28 May 2011

Christians shouldn't suffer?

The sweeping message of the Bible is not a promise that those who believe and do good will not suffer. Instead the Bible is largely a book about people who refused to let go of their faith in the face of suffering.

-Adam Hamilton, in Why?

via In The Life of a Busy Woman.
See feeds in the left sidebar of this blog.




- Posted using BlogPress on the go, so pardon dodgy formatting or spelling. I couldn't wait!

26 May 2011

Zimbabwe Health Care: Paid in Peanuts, literally. Scrawny Chickens Accepted too.

With their old currency worth nothing, and American dollars hard to find, people trade what has value for what they need.

The Chidamoyo Christian Hospital, along with countless Zimbabweans, turned to barter in earnest in 2008 when inflation peaked at what the International Monetary Fund estimates was an astonishing 500 billion percent, wiping out life savings, making even trillion-dollar notes worthless and propelling the health and education systems into a vertiginous collapse.

“It’s very difficult to get this famous dollar that people are talking about,” said Esther Chirasasa, 30, who hiked eight miles through the bush to the hospital for treatment of debilitating arthritis. Her son, Cain, 13, walked at her side carrying a sack of peanuts to pay for her care.

Bartering helps plug some of the holes. A May survey of more than 4,000 rural households found that each of them, typically a family of six, spent an average of only $8 for all their needs in April, the cost of a couple of cappuccinos in New York.

Read the rest of the article, and about the way the hospital recycles even the Drug Interaction leaflets and cotton out of medications! More photos and video too. New York Times Photo by Robin Hammond

I lived in Zimbabwe for many years, on the same grounds as Chidamoyo's sister hospital in the southeast of the country.

25 May 2011

Signs That Do NOT Communicate

Have you seen John 3:16 or God loves you! signs at ball games, on barn roofs and the sides of buildings? I'm sure the intentions behind them were good, but for someone who has no idea who God is, telling them that God loves them is not very helpful. It might be like a payphone without a dime or calling card, or like a flat cellphone without a charger. Give me a better analogy.

Unless the signs were meant as conversation starters, with hospitality included, they are of little use to someone raised without a spiritual frame of reference.

Many believers cannot fathom life without God. While that is a great comfort to them, it does create communication barriers with people who cannot conceptualise why in the world there should be a god.

How do you bridge the conceptual gaps when you communicate with people outside of your field of expertise? While the conversation may all be undertaken in the same language, someone must choose to see from the others' perspective and reframe the concepts so they are intelligible to the other.

What do you reckon?
Have an example of communication gone wrong?
Or of the conceptual leap happening well?


Philip Yancey was asked:

If you could shout one thing
from the rooftops to Christians in America, what would it be?

I think back to a quote from the early church theologian named Irenaeus. “The glory of God is a person fully alive,” he said. A lot of people think of Christians as living some kind of half-life or two-thirds life. I’m fully convinced that Jesus came to show us how to life a full life. I can’t imagine anyone following Jesus around, then sadly shaking their head and saying, “My, think of all he missed out on.” Those who truly followed Jesus realized all they were missing out on.

Who is Jesus—for people living in today? And for you?

Quite simply, Jesus is the bridge between God and human beings. He came to show us what God is like, and at the same time to show us what we could be like, as God’s children. He came to proclaim the radical message that God doesn’t just love good people—every religion claims that—but also sinners. The story of the Bible, in a nutshell, is God welcoming home his family, with arms outstretched like the prodigal’s father.

I hear from many suffering people who ask me how God must feel about what they are enduring. I point them to Jesus. We know exactly how God feels because God gave us a face, and we can see Jesus comforting a widow who lost her only son, healing even the servant of a Roman occupying soldier, restoring health to the blind, the crippled, those with leprosy. At the same time, we get a graphic image—like an ideograph—of what kind of life we should live, a life like Jesus.’

Most stunning of all, Christians believe that Jesus is still alive, the Spirit of God who accepts us with all our secrets and gradually transforms us into someone more like him. The historians, of course, emphasize Jesus’ effect on history, and even the agnostics must admit that no person ever had a greater impact. As a journalist, I see more the personal effect of prisoners and drug addicts transformed, of wealthy people humbled to care for the forsaken, of doctors who forgo comfort to serve the needy. Jesus is God’s promise that no matter what we do, we can be forgiven and no matter who we are, we can be transformed.

Check out the rest of the conversation at Philip Yancey.com

24 May 2011

WELLYWOOD is not HOLLYWOOD

Wellington is the geographical centre of New Zealand's film industry. What with the Rugby World Cup coming later this year, some clever sods reckon it'd be nice to have WELLYWOOD on a hill side for all to see, similar to one a prominent city in California has.

Many people are saying everything from "We are NOT Hollywood and don't want to be" to "It's tacky there and it'll be tacky here." Others think it'll be a tourist destination, photos taken there will flash around the world, etc . . . .

Alternative ideas have been put forward, but none are suitable yet. So I thought I'd add to the offerings. It's good to have options, is it not?

See photo >

Reading this blog may make you think I'm writing a script, though the genre may still be undecided.

Very little of it is simply FICTION. I hope some of it falls in to the COMEDY category. The tag cloud will show you how I've labeled and categorised the offerings.

Anyway, thanks for reading from your anonymous perches around the world, from Bollywood to Hollywood and beyond!

23 May 2011

Soul ~ Water? Metaphors for Death

What useful metaphors do you know for death?

It's topic we often prefer to avoid, but avoiding the topic doesn't make it any less real.

Whether loved ones die when they are young or old, it's often too soon for those who loved them.

Consider this analogy and then contribute your own. Be sensitive to the fact that other readers may have recently lost farewelled someone they love.


Many people believe that when someone dies only the body dies. It is just as if a glass bottle full of water broke, and the bottle became useless. The container is gone, but what's inside — the water — remains. The part of a person that's left after the body dies is often called the "soul" or "spirit." Some people believe the soul is the part of a human that loves, feels, and creates; it's the part that make us who we are. kidshealth.org

This is not a philosophical conversation, but a practical one that may be of immediate benefit to those who mourn. Remember too that readers come from varying backgrounds and faiths. What common ground can we find?

19 May 2011

The Condition of the Spring

Without context, we could think the title of this post refers to a bicycle, a sofa, a car, a ballpoint pen, a clock, a blood pressure gauge, or the hope of a good harvest.

Context and perspective are fascinating factors in communication.

A couple of weeks ago my assignment deadlines were like waypoints in my calendar. Now, after some hugely significant events in lives of people I care about, those deadlines are just small points of insignificant punctuation in a much bigger story.

Context and Perspective
Context and perspective provide the framework for both transmitting and receiving communication.

The following struck a cord with me as the quality of my heart is often the context for my communicating, understanding & relating.

Michael Hyatt writes on the need to guard our hearts from both pollutants and from getting blocked .....

"In Tennessee, where I live, we have thousands and thousands of natural springs, where water flows to the surface of the earth from deep under the ground. It then accumulates in pools or runs off into creeks and streams.

If you plug up the spring, you stop the flow of water. If you poison the water, the flow becomes toxic. In either situation, you threaten life downstream. Everything depends on the condition of the spring.

Likewise, if your heart is unhealthy, it has an impact on everything else. It threatens your family, your friends, your ......"
Read more at In The Life of a Busy Woman

Orientation: To & Fro

"Besides providing a sense of orientation and security in an insecure world,
one of the functions of religion is to help satisfy the need to know where we come from and where we are going."

Reva Berman Brown, Organizational Spirituality: The Sceptic's Version

Living Overseas & Loving it: Not everyone does.

Check out Living Overseas and Loving it!

What is ‘reverse culture shock’. It is when ‘home’ feels like a foreign country! It can happen if you’ve been gone a few months or many, many years.
...

There and back again…

18 May 2011

Just tell it like it is . . .




Check out more of the fun at CakeWrecks, where professionally cakes often go wrong.

17 May 2011

When I get where I'm going

By Brad Paisley
When I get where I'm going on the far side of the sky.
The first thing that I'm gonna do Is spread my wings and fly.

I'm gonna land beside a lion, and run my fingers through his mane.
Or I might find out what it's like To ride a drop of rain

(Chorus:)
Yeah when I get where I'm going, there'll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles, I have carried all these years.
And I'll leave my heart wide open, I will love and have no fear.
Yeah when I get where I'm going, Don't cry for me down here.

I'm gonna walk with my grandaddy, and he'll match me step for step,
and I'll tell him how I missed him, every minute since he left.
Then I'll hug his neck.

(Chorus)

So much pain and so much darkness, in this world we stumble through.
All these questions, I can't answer, so much work to do.

But when I get where I'm going, and I see my Maker's face.
I'll stand forever in the light, of His amazing grace.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,
Oh, when I get where I'm going, there'll be only happy tears.
Hallelujah!
I will love and have no fear.
When I get where I'm going.
Yeah when I get where I'm going.

16 May 2011

Jesus is Real: so say some.



Well, that settles it then.

Or does it?



For background reading on this particular topic,
you might try this book that makes Jesus a bit
more accessible than the sign does.

15 May 2011

The World in 2100: The Economist Chart

The world's population pyramid is changing shape

THE world's population will reach 7 billion by the end of October, according to the latest projections from the United Nations. For the first time the UN has attempted to look as far ahead as 2100, using various assumptions about how fertility and mortality rates might change over the years. The average of these estimates suggests that the global population will cross 10 billion by 2085. 

By 2100, 22.3% of people will be aged 65 or over, up from just 7.6% in 2010. The bulk of population growth is expected to come from the developing world. Africa's population will rise from 1 billion in 2010 to 3.6 billion in 2100. In 1950, 32% of the world's people lived in today's rich countries. By 2100, only 13% will.


The world's population in 2100. Economist Daily Chart May 13th econ.st/iivFxT

@theeconomist

14 May 2011

T.S.Eliot's The Rock

from Choruses in "The Rock"

O perpetual revolution of configured stars,

O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,

O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.


T. S. Eliot (1888-1965),
The Rock (1934)

4 out of 5 people 'put off' by the Church

A survey in the U. K. showed that four out of five people say that the church puts more people off Christianity than attracts them. Does this surprise you?

Yancey: I’ve seen those survey results, which duplicate the pattern I see in the letters I get from the U. K. For so many people the church proves to be a block in our path to knowing God, a filter that misrepresents or distorts God. I note, for example, that in the Gospels the moral, upright citizens of the day felt threatened by Jesus whereas the moral outcasts and social rejects were attracted to him. The church has exactly reversed that pattern. Why? And what can we do about it? I’m an advocate of the church, not an enemy, but I do try to treat with honesty the obvious fact that we in the church are not communicating well the love, forgiveness, and grace that lie at the core of Jesus’ message.

Read more of the conversation on Philip Yancey.com

God gets the blame for what His people do.

What do you reckon?

Why is this so?

What needs to change?

12 May 2011

Helping Others Deal With Death of a Loved One

Ever felt helpless in the face of tragedy in the lives of people you care about?

How do you help a close friend, or relative, deal with the death of a loved one?

Here's a list of tips:
Cook a meal, freeze it, and take it over. Why freeze it? Because it takes the pressure off. They can eat it at their own convenience, when their appetite returns.

Offer to drive or run errands. Even the simplest chores seem impossible to someone who's grieving.

Offer to help them organize/box/clean out, ect.

If you can afford it, give them a little money in a card. People tend to miss work in this situation, so helping out monetarily is usually welcome.

Don't tell them that you know how they feel, just listen.

Make them a cup of tea.

Give them permission to tell stories about and include the deceased in normal everyday remarks.

Remember important dates: anniversaries, birthdays, holidays when the lived one will be sorely missed.


Visit and offer to do housework while they take a nap/read/shower.

Don't forget to call them two weeks later to see if they need anything. Then call again two weeks after that. Your constant support will be appreciated.

Adapted/borrowed in part from http://dyejobslye.blogspot.com/2011/03/helping-others-deal-with-death-in.html

- Posted using BlogPress on the go, so pardon dodgy formatting or spelling. I couldn't wait!

"God, how did you get invented?"

Six-year-old Lulu Renton came home from school having written a letter,

“To God how did you get invented?
From Lulu o x”.
Dad tells the story of the letter here.

Rev. Bosco Peters of Liturgy writes, "Respect to the parents who, though atheists, do not brush the letter aside, but, instead, post it to a number of theological centres, including Lambeth.

Several people reply, including the Archbishop of Canterbury – whose reply they appreciate the most. Here is Rowan William’s Reply:

Dear Lulu,

Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –

‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.

Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.

But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’

And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.

I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lots of love from me too.

+Archbishop Rowan

Lulu has very different ideas to the Archbishop, but she thought Rowan’s idea a good one.

11 May 2011

Amy: Courage, sparkle, wit & fun . . . .




My friend Amy is having a really rough day.

She's packed heaps into 13 years, but doesn't have much time left here on earth.

That really stinks. there's more she'd like to have done, more we'd have liked to do with her.

So, if you're the praying type, please bend the ear of God for Amy and her family.

You can, of course, ask for anything you want, but her mum asks for peace and calm as Amy transitions to a place none of us have been to.

Of course, none of us are as independent as we think. Other people affections, hopes and dreams are connected to ours, so Amy's departure will affect many. Pray for them too.

There's no sense in this, so don't pray they'll make sense of it, but that they'll find ways to keep Amy near in their hearts and memories and that she'll continue to enrich lives for years to come.

One man's trash is . . .

Do you know of community garage sales or nationwide rummage sales?

When do they happen and is there a website that indexes these events?

When I was on a trip to Wellington a few years back I went to a second hand book store in Paraparaumu. A woman taught me a new word.

Fossicking: to dig through things on top to find the valuable stuff below.
The Jill Shaw official dictionary of words we should use more.
I loved it!

Check out this amazing community wide garage sale May 28th in Glebe, a Sydney suburb. Money is raised for charity which further benefits the community!

I wish I could pop over for the day, but it looks like something you'd have to arrange rooms for well in advance!

So, when's the big rummage sale on Old National Road 40 across the US?

When is Auckland's big Rotary book sale, the one at ASB Stadium or the Children's Charity Book Sale at Alexandria Park?

What's your experience of garage sales? Find any real treasures, or off loaded a heap of treasure on to others! Good riddance?

10 May 2011

"C.S. Lewis Song" lyrics, by Brooke Fraser

Reading inspires, as does art, scenery, sounds, textures and tastes.
The beauty of New Zealand is inspirational. I'd like more time to just sit in it.

New Zealand is good enough to be the back drop for the filming of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis stories, which are inspiring in and of themselves. Look what Brooke Fraser came out with.

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared

[CHORUS:]
Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

[CHORUS]

[BRIDGE:]
For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He's coming

09 May 2011

No Sprinkles?





Be VERY careful what they write on the note when you order your cake at the bakery.

Check out more hilarious, and some rude, results on CakeWrecks

Flexibility and Tea

I've often said that flexibility should have been included in the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians chapter 5. I've been looked at askance by those who think me a potential heretic, but it's not a silly idea.

I've lived cross-culturally for so many years now that my home country is cross-cultural. Maybe that's just a high falutin way of saying I'm foreign, strange and weird. "Whatever."

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this blog post on Flexibility and tea, and I thought you might too.

I'll include part of the post. If it takes your fancy, click the link and read the rest.

Hubby and I drink tea every day, cupful after cupful — that’s a lot! It gives us a great deal of “kettle sitting” time wherein we ponder the mysteries of the universe, or more often just think about silly stuff. This time it was flexibility and tea. Seemed a natural.

Flexibility is the ability to see things from all kinds of angles and, when encountering an angle that makes more sense and squares better with the facts, change attitude and/or behavior accordingly. It is also the ability to accept something different from what you normally prefer, especially if you can refrain from snickering or getting a look on your face like you just stepped in something rather unpleasant.

One of the wonderful things about tea is its allowing you flexibility. Tea can be different things to different people, and all tastes are accommodated. Some people have a problem with this, and think tea should only be certain things enjoyed a certain way. I struggle with this sometimes, too, and have to stop myself from even thinking, “How dare you not like milk in your tea!” (There is a sticky note in my brain that says, “We all are free to choose.” Actually, it’s more like one of those huge lighted signs in Times Square.)

For many of you, tea is your wake-up in the morning instead of coffee. You go for a hearty breakfast tea, with or without milk ...

07 May 2011

Faith AND Doubt: Philip Yancey

Faith AND Doubt feature on Philip Yancey's website, in contrast to many sites which only feature faith, as if doubting was a contagious skin disease.

The format on the site was Q & A, so I've stayed with that in the taste I've given. Click the link to go to Yancey's site and read the whole conversation.


Is there a danger in not facing our doubts?

As a child I attended a church that had little room for inquisitiveness. If you doubted or questioned, you sinned. I learned to conform, as you must in a church like that. Meanwhile those deep doubts, those deep questions, didn’t get answered in a satisfactory way. The danger of such a church like that—and there are many—is that by saying, “Don’t doubt, just believe,” you don’t really resolve the doubts. They tend to resurface in a more toxic form.

Inquisitiveness and questioning are inevitable parts of the life of faith. Where there is certainty there is no room for faith. I encourage people not to doubt alone, rather to find some people who are safe “doubt companions,” and also to doubt their doubts as much as their faith. But it doesn’t help simply to deny doubts or to feel guilty about them. Many people, after all, have been down that path before and have emerged with a strong faith.

You talk about speaking to people in the “borderlands of belief”—who are they?

People who have a strong hunch there is something real about the whole spiritual thing, but who haven’t found that realized in a fruitful way in a church setting. They suspiciously circle the church wondering, “Is there a God? How can I know? What difference does it make in my life?”

And you wrote the book A Skeptic’s Guide to Faith for them? Link to Zondervan

I meet many church-going Christians who would find it difficult to articulate why they believe as they do. Perhaps they absorbed faith as part of their upbringing, or perhaps they simply find church an uplifting place to visit on weekends. But if asked to explain their faith to a Muslim, or an atheist, they wouldn’t know what to say. As a matter of fact, the thought hit me personally: “What would I say?” That question prompted the book, which I wrote not so much to convince anyone else as to think out loud in hopes of coming to terms with my own faith. Does religious faith make sense in a world of the Hubble telescope and the Internet? Have we figured out the basics of life or is some important ingredient missing? C. S. Lewis wrote a wonderful book titled Mere Christianity, and I’ve narrowed that range even further, to Even More Mere Christianity.

The great divide separating belief and unbelief reduces down to one simple question: Is the visible world around us all there is? Those unsure of the answer to that question live in the borderlands. They wonder whether faith in an unseen world is wishful thinking. Does faith delude us into seeing a world that doesn’t exist, or does it reveal the existence of a world we can’t see without it?

How reasonable a position is it, in your opinion, for people to exist in the “borderlands of belief”?

I’m not sure people in the borderlands spend much time thinking through whether or not their position is reasonable. They live in the borderlands because they sense a spiritual reality yet do not feel comfortable committing to a religious structure. Sometimes they’ve been wounded by the church—I hear from many such people—and sometimes they find organized worship an alien experience, almost a different subculture. Frankly, I have a lot of sympathy for these people, because at times I’ve found myself in exactly that situation. I would add, though, that I encourage people to move out of the borderlands. True faith cannot be practiced in isolation from others. We need community and we need tradition, which G. K. Chesterton called “democracy extended through time.”

"True faith cannot be practiced in isolation from others."

Why do you think Yancey holds this opinion?

06 May 2011

Textbooks are a Gold Mine for some

I heard an interesting comment at a philosophical conversation between professors, researchers, post-graduate students and miscellaneous others like myself.

One of the guys mentioned that the only big bookstores that were coping with the change in delivery of content were the bookstores that sold textbooks. Students were required to buy the books, so the stores had an advantage if not a monopoly and they could charge whatever they wanted!

I know I was looking for a book the other day and found it on Amazon. two minutes later it was in my Kindle and on my desktop in the Kindle app on my computer! No postage, delay or petrol used in getting to the bookstore.

The times they are a changing and publishers know their corner on the market is no longer prime real estate.

Then I see this on Beattie's Book Blog . . .

Bennetts bookshops back in hands of Kiwi owners

Story by Hamish Rutherford in the Dominion Post - 30 April, 2011
One of New Zealand's oldest book chains is back in local ownership after the Bennetts stores were bought out of the Whitcoulls administration.
The chain, which focuses on university textbooks, has been bought by a family trust linked to Geoff Spong, the New Zealander who in 1995 established Vol 1, another university textbook chain, which he later sold.

The deal, signed yesterday for an undisclosed sum, protects 30 jobs. Bennetts' headquarters will be in Palmerston North, where the company was established in 1889.

It will initially have eight stores, seven of which are on university and polytechnic campuses throughout New Zealand, as well as the flagship Bennetts Government Bookshop in Lambton Quay.

Bennetts' new owners have said they want to open stores on campuses throughout New Zealand, initially targeting Auckland.
So it goes. Until textbooks are more readily available electronically. Then the paradigm shifts again.

05 May 2011

Tea Time

Good tea takes a little time. I don't mean to grow it, though that does take time.
Then there's the picking of leaves and the processing of them quickly so they dry properly and don't turn to dust in transit . . .

But I'm referring to the time it takes to prepare a good cup of tea.

First you put the water on to boil.
This may be in an electric kettle or on the stove. Regionally, there are different names for each of those appliances. Some call it a jug and a hob. I don't care as long as the water boils.

Then you must wait.
You can look out the window or assemble the rest of the paraphernalia.
You'll need a spoon, tea leaves, a cup . . . possibly milk, sugar or lemon, depending on the type of tea and your personal preferences. Pour hot water into the pot to warm it, and then drain that water out. Add the tea leaves to the pot.

Let the tea steep.
When the water has boiled, you pour it over tea leaves in the hotted pot.

Then you must wait.
You do not stir the leaves or agitate the pot. That only changes the chemical process and releases tannins that may embitter the brew. Just wait.

Stephen Twining told me personally that you should wait 3 minutes.
He said, one minute was just for colour. Two minutes was for flavour. Three minutes gives you all the anti-oxidant benefits of the tea. I believe him and think it worth the wait. We were talking about black tea, mind you, so pay attention if you have other teas in your chest. Twinings

Sit down.
Next, you sit down with a good book, a letter from a friend, or with a good view spreading out in front of you. You pour the tea in to your old tea cup and sigh.

Then you must wait.
Well, if you did boil the water and assemble everything properly, the tea will be too hot to drink. No sense in scalding your taste buds after you've done everything so nicely in preparing the tea!

See, drinking tea is a philosophy, a way of life, a ritual worth the time and effort.

Come over! I'll make you a cup.

04 May 2011

Kids are so funny! LOTR Quips

While we're pretty proud of being the next-best-thing-to-Middle Earth down here in New Zealand, we're not precious or possessive about it.


Check out what my friend Angela's kids had to say about Lord of the Rings.

03 May 2011

Tornado rips through Auckland

Much damage and some deaths as a tornado wiped a path through Auckland's North Dhore, jumped the water, and made it's presence known in older parts of the city. 


There was talk of closing the harbour bridge but the tornado crossed west of the bridge and the central city.

Many of my friends at Massey University and around the Albany Mall had quite a scare.

Follow this link for updates.

Favourite Chillaxin' Blogs

A favourite book blog is Beattie's Book Blog - unofficial homepage of the New Zealand book community.


And, because books and tea make perfect companions ...

Tea blogs you might like are . . .

Tea Finely Brewed or The English Tea Store Blog

What blogs do you read?

My friends Angela, Tash, Sarah, Shanda & Cheryl write blogs. I'm sure heaps of others friends do too, but I've either forgotten or they haven't told me. Some of the linked blogs above are family oriented and somewhat personal. Others are for a wider audience and may even have material that offends you.

Come on. Chime in. Fess up. Who do you read, or do you write?

His battle plan was comprehensive. His enemies numerous.

1957: Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden is born in March, the only son to wealthy businessman Muhammed bin Laden's tenth wife.

1967: His father is killed an airplane crash in Saudi Arabia when his American pilot apparently misjudged a landing.

1974: Bin Laden marries his first wife at the age of 17. By 2002, he is believed to have married four women and fathered about two dozen children.

1979: Bin Laden reportedly earns a degree in civil engineering at King Abdulaziz University.

1980: After leaving college, bin Laden heads to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet invasion.

1984: Bin Laden co-founds Maktab al-Khadamat, a group which funneled money, arms and Muslim fighters from around the Arabic world into the Afghan war.

1988: After splitting from Maktab al-Khadamat, bin Laden founds Al-Qaeda, although the existence of the organisation was a closely kept secret in the first few years.

1990: Turning his attention to the West after Saudi Arabia allowed US troops on its soil, bin Laden is soon banished from that country and was exiled to Sudan.

1992: The first bombing attack associated with bin Laden is reported, with the bombing of the Gold Mihor Hotel in Aden in which two people were killed.

1995: Five Americans and two Indians were killed in the November truck bombing of a US-operated Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh, leading to his first indictment by the United States in 1998.

1996: Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan and established training camps for Mujahideen fighters.

1997: Bin Laden funded the Luxor massacre of November 17, 1997, which killed 62 civilians, although the plan backfired, with the Egyptian public revolted by the attack and turning against Islamist terror.

1998: Bin Laden co-signed a fatwa in the name of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders which declared the killing of North Americans and their allies an "individual duty for every Muslim".

1998: Libya issued the first official Interpol arrest warrant against Bin Laden and three other people for killing two German citizens in Libya four years earlier.

1998: Bin Laden was indicted by a US federal Grand Jury for his involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

1999: Bin Laden is added to the FBI's ten most wanted list for the first time.

2001: Although he initially denied any involvement with the September 11 attacks, bin Laden claimed responsibility for them in 2004 and said he had personally directed the 19 hijackers.

2001: After years of refusing to hand over bin Laden, the Taliban finally offered to turn him over to a third-party country for trial in October after the bombing of Afghanistan began. This offer was rejected by George W Bush.

2005: Bin Laden was believed to be based in the Waziristan region of Pakistan by this time.

2001-2009: Despite repeated reports that bin Laden had been killed, he continued to issue statements, videos and audio clips.

2011: Osama Bin Laden is killed in an US-led attack on a mansion outside the Pakistan capital of Islamabad.

- NZ HERALD ONLINE


- Posted using BlogPress on the go, so pardon dodgy formatting or spelling. I couldn't wait!

02 May 2011

Osama: Dead in Pakistan

So, Osama is dead.

Let's make sure that his hateful influence does NOT continue through our words, actions or attitudes.

It's reasonable to celebrate as a catharsis after the tragedies of 11 September 2001. While there may be relief in some quarters, that he can do no more harm, I'm concerned about the harm we can do when speaking carelessly about the issues.

This is not a Muslim issue. He was not acting on the basis of his family's religion; he just used that as a backdrop and to gather popular support.

He has embarrassed good Muslims, much as errant Christians embarrass faithful followers.


"So much of what we know depends on how we view the world. We look at the world through the lens of our assumptions and we interpret what we see according to those assumptions."

from The Insect & The Buffalo by Andrew Shamy & Roshan Allpress


Let's choose well the lens through which we interpret these events. Let's not look through political, sectarian or national lenses. Let's look at it humanly, justly, graciously, and with sorrow.

REMARKS BY THE U.S. PRESIDENT ON OSAMA BIN LADEN

East Room of The White House, 11:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

_________________

Please note, I will delete any insensitive, anti-Muslim, ingracious comments.

Amazon to Launch Library Lending for Kindle Books

While I still love the idea of turning pages in a book, my Kindle saves me money on physio therapy and anti-inflammatories from carrying a too-heavy book bag.

... and then I saw this on In the Life of a Busy Woman, one of my favourite thinking blogs.

Customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 local libraries to read on Kindle and free Kindle reading apps

SEATTLE, Apr 20, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) --
Amazon today announced Kindle Library Lending, a new feature that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps.

"We're excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries," said Jay Marine, Director, Amazon Kindle. "Customers tell us they love Kindle for its Pearl e-ink display that is easy to read even in bright sunlight, up to a month of battery life, and Whispersync technology that synchronizes notes, highlights and last page read between their Kindle and free Kindle apps."

Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer's annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.
...

Kindle Library Lending will be available later this year for Kindle and free Kindle app users.
To learn more about Kindle go to www.amazon.com/kindle.