You become your parents,
Or so they say.
And hereby, I think I will prove it true, to some degree:
Yes, I’m blogging pictures of settlers games, and home made food.
Now for some context.
So we got back from honeymoon two weeks ago – which means we’ve been married now for a month! Incredible.
Honeymoon was amazing – the perfect holiday, I think. We stayed in this gorgeous cottage / gatehouse / lodge , in Gatehouse of fleet:
Went for loads of walks (Dumfries & Galloway are lovely!):
(where I took quite a few photos of flowers and insects, cos it’s cool)
Yeah. Honeymoon was cool! I thoroughly recommend it. Getting married first is a pretty good idea, too.
We visited Cream of Galloway who make icecreams:
(I love this photo!!! Becky isn’t so keen on it though. heh heh heh)
Drank lots of coffee:
(I figure if I put a funny one of me, I’ll get less flak for putting a crazy one of Becky…)
The house had a log fire,
where we made smores:
And generally had a wonderful time. Thanks to everyone who came to the wedding, helped us in so many ways, and gave us gifts and all that cool stuff. Getting married is awesome! Being married is even better.
So now we’re back, we’ve been playing with some new kitchen toys (real chef knives, a blender, breadmaker, new plates and bowls and pans and pots and a yoghurt maker… wow! I feel really thankful and very embarrassed in a good way…). Thus the food pictures:
(making pancakes using a blender to make the batter – is this the ultimate in laziness? Whatever – it’s fun! 🙂 )
Yes – we’re having fun. Not having to walk half an hour home each night is VERY nice too. I may well post more pictures too, as I slowly sort them out. We haven’t actually got all the pictures back from the wedding, we’ve seen some of them, but I’ll post some of those too, later.
Theology and Perspective (Part 3…)
First check out Part 1, and [Part 2].
So, returning to my original quote: love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision.
And I said, there’s some truth to it. However – I don’t think that’s the whole story.
We all long for love, and when we think of it, imagine the amazing soaring heights: long walks in the woods; laughter; passion; kisses in the moonlight; being held by someone who just wants to be with you; that secret, hidden spark; being known and knowing, intimately, deeply, unjudgingly; the look that’s meant just for you…
And Josh Harris et al. are right in saying it’s more than just the feeling we get from these things (incredible, inexplicable, wonderful and rewarding though it is…), and we must have something more, a decision, an act of the will, which keeps us going through the dark times. Though thick and thin, health and sickness, better or worse, richer or poorer. The thing which keeps us going though we’re angry and tired, and the one we love drives us mad. When everything goes wrong and we want to give up – that “not-giving-up-ness”, is also love. And without it, all of the first list are just a crashing cymbal, or breath of wind, cool, sweet, beautiful, but perishable, and of no lasting significance.
But the thing is, I don’t think that just the decision is love.
And I think we can – by looking at it, or teaching it this way – miss the fact that 90% of the time*, life isn’t passionate highlights, nor terrible lows, but plodding along in the day-to-day mundane boring normality.
[*Yes, I know. Fictional statistic for the sake of rhetorical prose. Forgive me.]
Does that sound bad?
If you get married, and have kids, then by the time they are old enough to leave home, you’ll have spent two thousand HOURS … doing the dishes.
Is that bad?
No. It’s an integral part of love. Without the details, picking up the trash and the dishes, vacuuming the carpets, driving to work, none of the “perks” of love can exist – nor would they mean anything if they did.
What we need, I think, is not to say “I have decided to love”, but “I am love”. Following God’s description of Himself in John’s gospel as love. The famous passage in 1 Corinthians comes to mind, of course, as well. So instead of thinking, “I’ve decided to love Becky”, or “I feel in love with Becky”, I must say, “I am love Becky.” (grammarians, have fun)
Then the things I do, the things I think, the things I say, will all come from that. The who I am.
And it must become part of the who.
So then, how does this all reflect back to theology, and the my thoughts about our perspective on God?
Well, I struggle to connect a lot of the bits and pieces of Christianity.
The theology, on one hand, with the practical out-working on the other, loving people on the third hand, loving God on the fourth, loving myself with the fifth hand, spiritual experience with the sixth, and by this stage, I’ve more than run out of arms.
The Christian life is for Octopuses.
But back to the point of this – I believe we all long for the excitement and adventure of faith. Of being part of something enormously bigger and more fantastic than ourselves; of knowing something (someone) deep inside of our hearts; fighting against evil; forgetting ourselves as we proclaim with great passion and joy the great truths, of sitting discussing until the wee hours about how fantastically beautiful each aspect of our Creator is, delving deeper and deeper into something incredibly vast and unending, and also of going out amongst the poor and needy, healing the sick, giving up luxuries with joy, being a useful part of a bigger kingdom.
[Note the ‘3 winds’, btw]
Adrian Plass jokes of his fantasy walking through a church hall healing people in wheel-chairs.
But the biggest thing, I think, within this is the aspect of “forgetting ourselves”.
We’re SO self-obsessed, and when we finally forget ourselves, and reach in the reality outside of our own pettiness, we truly live.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Why books can be so absorbing; why I want to escape to Narnia, or Middle Earth, or Hogwarts; why it’s so much easier to watch an episode of “Top Gear” than to write emails or invite the neighbours ’round for tea…
I think firstly, losing ourselves; Not having to “think about number 1”, and get away. But then there’s also the other bits of faith – being part of something enormously bigger, deep truths and fighting against evil, growing deeper…
To me, Narnia and all that is so very attractive, as fighting dragons and hunting in the forests seems so much easier than the battles I face. Peter grows up and becomes a man through slaying the wolf of Queen Jardis. I must grow up by memorising verses and remembering to take out the trash?
I’m convinced that this “escapism” is not wrong. It catches us, with the secret “joy” that C.S. Lewis talks of, and awakens our hearts to the calling of God. I cannot believe that God did not intend us to be adventurous. Just as it takes forever for Gandalf to convince Bilbo that hobbits are actually very good at adventuring, and that a safe happy small life in a hobbit-hole is actually a wasted life.
What we need is to be those adventurers, those bold warriors, those royal alive on-fire Lords and Ladies, as we do everything. As we wash the dishes. As we scrape ice off the car. As we pay our rent.
Just believing the right Christian theology – isn’t enough. Just making a decision – isn’t enough. Just discussing the right Christian concepts – isn’t enough. Just doing the right Christian things – isn’t enough.
We have to be christians.
Most of the time, I don’t even know where to start.
Theology and Perspective (Part 2 of?)
Link to Part 1 (Read it First)
I played a bit with trying to make Venn diagrams in 3d. Using different shaped spheres, and so on. It’s quite hard to make diagrams which actually help to make the subject clearer. Usually it actually becomes less comprehensible.
But here’s the best I could come up with, showing 3 ‘winds’ I believe are currently blowing through the Evangelical world:
Obviously, there’s a heck of a lot more going on – just as in my previous post there are an awful awful lot of groups who don’t fit into those gross generalisations. But I’m just focusing on a few areas – humour me. You can extrapolate the concepts out to whichever field of theological hooha you like.
So anyway. The 3 “winds”:
Proclamation: A lot of people, especially amongst the Reformed Christians, but also amongst the Positive Christians are very ‘preachy’ – in that their primary effort seems to be going in to telling the rest of the world their position. All the traditional study aids go into this: exegesis, hermeneutics, preaching, everything goes into ‘Tell the world the truth!’. And it’s not just the Reformed groups, but all across the spectrum. There isn’t a lot of open-minded-ness, because there IS an absolute truth, and our job is to tell everyone about it! One of the major shortfalls is that the people most influenced by this wind tend (I observe) to not be willing to challenge their own beliefs, but once they’ve “got it sorted” and have answers they’re happy with, are happy to debate for the sake of convincing others, but aren’t open to changing themselves. I met some Mormons a few months ago who told me, ‘We’d like to tell you about what we believe, but if you want to just discuss and try to tell us about your beliefs, then we’ll just go elsewhere. We’re not going to be converted.’
Discussion: Especially in the so called ‘Emerging Church’, much effort seems to go into ‘The Conversation’. In many ways, I suspect this is a reaction against the proclamation group – who were very much de regueur during the ’80s, and are perceived to have built into almost a fortress of dogma. The Discussion seems to be reacting away from that, saying, ‘Maybe Wayne Grudem didn’t have everything right. Maybe the world is a bit more complex than a quick Systematic Theology can describe. It’s certainly open for discussion. I don’t know, but it’s interesting – what do you think?’ And in a sense, that’s the big difference. What do you think? vs. This is the truth! And it’s not just one group saying this – I think it’s across the whole Church. Some people are becoming more open to uncertainty and relational discussion – which is positive, I think. And also, everything being open for discussion is also positive. It helps us to not become blinded.
It is a harder line to walk with integrity, though, I think, as if everything is open for discussion, how do you really know what you believe? And do you really believe it? It can also turn very easily into ‘There is no absolute truth? Right? ‘Cos, everyone has their own perspective, innit? Whaddya say?’
Doing: Many people have become disillusioned with much of this ‘speaking not acting’, and have just said “Stuff it, we’re going to go and DO what Jesus said, never mind if we get it a bit wrong. He said He’d be with us, I’m sure He’ll help us get it right along the way.” Inspired by Mother Teresa, Saint Francis, etc. The so called “New Monastic Movement” may well lean this way. I lean this way myself, I think. It’s partly why I chose to join Doulos, rather than go to a classroom based theology study. I wanted to DO, and not be spoon fed theory any more. The strength of this group is that it can become very much more loving and a real force for good, and earn the respect of non-Christians, and be a very visible light and salt in the world. Sitting in a parish centre talking about obscure theology over bad instant coffee – or hollering hellfire-n’-brimstone from a pulpit on the whole just get us ignored. The weakness is a tendency to become very “social gospel”. ‘Jesus told us to feed the hungry, care for the poor, etc, and it doesn’t matter what we believe! If you’re a Buddhist, but you’re doing what Jesus said, then hey! That’s pretty good too…’
Now one point / question. Do you need Right Beliefs (Orthodoxy) to live the Right Light (Orthopraxy), or can you only really develop the Right Beliefs when you’re already living the Right Life – already following Jesus?
OK. So all of this is still very basic, very simple stuff. It is building there, And I will get back to my first post’s beginning, very soon. This is definitely the sceneic route to where I think I’m actually going with this blog topic thing…
[on to [Part 3]]
Theology and Perspective (Part 1)
We frequently get told the typical ‘Love isn’t a feeling – it’s a decision’ aphorism beloved of the Joshua Harris school of thought.
And, of course, there’s a lot of truth in that.
Going by the Self Help philosophy, virtually everything is a decision. You can decide to be happy, sad, excited, motivated, depressed, whatever – and Make It True In Your Life™.
And of course, we do have an element of choice in how we react to situations; our responces are not all pre-determined by DNA, our upbringing, nor instinct. Choosing to live purposefully (not in the Purpose Driven Life sense) – saying ‘I’m going to sail to this specific place, whether or not it’s easy, whether or not the wind is against me, whether or nor it’s raining.’ is more likely, I feel, to lead to something meaningful than simply being tossed around by whatever weather (whether favourable or not).
Ha! I managed it. Weather followed by whether in a sentence. Betcha didn’t see that one comin’. All this blogging stuff is helping my spelling to impruve.
Now the Perciever (MBTI) in me says ‘hang on a second, mate – you’ve got the whole thing backwards. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. So actually, taking what weather comes at you along the way – being flexible; able to adapt to the situation; enjoying the mood – is more important than whether you’re actually got some place to finally end up. And when you end up there, you’re really just en route to somewhere else! There are no desinations, only stepping stones.’
So here’s now an interesting concept. Totally un-scientific, un-tested, un-official and un-ilateral (OK, OK, superfluous punctuation for the sake of continuing the sequence humour. Sorry). The Church, in general, especially the Reformed branches of it, are dominated by J types. The theologians, especially, of the NTJs. This leads very easily to Us/Them; Saved/Unsaved; Elect/Damned; Christian/Heathen; Religious/Secular distinctions. At some level, this is fine. When it’s implimented by well integrated balanced and loving Js, it can become an inspiration to many, and allow huge, complex theological issues to be understood slightly better by us plebs. The trouble comes when we don’t realise that it is an abstraction, and that every piece of theology that we come up with – no matter how brilliant or water-tight it seems – is merely the wrestling of a fallen finite mind with concepts of an infinite perfect God.
Those of us who are not NTJs, when we pick up on NTJ thought patterns, and try to live that style, often pick it up very badly, and express the worst elements of it. I feel that myself, when I try to think or live as a Calvinist, become the worst form of Calvinist. I don’t have the capacity inside to take those black and white and apply them without either falling into Lord of the Flies over-bearing judgementalism and pettiness, or else wishy-washing it out into something which would have me burned at the stake for relativism – should the Reformation Inquisition ever catch me.
My natural tendancy, I feel, would be to go to almost the other extreme, and say ‘Look at Jesus’ life. How He seemed to get distracted along the way by the people He met. He didn’t go charging around from destination to destination, but wandered around meeting, healing, teaching, loving. We’re not called to judge people as saved or unsaved – we’re called to love them, and point them to Jesus.’
There’s quite a lot of books being published basically saying that. Theres whole streams of Christianity going into this philosophy quite deeply. And it annoys the hell out of the Reformed dudes. I saw a video clip of that scarily smiling Joel Osteen bloke saying “You know, I ain’t called to tell people they’re, you know, like, going to hell. I’m just called to encourage them to go to God. Tell them about His love, y’all.”. This was being mocked by the Reformed crowd, who were saying ‘unless you tell people that they’re going to hell, and the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ, then you’re leading them astray, Osteen, you’re a false prophet!’
Now Joel Osteen is on one waaaay out limb of the Feel-Good Self-Help neo-Prosperity Post-Schuller “positive Christianity” thing, while WotM and others who mock him are waaaay along the other wing. Most of us, I suspect, are not exactly “somewhere inbetween”, but more like a third group, wandering after Jesus, trying to love Him, love others, figure out exactly what we believe, and trying not to get hit by collateral from the missiles being thrown around in the wings.
Something like this, maybe:
Although I think the following may actually be better:
Where do you fit into the spectrum?
[(Part 2 of at least 3)]
Areopress, coffee, etc…
So I thought it might be interesting to post about some things which are adding to my life here.
First post is coffee. I’m quite the coffee fan, over here. Compared so some people, not so much, but for Carlisle, quite high up the coffee freak ladder.
Unless there is a hidden coffee community I’m not finding somehow.
I don’t have a massive budget for going to flashy cafes or expensive bistros or whatever all the time, so what I’m more interested in is good tasting home coffee.
Here’s my current collection of coffee related clobber.
First a fun story, and then I’ll go into more detail about everything else, so if you’re not interested in coffee, then you can skip the end. 🙂
So when I moved into this house with Euan, there was a french press / cafetiere in the cupboard, so I thought “Oh good – I don’t need to buy anything for making coffee, I can use that”. So the first morning I boiled the kettle, let it cool for a while I put some ground coffee in the cafetiere, and then poured the water in.
I thought it was a pyrex pot, but alas, I was wrong. There was a tremendous ‘crack!’ sound, and coffee started to leak from the bottom. Oh no! What to do, lah?
So since it was only leaking very very slowly, I thought, well, I won’t waste the coffee, I’ll let it brew, plunge it very carefully, then pour the coffee out – if any glass did shatter, the plunger/filter will clean it out, and then I can see how bad the damage is.
So duely I followed the above plan, until the pouring bit. I lifted up the pot, only to find that in fact the crack had been ALL the way around the base! So when I lifted it up, the base stayed on the work surface, and the rest of the pot came up in my hand.
The coffee, alas, followed the laws of physics (I know, I can hardly blaim it…) and went everywhere.
No coffee for me that morning.
So I bought a new french press to replace the one I’d exploded, but by that time, I’d already found
A Krups espresso/filter machine.
in Charlie? (the used clothes / stuff team cupboard, when you leave, you can leave anything you don’t want to take with you for others to have).
So I was quite surprised to find this in Charlie – until I looked it up online.
It has terrible reviews.
Here’s my take – it’s kinda fun to play with, but I’m not convinced by the ‘crema’ that the espresso part produces. It feels kinda fake to me, almost like the machine is somehow ‘frothing’ it to make it seem more real or something. The coffee doesn’t taste too horrible, just … meh. Not really rich and interesting. Maybe un-set up temperature and pressure stuff? I dunno. I’m no expert on any of this! The milk steaming wand is very cheap and plasticy, as well as seeming near impossible to actually steam milk in proper microfoam also seems to taint the milk with a kind of rubbery aftertaste. Maybe it’s just me though…
The coffee grinder I bought in singapore a few years ago, and it’s been getting lots of use over the last 2 and a half years or so. A very worth while investment – grinding the coffee beans freshly makes the biggest difference to taste of anything that I’ve found.
The Moka pot is also lots of fun – it’s quite a lot more work than the areopress to make coffee and clean again afterwards, but also makes very good coffee, with quite a different flavour to –
the weird syringe thingy on the right of the picture.
It’s called an [Areopress] – it’s a relatively new way of making coffee, very ‘low tech’ in some ways. It makes coffee in a kind of hybrid way between french press / cafetiere and a filter machine (with hints of espresso method dashed in for extra flavour). You mix the ground coffee with hot water, and let it get totally imersed, like a french press, and then use the synringe bit to push the drinkable coffee through a paper filter. It’s incredibly easy to clean, makes very nice coffee very simply and quickly.
I’m totally a fan of the areopress now. It’s so portable and rugged too, I’ll easily be able to take it to conferences and other events.
So that’s my first coffee post this week. We’ll see if I can remember to post further…
Back in the UK – for a while.
Hello everyone who reads this blog.
It’s me. Daniel. Back again. Exciting, wot?
So, we’re back in the UK. I arrived back here literally 4 hours before getting on to a bus to go to TeenStreet in Germany, which we (OMNIvision) were doing video and some sound and lights and so on for. After two weeks of running this event, which I will tell you all about – later, which was very cool, we came back to the UK.
10 days later, Adam, Becky and myself went across to the Nederlands for our friends Jurgens and Eleanor’s wedding. Which was lots of fun. We came back after that to the the UK again.
Bridget (from that biggish place near New Zealand… um, forgottern what it’s called. Aus something? Something with trailers? or something?) also came with us back to the UK, and was here with us for about a month, hanging out, working at OMNIvision, and so on.
Then 10 days ago (or so) Bridget took us over to Malta, so see the Logos Hope for a few days, and also Becky’s dad and church there. I’d never been to Malta before, but Becky grew up there, so that was VERY cool. Malta is beautiful.
I’ll be posting more detailed stuff and photos later.. This is just to catch y’all up to date, you know.
So. We then came back to the UK, last week.
Now for the next scattered layer of events in between those all.
Yesterday we ran the video and lights for the Northern Women’s Convention, which we’ve been doing for the best part of a decade every year now, I believe.
On friday morning, we set up our whole smaller OB unit (the bus – aka “The Tardis”) at the main office for devotions, we filmed a bunch of stories people were telling. We hadn’t set up the unit in a while, so this was good to check everything was working before the Women’s convention… one bad camera cable, one missing focus adaptor, not much else actually wrong.
Two weeks ago, just before going off to Malta I ran sound and we did a spill-over room for the local Baptist church – as they had a new minister arriving (for the first time in decades) and so there were a few hundred people along. I’m in the middle of overhauling our sound equipment / side-racks stuff, so it’s good as well getting these smaller gigs to test things on.
I also went down to the [Quinta] and ran sound for them for their big 30 years Quinta+OM celebration a few weeks ago.
I do enjoy doing live sound stuff. I still wonder quite frequently if I should somehow go and do some more official training for it…
So, that’s the grand scope of my last few months, I’ll post more details soon.
Some pictures from the week.
Treatment for insect bites.
Measurements of the new theatre building.
mockup. We’re still discussing.
You can’t work efficiently in blender on a laptop without an external keyboard and mouse.
Beautiful Greek letters! I find keyboards and mice from supermarkets are the cheapest, and the longest lasting. Apple and Microsoft branded mice – just say NO!
More clutter destined for the trash.
Why it may be worth going to Sunday Morning “Church Services”
At a Sunday morning in Birmingham, the dude running the event got up to lead a prayer. Being an Anglican service, it was a pre-written one. Alas, he picked the wrong one, and only realised half way through:
“Lord God, we have sinned, oops. Sorry…”
We’ve booked our tickets to leave Cyprus in a month-ish. This time has gone SO fast … it did last time too.
I’ve started thinking about “stuff”. Very vague, I know. More, possessions type stuff. Here’s a picture of my cupboard:
as you can see, crammed full of all kinds of bits and pieces. From recorders (blockflöten) to juggling balls to old marmite jars with elastic bands to rope to old telephones to candles to old CD players to scissors…
I know I’m naturally something of a hoarder, and don’t want to throw stuff away… but on Doulos I think I either learned to be more balanced, or else some how got even more messed up! 🙂
By the time I left AV, I had picked up quite a bit of “are we using it? No? Is it working? No? OK, then throw it away.” – I know Ant and Adam will claim somewhat otherwise *cough*oldA&Hsound-deskscough – but I know I’ve actually changed a lot. So now, looking at all this stuff in my cupboard, things I haven’t used in over 4 years now… I find it really hard to want to keep it.
How is it helping me to have this here? How is it helping anyone? Am I using it? No. Is it working? Well, some of it, kind of. Will I use it again?
Probably not… well… some of it? Maybe?
Sentimental value seems to be something I no longer really care about much.
I’ve thrown out the old hand-made juggling clubs (plastic milk bottles, newspaper and kitchen-roll centers 🙂 ) and broken telephones (for a juggling routine to do with communication), and some other odds and ends, but amn’t sure what to do with the rest.
Does it actually behoove me ( I’ve been wanting to use that word for AGES! ha! Done it! ) to throw stuff away?
Now I’m going back to Carlisle for a few years, and getting married next year, I need to think more about such stuff, I guess. I will no longer be a batchelor, able to just keep random clutter in a cupboard. I’m fine with that. (I’m pretty sure I’ll end up picking up more…)
I do have a lot of projects on the go at once. Juggling stuff – one day I will get back into it more; Obscure music stuff – I will take up the bagpipes one day; art stuff – I love painting, I just haven’t done any for a while; computer programming – a hobby. I don’t want a job of this! But a little is fun; graphic design… etc… etc…
But it’s not very efficient. I know I need to prioritise, cut away the cruft. I don’t NEED this stuff! But maybe not? Maybe actually having lots of clutter and things on the go is actually how I function best? Or maybe not?
Isn’t it great being decisive? Well, perhaps? Or perhaps not? Some times? Er…