Category Archives: Christianity

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Jensen on TV

I wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Philip Jensen. Possibly. He conducted the marriage of my parents. And was the minister at the church where they met – where he was under strict instructions to make sure mum didn’t marry anyone dodgy. His success or otherwise at that is debatable.

Anyway, I digress. Philip Jensen is the Dean of St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney. He has a blog. Of sorts. His latest post is about TV and the immorality – or otherwise – of modern television. It’s an interesting tie in to the post I wrote on the Wire. He starts off talking about Channel 10 news:

“It is hard to watch TV without, gratuitous violence, sexual exhibitionism, vulgarity of speech, dehumanising of the body in grotesque forensic murder investigations and comedians who rarely rise above toilet humour.”

No, sorry, that’s about all TV.

Here’s what he says about the news (with a note on their need for compelling disaster content:

“The alternatives are to watch the news and the sports shows. But the news is distorted by the need to have visuals (e.g. they love bush fire season, floods and train wrecks) and by the agenda of politically motivated journalists. And the sports shows appear dominated by gambling, the abuse of alcohol and overpaid professional celebrity athletes.”

He makes a lot of interesting points – worthy of consideration by Christians from the consumer standpoint – and against censorship – which is the natural position of Christian lobby groups when it comes to “inappropriate content”…

“As a society we do not want censorship. Censorship is always dangerous – as the censor’s power grows, truth is often his victim. Instead our society has chosen individualism and “community standards” as the basis of public entertainment. This assumes that what is watched does not affect community standards. It opens the door for the steady descent of the community into accepting decadence. So far only child pornography has been left as a taboo. “

He also makes the point that we’re all indirectly paying for free-to-air television (not just the ABC).

“The solution that is given to us is: “If you do not like it then switch it off. Nobody forces you to watch it and it is not costing you anything.” It is true that we do not have to watch it but it is not true that it costs us nothing. Taxpayers pay for the ABC and the free-enterprise taxation system called advertising pays for the commercial stations. All products we buy are more expensive because of TV. Whether or not you ever watch it – you are paying for TV.”

He likes DVDs of TV series as alternatives to the tripe that we’re dished up when we turn on the box.

“Of recent times I have purchased and watched DVDs of TV series. This means I can see what I want to, when I want to, without the intrusion of commercials (that for some reason are always louder than the show they interrupt). It means that I can better monitor what fills my mind. God, in Philippians 4:8, commands us to fill our minds with whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Given the cost of DVDs one wonders whether in the future parish churches will develop community libraries to pool our resources of quality viewing.”

A library of quality viewing isn’t a bad idea.

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The guru’s guru

I’ve never been one for gurus. Particularly self proclaimed ones who spit out pithy statements at random intervals.

Simone just hailed me as a guru of trivia, which was nice, which got me thinking about the concept of a “guru”.

Gurus tend to annoy me. Today, I’d like to introduce you to the guru of the internet. Seth Godin. I subscribe to Seth’s blog – mostly because he is a marketing guru. And sometimes he says useful things. The rest of it is twaddle. Like this:

“If it acts like a duck (all the time), it’s a duck. Doesn’t matter if the duck thinks it’s a dog, it’s still a duck as far as the rest of us are concerned.”

That’s a quote from a post on “Authenticity“.

Seth is a guru to so many people – but he has gurus too. Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired is one of those gurus. He’s like the grand daddy guru of the internet. He does seem pretty cool.

Kevin Kelly has gurus too. His gurus are people involved in the emerging church movement. He says as much here. Almost. He’s a Christian and he likes relevant stuff.

Being a fan of the emergent church means being a fan of Mark Driscoll. Almost. He was one of the people who started the movement but has since distanced himself from it. In writing. It’s probably not fair to lump him in with them – but it works for the sake of this little soliloquisious (surely the adjectival form of soliloquay) syllogism.

Mark Driscoll is now the guru of a generation of young Christian men who want authentic Christianity.

His guru is Jesus. So following the chain from Seth Godin – everybody’s guru – gets you to Jesus.

I guess my point is: Everybody you may consider a guru will have their own guru – once you get to the top of the pile of gurus that’s the guy worth following. Follow the guy with no gurus.

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Sermonising

I’m writing my sermon for Sunday in Google Docs. It’s on 1 John 1:1-4.

Here’s the Google Docs analysis of what I’ve written so far:

Counts Selection Document
Words: 3815
Characters (no spaces): 16912
Characters (with spaces): 20720
Paragraphs: 82
Sentences: 524
Pages (approximate): 5
Readability Selection Document
Average sentences per paragraph: 6.39
Average words per sentence: 7.28
Average characters per word: 4.43
Average words per page: 763.00
Flesch Reading Ease: [?] 84.78
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: [?] 3.00
Automated Readability Index: [?] 3.00

That’s the formula (from this test) that gives a readability level of 3. I guess that’s good. It’s probably not helped by the number of sentences. I write punchy sentences for sermons. I also speak naturally at about 160 words a minute (that’s the broadcast standard for journalism) – but should slow that down. At that pace this sermon should go for about 23 minutes.

Here are the stats on the passage itself:

Counts Selection Document
Words: 103
Characters (no spaces): 433
Characters (with spaces): 535
Paragraphs: 1
Sentences: 5
Pages (approximate): 2
Readability Selection Document
Average sentences per paragraph: 5.00
Average words per sentence: 20.60
Average characters per word: 4.20
Average words per page: 51.50
Flesch Reading Ease: [?] 78.33
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: [?] 7.00
Automated Readability Index: [?] 9.00

I think it’s a good thing that my sermon is more simple than the passage right? Shouldn’t an explanation be easier to understand than the thing you’re explaining? Otherwise it would be pointless.

Out of interest I pulled one of dad’s sermons off the MPC website and ran a comparison.

Counts Selection Document
Words: 3032
Characters (no spaces): 12835
Characters (with spaces): 15893
Paragraphs: 58
Sentences: 276
Pages (approximate): 4
Readability Selection Document
Average sentences per paragraph: 4.76
Average words per sentence: 10.99
Average characters per word: 4.23
Average words per page: 758.00
Flesch Reading Ease: [?] 82.04
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: [?] 5.00
Automated Readability Index: [?] 4.00
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It’s all Greek to me

Robyn and I are taking on a few “extra curricular” activities this year. We’ve stepped back from leading Adventure Club – the Friday night kid’s club we ran with a great team last year, and our church activities are largely focused on preparation for bible college at some stage in the not too distant future.

We’re using this year to get a competitive advantage on people we’re studying with. That’s what bible college is all about…

On top of the regular preaching gig at church that I think I already mentioned (I’m preaching this Sunday morning) we’re also trying to learn some New Testament Greek – also known as Koine Greek – and we’re looking at one of the Presbyterian Church’s fundamental doctrinal statements (what the Presbyterian Church believes) – the Westminster Confession of Faith (that’s a link to the Confession of Faith itself). Last night was our first bite of the Westminster Confession cherry.

Here’s a snippet from the Wikipedia entry on the Westminster Confession of Faith

“The Church of Scotland had recently overthrown its bishops and adopted presbyterianism (see Bishops’ Wars). For this reason, as a condition for entering into the alliance with England, the Scottish Parliament formed the Solemn League and Covenant with the English Parliament, which meant that the Church of England would abandon episcopalianism and consistently adhere to Calvinistic standards of doctrine and worship. The Confession and Catechisms were produced in order to secure the help of the Scots against the king.”

We’ve also had our first little Greek lesson from Dave Walker – so far I’ve learned the alphabet and Robyn is on to more advanced learning of words and stuff. She’s a pretty dilligent little worker. Here’s what I know so far…

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Deconstructing Dawkins

I’ve just, for reasons unknown, read an article by Dawkins that made me angry. Dawkins on “Atheists for Jesus”. Dawkins is a tool. Probably a tool of Satan. But really, a tool in the urbandictionary (language warning if you follow that link) sense of the word.

Dawkins is trying to claim Jesus for atheism the same way the homosexual lobby claimed the pejorative  “queer” as a label.

He’s reinterpreting everything Jesus had to say about God as just the “cultural norm”. Jesus was apparently a radical who only spoke about God because that was the done thing. Dawkin’s relies on biblical accounts of Jesus’ teaching for his argument – but no doubt dismisses the accounts of his trial, where he was essentially killed for believing that he was God. This is postmodern deconstructionism gone bonkers. Well, it was crazy to begin with. But this is ridiculous.

“I think we owe Jesus the honour of separating his genuinely original and radical ethics from the supernatural nonsense which he inevitably espoused as a man of his time.”

Umm. What?

He basically wants to adopt Jesus because having lots of people acting like Jesus would be good for society. Except of course for the parts where Jesus claims to be God… but of course, those were just the bits where Jesus was being crazy because of the culture he lived in… WHAT? I think if you separate out all the supernatural bits about Jesus you’re left with a guy who’s not very radical at all. He’s a carpenter who hangs out with fishermen and prostitutes. Jesus without a divine aspect is not even an impressive moral teacher.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) which is arguably Jesus’ most admired speech from a secular standpoint (it regularly makes the “best speeches of all time” lists… is pretty rubbish if you remove all the bits that refer to God.

For example if you took out every bit that could be seen to refer to the actions of God, the beatitudes would be reduced to:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

That’s a lot of “blessed” people with no actual “blessing”

And that famous bit about loving your enemies without any reference to God, well, that’s a real moral imperative…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Taking the God bits out of Jesus’ message leaves us all wanting to be pagan tax collectors – hardly the Utopian society Dawkins is pushing for with his piece of rabid (ill)logic.

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Mothering instinct

You know what gets my goat. People who blame “mother nature” for things like massive bushfires and floods. 

How come “mother nature” is allowed to be evil and nasty and yet atheists and other anti-Christian philosophers say their big problem with the Christian God is that an “all loving, benevolent God” would not allow suffering.

Other thoughts:

I don’t know where the idea of God being “all loving” is – I think he’s holy and righteously angry as well. It’s in the bible people. 

Fires and floods don’t seem to be particularly “motherly” unless you’re a really nasty parent.

Why is it “more rational” to attribute this sort of disaster to “mother nature” than to God? I confess I don’t see “mother nature” out there trying to find followers. 

If there’s one thing that annoys me more than Christians trying to piggyback their causes cynically on the back of a disaster it’s hippies doing the same. If I hear one more hippy claiming that these fires are proof that we need more stringent carbon targets I will scream. My thoughts on climate change not withstanding the idea that Australia, a piddling island nation in the scheme of things, has much influence on the climate anyway is ridiculous. And calling for something that will cost Australian jobs while people are struggling with massive loss of life and a looming recession is not very sensitive. It could be political suicide though. On second thoughts. Go for it Greens. And invoke “mother nature” as you do it.

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A couple of extra links

Interesting piece in the SMH on Darwin and limitations of Darwinism/new atheism as a worldview by Charles Sturt University Theology Lecturer Tom Frame. Highlight:

“Even his [Dawkin’s] much-publicised atheism lacks commitment and courage. It is a cultural preference rather than a philosophical conviction. Nietzsche and Camus believed the death of God would be revolutionary and terrifying. Jean-Paul Sartre said “atheism is a cruel and long-range affair”. All that Dawkins can offer is a revival of old-fashioned secular humanism, whose hopes and aspirations are summarised in John Lennon’s insipid 1971 composition Imagine.”

And arch-conservative Andrew Bolt on the unfortunate statement from Catch the Fire Ministries.  Highlight – the whole string of comments showing why this isn’t a case of being seasoned with salt and loving non-believers.

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How to lose friends and alienate people

Catch the Fire Ministries have a knack for getting in trouble. The Christian orthodoxy, myself included, were right behind them in their muslim bashing court case. Religious groups must be free to criticise other religious beliefs – provided we afford those other beliefs the same right to criticise us. That’s true freedom of religious expression.

Perhaps in a most appalling case of nominal determinism “Catch the Fire Ministries” have inflamed the Victorian bush fire situation with the most ideologically inappropriate piece of third party commentary ever released. From the SMH. And here’s their own media release.

“The Catch the Fire Ministries has tried to blame the bushfires disaster on laws decriminalising abortion in Victoria.”

But that’s just editorial from a left of centre anti Christian rag you argue. No. That’s pretty much the sentiment of what Pastor Danny Nalliah had to say.

“Pastor Danny Nalliah, claimed he had a dream about raging fires on October 21 last year and that he woke with “a flash from the Spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb”.”

I’ve mentioned before that I’m anti-abortion. I think God is anti-abortion too. But I don’t think the fires are his judgment on the state for its abortion stance. I think that judgment will come later.

I think the fires are an example of the pain and suffering we’re told we’ll all experience in a world frustrated by sin. Biblically we should expect natural disasters. We certainly shouldn’t run around ascribing God’s judgment to situations like this where everybody, Christian and non-Christian, has been hit.

Here’s some more from Mr Nalliah:

“Asked by the Herald if he did not believe most Australians would regard his remarks as being in appallingly bad taste, he said today: “I must tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

He said it was no use “molly-coddling” Australians.

Asked if he believed in a God who would take vengeance by killing so many people indiscriminately – even those who opposed abortion, Mr Nalliah referred to 2 Chronicles 7:14 to vouch for his assertion that God could withdraw his protection from a nation.

“The Bible is very clear,” he said. “If you walk out of God’s protection and turn your back on Him, you are an open target for the devil to destroy.”

In the New King James version of the Bible, 2 Chronicles 7:14 states that: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

He quoted a headline describing the fires as “The Darkest hour for Victoria”. “A few months ago the news media should have reported `the darkest hour for the unborn’, but unfortunately the `Decriminalisation of Abortion bill’ went through parliament and was passed, thus making many people call Victoria `the baby killing state of Australia,’ ” Mr Nalliah said.

Pastor Nalliah said there may be criticism. But he said he did not send out his media statement thoughtlessly. “We spend two days working on it.”

He had previously said drought and the world financial crisis could be partly blamed on human sin.”

I’m sorry Danny Nalliah, you’ve lost my vote. This is terrible PR and it’s terrible theology. It’s just bad. The Herald does mention that Nalliah is putting a large whack of resources in to fighting the fires and helping those affected. And lest you think my problem is purely that it’s bad PR and he should be out there calling a spade a spade and a bushfire the “judgment of God”… here’s what Jesus had to say about natural disasters and loss of life (in Luke 13:1-5)

“1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Death hits us all. We all need to be ready. But those who are hit by disaster are no more deserving of it than the rest of us. Nalliah is making a leap of logic that Jesus himself rejected. Funnily enough, just before this bit, in Luke 12, Jesus has a dig at people who use the obvious situations around them to justify particular arguments or beliefs, like say picking an economic crisis or fires to say something profound about God’s judgment…

54He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

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K-Ruddy handout

For those who missed the news today – K-Rudd is giving something back to the workers of Australia. $950 a pop. The comrades in arms who have contributed to our time of economic prosperity. No doubt we’ll also be told to spend this cash to help stimulate the economy.

So now the question is “what to buy” – I wouldn’t mind spending it all on crappy USB products from Hong Kong… but can I suggest that if you want to make a positive contribution to reducing the abortion rate in Australia that you check out Free Money for New Lives a support service for mums who would otherwise have abortions.

The campaign was put together by a bunch of bible college students in Sydney and is a nice way for Christians to do something about the issue rather than picketing clinics where women are making pretty intense emotional decisions and are often close to psychological breaking point.

The group splits contributions between a couple of organisations. One aims to financially help mothers who want to keep their babies but are worried about the cost, and the other is a think tank – the Womens Forum Australia – that:

“works across the usual political and religious divides, to advocate for life affirming, pro-woman alternatives to abortion which would enhance women’s freedom to have their babies.”

In the end probably a much better cause than spending your money at “Brando” – which is a USB gadget seller based in Hong Kong. Spending your money off shore isn’t going to stimulate the economy at all anyway, so K-Rudd wouldn’t endorse that.

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No smog

You may have heard that the atheists are banding together to advertise. In possibly the weakest advertising campaign ever they’ve booked some bus billboards and are running this ad:

That’s right. The best they could do was “there’s probably no God”. Talk about not being able to stand on their convictions. The call to action – “now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. Over at the solapanel Mark Baddeley has a great post on what’s wrong with this campaign. I’m all for freedom of speech.  And it seems this campaign is making a very secular society consider the question of God’s existence – which can only be a good thing. 

The reason I’m writing this post is there is a most excellent site where you can make your own bus ad

Here’s mine:

There's probably no smog. So go outside and breathe deeply

There's probably no smog. So go outside and breathe deeply

Kind of lame – but I started with “there’s probably no dog” and then tried a series of words that rhymed with dog. I’m sure I could do better. But this makes what I believe is an important statement.

So, if you’re a dissatisfied atheist, or a theist with a better idea than a smog slogan, share your slogans in the comments, and go make your own.

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From the desk of: other people

One of the things I really enjoy about blogs is being able to draw on the collective wisdom of people trailblazing a path that we plan to head down in the not too distant future. At the moment I’m enjoying a bunch of blogs from students currently studying at theological college.

I’ve subscribed to Bathgates.net for quite a while because Dan (who doesn’t blog enough) kept sharing really interestng posts from it via google reader. I like it’s style – that is to say I really like Ben’s style. He’s got a great post at the moment full of tip for people embarking on theological study. It’s well worth a read. One of the sad things about using a RSS reader to get all your content is that you lose the really nice design work people have done on their blogs.

Another absolutely superb design (it really is stunning and functional) – matched by great content and the longest,  most philosophically deep “about me” page I’ve ever read – can be found at Dan Anderson’s papermind – I know Dan in real life (or IRL for you internet people). He’s a top bloke and is currently considering the purpose of studying  philosophy while studying theology. The discussion is written in a style somewhat representative of Sophie’s Word – although the protagonists are a pair of slightly distracted philosophers. Worth a look thus far. Dan was also kind enough to add my blog to his blog roll so I’m responding in kind with this little plug. Did I mention that I really like his design? I do. WordPress is aesthetically quite pleasing.

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Things I learned from daytime television

I don’t often get the chance to watch daytime television. Not since my days as a slovenly uni bum anyway when that was all I did. Only I had pay TV so day time television meant sport. Today was one of those odd occasions where I found myself watching the Summer repeat bonanza special edition of Mornings with KAK.

While Kerri Anne herself is an Australian institution – who happened to mention this morning that she’d been doing the show for more than 25 years (only it was a repeat from last year so it’s even longer now) – her show still doesn’t seem to have the basics right. Infomercials are like a car crash – you can’t turn away but you know they leave carnage in their wake. If a family member is affected by infomercials it can be a painful process. On a side note – the Danoz direct oven that was being advertised this morning would make a very interesting coffee roaster… but back to the main point of this little tirade. And it will be little. If you have testimonials from happy customers singing the praises of your weightloss miracle cure concoction – do not. And I repeat. Do not. Have them read their testimonial from an autocue using words that are right out of the weasel word manual.

“It enabled me to engage in a vast array of activities I’d never really considered” might sound impressive to you sitting in your ivory tower of corporate promotional speak where you have to address a board of directors on sales results – but coming from a real woman who is claiming to have lost 30kg thanks to your product it sounds like she’s acting, or at the very least not as glowingly enthusiastic as she should be. Personal testimonies are an incredibly powerful way to sell a product. Unless they are riddled with jargon that sounds like it comes straight out of head office.

There’s a lesson here for all of us. Well providing we’re trying to sell something via an infomercial.

Actually – there is a lesson here for any Christian trying to explain the gospel to their friends/neighbours – avoid in house jargon at all costs. Authenticity depends on you sounding real and sincere – people don’t want a cardboard cut out towing the company line. If you’re going to use the power of personal testimony to sell something – make it personal. Don’t “identify a product that will help you overcome a drastic deficiency in your regular masticating schedule” – tell it like it is. In plain language.

Seriously people. Is it that hard to not automatically become a robot in front of a camera.

I did manage to flick over to Business Today or something like that on ABC 2 – where a terrified telephony lobbyist was trying to explain that communications companies will not be affected by the recession in the same way that other companies will – they’re a diversified bunch now.

He delivered a deadpan line of company speak gobbledygook that made little to no sense even to the business minded journalist asking the question – so little that she asked him to clarify – and his idea of clarification was to repeat verbatim what he’d said to the earlier question. An answer so filled with corporate double speak that none of it managed to penetrate my cold addled brain. Oh, and he reckons we should invest in communications companies. After a compelling sales pitch. I think it’s pretty funny that “communications” companies are developing a reputation for their inability to clearly communicate and articulate their business. Mobile phone contracts are a triumph of obfuscation. “Communication company” could well be a latter day oxymoron if all our modern day companies can do is trot out weasel words.

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Christchurch

We’ve spent our first couple of days in New Zealand in and around the city known by airlines all over the globe as Chch. Actually that’s not true. By Australian standards we’ve been around it – but two hours travel in New Zealand is a relatively long distance. In the truest sense of the word. Relatively that is. Whether or not it’s the truest sense of the word distance is a subjective matter and for you, the reader, to decide.

Christs church?

Christ's church?

Christchurch is a city that resonates with me. Maybe it’s the name – which for a Christian is about as theologically “home” as I can be. It feels like Melbourne – or at the very least the block we’re staying in does. Other parts feel decidedly country townish. The fact that the sun doesn’t go down until 10pm makes the CBD feels a bit like a ghost town.

Christs church? Even the pubs get on theme in Christchurch

Christ's church? Even the pubs get on theme in Christchurch.

The surprisingly large number of cafes and restaurants are still closed for the Christmas period adds to that effect. But there are some nice bars, cafes and pubs within the immediate vicinity of our accommodation, and a nice creek/river/brook running through parks around the city centre making the city aspect altogether pleasing. Trams are another similarity with Melbourne. The restaurant tram would be an interesting experience I’m sure – but our desire to see New Zealand without breaking the bank meant tonight’s dinner at least was bolognese – with the ingredients picked up at the local “Pak’n’Save”… which is a grocery experience unrivalled by anything I’ve seen in Australia.

I mentioned the Honey Pot in my last post – but their open grill sandwhiches deserve another plug for outstanding flavour combinations, especially the homemade chutney.

The appropriately named Joe Bloggs - Chicken, bacon, brie, mayo and mushrooms

The appropriately named "Joe Bloggs" - Chicken, bacon, brie, mayo and mushrooms

The coffee on the other hand – in this case a cappuccino – came garnished with so much chocolate powder Robyn suggested spooning it off to make hot chocolate back in our hotel room.

Robyn still scored this a generous 7/10

Robyn still scored this a generous 7/10

Last night’s dinner was at a Chinese restaurant with a generic, forgetable name. Having a Chinese speaker (or a learner) at the table with us was an advantage – the Chinese pages of the menu were designed to obfuscate dishes the owner felt westerners like us would not appreciate. The helpful waiter recommended the place up the road if we were on the lookout for authentic Chinese cuisine. But we stayed. The crispy duck was sensational – as duck is wont(on) to be. The Chinese beer – the Tsingtao – was also good.

Mother duck said quack, quack, quack, quack and one less little ducky came back

Mother duck said "quack, quack, quack, quack" and one less little ducky came back

I told Robyn’s little sister that we’d book some haunted accommodation to really make her first (and mine) overseas jaunt extra dramatic. She’s a dramatic person. There’s a wind tunnel type effect creating ghost noises outside our room at Living Space – and we had to furnish the room with our own ghosts to complete the experience.

Who you going to call?

Who you going to call?

Today we made the trek to Arthur’s Pass – from the comfort of our car. I’ll have none of that stuff the kiwis call “tramping” on my holiday. I’ll have to write about that later – we’re off to Hamner Springs early on the morrow.

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Daily bread

The bread of life

The bread of life

This unleavened (probably kosher) pita bread Jesus is on sale via New Zealand auction site TradeMe. The story is here at the SMH. There are plenty of good bread puns to be made with a story like this. But I won’t. They wouldn’t be in good taste, and would likely be stale.

This bread immediately reminded me of this Museum of Idolatory that keeps track of modern Christianity’s dalliance with commercialism.

iJesus

iJesus

Robyn and I failed miserably in our attempt to read the bible in a year last year. Largely because I’m slack when it comes to personal motivation to chew through the boring bits of the Old Testament. Chronicles anyone? Maybe this year will be different – perhaps Jesus shaped toast is the motivation we’ve been missing.

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Merry (belated) Christmas

The title speaks for itself really.

My question from this Christmas is: Why don’t we sing carols all year round? Especially “O Holy Night”… although I can take or leave my little sister’s interpretive dance on that number.