Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A poem on the incarnation

So thought it only fitting to leave you with a Christmas poem. I got this from here, where it was given the tag line "A sublime meditation on the Incarnation" (I'm not so sure about that, and I figure there are a few different ways to understand that idea) via here.


Human Beauty
by Albert Goldbarth

If you write a poem about love ...
the love is a bird,

the poem is an origami bird.
If you write a poem about death ...

the death is a terrible fire,
the poem is an offering of paper cutout flames

you feed to the fire.
We can see, in these, the space between

our gestures and the power they address
—an insufficiency. And yet a kind of beauty,

a distinctly human beauty. When a winter storm
from out of nowhere hit New York one night

in 1892, the crew at a theater was caught
unloading props: a box

of paper snow for the Christmas scene got dropped
and broken open, and that flash of white

confetti was lost
inside what it was a praise of.

Picture from here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Waltzing in to Heaven's Gate

Ah, so much for this holiday, but this is very much a holidayish post. I was messing about in youtube and found my other old waltzing, flute-playing song. It’s called Heaven’s Gate by Toni Childs, and is all very tragically romantic (you need to read Wuthering Heights or some such thing and then listen to this). If you waltz through this whole song in a small space, you really will start crashing into the furniture, because it’s fast tempo and a person can get rather giddy. There is a nice section on the end for the flute (I think it's actually a keyboard, but it works on the flute), and a person so inclined can flit from the piano to waltzing the room to the flute. I still have my old music scribble book, and below is an example of the sophisticated way I used to scratch out music, in which I have used both G sharp and A flat(?). (And another thing you need to notice about this video is the crocheted hat!)

I actually used to really like the House of Hope album (I Want to Walk With You particularly and then Next to You).




Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't

Ah, I'm so tempted to post just a little thing, then I find this (which you can buy over here, with other cool stuff):

Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas and a blog holiday

I’m going to take a little blog holiday. No matter how good a thing is, one still needs the occasional holiday. And I feel like this blog has been on a slow and steady decline from anything near what was ever “good” for some time. A feeling perhaps generated from discovering some old posts, in which I was all earnest and reflective and melancholy, before I became all flippant and frivolous and drivelling. I’m all for a little “don’t-take-yourself-so-seriously” in this life, but where has the substance gone?

So, in the spirit of the approach of a new year, I got to being a little reflective, and maybe melancholy, and realised a few things:
  • I never (or hardly ever) write about the work that I do all day everyday;
  • I don’t write too much about my personal life (because that could be regrettable), and the things that have most preoccupied me and caused me angst this past year have been things that I couldn’t/didn’t want to blog about, which makes the blog feel sometimes a little like my pretend happy face, and that bugs me! - but perhaps there is a place for that, and with Amy over here (whose blog is one of my favourites) I am not too much into “bleeding in the internet in some warped effort of being "authentic"”  (I’m into authenticity in real life, with some, but I do think there ought to be limits in the internet);
  • I try not to write about other people – shame really, as that is what actually makes life interesting …;
  • I don’t consider this blog “ministry”, you’ll all be very pleased to know (except within the sphere in which you might put all of life into that category – if the culinary arts are held to also feed the soul, then why not crochet?);
  • A while back I made the effort to reduce blogging on weeknights at home, to leave them for other things, and only do it mainly at lunch-time at work (or other down times), which has altered the content somewhat and I started posting things that once wouldn’t have made it through the filter.
So all of that means that what’s in my life that generates blogging, and the time I give it, probably doesn’t lend itself to aiming to be too regular (with any expectation of “good”-ness) and I feel like I am forgetting what it's for and actually going out to welcome the great “Nothing” of the Neverending Blog Story.

But you know me, that’s been said before. So, who knows, blogs are a fluid thing, but I might come back next year with something more like “less is more”.

In the mean time, Merry Christmas and thanks for reading! Hope you all have a joyful and blessed one.

(And I might just update in the comments on that previous post what is happening with my sister for those of you who’d like to know. I currently have a flight booked to Brisbane for next Thursday evening, but now might be going to Melbourne to potentially do Christmas in the hospital, depending on the confirmation of surgery dates etc.)

Low whistling

Ever since watching Davy Spillane on that Emmylou Harris video I have been dreaming about a low whistle, or, even better, an Irish flute, but they are way more expensive (and I discovered that the two ladies in the video are actually Anna and Kate McGarrigle, one of whom plays banjo, and enjoyed watching this for some Irish folk).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Star of Bethlehem

So here's a little bit of something like Christmas, from Neil Young and Emmylou Harris:

The nostalgic tune

It was only the other day on the bus that I had a good look through the Sydney Film Festival program for the coming January. I discovered that Emmylou Harris is performing at the State Theatre, and I am half tempted to go along (anybody fancy coming?).

It was my childhood best-friend’s Dad who introduced me to Emmylou Harris. Yeah, we grew up in Tamworth, but Emmylou’s not your average country musician. You can read about her illustrious career on the link above, in which she’s worked with artists such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young (see here and here). Obviously my friend’s Dad and his music taste had a big influence over us, even though we were supposed to be rebellious teenagers, because when my friend got married she had Like an Old-Fashioned Waltz for the bridal waltz. I was a bridesmaid and was in on all the fun.

So, sigh, I fell to reminiscing and found this video (though it makes me smile, because they all look so, well, umm, much older - Emmylou's black locks are silver, and her silvery voice is huskier, and two old friends near the end, well ...). I used to play the little interlude in the middle on my Mum’s alto baroque recorder (though it’s a bit simpler, and Emmylou is a lot younger, on the album version I also eventually found, which is just so romantic). I remember several times crashing into furniture in our lounge-room trying to both play this and waltz at the same time.


Emmylou Harris - Old Fashioned Waltz (Transatlantic Sessions
Uploaded by Superpatri. - See the latest featured music videos.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The human incubator

This is a just a nice read. Maybe I shouldn't tell the internet this, or you'll all think I'm a crazy feral bush lady, but I have walked about out on field trips with marsupial pouch young (which can't regulate their own body temperature) stuffed down the front of my shirt, doing my own version of "kangaroo care". You do what you have to do.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The good all things are working for

There’s something I’ve been thinking of writing for a few days, since before all of this happened, and perhaps God was getting me sorted. That’s because last week I was reading on Romans 8 in Future Grace by John Piper. Romans 8 has long been one of my favourite chapters in the bible, but to be honest, there are times that I’ve felt like people were a little too hasty and glib with Romans 8:28 in the immediate face of suffering. (“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28)

But there’s a chapter in Future Grace called "Four Pillars of a Precious Promise", in which John Piper looks at what are the foundations of the promise of good and what is this “good”. There ought to be no surprises that they begin in the next verse, after the word “for”:
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 And those whom he predestined he also called,
and those whom he called he also justified,
and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Piper goes on to unpack out each of these four things, and it’s mightily encouraging (in which he also says some interesting things about “foreknowledge" if you happen to be an Arminian). You need to read the chapter to see the way this builds, and this portion might be nothing so new, but here it is anyway (and I shall leave in the American punctuation, even though it drives me crazy):
The end of the chain is that the justified will be “glorified.” That refers to “the (future) grace ... at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13), when he comes to give us “the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4). We “will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of [our] Father” (Matthew 13:43), because we will be completely “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no death or crying or pain any more (Revelation 21:4). God himself will be with us; and “fullness of joy and pleasures forever more” will be ours at his right hand (Psalm 16:11); and we will “enter into the joy of [our] Master” (Matthew 25:21).

This is the ultimate fulfillment of Romans 8:28. Being “glorified” means coming to the final, everlasting experience of seeing God work everything together for our good. The “glorified” state of verse 30 is the ultimate “good” for which God works all things together in verse 28. It is our final likeness to Christ which brings him glory (“the firstborn among many brethren”) and brings us unspeakable joy.
And there’s another whole chapter on Romans 8:32, called "The Solid Logic of Heaven", which is also well worth reading.

My sister

Well I wrote too soon. After the heart specialist and the kidney specialist had told my sister they didn’t think her problem was related to either of those organs, we thought nothing else would be as bad. But there is one thing. They are now going to do surgery to remove a tumour that is being treated as highly suspicious. Any prayers would be appreciated.

Ali wants it

You know how I was talking about something to store wool in, well I want this. H/T: Gordon

(Ah, the pragmatic reality is that I think this would be highly impractical, for keeping dust and moths and other small creatures out, and you'd have to keep your cupboard door swinging open for anyone to see it, but it does look so pretty. The other reality is, my aim is to work up what wool I do have stockpiled and left over already into things to give away or possibly sell, so I don't know why I'd want to keep a stash of it this big either, except it does look so pretty (and I'd be happy to have this stockpile).)

Monday, December 13, 2010

I wish I had a river

Well it wouldn't be this time of year without this song. It's my favourite melancholy Christmas song. I know it ignores the true wonders that Christmas celebrates, but I think it does capture the effect of "Christmas" on many. And I also know that the Joni Mitchell purists will have me for this, but I think I actually prefer the way Sarah McLachlan sings it, which is below (though her EPK version off Rarities Vol 2 is much better - this live version is closer, but I do just like the ice-skating in this video).




A call in the middle of the night

Well I scheduled that poem to go up on Sunday morning, then in the middle of the night on Saturday night there came a phone call. If you’ve been reading here for a while you might remember this big drama. So my brother-in-law calling me in the dead of night is not a good thing. He was letting me know my sister was in hospital down in Melbourne and he hadn’t been able to get onto my Mum, who was in Toowoomba for the other brother-in-law’s birthday, so I then had to call her, and so the night went on.

At that point the doctors thought my sister had a ruptured cyst somewhere (because she polycystic kidney disease, which it appears she mutated because there are no traces of it anywhere in the family), but my brother-in-law also mentioned something about fluid around the lungs and heart, which did not sound good. This to me usually means heart failure, and so I was thinking, well she’s been on a gazillion drugs for the last 18 months so if she has heart failure now well then what? However, it would seem that that is not such a big concern now, but she is having an echocardiogram today to make sure the heart is OK, and then might be able to go home. So it's turned out a whole lot better than it sounded in the middle of Saturday night.

Consequently I have stayed home today. I’m going soft. But I didn’t get much sleep Saturday night and just ended up doings things like eating toast, because if you stay awake long enough you get hungry. Then yesterday I just got up and did life and waited for more information (hospitals don’t seem to be particularly functional places on weekends) and went and did the church things. We had a thanksgiving service at church last night and they’d let us know in advance that there would be time to share. I had something in mind to say, but in the end decided I didn’t want to get up there and fall to pieces simply because I hadn’t had enough sleep (I’m sure some of you know what I mean – you could have made me cry about almost anything yesterday), and there were no long pauses and essentially a line-up of people, so I didn’t.

So I’ve just really got out of bed this morning and might go back there. I actually don’t have much to do at work at the moment anyway, so it was a choice of going in and fiddling about or staying home in bed for a while. Don’t tell anybody, but I think I might enjoy the rest of today (so long as there is no further bad news from Melbourne of course).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Poetry Day - The Burning Babe

I thought it must be time for a Christmas poem, so here is a classic by Robert Southwell. And below I have added a youtube of Sting performing this poem. Personally I'm not convinced that the tune works with the lyrics on this one, but enjoy the strings!


AS I in hoary winter’s night
  Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat
  Which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye
  To view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright
  Did in the air appear;
Who, scorchèd with excessive heat,
  Such floods of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames,
  Which with His tears were bred:
‘Alas!’ quoth He, ‘but newly born
  In fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
  Or feel my fire but I!

‘My faultless breast the furnace is;
    The fuel, wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke;
  The ashes, shames and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on,
  And Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
  Are men’s defilèd souls:
For which, as now on fire I am
  To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath,
  To wash them in my blood.’
With this He vanish’d out of sight
  And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callèd unto mind
  That it was Christmas Day.

Robert Southwell

Photo by bkushner at flickriver.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Courtship rituals

Nicole posted this the other day, but because I can’t see videos when at work it took me a few days to watch it. It really is lovely. This is the sort of documentary that set me on the path I went down studying wildlife ecology.



It’s a pity humans didn’t have such beautiful, definite rituals, so we’d all know what was happening. Well, perhaps we do, in an ideal world. But reality often looks more like some kind of clumsy staggering and colliding and toe-squashing mess. Nathan wrote a post recently along these lines. I didn’t link to it at the time because it seemed to be irrelevant to me and almost every girl I know, but apparently there do exist girls out there who get asked to do things individually with guys ... and they don’t understand. If that’s you, then read along. But all I can say in defense of single women is, if you’re a guy, make sure you have actually made a real effort, taken initiative and been unambiguous about asking before you consider yourself the victim. Most girls I know, myself included, view themselves as being quite at the mercy of guys, waiting to see whether they’ll ask them out or not, or define the situation. [And I just deleted the rest of my ramblings on the subject ...]

Grieving the future

Ah, I do like Dan's post again. Here's a portion of it, for the single women who read this blog.

I guess that’s why it’s so hard to explain to each other, and to comfort, redress, justify grieving. How can anyone console another for the loss of something that never was? The love that was never returned, the children who were never born, the trip that was never taken, the work that was never completed. The loss of these ‘nothings’ is, in a sense, infinite. The lack of definition, the non-concrete nature of these hopes, makes their loss harder not easier. The loss of the possibility of a child includes, in some ways, the loss of the actual child, and the sweetness of his childhood, the glory of his maturity, the loss of all his hopes as well. The loss of a love that was never returned includes all the loss of all the pathways opened up for us by that love: the friendships never shared, the places never visited together, the histories never told, the further futures never anticipated.

What word of comfort can we speak to someone grieving the future? Each hope was a little singularity, pregnant with universes. And thus the loss of each future threatens to overwhelm us with an incalculable, infinite loss.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Romans 8:32

"He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). How is it imaginable that God should withhold, after this, spirituals or temporals, from his people? How shall he not call them effectually, justify them freely, sanctify them thoroughly, and glorify them eternally? How shall he not clothe them, feed them, protect and deliver them? Surely if he would not spare this own Son one stroke, one tear, one groan, one sigh, one circumstance of misery, it can never be imagined that ever he should, after this, deny or withhold from his people, for whose sakes all this was suffered, any mercies, and comforts, any privilege, spiritual or temporal, which is good for them.
John Flavel.

In which Frances writes a book

Frances over at The Reader has published a book on the poetry of George Herbert and John Donne. Congratulations from me!

Local street music

I caught this rather surprising free street gig the other morning on my way to work.


I don't know about you, but I always thought Big Bird looked like a rockstar in the making. (I think someone had actually had some fun marauding the nearby charity bins, because a little further up the road Eeyore was also out doing his thing.)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tested in the fire

There's a sermon illustration in this post. For that reason, even though in contains references to craft done with wool, which I wasn’t going to mention, for a little while at least, I’m putting it out there.

The other night I was sitting in my pew at church chatting to a girl who was telling me she’d been to IKEA on the weekend. So I was telling her, as you do when you’re making conversation, that I went out there a while back too, mainly looking for something to store wool in, because it was in bags all about the place. One thing led to another and she then told me she had a whole box of wool taking up space at home, left over from some event once upon a time, and asked if I’d like to have a look through it. Would I ever! She also then invited me over for dinner to do just that, which is a nicer thing than free wool.

So earlier in the week I went over for a lovely dinner and also to rake through this wool box. I didn’t actually have my hopes up so high about the contents, thinking it could be full of lairy acrylic that people didn’t want, and personally I just don’t put the time and effort into making something out of a acrylic. I’m a wool snob. And there was a tonne of acrylic in some kind of neon orangey-red that I was never going to put a hook into in the bottom of the box. But I did come home with quite a stash of quality pure wool, in nice colours, much of it plain natural/cream.

The problem was that there was also some yarn that had lost its label, and I discovered that telling wool from acrylic is not always immediately obvious.

I took some of this questionable material home with me, then yesterday I googled ways to tell the difference. One clue is that acrylic will often have more intense and vivid colours, because of the way the fibres take up colour differently, or will be a lot softer. (Here’s where you’re supposed to start hearing echoes of various parables and New Testament stories, just so you know.) But apparently what you can do to really be sure is set a match to it. Yes, burn it. Wool will apparently smell like burning hair, and acrylic will smell like burning plastic (which is sort of a case of choosing your poison) but also, real wool won’t actually burn, or will go out quickly, singe and turn to ash, whereas acrylic will catch alight, burn, and melt and turn to goop.

I didn’t have a lot of time last night in between work and bible study, but I couldn’t resist lighting a candle and giving this a go. However, I discovered that my nose wasn’t quite up to the smell test, my discernment was limited, and I just got a little overcome with sniffing burning fibres. A second problem here is that some yarn is a blend of wool and acrylic, so you get a little whiff of hair, a little whiff of plastic, a little bit of ash and a little bit of goop (and your flat begins to smell generally like a mix of burning hair and plastic). I don’t know that I’m very theologically sound on this point either, given the whole “faith as small as a mustard seed” thing, and we all know illustrations can only go so far, but the blended yarn tends to get tossed aside with the full-blown acrylic for me. It’s contaminated. And maybe the acrylic would eventually get all those horrid little pilly balls on it and choke and smother the wool ...

I need to have another go at this tonight (and hope I don't burn-test the apartment also), now that I think my testing skills and discernment have been sharpened, but here folks is my real life example of testing by fire, as a means of telling the real thing from the counterfeit (cf 1 Peter 1, 1 Corinthians 3 etc).

I’d already decided, but now I have been kick-started, that I’m going to start making up a pile of woolly, crafty things in my spare time (hah! – we’ll see) so that one day I might have enough for a little market stall somewhere (and for whatever gift-giving occasions arise along the way).

An epiphany

Ben posted this today, and it has explained the story of my whole life ...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Sometimes type liberates me up to do ... nothing ...

Back when I was reading about personality type I seem to have subscribed to an RSS feed from the Centre for Applications of Psychological Type, which has hardly made it's presence known with a post since, but today there is one! It’s nothing earth-shattering, but towards the end is this sentence:
It’s really rather exhilarating and liberating to realize that I don’t know what other peoples’ behavior means to them.
It drives an INFJ mad trying to figure it out most times, but it is mildly liberating all the same …

Monday, December 06, 2010

Never Let Me Go

I also spent some time over the weekend pontificating in a café about Affluenza and Tolstoy at book club. We got to talking about books for next year and I suggested we read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and then go to see the movie. It looks like a good film, if something of a tear-wringer. The movie opens here on 17th March, so now is your chance to read the book first. (Note: The film isn't "R-rated" by Australian standards.)

A family of wrist warmers

I promise I'll stop posting about crochet soon, but ...

So I got on a roll and made some wrist warmers for my sister and two nieces, copying from these. I stayed home one day last week, mostly because I needed some more sleep and before I got extra work to do to send to press and because it rained, and so I got a head start on some. I'm not sure the family will be overly impressed with receiving these in the middle of summer, but I quite like them. (I'm giving them a board game for the whole family, so these are a little something extra.) These colours are bright, but they're kids and that's what they like (these colours are more my style!).

The extraordinary thing is that the two pairs on the bottom are exactly the same size, or supposed to be - same number of stitches, same ply, same hook. But the dark purple I got from The Granny Square and it's the Morris and Sons Estate wool, and I have to say, it's not nice wool. It's not only more than twice the price of the Bendigo Woollen Mills pink wool on the left, but it keep sticking and splitting and my hook would occasionally go through the middle of it, which is a problem I don't usually have. So I think it's because the wool was so difficult to work with that the purple ones are smaller. Otherwise I can't explain it. And I have now satisfied my curiousity about using other wool for a time.

I haven't stitched them on yet in this photo but I thought I'd add the buttons to snazz them up a little for the kids. Aren't the bicycle buttons cute? (I know, my photo is rubbish, and they look wonky when they aren't really. I need to take better photos, not to mention get a better camera. These things are all in the presentation.)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Finding and keeping crochet

Yesterday I popped down to the Finders Keepers markets at Carriageworks, not especially expecting my crochet radar to go off, but I walked in and was confronted by a poster of a crocheted rug, on the front cover of the Frankie Spaces magazine. Then flicking through the book was more and more crochet.



Then I found this crochet bunting. I like it, but I'm not really sold out on bunting. I mean, what does one do with it? - one of those purely decorative things one needs a place for (and note the doilie bunting hanging in front of the book poster above).


Then I spied these little crochet Christmas stockings.


I didn't actually buy a thing, and got rather exasperated with scarcely being able to move, but I gathered a few ideas. The problem is, I look at stuff and think I don't need to buy it because I could make it myself, but then I never actually do.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

In the shelter

And so I will just send you off swaying with this, from Jars of Clay's community project (or you can watch it live here):

Poetry Day - To friendship and to knowing

Since yesterday was about friendship, I decided to post a poem I wrote on the subject. I don’t actually think this is a good poem. After a road trip south with some friends last year it was stated that we needed a commemorative poem, so I sat down and wrote this basically in one sitting the day after our return, mainly just for us. I always intended to come back and work it into something better and a little more universal, but I never did. Consequently, it is so full of internal references and double entendres that it will probably hardly make sense if you weren’t there (most lines in it can be read at face value and also figuratively eg “times spitting our distaste” refers to the moment when we all sampled the famous local mineral water from an old pump and spluttered it everywhere – it is an acquired taste! – as well as a conversation in which we all vented our disgust of a particular thing), but hopefully there is some kind of gist of friendship in it, without a lot of footnotes.

Further, the first verse is taken from a song by Sara Groves, which was basically my prompt. We are all fans of Sara Groves, and one of the road companions introduced me to her. So, when one of them came up the idea of guest DJ entertainment for the road trip, I got a pre-release download of Sara’s new album at the time, and we listened to it on the way. I have been listening to that album again the last two days, particularly this song. But, without further ado, here is the poem.




“Raise a glass to friendship
And to knowing
You don’t have to go alone.
We’ll raise our hearts to share
Each others burdens
On this road.”

Sydney, Berrima, Golbourn
Second-hand books
And first-hand stories open
Gundagai, Holbrook, Curios
Quirks and temptations
Like jack-o-lantern

Thai stop in Shepparton
Journeys in music
Songs that make fires beautiful
Slowing the pace on the
Darkest stretch of road
Tale so hurt full

A white house in Daylesford
Stories hold open
Each old room door, and tell
A home-wares collection
Of varied history
For us as well

Mornings in a garden
Growing in
Emotion as a language
Too short to unpack things
But long enough
To hang baggage

Long walk, long talks, cafes
A lake, a spring
Hearts watered different ways
Afternoon wandering lost
Comprehending later
These are our days

A coke with you, a cake of
Sweetest richness
Times spitting our distaste
Sun-baking, then reaching
For blankets and that
One safe place

The high time ends too soon
We must return
Go down the road we came
Seeing other parts in
Light and dark, each
Other not the same.

ALP

Friday, December 03, 2010

That people live

This is a very compelling idea, and souls everywhere are drawn to the possibility, but reality at times falls sadly short ...


Photo from Berd here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwhitlock/4198148191/

On friendship

Dan, a man of large mind, is doing a blog series on Friendship. I do like Dan’s blog – it’s different – and I like the elements that have appeared in this series. I've posted the links in here below, because wordpress blogs just don't work like I'm used to for series labels. I particularly like this paragraph:

Maybe there is another reason that friendship is hard to find: that it is somehow essentially resistant to definition. To begin with a definition is to seek the ‘sameness’ of friendships, to isolate the distinctive patterns and markings that make ‘friend’ into a kind. I don’t want for a minute to deny that there is something distinctive about this relation. But what if its distinctiveness lies in its freedom, in the basic unboundedness, the foundational non-obligation of the relationship which makes it into such a gift? If so, maybe we should start with the ‘different-ness’ of friends. Perhaps here we will find traces of the friend who is to come?
Friendship I – Apology and Confession

In Hope: Meditations on Friendship Lost and Found

Friendship: Losing and Finding

Friendship: How to think ‘friend’?

Friendship: Brotherhood, Equality, Pathology

Seeking Friends

The Language of Friendship

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The freedom of God's grace

I thought this was an interesting section of Future Grace by John Piper. I've never thought about Exodus 33:19 quite like this before:
First, when God reveals himself to Moses he virtually defines himself as an absolutely free giver of grace. In Exodus 33:18 Moses says to God, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!” God’s first response to this prayer is to give Moses a verbal revelation instead of a visual one. He says in effect, Here is my glory: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show compassion on whom I will show compassion” (Exodus 33:19).

When God says, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,” he means: I am free in showing grace. If you ask, “Who are those to whom you show grace?” the answer is: “Those on whom I show grace.” In other words, God does not look outside his own will for an impulse to move his grace. Ultimately grace is not constrained by anything outside God himself.

Soon after I finished graduate school in 1974 I devoted about seven years to studying the freedom of God’s grace, preparting to write a book on Romans 9, where this Old Testament text is quoted in verse 15: “For [God] says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” I tried to be fair to all the differing views and to give all the necessary evidence for my conclusions. One of the most important conclusions goes like this: “[Exodus 33:19] is a solemn declaration of the nature of God, or (which is the same thing) a proclamation of his name and glory … It is the glory of God and his essential nature to dispense mercy on whomever he pleases apart from any constraint originating outside his own will. This is the essence of what it means to be God. This is his name.”

So right at the centre of God’s self-revelation is the declaration that he is free in the way he dispenses his grace. And this freedom belongs to the very essence of what it means to be God. God is gracious to whom he will be gracious. He is not limited by anyone’s wickedness. He is never trapped by his own wrath. His grace may break out anywhere he pleases. Which is a great encouragement to the worst of sinners to turn from futile hopes and put their trust in future grace.
Future Grace, Chapter 5
John Piper

Retweets

Alain de Botton has had some good ones on twitter lately:
Like shyness, signs of aging can be erotic - and for the same reason: as tokens of vulnerability.

To be as tough as the world to give kids the strength to deal with it eventually, or to be far less tough - for the very same reason.

There are books that plant a flag on interesting territory without being able to hold it.

Being ignored is so horrible, many of the world's greatest companies were founded by people intent on avoiding the feeling.

So many relationships spoilt by our tendency to become mean when we are in fact hurt.

An astonishing number of conflicts and catastrophes can be traced back to the brute fact that one of the parties hasn't slept enough.

The scale of the success you need is determined by the intensity of your self-hatred.

'He had had success, but it didn't begin to cover his self-loathing...'
And if you want to hurt your head, read this article on paradoxical truth from the Stone.

Hero for a day

I’m feeling like something of a hero here at work right now. When it comes to the end of the year and the final quarter and all of that, they are often scrounging around trying to make up financial deficits somewhere. Because I work on a product that is generally considered something of a cash cow, since it’s supply of material is a bit more reliable than some, I often feel the pressure to output more. But this year they didn’t ask me because my product is so current that I just don’t have a backlog of material waiting. However, today in the mail I got some proofs back that will do two extra parts in my report series. So, I relished sending a rather cheeky email to my manager, who is a really nice guy, saying something like “I don’t suppose anyone will object if I send some extra parts to press”, and as I expected, no, they are not going to object.

Only problem is that now, when I thought I was done the final press date, which was Monday (but they are always prepared to blow that out if it means more income), I have some more work to do. But I think I am in the good books!