Saturday, January 31, 2009
I have just finished reading Seven Ways to Change the World: Reviving Faith and Politics by Jim Ellis.
Ellis describes himself as an evangelical Christian (but not a fundamentalist) and is concerned with the way in which the 'religious right' has taken over American politics - making, he feels, the only two topics of political thought to be abortion and homosexuality.
He feels, as I do, that when Christians engage in political thought/decisions the scope of that engagement should be broader. He quotes from Old Testament prophets Micah and Amos, and from Jesus Himself, about God's concern for the poor and oppressed. He asks that Christians (and other interested people such as 'spiritual seekers' keep the government honest by not only private piety but by engagement with the issues.
The issues, Ellis feels, are third world poverty, racism, the environment, peaceful negotiations instead of war and using war only as a last resort, having loving family and community relationships, welfare within the state (especially for young mothers so that they will not have abortions) and keeping leaders (including church leaders) accountable to their supporters. ]
He stresses that many great Evangelical arrivals have occurred when faith became 'life changing' and 'policy changing'. He stresses that we are in an age where the word 'Christian' stands for being personally pious and out of touch at best and hypocritical at worst. However the name 'Jesus', for most people, conjures up images of compassion, justice, mercy and forgiveness. He says, obviously, that this is a huge problem.
Before launching into my opinions I would like to publicly thank my Christian brothers and sisters who stood by me during my lengthy mental illness and who were exceedingly charitable. I know many of you may question my opinions in this piece but this does not mean that I am unthankful for your support. It simply means that my mind is now clear enough to have opinions - and I believe this is something to really thank God for!
Now - for the opinions - I pretty much agree with Wallis wholeheartedly. I think Christians should not only support evangelism and charity (which are important) but we should think about and pray for a less broken world. After we have gone to God in this way it is time for us to make a decision about how we will intervene in this broken world.
Interventions can be personal (like recycling) or public (giving information about third world issues etc) or wholistic (hey let's get involved at every level!) I think the wholistic way is the best. Of course we all have our 'pet' issues but I don't think God does - every issue is important to Him and we have to, at least, have thought about them enough to give answers to the sceptic or seeker who wants to know our position on third world poverty, global warming and racism.
For my part these are the things I'd like to do - do some Volunteer work for a charity like Salvos or Vinnies(using my office skills), stop thinking bad things in my head about disadvantaged people, pray for those I can't practically help, write to politicians to keep them accountable and, after I have been stable for at least five years, volunteer as a secretary/business advisor in a remote Aboriginal community.
Anyway - if this post has inspired you or you really disagree with it please let me know. Your comments are valuable to me.
God Bless you all
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Today has been a long (and hot) day but I am finally enrolled in Certificate 3 in Business Administration. Yay!
This semester I will do the non-computing units - which are - Work Effectively in a Business Environment, Participate in OHS processes, Process accounts payable and receivable, Organise Schedules, Write Simple Documents, Deliver and Monitor a service to customers, Maintain daily financial/business records, Organise workplace information and Organise personal work priorities and development.
Course loading is approximately 50% (15 and a half contact hours) so most of you will probably be seeing less of me. I will, however, be needing lots of prayer and encouragement.
It may seem like an easy-ish course but I am not used to having to manage my time or associate with people who are outside my comfort zone (old friends, Christians and the mentally ill). Please pray for me for those two things particularly. I am excited but nervous.
I start on Tuesday 10th February so for those who want to catch up with me before I become very busy (for me anyway) that would be the deadline.
Also I intend doing an Adult Education course in writing on Tuesday mornings and working in the church office either Wednesday afternoons or Thursday mornings.
Thankfully I have been able to get set in good habits of cleanliness and exercise. Please pray that I keep up these habits.
This is a new and exciting step for me and I hope it will prove to be the right step.
God Bless you all
Monday, January 26, 2009
There are many other things that I love about my country. I love its wild and natural beauty and am thankful for the many environmentalists and others who have worked non violently for this to be reserved.
I am grateful children from poorer families are eligible for payments, subsidies and deferred fees so that they can continue their education.
I am grateful for national health insurance (Medicare) which has, essentially, saved my life from asthma attacks and allowed me to regain sanity after years of suffering from severe mental illness.
I am grateful for freedom of speech and religion. I can openly say I am a Christian, and express my views on this blog without the threat of government persecution.
I am grateful for democracy and the ideal that we 'little people' can have a say in how our country is run and keep it accountable to its stated ideals and promises.
I love Australia and I know no other country. But...Australia has a black history too.
In Tasmania it seems something akin to genocide was carried out. In the Northern Territory (my other home) Aboriginal people are disproportionately dying earlier from treatable diseases, incarcerated, losing their children, having problems with drugs and alcohol and being involved in domestic violence.
The 26th of January, to my suffering fellow citizens, is a celebration of a day when their country was invaded which led to many of the aforementioned problems.
I am not arguing to turn back the clock but, like Mick Dodson, I feel I must argue for a different day. If we truly want Aboriginal people to live as citizens in their own country we must also want to celebrate 'nationhood' with them.
To me this would involve a simple thing - changing the date of Australia Day - perhaps to the date when Aboriginal people were granted citizenship, and the vote.
Now that is something worth celebrating.
God Bless all my readers even those who will probably disagree with me (as I said previously it is, I think, a mark of a healthy democracy when we can disagree without fear).
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
As you can see Jessie has adjusted well to her new home and her new human.
The first day was difficult as Jessie refused to eat and spent all day sniffing at every crevice of the flat.
After that it was plainer sailing. Jessie ate her food and snuggled up to me on the bed.
She also likes sitting on the laptop case and, as a result, the laptop case is furry.
She is cautious with my friends and does more sussing out than Kaffy did but she really likes my friend Heather who, I think, has a way with animals.
I feel I have bonded well with Jessie and feel that she will be a permanent pet.
I haven't yet let her outside and won't until there is some chicken wire on the gate to stop her running on the road and meeting the same fate as Kaffy.
I look forward to further time with Jessie.
God Bless you all
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Millions of people were outside waiting for Barack Obama to 'make history' as America's first black president.
Despite what must have been a gruelling schedule Obama appeared poised and confident as he came to the podium amidst loud chants of "Obama Obamna" fronm the crowd.
Obama stressed that the people of America should remain faithful to their founders in the midst of the current crisis.
He clearly indicated what were the signifiers of crisis - war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy, lack of health care and appropriate schooling and the environment. He said that these challenges would be met and that everyone should choose hope over fear.
He stressed that he was standing for peace and dignity. This got a large cheer.
He said that for the Muslim world - he wanted to enter a new era of respect and work towards the "conmon good". For poorer nations he said that he wanted to see their farms flourish.
He said that Americans are entering a new era of responsibility - to themselves, the nation and the world. That "with hope and virtue let us brace the icy currents..."
After this wonderful speech an elderly black man, Reverend Joseph E Lowery, a civil rights leader with Martin Luther King, prayed for Obama. He said thaqt God had the 'whole world in his hands' and that he wanted the poor delivered from exploitation and a world without war and racism.
I believe Obama will be a good president and that he is sincere. He is not, however, Jesus, and he will make mistakes.
I urge everyone to pray for him, respect him and forgive him when the honeymoon period is over and he makes a mistake.
God Bless you all
Sunday, January 18, 2009
This evening I read Psalm 45 to the church. It is both a wedding song and a prophecy about the 'wedding' between Jesus and the church. It is really flamboyantly descriptive and was wonderful to read. Verse 4 (quoted) was my favourite verse - mainly because 1) it mentions humility and majesty in the same breath and 2) It includes the word 'awesome' at the end.
Anyway today was the day for our previous Assistant Pastor (Dan Shepheard) to become the real deal. He takes the place of Mikey Lynch who will step into the Assistant Pastor's role for one year and then move on to University Ministry.
David Jones (the minister for our group of churches) preached a rousing sermon on Psalm 45 asking us to do several things - among them were support Dan in encouragement, finances and prayer, long for Jesus to come back, expect that people will want to become Christians when they hear our testimony about Jesus and be really spiritually charged.
I want to take this opportunity to welcome Dan into the ministry and also to say a public thank you to Mikey for his years at Crossroads. Both Mikey and Dan are inspiring godly men (albeit with different styles) and I hope and pray that the transition will go well for both men, and for the Crossroads community.
God Bless you all.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
This story is the earliest surviving piece of my writing that I have. It was written 15 years ago, and the events it describes were 16 years ago. My little sister Emily is now a 19 year old medical student.
Hope you like it.
The day the bird died (Emily's story)
When I was seventeen my mother remarried and had a baby girl called Emily. I left home to go to University soon afterwards so I wasn't able to spend much time with my new sister. I did, however, return 'home' every Christmas holidays. This story is about one Christmas holiday I will never forget.
It was Christmas 1991 and Emily had just had her second birthday. She talked well, and understood more than most people gave her credit for. At the time she was being introduced to two new characters - baby Jesus and Santa Claus. She found them both very interesting, but was inclined to get them confused. For instance, on Christmas Eve Emily was asked to put out some strawberries and beer for Santa Claus. She did this dutifully and the next morning was rewarded with an exciting abundance of presents. Perhaps hoping for the same result from Jesus she deposited a small quantity of her favourite 'man lollies' at the feet of each character in her Nativity set, including the cows and sheep.
After Emily's Christmas was finally over her life reverted to normal. She did, however, now carry with her some vital new information about the mysterious entitities Santa Claus and baby Jesus. She talked about both constantly, the interest evident in her voice.
But neither Santa nor Jesus claimed her affection more than her beloved pets. My stepfather had a dog called Bob. Bob was a brown kelpie. He and Emily were devoted to one another. Every time my mother took Emily shopping in the pram Bob ran beside them, barking at every passerby who so much as looked at Emily.
Emily also had a cat called Caffa. This cat was actually her own pet, although she used to be mine. Unfortunately I was not able to have pets in my new flat, hence the change of ownership. Caffa was a very beautiful long-haired tabby. Emily adored her, although I never knew whether the feeling was mutual. Emily was inclined to be rough in her affections, and thus received many well-placed scratches.
Last, but not least, of the pet brigade, was a blue budgerigar called George. George had somehow learned to say a few words, which he usually said at the most inopportune moments. He provided much amusement for the family because of this. Sometimes George could also be coaxed out of his cage to have a fly around the room, and a cuddle with Emily.
One day, just after Christmas, Emily had succeeded in persuading mum to let her take George out of his cage. She had decided to put him under her jumper because she thought he might be cold. She was stroking his wings tenderly so mum decided it was safe enough to go into the kitchen and make herself some coffee. I went out too because I, also, am partial to coffee. My brother Adrian was playing on the computer downstairs. My stepfather had left the house early to go 'fishing'. Everything was quite calm. Mum made the coffee and we both sat down to drink it and have a quiet cigarette.
From what I gathered from the noise George had escaped and was flying around the room. Mum had to dart in and 'help' Emily catch him. Finally he was caught and resumed his royal place under Emily's jumper. Emily decided, since she was so glad to have him back, to give George a big cuddle. A big, strong cuddle.
Emily came into the kitchen with a look of astonishment on her face. "George not moving no more," she said. Mum told her to give her the bird. Mum took one look at him and started crying very loudly. "George is dead. You've killed George!!" she told Emily angrily. Emily, apparently, had heard the word 'dead' before and knew it was something very bad.
"Can he have one last fly?" she asked in a break from her tears. "No!! George can't have one last fly. He's dead!! He''s never going to be able to fly again. HE'S DEAD!!!" Emily cried louder.
After a while mum had calmed down a bit and it was decided that we were going to have a funeral. Adrian was sent to get an appropriate 'coffin' and I went to get a Bible. Adrian returned with a Community Aid Abroad box. It had a sticker on it which said, "A girt that gives twice." He thought that was very funny but no one else laughed. He had also brought his little Gideon's Bible. I think he brought it to make up for the fact that he'd told me a couple of days previously that the New Testament was written ten years ago because the church got sick of the old one.
When we had all gathered together again we proceeded to a patch of the garden. Adrian dug a hole and put George in the box. I read the twenty-third Psalm. At least I tried to but Adrian kept interrupting to tell me that the words in his Bible were different (he didn't understand about translations). Mum started crying again and Emily followed suit. Mum sprinkled some dirt on the box and Adrian helped to cover it up. We tried to make a cross out of some sticks but it wouldn't stand up straight. In the end we just put two sticks flat down on top of the mound in the shape of a cross.
Mum then explained to Emily that George had gone to birdie heaven with Jesus so it was all alright now. Emily seemed to accept this as she stopped crying and went off to play with her toys. Emily explained to me later that George was nice and safe now in the box with baby Jesus.
A year has passed since then and Emily is now three. She still remembers George and talks about him whenever anyone mentions death. It was a new experience for her. She has also learnt even more new concepts. This was apparent in a letter I received from mum last week. The last few sentences read: "Emily said the other day that you can still love people even if you can't see them and they are not here, because she still loves you and Adrian. She was climbing a tree (at her Burnie home) at the time to see if she could see Hobart."
.............................................Hope you all liked the story.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
This is a picture of me on the beach I grew up on.
Most of you probably don't know that this beach was central to many of the positive experiences of my childhood. It is Somerset beach - the beach of a small town near Burnie.
As a child (until my early teens) I was involved in surf life saving. I also used to just like swimming (even in winter) and body surfing.
I also took my friends and boyfriends down to the beach for a bit of privacy. Many a deep and meaningful conversation happened on the beach.
So - of course - yesterday I revisited this beach and remembered all those happy memories.
We also went fruit and cheese tasting. We bought some beautiful cherries, boysenberries and marionberries from country road side stalls. They were delicious.
Then we went cheese tasting - I liked the sweet chilli cheese and mum kindly bought it for me. She also bought camembert which we all like.
So, overall, yesterday was fun and, most probably, very fattening.
God Bless you all
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Anyway I arrived in Burnie yesterday. The house was decorated beautifully for Christmas with a large tree laden with lights and decorations, numerous Christmas cards and, of course, presents.
I love getting presents. My presents were: clogs, computer games, Prince Caspian and Out of Africa movies, a CD, an exercise thing and a butterfly candle holder.
We had an enormous meal starting with seafood cocktails, then roast turkey, ham and vegetables and, finally, Christmas pudding. I was really very full.
We then played the game I got my brother for Christmas which is a game where you have to make newspaper headlines from the cards you get dealt. Then we played monopoly.
It was a much more traditional Christmas with the food etc than the one with Dad but I have enjoyed both immensely.
It's a pity I can't show photos as there is a skinny, old looking santa with glasses who I think looks quite amusing.
Hope I can add the photos tomorrow. Watch this space.
God Bless you all
Friday, January 2, 2009
This is a painting I bought from local artist Rebecca Brogan at Salamanca. She had a nightmare in which demons were attacking her and got up and praised God.
I love both the colours and the message. It is psychologically and spiritually true that if we concentrate on the positive the negative will retreat. After all it is ultimately God's world and He is the greater power.
I think it is also part of our nature to be appreciative and soothed by beauty. The more beautiful and artistic a place is the calmer I feel. This is as true of man-made beauty as it is of natural beauty.
I am especially appreciative of visual art because I have poor spatial skills and can't do it myself but I can understand the creative processs as I write and act.
Anyway to see more of Rebecca Brogan's art look out for her at Salamanca or go to http://www.jtbarts.com
God Bless you all
Thursday, January 1, 2009
- Manage intense emotions using self calming and self soothing techniques
- Write a children's fantasy novel
- Pay off my debts
- Give up smoking
- Complete a TAFE course in Business Administration
- Gather more information about justice, mercy and poverty
- Develop good personal boundaries with famnily and friends
- Work consistently and reliably in the church office
Other Things I would like to try (2009)
- To make decisions using both my intellect and emotions ie not impulsively
- Rewrite my novel 'Julia, Unplanned'
- Write my memoirs
- Give more time and money to the church
- Clean the house regularly
- Exercise for at least half an hour per day
- Practice assertiveness
- Join Choir of High Hopes
Good Habits I am already developing
- A more positive outlook
- Regular writing activities
- Prayer and personal Bible study
- Healthier eating
- Being more loving and respectful towards my friends and family
- Exercising approximately three times per week
That's all for now. Happy New Year Everyone.
God Bless you all