Sunday, May 31, 2015

Don't mind me!

I was talking about Revive with a friend today who reminded me of another case of conversational busting in that I had mentioned to him.

During morning tea on day 1 I was chatting with a minister at an outer Sydney church. We were getting along quite well, but that didn't stop a pair of other members of the church  he served coming up, breaking into our conversation and talking to him. No 'excuse me', no 'I, do you mind if I ignore you and talk to MY friend...'.

What is it with Christians that they can have the coarsest of manners!


This morning I was running late and would not be able to get to church at the start time...late is bad, and I hate being it. So a quick look on the web to see if any other nearby churches met at time that was realistic for me.

St John's, Gordon? Pity, it met at the time I couldn't make at my own church. 10 am would have been great. One good thing: I noted the times for evensong over the next few months.

What about St Martin's, Killara? I used to live near St Martins, and would have loved to attend as wife and I could have walked there...but we were already happy with St Alban's then, so no change.

I browsed the St Martin's web page...service time was good: 10 am, and close enough to drive down the hill to it. But...

They have a page on 'our leadership'! Not 'our ministry squad', or 'our staff', or anything remotely like a church, but 'our leadership'; just as though it's a business, and not even a good business but one where the SMT (senior management team) thinks that it owns the other people who work there, at least sociologically, if not practically.

Adults don't need 'leaders', they need information and resources. Churches don't have leaders, they have ministers, coordinators, administrators...terms either reflective of the New Testament, or reflective of its ethos in the church being sustained under the leadership of the Holy Spirit through the ministries of all members where we all encourage each other, even if unwittingly.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Official Christianity

I don't want to become merely a re-blogger, but I did like this article on 'official Christianity' and its absence from the field.

Holiday church #4

So much for promises...

More recent holidays have been on the NSW south coast. Much preferred to the north coast for climate, topography, vegetation and  settlement (see, I remember my school geography).

An old friend of mine ministers at a small church in Eden, but we've not attended that. One of the most exciting things about it is that it meets in the RSL Club. Exciting? Because the club is a recognised and important part of the community. Just the place. Identical to Paul speaking in the Areopagus.

The churches we've attended have been further north, at Milton where we stayed on a diary farm for a number of year's holidays in a very comfortable cottage (no longer on the holiday market, unfortunately) and at Merimbula, where we also holidayed a number of times.

We liked both these churches for different reasons. Milton was a transplant of a Sydney diocese church, quite large and active. Merimbula a completely different style, reflecting its diocese of Canberra-Goulburn. I was also pleased to discover that someone I'd met quite a few times in Sydney is now the bishop: Stuart Robinson.

Churches in country towns would appear to me to have opportunities for evangelism and service that don't exist in large cities. With the smaller populations any activity is more conspicuous, easier to promote and better connected with 'someone I know'. The minister is also more easily able to make an obvious contribution to community life with the smaller number of social foci typical in small towns.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


In his article “The Absurd” (Journal of Philosophy 1971) the Princeton philosopher Thomas Nagel writes:
Admittedly, the usual form of service to a higher being is different from this. One is supposed to behold and partake of the glory of God, for example, in a way in which chickens do not share in the glory of coq au vin...People can come to feel, when they are part of something bigger, that it is part of them too. They worry less about what is peculiar to themselves, but identify enough with the larger enterprise to find their role in it fulfilling.
Its both more and less than this. We are not part of a 'larger enterprise' as disciples of Christ; we are part of his kingdom and connected to how things really are, so the satisfaction and life-perspective that we have are not derivative of anything, as though it is a second order phenomenon. If that thing itself was derivative then the connection would be futile; but it is not, it is basic. It is how things really are: they really are personal in Christ: not only our creator and redeemer; but intimately our brother by adoption. We are built into what is really real.

The whole article is worth a read, bearing in mind that Nagel makes the typical mistake of reading Christian theism from a materialist position, even if  unwittingly so.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I currently subscribe to no general Christian periodicals.

Over the decades I've subscribed to and even contributed to a few.

The most stimulating was the Evangelical Review of Theology, which covered the serious side of Christian thought. It was my dabble in contemporary conservative theological discourse.

Most of my peers subscribed to or read On Being in its hey day. Now called Alive and a web publication. It was enjoyable, magazineish, very interesting and wonderfully edited by Owen Salter in its initial years of publication.

My links with Koorong lead me to the Banner of Truth magazine, a short and inexpensive but backwards looking compilation of modern day puritanism. It was stiff with Calvinism that I lapped up at the time. I even visited the offices in Edinburgh when traveling through the UK.

People who enjoy the BoT magazine, including close friends I had during the early 80s, seemed to have a special love for Good Books (Calvinists BoT groupies always seemed to be able to capitalise the phrase when was so important to read Good Books!)

Baptist Reformation Review was recommended to my be a friend at Koorong. I subscribed at the same time as I did to BoT magazine. It later changed its name to Searching Together. It was handled in Australia by Ray Levick who then lived in Melbourne. I visited him on a trip to that city in the early 80s and had an enjoyable evening with him and his wife. It was much the better magazine than BoT, critically observant of evangelical Christianity.

A couple of magazines came through my L'Abri connections, and finally the Last Days Ministries magazine, produced by Keith Green's organisation. I consumed it avidly, but became disenchanted with LGM's infatuation with Charles Finney.

There were also denominational publications. I subscribed to The Christian Messenger (not this CM, but named after it), and wrote a little for it, all a bit fervid, but the editor seemed to like my material (so did my mother, for what its worth).

For a while I was on the Zadok Centre mailing list. The Centre was a bit of a Christian 'think-tank', run by David Millikan who gained some media credibility and was interviewed on radio and TV from time to time in the 80s.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

So, you're an atheist...

In a recent post on Lifehacker [warning, now owned by Fairfax, so likely to be uncritically pop-left in orientation] a list of 'virtues' to conduce happiness was given.

Heck, I want to be happy, I want to be virtuous, I want to live the good life (in Tolstoy's terms, not modern hedonist terms), so I went to the source website.

Lo and behold, a snap from Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists. The list is highly derivative, of course, and mainly derivative of Christian faith, given that western atheism is a heretical branch of Christianity (or 'fork' as computer folks like to say), relying on its moral epistemology without either explicating the link or bothering to develop their own in a futile attempt to overturn its inevitable courting of the naturalistic fallacy.

Clearly the list says that some things are important, but cannot explain why in basic terms without reference to something outside the naturalist/hedonist world view...

I will provide some commentary on the virtues over the coming few weeks with the label: "10Virtues"

Monday, May 25, 2015


After the church service most of us file out, shake the minister on hand duty's hand, then have morning tea.

I was talking to a fellow who was learning English, and said he was not a Christian, but wanted to learn to read the Bible in English, although he had an interlinear in his own tongue.

While we were talking, one of the part time workers, the one who had sermonised us, came up and started talking to Jake, I'll call my new friend. No matter that he and I were talking; no matter that I was there and alive; no matter anything. No "hello, I'm Rosie, I don't think we've met..." Nada! Just "hi Jake, how's it going" as if I didn't exit. Then a few sentences exchanged with Jake...not me, a brief glance at me, at last, and she was off.

Is that how we show to a non-Christian how Christian love works? No, not Christian love, but common courtesy?

Already in a dark mood for work reasons, looking for companionship at Church, the nicest experience was talking to a non-Christian, the unfriendly rudeness delivered by a paid Christian!

And we want our church to grow because its so loving, and we care for refugees.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Christian community

Our minister is adept at using PowerPoint for his sermons, using it properly I mean...almost never are there words, but images that are congruent with the words he speaks.

A while back he did  use words. As he spoke, the screen spelt out an acrostic, there were phrases after the letters, but I don't recall them:


I was pronouncing it in my mind as it formed:
[getting nowhere, what could this be?]
[ah, some Greek word that he'll explain for extra impact]
[oh, maybe a Hebrew word, could be interesting]
[hmm, no, maybe Greek...pronouncing it with my dim memory of Koine]
[oh...tog ether (short 'e' sound rhymes with 'ever')]

It dawned on me latter.

Men and men

One of the best analyses of homosexuality and marriage I've read.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Public Schools

At public schools in NSW religious practices are confined to consensual events: 'scripture' classes, for instance, or special Easter and Christmas events, but they are announced so die hard objectors can absent themselves.

It doesn't apply, though, to aboriginal religion. Children are exposed to it (dreamtime, spirits, multiple creating beings) without notice.

This tells me a couple of things: Christian parents either don't care or don't know, the schools don't really truly take aboriginal culture seriously; they just think its a nice but irrelevant set of cute 'native' beliefs; not something that should affect life, or they really want to play with our children's spirituality. Unlikely!

We should take it seriously and either believe it, or object to it. I vote for "object".

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Most evangelical Christians in Sydney, if not the world (I kid), have heard of Koorong Books. Koorong is only the spring point for this post.

When much younger and Koorong was in a couple of old shops in Rydedale Road I was an avid shopper there and reader of thus shopped books. Friends of mine lived in the flat above the shop. H was the manager, as I recall, and her husband R either a minister or still a student. I spent a lot of wonderful time with them, even helping out to unload shipping containers of books.

Koorong then had the feel of something slightly radical, conservatively subversive even, and Paul, the proprietor, had the air of mysterious mission about him with his ferociously hard work at running the business. It was near to the Christian equivalent of Gould's Book Arcade in Newtown.

The radical air came to my mind from the previous denizens of the premises (hoping my geography from the early 1970s is correct) The House of the New World, coordinated by John Hirt, a Uniting Church minister, who responded to the disaffection of young people from the church and mainstream society with his 'Christian Counter-Culture'. I silk screened some t-shirts for myself with the opposed arrow symbol. Hirt went on, I think, to be a chaplain at Sydney University.

For those who might remember, The House seemed to have similarities to Keith Green's Last Days Ministries in its approach to younger people, production of training materials and clubby atmosphere with an edge of vanguardism about it. All pretty good when one is younger. I was introduced to The House by the teacher who sponsored the ISCF group I was in.

Anyway, that's the spring point.

I grew friendly with one of the part time workers there, a fellow of about my age, very bright, incredibly well read, I thought, and personable. He introduced me to a couple of periodicals that fueled my thinking in those years...mid to late 70s, perhaps early 80s, it would have been.

They were Baptist Reformation Review, still going strong as Searching Together, and Verdict, a very strident curry to SDAism edited and mostly written by Robert Brinsmead. Brinsmead wrote material that absorbed me. It was complex, deeply thoughtful, but standing in SDAism, a little hard to come to grips with. My friend was very impressed with it. Brinsmead come to mind this evening, so I Googled him. His mission is now much changed, although some of his theology remains on the Internet.

BRR was arresting with its anti-puritan flavour, which Zens maintains. These jarred against the Puritan reprints from Banner of Truth that I read at the time.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


My conversation with the young Baptist pastor yesterday ended oddly.

He talked about what he does, then asked what I did. I told him some of the things that interest me in my occupation. We had to leave for the start of proceedings, and he thanked me for 'telling your story'. I said 'nice chatting'.

My story? It was as though he saw our conversation not as two men chatting, but as a therapeutic dyad. It destroyed the genuine enjoyment that I had in it. Was I his 'project' for the moment? Did he seek to solve something? If so: patronising to say the least.

Then, reflecting on other similar encounters, the suspicion arose that many Baptists I've met have had a 'deficit' view of relationships: always something to be fixed, usually spiritually. Thus, not a shared time, not just people together, but one on a mission for the other who is in need.

I once had a friendship with a young woman that might have been going down this path: there were moments of genuine unselfconscious conversation, I thought, but there came a point when the course changed. I raised it, she denied...I think I had turned into a project.

This connects with the obsession in some church circles with leadership. Not is this just unreflective aping of the world, but it lacks biblical definition. One of the sessions at Revive was on developing 'leaders'. The only similar thing I find in the New Testament is people ministering. Develop your ministry! Everyone has one, and developing it will build the church, not on a deficit basis, but on a capability basis: what I/we can do, want to do, will do; each different, each contributing.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Revive reflections

In the end, I found Revive far better in anticipation than experience. I was looking forward to it for some time, but my hopes were dashed.

How could it have been better?

A wag might say by having fewer Baptists there! It was too enclosing, I thought. A reflection of the size of the denomination, but also its less than catholic embrace of traditions and theological approaches (I mean 'catholic' as universal, not RC). There may also be a Baptist demographic that doesn't match mine.


General flow: I liked it, I liked the video clips at the start of the day. Overall it was polished.

Food: Revive put effort into the music, into selecting the speakers...but the food not so: why not? The pre-paid lunch was not value for money. If the menu had been advertised at the pay point (the website) I wouldn't have purchased. In fact the food generally was not great. Yesterday I had a sausage sandwich: much better in prospect than fact. For a few cents more decent bread could be used instead of the polystyrene horror that was served. Suggestion: outsource food to the Seventh Day Adventists, they have the touch.

Music: Polished and capable music squads, but all one style and dominating, attractive at first, but tiresome as it wore on. The stage lighting needs attention so as not to pick out the instruments left on stands while a speaker is at work. I do wish singers wouldn't embarrassingly stick a hand in the air. It looks like they're asking the conductor for a toilet break. There's something about huge staged music; it makes it look like the conference sessions are an addendum to a concert. This needs to be straightened out, seriously.

Timing: I think lunch should be shorter with 30 minutes for morning tea.

Prayer: Opportunity for structured prayer before the speaking sessions started would be great. If it were Anglican I'd like an abbreviated Morning Prayer...the Baptists need to take something from the church's past to touch the traditions of the broader faith.

Program: I know discipleship was the theme, but it can be more broadly couched. I've covered in my second Revive post some of the breadth that would be suitable.

Wayfinding: The route to every location within the venue needs to be clearly marked with big coloured direction signs. Yesterday I was roaming around lost until I could ask someone. There need to be helpers who are clearly identified: coloured overshirts with "ASK ME" would work. The person giving out pre-paid food was also a mystery...could have been anyone, this too should be clearly identified, as should the pick up location.

Revive day 2

I had the hang of it today. My friends and I arrived in good time for a coffee before the sessions. I sat with a young pastor from an outer Sydney church. We had a nice chat.

I dawdled to the session to avoid having the music squad inflict its aesthetic on me again, and was pleased to have been partly successful. I still caught the last song but at least the gyrating 20 something singer was not there.

Before the speakers we heard a couple of children read the Bible, and well done too. Also a video from Nowra profiled the wonderful YAC (youth at church) program: keeping younger people growing in the church. But I remain of the view that a more structured induction to Christian faith is necessary.

The first speaker was Allan Demond, a pastor at NewHope Baptist church in Blackburn, Victoria. One thing I like about the website is no mention of the paid ministers as a special class, truly the site is about the church. He was very encouraging and wonderfully animated about Christians as those who take God's grace to where they whatever amount. I like his refrain of the 'ancient faith practices': prayer, reading the Bible and stewardship (he said 'giving' but it still works).

I skipped the next 'workshop' having been under-impressed by yesterday's efforts. Instead I relaxed, chatted to a friend at one of the exhibits and read my book (De Joinville's Memoirs of the Crusades, from about 1309). It was wonderful to read the godliness of the times, even though we might not follow their practice (and acknowledging that they didn't either)!

The lunch routine worked for me, although hungry I had to wait until the mystery lunch clerk turned up. Being there early I got the sandwich and fruit of my preference, but had to supplement the rations with extra purchased food. I've no idea why my pre-paid included a bottle of water when the taps were full! Consumerist nonsense.

After lunch the session was taken by Leon Stead. I was impressed by his talk yesterday, but not so today. He is a polished and impassioned speaker, but he did not connect with the audience, I thought, and delivered the harangue! I thought that I'd escaped that, and it left me feeling despondent and discouraged...could I measure up to the standard that he applied? Of course not! We're back to works it seems and Christ is displaced.

The 'workshop' following was Allan speaking on Following Jesus through the Disciplines. I had great hopes for this, thinking of the deep traditions of prayer, Bible study and reflection across Christian history. I was disappointed to find that it was a lock-step approach that I must say left me cold: formulaic and uninviting. Allan admitted that this was just one way, but I feel that it could have been done far more attractively. I left part way through as I had to get to another appointment.

When my taxi arrived I felt relief as I rejoined the world of everyday. Discussing the conference with a friend, I felt he put his finger on it in his question: "was it more Baptist than Christian?" Yes, more's the pity.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Revive day 1: speakers

I've already mentioned the first speaker, but a little more. He spoke on Mark's theme of the Kingdom of God manifested in Yeshua's reversing the fall at every point through the narrative, upending our expectations of fallen patterns.

Des Ong spoke on discipling. He referred to 'brain science' as though the pop neurology that he brought to his cause was a meaningful contribution. Unmentioned was the materialist physicalism that underlies the contemporary quest to reductionistically resolve ethical behaviour into chemistry. It has echoes of old style mechanical determinism that evolutionism harbours. It was an amazing gaffe that this took ground in a Christian conference.

He also seemed to paint discipling as a short horizon activity, whereas in the biblical pattern it is a very long run occupation.

Alan Demond from Victoria spoke well on the 'ancient disciplines' of Christian faith: prayer, Bible reading and giving. He urged us to find someone to teach, spend six months and encourage them to do similarly. I liked it. I was much encouraged that Alan told us a couple of times that he 'served' a group of Christians, that he 'served' a local church. The cool ones would have said that they lead....they do not! The Holy Spirit leads.

Revive: the musical

The band at Revive is quite good, listenable with mostly good stage manners. The stage set is also modestly appealing, despite the casual dishevelment of instrument cables, instrument brand names overly obvious and the visual domination of the band.

I'm not sure if the band is to entertain, draw our attention, or support our singing to one another. The way the lead singer deported herself with self-obsessed histrionics was little different from the manipulation of a pop concert. Her sexualising clothing was distinctly out of place: more orgiastic pop vamp than modest and humble cantor serving the congregation.

The humble stage presence of the rest of the band impressed, attracted and even moved me; even so I could see why the medievals had the choir not facing the congregation: it was not for performance!

As I posted earlier, her misplaced judgements of the superior and capable speakers: experienced and educated Christians, was pathetically insulting. It seems to have always been the case that a dose of minor celebrity amongst Christian pop singers lends a misplaced self appraisal of one's learning and spiritual experience.

For some reason, spiritual ecstasy makes younger people, and some older ones, stick one hand in the air. Some go the whole hog and do the Countdown arms (Countdown: ABC pop music show of the 1980s where the studio audience waved their arms in the air like a bunch of Quon Streamers: refer to The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy if you don't follow). This is of no moment, although weird in the congregation, but definitely out of place and distracting when the music squad does it.

Revive day 1

The end of a long and frustrating day! (see also Which Revive)

Some things that puzzled or concerned me:
  1. The now obligatory greeting to dead Aboriginal elders and the anachronistic attribution of land custodianship in government circles has eaten its way into the church; why do we participate in their ancestor worship? Its hardly Christian.
  2. We have multiple 'keynote' speakers! This honour is handed out meaninglessly at commercial conferences to build a market position at low cost (no cost, probably) as draw cards are added to the speaker list. Surely the idea of 'keynote' is one special person to launch a theme?
  3. "If worship is your pathway to God..." Is there any other 'pathway' to God? The speaker meant singing swoony songs, of course while slowly rocking to the rhythm with one hand in the air. But this has nothing to do with how the Spirit teaches of worship in the Bible.
  4. A pray-er gave God 'permission' to act, calling the time "[to God] your space to shape us..." My understanding of the Bible is that God will shape us through the entire spectrum of his effect on us in every way as he grows us through the vicissitudes of life in this fallen world. We don't give God delimited permission! God is not in our pocket.
  5. We have, it seems, a 'target' of 1000 churches. If this is the level of strategic capability in Baptist circles, I pity them! Targets are management in reverse. Far better to understand the required capability for the mission and to build it critically.
I could go on, so just a couple more: one church has its mission statement as having a "contagiously beautiful life in Jesus". That's not a mission, its not an action delivering to 'customers'. Its a motto. A good one, in my view, but only a motto. The only mission of the church is to make disciples.

The first speaker, Leon Stead gave an engaging and brilliantly structured talk (and I am pleased that the linked website eschews the word that is misapplied in Christian circles 'leader'), the music group drifted back on stage to give a patronising and trivialising back announcement. So a 20 something singer whose life experience is that of one of Stead's children has the contumely to think that a crowd of experienced Christians has any use for her judgement. This was then repeated by the double act compare. Far better to just move on. There is simply no need for continual back announcements, they kill the moment.

Before all this happened I was speaking to a fellow, I think he was the pastor of a church, and we were conversing quite well when a couple of the fellow's friends came up, ignored me and engaged the fellow in conversation. The pastor forgot me, turned to his friends and took up that new fresher and obviously more interesting conversation. Later he brushed it aside as something he had to attend to; but surely good manners, you know, how we respect each other, has to get into the way of peoples indulgent self-importance. Why do church people steam-roller conversations to get their bit of time? No excuse me, no waiting politely, just their internally brewed urgency.

Girls and girls

In the same episode of Dr Who with the wonderful hymn was some dialogue that was more in line with the modern BBC (and the oh so cool Dr Who):

Two elderly women were referred to as sisters. They demurred, explaining that they were married. Dr W seeking to normalise an arrangement that pretends to be marriage when it cannot meet its base rationale: orderly procreation and protection of children. Of course, the end result will find fake marriage reversing up the hill to claim the 'right' to have (someone else's) children, tipping its original protectiveness on its head as children become the traded badges of adult privilege.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Which Revive?

Which Revive 'workshops' [I know, the links will probably be short lived] do I think that I'll attend (like, I think it was Alexi Sayle, when 'workshop' is used outside light engineering, I get suspicious--I'd prefer 'forum' myself, but that ain't about to change anything)?

Friday: Making Disciples, Lifelong Faith, He Restores my Soul in the morning; Making Poverty Personal and Engaging Relationally in the afternoon.

I think I'll opt for Lifelong Faith in the morning. Making Disciples refers to 'current research on brain and behaviour'; I'm all for current research, but this sounds like the fake fresh insights that I'd expect on the ABC. He Restores my Soul has 'reflective worship'. I expect not worship as Paul teaches in Romans12:1, but worship as pop-US theology has it: swooning singing of low-content songs as though 'worship' is the same as Hollywood romantic movies.

Making Disciples would be great if it was firmly rooted in the Bible, the history of the church (after 2000 years somethings working), and engaged wisdom, although research can be useful to flush out folk nonsense.

Lifelong Faith looks good apart from that we will 'unpack the 10 key pillars...' If there are 10, then how 'key'? "Key" would be one. How many keys do you have to your front door? Anyway, I'm with Don Watson on the dulling ubiquity of 'key' in public language...sounds like a public service pamphlet. If there were alternatives, I'd not go to something that was going to 'unpack' anything. Discuss? And 'pillars'? Do I detect the borrowing of the way Islam frames its practices?

The afternoon: probably Engaging Relationally. The blurb is rich with buzz words and thus skinny on meaning, but it might be up to the mark.

Saturday: Seeing and Responding, Developing Leaders, My Work Matters and The Big Story of the Bible in the morning, and three more with blurbs that could have popped up in a management seminar in the afternoon. Gag me with a spoon!

I'll probably do Seeing and Responding in the morning, as I have contempt for the idea of 'leadership' in the church which seems to have displaced the biblical one of 'ministry'. I also avoid sessions that involve 'reflection', as it sounds disconnected. I'm undecided on the afternoon, but the one on Evangelism might be the go.

Disappointments: nothing on current moves in theology, critical social analysis, contemprorary criticism of Christian faith, counter faith movements, perspectives on Christian history, patterns and pressures on Christian belief....a pile of substantial topics there for the taking.

I'll be the one madly scribbling notes, like a reporter (I know we call them 'journalists' these days, but  'reporter' it is), so that I can report, like a reporter, on this here blog. For this I will use paper (a) because I've left my Ipad at the office and am on leave, and (b) for such things paper is better, although voice notes on Evernote could be useful.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I'm off to the Revive conference this week, and I'm almost a complete blank slate. I don't know what to expect, but have anticipations, of course, and think that the idea of the conference is fabulous.

I don't think I've ever been to a church conference before ( leaving aside youth camps and mission group conferences)! There is a lot of 'before' in my life, so I could be wrong. This will also be a little unknown for me as I'll know almost no one there apart from people from my church.

In old days, if I went to a church conference I would have expected to know a few people: in either Churches of Christ, Presbyterian or Anglican ones. I've lost touch with Presbyterians, but would still know people in Churches of Christ, I would think, and possibly Anglican, but depends on which flavour for the latter. I know a small number of Baptists from the deep past, and wonder if I'd run into (or even recognise) them; we'll see.

It will also be interesting to compare with the work related conferences I attend. I guess we won't be having a sponsor-hosted cocktail party on Friday evening. Pity, I like a glass or two of wine. I also guess that we won't be prancing around in our Zegna suits showing how polished we all are.

I could imagine that we would be open and brotherly with each other, so fellowship would be high on the agenda, but not suspending our critical apparatus listening to speakers. I'd also think that the sessions won't be the empty show-pony sessions that we are often inflicted with at commercially promoted or industry conferences (although having spoken at various industry conferences, I must say, I give content).

What I expect, but hope I don't get, is internalised, disconnected, de-contextualised waffle that assumes I live on two planets: the planet were I eat, and the planet where church conferences are held. I hope not.

I'll post reports.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Holiday church #3

Last one, I promise.

A friend's parents offered a holiday at their home on the Qld Sunshine Coast; at Nambour, as I recall. They were a quite lovely older couple, still serving in ministry. I was very warmed by some of their practices: an evening devotion at meal time, and at breakfast a short Bible reading, and reading snippets from a Christian newspaper that I'd previously not heard of: New Life; and it's still going strong.

I'd previously met this couple when they ministered in Sydney's inner west. I  assisted them for a while in bus driving for their Sunday School...putting my then class C (now HR) license to good use!

The holiday itself was nice: I went by sleeper train, which I enjoyed enormously, but even nicer was being taken into their family routine.

Just for contrast, I read Gide's The Counterfeiters while I was there. I don't think that I understood it.

Old rugged

A surprise in the normally oh so hip Dr Who.

At least I think it was in this episode that we heard a choral rendition of The Old Rugged Cross. A wonderful hymn that sat very well in the plot and mood of the episode.

In its context, the last lines of the chorus moved me:
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I'm not an!

One does not often come a cross a blog that lifts the lid on Calvinism. Here's one.

Now, I just need to find a blog that does the same for the philosophical idealism that misdirects Christian theology.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Good dog...

This is a about a dog, a police dog. I wondered as I read it, did the Spirit of God move the dog, or did he just make dogs that way?

Holiday church #2

In my previous Holiday church post, my experience of NZ churches completely escaped me! Yikes, how could that happen?

A friend of mine, Dennis Parry, now with our Lord, had recently married a NZ woman, who offered to write ahead of my trip to NZ to set up some visits for me. In some cases this turned into being offered accommodation, which was rather sweet. With Joy's family in Wellington I attended their Brethren church in Lower Hutt (or was it Upper Hutt...Hutts are so confusing). Another nice crowd.

Dennis was one of the great influences in my Christian formation; he was quite a different fellow, being involved in the theatre was part of that, I suppose, as was his interest in antiques, on which basis is late 1880s home was a vertiable museum.

I met lots of interesting people through Dennis and Joy, and would have loved to stay in touch with some that I'd lost touch with, although I do stay in touch with one of her nieces who I met in NZ.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Holiday church

When we went on hols as children (actually, the whole family came along, not just we kids), we continued our church habits; so come Sunday, after happy beach days, we dressed up and went to church.

We often holidayed on the Central Coast and attended Ettalong Baptist Church on a number of occasions. Quite a large to do.

Further north it was the Anglican church at Port Macquarie.

On our south coast and inland adventures, I can't remember hunting out holiday churches; maybe there were none convenient.

For a short period I was posted to a country office of my employer's. I joined up with the local Baptist Church, and got on quite nicely with its minister; I think, Mr Varnes. He was quite elderly, but a warm and generously minded man, as I found the church as a whole.

Some years later, I went with Echo, my then girlfriend, to visit her aunt for a weekend to North Haven. I was initially not inclined to attend church with her on the Sunday, but after she and her mother and sister had left for St Peter the Fisherman I felt very alone. Not good, so I high-tailed it after them.

The service was quite acceptable in many ways to me, and I said so to Echo. She replied, rather unhappily, that it was rather too protestant for her! Thus explained.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

No sign of Christianity

One Stephen Morgan wrote linking various bad people with Christianity. A number of letters rebutted his assertion. He then batted it back, completely failing to understand Christianity's self definition as discipleship of Christ. This writer then caught him out:

In the circumstances, it was probably a better letter than the one I submitted:

"Stephen Morgan still misses the point. ETA, KKK and Hitler are not 'terrible representatives of Christianity'. They are not representatives at all.

Just because they operated in nations where a lot of people were or are Christian is of no import. Christianity is not a cultural posture, it is the religion of devotion to Jesus being the Son of God and creator.

Did Hitler read the Bible and pray daily? Did he seek a life of humble love of others? Did he repent of the wrong he did and thought? Did he attend his local church and seek to be instructed by the minister and his fellow believers? I think not. Thus he was not a Christian and in no way a representative of Christianity. The very thought is repugnant and insulting to Christians."

Robert Schuller: dead

Robert Schuller, the minister of the Crystal Cathedral in the USA, and head honcho of the Hour of Power died recently. I heard him speak at Garden Grove many years ago and was singularly unimpressed with the name dropping and self adulation in the sermon, but as the Economist article on him (extracts below) mentions, his approach to ministry was in some ways quite uplifting.