Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Vergin' on the impossible

I heard a great talk today from Luke 1:26–45—where the angel visits Mary to tell her she’s going to give birth to Jesus.

The speaker pointed out that people have often dismissed this as impossible. And judging from her response—“How will this be, since I am a virgin?”—Mary herself thinks it a fairly unlikely event.

Indeed there have been plenty of people who have dismissed Christianity completely because it’s impossible for Jesus to have been ‘born of a virgin’.

However, as reproductive technology improves it can’t be too long before a virgin could conceive with the help of Science, rather than the Holy Spirit. So, the speaker’s point was, if it’s nearly possible for people, why couldn’t it be possible for God?

But the real point of the story is not the virgin birth—that’s just a fact—it’s that Jesus

“will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Luke 1:32–33

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I hate suits

Having grown up in a family where ‘shiny-bum’ was a term of abuse applied to useless office types who never did any real work, I’m embarrassed to confess that I’ve worn a hole in my trousers. Of my suit.

I’m actually embarrassed to admit that I wear a suit to work, but there it is. I have to wear a suit. I also work for an investment bank, but I’m not even going to start to talk about.

So anyway the suit has a hole in it, which is OK, since this is the suit I bought about six years ago for job interviews, weddings, funerals and other suit-requiring events. But really I haven’t worn it that much. Suits are just very flimsy. And expensive, very exensive.

Which is what I really hate about suits. They cost a lot to buy and wear out very quickly.

The exact opposite of King Gees.

This is what really ticks me off. I now have to pay 10 times as much money for clothes which last a tenth of the time. Nevermind that I’m earning 10 times the money, that’s not the point. I wouldn’t mind paying so much if the suit lasted, but they don’t. The suit I bought at the beginning of last year wore out in a little over 10 months. Sure I bought it on sale, but it was a respectable brand, and supposed to be worth $600 new.

And have you ever tried to find a pair of trousers to match the un-suited jacket? Impossible.

And don’t tell me that I just have to pay more for good quality, when my King Gee trousers that I’ve worn working on the car, painting the house, fixing the roof, digging the garden and so on, are still the most comfortable pair of trousers I own and aren’t showing any signs of wearing out. And they didn’t cost me $600.

Just one more drawback of becoming middle class.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Going geek

Today I was at the Web Directions South conference so I've gone geek.

I loaded up Flock to write this post, claimed this blog on Technorati (currently ranked 1,157,502) and started to think about tagging everything I can find with Microformats.

The conference has been great with some excellent speakers on web design, Ajax, and the future of the future of the World Wide Web (”Web 2.0 is so 2005!"). It's all very exciting and it's easy to start thinking that everyone in the world is blogging stuff, loading photos to flickr and working on a Web 3.0 application.

But part of the way through one of the presentations I began to wonder whether the Web can really save the world. No doubt it has changed the world in a very big way, and it's made a lot of information available, connected a lot of people and keeps a lot of us in jobs.

Still it's easy to start thinking that if everyone has access to the right information then together we'd be able to solve all the world's problems. But really it's just a humanist dream. No matter how well we build our sites there's still only one piece of information that people need to know.

But, thanks to the World Wide Web, that's available to anyone with a computer. So maybe there is hope.

This post is 100% buzzword compliant.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Closer to God

At the risk of alienating a percentage of my readers, (OK, reader) I’d like to say that I have always felt close to God.

For the last week or so I’ve been reading Michael Raiter’s Stirrings of the Soul. Apart from an interesting survey of Western spiritual topography (which might possibly include a church out past Dubbo) the book talks about people, even evangelical or ‘Bible-believing’ Christians yearning feeling spiritually ‘dry’, distant from God and yearning for a deeper, more spiritual experience of God.

It would come as no surprise to Evangelicalism’s critics that some Evangelicals have had enough Bible study and want to try something more touchy-feely. Evangelical Christians are sometimes characterised as unfeeling, dogmatic automatons who wouldn’t know a spiritual experience if it landed on their doorstep accompanied by a myriad singing angels. In fact, some people might say, if the angels did turn up they’d be likely to denounce them as being too Charismatic and go back inside to read the next chapter of Calvin’s Institutes.

But I’ve been an Evangelical Christian for as long as I can remember —well over 30 years now—and I’ve never felt distant from God. In fact I’ve found that the more I read, understand and know about God, the closer I feel to him. I even belong to a particular brand of Evangelicalism which is usually characterised as especially book-bound, dogmatic and unfeeling, but I’d have to say that I’ve always been very conscious that God’s love for me, and more so as I’ve learned more about him.

I’m wondering if all this spiritual distance comes about because we take God for granted. We forget or even suppress the truth that we only exist because of God. We forget that it’s his breath in us that gets us out of bed and on the train every morning.

You don’t have to go far in the Bible before you’ve got plenty to thank God for: The world we live in, the beautiful animals, plants and lands, our family, our friends and so on, and so on, and so on. I haven’t even got off the first page and I’m already awestruck by my Father’s love and care for me and I haven’t even begun to think about him sending Jesus to die for me.

Admittedly I live in Australia (which, even if it isn’t God’s own country, is pretty close to it) where we have peace and prosperity and I have plenty to thank God for. But even when times have been much bleaker than they are now, God has always been there, a very present help in trouble. And I know, because Jesus died for me and because the Bible tells me so, that he will always love me.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crocodile hunter, action man

I’ve never been a big fan of Steve Irwin’s, but his death today really shocked me.

Maybe it’s because my kids thought he was pretty great, and now “The Crocodile Hunter” from Wiggly Safari is stuck in my head.

Or maybe I’m sad because he obviously loved Bindi and Bob and now they’ve lost their Daddy, and Terri has lost her husband.

So we prayed for them all tonight.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I'm 37, I'm not old

Today’s my 37th birthday. I’d just like to say how much I'm enjoying being 37.

As I often say, it would be enough that God just saved us, but he just keeps on demonstrating his extreme generousity. Sure, you can say, Job 1:9 style, that I might be singing a different song if times were tough, but I say it would be wrong (as Romans 1:21 points out) not to thank God, because he really is very, very kind.

Anyway, this afternoon we were all working together in the garden. It’s late winter here and the afternoon was sunny and perfect . My beautiful wife and I were cleaning up some trees I’d pruned with my new (birthday present) chain saw, my two older children were alternatively helping pile up the branches, riding their bikes or playing with their baby sister who was giggling on a blanket spread out on the grass.

Wife, kids, backyard, powertools. What more could a bloke want on his birthday?

Thank you God.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The new dunny door*

Since I haven’t blogged much lately—I completely missed July—and need quick entry to make, I thought I’d fill up a bit of space with the a subject I can go on about ad nauseum—cars.

Specifically I thought I’d briefly analyse the all-new Holden Commodore.

Blue Falcon XR6

This is a Falcon. I’m not putting a picture of no steenking Holden on this blog

The Commodore is an Australian car previously based on the Opel Senator but, for the first time with this VE model, designed in Australia. It is exported to the Middle East and Asia. It will also, as Wheels reports, form the basis for the new Chevrolet Camaro and presumably the next Pontiac GTO, (since the old VT Commodore is the basis for the current “best ever” GTO).

Naturally, since my chosen tribe in the great Australian musclehead ...sorry ... musclecar divide is Ford, I should cast scorn on the Commodore from a great height—it is after all a Holden. However I think the new Holden Commodore looks very nice and is probably a fine car, although I’ve yet to read any road tests. This is mainly because Holden is staggering the Commodore’s launch, giving everyone the opportunity to get a good look at the car before anyone can judge it.

It certainly a good looking car, although when I saw one —an SS-V in the metal this weekend, I first mistook it for a Falcon XR6, the shape of the headlights and grille opening is remarkably similar. For a Ford fan this just proves that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that the current model Falcons are some of the best looking cars ever made in Australia, although I’ll reserve judgement on the BF II, which made a good first impression, but not so good second.

Looks are very important, and that’s pretty much all I can comment on with any authority here, but of course looks what really matters is how she goes. It’s a heavier car with similar engines to last year’s model, but with more power. Although these days that’s pretty much ‘who cares?’ material because these cars have enough bottle to tow a block of flats if requires, or at least have more than enough fun to keep anyone entertained at legal speeds.

Most importantly in these price-conscious times is that bigger and heavier means, on all but the base models according to Wheels, they’ll use more fuel, which is not a good thing. A point which Ford will be emphasising over the months until it introduces its all-new Falcon in 2007-2008.

* ‘Dunny door’ is ryhming slang for Commodore. ‘Dunny’ is an Australian word for toilet, so it’s not very complimentary rhyming slang.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sugarfree ain't sweet

I'm definitely of the Mary Poppins Spoonful of Sugar School when it comes to giving medicine to kids, especially since artificial sweeteners make the medicine even worse than normal.

For the last couple of weeks our children have had a really rotten cold which made them all cough terribly and generally be very miserable indeed. Calvin ended up with a chest infection that meant that he had to take paracetamol (for the fever) and antibiotics.

This is no trivial thing because getting nearly-three-year-old Calvin ended up with his two parents holding him down and pouring it down his throat or, in one case, me sitting on him and pouring it down his throat, take-it-it's-good-for-you-style.

This is because the medicine tastes vile.

Of cource, medicine always has, but at least before pharmaceutical companies would sweeten it with sugar, or Mary Poppins would. But because everyone's obsessed with diets and all that crap the medicine has to be sugar-free. Which means that instead it has saccharin sodium or some other thing which tastes like somebody's attempt to make sugar out of recycled environmentally-friendly green shopping bags.

I'd much prefer the sugar. I mean, how fat is a kid going to get on the sugar contained in 10ml of paracetamol? Will that much really rot his teeth? I suppose that if you had some terrible sickness where you had to take it all the time it might, but even then you can always use a toothbrush?

Obviously there's a marketing reason there somewhere, but the stuff tastes horrible. They could at least give us the option.

I remember being quite fond of the taste of the antibiotics Calvin had to take, but now it's got a saccharin aftertaste—bleeech!

Anyway, we got Calvin to take his medicine by giving him jelly beans with every dose. Although the jelly beans are “99% fat-free” they're about 90% sugar.

This morning he was quite disappointed when I told him he'd finished all his medicine and was not sick anymore.

Schweeet!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Surviving

It's been a long time between posts. Work has kept me busy with late nights and weekends. The kids have kept me busy as always and frankly, this is about the first time I've had some time where I've felt like writing anything.

Well, that was worth waiting for wasn’t it?

Anyway, I have a bit of time now because my wife is watching the finale of Survivor and, because we're a couple of weeks behind the USA, we already know what happened. Rita wants to see how the whole thing plays out but, not being a huge fan of ‘reality’ TV, I'm not going to worry about watching the whole two hours.

Nevertheless, I've enjoyed watching some of the show over the last couple months. Rita and I have been following Terry, mainly because he—along with Shane—has seemed the most honorable. (Shane was weird, so we didn't like him as much).

According to Rita this has made him one of the show's most popular competitors—with the audience. It's nice to know that integrity still stands for something these days. On the show however, he hasn't been popular at all. He's been threat and, if it weren't for his strength and skill, would probably have been voted off weeks ago.

The fascination with reality TV (for me anyway) is wondering how I would behave in that situation. (We enjoy watching Supernanny for the opposite reason—we're thankful that we're not in that situation and, despite everything, we're not such terrible parents after all.)

Which makes me wonder, how would I go as a Christian on Survivor? Would it be possible to play that game (and win!) by behaving in a completely Christ-like manner? Would I even be able to behave in a completely Christ-like way after days roughing it? Probably not, considering how grumpy I've been after late nights, long weekends, sick-kid-sleep-deprived-nights and not enough coffee.

Ah well, there's another million dollars I won't be getting.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Zoë

Zoë a few hours' old

Zoë Kate is two months’ old today.

It’s been a long two months and has gone very quickly as well. It seems like only a short time since she was born but it seems like she’s been part of our lives forever.

It may also explain why I haven’t posted for a while, and why I always need more sleep.

Zoë is, of course, georgeous. In the last few weeks she’s started to give us smiles, especially to her brother and sister, who love her to death—almost literally at times, it’s hard to teach toddlers what “gentle!” means.

We thank God every day for his precious gift.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

No severance payment

Anna Ayala has been sentenced to nine years’ jail after fraudulently suing the Wendy’s fast food chain, claiming she had found a severed finger in her chili. Wendy’s sales fell sharply following the alleged discovery, costing the company approximately $2.5 million.

Ayala, 39, of Las Vegas, had put the finger in her chili before attempting to sue the restaurant owner.

Her husband Jaime Plascencia had got the finger (no pun intended) from a co-worker who had lost it in an industrial accident. Apparently the guy owed him $50, and gave him the finger instead.*

Right.

So how would that conversation go?

“Hey Bob, sorry to hear about the finger.”

“Yeah, it really hurt.”

“Oh. … So how about that 50 bucks you owe me?”

“I’m a bit short this week. You want the finger? Micro surgeons can’t do a thing for me.”

“Sure.”

So anyway I’ve got this arm in my freezer that a mate didn’t want after his accident. (Don’t ask. Talk about issues.)

I was going to take it to McDonald’s and see if I could get a few free burgers out of them, or maybe some shakes, but now I’m not so sure.

*OK that was intended. But once you start it’s hard to resist.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Da Vinci Dud

I’ve just finished reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and I’m convinced that the ony reason it’s been so successful is because God wants it to be. Dan should get down on his knees and thank the Lord for every million he makes.

The book’s a bit of a dud really. A second-rate thriller based on a third-hand plot, dodgey history and pseudo-spiritual mumbo-jumbo. I’ll admit it’s a decent enough page turner, but I was getting pretty tired of it by Chapter 90 and the ending was a real fizzer. Philosophically and historically it’s all over the shop.

At the end, I didn’t care about Leonardo, the Holy Grail, the sacred feminine (<span lang="yiddish">Enough with the sacred feminine already!</span>), or anything else, I just wanted to finish it so I could tick that box, give my friend his book back, and slag Dan Brown off on my blog.

Note to Dan:

Can’t write. Can’t research. Give me the money.

But apparently people can’t get enough of this code stuff (or at least Tom Hanks will be hoping they can’t get enough of it).

So it can only be the power of God that’s kept at the top of the bestseller lists. It wouldn’t be beyond God to use a best seller to get people asking questions about Jesus.

And asking questions about Jesus is a good thing, just don’t bother asking Dan. Can’t research. Can’t write.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Feeling bad about abortion

A new study of New Zealand women has concluded that abortion in young women may be associated with increased risks of mental health problems. This included depression and anxiety disorders and they were also more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.

The study’s leader, Professor David Fergusson, is at pains to show that he’s not a pro-lifer and he’s just telling it like it is. Fair enough. But with over 80,000 abortions being done each year in Australia, there’s a lot of people who will be suffering, assuming you can extrapolate the study to Australia.

As the study shows, not all women feel bad about abortion or suffer consequences for it. And Emily Maguire in The Sydney Morning Herald offers suggestions about how women could feel better about their abortion experience.

I say it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is what God thinks. It’s clear from the Bible that God is against abortion, for plenty of reasons. I’m with God on this point. As the father of three children—one of whom is still in-utero—we’ve always thought of our babies as our babies from the moment my wife was pregnant. “We’re going to have a baby” is a common enough expression (at least on the TV shows I’ve watched) to indicate that we’re not alone in thinking this.

I think attempts to argue that unborn babies are not human are similar strategies to those used to dehumanise groups which require killing—as the Nazis did to the Jews. For pro-choice people babies need to be non-human so that they can be disposed of.

Abortion is killing a person, plain and simple. If you can justify that, say on medical grounds, fine. Otherwise there’s no difference between that and taking your three-year-old up the back paddock and putting a bullet in her head.