Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

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Everyday Justice Blog

April 5, 2011

http://everydayjusticeeverydaychoices.wordpress.com/

I just wanted to share this link to the blog for one of the social justice ministries in my local church.

 

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musings on Psalm 139

March 29, 2011

Psalm 139 – 13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (NKJV)

Please excuse me for asking what will no doubt come across as a stupid question to my theologically inclined friends, but here goes. Psalm 139 says, to me, that God made each individual with a specificity and attention to detail. However, can this not also be a potentially negative thing*? Or is it an inherently uplifting and positive scripture?

It seems too easy to perhaps draw out what will probably sound incredibly shallow**: if God created me to be like this, why? Why this… broken ugly hideous visage? The faults? The imperfections? Okay, I know the whole thing about how we live in a broken fallen world that was once very good, since damaged, one day to be restored. But, is that it? Is that all there is to it? To the question of one’s fundamental worth?

Anyway, just wondering. I don’t know if anyone has any thoughts on it but any comments would be welcome. I have a working feminist position on the issue (initially sparked by reading Wolf’s The Beauty Myth) but I have largely been disappointed with Christian approaches to the concept of beauty.

For the record, I do not want to impose any particular mould (“iron maiden” as Wolf described) upon other women; I disagree with externalised, cultural definitions of beauty as being far too narrow to encompass the breadth of human female variety. Problem is, I find it very easy to take it out on myself.

 

*not to imply that the only valid positions are necessarily positive

** but I am confident I’m not the only one who thinks these things

 

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Christmas Time Devotionals

November 23, 2010

Christmas Themed Devotional Readings: https://darthmaulmakesmesmile.wordpress.com/tag/Christmas-2008/

In 2008 I wrote a series of 28 Christmas-themed devotionals, beginning with https://darthmaulmakesmesmile.wordpress.com/2008/11/24/christmas01/.

At the time, I wrote:

I thought I’d take some time out to share a few thoughts on Christmas in the month to come, as a sort-of non-denominational pre-Christmas Advent devotional and musings column. I hope that it brings you some light, inspiration and excitement as we remind ourselves of the true meaning of the festive occasion.

I believe it is still relevant and hope you will consider reading it as part of your spiritual journey during December.

The devotionals incorporate Bible scriptures and links to further readings on related topics of faith.

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Dressing For The Inner Me

September 28, 2010

Here’s a brief excerpt from comments I made during a facebook conversation today. It happened on my current profile photo. The conversation amused me so much that I thought I should share it:

(On the topic of what clothes to wear to church) “I should just turn up one day dressed as the inner me…which will presumably be barefoot, wearing spiritual wanderer pilgrim style clothes crossed with sci-fi sensibilities with my hair down to my waist carrying the Bible printed on a papyrus scroll or something…”

I can just imagine turning up to church looking like that. I think it would very quickly divide people – there’d be those who encourage the whole free spirit attitude; the rest who desperately want to be all-embracing but would feel somewhat uncomfortable. As I also mentioned in the conversation, the current dress trend among fellow 20-something year old members of our church seems to be skinny jeans, tight bicep-revealing shirts (for the guys) and loose shirts with lots of necklaces for the girls. Then there’s me – flared or boot cut jeans, skate shoes and novelty t-shirts. That’s my safe mode of dressing. Believe me when I say that if my budget could handle it I would be dressing more like some pseudo-Goth-Jedi Knight(ess)-greenie-forest dweller-spiritual wanderer. Funny that what I perceive as more “natural” (or just more me) is potentially more expensive! And let’s face it, jeans and t-shirt isn’t a particularly confronting.

And, in random news, recently I’ve been taking a lot more interest in lingerie and clothes. What’s happening to me!?

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Article: “An Equal-Opportunity Destroyer”

September 22, 2010

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/september/24.71.html

Extract:

“If you’ve heard the word porn in church recently, in a small group or from the pulpit, chances are you hardly blinked. Thanks to ministries like Promise Keepers and Operation Integrity, the research of sex addiction expert Patrick Carnes and neuroscientist William Struthers, and individuals courageous enough to admit they have a problem, American churches have squarely faced porn’s destructive and tragic effects. We know porn is highly addictive, and we have more tools than ever to break its stranglehold. Praise God.” Read More.

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More apologetics!

September 13, 2010

Useful resource for introductory Christian apologetics from CMI.

I have read both the books in this set and do recommend them to fellow Christ followers who want to learn more about how to defend their faith and explain it to the people around them. (I know I post a lot of links to this particular Christian ministry; I do not work for them, I simply appreciate the impact they’ve had on my own faith journey!)

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Christian Apologetics Article on “BioLogos”

September 7, 2010

Another apologetics link – in this case, on the topic of BioLogos, one of the various alternative perspectives out there that tries to fit the Bible into science (in this case, it appears to be a form of “theistic evolution“).

http://creation.com/biologos-evolutionary-syncretism

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Apologetics Links: Genesis 1 & 2 – contradictory?

September 6, 2010

A frequently asked apologetics question (and, admittedly, one that never really crossed my mind even in my most skeptical anti-Bible beliefs) is the perceived contradiction between the first two chapters of Genesis. My simplest preferred answer to this is that Genesis 2 is merely a fleshing out of the details of Genesis 1:24-31.

All links accessed 6 September 2010.

http://creation.com/genesis-contradictions

http://www.gotquestions.org/two-Creation-accounts.html

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/09/03/feedback-genesis-1-and-2#

http://www.tektonics.org/jedp/creationtwo.html

http://creation.com/whats-in-a-name

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-ordercreation.html

Read Genesis Chapter 1 at Bible Study Tools (New King James Version)

Read Genesis Chapter 2 at Bible Study Tools (New King James Version)

*This post is not dealing with the issue of whether or not Genesis should be taken literally, just whether or not the first two chapters of the Bible contradict each other. Further information on the issue of historicity of Genesis can be found at the websites linked above, and clarifying questions should be directed to those websites.

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Article by Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

September 4, 2010

Hipster Faith | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

Good article that I just read.

My questions of late have dealt with a lot of this stuff. Yes, I appreciate the sentiments expressed by what this article calls ‘hipster Christians,’ but as someone who travelled in the opposite direction: from outsider to following Christ: I am troubled by what I see as merely fashionable rebellion.

Do we need to be any of this? Do we need to be worldly tattooed conservative semi-rebels who pretend we’re cool because we swear in church and wear tight jeans? Do we need to be ultra-conservative somber perfect politically right-wing killjoys? Do we need to go hear shock jock preachers who purport to hold the real answers for a postmodern world and be manipulated into thinking that we are somehow less narrow minded and less judgemental and more like Jesus now?

Why can’t we just be ourselves and let Jesus shape us as He has intended?

Church and Christianity in general have been a source of significant disappointment for me in recent months. If it weren’t for the shining example of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, not to mention my love of the Bible and the close friends in whom I see Christ’s hands and feet, and the intelligent individuals with whom I’ve discussed theology and apologetics, it would be very difficult for me to remain in church.

I have so much more to say on this topic but haven’t yet worked out a way to articulate it, so I’ll leave it at that. This university essay won’t write itself. I will try to return to this issue after higher priority work is out of the way; though I suspect that it is an issue that won’t leave me in the first place.

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10 Blogging Commandments?

September 3, 2010

Thought this constituted some good advice. What is it with angry “religious” blogs, anyway? (Speaking as a committed Christian who sees no need for vitriolic attacks on people with different opinions and perspectives – there’s room enough on the Internet for everyone, right?)

http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2008/10/03/church-leaders-draw-up-ten-blogging-commandments/

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Thinking aloud: reclaiming identity and beauty

September 2, 2010

Is it possible to become simultaneously less judgemental yet more shallow?

I ask the question because I realise, as I look around the shopping centre, that these days I am far less likely to judge other people based on their outwards appearance; yet more likely to spend an effort on my own appearance.

Is paying attention to personal grooming actually shallow, anyway?

As I hit my late 20s, I reflexively observe that I am starting to claim and reclaim aspects of my personal identity that were not a high priority for me in my teens.

I am a mother, and I claim that as part of my identity. I also stand firm in my belief that to be a mother is not equivalent to losing all sense of self-esteem, nor is it an excuse to pay less attention to my outwards appearance. I have often thought this in my just-over 8 years of parenthood (9 years, if you count pregnancy as parenthood). It was once again highlighted for me recently when I noticed that at least a few mums (moms, for the North American readers!) spend a lot of money and effort on clothes for their children, but dress themselves extremely casually (not that I particularly care if a mum wants to dress in trackie dacks and ugg boots, but be assured, that’s not for me!).

I have Anglo-Celtic heritage – more Celtic than Anglo – with a bit of French somewhere in the background. I claim that as a significant aspect of my ethno-cultural identity, as an  Anglo-Celtic Australian. It is a package deal: don’t pick on me for my super pale white skin, and don’t pick on my many immediate family members with their red hair – it’s nothing but poorly disguised racism. I would never dare to attack someone because they’re “not tanned enough”, and thus I make a stand. I don’t wear fake tan, either. It looks stupid on me. I don’t sunbathe – certainly not with the high skin cancer statistics: two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, according to the SunSmart website (article dated March 2010, accessed 2 September 2010).

However, I digress. I have spent far too long worrying about people not liking me for who I am. I am learning to accept myself and others, at the same time I am learning to spend more effort on “looking good”. My question is, then, are these things mutually exclusive?

On the topic of looking good, I recently read a great book: The Science of Sexy: Dress to fit your unique figure with the style system that works for every shape and size by Bradley Bayou (2006 edition) [Amazon]. I highly recommend it for women like myself who want to do the best they can with the figure they’ve got. I found it light-hearted, practical and realistic, and am now in the process of trying  to implement its advice in my wardrobe and accessories.

The short story is that it dawns upon me that life is far too short to be wasted on picking on other people for their clothing style, haircut, and body shape. Yes, I know that this is elementary Christianity*, and elementary feminism, all rolled into one, but to have a deep down illumination and revelation of this is another matter altogether. It’s one thing to have head knowledge, it’s another thing to live it from the heart. And it’s yet another thing to live in such a way that offers freedom to others. Life also seems far too short to spend living half-hearted – and for me, reclaiming my feminine identity is part of this process of living life to the full.

*It saddens me that very few Christian women authors appear willing to take a stance against the cultural-structural images of womanhood. Most of the Christian women’s texts on beauty that I have read centre more on the theme of “God loves you even if everyone else thinks you’re ugly,” rather than what I believe is the sociologically far more appropriate “Culturally designed notions of beauty are historically, ethnically, socially positioned beliefs that are not foundational to  Biblical interpretations of beauty.”

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Christian Apologetics Resources

September 1, 2010

1 Peter 3:15-16 reads:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as LORD. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

(New International Version, http://www.biblestudytools.com/1-peter/3.html)

Knowing the impact that Christians who follow this instruction have had in my own life, I have sought to follow it as closely as possible. To be able to “give an answer” when I can. Perhaps my reputation for doing this spread  a little amongst my fellow churchgoers, because I have found more and more recently that I get asked a lot of questions. Admittedly, my response often resorts to a line that I taught to members of the Bible study groups I used to lead: “I am not sure I can answer your question, but if you really want an answer, I will try to find one.”

Usually, when trying to answer people’s genuine questions*, or at least set them in a helpful direction, I generally refer them to one of several websites. In light of a recent increase in the number of questions I’ve been asked, here follows a list of the websites I have found most useful in helping fellow believers consider possible answers to their faith dilemmas.

* Genuine questions from genuine open-minded seekers, as in, not questions for the sake of being irritating!

I list these with the clear understanding that no apologetics ministry is infallible, and that all statements of faith must be measured against the Word of God (the Bible). I am also a  firm believer in academic freedom-of-thought, where all views deserve a reasonable voice in discourse.

If you have any suggested apologetics links, feel free to list them in the comments boxes. Be aware that more than one or two links will probably result in your comments being filtered for moderation / spam!

Creation Ministries International (Australia)

Creation: Frequently Asked Questions (Australia)

Creation Magazine (Australia)

Leadership U

Master Books

Every Student

Alien Intrusion (Australia)

Christian Answers

Josh McDowell

Institute for Creation Research

Probe Ministries

Archaeological Diggings Magazine

Ancient Days

Tekton Apologetics Ministry

Messiah Comes

Koorong Books – Academic (Australia)

Biblical Hermeneutics (Australia)

Kevin Conner E-Store (Australia)

RZIM

There are many, many books available on apologetics topics. Some books that I have read and found helpful are:

More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

In Six Days edited by John F. Ashton

The Creation Answers Book by Don Batten et. al.

Jesus Among Other  Gods by Ravi Zacharias

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Books: A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch

July 23, 2010

A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch (2005, B. Spackman, UK: Piquant)

I’ve been reading this excellent book on and off for a few months. Each time, I am once again amazed by its intelligent exploration of Christianity and the arts (and kitsch). It’s very challenging, too, and there’s a good chance that a lot of Christian readers might even feel insulted or uncomfortable by the text. Not that feeling bad is a problem: sometimes the truth hurts! It has taken me so long to read, simply because it is so big, so deep, that I can only absorb it in small doses. However, it addresses several important issues of Christianity, and I highly recommend it.

It is for anyone who has ever stopped to ask about the meanings (both overt and hidden) behind Christmas card imagery, Jesus statues, graveyards, motherhood and Mary, Christian t-shirts, Bible verse embroidery, multimedia presentations in church, church buildings, What Would Jesus Do? bracelets, icons, relics and several other similar areas. The insights regarding Christian art, particularly in the pressure upon artists to deliberately incorporate deliberate Gospel messages in their work, is especially important. I have enjoyed the process of being confronted by this powerful illustrated text.

I just wonder how I can get all the Jesus bumper sticker types at my church to read it! (Before you ask, I do not have any Christian bumper stickers on my car. My theory is that, unless I’m a brilliant and consistently courteous, careful driver, I probably shouldn’t be turning people off Jesus by inadvertently irritating them. What is it with the crooked parking, lane-cutting, unexplained sudden braking driving habits of people with ‘Fear God’ bumper stickers*, anyway?!)

(Links accessed 23 July 2010.)

More information:

http://www.amazon.com/Profound-Weakness-Christians-Kitsch/dp/1903689139/

http://orders.koorong.com/search/product/view.jhtml?code=1903689139

http://word.com.au/details.aspx?ProductID=546404

http://piquanteditions.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=10

*generalisation for humourous purposes only

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Thoughts on Australian politics

July 20, 2010

At the risk of inadvertently turning this into a political blog, I want to highlight the important issue of chaplains in Australian schools.

In recent times, chaplains have been made available in many schools to help students work through their issues. I have, as a parent, even employed the services of my children’s school chaplains when one of my kids was struggling with some issues. The chaplains responded quickly and provided excellent standards of counselling and assistance for my child, who subsequently saw a great improvement in social relationships with other children at school.

Some politicians (particularly the left wing, though some of those have supported chaplaincy) have suggested that the widespread religious education programmes in Australian public (Government-operated) schools and chaplaincy should be replaced in favour of non-religious “ethics” classes and psychologists.

While I understand the arguments in favour of this position, I personally believe that the holistic care of a chaplain (not just mental and emotional but also spiritual) and the opportunity for children to learn about the spiritual/ religious foundations of many Australians’ lifestyles are important and significant.

For fellow Australians who are interested in learning more about what chaplaincy is about, and who want to see it continued after the next election, please look at these websites:

National School Chaplaincy Association (with information on contacting your local representative in support of chaplaincy)

Access Ministries – chaplains and religious education teachers

Here are some articles on how chaplains and religious ministers have helped in the aftermath of the Black Saturday crisis, in early 2009 when bushfires claimed the lives of hundreds of Victorians.

“Parishes, chaplains step up to help fire victims”

“A Chaplain’s Story”

“The Firefighters”

National Research Findings on Chaplaincy in Australian Schools (Link to a PDF)

“Responding to the Bush Fire Tragedy”

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Article: Churches Adopt Adoption

July 8, 2010

I just read this article in Christianity Today, “Churches Adopt Adoption“. It’s such an exciting thought that people are seeking positive change to impact the lives children. How heartbreaking, then, was the thought of an adoptive mother putting her 8 year old boy on a plane because she, quote, “I no longer wish to parent this child.” As the mother of an 8 year old, I can’t even imagine what hardship a mother would have gone through to feel that the only solution would be to send her little boy on a plane back to his home country. However, at the risk of saying too much on a topic I don’t know enough about, I’ll just leave it at that.

Here’s the link: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/july/11.23.html?start=1

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A few websites and books on parenting

April 6, 2010

*Reading this on facebook? Please click on ‘view original post’ to make comments.*

On Parenting, scheduled feeding vs demand feeding, breastfeeding etc.

As a mother, with a preference for finding natural (as possible) “methods” of raising my children, it surprised me that many women head in the opposite direction. The key word is not natural but control. The mother makes the rules. While I agree that parents do need to set a standard of behaviour and self-control for their children, I can’t understand why it seems necessary to punish newborns for their natural behaviours.

In the Christian sense, the Bible in itself does not point to any one method of parenting as being particularly correct. Where oh where did our Lord use the phrase “demand feeding”, because I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover more than once and I haven’t seen it in there yet. It would seem that some parents ascribe to a fairly rigid set of beliefs when it comes to parenting. I must say that I fully believe that parents should have freedom in raising their kids, but some parenting methods do trouble me.

With that in mind, I wanted to share this link that a friend sent me recently. It explores controversies surrounding a particularly popular “Christian” method of parenting (a method which I do not use). My personal philosophy is that people should have a good overview of the different sides to an argument before settling on a particular position. In this case, I have heard very little in the way of informed critique of this method. Surely everything should be scrutinised.

Here’s the link:

http://www.ezzo.info/babywise.htm

The testimonies of people who have used this method are interesting, and would be useful reading for a Christian parent trying to assess both the pros and cons of this parenting method.

Christian books from which I have personally gleaned a lot of encouragement and positive ideas include Boundaries With Children, Bringing Up Boys, Setting the Stage for your Child’s Faith, and The Five Love Languages. (Look them up at bookstores like Word or Koorong.)

The hospital in which I gave birth promoted demand feeding, long-term breastfeeding and flexible parenting schedules. They spent a lot of time explaining the importance of flexibility in breastfeeding, as a baby’s needs change throughout infancy. Sometimes a baby will need a lot more milk, especially in hot weather and growth spurts, and this will mean more frequent feeds. As I successfully breastfed both my children for almost 2 years each, can personally attest to the effectiveness of demand feeding. When my children were very young, my philosophy was simple: I will sacrifice the time and energy necessary to raise them in a healthy, natural way as far as I am able.

Have a look at websites like the Australian Breastfeeding Association to find out more on breastfeeding.

Is there a parenting website that you use and find helpful? Feel free to mention it here in the comments. Just keep in mind that comments with two or more links will be automatically filtered as spam!

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Identity Semi-Crisis

February 18, 2010

*Facebook readers are invited to view the original post. Simply go to https://darthmaulmakesmesmile.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/identity-semi-crisis/.*

Maybe it’s just the cold and flu medicine speaking, but I am having one of those weird pondering and musing weeks. Well, I guess it’s not that weird and unusual for me. It’s something akin to an identity crisis, I suppose.

Here’s my life in a series of confusing something-or-others. Paradoxes?

Warning: gross generalisations to follow. And I’m not attacking any one individual or person. Actually, I’m not attacking anyone, full stop. Please read it in the semi-amused observational curious questioning tone in which I have pondered it!

  • I’m in my late 20s, married with two school aged children. Few other late-20 something woman I know in my friendship circles have children as old as mine. In fact, few of them are in relationships, and those that are don’t necessarily have children. Those that do have children have newborns. The fellow mums of my children’s classmates seem to average in their mid-30s to mid-40s. I am not trying to be ageist, so please don’t take it that way. It just occurs to me that I don’t really fit in anywhere in my peer circles. As far as school mums go, I’m the little kid Gen Y who likes abrasive rock music and comical t-shirts and jeans and knows how to use computers. As far as my fellow 20-somethings go, I’m the socially malfunctioning old housewife who can’t afford an iPhone and who can’t go out on most nights because my kids go to bed early and my husband works late. (Being a mum is tiring work!)
  • As far as the 20-something mums go, most of them don’t appear interested in what I have to offer them as a fellow mother who is slightly ahead of them on the journey of parenthood. They seem to have a preference for asking their single, unmarried, non-parent peer friends for input than a mum with school aged kids who’s been-there, done that. Perhaps parenting styles and methods have changed a lot in the last eight years. Let’s face it, my hippy-esque preference for carrying the baby, raising the kids vegetarian, feeding babies on demand, and breastfeeding for almost two years doesn’t mesh well with the controlled feeding, timed, early introduction of solids, everything by-the-clock inflexible routines promoted in inexplicably popular parenting books.
  • I’m a country town girl living (rather miserably) in the suburbs.
  • I’m an ex-Catholic, ex-New Age, born again Spirit filled follower of Jesus. To the Catholics in my life, I probably come across as a bit over-enthusiastic about the whole Jesus thing. To the New Ager friends, well, they’re pretty open minded but understandably skeptical about Jesus followers. To the born againers, I’m potentially dangerous. (Insert LOL here.)
  • I find I feel closest to God when I am out in the peace and solitude of rural and bushland Australia, where I can listen to the birds, feel the wind in the trees, smell flowers, touch the earth, watch the clouds rolling across the sky. Somehow I have ended up in a non-denominational Pentecostal mega-church of several thousand believers. For many of them, they feel closest to God in the community of believers. The loud, musically oriented community of believers! (It is a brilliant Christian community and I love it.)
  • I am an outdoorsy person who has myriad allergies to plant pollens, animals and pollution. Sigh!
  • I am a quiet person who gets a kick out of public speaking.
  • I’m the token born-again Christian in an extended family of Catholics,  lapsed Catholics, New Agers and Atheists.
  • I am an artsy, writing-loving person who doesn’t seem to have heaps of talent in either area.
  • I want to be cool but I’m a nerd.
  • I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian who grew up in beef and dairy-farming country.
  • I detest blind ritualism but I choose to celebrate the old Catholic feasts on which I was raised: Easter, Advent, Christmas, and Lent.
  • I’m pretty sure God has been speaking to me about my need to spend this year in a recovery and restoration mode: taking time out to pray, to study the Bible, to not exhaust myself in church activities, to focus on my children and my university studies. So it sometimes confuses me when other Christian women suggest that I am not involved enough in church and Christian activities. Is not following God’s word to me for this season greater than going along with the crowd?

All this has left me feeling like I really don’t fit in anywhere. I’m not trying to complain. This isn’t a whinge fest. It just makes me wonder what I’m meant to be when I don’t really fit in with what the people around me are doing! I guess I’ve never particularly liked being the same as everyone else, anyway. Life is more interesting when it’s diverse.

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Slavery

November 21, 2009

At church this evening, they spent some time exploring the issue of modern day slavery. I guess it’s one of those things that sits in the back of my mind. It’s a surprise that slavery is still a very real, very common practise. Surely, in this day and age, we would think ourselves enlightened enough to completely abolish such evils. So, when I learnt that slavery is most certainly extant across most of the world, it was really quite troubling.

Not having the knowledge nor expertise to formulate a commentary, I simply list here a couple of links that might prove useful for the reader who wants to learn more.

http://www.worldvision.com.au/ourwork/Solutions/DontTradeLives.aspx

http://www.fairtrade.com.au/

http://www.myspace.com/lc2lc

http://www.joyfulheart.com/misc/newton.htm

http://www.melbourne.anglican.com.au/main.php?pg=news&news_id=18665&s=1470

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/abolition/slavery_business_gallery_05.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/wilberforce_william.shtml

(All links accessed 21 November 2009.)

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Following Jesus – 5 – Dehydrated Broccoli

October 12, 2009

Genesis 2:16 “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden…” NIV

Genesis 9:3-4 “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything… But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” NIV

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” NIV

Food… ah food. What an incredibly divisive thing it can sometimes become. No doubt there will be a touch of hmm… irony? Probably not the correct term… but I write as a long-term vegetarian, so if I complain about people making a big deal out of food, it may well seem hypocritical. Sorry if it comes across that way, because that’s not my intention!

Here’s a quote from a book I read recently when researching for a university assignment: “The world now features more overweight than underweight people… This absurd situation is led by the US, where over half its citizens are clinically overweight. It possesses more people on diets than ever before, yet ever-more overweight people, too. Obesity-related illnesses and deaths, often brought on in major measure by gorging on oversized fast foods and drinks, are a major drag on the nation’s economy. In certain countries, fatty foods could eventually cause as many additional premature deaths as from AIDS. The UK has proposed a “fat tax” targeting obesity-related foods such as burgers.”

(From: Myers, N. and Kent, J. (2005). The New Gaia Atlas of Planet Management. London: Gaia. P. 67.)

That was published in 2005; the last I heard it was we Australians who top the list for fattest nation on the planet. Not a proud title, to be sure. I can’t find a straightforward statistic on that, unfortunately.

So, here we are: fat, diseased, obsessing over diets. What does this have to do with being a Christian, you may well ask? As the above Scriptures say, God is the ultimate creator and source of food. The Bible shows that, in the beginning, humans were given “green plants” to eat. As history progressed, and God interacted and intervened with His creation, food was often a part of His instructions – animals as food, but without consuming blood in Genesis 9; Leviticus detailing a lot of rules regarding food; and the New Testament exhorting us to not worry about what we eat, because it’s not the main part of life. God does not ask us to separate the physical and spiritual realms (which is, I believe, an aspect of Gnosticism). He created our bodies, with all their fascinating functions and purposes.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” NIV

However, it is certainly a significant issue. What made me think of it was when I caught a clip on a tv show recently, where the presenters were hailing the ‘newly discovered’ health benefits of broccoli. Then the presenters debated – and I hope it was a joke, but it probably wasn’t – how to get children to eat this magical new form of cancer-preventing, life changing broccoli. The solution was to dehydrate, powder and turn into tablet form a kind of broccoli that children will actually eat. Like I say, I hope it was a sad joke – but the way people around me talk, in their day to day lives about food – one would think that vegetables can only be consumed in tablet form.

Now, perhaps my family is a bit odd. We are vegetarians, after all. But my young children eat broccoli without a fuss. They also eat myriad other vegetables and fruits. We certainly don’t need to give them vegetables in tablet form. They eat all sorts of things – last night (as I write) it was fresh olives, avocado, mixed vegetable patties, and a slice of wholegrain bread. No powdered vegetable tablets. No ice cream or milkshakes or other junk. Just a mixed platter of mostly fresh foods.

Sometimes I wonder if our attitudes to food reflect the way we view the rest of our life. I am sympathetic to the philosophy that food is becoming bland and homogenised and too sped up. Where is the time to enjoy the variety, the flavours, the time spent with family and friends over a good meal?

Instead, we seem to be looking for a quick fix, an easy way out. Stuff down that fatty hamburger and soft drink and appease the guilt with a powdered broccoli pill. We look for cures for terrible diseases that may well be prevented through lifestyle changes. We consume more than we need while millions are dying from starvation throughout the planet. It’s not a surprise that “gluttony” is considered one of the seven deadly sins. It encompasses the concept of complete lack of self-control combined with a withholding of possessions from the needy.

Now, I offer no simple solutions to this. I am not a nutritionist nor a social scientist (not yet!). But I do offer a couple of ideas based on what seems to be working for my family:

a vegetarian or (in the case of some family members) mostly vegetarian lifestyle

eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables

eating plenty of grains – not just wheat, but rice, polenta, rye and many more

including legumes / beans in our daily food intake

sitting down together at the dining table for all meals

trying to allow the time to prepare meals

being aware of seasonal produce

buying local, where possible

not telling our children that we don’t expect them to like broccoli!

ensuring we have a deliberate source of  B12

not leaping on fad diets that promise ‘instant’ weight loss

walking or exercising regularly

switching off the tv

menu planning in advance – and trying something new

incorporating many different styles of cooking – we aren’t interested in tofu substitutes for meals normally consumed by white, middle class Australians, we are looking to try often natural vegetarian meals derived from a variety of cultures.

These aren’t just health options; they are also, we hope, beneficial for the environment – which encompasses the dimension of seeking to help our fellow humans by not destroying the world just to get a fast food hamburger. It also inspires compassion towards God’s creatures. Hmm. That’ll do for now. I’m hungry…

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