mother's day
Somebody said a mother can find all the answers to her child-rearing questions in the books.
Somebody never had a child stuff beans up his nose.

Nor do they tell what to do when a three year old puts a screw, head first, up his nose or the four year old eldest boy, stuffs his three year old brother's ear with sultanas. The screw incident was thanks to my youngest son, the sultanas came from the other two.

All grown now, I love them dearly and am very proud of them.

Quote came from Ian's messy desk. More there as well.



Unlocking New Testament culture

What did I buy at the bookshop yesterday?

A copy of Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture by David deSilva. IVP, Downers Grove, Illinois, 2000.

deSilva takes each of the headings in the title and looks at it in two chapters, the first from a Jewish viewpoint, the second from Graeco-Roman culture. We miss a lot, particularly in the gospels and the book of Romans, because we do not understand these ideas which were so prominent at the time the New Testament was written. Some of them are still important in cultures other than our own today.


mother's day
It's that time of the year again here. The day when all sins of omission and commission can be atoned for by a visit and a big bunch of chrysanthemums or a pair of slippers. Or perhaps even an automated electric gadget whch boils eggs or another which heats frankfurts. Mother's Day. Next Sunday.

Yesterday I was in our biggest chain of Christian booksellers with a friend. It's not a place I visit regularly or even willingly. At Easter its catalogue showed gifts of china crosses entwined with vines of flowers with rabbits frolicking around the base.

My friend and I both remarked when we came out that we felt "yukky." We made straight for the theological section but had to pass through stand after stand of mother's day gifts. Most were tawdry, tacky, sentimental. Often ill-made as well. Country kitsch abounded. There may be some who like that, but we are not in that group. What really bothered us though was the enormous number of gifts which somewhere had a heart or a bunch of flowers incorporated into the gift. Emblazoned across the heart was the word "MOM." That is one word which is not in the Aussie vocabulary. We call our mothers "MUM." As an ex-bookshop manager, I can say that I know such stuff would not have sold even only a couple of years ago. I would never have ordered any of it and would have laughed if a sales rep had shown me goods with "Mom" on them.

The theological section of this chain is beginning to improve. This is just as well as there are now few shops in Sydney which have a decent selection. Moore Books is one, attached to Moore Theological College. Unfortunately, the Lutherans have closed their wonderful Open Book here and have retreated to Adelaide.

However the rest of this large shop is really just another example of consumerism. Christian consumerism, but what's the difference between that and any other sort. I know I have written on this topic before, but I get stirred up by a visit there. Feel good T-shirts, ghastly ties for men with dreadful illustrations on the, caps with fish, coffee mugs with texts inside. I don't see Jesus encouraging us to form our own Christian enclaves complete with a culture alien to all that is outside around. I can hear him saying, "Be in the world but not of it." I don't hear him telling us to have our own clothing, toys, writing paper, furniture or even soap with a text which lasts all through the cake of soap!



Bene Diction, guest writing at Richard's blog admits to a form of dyslexia which makes interpreting symbols and numbers almost impossible. This was not diagnosed till adulthood, too late to avoid condemnation and scathing criticism from others more fortunately placed. Scars still remain from the treatment meted out years earlier.

It's a pity that we are often unable to see the beam in our own eyes before we start on the speck in the eye of another. For years Bene has suffered from ridicule for this. Surely we all have our blind spots? I'm a verbal person and find visual stimuli confusing. I can read a map, although that doesn't always work out, but interpreting other visual symbols sometimes leaves me in a mess. Yet give me some of the fun tests around on the Net and I'm a Grammar God, adept at both grammar and punctuation. I can write logically developed essays and arguments which can influence others.

My husband used to be a systems analyst. He once brought home some tests to see if a person was suited to this. According to the test answers, I failed miserably. He could not believe that an obviously intelligent person could be so totally wrong and asked me to explain how I arrived at my answers. After some thought, he had to admit that my answers were as valid as his. I had approached each problem from a totally different perspective to his.

Bene speaks of wrong wiring in the brain. I can understand that. My father died of Alzheimer's disease and I could see things going round and round in his brain, only to get off at the wrong destination. He could make a connection between kettle and coffee, kettle and stove. His brain could not make the connection between electric kettle and coffee and he ruined several by putting the electric kettle on the stove element.

We are all affected by sin. It's easy enough to say we are all sinners and mean we do things which are wrong. However, much more than that is involved in the phrase. Death, disease, suffering, sorrow are all there. None of us escapes and the "wrong wiring" is part of it. Panic at a mass of symbols or the inability to choose between god and dog are just two outworkings of what went wrong when sin arrived. None of us is good at everything, let alone being perfect.

As Bene relates, encouragement is a great way of helping to overcome the effect of past ridicule and criticism. I'm speaking in general terms here, not just about BeneDiction. Perhaps we need to look carefully at others, and look past the imperfections that we see so easily and try to find something about which we can comment positively. Personally, I often find this hard. I don't suffer fools gladly, but who am I to judge who is a fool? I tend to speak my mind and not consider the effect it can have on others.

I want to publicly acknowledge the help and encouragement Bene was to me some time ago now, when I was caught up in a nasty net mess. Bene has other gifts which can be used, even if HTML is difficult.

Let's start laying down new "tapes" as Bene calls them. I'm talking to myself here at least as much as to anyone reading this. I'm definitely not writing with any particular person or persons in mind.


Here's an interview with Eugene Nida on the difficulties of Bible translation. Richard refers to another article on the same topic while Olive mentions difficulties in translation too. All prompted by an article by Backburner.



For all the Lord of the Rings fans, and yes, I'm one, have a look here at the restored badger scenes. Link from Phil Baker from Riverview church in Perth.


council cleanup day
Our local council has a cleanup day twice a year when practically anything can be placed on the footpath and will be taken away free. Sometimes this degenerates into "move the rubbish from one pile to another" as people cruise the streets seeing what they can obtain for free. My sister picked up a stylish Italian table lamp in a fashionable suburb. Neighbours surreptitiously eye piles of goods up and down the streets and sneak out at night for pickings before the council truck arrives. We once were able to obtain perfectly good kitchen cupboards for our holiday house in the bush. Certainly not the latest in kitchen design, but clean and functional.

It's cleanup week in my municipality this week. It seems that the rubbish has changed since council started the cleanups. Piles are smaller, a result I suppose of bi-annual clean-ups. There seems to be more real rubbish, broken boxes, chairs beyond repair etc. However, I also see a number of goods which indicate a change in household purchasing. Almost every pile has a cast off TV or a couple of computer monitors. I've seen old computers which actually can be recycled. Those small inkjet printers abound in such collections. They are so cheap that it is often easier to buy a new one than have a broken one fixed. I noticed a small printer for sale in a grocery supermarket at a price which was below the replacement cost of a new cartridge/printhead.

Mattresses are plentiful awaiting pickup. Charities no longer take secondhand mattresses in my state.

I was reminded of the quote which suggests that our affluence in the West can be shown by the material in our garbage tins. I think it comes from Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider. It's been some years since I read this, so am just guessing this is the source of the quote. Certainly our rubbish collections show that most of us can afford electronic goods which would have been only dreamt of, not too many years ago.

And yes, I am aware of the irony in the contrast of our picking up cupboards for a holiday place and my criticisms of the actual rubbish. We no longer have the place in the bush, even though it was only a shed on 40 acres of fairly mountainous bush, basically unsuitable for any other purpose than bushwalking.



so what's new
At the conference I spoke of in the entry below, Dr Chris Forbes spoke on Feeding the fledglings:but why by letter? He looked at the similarities and also the differences between the New Testament letters and contemporary letters.

We were amused by one he quoted from a student living away from home. This one disparages his professors, but also has some personal touches.

You have released me from despondency by making it clear that the business about the theatre was of indifference to you... the chariots for the journey were smashed up as I think I have already written to you...

Change some of the vocabulary and what is really new?


the founding fathers and the fledgling church
I went to an interesting conference on Saturday, convened annually by the Society for the Study of Early Christianity which is part of the Ancient History Department of Macquarie Uni. This conference runs annually and has a number of speakers from within the uni and sometimes from scholars visiting Australia. The topic this year was The Founding Fathers and the Fledgling Church. Speakers interpret the topic for themselves. Two sessions run simultaneously through the day, although each session is only 40 minutes long and there are two plenary sessions to close proceedings. It's often hard to make a choice.

Some of the sessions I attended were by people such as these: Dr Bill Dumbrell speaking on the Pauline evidence for the partings of the ways; Dr Chris Forbes; Dr Norman Young who spoke of mirror reading the text of the epistle to the Hebrews; and Dr Neil McLynn, originally from Oxford but now lecturing in Japan.

I enjoyed them all and learnt something from everyone.

The after noon saw two book launches. the first was Early Christian Life and Thought in Social Context by Dr Mark Harding . (Note: the Australian price is closer to AUS$100) The second was Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome by Dr Ian Plant. Both of these authors are connected with the uni.



Hands Off the Keyboard!
Sunday brunch
Slowly raise your hands and take one step back. Oh darn, then you
couldn't type your entry. This week's post is about things you do when
you're not at the computer. So ... I don't want to see any of your
answers computer related. M'kay!?

1. Do you have any hobbies or special talents?
I'm an avid reader and have been since I was a small child. My mother used to say that I dried one plate for evry ten pages read. I used to do a lot of sewing and have just started knitting again.

2. If time and money weren't limiting you, is there a hobby that you
don't do now that you would want to start?
How does sitting on teh beach with a good boook sound? No? Well perhaps beside a creek listening to the birds.

3. What clubs/organizations/unions/et cetera do you belong to? (Remember it can't be computer related.)
I belong to few but attend various things. I work as a volunteer for Scripture Union NSW, attend meetings of the Macquarie Ancient History association and spent yesterday at a conference at macquarie uni Society for the Study of early christianity. And lots of church things as well.

4. Is there a hobby you think is absolutely lame and you would never
do? (Except perhaps under duress.)
Scrapbooking and such things hold absolutely no appeal to me, because I am not a "visual" sort of person.

5 Is there a hobby you've done in the past but cannot don't do now
because of limitations or certain circumstances?
I love gardening but find that arthritis prevents me doing as much as I used to and also cuts down on the heavy work associated with it. I also really enjoy chainsawing firewood and splitting it. Again arthritis has stepped in here and we have got rid of our slow combustion fire and replaced it with an impersonal gas heater which doesn't do the job half as well as our stove used to.