character and nature of our God.

What do we know about Him? Is He Father Christmas, our servant? A genie in a bottle who grants our every prayer?

What do our prayers reflect about our faith, the kind of God we acknowledge?

25 September 2008

Trust! Can ya believe it?

Have you noticed the number of times "trust" is mentioned in the electioneering?
Can you trust the ones talking about trust?
I found the following on a blog, Without Wax. It claims to be the authentic thing, not something doctored with wax to just make it look good. I like what I see so far.

We all have a trust-meter. Every time you interact with another person your trust-meter goes up or down based on a set of factors that would include such things as the person’s truth-telling record, their commitment keeping pattern, their confidentiality, their consistency in character, etc.

All of this happens subconsciously. So when you have a friend that gossips about another one of your friends or doesn’t show when they say they’ll show or you catch them in a lie, your trust-meter goes down.

When your trust-meter goes down the natural tendency is to begin to withdraw. And generally the further we withdraw the more suspicious we become. This almost always either stunts or at least redefines the relationship.

Now some of you need to realize your trust-meter is broken. It’s giving you false readings. Because of the baggage from your past your trust-meter is all jacked up.

So what do you do? The wise person when confronted with a relationship where the trust meter is headed south will engage instead of withdraw. You need to engage in that relationship and sit down and talk about the issues. Tell them about the doubts creeping into your mind and heart.

Find out if there is actually betrayal going on or if you’re getting false readings.

So tell me. Do you have problem trusting other people? Do you think your trust meter gives you false readings from time to time? What are you doing about it?
Comment on Without Wax.

I was getting false readings earlier today and a friend set me straight. Now I can re-engage in conversation and take things a bit further on to more solid ground.

Armchair Travel

Wanna travel but can't right now?
Sometimes planning a trip or reading about far away places is almost as good.

Pop down to your local library and peruse the travel section, or even better, the travel writing section. That's where people have gone on trips, sometimes epic journeys, and wrote about it all.
The beauty of armchair travel is that you are probably very comfortable and it only costs as much as petrol to the library, snacks while you read and the power for your reading light.

If you'd like to read about places in New Zealand, check out the NZ Herald's Destination New Zealand section. They highlight the distant and the pedestrian places of Aotearoa NZ.

NPR's audio programme and reviews on Books for Armchair Travel and Adventure has several options you might want to explore.

It's cheap and comfortable and you don't have to send postcards!

One of my favourite reads is On Mexican Time by Tony Cohan. He's followed it up with a new one! Cheaper than a trip to Mexico what with airfares, visas, vaccinations . . . .

Mexican Days: Journeys into the Heart of Mexico
by Tony Cohan

Tony Cohan's On Mexican Time, his chronicle of discovering a new life in the small Mexican mountain town of San Miguel de Allende, has beguiled readers and become a travel classic. Now, in Mexican Days, point of arrival becomes point of departure as--faced with the invasion of the town by tourists and an entire Hollywood movie crew, a magazine editor's irresistible invitation, and his own incurable wanderlust--Cohan undertakes a richer, wider exploration of the country he has settled in. Told with the intimate, sensuous insight and broad sweep that captivated readers of On Mexican Time, Mexican Days is set against a changing world as Cohan encounters surprise and adventure in a Mexico both old and new: among the misty mountains and coastal Caribbean towns of Veracruz; the ruins and resorts of Yucatan; the stirring indigenous world of Chiapas; the markets and galleries of Oaxaca; the teeming labyrinth of Mexico City; the remote Sierra Gorda mountains; the haunted city of Guanajuato; and the evocative Mayan ruins of Palenque. Along the way he encounters expatriates and artists, shady operatives and surrealists, and figures from his past.

More than an immensely pleasurable and entertaining travel narrative by one of the most vivid, compelling travel voices to emerge in recent years, Mexican Days is both a celebration of the joys and revelations to be found in this inexhaustibly interesting country.

Friends: Conversations

I've just had two LONG and satisfying conversations with two friends, one after another. One rang me and, still being up and knowing the time in Noblesville, Indiana, I rang the other.

The distances can seem so far, but when you hear the smile in the voice of a friend, there is no distance. Oh to share a Woodchuck or cup of Dilmah would be great, but I am sated.

God has been good to me in friends who sense the beat of my heart. Now where's the one who went up the East Coast and hasn't been heard from . . . .

24 September 2008

Wisdom of Calvin








"There's an inverse relationship between how good something is for you, and how much fun it is!"

"There's no problem so awful that you can't add some guilt to it and make it even worse."

"I've got plenty of common sense! I just choose to ignore it."

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."

The 3,160th and final Calvin & Hobbes strip ran on Sunday, December 31, 1995. It depicted Calvin and Hobbes outside in freshly-fallen snow, reveling in the wonder and excitement of the winter scene. "It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy... Let's go exploring!" Calvin exclaims as they zoom off on their sled, leaving, according to one critic ten years later, "a hole in the comics page that no strip has been able to fill."

While I don't necessarily agree with all the commentary, click here for 25 great Calvin and Hobbes comics.
Read more on Bill Watterson, genuis behind Calvin & Hobbes.

For a relatively thorough look at the comic strip, the characters, and for links, references and commentary, check out this lengthy Wikipedia entry.

How to build a Financial House of Cards

Stephen Foley of The Independent suggests this is what happened:
In the NZ herald it was titled Banking Collapse: A Dummies' Guide

You've got £1. Invest it wisely, you might end up with £2. If you had £1 and borrowed another £1, then invested them both, you would end up with £4. Even when you've paid back the £1, you have made double the profit. That's leverage.

Now, say for the sake of argument you've got $30bn of cash and other assets. You use those to persuade others to lend you $1 trillion. You make multibillion-dollar profits for years, pay huge bonuses and recycle all the money into new loans to businesses, to home buyers and to small investors. That's leverage, Wall Street-style.

But imagine you invested your money unwisely. What if your £2 investment ended up halving in value? You have just £1 left, and that has to be paid back to your lender. You would be wiped out.

Multiply that to Wall Street proportions, and you've got the credit crisis. If that sounds too simple, it is maths that was derided for years by the bankers who faced their day of reckoning yesterday. They had complex models to prove that all their investments, all used as collateral for each other, could not halve. Their models didn't predict the US housing crash.

Why were they allowed to borrow 30 times the value of their assets? Because they borrowed from each other. Because they believed they had invented clever ways of reducing the risk of leverage. Because they were greedy. And because nobody stopped them.

Independent Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Anger? Panic? POLITICS!

Good grief. A very slick local NZ politician, for those of you reading from far away, has led people astray for years, bluffing his way through things and not being upfront about much of anything. He is always on the warpath with the media and plays one side against the other to maintain influence in a government that often needs his vote to pass things.

A special committee finds that he has lied about money donated to a trust that personally benefited him. Does he own up? Does he suggest that he did anything at all wrong?
Nope. He'd probably choke on those words.

And the Prime Minister does not sack him or do much of anything really, because she needs his votes. Managing power and MMP do not come with much accountability.

The opposition leader, John Key, who is likely to be the next Prime Minister, foolishly neglects to check all his facts and doesn't report some of his investments. He probably has a few, many of which are in trusts and more than he can remember on a given day - kinda like how many houses John McCain owns.

When it is brought out in the open, conveniently today to distract from the other dodgy politicians guilt, Key admits he got his facts wrong, should have checked, looks guilty and tries to clear the air. The government is using the words lie and liar a lot. hmmm. I didn't think they knew what one of those looked like. They don't recognise it when it is closer to home.

Helen Clark said something in Parliament about Key probably checking his investment portfolio each morning when he got up, as if she doesn't have some assets tucked away for when she's lost her power! That's like Labour saying they are against a two tiered medical system which includes private medical insurance, when you can bet your dog that they all have medical insurance and would never be reliant on the system they oversee!

Anyway, I thought Key's comment in a radio interview was the best.
"Trust is not about being perfect. It is about telling the truth when you mess up."

Where is there a perfect politician? Where is there a perfect person? In your house?
Not in mine! But when a person puts their hand up and owns their mistakes, I can trust that.

The games people play . . . and the timing of it all . . . and to think they really might have some important things to deal with in Wellington.

23 September 2008

Don't panic. Invest regularly.

As you might be aware the financial markets are a bit of a concern right now.
Reading in the NZ Herald today, sages are writing about how this has all been in the works for 30 years and experts shoulda seen it coming . . .. well, I bet we could look back a few weeks and not find the same sages warning anyone! Hindsight is amazing!

Here's a blurb I received from my advisor.
The Dow recently suffered its biggest percentage drop in more than six years, and is now down about 25% from its record close just last year, Oct. 9, 2007 Markets do go up and do go down. You know this, but when the market goes down, especially when it drops appreciably, it is unsettling. The volatility in the market is a common and normal activity of the stock market and should be expected.

Declines are common, take the following: The stock market since 1900.

  • A routine decline of 5% or more happens about three times a year and lasts about 47 days.
  • A moderate decline of 10% or more happens about once a year and lasts about 113 days.
  • A severe decline of 15% or more happens about once every two years and lasts about 215 days.
  • A bear market of 20% or more happens about once every 3 ½ years and lasts about 329 days.
(Capital Research and Management Company is source, flyer Sept. 2008)

Realistic Expectations on Stock Returns: As of 12-31-2007.
Over the past 60 years, stocks averaged 11.8% per year.
Over the past 40 years, stocks averaged 10.6% per year.
Over the past 20 years, stocks averaged 11.8% per year.
Over the past 10 years, stocks averaged 6.4% per year.

(From Global Financial Data, Stocks are Wilshire 5000 Index)

Good news you do not hear much about in the media. (They want you to tune in tomorrow or buy another paper).
Interest rates are relatively low.
Inflation is moderate.
The US dollar has declined against other countries currencies, allowing other
countries to buy goods and services produced in America for less.
US Unemployment is not low but not high either.
We have been at this down market for almost a year now (See above).
We believe there are many companies that are good bargains.

What to do? While we wish we could predict the future of the markets, we cannot. We are advising you the best we can, but remember that there are no guarantees when it comes to investments in stocks, bonds or other financial instruments.

1) Don’t panic-Stay invested. You should have your monies diversified enough so that your short term needs are in a safe-liquid account and your longer term investments are in a broad basket of stocks, bonds and CDs.

2) Buy low-Sell high. We are likely in the “Buy low” part of this saying. This could be a good time to look at purchasing-not selling. Trying to time the market is difficult as it requires two near-perfect actions-getting out at the right time and getting back in at the right time. If you wait to get back in when you feel “comfortable” you may have missed most of the upswing in the market.

3) Re-evaluate your risk assessment. What percentage of your portfolio should you have in stocks? We can help on this one. We can then make any necessary change upon market recovery.

4) Invest regularly. Investing on an ongoing basis will take the guesswork out of timing the market. You buy in both up and down markets.

5) Seek professional guidance and review annually. We think it prudent to take a thorough look at your assets and investments once each year, make adjustments based on your risk-reward profile and go forward.

Angry with God

Have you ever been angry with God?
Was it because He let you down?
Did He really, or did you expect something He never actually promised?

Maybe there was a huge injustice, some abuse or neglect in your life.
I'm afraid that is all too commonly the human condition.

Where do we draw the line between anger, disappointment, frustration or confusion?
Unfulfilled expectations lead to frustration which then leads to many other emotions.

Job spoke his anguish, his pain.
Jacob wrestled with God.
Jonah sulked under a tree and wished to die.

I don't mean to simplify or demean your experience.
Such things are best discussed, not blogged, so this post is not very helpful.

God can handle the honest expression of our feelings.
In the very process of speaking them, we may go the way of many of the Psalms and arrive at an understanding or accommodation of some sort.

Psalm 13 TNIV

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

4 and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing the LORD's praise,
for he has been good to me.

22 September 2008

Te Araroa: Hike the Length of New Zealand

A hiking trail the length of New Zealand by 2010!

The idea of a walking trail the length of New Zealand has been around for over 25 years. The Federated Mountain Clubs proposed the concept in the mid-1970s, and development of a north-south route was a priority for the New Zealand Walkway Commission.

2600 Kms. Long trails are popular around the world, from the Appalachian Trail in the States, to the Trans Canada Trail, to the Offa's Dyke Trail in the UK. My dad has done part of the AT with his dog for company. The dog carried his own food and water in a special pack.

I've been to both Cape Reinga in NZ's north(I'm in red) and to Bluff(I'm in purple), even across to Stewart Island, in the south. Now to just tie those bits together on Te Araroa.

I could start with the North Shore segment. The urban sections of the track will of course be different from the rugged and exposed parts, but there's some value in scenery seen at a snail's pace rather than just speeding past in the car or bus. Map for the North Shore of Auckland. Te Araroa logos, markers on posts, and small fingerboards on poles mark the all-tide route. This route follows cliff top tracks, pedestrian shortcuts, steps and footpaths.

This 23 km urban walk takes you from Long Bay in the north to Devonport in the south, where you can catch a Fullers Auckland ferry to link with Auckland’s coast to coast walk.

Another way to enjoy Auckland on foot is the Coast-to-Coast walkway, The hike that defines Auckland - a 16 kilometre trail across Auckland City. I've found, in the 3 times I've done the walk, that it is not so much walking across Auckland as eating our way across as there are cafes, lunch bars and ice cream shops in all the right places!

In 1998-99 Geoff Chapple walked the North Island section of the route for Te Araroa, and then he completed the South Island section. He obtained one-off permission to cross the private land along the way. He wrote a book that tells the story of his walk. Te Araroa: The New Zealand Trail

Forty years before Chapple and at the age of 85, the famous New Zealand publisher, A H Reed, walked the length of the country by road. He wouldn't have had the markers and descriptions of the track ahead as we do now. Chapple avoided the roads, instead contemplating . . .

" . . . the tedious, waterless curve of Ninety Mile Beach; the exhausting scree slopes of Mount Rintoul; the muddy ledge on the banks of the Tokomaru that stopped Chapple in his tracks for several pages; the menacing whirlpools of the Whanganui River; the savannah-like grasslands of the St James Station; the wide crossing of the Rangitata River valley, and the grave on its far bank of Dr Sinclair, the colonial secretary who didn't make it across; the volcanic throat of Ruapehu: 'If you wanted to see Dante's innermost stone circle of Hell it was embedded right down there in the moonlight.'"

It was more than just a journey the length of New Zealand:

"My mind was a blank, and it occurred to me this might be the actual, final and happy condition of a long walk. All those long days when there'd been nothing but the light on the grass, the next turn, the glad hut. To walk, to eat and drink, to find shelter, to sleep. Those were the four corners of my universe."

Download the maps.


21 September 2008

Frugal Gardener: Getting Started

For those in the Southern Hemisphere, it's gardening time! Make a plan!

For you northerners, check out what Rosie Lerner at Purdue University has to say about preparing your garden for winter.


Here are a few tips to get you started for a productive garden:

To select your vegetable garden plot, consider what vegetables need to thrive. Vegetables and fruits need 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. The vegetable garden plot should be well-drained and convenient to water (vegetables require 1 inch of water weekly or 75 gallons per 100 square feet).

Once you have selected the garden location, draw a plan (to scale) of the area you are planning to place your garden. Make allowances for paths, borders, etc. Next, take inventory of your likes and dislikes in vegetables. Put down on paper every vegetable you wish to grow. Then go back to your plan and mark out a definite space or number of rows for the different vegetables. Looking at seed packets to determine plant spacing is helpful. Select early, midseason and late sorts of these vegetables. This will give you a constant supply of vegetables throughout the growing season. When you start to garden, be sure to follow your plan. To ignore your carefully planned garden may lead to your garden failing to yield satisfactory crops.

Study the peculiar characteristics of certain vegetables and utilize them to best advantage. Some vegetables thrive even in partially shaded positions, while others require lots of sunshine for best results.

Adding 2-3 inches of old manure and compost (or well-rotted leaves, peat moss) to your soil in early spring prior to preparing the soil will not only improve drainage, but also make it fertile. If soil is undesirable, consider raised beds. If space is an issue, try container gardening and window boxes. You could plant vegetables amongst flower beds or bushes. I have edible flowers and herbs in all of the flower beds in the front of my house.

Soil that is loamy, well drained, and high in organic matter is ideal for your vegetable garden.

. . . Read more on Chef Kendra's Gardening 101. She'll tell you about purchasing plants, staking them for maximum yield, and mulches.

There is also a compatibility chart for companion planting. That is compatibility of plants, not those working in the garden with you.

20 September 2008

Prayer: the wood knows his voice.

While I've benefited from my time in Linette Martin's writing, I found this quote on In The Life of a Busy Woman

"...God Incarnate is God on ground level, and if we can move towards him, he can
move towards us. That is worrying, because we would often prefer to be left
alone. It is splendid to have a God we can talk to whenever we wish, but it is
highly inconvenient to have one who is free to walk into our lives and rearrange
them whenever he chooses. We could bolt the door and huddle nearer to our fire,
but since a personal God is everywhere, there is nowhere to hide. He made the
wood which made the door; it knows his voice. The close domesticity of the
Creator is precisely one of the fearful things about him. Maybe only in heaven
will familiarity and awe be resolved."
Linette Martin Practical Praying

19 September 2008

Learning English via TV?

I took a Kurdish man to the social services office to get approval, and funding, for him to take English classes. He wants to get a job. English is the key to that in New Zealand.

When we got back to the house, the neighbour lady was there with her little boy. Ayat is probably 3 and cute, the baby of that family.

The TV was on so I tried to switch it over to some of the children's programming. Nothing . . . I couldn't get any NZ stations. I realised that they had satellite access so they could get programs from "home". Understandable. I didn't ask about the cost.

I did suggest that they might want to arrange for an aerial so they could local programmes too. The kids could benefit from English language fun stuff!

One of the reasons refugee families can get a TV in their re-establishment grant is that it is seen as an aid to learning English. It is really seen as a necessity for living! How many families do you know without a TV!?

I don't begrudge them a TV. I do think they need to tune in locally.

Orality: Hearing x Image > text

Michael Miller of NavPress writes on thoughts on Media, Publishing and Spirituality,

I attended a conference not long ago sponsored by NavPress. There were leaders gathered from all across the country to discuss the change in learning styles and reading preferences of Millennial’s. I must tell you, I was shocked by what I learned! We discussed issues related to Orality. If you are not up on this movement you need to do some study on this subject.

We also discussed what has been termed “secondary orality.” These sound like heavy intellectual issues but they are huge issues for ministry and businesses as we move further into the 21st century.

Research indicates that the amount of books read by U.S. adult population is quite small! It is not that they lack the skills to read but they prefer not to read!

The natural question is how do they get their information? One of our NavPress employees explained to me that his preschool child is learning in a new way in his pre K school. The resources are web based images and oral stories! Text is taking a back seat in the process of learning for these children!

I sense that a major shift is taking place in our world in the ways that people learn. Have you seen evidence of this in your part of the world?

Video is king. I was one of the founders of the first social network website for Christians www.godtube.com. I discovered as we built the site that people are drawn by the power of images to hear and listen to a message about God. We cannot underestimate the power of image in seeking to share the truth of the Scriptures!

So here is the new formula for learning in the 21st century. Hearing x Image > text. What do you think? Am I over exaggerating this change? NavPress is seeking to understand this trend and begin to consider the development of materials that will start with people based on their preferred style of learning.

18 September 2008

Jill's 5 Ways blogging has changed my life: Part 2

To understand the context or the challenge presented, see the companion post on 16 September.

Conversations@Intersections began in May of this year, 2008

1. Blogging regularly has caused me to create some order to my thoughts and ideas. I usually take my thinking to a certain point, further if I’m speaking and having to include others in those thoughts. Blogging has meant that my thoughts could be written down, read and then thought through with deliberation. That process makes me think better, more thoroughly, and then to try to write in a way that I cannot be misunderstood by those who read at a later date and distant place. My awareness and appreciation increases as I attempt to record some of what God is doing all around me.

2. The diverse community that my blog is creating is exciting. Old friends have found me, my father is a regular, non-churchy friends peek in. I meet some very interesting people. I hope their stories are enjoyed by my readers. My blog creates a bit of a bridge and hopefully is of some encouragement or enlightenment.

3. I have long collected quotes and clever ads or bits of art. They get filed away in the darkness of a drawer, smashed between financial papers and study materials, doomed to never be shared or exclaimed over again. Because I now have an outlet, a venue in which to share the best of what I discover, I am more intentional about my curiosity. In fact, the mixture of content in my blog reflects me, which means it is not all Sunday School material. I like gardening, travel, nice writing instruments, art, words, culture, clever ideas and good thinking . . . . so I blog on variations of those themes. Does variety repel regular readers or attract diversity? While I’ve struggled in thinking that a blog should be a package, a consistent topic or focus prevailing, I’ve tried to be true to my original reason for blogging and that is to write.

4. Much of what I do involves Christian ministry. Too much of anything can dull our intellect or taste buds. Yet I know many of my readers are not church goers or believers. Blogging causes me to take my faith out of the box for my readers who are not churchy. It causes me to reframe my faith in ways that make sense outside the narthex. On the flip side, writing about my experiences far from church might enrich or extend the thought processes of many of my churchy friends who rarely meet Muslims, Buddhists or happy pagans. Maybe some Christians will be encouraged to drop their defensive guard and to engage in conversations.

5. I love to write. But I don’t unless I have a project or a deadline or an audience. Blogging gives me structure; it’s got me writing again! Writing regularly improves how I use words, how I think of words, the quality of the way I string them together. This blog may be, in and of itself, enough of a reason to write. It may, on the other hand, be a launching pad to somewhere else. Conversations@Intersections may lead to new relationships, new opportunities or merely my own personal enrichment, as conversations at intersections tend to do.

Read more of this conversation on A Place For the God Hungry and Seedlings in Stone, where the challenge began.

Poignant Comic









Bill Watterson

17 September 2008

Book Club: An Interesting Title

Okay, I did my review on Simon Winchester's history of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Meaning of Everything. I got more and more excited as I talked about it, but I sensed some in my book club nearly slipping through the cushions of their chairs with boredom. How could I get so excited about words, and some social misfit who collected them?

Well, where do they go when they wanna find a spelling or a meaning!? Yep. Someone had to collect all those words in to those databases or they couldn't search them today. So there.

I also talked about Leap of Faith by Queen Noor, how she had a love affair with a man and a nation. Amazing woman, amazing story. Well written. Again, some people were not as excited as I was about an American woman in the palaces of Jordan, a country they are not likely to visit.

Okay, so guess what the set book is for the next meeting? Go ahead, guess!

Nope. It's Emergency Sex, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait & Andrew Thomson
Yep! This is part of why I joined a book club. One, I really like the ladies in the group. A bunch of fun and interesting women who give their best to their families and their work at the university. But also so I'd stretch a bit and read things not usually found on my shelves at home.
Emergency Sex definitely falls in to that category. How am I even gonna carry that one out of the library! praise God for the clever inventor of those automatic book check out machines so I don't have to face the nana librarian with this one!

Here's a write up from Time Out Bookstore in Auckland's Mt Eden. I've not started it yet, but I can see it is available at Northcote, Takapuna and Albany branches of the North Shore Library.

In the early 1990s three young people attracted to the ambitious global peacekeeping work of the UN cross paths in Cambodia.
Andrew strives for a better world through his life-saving work as a doctor.
Heidi, a social worker, is in need of a challenge and a paycheck,
and Ken is fresh from Harvard and brimful of idealism.
As their stories interweave through the years, from Rwanda, Bosnia and Somalia to Haiti, the trio reveal a world of witnessed atrocities, primal fear, desperate loneliness and base desires. They fend off terror and futility with revelry, humour and sex; ask hard questions about the world order America has created, the true power of the UN, and whether there is any possibility for change. This is a startling celebration of the power of humour and friendship, of the limits of human compassion and the need for a warm body and a cold beer during a Condition Echo lockdown.

The black humour of M*A*S*H meets the frenetic pace of ER meets the anger of Michael Moore, in a book that shows the human cost of global politics and the tragic truth that wars are much more avoidable than our governments would ever admit.
A brilliant, provocatively funny and fast moving book.
Another reviewer says, "This book appears superficial on the surface, and this is mostly due to the everyday language used and the emphasis on the feelings of the writers, but at its heart are serious questions.
Perhaps the book also points a finger at all those people safe at home, desperately looking for the perfect mate to watch late night television with."

"They travel from idealism to disillusionment to bitterness and make no excuses for the UN bureaucracy."

Having lived myself in situations where famine, epidemics and death were not just in the headlines, much of this book might make sense to me. In my situation, emergency sex was not on the list of options.

Gratitude: very healthy, satisfying & attractive

I can hear a whiner coming and change course very quickly. Aren't they entitled to a good whinge now and then? Possibly so, some just seem to whinge more than others and it sucks the life out of me. I should be more generous. They should be more grateful!

My friend on In The Life of a Busy Woman tells of journaling her list of things she loves. Don't wait for some Thursday in November to make a list of things for which you are thankful, or Christmas to think of a few of your favourite things! Make your own list, add to Cheryl's or start something in the COMMENTs below.

Such moments of reflection add value to our day as we realise how good our life is if we have choice and even one of the things we enjoy in the course of a day. We don't feel better at the expense of those without, but it might make us more grateful & generous, and could decrease the whining.

Let's see, mine would include sunshine, a good read, cup of tea with a friend, a handwritten letter, finding the very thing I need onsale, seeing God at work in someone's life, laughing with my dad, coming home to a clean & tidy house, having good health and choices . . .

____

This morning I bent back a page of my journal and quickly wrote at the top,

"A List of Things I Love..."

I fill in the first slot, which is easy for me...READ, READ, READ! Then I leave the remaining nineteen slots on the page for my 'ponderings' tonight. Minutes ago, it took me not quite seven minutes to complete my list of 20 things I love.

Try it. Number your page and see if you can write down twenty things you LOVE... in under seven minutes. Why did I time myself? It made me more intentional about what I wrote.

Here's a few of mine...
  1. hot pizza with crunchy stuff like gr. peppers, mushrooms, and onions
  2. discovering an old bookstore and I have time to browse
  3. LAUNDRY: the cleaning, the folding, the sorting, and organizing for my family!
  4. pulling on Levi's, a white T and black belt for the day
  5. for one of my girls to slip their hand or arm in mine
  6. moving around or relocating furniture within my house (or yours!!)
  7. to bake w/ yeast...

16 September 2008

Seedlings in Stone: For Better, For Worse: 5 Ways Blogging Changed My Life

Seedlings in Stone: For Better, For Worse: 5 Ways Blogging Changed My Life

Five Ways Blogging Has Changed My Life #1

Some people responded to my recent question about blogging. It's exciting to hear other people's stories.
I'd love to join in the conversation I found on Jim Martin's A Place For the God Hungry.
Check it out and see why others blog. I'm not recruiting you, just fleshing out a new mode of communication, a new way of expressing ourselves, a platform for relationships across time zones.

The task is to write "Five Ways Blogging Has Changed My Life."
Here are Jim's responses. Anticipate mine.

1. Blogging has become a discipline that has helped me sharpen my thoughts and clarify my thinking. This blog exists to provide encouragement to its readers from the perspective of a Christ-follower. These posts must necessarily be brief which forces me to really think through what I choose to post.

2. Blogging has given me the opportunity to learn from some very good bloggers. I have been blessed immensely by reading Scot McKnight’s blog. His tone, manner, and approach to various issues has greatly impacted me. There are other very fine bloggers who I am also encouraged by.

3. Blogging has allowed me the opportunity to interact with numerous people who I otherwise would have no contact with. I thought about listing some of these people but I am afraid that I might leave someone out. Many of these people are bloggers themselves. Others are good people who have reading this blog for several years.

4. Blogging has allowed me the opportunity to hear numerous stories. Since the beginning of this blog, I have received numerous e-mails from a variety of people asking questions, sharing their story, and communicating in some way the status of their lives. I feel honored that people would entrust me with concerns that are so important and in some cases, so deeply personal.

5. Blogging has been a discipline which helped me pay attention to what God has done in history (as recorded in Scripture) and what he has done and is doing in my life. The discipline of blogging has helped to sharpen my awareness of the work of God that is right in front of me in ordinary life.

Your turn: Here are the rules (L.L. Barkat)

1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.
2. link back to the person who tagged you
3. link back to this parent post (I’m n
ot so much interested in generating links, but rather in tracking the meme so I can perhaps do a summary post later on that looks at patterns and interesting discoveries.)
4. tag a few friends or five, or none at all
5. post these rules— or just have fun breaking them

Respond here if you blog.

Follow the comments on Jim's blog or on Out Here Hope Remains.

Third Day

Entertainment, or just Outrageous?


Outrageous Fortune is one of New Zealand's top dramas. The Wests are a one-family crime wave with a proud tradition in thievery, larceny and petty crime, until now. When patriarch Wolfgang West is sentenced to four years in jail, his wife Cheryl decides enough is enough; the family are cleaning up their act and going straight. Can the Wests live up to Cheryl's resolve and stay out of crime? It's not easy to be a saint when you have the DNA of a sinner.

Outrageous Fortune follows one cheerfully trashy crime family's attempts to stay out of trouble: matriarch Cheryl, determined to save her brood from following in their father's footsteps, eldest son Jethro, an ambitious lawyer-to-be with a few secrets, Jethro's twin Van (identical except in the brains department) who only wants to be like his dad, 18-year-old Pascalle, who wants to be Rachel Hunter, 15-year-old movie buff Loretta, who is blackmailing her teacher, and Grandpa Ted, who may have Alzheimer's - unless he's just playing it up to annoy people.

Then there's Detective Sergeant Wayne Judd, the West family nemesis; the Hongs, a wealthy Asian family who may or may not have Triad connections, Caroline Darling, Loretta's deputy principal, who has been having an affair with Jethro since he was a 15-year-old student, Munter, Van's best mate and partner in crime, and Wolf himself, who does not intend to take his wife's sudden wave of righteousness lying down.

Outrageous Fortune is a family comedy-drama about the wrong sort of people trying to do the right thing when the rewards for going straight are neither immediate nor bountiful. Outrageous Fortune is a bold, fresh comedy-drama which is by turns bawdy, action-packed, satirical and trashy - but only ever a heartbeat away from reality.

When I read the ad in the newspaper for this show, I was nearly reeling thinking that if people could write this kinda stuff then why can't they solve the issues of society? If the politicians watch this kinda garbage, do they have any plans for solving such a dysfunctional society?

It's crazy, but, as the write up says, only ever a heartbeat away from reality.

What kind of church would be needed to address these ills of society?
Would the people in this show, or in these neighbourhoods, be at home in your church?
Would you want them to be?
What if Jesus featured in all of this? What difference would it make?

out·ra·geous (out-rjs)adj.
Grossly offensive to decency or morality.
Being well beyond the bounds of good taste: outrageous epithets.
Having no regard for morality.
Violent or unrestrained in temperament or behavior.
Extremely unusual or unconventional; extraordinary.
Being beyond all reason; extravagant or immoderate.

15 September 2008

Frame: Up is heaven, down is ocean



The NZ Listener published three poems with the kind permission of the Janet Frame Literary Trust, which was set up in 1999 to provide financial support to New Zealand writers.

Speaking for the trust, Pamela Gordon – Janet’s niece – says the literary executors are striving to “heed the wishes of the angel at our table” in making available poems from the “treasure trove of unpublished poetry that Janet had entrusted to me before her death, asking me to make sure that it would be published posthumously”.

The End

At the end

I have to move my sight up or down.

The path stops here.

Up is heaven, down is ocean

or, more simply, sky and sea rivalling

in welcome, crying Fly (or Drown) in me.

I have always found it hard to resist an invitation

especially when I have come to a dead end

a

dead

end.


The trees that grow along cliff-faces,

having suffered much from weather, put out thorns

taste of salt

ignore leaf-perm and polish:

hags under matted white hair

parcels of salt with the string tangled;

underneath

thumping the earth with their rebellious root-foot

trying to knock up

peace

out of her deep sleep.


I suppose, here, at the end, if I put out a path upon the air

I could walk on it, continue my life;

a plastic carpet, tight-rope style

but I’ve nothing beyond the end to hitch it to,

I can’t see into the mist around the ocean;

I shall have to change to a bird or a fish.

I can’t camp here at the end.

I wouldn’t survive

unless returning to a mythical time

I became a tree

toothless with my eyes full of salt spray;

rooted, protesting on the edge of this cliff

– Let me stay!

Meet me here!


















c Jill Shaw 2007

Keep talking or face terrible future, religion summit told

I attended a MultiFaith Forum last week at Auckland University which was sponsored by the McLaurin Chaplaincy Trust Board. Fascinating conversations acknowledging both the common ground and the need to recognise, rather than ignore, the points of difference.

NZ Herald 4:00AM Tuesday September 09, 2008 By Lincoln Tan

Inter-religious talks may seem superficial, but it is vital for believers of different religions to keep talking - or the consequences could be dire, an inter-religious relations expert warned.

Paul Weller, a professor of inter-religious relations at the University of Derby in Britain, is in New Zealand to speak on challenges facing multifaith societies at a two-day conference that started yesterday at the University of Auckland.

"New Zealand may have once been called a Christian country, but like most societies, with immigration and globalisation, it is now a society with many religions. The change is inevitable, but the challenge is, how do we face this change?"

Yesterday, Professor Weller spoke about the implications for believers of this change, and said that instead of "retreating from the world and taking refuge in simplistic and dangerous forms of religious communalism", they should "develop ways of thinking and acting that are characterised by modesty, integrity, realism and distinctiveness".

New Zealand has a religious diversity statement which declared that the country "has no official or established religion" - which some Christian groups, like the Destiny Church, have described as "treasonous" because the British monarchy and the Maori King Movement are both committed to Christianity.

But Professor Weller, a former Baptist minister, said people who thought there was no room in society for any religion except their own were "lacking in confidence in their own faith", and described their line of thinking as "dangerous".

"The shock of September 11 followed by the Madrid and London bombings, the rise of the Taleban and invasion of Afghanistan ... these bloody episodes have at least dimensions relating to religion and culture," he said.

"There is no quick fix for a way forward in religious diversity. It is vital that we keep engaging with those with different beliefs, because if we don't, the alternatives will be just too terrible."

Tuesday, Professor Weller used the example of the University of Derby's Multi-Faith Centre, of which he is vice-chairman, to show how it is possible for universities to promote religious diversity and how public institutions could be inclusive of the role of religions.

14 September 2008

In? Out?























c Jill Shaw 2007

Dysfunctional disciples

Another write up about Outrageous Fortunes:

As you read it, think how things might go differently if Jesus were to have a casual introduction to this guy and they were to become friends.

Wouldn't you like to be a mouse under the table at those conversations!

WESTIE DUDE IS ONE HALF OF A SET OF IDENTICAL TWINS WHICH IS WEIRD BECAUSE HE IS NOTHING LIKE HIS SMART LAWYER BROTHER POSSIBLY AS A RESULT OF A HIDE AND SEEK ACCIDENT WHERE HE GOT TRAPPED IN A FREEZER AS A CHILD LEAVING HIM A FEW SAMMIES SHORT OF A PICNIC WHICH EXPLAINS WHY HE STOLE A PRICELESS MING VASE FROM A TRIAD AND SMASHED IT THINKING IT HAD TREASURE INSIDE AND TO AVOID GETTING KILLED HE WENT TO WORK FOR THE TRIAD AT HIS HOUSE AS A POOL BOY WHERE HE KNOCKS UP HIS WIFE AND BONKS HIS DAUGHTER WHOM HIS TWIN BROTHER BEDDED FIRST PRETENDING TO BE HIM WHICH BROUGHT BACK MEMORIES OF THEIR EIGHTEENTH BIRTHDAY PARTY WHERE HIS BROTHER DEFLOWERED THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE IN THE SAME WAY BREAKING HER HEART AND CAUSING HER TO RUN OFF AND BECOME A SLAPPER IN A BIKER GANG WHICH WAS A SURPRISE TO HIM YEARS LATER WHEN HE SAW HER ENTERED IN A COMPETITION FOR HIS MUM’S LINGERIE BUSINESS WHERE THEIR LOVE WAS REKINDLED BUT THEY DIDN’T LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER AS SHE WAS KILLED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT WHICH SENT HIM INTO A TAILSPIN BUMPING UGLIES WITH HIS BEST MATE’S ALCOHOLIC MUM WHICH CAUSED THEM TO NOT BE BEST FRIENDS BUT THEN THEY HAD SOME PSYCHEDELIC PUHA AND EVERYTHING WAS SWEET AND HE AGREED TO BE BEST MAN AT HIS WEDDING BUT DIDN’T MAKE IT AS HE HAD TO DELIVER HIS TEENAGE SISTER’S BABY IN HER BATHROOM.

Some people might be offended by the language or crudeness of writing. I'm more offended that some who say they follow Jesus would tend to avoid this guy rather than befriend him.

13 September 2008

New Look: Blog Format

What do you think?

Is this more readable, with the stretched body section?

Let me know what you think. I don't want to mess with the formatting much, changing for change's sake, but if it can be tweaked to be more comfortable, readable or accessible, do let me know.

As for the content, well, you're stuck with more of the same and other tidbits that take my fancy, confuse me or seem a bit off somehow.

Comments always welcome. You can now become a follower of Conversations@Intersections by clicking on FOLLOW THIS BLOG, a new feature from Blogger.

Also, don't forget you can subscribe to it via an RSS feed so you can check the new topics in your RSS reader to see if you actually want to come over and have a read of the full post.
Read more about RSS on a previous post.

Where to?

Messy Spirituality

Life gets messy.
I'd say a messy spirituality is a real spirituality.

Is your spirituality tidy?
Does it all fit in a box with no loose ends or stray questions or paradoxes?

Do you live in the real world with alcoholics, suicide, infertility, cancer, flash floods, Mother's Days & Father's Days that are more torture than a celebration?

I'm not depressed and I hope my words haven't burst your bubble.
I actually take comfort in my messy spirituality. I find it is more resilient than some tidy versions I've seen where, if you were to pull one block out of the wall, the whole thing might sway or topple.

Integrity in my faith means that questions do not threaten it, but give it more clarity, more substance and authenticity. I do not see the need to defend my positions so much as to understand other positions better and be enriched.

In my comfort with my messy spirituality, in my quiet confidence, maybe others won't be offended by me so much and, just maybe, they'll see the Jesus I know and love.
He's comfortable with my messiness.

12 September 2008

Book Club: Pick just TWO Favourites?

I have to take just TWO of my favourite titles to Book Club.
How do I boil all the good reads I've ever had down to just TWO! Impossible! I can't do it! I'm not going! That's a ridiculous ask! Choosing between biography, fiction, history, travel writing, other non-fiction . . . . .what kinda torture is this!?

You don't mind me ranting, do you? Everybody needs a good rant and if that's as bad as it gets, well, no one got hurt, did they? I know, there are far more important things to rant about . . . . political situations in Burma, Zimbabwe . . . . the treatment of refugees by "host" nations, or by their new neighbours when they finally start getting settled in . . . . so many things.

Ok, I'm over the book club thing now.

Let me tell you what I've chosen, I think.
Literary history: THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING:The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. by Simon Winchester
Biography:
Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor
Travel Memoir:
Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald
Memoir:
On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel by Tony Cohan
Novel exploring philosophical traditions:
Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder

What? That wasn't TWO books?!
And none of your favourites were in there?

Well, get your own blog! I make up the rules and pick the favourites in this one!
Got anything to say about that? Click on COMMENTS below and have your say.

11 September 2008

My Fair Veep

By MAUREEN DOWD Published: NY Times September 9, 2008, WASILLA, Alaska

The rain in Spain stays mainly in the Arctic plain ...

I hope John McCain doesn’t throw his slippers at Sarah Palin’s head or get as acerbic as Henry Higgins did with Eliza Doolittle when she did not learn quickly enough. McCain’s Pygmalion has to be careful, because his Galatea might be armed with more than a sharp tongue.

For the first time in American history, we have a “My Fair Lady” moment, as teams of experts bustle around the most famous woman in politics, intensely coaching her for her big moment at the ball — her first unscripted interview here this week with ABC News’s Charlie Gibson.

Eliza, by George, got it and brought off the coup of passing herself off as a Hungarian princess rather than a Covent Garden flower seller. Sarah’s challenge is far tougher, and that’s why she’s pulling the political equivalent of an all-nighter. She doesn’t have to pass herself off as a different class or change her voice or be more highfalutin. The McCain campaign is reveling in its anti-intellectual tenor.

Sarah, who is now so renowned that she is known merely by one name and has a name ID of 90 percent, has to be a Kmart mom who appeals to Kmart moms and dads. She’s already shown that she can shoot the pig, put lipstick on it, bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. Now all she has to do is also prove that she can be the leader of the free world on a moment’s notice, and field dress Putin as adeptly as she can a moose. . . . . . .

Read more at the NY Times by clicking the link under the title.

Check out over 200 comments by NY Times' readers.



Give me Jesus

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus