Monthly Archives: September 2009

What the h**l does ‘conservative’ mean anyway?

The Conservapedia (no, I’d never heard of it either; I’ll not link to it, you can find it for yourself if you want to) is calling for a new ‘conservative translation’ of the bible which meets the following guidelines:

Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias

Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity

Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level

Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”

Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”;[4] using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census

Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.

Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning

Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story

Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels

Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness (whatttt???): preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities

These guidelines are not conservative! They will produce a tendentious version that will may well fall into heretical byways. Don’t believe me? The ‘adulteress story’ referred to is John 7.53–8.11. Yes, it probably wasn’t in the original version of John, but it’s in the canon now. They’ll remove it. And Luke 23.34 (the ‘Father forgive them…’ verse) will also be excised. As a ‘liberal’ addition.

Some books are underway. John 1.1 becomes, ‘In the beginning was Truth, and the Truth was with God, and the Truth was God.’ (Though they accept ‘Word’  may be the best word to use). But then, John 1.14 becomes ‘And the spirit was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as the only child of the Father, full of grace and truth.’

I’m amazed. Gobsmacked. And amused. In that order.

h/t Episcopal Cafe

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Drawing the circle wide

Sermon for 27 September

As we listen for the Word of God,
let us pray:
God our joy,
save us from tunnel vision
and scarred hearts;
grant us the singleness of purpose
and the generosity of spirit
which belong to your kingdom;
this we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reading
Mark 9.38-50

You can divide the world into two groups of people: those who believe you can divide the world into two group of people, and those who don’t.

The disciples belonged to the first group. Jesus belongs to the second.

There’s a little piece of verse called Outwitted, by the American poet Edwin Markham, who died in 1940. It says,

He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

The disciples were trying to draw a line, a boundary. Someone was casting out demons in the name of Jesus, but he wasn’t part of their group. They were incensed. He wasn’t doing it the way they did it. He didn’t have the proper credentials. He wasn’t part of their franchise! And—worst of all!—he was successful, while the disciples were failures.

The disciples took their case to Jesus. He’d understand, after all he’d chosen them to be his disciples. He’d set this riffraff straight.

No, he wouldn’t. His attitude is simple.

Don’t stop him… Whoever is not against us is for us.

I think this would have put the disciples’ noses right out of joint. They were expecting quick, decisive action from the Master. They wanted Jesus to give this other bloke the flick, but instead they were given a lesson in inclusion. They had drawn a line in the sand, a circle that just included them, but Jesus drew a much wider circle:

But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

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Brisbane dust storm

We had a dust storm across eastern Australia yesterday, which was visible from space. Here are photos yesterday and today from Mt Coot-tha lookout:

YESTERDAY:

P1020694P1020695

TODAY:

P1020699P1020698

It’s the result of years of drought, and winds blowing the topsoil from central Australia. But how much is from cyclical climatic conditions, and how much due to poor stewardship of the land?

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Windoze 7 party …

I’m hearing that Windows 7 is going to be a good system. (Well, much better than Vista…!) Though it does sound like the upgrade process might be hard for some.

Whatever, Windows 7 had better be an improvement on the party ideas in this video. (But if you’re having one, feel free to invite me, what the heck!)

btw, I’m enjoying Snow Leopard so far!

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The last & the least

Sermon for 20 September

As we listen for the word of God,
let us pray:

You show us a child, Jesus,
to show us how to live;
save us from our false ambitions and desires,
that we may receive the pure heart
which comes with true wisdom;
this we ask in your name. Amen.

READINGS
James 3.13 – 4.3, 7-8a
Mark 9.30-37

The disciples of Jesus have been at it again; this time they’ve been arguing about who is the greatest. Remember a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that in Mark’s Gospel the disciples of Jesus are as thick as two short planks? Remember I said that the disciples didn’t ‘get’ Jesus, that they misunderstood him, they thought they knew better, they didn’t have faith? Here’s a great example.
Jesus has just told them for a second time that he will be betrayed and killed. And after three days, rise again. The disciples didn’t dare ask what that meant. Instead, we find them arguing about who was the best. Why?
Some bible scholars suggest that it’s because they did hear the bit about Jesus dying, so they were jockeying for position to see who would take his place, who’d be boss once he’d gone. It was a prime example of what the Book of James calls ‘envy and selfish ambition’, which brings ‘disorder and wickedness of every kind’.
Jesus calls the disciples to account. This is how he does it: he sits down, and calls them to gather around in a circle. He is sitting because a teacher sat to teach in those days; sitting was the teaching position.
Then Jesus places a child in the midst of them. Jesus doesn’t condemn ambition. He doesn’t condemn the desire to be great. But Jesus radically redefines what it means to be great.
What do you think of when you hear about ‘greatness’? I’d guess most of us think about power, wealth, education, celebrity, sporting prowess. Great people are powerful, wealthy, famous, fabulous. They get things done. People listen to them.
But Jesus says,
Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.
It’s ok to want to be first. It’s a good thing to aim to be first. But just who is first in God’s eyes? A little clue: if someone is great in God’s eyes, it’s not because they are powerful, wealthy, or educated.
Jesus places a child in the midst of the disciples. What, does that mean that to be great in God’s eyes is to be cute and wide-eyed and to make people of a certain age feel clucky? Is it about innocence? Spontaneity?
It’s not about any of those things. In the days of Jesus, a child was without any prestige and had no power. A child was helpless and vulnerable, and could not give you any advantage in society. In a poor economy, a child was a dead weight.
It wasn’t just children Jesus had in mind. It was anyone who was devalued or useless—the frail elderly, the disabled, sick, illiterate, the unclean. It included peasants, farmers, shepherds, widows, slaves, the unemployed, aliens, immigrants, prisoners, the homeless.
When we receive someone who has nothing to give us in return, we receive Jesus himself. And when we receive Jesus, we receive the God the Father.
We are called to welcome situations in which we might serve others, and seek justice for the voiceless. We are called to think of others more highly than we think of ourselves. And that is a hard calling.
We’re receiving a few children lately. We’re baptising a few new members of Christ’s Church. Last week, it was Jayden Michael Thomas. There will soon be three more. Next Sunday, Simon and Allana Dorman from the evening service are bringing their son Isaac for baptism. Iain and Erin Moore, also from the evening congregation, are bringing their daughter Abbey Rose on 11 October; it was to be next week, but for family reasons it’s been put off until the 11th.
In between, on 4 October, yet another baby will be baptised, one Christian Irvin. Why so many right now? Is it something in the water, I wonder?
It may be easy to think that there are too many baptisms coming too soon; I’d like to invite you to see that we are welcoming children, as Jesus invited the disciples to do.
Today’s Gospel reading isn’t about infant baptism, though some bible scholars have suggested it is. It’s not a biblical proof text for infant baptism. But it does have something to do with infant baptism.
If Jesus says, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me…’ then I want to welcome children through the waters of baptism. I want to declare the love of God for them, and that by grace they are part of the family of God. I want to welcome those who are powerless into the Church of Jesus Christ.
When we baptise someone in this congregation, we almost always read this verse (Galatians 3.28):
As many of you who were baptised into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is no longer Jew or Greek,
there is no longer slave or free,
there is no longer male and female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
We could just as easily say there’s no black or white: we are all one in Jesus Christ. No educated or uneducated: we are all one in Jesus Christ. No young or old: we are all one in Jesus Christ. No gay or straight: we are all one in Jesus Christ. There’s no difference, and all are to be welcomed. Why? Because each one is valued, and loved, and cherished by God equally, no matter who they are. We call it ‘grace’. And grace is scandalous.
Ambition is a good thing. But not selfish ambition. Greatness is a fine thing, so long as it’s the greatness that God defines, the greatness of serving others.
Like the disciples we are on the way with Jesus. It’s not any old way; it’s the way of service, the way of giving to others. James describes it as the way of wisdom and gentleness. It’s a way of submitting ourselves to God and drawing near to God. The promise is that when we draw near to God, we find that God is drawing near to us.
That, my friends, is the way we follow Jesus. Draw near to him, and receive his Spirit, which is the Spirit of wisdom and gentleness. So as we receive these children by baptism, we receive Jesus Christ. And to receive Jesus is to receive the Father. And to receive the Father is to receive the Spirit. We are indeed a blessed people. Thanks be to God!

The disciples of Jesus have been at it again; this time they’ve been arguing about who is the greatest. Remember a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that in Mark’s Gospel the disciples of Jesus are as thick as two short planks? Remember I said that the disciples didn’t ‘get’ Jesus, that they misunderstood him, they thought they knew better, they didn’t have faith? Here’s a great example.

Jesus has just told them for a second time that he will be betrayed and killed. And after three days, rise again. The disciples didn’t dare ask what that meant. Instead, we find them arguing about who was the best. Why?

Some bible scholars suggest that it’s because they did hear the bit about Jesus dying, so they were jockeying for position to see who would take his place, who’d be boss once he’d gone. It was a prime example of what the Book of James calls ‘envy and selfish ambition’, which brings ‘disorder and wickedness of every kind’.

Jesus calls the disciples to account. This is how he does it: he sits down, and calls them to gather around in a circle. He is sitting because a teacher sat to teach in those days; sitting was the teaching position.

Then Jesus places a child in the midst of them. Jesus doesn’t condemn ambition. He doesn’t condemn the desire to be great. But Jesus radically redefines what it means to be great.

Continue reading

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Ophidian house guest

We discovered a house guest today, literally living in the house. S/he is a young yellow-faced whip snake, not venomous—though you still wouldn’t want to be bitten—but still a mild shock to the system. She (I’ll decide a gender on democratic grounds; we have three sons at home and a male dog) is living within the bricks.

My hope is she’ll keep the geckos down, but not so much that they don’t keep the cockroaches down once summer arrives.

A pic:

P1020676

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This is not the way…

Whatever your views on abortion, I hope you’d agree that prosecuting this poor couple is not the way to go…

Couple to face abortion trial

A CAIRNS couple who allegedly used illegally imported pills to terminate a pregnancy will face trial in the District Court.

Magistrate Sandra Pearson found there was sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that Tegan Simone Leach, 19, and partner Sergie Brennan, 21, had illegally taken action to terminate a pregnancy.

Leach is charged with procuring her own abortion, an offence which carries a maximum seven-year jail term.

Brennan is accused of supplying Leach with drugs to cause an abortion.

The magistrate said that in her police interview Leach had admitted to taking tablets alleged to have been supplied by Brennan and the next day she experienced what she believed to be a miscarriage.

Ms Pearson also said there was sufficient evidence for Brennan to face trial on a charge he had unlawfully provided a substances to procure a miscarriage.

Leach choked backed tears as the magistrate said she should face trial.

But asked if she had anything to say, Leach said “no”.

As the magistrate adjourned the court the couple stood up, held hands and gave each other a kiss.

Leach and Brennan will face a District Court trial at a date to be fixed.

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