30 June 2009

Colossians 1

Much of my life has been spent living Colossians chapter 1. I've either basked in the beauty and marvel of it all, or desired to play my part in the application of the blessings to all.

Look at the words.
Look at Jesus.
Look at what He made possible for us.
Perfect. Mature. Blameless.

Cheryl Belding on the Writing Process

"Many think that writing means writing down ideas, insights, or visions. They are of the opinion that they first must have something to say before they can put it on paper. For them, writing is little more than recording preexistent thoughts. But with this approach, true writing is impossible.

Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us.

The writing itself reveals to us what is alive in us.

The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey of which we do not know the final destination. Thus, writing requires a great act of trust. We have to say to ourselves: "I do not yet know what I carry in my heart, but I trust that it will emerge as I write."

Writing is like giving away the few loaves and fishes we have, trusting that they will multiply in the giving. Once we dare to 'give away' on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath these thoughts and thus we gradually come in touch with our own riches and resources." Read more!

29 June 2009


We are all the parts of our being;
the pain as well as the joy,
the fear as well as the faith.

Caption Challenge #6

I find the funny photo.

YOU caption it.

I dare you to find words for this one.

Happy Monday.

Make the obscene palatable, or impossible? Chittister

“For religious life to be worth its salt in this world now, we need thinkers who carry us beyond kind words and good deeds for desperate people, beyond the kind of charity that makes the obscene palatable to the kind of justice that makes the obscene impossible.

We need more observers of the universe who will call us back to the heights of humanity from the murky depths of the kind of mad progress won at the expense of the invisible poor.”

P 138 in Joan Chittister’s The Fire in These Ashes: A Spirituality of Contemporary Religious Life.

28 June 2009

Can I, as a spiritual person, embrace my irrelevance in a fast paced secular success driven world?

Most people have no idea what I do, let alone think they need it. I am irrelevant. As much as I talk about relevancy and try to be relevant, I rarely am. I read the paper, stay up on current events, technology and design. I care about politics, ecology & the economy. I m more culturally astute than most and listen carefully for clues as to worldviews. I am a communicator, a logophile who never goes anywhere without something to read. The idea of being bookless can cause a near panic attack!

All of that being true, my frame of reference is spiritual. Whatever meaning assigned to things, accomplishments or temporary constructs, I evaluate on the basis of eternity. God is eternal. He was before time, is beyond time, and will be after time. He is the centre of my existence. I was created by Him, for Him and perceive meaning only in Him. He colours my relationships, my objectives and my dreams. He assuages my fears, heals my wounds and provides my bearings as I journey forward.

In the minds of most of my friends, if they really thought through all of the above and decided it was indeed true, I would be irrelevant. You see they have bills to pay, deadlines to meet and goals to attain. They have dreads, dreams and desires into which God seemingly has no say. Therefore, I, and my God, are irrelevant and I’m okay with that.

I don’t have to be relevant. I have to be one with God, true to my calling and, if that is of benefit to those around me, then all the better. Sounds kind of cheeky and aloof, but I can do nothing better than be spiritual. I can find no higher purpose than to breath in time with God, let my heart beat in rhythm with His and see Him at work in the places to which He calls me. Irrelevancy incarnate; irresistible in a world where everything is mass produced and conforms to a norm decided somewhere between Twitter and Facebook.

27 June 2009

Beautiful things in humble places

The lace wall hanging reminded me of my grandmother.
“Blessed are those who see beautiful things in humble places.”

My grandmother was one who loved beautiful things or beautiful places. Even now, years after her death, I think of her first when I see a delicate flower, the flash of a butterfly or a landscape that deserves a moment of reflection. When my grandparents made a trip across the US and up the West Coast I received gifts from significant stops along the way. Each gift was a memento, not a costly treasure. It was her way of including me on their journey. Each one was in it’s own little box with a tag or note to explain its significance.

Years later, on one of my trips back from Africa, I showed my grandmother some of my photos. She wanted to hear the stories behind each one, knowing that I had specially selected these to show during my travels. She noted the splashes of colour on otherwise barren landscapes, the joy on children’s faces, the commonality of love between a mother and child. She laughed out loud at some of the stories and sensed the emotion in my voice at others. She asked the names of people in photos with me or of those who showed up more than once.

I had photos of signs warning of elephants crossing and of a baboon sitting on my truck. I showed her the face of the woman who had crocheted the tablecloth I had brought her and a sea of black faces of children who had crowded round at the roadside market.

Some photos were meant to grab attention. One showed a bright green plant pushing up through a dusty cement slab, the only spot of real colour in the photo. Another showed a kid in a bright red shirt, just long enough to cover “what was necessary”, everything else being black, brown or dusty. Close ups of the intricacies of woven baskets, carvings on drums and veggies in the market showed the texture, patterns and essence of Africa.

“You capture beauty in the most humble of places,” she said. No better commentary on my photography has ever been spoken.

26 June 2009

The Fragmenting Effect of Busyness & Worry is a Spiritual Homelessness

“I know you’re busy but I just wanted to talk to you . . .” the woman on the phone said.
“I’ve nothing better to do than talk to you. What’s up?” I replied.
A pause.
“You’ve nothing better to do than talk to me?” she asked. “I know you’re very busy with many different ministries.”

When did being busy become a badge of honour, or importance, as if the busier we are the better?

We often identify ourselves by our occupation. We are often preoccupied with many things, some of which will never even be realities, but merely what ifs that we worry about.
To be preoccupied means to fill our time and place long before we are there. These preoccupations can make us anxious, suspicious, morose. The news spells out the dramas that are happening and advertisers tell us what we lack and what we are missing. We invite these foreigners into our homes to fuel our anxieties via our newspapers, televisions, radios and computers. The excited voices of the newscasters make everything so very important and the urgent voices of the advertisers make us think we must not miss this opportunity to buy now!

Exhausting. All of it. Utterly exhausting.

Henri Nouwen writes, “The tragedy is that we are caught up in a web of false expectations and contrived needs. Our occupations and preoccupations fill our external and internal lives to the brim.”

“In our highly technological and competitive world, it is hard to avoid completely the forces which fill up our inner and outer space and disconnect us from our inmost selves, our fellow human beings, and our God.”

“Worrying causes us to be “all over the place,” but seldom at home. One way to express the spiritual crisis of our time is to say that most of us have an address but cannot be found there.”

Inspired or quoted from Making All Things New by Henri Nouwen

25 June 2009

Cross-Cultural Respect, Rumbi

“Tete, why is your skin so different from mine?” Rumbi asked as she rubbed my arm.
“Cause God thought variety was better than everyone being the same?” I suggested.
“No. I don’t think that’s it.”
“Uhm, cause it snows where I come from?” I ventured.
“Nope, but I guess it doesn’t matter. I love you anyway,” she affirmed as she ran off to play.

Living as the only white person amongst 90,000 black people in remote districts of southwestern Zimbabwe had its lighter moments. Being called Tete, short for Vatete which means Aunty or specifically, sister of the father, was one of those light moments. It warmed my heart. It usually takes time or a crisis to be included in a familial way into a culture. For the most part, I had just done the time. I had been around for celebrations and sorrows, at ball games, meetings, funerals and meals. I served as a teacher and a learner, living a life of reciprocity in a culture very foreign from my own.

My home was “open plan” as it was a huge room built over what had been a porch on the end of a large house on the hill. Two other apartments had been carved out of the larger dwelling and housed our mechanic and another teacher. By day, my bed in the corner, looked more like a sofa, offering more seating for visitors, who often admired my collection of African craftsmanship; spears, drums, baskets and toys. Dolls woven from sisal and cards made from wire could actually be played with. I preferred the spear remain on the wall. The floor was covered with a sisal mat and a chiShona Bible was usually near at hand.

I was comfortable with my biculturalism, knowing I’d always be a Hoosier from Indiana, but content in my home in Bikita. I hoped my visitors would be comfortable too, thus I did not decorate as if J.C. Penny’s were just down the road.

In answering Rumbi about the difference in our skin colour I made light of the matter, knowing her question was a passing curiosity, but one she might return to seriously someday. What I hope she’ll also consider then is that differences that matter are the differences of substance, not just of appearance. While we are different by culture and by colour, we need not be different in the things we cultivate in our hearts and in our society; mutual understanding, appreciation and respect.

24 June 2009

Chittister Again: Scarred by Struggle; Transformed by Hope

from The Struggle with Powerlessness as quoted by a friend of mine . . . .

"Powerlessness is such a burden to modern existence because it cleaves like a barnacle to the myth of control. Being in control, being independent, is a theme that runs through Western philosophy... Powerlessness is a sickening feeling in the pit of the stomach. ...It is also a call to become something new. The gift of powerlessness invites us to enjoy the grace of surrender."
"Part of the pain of any great struggle is the reluctance to admit that we have been bested. And there is nothing whatsoever that I can do about it. What I have now is all I have. And it is not what I want. The spirit dies within me. I am convinced that I will never live again, no matter how long I go on breathing.
What I do not know, ironically, is that this loss is more grace than I know, more grace than I can bear at the moment. It is this very loss that will open up a whole new world in me. Without it, there is no life to go on to at all. Only more of the barbed and suffocating same...SURRENDER IS WHAT CLEANS OFF THE BARNACLES THAT HAVE BEEN CLINGING TO THE SOUL...' (from The Gift of Surrender chapter)

“Did becoming older draw me closer to Jesus?”

That’s a question Henri Nouwen asked himself and touched upon in a thin but poignant book called In The Name of Jesus.

How many times will I read a book or watch a movie? I’ve never really understood why people buy videos or DVDs. If you’ve seen it once, would you really get enough value out of it to buy the thing, build shelves to house it and then dust it periodically? I don’t get it. I do get it with books. They take longer to get through, usually. They are tactile; holding a book in your hands creates a connection stronger than looking at a square of flashing lights. Books have an odor: possibly the paper and ink or maybe the musty smell of a pre-loved volume. Books are aesthetically pleasing on a shelf like treasure tomes concealing value and mystery. Anyway, I digress, happens to me when I start eulogizing over books.

If I rarely watch a movie twice or even re-read a book now then, why is it that I’m drawn to the Scriptures repeatedly? Is it reasonable to think that I’ll re-read a Gospel with vigor? If I’ve been to that cliff edge with Mark and then to the sick bed with Luke, will there be any impact if I go back? The mountain was interesting with Matthew the first time, but I know how it ends now! And all that midwifery talk with John; well, really!

I am nearing 50. Forty-seven is nearer fifty than forty, so I’m nearly fifty. “Does becoming older draw me closer to Jesus?”

Do I see nuance and details in the gospel accounts that I didn’t see before? I can even check my old Bibles and the words were definitely there. Maybe it’s my eyes? Maybe it’s my heart? Maybe the suffering of time in a distorted world draws me to him? Or does it dull my senses, my spirit?

Do I pray and commune with Him differently, nay, better, now than when I was 30, or 20 or younger? Do I say, “Yo, me again.” and his reply, “Yep.” Or is it more a comfortable, “I’m home.” With a reply of “Sit and rest awhile.” Is it a repetition of past prayers, selfish and shortsighted requests or something deeper, richer, of more substance and understanding?

23 June 2009

Photos: A Gift of the Past in the Present

I offered the woman the photo album, fully expecting her to make a cursory tour and then set it aside. To my surprise she took her time and asked me questions about several photos. The album was proffered in response to her question of what had I received for my birthday. A good friend had taken an old box of photos I’d left behind in the US and had sorted and arranged them, sending me the album at great cost in postage.

“Of course I knew you must have come from family somewhere,” said my Kiwi friend looking at the photos, “but I never really thought about who they are or what they must look like. We just know you in a vacuum as it were.”

I do speak of my family when possible, but only in the sense of stories or examples or possibly if I’ve had recent news that relates to a current relevant situation. My New Zealand friends know that my dad lives in Florida and I have a brother and family in Indiana, but they don’t know them personally. It’s not like I’m unavailable for lunch on a certain day because I’m eating with my dad or can’t attend an event because of my niece’s recital. My dad eats lunch and my niece has recitals, but I am rarely there for them. Thus they don’t pop up in the everydayness of conversations.

Now my friend wanted to know more, to put personalities to the faces she was seeing. I so appreciated her interest, her curiosity, her appreciation of the connections I have beyond our shared world of NZ.

I told her of my childhood days and of Naomi, my handmade and much loved doll. There was me with my dog, my bicycle and later playing volleyball. That’s when we were camping and there’s me with high school friends and college buddies.

I loved the time and effort my hometown friend put in to compiling the album. I also loved interest and attention of my newer friend in looking in to my past and seeing the bigger picture of who I am. Both were terrific birthday gifts.

22 June 2009

Caption Challenge #5

The beauty of the internet is that we all get to participate, well, more of us than you'd think.

I've lived in some r-e-m-o-t-e places. To think the internet has reached as far as CocaCola . . . . wow!

What caption would you give this photo?

Click COMMENT below and let us in to how your mind works.

Thirty-three was a pivotal age for Jesus and for me.

He died at that age, never reaching the milestone where his friends could celebrate his Big 40. When I was 33 my mum died.

Thirty-three. Pivotal. Everything changed. Jesus marked a new beginning. I gained a new perspective.

I am older than Jesus reached here on earth. I’m a woman. I’ve not much experience with wood. Don’t know that he painted anything. Points of difference.

We both know what it is to be single, to work and walk a lot. He liked fish and fishing, time in the mountains and on his own. He was a good friend and had good friends. He was sarcastic at times and has a sense of humour. We have a lot in common, Jesus and me. Maybe not enough, but a lot.

“Have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus . . .” Philippians 2:5a

21 June 2009

According to our gifts and abilities

“You must be Jill”, the man said as he approached the casket.
“Yes, I am. Have we met?”
“No, but I met your uncle only once and he spoke of you and your brother,” he said. I pointed Jeff out across the crowded room. He was talking to other second cousins.

“I’m a distant cousin on your grandfather’s side, mutual relatives of Wilbur and Orville.” He handed me a packet of papers. “Tom wanted these and I think it’s best I leave them in your safe hands.”

The papers were genealogical records of the Wright side of my family from Central Indiana: Millville, Richmond, New Castle and environs. The man had come more than two hours to attend Uncle Tom’s funeral. He told me Uncle Tom had gone over to a family reunion he had seen announced in the newspaper the year before.

“He came all that way by taxi!” the man said. “I respected his interest in making the family connections. That’s why I made the trip now.”

So that’s what Uncle Tom had spent the money I sent him for Christmas on. Better that than lots of other things I could think of.

Uncle Tom had died of cancer, not making his last trip to New York City where he might have been a victim of a different kind of terrorism. Instead of being there, we watched snippets of the news on TV in his hospital room. He’d probably planned the trip as a Bucket List kind of thing. I had not known he was so ill until Jeff phoned me and told me our uncle had had a very hard few days in his apartment before finally getting himself together enough to get a taxi to the hospital.

“He’s in the hospital and he’ll not be going home,” Jeff told me on the phone. “When will you be back in town?”
“I’ll come tomorrow.”
As things turned out, Jeff took care of everything at Uncle Tom’s apartment while I took care of the hospital visits, decisions and transfer to a nursing home. My brother and I are an excellent team in crisis. Divide and conquer according to our gifts and abilities.

As he lay dying, Uncle Tom asked me for a few couple of simple things. “I want to die with dignity,” he said.
“I’ll do my best.”
“And I don’t want to die alone.”
“Okay. I’ll be here,” I choked out.

He’s the only sibling of my mom and he had no kids. We’re it, Jeff and I. Well, Jeff’s kids too, but they’re not old enough to carry the load yet.

Days passed. Conversations resulted in questions and family history spilled out.
“You do know where your mother’s name came from, don’t you?” Uncle Tom said expectantly.
“No. Should I?”
“Marietta was your great grandmother’s name; mom’s mom who died when mom was just a girl. Your mother was named after her.”
I never knew that and the best remaining source of that information was nearly gone. “What else don’t I know?”

He didn’t begin to answer that question, but his mischievous eyes told me he had a few choice retorts he could make. Uncle Tom had a wicked sense of humour, well informed and quick. His background in theatre and his work in museums, both in Indiana and New York City, made him a choice partner for Jeopardy!

When a Hospice Chaplain came in a few days later Uncle Tom was beyond stories or filling in the blanks for me. When she discovered what I do for a living, she relaxed as far as figuring out how to minister to me. We speak enough of the same language to cut out a lot of the small talk. The big kind woman asked me to tell her about my uncle. As I told her about Uncle Tom’s stage performance and named the musicals he’d been in, she closed her prayer book and started singing hits from Broadway musicals! I was thrilled and Uncle Tom, who had been a bit restless because of the medication or pain or both, stilled immediately. The chaplain noticed his calm and sang him another one.

Stories unfold out of real life situations, conversations we have at the intersections of life. The best stories are when people respond appropriately, not according to a script falsely applied to the circumstances. Uncle Tom only followed a script when he was onstage. That chaplain wrote her own too. I appreciated that.

20 June 2009

A Good Blog

What goes in to a good blog post?

What makes you keep reading?

“This is our winter soup."

We leave it on the stove all winter and just keep adding bits in.” the woman told my friend just as she was about to take another bite.

And to think my dad used to complain about Granny’s soup, suggesting she made it whenever she cleaned out the fridge! I liked Granny’s soup and have never tasted anything quite like it. I reckon it was the love she added in.

I love a good thick soup in the winter. In NZ and Australia, pumpkin soup is often on the menu. I one time did a bit of research around Auckland to see who made the best minestrone soup. Just about figured it out then the chefs all moved or the owners sold up and the menu and recipes changed. Phooey.

I make such a good chili I bought a huge pot specifically dedicated to it! (See Recipe in tags below left) The longer it slow cooks the better it tastes, all the flavours mingling in and enhancing each other. I’ve pushed it a bit far a few times in leaving it on the stove, but my house gets pretty cold at night. I reckon it’s nearly like refrigerating it! The last batch of two huge pots got gobbled up over three consecutive nights of hospitality, parceled out to my fans who couldn’t come over, or tucked in to the freezer for a cold day when I don’t want to cook. There’s the bit in the margarine container and some in an ice cream container and then there’s a reasonable portion in the yoghurt container. I guess that’s kinda like what Granny was doing: recycling and making sure nothing goes to waste.

19 June 2009

On a dark and dangerous road in Africa,

I came up over the rise of the hill and my headlights caught on something reflective and grabbed my attention. Sure enough, the river was flooded on this road too and a bus was stopped halfway down the hill. I shifted down and pulled in behind him, not too close to the drainage gully at the side and not so close to the bus that I couldn’t pull out and turn around if necessary. I pulled on the hand brake, gave it an extra yank and turned off the engine. Oh well, there’s no hurry in Africa.

The bus driver ambled up to have a chat. We weren’t going anywhere so might as well develop community on the roadside. I leaned against the front fender and he crossed his arms, glaring at the rising water as if to turn the tide. This was no tide. We were inland in a land locked African country where we alternate droughts and floods: rarely just enough of anything at just the right time.

“I marked it about an hour ago. I’d better move my stick soon or I’ll lose it.” The driver said in chiShona, gesturing to a sapling that was measuring how quickly the waters rose.
“Munoda Coke here?” I asked in the same dialect, reaching for the bottles in the chilly bag behind the seat.

He took them both from me and opened one using the other lid as leverage. I handed him an opener for the second one, saving him having to use his teeth on his bottle. Having just been to town and buying a few groceries, I knew we’d be fine, even if we had to sleep in the truck tonight. Mosquitoes weren’t bad yet as the rain had swept everything away. My passengers had already found comfy spots to lean or squat and relatives with whom to talk. Everyone settled in.

After a few hours, the driver ambled back up to my location. “I think the water is going now. Want to go first?” he asked, smiling.
“You’re at the head of the queue. Endai henyu,” I jibbed back, feigning respect.
“But, if you get stuck, or swept down stream, I can pull you out.”
“But, if the water has swirled out a big hole in the middle of the bridge, I’ll get lost and ruin my truck.” I replied.
“Hmmm. Chokwadi,” he said. “That is true.”
He walked slowly in to the receding water; jabbing at the surface of the cement slab we called a bridge. He found a few holes, but all in all it was stable enough.

Loading those passengers who did not want to wade through, he revved his engines, got up some momentum and purposely plowed through the swift current. The bus slowed a bit midstream, but kept its grip on the bridge and climbed out the other side.
He secured the bus and then came back to shout at me across the river. “I’ll wait a bit and make sure you make it through, but I’d not try just yet.”

My passengers all climbed in as I’d need their combined weight to keep all four tires on the ground. With the weight of eight Africans and an American, a bit of speed and fervent prayers we made it through with only a mild tug on the steering wheel and lots of cheering from both sides of the river.

I’d later pass or be passed by that driver on different trips. He’d always wave and give me the advantage on those rough and dangerous roads of Bikita. Stories of that event were told in around fires and at drinking holes. “Did you hear about that white woman waiting by the flooded river . . . ?”

There is much talk of developing or creating community these days. In Zimbabwe, on dark nights along a river’s edge, it just happened.

18 June 2009

Degrees of Separation?

What are the odds of bumping in to an old friend in India? With ….million people, why did two from Indiana choose to be in the same lobby at the same time?

David teaches at the college where I got my Bachelor’s degree. He wasn’t there then. We first met at a summer camp when I was in high school. We have many mutual friends but none of them put two and two together to think we’d meet up; same day, same place. Photo of me & David at Taj Mahal, of course.
Finding myself at a remote beach with a seemingly random representation of Germans, Chinese, and Singaporean students, I learned about a new treasure hunting kinda sport called Geocaching. “Where’d you discover this?” I asked.
“From friends of ours, Greg & Helen Sosna,” Stefan answered.
“We’ve been in the same Bible study! I know them, but how did a Pole married to a Kiwi share geocaching adventures with Germans in New Zealand?” asked the bewildered American!
Coming back from Africa one time I flew through Amsterdam. As I boarded the plane I heard a woman say, “Honey, there’s Jill, Willard & Suzie’s granddaughter!” Sure enough! Old family friends on the same plane originating out of a major European hub.
“Oh, by the way, Larry Marshall says Hi!” said the young woman I’d just met at an event in Auckland, New Zealand.
“How do you know Larry?” I responded with surprise.
“He was my youth minister when I was a teenager.”
Well of course he was, but how did she make the connection to me?
“Hey, I met someone the other day who knew you,” she said.
Yes, that’s entirely possible,” I replied, “but did they like me?”

Wacky Backy

As we moved the sofa out from the wall to vacuum behind, Granny saw a tray of seeds on the floor. “Well what in the world is that doing there?”
“Drying, I thought, but didn’t say so. “I’ll throw them outside.” I offered helpfully.
I did not leave them there, but the one who did reckoned rightly that the heating vent under the sofa would be a great way to dry the marijuana seeds without having them out in the open. I suppose the few dust bunnies could be blown off and no harm done to the process.

I went to a 4th of July fireworks celebration with a noted preacher and his wife. We were on our way to a conference a few states away and thought we’d break our journey with an early evening and some local flavour.
“Don’t inhale,” he said as the breeze brought whiffs of wacky toe-backy over from a nearby blanket. While holding my breath, I contemplated how he knew what that aroma was. I didn’t ask.

It happens here in NZ too. A huge movement of casual users wants to legalise pot here. Then the government can tax it and pay for the rehab of long-term users who damage brain cells, develop mental illness or just lose all their teeth.

I’d be against that; legalization of pot, but then, we tax alcohol and cigarettes and they do heaps of damage to individuals, families and society in general. Schools have started cutting back on sugar in their tuck shops/snack bars so as to help kids eat healthily.

I saw a woman in the airport today. Tears overflowed now and then as she queued up to go through Customs and Immigration, heading home after a visit to NZ. Around her neck was a lei made of brightly coloured lollies, individually wrapped sweets or candies. I don’t reckon it was a farewell gift! I think she was smuggling ‘em out of the country. Pass a law against that!

17 June 2009

Cartoon Generation of Software Developers?

If Tweety has Twitter, a killer app loose in the world, then what sort of app would Sylvester have? Or Yogi? (To use Twitter is to Tweet, not Twit.) See article on cover of Time.

There’s a Bing now. Boing Boing might represent Tigger. What of the Tasmanian Devil? There are applets, but I don’t know of a Piglet app. Do you?

Yosemite Sam could be a spam filter where he just shoots the heck out of anything that looks dodgy! Popeye could be another security or firewall app.

Casper could be a behind the scenes reminder app that pops up transparently through whatever we’re working on to remind us of an appointment or deadline. Snoopy or Garfield could be the sleep feature on a monitor. Linus could be a new type of rubbish bin and Lucy could be a help desk feature. Who’s the guy on that little piano? He could manage our music library!

Think about it? Who’s your favourite cartoon character? Tinker Bell could be a reminder app and Peter Pan could be a game feature so we’d never have to grow up.

What of Fred & Barney? I’ve not brought any superheroes in to the mix yet!

16 June 2009

The children looked out at us

The Ethiopian children peered out at us as I sat watching television with my grandmother. We rarely did that. I could count the number on one hand probably. My memories are more of ladylike lunches out, walks on the beach & girl-time as we did errands.

I was freshly back from Africa and visiting her and my grandfather who was out doing grandfatherly stuff. As the children looked out at us, my grandmother looked at me. “What do you think when you see their suffering?” she asked.
“I want to get up and go over there to help,” I answered in measured tones.
“I thought so,” she replied. And after a pause, “I just want to change the channel.”
“That’s because you don’t know how to help,” I said.
“I hope that’s why,” She sighed.

Lessons for Ministry Today

“Because religious life comes out of a culture to challenge it, it also embodies that culture in the mindsets and personalities of its members, in the agendas and questions of its times. When religious life fails to respond to these shifts in emphasis and content, religious life fails its culture and the culture rejects it. Religious life must be a conscious and creative response to the culture in which it exists or it is at best a pious pretense of the spiritual life, a therapeutic exercise in personal satisfaction.

Through its very immersion in the culture out of which it springs, religious life demonstrates the needs of the society around it, reflects its struggles, becomes a sign of judgment on its questions, or a sign of decadence by its distance from them.”

. . . where effort is assumed and failure is taken for granted

“It is important to realize, then, that one thing religious life is not is a perfect state of life for perfect people. It is not a state of life where perfection is even supposed. It is a state of life where effort is assumed and failure is taken for granted, where the human quest rather than the deluded notion of human flawlessness is the content of life.

A monastic tale, for instance, reminds us of visitors from another age who were trying to determine for themselves the purpose of a monastery. “But what do you do in the monastery?,” they asked the old monastic. And the elder replied, “Oh, we fall and we get up; we fall and we get up; we fall and we get up again.”

Some lessons for ministry today, I think?
From Joan Chittister’s The Fire in These Ashes: A Spirituality of Contemporary Religious Life.

15 June 2009

In a ‘burb by the sea, quietly

Here I am in Australia again, at a retreat centre in a place I’ve visited before. Funny that. This country is huge, but I choose a few quiet days in a little ‘burb by the sea that I’d landed in previously. I only noticed when I walked down to the shops and recognised the café, and the bookstore and . . . yep, I’ve been here before.

I had written to a few retreat centres to see about accommodation. All of them wrote back with either renovations happening or a full house or whatever, but with the recommendation that I check with this place in Manly. From them I received a gracious and welcoming reply along with directions as to which train to take from the airport. Done. Decided. No further discussion required.

As it was a sunny day, I chose to walk the short distance from the train station, only making one wrong turn. I was shown my room and told that other retreatants were here on a silent retreat from Wednesday until Tuesday. That’s okay. I didn’t come for chitchat, but for rest. Often telling people about what I do is nearly as exhausting as doing it, so I was pleased with the situation. Meals would be free of interviews, the only sound the clinking of cutlery on plates and a slurp now and then.

I’ve nearly chuckled a few times. If my friends could see me now! It’s not like I’ve committed to the silence as the others have. I’m only here for a few days. I’ve spoken briefly with the administrator and have walked down to the café where words were exchanged. I have appreciated the space though, the permission to be without conversation with those around me so as to be in conversation with myself and my God.

One lady looks like my friend, Frances. If she spoke to me, I may not like her. It may put me off my affinity to her because of her likeness to my friend. Frances, in Kentucky, will crack up when I tell her an old nun in Manly reminded me of her!

As I look at the faces and wonder about the lives of these old sisters, I can’t help but realize, they might be wondering about me too. Maybe not, but I’m 20+ years younger than any of them and have dark curly hair. They haven’t heard my accent, but my clothes must say something about me. The fact that I’m in shortsleeves when they are wearing layers needs no words. I’m not from around these here parts.

Today I slept a good bit and claimed a bench out in the sun. Tomorrow I’ll walk down to the café again and stroll along the esplanade. There’s a geocache down there just waiting to be found! The day after that my friend Tiffany and her girls will come and get me. Will my time alone affect my time with them, my time of quiet affect our conversations? Probably, but I expect it’ll be in good ways. I’ll embrace the girls with all their potential and promise and will listen to them better for having had time in this quiet ‘burb by the sea.

Caption Challenge #4

Give it your best shot.

What caption would you give this photo?

Click COMMENT below and let us in to how your mind works.

14 June 2009

Information Overload

How have you tried to limit or to manage the amount of information you can be exposed to in a day?

We cannot process it all.
Why would we want to?

We used to know, more or less, what we needed to know. Things might happen around the world and we would be oblivious and unaffected.

Other times, information might have been quite helpful, but there were no channels for it to reach where it was needed. Now we have all the channels possible, but not the skills to filter, discern, file or discard.

How hard is it for you to turn the info flow off?
What difference does it make?

Jesus Follower; seriously?

Some Christians have named Jesus as Saviour.
Some have even named Him as Lord.

Can we say with Paul:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me
and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20

Have you had a crisis of belief, a shattering point in time where you chose Jesus,
where you took a step from religion to relationship with Jesus?
Where you leapt from Jesus as saviour to Jesus as Lord, to Jesus as EVERYTHING?

What does the word Christian mean to those around you?
a) follower of a religious system?
b) Church goer?
c) one who has been shaped by a relationship with Jesus?

Words mean things. Make sure the words you use mean the same thing to you and to your hearers. Otherwise, communication will be complicated.

13 June 2009

God: 'the One who loves.'

Theologian Karl Barth, after writing thousands of pages in his Church Dogmatics,
arrived at this simple definition of God: 'the One who loves.'

12 June 2009

Repatriation: The International Cycle

The Repatriation Process for Missionaries by Jill Shaw, 1993
You have been "on the field" for three years and enjoy life in your adopted country. You think in the local language, even shouting in it when you hit your thumb with a hammer! The noise of the donkeys and herd boys on the dusty road outside your house is normal to you. Your daily agenda has become flexible so as to meet needs as they arise. You push aside your projects and paperwork when friends come to ask you to transport their father’s body home for burial.

The dust on the bookshelf is not as important as the grandmothers when they stop by for tea with their friend and teacher. A year ago you used to be irritated by the children staring at you through the barbed wire goat barrier you call a fence. Now you get up and get them some cookies and cold water. They are no longer just children; they are Mrs. Chikhami’s grandchildren and you are glad they are still alive after the terrible drought and famine.

During the drought, you went beyond the point of tears; there was too much work to be done. Waking at 5 A.M. to find 30 people on the verandah asking for food is something you never want to do again. But, it was good that you were there to help. Who ever would have thought 17,000 children a day could be fed for so many months? The cheques you wrote were big and the delivery trucks that came were big. Your God was big too, and is much bigger now than He used to be. It is now time for furlough, time to go home.

Travel by air is amazing. Just yesterday you were 6 hours from traffic robots, soft ice cream and the tall buildings of the capital. Now you are flying from U.K. to the U.S. airport where your family will meet you. London was a bit confusing. When you asked for ice cream, they pointed to a list of 120 flavours. You remember 33 flavours as being impressive, but 120! So many decisions to make! Things will be better in the U.S. where you will feel more at home.

Why do you feel like you are the only one in style? Everyone is dressed so funny. Girls are in mini skirts and boys have strange haircuts. And those ties the men are wearing! Women seem to all shop at the same place and wear the same four colours. And everything is spelled funny here.

Hurrying to disembark, you see a little girl about three-years-old playing with the rope barricade in the airport. The young man coming to take your carry-on looks like your nephew, but much taller than the eight-year-old you left. After a quick hug he calls the little girl over and introduces you to your niece. As the rest of the family comes to greet you, you try to cover your tears and confusion. The tears could not be explained any better then than they can today as you type this.

This is not a false scenario created to facilitate understanding of the shock some expatriates feel when they return to their home country. It is a brief introduction to the thought processes common to many missionaries as they go through another phase in the international cycle. The confusion, frustration and shock continues as they see the many signs in the airport, huge parking lots full of beautiful cars, four lanes of traffic twisting around and layered under or over other highways, rows of restaurants and shopping malls, and new homes and office buildings where corn fields were three years ago.

They think church will be less confusing. God has not changed. True, He has not, but there is a new preacher and the choruses are all foreign. Foreign! The realization finally comes.

11 June 2009

Arrive, Again

And the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.

Wordle:Word Art with a Message

from ESV.org

10 June 2009


I’m a reluctant starter in the search for a Kiwi spirituality. I got into it by accident because I was bored with traditional models of spiritual formation. Bored or burnt out? I’m not sure which.

This is the introduction of John Bluck’s paper to the

Association of Christian Spiritual Director’s conference in August 2004

I began my life as an ordinand or seminarian at 18 and would fall asleep at early morning chapel services, in the midst of receiving profound spiritual advice. My contemporaries who stayed awake went on to live holy lives while I wandered off into various spiritual wildernesses, rescued by inspiration from ecumenism, social action, human encounter movements and other brands of religious intensity. I never quite made the cut for the charismatic movement, though I tried hard and remain vaguely disappointed that I didn’t taste the undoubtedly exciting fruits of that tree that flowered so brightly in the seventies, and we’ve been singing about, a little wistfully, ever since.

It was much later, after wandering around the world and back, that I ran into a school of spirituality that I’d been living inside all my life without realising. Call it Kiwi spirituality, or Pakeha, or Tau Iwi if you must, or indigenous. Certainly call it incarnational, and nothing less than ecumenical. Whatever else it is, it’s home grown, it belongs to nowhere else but in the ground beneath our feet and it’s all right here.

We began talking about this spirituality in the earliest years of Pakeha settlement and it’s grown through several self conscious forms, from a highly romanticised Victorian version in oil paintings full of brooding mountains that Wordsworth could have scribbled off an ode to with ease, through to idealised noble savages, the “tui” and “bellbird” school of poetry, the rugged bush felling, camp oven cooking pioneers who were good, keen and lonely, through to the stirrings of a national identity, monocultural with Maori decoration, then forged in war, depression, economic crisis, and finally coming of age, though still adolescent.

This spirituality can be traced through our literature and art and even our cinema, but you’re hard pressed to find it in the theology of our churches, which remained colonial and import dependent for well into the 1960’s, long after the rest of the society gave away import licencing and controls. And if you listen to the choruses we sing still and the adulation we heap on visiting American preachers and authors, you might well wonder if there’s still some way to go in trusting our own spiritual voices.

I started coming to terms with Kiwi spirituality when I settled again in New Zealand in the early 80’s at a time when Maori sovereignty and identity was being clearly staked out in the public domain, as a mainstream issue that couldn’t be sidelined any longer. The signs were everywhere around me: Bastion Point, the land marches, the momentum gathering around the Waitangi Tribunal, and in the Anglican Church, the preparations for a Tikanga based church and a prayer book that addressed a God who awaited me here rather than somewhere else. Couple all that with the challenge that came from the Christian feminist movement (women I knew ten years before as easy going colleagues were now monitoring my pronouns and holding me personally responsible for the sins of patriarchy), and I found myself a stranger in a familiar land. There was nothing else to do but set about trying to give an account of the hope that was in me, in a whole new way.

Back then, we started talking about Kiwi spirituality in bold generalisations. The sheer novelty of talking about it at all allowed us that luxury. “Struggle and hope” described it well and a little collection of essays called “Long, white and cloudy” confessed to the open ended and often fuzzy way we talked.

I wouldn’t use that title now. It’s long, white and a little clearer now, and the lines around spiritual identity and belonging are much sharper.

We’ve pushed the debate about separate, distinct and definable identities to their limit and the postmodern worldview that says such contrasts are artificial and overplayed is catching up with us. Hybrid identities are overtaking old separations. Younger Maori see no contradiction in claiming the Pakeha part of their whakapapa even as they support an iwi claim under the Treaty. Androgynous images muddle gender separations in popular music and art. The freedom that Generation X enjoys in holding multiple and changing loyalties to brand names and institutions all conspires to make our statements of faith and our places of belonging harder than ever to pin down. World views, credal statements, canon laws and authority figures that define the big picture become obsolete the minute they pretend to have the last word. The only person to dares to claim that is Pam Corkery.

Any sort of exclusive claim on truth of any sort is written off by the postmodern way of seeing the world. Any lingering hope that the church, or any faith tradition for that matter, might have a corner on the spirituality market is surely dismissed by the sight of multi national corporations selling their products as spiritual assets, be that an airline ticket, a bottle of Steinlager or drive in a new Nissan.

In that setting, national let alone indigenous ownership of anything is constantly undermined by a global culture that homogenises everything into a mongrel mix, available to anyone who can pay the price. Consumerism has no scruples and respects no boundaries.

And yet, amazingly enough, despite all those hybridising, homogenising forces at work, we see proudly owned, passionately expressed beliefs and identities commanding attention and respect. Consider the success of moves like “Whale Rider’, poetry like Glen Colquhoun’s “Playing God” collection, the transformative power of Kura Kaupapa schools, and even the pride most cynical and worldly wise New Zealanders feel when they see underdogs like the Silver Ferns or the Tall Blacks triumph against the odds. These are very local, very particular, very focussed expressions of energy, skill and belief. Yet they speak universally while they last and even after they have been superseded and changed into something quite different, their legacy lives on.

A clearly lived out, well owned and proudly held spirituality for Aotearoa can have that sort of transformative power, regardless of whether it’s experienced by people who stand inside or outside the familiar circle of religion, even when they are unable to find any traction from the traditional language and disciplines of church. But for that to happen, we need, I believe, to shift gear in the way we express that spirituality, namely from the general to the particular, the conceptual to the concrete and from fixed categories to fluid processes, the tightly defined to the openly dynamic, from hoping to find the big picture out there somewhere to trusting that there is truth enough and more to be going on with in the bits and pieces right here in front of us.

My claim then is that when it comes to a spirituality for Aotearoa that embraces our struggles and hopes, God is to be found in the detail, in the fine print of this gospel–culture contract that we inherit and constantly need to rewrite.

And we look to the detail not in order to check up on whether some universal laws of theological grammar are being followed, but rather because God is in that detail in every fragment of it, in every dot on every “ i “ and every cross bar on every “ t “. We’re accustomed to looking through telescopes to find evidence of the divine spirit in the universe. Let’s spend some time looking through the microscope as well, to find that same spirit in the smallest detail of the most local, the most ordinary, the closest to home. To do that, you have to trust the ground on which you stand to be worth the effort of such close scrutiny.

And equally if not more importantly, let’s expect to find God in the way those details connect. For it’s in those interconnections that we find new reasons for getting excited about the God in whom we live and move and have our being in Aotearoa.

Need a moment to yourself?

Have you seen these photos?
- Exterior of loo/toilet/bathroom.

View from Interior of same-

Could you go?

09 June 2009

Geocache Log Sheet & Links

For link to Geocache log sheet templates click TechBlazer.

Others are available elsewhere, but these are good.

For devious cache examples go to Australian Geocache Online Store.

More examples of unique cache designs go to Crazy Caches.

Click for Technorati posts on Geocaching, over 3000 so far!

Cachebox Store also has free downloadable cache sheets and trackable passports. Click the logs to the left.

For chart, maps and comparisons of your geocaching stats go to It's Not About the Numbers and follow their instructions for downloading a zipped Pocket Query of your finds and then uploading them to their site for feedback. The stats will show you the range of difficulty in your finds, the distance between them all, stats on just about everything except the number of times you've fallen or stopped for a hot drink!

Podcacher and Geotalk are my two favourite podcasts on Geocaching.

Social Calendar: Significant Conversations

Thursday night was my book club. Six of us in great conversation about a common interest, though with differing opinions and permission to express those differences.

Friday night was a potluck with 16 of my geocaching friends. I use Mac, they are all PC users, but we agreed to disagree and shared ideas with each other.

Saturday night found 10 young adults gathered round my coffee table with bowls of chili in hand. The occupations represented range from counseling to education to PR, publishing, church ministry, fashion design, music and city planning.

Sunday night included parents or pre-teens & teens, people without kids and those who work with youth. The conversation covered generations and technology, worldviews and philosophy. Various perspectives and opinions became obvious.

There was a lot of variety in my week!

It's good to celebrate friendship, to engage in relationships with mutual respect, to seek diversity & differences of opinion. It's good to interact with people of different ages, interests and perspectives. If we have only one facet, we do not catch the light in the same way as if we are multi-faceted. Conversations dive and diverge, twist and turn. Sometimes you get to a place where everyone breathes collectively and wonders, "How did we get here?"

There were some significant conversations during the week. I define "significant" in this context as a conversation where I learned something new, where I was challenged in a meaningful way or where I thought back on that conversation later and obtained something of value.

A memory of a conversation, a meaningful exchange between people, can bring a sigh. That sigh can be of relief, of joy, of frustration or resignation. As I closed the door after each of the gatherings in my home this week, I sighed. Each sigh was tinged with relief and joy; a gathering of friends planned, enjoyed and then tidied up after.

It's easy to sit in front of the TV or computer and be an audience. It's not as easy to find a day and time that suits people and then organise the components of a good time amongst friends. Not sure how many texts have come and gone this week in the planning of events. A meal shared amongst friends, a conversation that stretches our understanding and a memory made and tucked away; those are worth the effort.

Now what's on for tonight . . . .

08 June 2009

Caption Challenge #3

Join in the creative fun!

What caption would you give this photo?

Click COMMENT below and let us in to how your mind works.

Photo Credit Soul Point Counseling Services

Church & Chili

Had about ten friends over for dinner last night. We polished off a huge pot of chili I had made the day before.

They were all friends I've met over the past 10 years. Often we meet at worship services or Bible studies or in local cafes for a casual catch up. Most of them are young enough to be my kids, but they learn from me and I from them.

Everyone brought something to contribute to the meal. The theme was chili related so some brought chips, sour cream or corn bread to complement the meal. The fire and the conversation warmed up the lounge quite well with conversations criss-crossing the room and the volume getting high at times.

We spoke of Apologetics, theology, leadership, church health & growth. Don't worry. It's all quite a different language but we understand it. There were many conversations about interpersonal relationships, recent & future weddings and baby names.

Laughter filled the room and people shared tips and advice, what's worked for them and what hasn't. People compared stories about families, work, sport and podcasts. There was a bit of gossip, but it was nipped short and people's reputations were left intact.

The group in my home represented a community centred around a common passion or interest. Some had been of the church for several years. Some were as new as justa few months. The more experienced helped the newbys, as it should be.

It was great, but, even with 10 people in my home, I was still left with some chili, some cake & salad. The fridge is full and the dishwasher's getting a work out! Hospitality is to welcome people, not to entertain. This lot entertained themselves just fine!

A different crowd of friends are coming over tomorrow night.

07 June 2009

Chili with Caching Crowd

Had friends over for dinner last night. I made two huge pots of chili.

They were geocaching friends I've met over the past year and a half. Often we meet on a rarely used track/trail enroute to find something one of the other of us had hidden and posted coordinates for. Last night, I had given them the coordinates for my house so they could find it using their GPSr. Street addresses and landmarks work too, but for this lot, technology gets them where they want to go.

Everyone brought something to contribute to the meal. The theme was chili related as it is cold in New Zealand right now. The fire and the conversation warmed up the lounge quite well.
We spoke of software and maps, PDAs and GPSs, Pocket Queries and GSAK. Don't worry. It's all quite a different language but we understand it.

Laughter filled the room and people shared tips and advice, what's worked for them and what hasn't. People compared stories about finding, or attempting different caches. There was a bit of gossip, but it was nipped short and people's reputations were left intact.

The group in my home represented a type of community centred around a common passion or interest. Some had been participating for several years. Some were as new as justa few months. The more experienced helped the newbys, as it should be.

It was great, but, even with 16 people in my home, I was left with a pot and a half of chili, some cake & salad. I like having a place that is comfortable and where people can feel at home. Hospitality is to welcome people, not to entertain. This lot entertained themselves just fine!

A different crowd of friends are coming over tomorrow.

Insha'Allah: Shared Respect Across Cultures

In šāʾ Allāh (إن شاء الله) is an Arabic term evoked by Indonesian, Arabic, Malay, Wolof, Persian, Bosnian, Albanian, Turkish, Urdu, Hausa, Bengali and many Muslim English, German, and French speakers to indicate hope for an aforementioned event to occur in the future. -

The phrase translates into English as "God willing" or "If it is God's will", sometimes spoken as DV; the Latin abbreviation for Deo volente or simply "hopefully". In Arabic speaking countries the term is used by members of all religions; meaning the term in and of itself does not denote a religion, but simply means "God willing." The term is also related to an other Arabic term, Mā šāʾ Allāh (ما شاء الله), which means "God has willed it".

This word is often used to indicate a desire to do something that you wish may occur. This also provides God's blessing on what you are about to do. For example, if you want to do something in particular if you know that it is very hard to achieve, you invoke God's blessing before it occurs or before you set out to do it.

Usage of Insha'Allah derives from Islamic scripture, Surat Al Kahf (18):24: "And never say of anything, 'I shall do such and such thing tomorrow. Except (with the saying): 'If God wills!' And remember your Lord when you forget...'"

Muslim scholar Ibn Abbas stated that it is in fact obligatory for a Muslim to say Insha'Allah when referring to something he or she intends to do in the future. If carelessness leads to the omission of the phrase, it may be said at a later time upon the realization of the omission.

A similar phrase, law šāʾ Allāh, means "if God willed it" or "if God wished it". In šāʾ Allāh is used for the execution of real actions (I'm going to the store if God wills it); law šāʾ Allāh is used to express a wish or desire one cannot fulfill.

Similarity to Spanish ojalá, and Portuguese oxalá

The Spanish phrase, ojalá (que), and the Portuguese phrase, oxalá (que), both meaning "I hope (that)," "would (that)," "would to God (that)," etc., are both derived from the Arabic law šāʾ Allāh. This phrase is an example of the many words borrowed from Arabic due to the Muslim rule of some areas of the Iberian Peninsula from the eighth to fifteenth centuries.

The Christian Bible has much the same phrase which reminds us who is in charge and who is not, where our self-sufficiency ends.

13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15 NLT

What brought this to my attention was the reading of a book on cultures in Mexico and the use of the Spanish phrase.

I am fascinated by the shared roots of much of the wisdom literature of ancient cultures too. Wisdom, respect, certain character values and shared social norms are common in folktales and proverbs.

06 June 2009

Google Gets Better

When you can access a plethora of tools all in one place, and when the labs keep trying to think outside the box, why go anyplace other than Google?

Yes, with the advent of flash drives I can now carry around heaps of files in my pocket. But I also like to have some stashed online and I can do that with Google Docs. I can keep my contacts online in Google Mail and my calendar can sync there too, accessible even when my pocket versions have run out of juice.

Now Google adds a super feature that lets me compare sets of things in one view. I'm sure there are many ways to use Google Squared, but I'm just starting out and like what I see so far.

I tested it by asking for New Zealand cities. A chart came up with images, area codes, etc. Then I saw the Add Columns option so asked for Coordinates. Click & up they come! I searched rivers, religions, bestsellers, Pulitzer Prize, prayer beads and more! Read on for PC Advisor's review:

Google Squared search tool goes live
Search results displayed in spreadsheet format

by John Ribeiro, PC Advisor

Google has made its new search tool - Google Squared - publicly available.

Google Squared pulls information about members of a category from all over the web and presents it in a table with rows and columns, instead of the series of page links typically returned by search engines.

A typical search on Google will return a list of relevant websites, but users still have to visit ten to twenty websites to find information on complex questions, said Alex Komoroske, associate product manager for Google Squared in a blog.

The experimental search tool Google Squared, on the other hand, collects information from different websites and presents it as an organised collection.

A search for US states on Google Squared for example returns the names of the states in the first column, and pictures from the states, descriptions, the state's motto, information on population, and state birds in subsequent columns.

Users can customise the table to add a new column such as capital of the state or name of governor from a list provided, or add to the list. The information on the grids on the table links to websites containing more detailed information on that particular aspect of the topic. Users can also save the table using a Google account, and move on to the usual search on Google from within the same page.

But, wait, there's more . . . .

Google Wave is a web application that's the equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife for consumer online services and possibly one of the riskiest and most ambitious endeavours Google has embarked upon in years. See also: What is Google Wave?

Google Wave logoIn the works for about two years, Wave has the potential to drive people away from popular Google products like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Talk, Picasa, Blogger and Sites, as well as from similar products from competitors like Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL.

However, Google Wave could also fall flat if people don't understand how it can be useful, or if they can't be convinced to give up their email, blogging, IM and other individual online services.

Whatever destiny holds for Wave, it is a bold attempt by Google to give people a new unified web application for their communication and content creation needs, instead of integrating the company's set of discrete online services.

It remains to be seen whether Wave will cannibalise Gmail and other popular Google products, but the culture of innovation at the company trumps those types of concerns.

"Just because we have a suite of very popular products, we shouldn't stop innovating; quite the contrary. We should always keep trying and do new, better things," Rasmussen said.

Google Ave will be open source with room for developers to enhance it as we go. One great feature: Drag-and-drop file sharing: There is no need to upload, so it will work like a desktop. just drag your file and drop it inside Google Wave and everyone in that wave or with permission, will have access. See Sci Tech for more on both applications in one comparison review.


Diarmuid O Murchu

Spirituality concerns an ancient and primal search for meaning that is as old as humanity itself … Spirituality tends to be perceived as a sub-system or offshoot of formal religion. In practice the reality is quite different … Spirituality is, and always has been, more central to human experience than religion. (Reclaiming Spirituality. Crossroad. 1999. vii)

Nan Burgess

Today a fresh, liberating breath of spirituality is touching many lives both within and outside the church. This phenomenon expresses growing awareness of the dimensions of spirituality in daily living, and, naturally, incorporated in such awareness are varying interpretations. … The hope of increasing numbers of people is expressed in the proposal of Rebecca Propst that “spirituality should be taken out of the corners of our modern existence and become instead the defining point of our existence”. (Looking Into The Depths Dimensions of Spirituality in New Zealand Short Story. Colcom Press 1996. 25-26)

Anthony de Mello

The spiritual quest is a journey without distance. You travel from where you are right now to where you have always been. From ignorance to recognition, for all you do is see for the first time what you have always been looking at. Whoever heard of a path that brings you to yourself or a method that makes you what you have always been. Spirituality, after all, is only a matter of becoming what you already are. (Source unknown)

Howard Rice

Spirituality is the pattern by which we shape our lives in response to our experience of God as a very real presence in and around us. … Our participation in the living Christ means that all human life takes on a sacred quality. The unity of flesh and spirit in Christ is the basis for taking all that is human with utmost reverence. (Reformed Spirituality. WJKP 1991. 45 & 163)

Joan Chittister

Spirituality is not meant to be a panacea for human pain. Nor is it a substitute for critical conscience. Spirituality energizes the soul to provide what the world lacks. … Spirituality plunges us into life with an eye to meaning and purpose. (Heart of Flesh – Eerdmans 1998. 1-2)

Margaret Dunn

Christian spirituality focuses us on relationship with Jesus Christ. (Harvest Field. 2002)

John North

Any definition of spirituality is not a definition but a signpost showing us the directions to search! (Refresh Editorial Group meeting 5.11.03)

Susanne Johnson

Christian spiritual formation is a matter of becoming the song we sing, the Story we tell.

(Christian Spiritual Formation … Abingdon. 1989)

05 June 2009


While I resist pretty much anything Microsoft, I include this new online feature in honour of my dear friend, Bing.

Some of you in the Seattle, Washington area may have noticed the giant light beaming from the Pacific Science Center and the cool orange glow of the Space Needle. Whether you saw it or not, Bing is here to tell you all about it. Not only does Bing have the answer, but Bing IS the answer!
Bing is focused on helping you complete tasks faster by presenting better organized and more relevant content, great tools to help you in your search experience, and services that can be found only on Bing that help people save time and money in four key areas: travel, shopping, local and health.
excerpt from PC Advisor Review:

Our take: The Explorer Pane can be extremely useful, which may make the trade-off of cluttering up the search results page worthwhile. But in our initial tests, Quick Tabs often steered me to Microsoft services such as Bing Shopping, Bing Travel, MSN Autos, and Bing health information.

It may be that those Bing sites offer the best content, but we get suspicious of any search engine that habitually gives its own links precedence over others'.

I prefer Google for my online search engine, but I do like the name of this one. Will it too become a verb?