Sunday, July 25, 2010

  • 3 cups hard flour
  • 2T caster sugar
  • 3t salt
  • yeast
  • 1 cup of milk
  • some water (to get consistency right ~100mL)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Jesus was right, bread is from heaven.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"the cross is the most universal symbol of christianity. but often we forget that the symbol of our salvation was originally a tree growing somewhere, probably among other trees. those who cut it down had not the slightest idea that it would one day become the most universal symbol of millions of christians. they thought nothing about the fact that on that tree God would be crucified in order to reconcile the world to himself; that on that tree redemption was to flow from God to mankind in a once-for-all act of self sacrifice.

this is the tree which causes discomfort to the world, which has turned the world upside-down. it is the tree which the world cannot erase, cannot get rid of, and cannot forget.

the tree of the cross has built bridges across rivers and valleys; it has brought people of different backgrounds together; it has torn down barriers and pierced through walls of separation; it has crossed oceans and travelled afar to tell people the good news which it heard one friday morning two thousand years ago. indeed, this tree has been persecuted, whacked with axes, shot at with bullets, hanged, beaten, given to wild beasts, torn to pieces, chopped up, ostracised, burned, laughed at, condemned, and made to suffer many other things. this tree bears upon itself thousands of scars and wounds. yet in spite of them all, it has continued to heal the sick, to bring hope to the desperate, to comfort the oppressed, to guide the lost, to feed the hungry, to shelter the poor, to inspire the anxious, to illumine the intellectual, to challenge the fearless, to save the condemned and to meet the needs of every generation and every situation. what a tree!"

-john mbiti

Monday, March 22, 2010

"suffering often takes the most personally humiliating and opaque character. it incapacitates a man from the very good which was the cause of his greatness in the first place. he can no longer act with that spontaneity and clarity which has so won others.

he is now thrown upon the mercy of others, a burden to them; more, he is bewildered and unable to give an account of himself. he cannot explain why or how he suffers; even though once he could reveal winningly and joyfully, why life took the shape it did, why it was right and fitting that it did so. the scandal of such suffering, suffering that plucks the tongue from the head and the voice from the heart! even to the point that others are scandalised and bewildered. they had concluded over the years that whatever came to pass this man would never cease to be their oracle; the years would only confer on him a clearer, more communicable wisdom. but to be reduced to a deaf mute?...

cui bono? man does not suffer that a world may be one; he does not suffer, even, that the will of God may be accomplished. he is, in fact, in the deepest suffering, evacuated of all real purpose at all. he is not suffering 'in order that'. his anguish does not allow him to be carried beyond the fact of suffering.

and this is true so that the truth of suffering, its value as a sign, may shine forth. but only for the few who are ready to read such a sign. achievements, great moments, visible accomplishments always have about them so much danger of distraction, egoism, ambiguity. but the sufferer who believes and takes his stand, not precisely on his suffering, nor on the quality of his faith, nor on the 'good' he is doing, nor on the response of his friends, but on christ alone; which is to say, on the living truth of things - this man, perhaps for the first time, has become a true sign. he is the sign of the cross. there is quite possibly no other in the world today"

-daniel berrigan

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

we rationalise behaviour.
the problem comes, when the rationalisation of the behaviour, is very consistent with the behaviour, but not correct.

when we stand accused of something wrong, we may deflect blame by saying "i was only trying to do X". and if someone points out, "if that was the case, then why did you do Y as well?" and our rationalisation of our behaviour is exposed.

but sometimes, the rational explanation is very good, and we get away with it.

it's the same with ourselves. we can believe we do X, for reason Y, but actually lurking beneath the surface is reason Z. circumstances (thank God) often arise that show the small errors in our behaviour, that are a signpost to what lurks beneath, but often these are very subtle.

and it isn't like we only do it for the wrong reason, there is usually a mix of good and bad.

the behaviour doesn't necessarily start from these "alternative motives", we may start out with the correct motive and the incorrect one can latch onto it, and begin to express itself.
or the need can drive the behaviour from the start.

these are some that i've found in my life :

  • we might make friends out of a love from God, or we might make friends out of a need to be loved in return.
  • we might share the gospel that others might know jesus, or we might share the gospel to give ourselves a sense of purpose.
  • we might present the gospel in a different way to make it more appealing, that people might see it in a different light; or we may present it in a watered down way, so that there's no way that people will turn around and reject it (and by extension us)
  • we may avoid talking about heaven and hell, because it's counterproductive, and not that relevant to people; or we may avoid it because we don't want people to label us a fundamentalist.
  • we may present ourselves as intelligent and thought through, that people's ideas that christians are unintelligent might be challenged; or we might just like people to think we're smart.
  • we may love someone, because we _just love them_, or we may love them so they love us in return.
  • you might pursue someone, because you believe that you and they should be together; or you might desperately need that person (or any person) to love you.
  • you might argue with someone, because you're hungry for the truth, or you might argue with someone because you need to always be proven right.
  • you might help a friend by doing X because you're a "good person", or it might just be enjoyable to help friends ("what credit is that to you? don't pagans do that?" i think this is why people in the west feel so little need for God. They think they're good enough, because look at all the good they do, not realising that actually there's not much sacrifice in what they do, or the sacrifices they do make serve to affirm their identity anyway)
  • you might serve God because you love him, or you might serve God because you're afraid you're not good enough, and must do everything to win his approval.
  • we might earn money to better serve the kingdom, or we might doubt the security God offers us, and be actually pursuing financial security. (i like helen keller on security: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.")
  • we might read books out of that God given delight and curiosity, or we might do it out of some vanity of being "well read"
  • we might do things because they represent the things that God has made us delight in, or we might do things to create an identity for ourselves that we like.
  • we might plan an event to the nth degree because we want it to be successful, we might plan it that much, because we fear failure.

and then, of course there's the old ones:

  • we might want to hear about how person X is going that we might love/pray for them; or we might like gossip.
  • we might do things because God wills it, or we might do it to be seen by men and honoured.

and finally

  • you might write a document, and send it to people because you think it will serve the kingdom; or you might do it so people will think that you're smart.

i'm sure there are hundreds more. they're just the examples i could think of from my own life in the last half hour. and they're so insidious, and they can go on for years unchecked.

and often they're multi-faceted, and you can have these chains of explanation that fit really pretty well.

i did mission because i wanted people to know jesus christ, i was disappointed when people forwent the opportunity to know the living God. when actually, i did mission because i was desperate for my life to be meaningful, and i was disappointed because i had not succeeded in making my life worthwhile.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

i arrived in san cristobal in mexico at about 2300 on the 26th of feb, and went to the apartment i'd arranged to rent. the landlord had assured me that he would be waiting for me, and i was looking forward to this, because whilst i'd flow out at 0800 that morning, with all the timezone changes 34 hours had elapsed from departure to arrival.

needless to say, the landlord wasn't waiting, so i had to spend the night in a hostel; which was ok, except that it didn't have any hot water.

i arrived at the apartment the next day, and got some rolled oats out that i'd brought. unfortunately, i had no milk, so it was something of a gruel. by this stage, i was very hungry, so eating the gruel was the only option.
and in the end, all i could be, was very thankful that i had breakfast at all. so i thanked God, and chowed down.

and then i got thinking, why is it that the more we have, the less thankful we are?

a friend of mine who has studied judaism extensively, describes their lifestyle as "a lifetime of restraint, with moments of indulgence"; and this is why when the jews party, they party hard (if you've ever been to a jewish wedding you'll know what i mean). my friend also reflects that in contrast, western culture is "a lifetime of indulgence with moments of restraint".

so now i've been wondering, can we develop a lifestyle of restraint, that, rather than diminishing our thankfulness, actually enhances it?

so i've been thinking of adopting this jewish modus operandi. maybe eating simply (vegetarian?!) most of the time, but once a fortnight, eating _really, really, well_. and perhaps being more thankful.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Caramel Bread-and-Butter Custard

3 slices bread4 eggs
butter3 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup brown sugar1 teaspoon vanilla
600mL creamcinnamon

Slice crusts from bread; butter bread lightly. Cut bread into finger lengths. Lightly grease oven-proof dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over base, then cover with bread, buttered-side up.
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add milk, cream, beat until combined. Carefully pour milk mixture over bread (bread will float on top), sprinkle with cinnamon.
Place in baking dish, with enough water to come half way up sides. Bake in moderate oven 35 - 40 minutes or until custard is set.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

“Doubt”, I said to myself, “may be a poor encouragement to do anything, but it is a bad reason for doing nothing.”

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

this is a gem.

Monday, April 07, 2008

i fall in love with every person i meet on the train.

i remember talking to this girl on the platform one night. it became evident quickly that she was atleast one can short. she had that kind of wide eyed nieveity that betrays the simpler nature.

she was asking me how i became so wet. the train i had been travelling on had 'terminated' prematurely, and i was waiting for the next one to come through to take me to my final destination. anyhow, there was this incredible storm with pelting rain, and lightning and thunder, and it was all so exciting i couldn't help but run around in it in this strange suburb. so after this exertion i had come back to stand on the platform dripping wet.

she was telling me how it's best to be careful because she'd heard that storms could just 'hit you'. i thought this was an interesting idea, and i followed it up. it would seem that she had heard about storms 'hitting', but presumably from not having a clear idea in her head what a storm was composed of, the idea had never got beyond the abstract idea of 'hitting'. indeed it was almost like she imagined a person being hit by a storm, as being bowled over, as though being hit by a large bat.

i thought it unfair that one of God's simpler creatures, who often turn out to have a greater appreciation for nature and the like than we supposedly more sophisticated types have, should be that fearful of storms (more fearful of storms than they should be feared. [and they _should_ be feared])

so i took to explaining. "well it depends on what you mean by being hit. you certainly get hit by a lot of rain drops, and it is possible to get hit by lightning, though you usually need to waving a metal rod in the air (like a golf club) for that to happen." i then launched into a discourse about golfers being hit by lightning.

it is a kind of perpetual source of amusement to me, that people continue playing golf in storms. waving a large metal stick in the air, while lightning hunts around in the clouds above looking everywhere for a metal stick such as a golfer wields.

it was funny, and she saw the amusement in it. she was so earnest, and such an attentive pupil. she would repeat back to me the ideas i was presenting to make sure she understood them.

and then the train stopped at her stop, and we said good bye, and i was very sad that i would probably never see her again.

Friday, March 21, 2008

it is something that has troubled me for some time. why is there this extraordinary correlation between men of science, and them being atheists?

in my pre-christian days, i thought this was only fitting. the people who really studied reality, who really thought about life, the people who were really educated, would, of course come to the conclusion that there was no god. and it is only the moronic masses, that are ignorant of the world, who don't think about life, who can't really give good answers for why they believe in God, who believe.

then i became a christian. but i had thought about life, i had thought about reality, whilst i hadn't dedicated my life to science, i understood enough of it to not be completely ignorant.

i thought maybe it was just a cultural thing. early in the days of science, there was a reaction against religion, and an anti-theistic culture resulted. this culture, perhaps had just continued, with each new generation of scientists suckling on the prejudices of the one before.

there is some truth to this idea, i think.

but i think there is a bigger reason. and that is the overarching principle on which all of science is based; occam's razor.

stated simply, occam's razor is the idea that

the simplest explanation that fits the facts, is the correct one.

it seems slightly simplistic, or even silly, but when one considers it, this really sums up how ordinary people figure out what is true or not.

for example, let us say a murder was committed.
a trail of bloody footprints is found leading from the body to a house down the road. inside is found a person asleep clutching a knife, with blood all over them. their shoes match those of the bloody footprints.

without even thinking about it, we know that the sleeping person is guilty.

but it is possible, that someone took the alleged murderers shoes, committed the murder, and made a trail back to the house. then proceeded to dampen the alleged murderer with blood, and plant the knife in their hand while they slept.

it is also possible that a magician riding a flying buffalo through the streets that night, committed the murder, and used their conjuration skills to create the bloody footprints, and plant the knife.

there are literally an infinitude of explanations of how this might have come to take place, but you can be pretty sure what the jury will decide.

in every day life, we know that the simplest explanation, assuming it still fits the facts, is usually the correct one.

and this is the whole idea in science, to find a simpler, fuller explanation.

the early observers of the planets, thought that they orbited in perfect circles. (the heavens were perfect, 'and as the circle was the perfect shape, things in the heavens must move in circles', thought the greeks)

but as time went on, and techniques for measuring the movement of planets improved, they discovered that they weren't moving in perfect circles. so they decided that there were two circles. an orbit within an orbit, resulting in a slightly elliptical path. advancements continued, and more and more circles had to be introduced to fit the measurements. eventually copernicus came along and said, 'they just follow an elliptic path, there's no circles about it'. the simple explanation had won the day.

similarly, newton showed how a simple theory of gravity explained both why an apple would fall from a tree, and why a moon would orbit the earth. (the moon is falling toward the earth, same as an apple, it just keeps missing) the explanation was simpler.

and this is what science does. attempts to explain as many phenomena as possible, with as few formulae as possible.

in einstein's famous words :

"everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler"

and this is why there is so much atheism in science. the whole idea of a complex personality residing outside of space and time, thinking, feeling with who knows what of a brain; is a horrendous complexity that must be removed if at all it can.

if God can be replaced with a simple formula, then to a mind schooled in finding simpler explanations, immersed in the virtues (and there are many) of the application of occam's razor, then for that person, the simple formula seems a more attractive proposition.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

i always wonder about the garden of eden. the idea of there being no weeds, and the lion laying down with the lamb. i sometimes think, maybe it was the other way 'round.
the weeds were actually 10 feet tall, and man had to battle and fight for days to have the earth relinquish the smallest morsel of food.

and it was not the lion laying down with the lamb, but the lamb was attacking the lion!

and perfect man's appetite for love, and work was so great the whole earth had to conspire against him. and it was only after the fall that the universe became subdued, because that was all that broken man could deal with.

and what of heaven? why do the more perfected we become, we become more courageous?
if heaven is all lions laying down with lambs, this courageousness seems pretty pointless.
heaven must be dangerous, for why else would we need courage?

Friday, February 08, 2008

there is a curious contrast between the foundations of the moralist and the utilitarian, and yet a very similar morality is produced. one place that a discrepancy is found, is in the issue of abortion.

moralist and the utilitarian find so much common ground. they march as one against the murderer, the rapist, the thief, the cheat.

but they are interestingly divergent over the issue of abortion. even more interesting, the most out spoken on this issues have never taken the time to recognise the foundations from which their disagreement arises.

they are different in the following ways :

the moralist declares there is an external arbiter, who's authority is absolute. what this arbiter thinks should be done, should be done, and what this arbiter thinks ought not be done, ought not be done.

the moralism of western society originates in christianity, and core to christianity is the prohibition of taking life (excepting defending the innocent, and capital punishment). this is an idea that need little explanation to the reader, anyone having grown up in the western world would be familiar with most of what this entails.

the utilitarian declares there is no external arbiter. there is no absolute moral basis for anything. it is simply a matter of opinion. hitler may have been evil, but that is only your opinion.

here the moralist demands to know, 'by what authority then, do you condemn the murderer? why must he go to gaol, when in his mind his actions were justified? in the absence of an arbiter his opinion is worth no less than yours.'

but here the utilitarian responds, thus revealing himself as a utilitarian:

"if we permitted murder, then society would suffer, and ultimately i would suffer. similarly, whilst there isn't anything morally wrong with rape, or theft, their existence makes for a worse society, that is why i on the one hand declare there is no ultimate moral basis, and on the other condemn almost all the same actions as you do"

and here is the crux of the issue. what happens in the darkness of a womb, is too distant from every day life. everyone would join in condemning the killing of newly-borns, their connection to the life we enjoy is too strong. but the unborn child, deep in that mysterious place, the capabilities of its mind impossible to assess, its form alien to us. its life can be taken.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

from /relations between the ego and the unconscious/ by jung

"... but even in these lesser proportions the essence of the conflict is easily recognised: the arrogance of the one and the despondency of the other share a common uncertainty as to their boundaries. The one is excessively expanded, the other excessively contracted. their individual boundaries are in some way obliterated. if we now consider the fact that, as a result of psychic compensation, great humility stands very close to pride, and that "pride goeth before a fall," we can easily discover behind the haughtiness certain traits of an anxious sense of inferiority. in fact we shall see clearly how his uncertainty forces the enthusiast to puff up his truths, of which he feels none too sure, and to win proselytes to his side in order that his followers may prove to himself the value and trustworthiness of his own convictions. nor is he altogether so happy in his fund of knowledge as to be able to hold out alone; at bottom he feels isolated by it, and the secret fear of being left alone with it induces him to trot out his opinions and interpretations in and our of season, because only when convincing someone else does he feel safe from gnawing doubts."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

It turns out Faux Pas is not 'Forks Paz'

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I was reading about apnea (breath-holding) and the mammalian dive reflex today. I was very amused to find a document discussing snout immersion:

Figure 2. Pig trained to perform apnea with snout immersion.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Today I saw a sign at the train station, it had a giant heading which said 'abuse'. The first part of the sign read:

Some days don't go to plan, but we all have the right to do our jobs without being:
  • Verbally Abused
  • Physically Assaulted
  • Spat on
So you know, fairly typical cityrail sign. Perhaps next it will say "If you experience abuse, or see someone else being abused, report it". Or Something to that effect. But no, it actually said:

If you have a complaint about our staff, please don't take it into your own hands, phone 131 500 and register your complaint.

It's a bit like saying: "we know we've got staff that should be abused, assaulted and spat on, but please don't." Or "We know that verbal abuse, physical assault and spitting are excellent ways of resolving disputes, but in the case of cityrail staff we ask that you make an exception"

A friend, when she first read it, thought it was asking us to report cityrail staff that verbally abuse, spit, etc.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Well, it appears that I have decided to start a blog. Slightly embarrassed about that fact... but anyhow.