29.4.04

This is one of the most exciting and joyful posts I have ever read. After many years of frustration and heartbreak, Richard and Shannon have become parents to Rowan.

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ancient magic
There's a fascinating account in the Domain section of today's Sydney Morning Herald about ancient beliefs and building practices. While buildings here are not very old, practices seem to have been followed which are centuries old in Europe.

In some buildings, shoes have been bricked into hollows constructed in chimneys. A child's shoe was found in such a hollow in an 1828 house in The Rocks on Sydney Harbour. Many places have mummified cats, sometimes chasing mummified rats in specially constructed hollows in the foundations. These could only have been placed there during construction.

It is believed that such practices were part of an often secret ritual to protect the inhabitants of the house from evil spirits or witches. It was done secretly to avoid alerting local witches. Apparently these ideas date back to about the twelfth century, although there is a story from the fourteenth century of the devil being "conjured," (article's words) into a boot. In Britain there have been about 200 mummified rats found and about in Europe, 1500 boots have been found in specially constructed spaces around chimneys since 1970.

The article also mentions that animals were buried under British military defences as late as World War II and that according to a German writer, Gunter Grass, puppies were buried under German fortifications on the French coast.

Ian Evans, a researcher into old buildings and building prctices will speak on this topic at a conference this weekend.

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Hamo, at Backyard Missionaries raises the question of what constitutes a marriage. He asks if living together in a solid, committed relationship is enough and then concludes that it is not. What about two young Christians from your church living together? What action should be taken then?

Such questions are very topical and there are many other threads intertwined on the subject. I don't want to try to untangle most of those threads in this post. Some of the thoughts I have, arise from personal issues.

Certainly the act of living together or "knowing" each other in the Biblical sense is involved. But, like Andrew, I don't think that's enough. To me it doesn't seem all the story. If it were, then there would be many who did this often before they became Christians who would theoretically be "married" to the first person they slept with.

I wrote some time ago of one of my own sons who lives with his girlfriend and has a child who is an absolute delight to me. They say that they are committed to each other as much as either of his brothers is committed to his own wife. However, I have noticed that when things get rocky, as happens in the best of marriages occasionally, the tie between them seems to be tied more loosely than their words would lead me to expect. Breaking up is never easy, but it seems more possible without the ties of actual marriage. This is, of course, a subjective judgment of mine, just based on their case and that of others I have known.

So what else is there than just mutual commitment? I suggest that in the case of a Christian couple, it is the fact that the commitment is made to each other in the sight of God and of other Christians. God is invited into the marriage and is asked to strengthen and maintain that commitment. Friends and family who are Christians witness this. It is something public, like baptism, whatever your views on that are.

Occasionally I read write-ups of marriages in local papers. I am surprised how frequently the couple who are not Christians, mention that they enjoyed the church service. It seems that there is still quite a feeling that God needs to be involved. I've seen some call the service "spiritual" whatever that loose term may mean. They appreciate the service and what it means to them.

I think that this leads on to Andrew's next question. What should be said to a young Christian couple in the church living together? A couple of comments point out the problem of church discipline today. Someone disciplined is likely to leave the church, go to the one around the corner and say nothing of the discipline. Unfortunately that is true, but it applies to much more than the scenario raised.

However, I do not think that this couple is married. I think they are just living together. The KJV uses the term "fornication." I don't think I would use that word, but I still believe that this type of behaviour is wrong. The matter of discipline is another issue and one which needs to be addressed.

So a commitment to each other has been made . A covenant has been established. God and the church family have witnessed this. Fast forward down the track somewhat. That covenant has been broken. Perhaps there has been adultery or abuse or both. Repentance seems to have been superficial and the offences are repeated and as for discipline, the same old story - new church, no disclosure. Is there still a marriage?


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27.4.04

(Tuesday's) Sunday brunch

Do It Yourself

Would you be able to do these things yourself or have someone do it for
you?
1. Fix a flat tire.
Well, yes. I can change the tire and know how to mend it. However, arthritis in my shoulders prevents me from actually removing the tire from the rim. The easiest wheel change ever belonged to the Citoen DS where all that was needed was to put the hydraulic system to the highest level and then shove the jack under the car.

2. Fix a tear or make alterations to clothing.
I used to do a lot of sewing and with three boys, there was often a lot of mending. Have you ever seen a good woollen jumper after it was attacked with scissors by a toddler? A bit of creativity and some appliqué saw a cute picture which added to the warmth and covered the holes.

3. Unclog a severely plugged up sink or toilet.
Been there, done that. Enough said.

4. Change the oil in your car.
I no longer do this sort of thing but have stripped an engine several times and also helped split a tractor and pulldown and rebuild its engine.

5. Put together an unassembled toy or piece of furniture out of the
box.
Lots of cupboards and shelves.

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Yesterday, the ABC ran an article on the blockading of a site in the Blue Mountains by environmentalists concerned about the damage that filmmakers may have on the fragile environment of Mt Hay. The film Stealth has been filmed in Sydney over the last few months.

These mountains are scarcely molehills in the global scheme of mountains. The highest point on the road is just over 4,000' high. They are not really mountains at all. Geologically they were once a huge plateau upthrust from the flatter land around. This has been cut into gorges. Steep sandstone cliffs and dead end valleys mean that there are few easy ways through them to the west and the early colony was hemmed in by them for many years. Eventually it was discovered that the way was to climb them at the edge and stay on top by winding across their summits. Trying to find a path through the narrow gorges led to failure. There are only a few places where a road across is possible.

Environmentalists gathered yesterday to blockade the road to the film site. The film's director, Rob Cohen, commented. He opened his mouth to change feet.

First he commented that three days of filming would have no more impact than the average Japanese tourist. I think he was actually trying to be complimentary as he remarked that the day after the company left, there would be no evidence of its presence. It could however, have been better worded.

Then he said, "God took a long time to make Mt Hay. I doubt that an American movie company can ruin it in three days." Leaving aside any theological implications of his statement as I have no wish to enter that particular controversy, the second part is open to question.

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wham, more spam
This morning's paper mentions some spam, giving examples of the dreadful English grammar and spelling. The article wonders, tongue in cheek, that these so called "official" emails could be written in such poor style.

I've just received another from Barclays Bank. Subject line? Urgent official notice to all Barclays Bank users. Following the same lines as the musings in the paper... can't they tell who is an official bank user? Ok, so I'm being sarcastic. This group must also be constantly changing sender's addresses as I have blocked several of these before.

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26.4.04

This is not really my cup of tea, or even coffee. Prefer my Lavazza, Illy, or Vittoria.

Link from the Main Point.

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25.4.04

There's a group hug going on over at Richard Botts's. Go and join in as he and Shannon travel to China to collect long awaited Rowan.

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Anzac day
Anzac Day 2004, and Australian troops are again deployed around the world, some as "peace keeping" forces, others in military arenas. Again, many thousands of Australians will gather at Gallipoli in Turkey to remember the landing by Australian and New Zealand forces in 1915. Here in Sydney, troops of past and present eras will march through our streets, accompanied by bands some of which come from local schools. Some of these bands do the march several times as there are so many who wish to march. Afterwards regimental gatherings will be held and many old soldiers will meet in pub bars.

Some see this as a chance for a booze up and would decry the day at all. More and more, however, Australians are holding this day in an increasingly revered way. Perhaps this has to do with current world events, but even teenagers and those in their twenties find something to hold dear in the remembrance of what was after all, a defeat. Large crowds gather for dawn services and to watch the march.

More on Anzac day can be found here.

I'm not a pacifist, although I wish we were not involved in Iraq. I've never supported that campaign, although I am proud of the role our troops have played in East Timor. The words of Eric Bogle's song, while sentimental, have always affected me.


Now when I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback,
Well, I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915, my country said, "Son,
It's time you stop ramblin', there's work to be done."
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun,
And they marched me away to the war.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
As the ship pulled away from the quay,
And amidst all the cheers, the flag waving, and tears,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.

And how well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water;
And of how in that hell that they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was waitin', he primed himself well;
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell --
And in five minutes flat, he'd blown us all to hell,
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.


But the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
When we stopped to bury our slain,
Well, we buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again.

And those that were left, well, we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire.
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
Though around me the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I woke up in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, well, I wished I was dead --
Never knew there was worse things than dying.

For I'll go no more "Waltzing Matilda,"
All around the green bush far and free --
To hump tents and pegs, a man needs both legs,
No more "Waltzing Matilda" for me.

So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And as our ship sailed into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
To grieve, to mourn and to pity.

But the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
As they carried us down the gangway,
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.

And so now every April, I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reviving old dreams of past glory,
And the old men march slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask meself the same question.

But the band plays "Waltzing Matilda,"
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda.
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

Eric Bogle

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