Archives For October 2015

Glistening silhouettes.
Cold metal, bolt, concrete and rivet.
Architectural cracks in time.
The right angle captures the moment,
the right click, unveils its soul.

Harbour Bridge & Opera House October 2015


‘It is not only a permission but an order to deposit with God and entrust to Him all our baggage.’
(Karl Barth, Prayer 1949, p.28)
‘Commit your way to the Lord; trust Him, and He will act.’
(Psalm 37:5)


God, Do You Speak Morse?

October 17, 2015 — 2 Comments

Here’s another original groove. It’s a lot more on the heavier side, which meant finding a clear distinction between the lower distortion, the large dose of delay and the higher notes on the fret board.

I couldn’t stay too low or the geetar’n goodness here would muffle against the bass. Like last weeks creation, I worked with F#min and it’s always friendly compadre, A Maj. Not bad for a bit of guitar practice.

The sound is improved through duplicating each track. These overlays were then balanced from left to right. It’s the first time I’ve gone this far with Audacity.I am, however, still fighting to improve how this is heard through small speakers. For now, it remains something better heard through good headphones or decent speakers.

As for the question that represents the instrumental, it speaks for itself.

IMG_4810‘Many problems arise when eager Christians try to make concrete what God has left pictorial’
………………………………………………………….(Dickson & Clarke, p.85)

This artists impression of Revelation 11-13, comes out of notes from our current journey through the wonders of John’s testimony.

Although Revelation isn’t an easy book to walk through with teenagers and littler ones, the study is going well.

It’s been interesting to note the unusually high amount of distractions and frustrations that have hindered our path.

Call it coincidence or not. In general, one of the deep realities of this text is that it calls us away from ourselves, our comfort, our complacency and half-heartedness. So there’s bound to be some spiritual challenges that cross our path.

There is more to the unsettling way in which Revelation grabs us. More than the first response of our intellect and emotions allow. Sense experience only goes so far. Whether that be total rejection of John as a nut job, suspicion over any mythological lag of the era being conveyed or unquestioning acceptance that hypes up parallels to modern events without restraint.

One of the primary go to points for me when teaching this has been the caveat of not reading into the text. I remind myself constantly to fight easy assumptions that  link this number to that historical figure or that metaphor to any number of current events.To paraphrase many a theologian worthy of their qualifications: like the rest of the books of the bible, read as it is, Revelation reads us.

With this responsible frame, working through the text with our homeschoolers is bringing up some opportunities to recreate images and scenes. Just going with what John says, without adding anything to it via speculation, frees us to explore the large amount of activity John testifies to. It’s also meant that cross referencing the texts with other biblical texts.

Brief and simple introductions to the historical setting and language makes things easier. Free of confusing interpretations, teaching eschatology (end of the old in Christ/beginning of the new in Christ) gets a lot more exciting.

With the fog cleared, it’s easier to see that this book of hope is full of colour; adjectives and verbs, repetition and mathematically mapped out illustrations. Noting this helps when looking at the detail and care John has put into relaying what he has witnessed to the people of his day.

For us, a hypothetical example of the impact of John’s message on his audience might have been stated like this: Working with John’s ‘one third of all’ lists we put 1/3 of 6 billion people into a pie graph, then work the fractions into percentages. (Given time constraints we couldn’t do this with land mass of the earth or the oceans), but the reason for focusing on this brings home John’s point, a major and very physical event affects one third of the inhabitants of both continents and oceans.

Repetition of measurements are one of the most interesting aspects of Revelation. In some sense it gives a plausibility to the text. Meaning that Revelation cannot be easily written off as the ramblings of a madman.  John’s own words, “this calls for wisdom”(Rev.13:18), reflect a call towards a more cautious and sober approach to the text.

More than with Luke and Acts, in teaching Revelation I’ve been more aware of my own prejudices towards the text, both learnt and those imposed through popular views of Revelation. Including the popular mockery of society attached to it. Some of which is not unwarranted. I’m learning that part of teaching the text responsibly requires going into battle against these subversive lens’ and others like them.

Instead of finding something specific about the future, in Revelation, we hear of Jesus Christ, his people, his victory and how humanity is found, then rescued by God through His Son. We are told of a now and not yet. All speculation pales when put up against these facts present in the text.

Revelation is alive. John calls the Church to reform, tells his people of a war on Christians, and encourages them to endure persecution patiently. It’s a prophetic reminder that a history lived without the redemption of Jesus Christ is one bound and deceptively enslaved to sin’s constant downgrading of humanity on all fronts. John tells of how God answers us and directs our attention to the present and future hope we are gifted in the unconquerable, Jesus Christ – Christus invictus!

‘Unquestionably, the most common interpretative error in reading the symbolism of Revelation is to confuse the symbols of the book with its message. The symbols are not the message; they carry and embody the message…John wrote to awaken and shape the moral and religious imagination of Christians on his own day.’
(Achtemeier, Green & Thompson, p.562)


Achtemeier, P.J., Green, B.J., & Thompson, M.M. 2001 Introducing The New Testament Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing

Dickson, J.& Clarke, G. 2007 666 And All That: The Truth About The Future, Blue Bottle Books

The Best Is Yet To Come

October 9, 2015 — 2 Comments

If I was to identify with a particular sound, this would be close to it. I created and layered four tracks, beginning with a small delay on the first bass line, a tweaked delay on the second and another for the third which is basically a lead part looped. From there I added the lead over the top, utilising the ‘machine gun’ FX on the Line 6 and included a beat combo from the drums on the garage band app.

I used a semi-acoustic artcore ibanez for all this. I love the sound, but in hindsight I might better reach some of the more difficult notes with a dedicated electric.

(Side note: the recording software I’m using is basic. Therefore, as with most of my tunes on YouTube, they’re best heard through headphones or decent speakers)

The best is yet to come: ‘Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ (1 Peter 1:13)

Tandem Reading _GVLExcluding ‘The Floating City,’ ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ is our second Jules Verne classic utilising a tandem reading out loud strategy.

For our first tandem reader our 3rd and 5th grade homeschoolers, journeyed through ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Seas.’ Each took turns at reading a page, stopping at key points to investigate significant historical events, including geography and marine biology.

This came about because I had decided to revise our reading out loud time after a time management crisis; I was trying to fit a lot of exciting themes and educational opportunities into such a small timeframe. The individual reading of different books out loud, at different times during the day, was not as effective as I’d hoped it would be.

Reading Verne out loud and in tandem offered me a way to implement a more rounded reading routine. The aim was to deal with a large amount of new information in small, fun and interesting pieces. A primary part of this process was journaling about each chapter, focusing on the action (verbs).

I was then able to monitor the progress of reading and comprehension more closely. By creating opportunities for discussion about the current status of the characters and where they think the storyline is headed, I’ve also been able to partake in the joy of the adventure without adding more pressure to the workload.

The added bonus here is that Verne was French. As a well-travelled French novelist his perspective is broad and insightful. It meant that when we sat down to watch the American movie version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, our homeschoolers were able to discern the cultural and literary differences. For example: the screenwriters wrote for an American audience, whereas Verne’s audience was primarily European.

Our kids pointed out that Ned Land’s behaviour, dialogue and character in the novel is more humorous. Whereas the Disney movie presents a more serious and restless character. They came to their own conclusions about the differences between film and book, taking serious issue with some scenes and the ending of the movie.

Rather than buy duel copies of each book, we’re utilising e-readers. For this job the Kindle readers have served us well. The benefits of the Kindle outweigh its drawbacks. The benefits being an inbuilt dictionary, Kindle for P.C., highlighting for future reference and cost. The drawbacks are battery life, location numbers and the loss of that book-in-hand experience. As for the location numbers they are sometimes matched against actual page numbers, but I’m probably not alone in wishing that Amazon would just drop the former and stick with the latter.

Adding to the benefits of reading these 19th Century classics out loud is the language. Each book has its own unique set of verbs, adjectives and nouns. So much so that they are great for vocab building. Not only are our homeschoolers spelling the words and working with definitions, but they are reading them in a firm historical context.

This said, our journey hasn’t been without its struggles. Being over 120 years old, Verne’s use of vernacular and the depth of his vocabulary shows it’s age. So, the progress can be slow going. When this happens it’s up to me to make an extra effort so that these hard parts are as much fun to get through as seeing what happens in the story next.

In order for this to work well I’ve had to make sure that I am clear with our homeschoolers about what I expect and don’t expect. For instance it’s not vital for them to retain things like the Latin names of categories that Verne throws our way.

The outcomes so far have been some improved reading, comprehension and further familiarity with scientific concepts. If I’m forgiven for being bold enough, I’d even follow this up with increased appreciation for teamwork, communication and the benefit of being introduced to historical events otherwise overlooked in some history curriculums.

Tandem reading out loud is new for us. The teaming up of a more advanced reader with a less advanced reader has helped both. It’s a learning technique that we’re still exploring.

As much as I like it, we won’t being using this technique with any and every book.The format seems to best fit big adventures and older style writing. For us, Jules Verne has been a good fit, preparing us for a time when they’re more than ready to tackle something like John Bunyan’s, 1678, ‘Pilgrims Progress.’

Related posts:

Brunel, Verne & The Great Eastern

Flying Cohesion

God’s Grace, Jules Verne & The World That Revolves On The In-Between

It’s not a stretch to make a contemporary theological bridge between Kipling, the Seven Samurai and Jesus Christ. The fact that it also carries a multicultural point is a bonus.

From this:

‘For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot:
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet this Tommy sees!’

‘Tommy’ , Rudyard Kipling.

To this:



Then this:


‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognise them by their fruits […] Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day may will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man [or woman] who built their house on the rock.’
(Matthew 7:21-27, ESV)

The first represents Jesus, even the Church as a modern convenience when needed. Little more than a nuisance when not.

The second reflects the same orientation of the human heart. It neither welcomes the fierce offence and defence encapsulated in God’s grace and law, but begs for closer ties to it, when the enemy is at the gates.

The third, is both an indictment and a conclusion. It includes the warning of the two which preceded it. The added difference is that this commanding final stand, is a final word against double standards, hypocrisy and nominalism. These are Jesus Christ as convenience and the inconvenient Jesus Christ. From beginning to end, to beginning again, what this says is that Jesus Christ is Lord over us, before us, behind us and with us. Jesus is not a utility we master and use; an expendable solider who can be ordered around and misused.  Although many may quest for the Kingdom and try to use God in order to get it. None of us can have the Kingdom if we’ve ejected God from it.


Kipling, R. 1994 Collected Poems, Wordsworth Ed (p.411)

Kurosawa, Akira. (Dir.) 1954  Seven Samurai,  Toho Co. Ltd.