Friday, January 30, 2009

The end of singleness :)

I've finished posting on the EQUIP book club today, so I am reclaiming my head space for other things, but, as previously mentioned, here are some questions I had about singleness along the way. No answers, just questions that came up:

  • There is a lot talk, particularly in North America (or maybe only in North America), about single women living like they are preparing for marriage.

  • Is this the right approach to singleness?

  • But if we say single women shouldn't be living like they are preparing for marriage, then should any woman, ever, be living like she is preparing for marriage?

  • If so, at which point would you tell single women to stop?

  • Is undivided devotion to the Lord and radical ministry etc only for those who have chosen to be single?

  • Or is this undivided devotion more about a state of mind and heart, than an activity? Less internal distraction?

  • Should all women, even those who have chosen to be single for ministry, have a "homeward orientation"?

  • Do single women with full-time jobs really have more time than stay-at-home Mums? (Maybe just differents kinds of time?)

  • What is the real difference between living like you are preparing for marriage and growing in godliness as a woman anyway?

  • What are the things about marriage you need to prepare for that aren't part of general godliness, as a woman? (Even "intimacy", which I don't think any single person should ever be preparing for till they have a sure end, would seem to be more about a godly attitude than any kind of technique etc.)

  • Is it helpful, or necessary, to use this "preparing for marriage" language with single women? (Why speak in terms of "preparing for" anything? Why not just serving God right now?)

  • And there were perhaps more that I didn't write down ...

    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    A medal in the graveyard

    So, The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, which I gave my niece for her birthday, won the Newbery Medal. The purpose of this medal is:

    "To encourage original creative work in the field of books for children. To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels. To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children's reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field."

    Very good!

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    One Swell Evening

    As I've mentioned I went to The Swell Season concert last night in the Opera House Concert Hall, with a group of friends, mostly from my church. For the unintiated, The Swell Season is the two actors of the movie Once, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, merged with the Irish band The Frames, which Glen Hansard was in prior to the Swell Season. I don't get out to too many concerts but I just thought this one was superlative, the summit of excellence, the acme of musical entertainment etc etc.

    It opened with Glen onstage on his own, unplugged, singing Say It To Me Now, just like the movie. Then all the band came out, plugged in and away went the night. Marketa left the piano to sing I Have Loved You Wrong, as I was so hoping she would, and we heard a few new songs from their upcoming album, which I haven't yet heard on other tour recordings. We were also treated to an electric violin solo from Colm Mac Con Iomaire and that was just mesmerising - lulled you off to someplace else, probably on the West coast of Ireland.

    Glen was very entertaining, always amusing, sometimes insightful, sometimes talking rubbish, but he did it with an Irish accent. Then he put down the guitar to sing Happiness and out came some curious interpretive-dance-type manoeuvres.

    One of the highlights was when he got us all to sing along with a new song called Back Broke, which was beautiful. He also played Van Morrison (think it's called Austral Weeks) and I have never seen anything like it - injected with such a huge amount of energy and emotion. Fitzcarraldo, near the end, with the violin soaring, was the climactic point, and to close they all came and stood on the edge of the stage for Bob Dylan's You Aint Going Nowhere. It was a fabulous night!

    Hanging out in your head

    I went to the Swell Season concert lastnight at the Opera House. I will post about that tonight, when I can load up a photo or two (if any of them turned out). But for now, here is a line from Glen Hansard, said during one song introduction:

    "I don't hang around in my head. It's a bad neighbourhood - I always get beaten up."

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Last Ride coming

    An old childhood friend of mine from Tamworth (who's commented here once or twice in relation to childhood things) made a short film, called Cracker Bag, which went on to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. He has since been working on a feature film, due out in June this year, called Last Ride. You can watch a few trailers on the website I just linked to (I like Trailer 2). You can also peruse the Production Diary blog, if you're into watching how movies evolve.

    He's told me in the past that this movie is a little like The Shiralee, only more brutal. I'm not so keen on the brutal idea, but will be off to see this movie.

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    The impressionists and the impressionable

    I went in to the NSW Art Gallery yesterday to the exhibit of Monet and the Impressionists. I had been wanting to see it ever since it opened and finally made it on the weekend it closes. It was 39.2 degrees Celsius and about 57% humidity when I left, so getting there was no fun, but it was just fabulous, and wonderfully cold, when I did get there. It’s amazing to stand there in front of paintings you’ve looked at it books for years and see the strokes the living artist made. And you can appreciate the master that Monet was at capturing the light, particularly in two paintings side by side of the Valley of the Petite Creuse, painted at different times of the day. And the way he made the Haystack at Sunset glow with the afternoon sun is really something. So I really enjoyed that. I was going to stay in a meet some people for the Symphony in the Domain, but the Art Gallery shut at 5pm and I was too jolly hot to kill three hours outside in the city so I came home.

    That’s when I did it.

    My current flatmate is moving out soon and taking her couches. So I thought I’d just take a quick look on ebay and see what was around in terms of couches. I noticed that second from the top were these two couches, so far up to $210, which looked pretty good and had 5 minutes left to go on the auction. So I logged in, had another look at the pictures, then without thinking made a bid. There was another bidder online, but would you believe that somehow I won them for $214 dollars!! I hadn’t even looked through the other options. I hadn't even thought about what style I might want, what colour might look best. Nothing.

    After I got over the shock of winning I actually read the details on the couches, and that’s when I discovered where they were. I had typed in within 50kms of my suburb in the criteria, but these couches were at a place called Bilgola Plateau. BILGOLA PLATEAU?! I thought ‘where on earth is Bilgola Plateau?’ ‘Is that really within 50kms of here?’ I tried google map, and turns out it is, even though it’s up woop woop and looks like it’s miles away. So I am sitting here thinking 'well great, I just bought two couches, that I need to collect myself, from Bilgola Plateau. How am I going to do that? Who can I possibly rope in to help?’ (At this point I was wishing that I had a relative in town to ask, to help me out of my own ridiculous scrape.) Anyway, I sent my coming flatmate an email with pictures attached, to tell her that I had the couches thing sorted (sort of) and show her what they look like. She wrote back to tell me that she has a Dad who lives about 20 minutes from Bilgola Plateau, who has a trailer and who can go and collect these couches. Amazing! Thank you God for how that turned out!

    Now I feel like I can revel in my bargain. So here are my $214 couches (a little on the drab side maybe, but cushions will help):

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    Poetry Saturday - To walk in beauty

    Here is a poem for women everywhere, which features in the book I am posting on over at the EQUIP book club, and tells something of how a woman's inner beauty manifests itself in her external presence.

    SHE walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that 's best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
    Thus mellow'd to that tender light
    Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
    One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half impair'd the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress,
    Or softly lightens o'er her face;
    Where thoughts serenely sweet express
    How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

    And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
    But tell of days in goodness spent,
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent!

    George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron. 1788–1824

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Glistening like a lady

    It's a very sudorific kind of day today, by the way everybody.
    Tomorrow looks to be worse (35 degrees celsius, possible thunderstorms, for those who don't live here).

    Still posting over at EQUIP book club

    I'm still posting over at the EQUIP book club. I don't generally blog a lot of book reviews, so it's been interesting trying to work this out. There seems to be a balance between a post that stands alone in some way, and a post that would make no sense at all if you are not actually reading the book (which is how today's post turned out). And I think a book club is different to a book review as well. You have to assume that people are actually reading along, so you don't want to tell people what's in a chapter, and you don't want to just reword or quote too much of the material. And I have to keep telling myself that this is a discussion of this particular book, it's not my own exhaustive essay on all the issues to do with singleness, but that is harder without too much interaction. I'm finding writing about singleness in public has moments of stress: it's very personal, it's a little controversial, people can be very mad or very upset about it (and there haven't been a lot of comments, and I didn't really expect to flush a whole lot of single women out of the woodwork, so I don't really know if people out there are either of those two things). But it's been good to think and work through it all. I have gathered up a few questions on the topic, which I think will appear here soon.

    Poetry Friday is coming later today. I can't load up pictures onto blogger at work, and I just like poems to have a picture, so I'll do it later.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    A family birthday

    Today is my eldest niece’s birthday and she is turning twelve. How the years have flown! She is a little girl (though not so little anymore) after my own heart in many ways: she loves to read, loves to draw and loves her gymnastics and athletics.

    I bought her birthday presents and gave them to her when I was in Brisbane. We went to Folio books in the city one day and she was looking at Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, and my sister told me all her gym friends are reading it. But I had read Challies review and decided that I wasn’t going to be the person giving her that. I also think she is way too young for it. While she’s very bright and an advanced reader, observes things keenly (except when she is lost in her own fantasy world, when she hears and notices nothing) and understands a whole lot more than she lets on most of the time, she is also still a kid. She comes to visit and brings these friends with her:
    And she likes to play with these:

    I like those too. There’s plenty of time for obsessive love-sickness later on. (Karen has also written an interesting review of Twilight here.) So, in the end I bought her Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book. I hadn’t read these before and thought I probably should before I gave them to her, to make sure I wasn’t going to scare her witless (because she’s more sensitive to a good scaring than her younger sister - which is also a little like her Aunt). So I sat down to read Coraline and was completely hooked. I finished it in one evening. It’s a little scary, but in a friendly, child-like sort of way, not a terrifyingly spooky sort of way. I didn’t read The Graveyard Book, but I am looking forward to doing so one day. If you have imaginative children in their early teens looking for something to read then Coraline is worth exploring (perhaps with a little parental discussion), and I notice there is a movie coming soon too.

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    The love language of blogdom

    Simone loves me. And I love Simone. (In a very sisterly kind of fashion!) And Simone is writing a song, which you should all go and appreciate.

    The light through the cracks

    Wendy Alsup, rather conveniently, has posted a reflection today on 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, which expands on what I was getting at in the post below.

    How the light gets in

    One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to try a few more "creative" things this year. So here is my first attempt at lino printing since High School.

    It was inspired by Leonard Cohen’s line "there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in" and 2 Corinthians 4: 7-10 (and the friend who connected the two). And of course, most of you will recognise that it was also strongly inspired by Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, even down to the crack in the wall, which was perfect.

    I wanted it to be in relief like this so that it was the hands reaching out in the dark (because often that's when we rely more on God, and we learn more of God), not to mention the light coming in through the crack in the wall. There were other things I was going to add, which might have made it more original, but in the end I liked it like this, and the whole thing was a lino printing learning experiment.

    Clearly I need to work on my technique, because this is a very long way from perfect. But as Leonard Cohen said in the previous line "forget your perfect offering (there is a crack in everything ...)" so here it is, imperfections and all.

    How the light got into the print is what I really want to know though. I didn’t know whether to drop the lino cut onto the paper, or drop the paper onto the lino. I still don’t know. But I am going to google and keep working on it.

    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    A new me, for a night

    This is the person who came out of the hairdresser yesterday. When Rudy from Italy first asked me how I would like my hair blow-dried I thought ‘well how many different ways are there to blow-dry hair?'. But then I got it and thought that drying it straight might be something fun. Too bad I had nowhere to go last night, because my hair is never going to look like this again, and I might have been able to do something crazy because no one would have recognised me.

    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    Today's amazing news

    Since I am sharing amazing news stories with you, I thought I'd give you another one: This afternoon I am going for a hair cut! It's the first time I have been to the hair dresser in about ten years. I'm psyching myself up. I even looked in a hair magazine at a friend's house lastnight. Seriously! I'm got a lot of catching up to do.

    And after the economic rationale of Richard in Dickens' Bleak House, I think I deserve a big treat, because I've discovered that I have saved myself a lot of money in the last ten years. However, I never made it to the end of that book, but I reckon that Richard was meant to serve as a warning, not an example to be imitated, somehow, so maybe I won't.

    If I don't blog for a while, you can put it down to a really bad hair day.

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Today's news

    I have to say, I am completely taken by today’s headline of the plane that crashed into the Hudson River in the middle of New York, the pictures, the congratulatory tributes to the pilot who accomplished something seemingly beyond the realms of possibility, the descriptions of how he did it, the unbelievably happy ending. What an amazing story!

    Poetry Friday - Onward through flowers and weed

    Some of my New Year's resolutions were to get out of doors more (even aim for camping in the wilds somewhere!), appreciate the small things and string happy moments together, and write and read more poetry. So, here is a fitting poem.

    A Thing of Beauty

    A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
    Its loveliness increases; it will never
    Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
    A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
    Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
    Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
    A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
    Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
    Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
    Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
    Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
    Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
    From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
    Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
    For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
    With the green world they live in; and clear rills
    That for themselves a cooling covert make
    'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
    Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
    And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
    We have imagined for the mighty dead;
    All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
    An endless fountain of immortal drink,
    Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

    Nor do we merely feel these essences
    For one short hour; no, even as the trees
    That whisper round a temple become soon
    Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon,
    The passion poesy, glories infinite,
    Haunt us till they become a cheering light
    Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast
    That, whether there be shine or gloom o'ercast,
    They always must be with us, or we die.

    Therefore, 'tis with full happiness that I
    Will trace the story of Endymion.
    The very music of the name has gone
    Into my being, and each pleasant scene
    Is growing fresh before me as the green
    Of our own valleys: so I will begin
    Now while I cannot hear the city's din;
    Now while the early budders are just new,
    And run in mazes of the youngest hue
    About old forests; while the willow trails
    Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails
    Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year
    Grows lush in juicy stalks, I'll smoothly steer
    My little boat, for many quiet hours,
    With streams that deepen freshly into bowers.
    Many and many a verse I hope to write,
    Before the daisies, vermeil rimmed and white,
    Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
    Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
    I must be near the middle of my story.
    O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
    See it half finished: but let Autumn bold,
    With universal tinge of sober gold,
    Be all about me when I make an end!
    And now at once, adventuresome, I send
    My herald thought into a wilderness:
    There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
    My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
    Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.

    John Keats 1795-1821

    Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    Threatened by God's will

    I am still posting over at EQUIP book club for this month. Here is an excerpt from today's post, with a quote from Paul Tripp, which you can apply to all of life:

    I thought the quote from Paul Tripp ... was just excellent, particularly when it points out that God’s will becomes a threat to us when it potentially stands in the way of desires that have morphed into demands, either for a spouse more generally or for one person in particular:

    The objects of most of our desires are not evil. The problem is the way they tend to grow and the control they come to exercise over our hearts. Desires are part of human existence, but they must be held with an open hand ... The problem with desire is that in sinners it very quickly morphs into demands (‘I must’). Demand is the closing of my fists over a desire. Even though I may be unaware that I have done it, I have left my proper position of submission to God. I have decided that I must have what I have set my heart on and nothing can stand in my way. I am no longer comforted by God’s desire for me; I am threatened by it, because God’s will potentially stands in the way of my demand ...

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Ten sentences

    Nicole has tagged me to do a book meme. The instructions are:

    - Take ten books, and transcribe the fifth sentence from page fifty six.
    - Make sure that at least five books are fiction, provide five hints, and pass the meme on to six other bloggers.

    What that means is that you, dear reader, are supposed to guess the books. I have decided to provide you with very definite clues, since there are approximately a few billion options, and since I have an inkling that few, if any, are going to conduct extensive research or invest hours in pondering which books Ali Nobody from Tamworth is reading, or has nearby (my own mother doesn’t read this blog!). This post would then sit here as a glaring and silent testament to the way things are. So, in the interests of self-protection, here is my list, with no expectations:

    The two young curates talked a little aside during these discussions, which had imperfect interest for their unbeneficed minds; and the transcendental and near-sighted Mr Baird seemed to listen somewhat abstractedly, knowing little more of potatoes and mangel-wurzel than that they were some form of the ‘Conditioned’.
    - Written by the incomparable George Eliot, about a Reverend whose name is also a minor prophet.

    All reality is iconoclastic.
    - C. S. Lewis

    ‘- the fourth place you’re not in love with me but you might be afterwards, and that would begin your life with a terrible mess.’
    - Ahem. Yes indeed. This is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a terrible mess.

    For Dad, everything else we did was but a prelude to this experience.
    - Written by a Christian counsellor to help people in need of change help people in need of change. This is from page 57 because 56 is blank.

    And will you kindly tell me, mister, what this has to do with the men of 1916?
    - This memoir won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997.

    “Faust sold his soul to get his youth back,” said Thomas.
    - Originally published in 1949, this novel has been made into a movie staring Rose Byrne, Romola Garai, Bill Nighy.

    There is a place
    in the woods
    where my swift
    and stout-hearted dog
    turns and wants to climb

    into my arms.
    - That’s how it’s set out. A memoir of sorts, first published in 1995, by the woman who won the Pulitzer for Poetry in 1984.

    Sinclair Ferguson says: ‘Only when we turn away from away from looking at our sin to look at the face of God, to find his pardoning grace, do we begin to repent.
    - A great book for a new year, written by this guy. Actually, I've since realised that this is the sixth sentence, but there you have it.

    Both spluttered in deep embarrassment.
    - Book by the illustrious Mr DA Carson, a commentary on Philippians.

    It came boring out of the east like some ribald satellite of the coming sun howling and bellowing in the distance and the long light of the headlamp running through the tangled mesquite brakes and creating out of the night the endless fenceline down the dead straight right of way and sucking it back again wire and post mile on mile into the darkness after where the boilersmoke disbanded slowly along the faint new horizon and the sound came lagging and he stood still holding his hat in his hands in the passing ground-shudder watching it till it was gone.
    - I broke the rules. Because sometimes a sentence breaks all the rules and creates something extraordinary. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy.

    If your self-assurance is up to it, I tag Rebecca, Duncan, Andrew, Bonnie, Simone and Sophie.

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Not moving

    On Saturday I found myself a new flatmate. This is quite a relief as it means I don't have to move! It's not so much the actual day of moving that I dislike (I don't mind hard physical activity - though my days of regularly shifting eight cat traps at once through rock-wallaby terrain are over - and I get a weird satisfaction in cleaning things, though going back to clean the old place when all you want to do is organise the new place is a drag) it's the process of scouring the internet and driving about from one inspection to the next on weekends trying to find somewhere, then gathering up references and bank statements and copies of your passport etc and faxing them about to apply for places and trying to compete against all the other people

    I'd never met this girl before, and living with a random stranger was the situation I'd planned to avoid, but she comes highly recommended by friends and knows quite a few people I know - and so it not all that random. We had a good chat on Saturday morning, she seemed nice and mature, a committed Christian, and there were no signs of a PAM (potential axe-murderer) :). Something else I am rather excited about is that she teaches art and photography, so I am hoping that she inspires me and maybe even teaches me something - or at least sends out some kind of vibe which helps with New Year's resolution number 7 (I think it was 7) of resurrecting creativity. She also asked me if I'd mind if she brings plants. This is spoken like a true hypocrite, because I had one plant and it died (it was actually doing very well until I shifted it to our western facing balcony, whereafter it instantly went yellow and slowly withered away), but something about people who like plants and keep them alive pleases me. I might even replace my dead one.

    So, I am thankful that I don't now have to go on a mad scramble to find somewhere else to live before the end of the month and shift all my wordly goods.

    High-faluting mumbo jumbo

    This blog will hereafter have a new feature perhaps: the high-faluting mumbo jumbo feature, named in honour of that moment when Gilbert Blythe tells Anne of Green Gables not to write high-faluting mumbo jumbo, but to right about what's real and things she knows. He's right of course, but I still have a soft spot for a little high-faluting mumbo jumbo. Or rather, I quite like big words, or rather big words that say something precisely, that it would otherwise take half a sentence to say eg schadenfreude - find another way to say that in one word and I might use it.

    So, here is a word I stumbled across on the weekend (definition taken from here):

    su·do·rif·ic (sōō'də-rĭf'ĭk) Pronunciation Key

    adj. Causing or increasing sweat.
    n. A sudorific medicine. Also called sudatory.

    It's very useful. Here is the proof of that, which came to me in a flash of inspiration this morning:

    On a sudorific morning
    When all the world was snoring
    I jogged along Blackwattle Bay
    And dripped my Christmas lunch away.

    So OK, if you want to read something more serious, about something of a little more substance, here is my post at the EQUIP book club today.

    Friday, January 09, 2009

    The props of our lives

    I appreciated this article this week from Wendy Alsup on the props in our lives, which goes along nicely with today's post on the EQUIP book club, based on the story of Ruth. Here's a snippet (and some of the props she has mentioned are husband, children, money, land, status):
    My question is what is your prop? And if you have props, do you see past them to find your identity in Christ Himself? Or do your props seem so vital to your identity that you can't imagine life without them?

    If you don't have the normal props, how do you view yourself? Do you feel lost, in a holding pattern, waiting on God to give your life something in which to find your identity?

    Poetry Friday - Proving you wrong

    It's basically singleness month around here, so here is a poem that fits from Sophie Hannah. It makes me laugh ... yet also pause. Sometimes I think I am living in the wrong place, hanging out in the inner-west where the men are mostly milk-frothing types who play with technological things, which is not my kind of guy (I like the rugged, silent, outdoorsy type, who's also, somehow, a very good communicator, likes books and writes poetry ;)!), but you just never know ...

    Soft-handed man

    She couldn't love a man who had soft hands
    and didn't do constructive things with wood,
    but if she met one that she loved, she could.
    She's right to say we all make strange demands
    and right to think that no one understands.
    Hard hands are not indicative of good

    character, don't infallibly belong
    to rugged, silent types who rarely shave,
    who are, in equal measures, kind and brave.
    Just over the horizon there's a strong
    soft-handed man waiting to prove her wrong,
    and when a person proves you wrong, they save

    acres of mind you were about to close
    and turn it into habitable land.
    Each time you hold an unexpected hand
    and stare at features that you never chose,
    you're dealing with authority that knows
    better than you how well things could be planned.

    Sophie Hannah

    Thursday, January 08, 2009

    Things I have learnt this year meme

    Jean tagged me for this meme, to note six things I learnt this year. There's a lot that could be said here, and more I need to reflect on, but I'll try and keep this brief (or I'll be here all night):

    - Moving churches can be harder than you might think it will be (for someone like me who has never baulked at changes), and you have to make allowances for that, not expect too much too soon and perservere.

    - Trust is a very big word. You can think you have it while all the while be hanging onto things you're not negotiable on.

    - During the latter part of the year I read a lot about singleness (in preparation for this) and learnt many encouraging and helpful things about the whys and hows of it (which you will find about the place recently and in days to come).

    - From the Faithful Writer conference and masterclass I reaffirmed that writing is a passion, but that like all things it takes dedicated practice and work (or at least time!) and no-one has ever been brilliant at this, or anything else, without earnest effort.

    - That real relationships are worth navigating through the difficulties to have. And that people who make you feel that they genuinely care about your stuff become very attractive people to be around - but that you need to mind your levels of dependence in this (I've learnt this being on both ends of this one).

    - After about 20 years of jogging I worked out that I have supination, or over-pronation (basically just high arches which mean my feet roll outwards excessively), in my feet, and that the right shoes make all the difference.

    I'm a little slow in completing this one, so I won't tag anyone else, but if you would like to do it go ahead and then let me know (as I'd be interested to read your responses).

    A literature Meme

    Bonnie tagged me for this meme. I found this a curious selection of literature in that there are plenty of other classics I have read and plenty listed here that I haven't, but I have a few ideas for further reading.

    Here's how it works:

    1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
    2) Italicize those you intend to read.
    3) Underline (or mark in a different color) the books you LOVE
    4) Reprint this list in your blog. The premise of this exercise is that the National Endowment for the Arts apparently believes that the average American has only read 6 books from the list below.

    1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
    3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
    4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling. One day.
    5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee. Liked this one.
    6 The Bible7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
    8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
    9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
    10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens - so long ago though that I can hardly remember it.
    11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
    12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy.
    13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
    14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - A good many of them, but not all.
    15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
    16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
    17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
    18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
    19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
    21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell. Who needs to read the book? I thought watching the movie was good enough.
    22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - No, Tender is the Night did not exactly convert me to F Scott.
    23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens - Only half. This is one of few books I didn't finish. Dickens is sooo verbose here. But I loved the BBC TV series.
    24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - It's on the shelf waiting for an extended hospital visit.
    25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - No, but seen the movie. Does that count?
    26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
    27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Boy oh boy, did I ever.
    28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
    29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
    30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
    31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
    32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens - No but own the BBC DVD.
    33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
    34 Emma - Jane Austen
    35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
    36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis - Do these literary inquisitors not think that is part of the Chronicles of Narnia?
    37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
    38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
    39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
    40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
    41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
    42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - No. I own it, but never could bring myself to read it.
    43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
    45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins - It's on my shelf, I just haven't got there yet.
    46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
    47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
    48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
    49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
    50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
    51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
    52 Dune - Frank Herbert
    53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
    54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
    55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
    56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
    58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
    59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
    60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
    62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
    63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
    64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
    65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - Saw the movie, if that counts.
    66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
    67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy. I started this and just wasn't up to more of that tearing angst between what one wants and what one ought to do and thought I needed a Hardy break, as I had just read A Pair of Blue Eyes and The Woodlanders, both of which I loved.
    68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
    69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
    70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville - I own it.
    71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
    72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
    73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
    75 Ulysses - James Joyce
    76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
    77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
    78 Germinal - Emile Zola
    79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray. I own it.
    80 Possession - AS Byatt - I tried, but have to say I found this book pretentious. Even as a zoologist I couldn't make it through those insect letters.
    81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
    82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
    83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
    84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
    85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
    86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
    87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
    88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom - No, but I read Tuesday's with Morrie.
    89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
    91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
    92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
    93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
    94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
    95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
    96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
    97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
    98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
    99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
    100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo - It's on my shelf.

    I'll tag Drew, Ben and Craig, as there is another meme circulating the women I know out there, but feel free to ignore this.

    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    Dancing Queens

    Well, I was warned that ABBA combined with Singstar was coming over Christmas. There are those of you out there who might be thinking, there is absolutely no way you would get me up singing! But that would be because you have never sat in front of Singstar long enough and tried not to participate. So here is a video of what had become of my extended family by the end of Christmas night. In this video is my Mum, two Aunts, my sister, some Japanese friends and my brother-in-law half hidden on the couch. Unfortunately I took this video before I realised that this old digital camera I inherited doesn't record sound (on my dream list, which Santa must have lost somewhere, is a Nikon digital SLR and all the latest camera gear), and I can't remember what they are actually singing, but the visuals in this one are worth it (and the ABBA video clips are something else as well - that's where we all got this scoop move). There's only one catch to dancing like no-one is watching. This one is mainly the girls (even though the guys are actually doing the singing) but earlier my uncles together singing "Uptown Girl" was hysterical, especially that whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh bit, though unfortunately that video is not so interesting without the sound.


    A life of Christ-exalting singleness

    I have posted some additional material on the theology of singleness and the role it plays within the church and in displaying the glory of Christ on the EQUIP book club today. I thought I'd replicate it here for those who aren't following along with that book because it stands alone and is relevant to all of us (IMHO). This is a merging of material from John Piper (so it's not a complete quote but none of it is original) taken from his talk at the True Womanhood conference, his new book This Momentary Marriage and from the foreword to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem (both books you can read in entirety online):

    The apostle Paul clearly loved his singleness because of the radical freedom for ministry that it gave him (1 Corinthians 7:32-38). One of the reasons he was free to celebrate his singleness and call others to join him in it, is that, even though marriage is meant to display the glory of Christ, there are truths about Christ and his kingdom that shine more clearly through singleness than through marriage. I'll give you some examples:

    1) A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that the family of God grows not by propagation through sexual intercourse, but by regeneration through faith in Christ. If you never marry, and if you embrace a lifetime of chastity and biological childlessness, and if you receive this from the Lord's hand as a gift with contentment, and if you gather to yourself the needy and the lonely, and spend yourself for the gospel without self-pity, because Christ has met your need, then he will be mightily glorified in your life.

    2) A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that relationships in Christ are more permanent, and more precious, than relationships in families. The single woman who turns away from regretting the absence of her own family, and gives herself to creating God's family in the church, will find the flowering of her womanhood in ways she never dreamed, and Christ will be uniquely honored because of it. Jesus promises that forsaking family for the sake of the kingdom will be repaid with a new family, the church.

    3) A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that marriage is temporary, and finally gives way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church—the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face. Marriage is a beautiful thing. But it is not the main thing. If it were, Jesus would not have said, "In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:30). Marriage, as we know it in this age, is not the final destiny of any human. Single womanhood, content to walk with Christ, is a great witness that he is a better husband than any man, and in the end, will be the only husband in the universe.

    4) The truth that faithfulness to Christ defines the value of life; all other relationships get their final significance from this. No family relationship is ultimate; relationship to Christ is. Jesus Christ, the most fully human person who ever lived, was not married. Mature manhood and womanhood are not dependent on being married.

    Marriage has its unique potential for magnifying Christ that singleness does not have. Singleness has its unique potential for magnifying Christ that marriage does not have. To God be glory in the Christ-exalting drama of marriage and in the Christ-exalting drama of the single life.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    Ten Questions for the New Year

    I am slowly getting through the back log of blog posts in my google reader. So here's a challenging list of questions to ask yourself in the New Year. H/T Between Two Worlds.
    (OK, so I am going to be brave, risk looking like an ignoramus and ask the question. I have avoided doing so ever since I started a blog in the hope that it would become apparent, but it just hasn't. What does H/T stand for? I will probably slap my forehead when someone tells me ...) 

    The details nobody wants to know

    I ducked into the hardware store at lunch to get a plunger, and when I started telling the sales assistant about my blocked shower, in the interests of friendly conversation while he took my money, he cut me off. He must be sick of hearing about blocked drains. And you, dear readers, probably wanted to cut me off also. But, I protest, it's the first blocked shower I have taken on all by myself, and you can be thankful that I didn't let you know about it when the toilet was blocked! (Which has been an ongoing problem since long before our time apparently and in the end involved realigning pipes somewhere.) I hate plumbing.

    2009 begins

    I'm back. I returned to Sydney on Saturday night and hit the ground running starting with getting to church at 8:00 am (that's 7:00 am Queensland time, which I had been operating on for the previous two weeks!) to set up and then back to work yesterday etc. I had a nice Christmas, made all the nicer by my sister and brother-in-law and two girls staying over Christmas Eve, and New Year and general rest from my usual life

    I didn't get to as many things as I would have liked, but that happens every year so eventually I will learn not to take so many books and projects away with me. I caught up with my immediate family and Mum's extended family in Brisbane (where the effect wrought by SingStar was very amusing) and Toowoomba and my Dad's family at the Gold Coast (which always reminds me where I got my legs, only they do useful things with theirs like volunteer surf life-saving), and old friends in Brisbane, including Simone, which was all very pleasant.

    I've thought of a few New Year's resolutions, but haven't committed them to paper yet, and I have reflected a little on 2008, but the same for that. I find it really beneficial to think through and articulate such things (I still have last year's on the whiteboard) and am looking forward to doing so soon.

    I am posting over at the EQUIP book club and you can read the first post here. The book I am discussing is on singleness, which perhaps narrows the readership, though it comes to us all at some time in our lives, we all have some single friends and I'd appreciate comments from married people also

    Right now I am off to the hardware store down the road from my workplace. Yesterday morning
    I got up for work and was in the shower and rinsing out the shampoo when I suddenly thought 'hang on a minute, why am I splashing around in water?' and I discovered that the shower drain must have suddenly and completely blocked and that if I didn't turn the taps off quick there was going to be water everywhere. So then I had to get in the bath and finish what I'd started. And the taps are in the middle of our bath, and not at one end, which means a tall person has to do ridiculous things to get their head under them. I soon gave up and moved onto the hand basin. Then the blockage didn't go away because I ignored it yesterday, which was my hopeful plan. Drain problems in our building tend to extend beyond our individual unit pipes and be beyond the scope of my handy-man solutions but I'll try DIY first.