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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Elephant TV

Thanks to Dale (whose Blog I follow) I have just found out about Elephant TV. As far as I can tell it is a TEAR Fund initiative to have informed discussions about "contentious issues in the Church so that Christians can come to informed and thoughtful conclusions and respect each other despite our differences of opinion." The full panel discussions are available for rent at $1.99 or to buy at $3.99. The previews I've looked at have definitely whetted my appetite. Current topics available: Evolution/Creation; Same sex marriage; Is war ever justified... While browsing the site I came upon an interview with Paul Young author of The Shack. You can listen to the whole interview here by scrolling down past the preview of the session on war which features Dr. Chris Marshall and one of the Waihopai three who disarmed the US spy base here in NZ.

I think this site is a wonderful resource for individuals or groups to hear people respectfully but strongly talking about things which are often the avoided "elephants in the room".

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Junk music? Maybe not!

                    "The world sends us garbage. We send back music."
-Favio Chavez Orchestra Director

Thanks to a friend sharing this You Tube link I'm sharing it with you.
It is inspirational and only takes a few minutes to watch.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


With all the devastating fires in Australia - and some here in NZ too - fire is on our minds at present. It is both essential - and dangerous when out of hand. I can't imagine life without fire. According to an interesting Wikipedia article on fire we've been depending on it for 420 million years!

But my real point in this post is a quote from another book I am currently working through: The New Spiritual Exercises in the Spirit of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. by Louis Savary

"Teilhard connects the image of fire with love in an evolutionary prayer: 'Someday after mastering the wind, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.'"

The fire of love is the one kind of fire that does no damage at all no matter how far and wide it spreads. It only takes a match, a spark, a candle to start a fire.
Let's all be fire-lighters of love!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cardboard bicycle for $20

This post is rather a change from the last one! But I happened on this story on the Yahoo website while checking my mail - and it is really inspiring. It is not only the creative genius of the inventor but his desire to give aid in a variety of ways from his creation. For the whole fascinating story click here.

Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni holds his cardboard bicycle as he poses for a photo in Moshav Ahituv, central Israel September 24, 2012. The bicycle, made almost entirely of cardboard, has the potential to change transportation habits from the world's most congested cities to the poorest reaches of Africa, Gafni, an expert in designing automated mass-production lines and an amateur cycling enthusiast, says. Picture taken September 24, 2012. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Friday, January 4, 2013

My New Year reading

They say you know a lot about a person by looking at their bookshelf. I'm sure that's true! But in our house it depends which bookshelf you look at. Which is really to say that this post is not intended to represent a balanced overview of my reading material!

For Christmas 2012 I gave "hints" about books I would like to receive and was delighted to acquire two of them:

Just Call Me Lopez is a novel about the life of Ignatius of Loyola written by Margaret Silf. Since Ignatian spirituality is the tradition in which I was trained as a spiritual director it holds a place very close to my heart. Margaret Silf is an author and a person I admire. So the combination was irresistible. I'm still reading this one and enjoying the way Silf brings Ignatius (also known as Lopez) "down to earth". The events of his life and the discoveries now enshrined in The Spiritual Exercises are woven together in an easy to read way.

It is in more recent years  that I have discovered the writing and speaking of the recent Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. I am captivated by his ability to speak deeply and thoughtfully on so many topics - from CS Lewis's Narnia books, to the intricacies of the theology of Church councils, to the history of spirituality.
So when I saw advertised a book subtitled The Theology of Rowan Williams by Mike Higton, I was hooked! The title Difficult Gospel is intriguing and is quickly revealed to refer to the difficult-to-believe good news of God's unconditional love - and the implications of that love. Higton is excellent at distilling Williams's often complex thinking into a clarity that is no less compelling and challenging.

I couldn't wait for Christmas for this third book. Brian McLaren is one of my all time favourite writers. Despite its torturously long title, the theme is one I am delighted to see explored by someone who has gently drawn many people into a more and more inclusive faith journey without in any way having to deny their Christian roots. Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road is more readily understood by its subtitle: Christian Identity in a Multi-faith World. 

I am reading all of these books concurrently! On one recent morning both of the latter two books said a similar thing in different ways. That seemed like a strong flag waving: "Take Notice!" The point expressed very simply is this: Instead of saying (and thinking) "Jesus is like God", it is important to say "God is like Jesus". At first glance that seems a bit self-evident . What is the difference? There is a big difference as both authors make clear. McLaren says: "So where the popular approach takes a pre-existing definition of God and applies it to Christ, this alternative approach challenges the preconceived understandings of God and revises them in the light of Christ. This assertion shifts the emphasis from 'what is true of God is true of Christ' to 'what is true of Christ is true of God'. Or, more simply put from 'Christ is like God' to 'God is like Christ'." p130 (Italics mine.)

Mike Higton is talking about Williams' view that many people put obedience to a God they believe can choose to love or choose to command violence, over an understanding of God framed by the life of Jesus where love goes "all the way down". In the first view "power trumps love". In the second view "love trumps power" every time. Quoting Higton: "The word 'God' in Christian theology does not name a being or reality of unfettered power, who has chosen to love - it does not, that is, name a reality in which power goes deeper than love. Rather it names a reality for whom - if I amy put it like this - love goes all the way down. In the Christian picture, God's power always and only emerges from God's love - God's will from God's loving nature - and so love trumps power every time. There is no shadow of power without love in God." p39

I think the sentence I have italicized in McLaren's quote is the heart of what both authors are saying.