Archives For February 2014

Noise, The Joyful Kind

February 27, 2014 — 3 Comments

Noise_thejoyfulkind_Psalm98_BlogpostOur homeschool scripture classes sometimes turn into music lessons. For me this gives weight to the importance of Christian theology in education.

There is a depth and variety from which theology speaks. It shows up in everything from life to death, to new life, faith, relationships, gratitude, creation, art, history, science and reason. Rather than a hindrance to thought, Christianity fosters it and brings to the table a point of view that recognises the important dynamic in a “faith which seeks understanding”.

The recording I share below was an impromptu one recorded using my smart phone. I was blessed by the event and wanted to capture the moment. The recording was filtered through “Audacity” in order to apply balance and reduce the gain (amplification).

To add, the strings on my guitar are 3-4 years old and I didn’t tell them I was recording it, so what you hear is a raw and real unrehearsed version. Still, the overall outcome presents the mood, tone and joy, at being able to do Church, because we are part of the church, even in our small context.

To some the sound of children singing {and some younger ones, yelling} the words “How Great is Our God” may seem like sacrilege.

I’d be sympathetic to the critics, if not for the biblical reminders, like that of the Psalmist.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;    the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD,
for he comes  to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
[Psalm 98]

Our best is excellence.

So make a joyful noise!

I’ve been reading through P.D James’ 1992 novel ‘The Children of Men’.

I was drawn to the cultural, political, theological and sociological themes it addresses. Not my particular kind of read. Still I’m curious to see how it ends. (Yet to see the movie)Chidlren of Men

Here is an excerpt[i]:

 ‘Theo said: “Obviously there are social evils, but they are nothing to what is happening in other parts of the world. It’s a question of what the country is prepared to tolerate as the price of sound government”
Julian asked: “What do you mean by sound government?”
“Good public order, no corruption in high places, freedom from fear of war and crime, a reasonably equitable distribution of wealth and resources, concern for the individual life.”
Luke said: “then we haven’t got sound government.”
“We may have the best that is possible in the circumstances. There was wide public support for setting up the Man Penal Settlement. No government can act in advance of the moral will of the people.”
Julian said: “Then we have to change the moral will. We have to change people.”
Theo laughed. “Oh, that’s the kind of rebellion you have in mind? Not the system but human hearts and minds. You’re the most dangerous revolutionaries of all, or would be if you had the slightest idea how to begin, the slightest chance of succeeding.”
Julian asked, as if seriously interested in his answer: “How would you begin?”
“I woudn’t. History tells me what happens to people who do. You have one reminder on that chain around your neck.”
She put up her distorted left hand and briefly touched the cross.

The content of this excerpt brings up some interesting issues about good government and democratic values.

The context of the conversation is in a church. A forbidden meeting with a conversation taking place between a small group of disorganised people and the protagonist, Theo Faron, whose cousin is the ‘Warden of England’.

The group is looking for Theo’s help in protesting directly to the ‘Council’ who now runs England. Theo himself is full of contradiction, remorse, insecurity and has fallen out of favour with the Council, particularly his cousin.

Theo has a dark past which is filled in by James as she explains the back story to Theo’s current circumstances.

P.D James has a very smooth writing style, a significant contrast to my sporadic immersion into the fictitious world of maritime archaeology, Dirk Pitt and Clive Cussler.

I am not fully convinced that the novel fits into the category of horror or thriller. There is more of a sense that P.D James is pushing for the science-fiction; apocalyptic genre. T

here are very interesting theological conversations about socio-political movements such as the one in the excerpt.

There is quite a bit that is unsettling.

This is mainly due to my reading of the late Jean Bethke Elshtain’s exposition on extreme feminism in her 1981 book ‘Public Man, Private Woman’. There are parallels to academically accepted social blueprints that Elshtain critiques.

Reading a book like C.O.M certainly makes one wonder. What if the social engineering strategies, discussed by Elshtain and evidently present in the P.D James narrative, were voted in and validated by democratic fiat?

There is a lot to this book that keeps me turning the page.

Whether I would recommend it or not, is still up for grabs.

[i] Excerpt from: James, P.D 1992 The Children of Men, Faber and Faber Ltd.

Semper Fi

February 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

of God, Who is Always Faithful.



In 1942, Darwin, a city in Australia’s Northern Territory was bombed in two air raids by the Imperial Forces of Japan.

This attack occurred just over two months after the attacks on Pearl Harbour.

Yet, the February 19th anniversary is not found firmly imprinted anywhere on the Australian remembrance calendar.

What could account for this is that the Government of the day downplayed the event through ‘censored and limited coverage, in order to protect public morale in the southern states of Australia’[Source:].

It is probable that this accounts for the limited awareness of the severity of the air raids in the contemporary Australian psyche.

As a nation we do Anzac Day [April 25th] well; we remember the cost of war; remember those left, those who sacrificed, and wrestle with our fair share of confrontations with the indifference of generations who forget why we mark these solemn anniversaries.

darwin_gpo_web_Darwin Post office_1942 Bomb damage done to the Darwin post office.

As such, it’s my firm view that the 19th of February needs to be marked as national day of remembrance for Australians.

According to the archives regarding the events in Darwin, 1942:

‘The two raids killed at least 242-3 people and between 300 and 400 were wounded (including members of the U.S military personal). Twenty military aircraft were destroyed, eight ships at anchor in the harbour were sunk, and most civil and military facilities in Darwin were destroyed…the intention was not invasion, but to disrupt the Allies using Darwin as a base for a counter-attack against the invasion of Timor’ [Source:]

The bombing of Darwin stands alone as the first big attack against the Australian mainland by a foreign nation.

‘In all, there were 64 air raids on Darwin. The final occurring on the 12 November 1943’ [Source:]

Importantly, the Darwin bombing is not only about remembering how close the War in the Pacific came to Australian shores.

It’s also a reminder of the rough road to reconciliation present in the relationship between post-WW2 Australia, and Japan.

This is exemplified in an excellent 2010 production from the ABC program 7:30 N.T.

The brief documentary outlines the event and the aftermath.

The dangers in Darwin harbour, when the time had come to remove the hazardous wrecks would also have been crocodiles.

The highlight from this story is the Japanese salvage team.

In particular, they used metal from the wrecks to forge crosses “as a sign of peace and reconciliation”.

It’s an example of the importance of remembrance, and how, in the process of that remembrance we are called back to the theology of the cross, not a theology of glory.


True Freedom

February 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

Freedom Barth Free decision

We don’t always hit the ground running with Home-school scripture (devotions).

Today we did.

The message led us to review and discuss the final greeting in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church.

Our run through chapter five gave up a solid outline from Paul on how to ‘encourage and build up one another’, which is in itself a suitable title for chapter five, since the content flows in the general direction of most of Paul’s teaching on relationships.

Paul’s list (ESV & NLT):

Be at peace
Warn the idle
Encourage the anxious and insecure
Help the weak
Be patient
Assert justice (5:15)
Always seek:

Joy (rejoice) [Note: Joy is not to be misunderstood as happiness]


Thanksgiving (gratitude)

Don’t stifle the Holy Spirit
Don’t despise prophecies
Test everything
Hold fast to good
Abstain from evil.

It is surprising that so much is packed into the final section of this letter.An area of focus for us today was exploring this list and its connection between what Paul also says in Ephesians and Corinthians about patient rebuke and patient correction[i], something we discussed last week.

After finishing devotions, I took some time to contemplate some of the deeper themes addressed by Paul through the text. For me the real point of today’s message rested in the themes of relationship and the free agency of the Holy Spirit.

When we read Paul’s command ‘do not stifle the Holy Spirit’ it is possible to hear depravity; a loss of freedom and relationship. Since ‘the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom’ (2 Cor.3:17), we deprive ourselves of true freedom and relationship when we cut ourselves away from the free God who stands in true freedom for us.

Such independence is false and unsafely grounded on the appearance of possessing ‘peace and security’ (5:3), not on any actual ownership of them.

God keeps us (read helps – empowers) as God destines us to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. It could be said that the God who is free[ii], destines us to obtain true freedom.

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep might live with him” (1 Thess.5:9-10)

“He who calls you is faithful; He will surely sanctity and keep you blameless” (5:23-24)

I like how Eberhard Busch explains it in his review of Karl Barth’s understanding of election, divine and human freedom:

‘God’s grace sets us free from sin…such freedom is given to us. We owe our freedom to our inclusion into the covenant of grace and to the fact that such freedom is carried out in accordance with the covenant. Our freedom, therefore, is autonomy within the conditions created by God. In these conditions, we choose that which God chose for himself and for us: existence within the covenant of God to which we belong by God’s determination prior to our own self-determination (II/ 2, 192f. = 175f.). Human freedom then is obedience in that it conforms to the use that God makes of his own freedom. Prayer is for Barth the characteristic act by which one participates as a member of the covenant. As the unequal partner of God, the human partner turns to God, petitioning him and responding to his mercy. But as God’s partner, a person does so in his own maturity[iii].

’our passivity is not in accord with his grace, but our active response is. And so Barth writes that the love of God “does not want to rule over puppets and slaves (or a mechanical force) but rather to triumph faithful servants and friends in their own free decision for Him” (II/ 2, 1942:178)[iv].

[i] ‘Speaking truth in love’ Eph.4:11-15
[ii] Primarily found in Karl Barth’s teaching on the Trinity.
[iii] Busch, E 2008 Barth (Abingdon Pillars of Theology) Kindle Ed. Abingdon Press (Kindle Loc. 1145-1150).
[iv] Ibid, (Loc 199-201) also see Barth,K. 1942, C.D. 2.2:178 Hendrickson Publishers

Prayer Request

February 15, 2014 — 9 Comments

It’s difficult to know how much vulnerability is too much vulnerability. So with that as a consideration I’ll make this post brief.

This week, among quite a few over the years, has been for the most part negative and regressive. Outside my relationship with my patient and loving wife, our children, her family and my mum, other parts of my family seem to thrive on despair, conflict and negativity.

At the risk of sounding too dramatic and negative myself. It is no overstatement when I say that dysfunctional is no longer a word that fits any adequate description of the actions and the words spoken; most of which are often hostile, covert – targeted in order to shame, insult, blame and manipulate.

In short, I would appreciate your prayers.

Specifically I’m asking for wisdom, words, right response, healing, clarity, courage and strength.

This quote from C.S Lewis is still bouncing around my heart and head. Probably because of the depth and relevance it has to us contemporary Christian folks.

‘There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner – no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment’

– ( 1949 The Weight of Glory and other Addresses, p.45)

Second is a video from Ed Kowalczyk (former ‘LIVE’ front-man). Some years back I purchased the album “Alive”, it’s well worth checking out if you’re looking for the gospel preached outside the C.C.M zone. This clip has the song ‘Zion’ from that album. It also includes a brief intro from him on dynamics, content and production.