Monday, August 11, 2014

G.K. Chesterson Saint Francis of Assisi


This was a short little book, so I downed it. In many ways I'm fascinated just as much by the author as Assisi. I started to notice Chesterson after reading Brian Mclarens a generous Othodoxy. It seemed as if many of Brian's referencing came from Chesterson. Then only recently after reading Paul Ham I was quite disappointed to find he was in the pro war camp of 1914

Anyway Assisi, I read and felt that I really didn't know Assisi. Most of Chesterson's writing was in the grid of nearly 100 years ago. When there was the British Empire and the only religion was Christianity. Most of Assisi's deeds where seen though this colonial view. I would like to read Assisi without this baggage.

He did have a few quotes such as "Christ came before Christianity" or something like that. It just reinforced to me that this puts into perspective the importance of differentiating Christ And Christianty. Reinforcing how difficult it is to find the historical Jesus.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mao's great famine by Frank Dikotter


I sort of had in the back of my mind that China had a famine during Mao's rule. But I never realised its severity. Or that's its causes where predominately due to the ineptitude of central planning of a communist system and the inherent corruption.

An estimated 45 million died during this period where Mao tried to implement communes, and push iron production to the down fall of the country. The book outlines the ineptitude of leaders. The inflation of quotes, the environment degregation as Mao insisted birds killed which stole seeds which then brought about plagues of insects. The hunger of people who ate mud and and when desperate enough went to canibilism. Horrid.

The book reiterated to me that central planning doesn't work.

It also had me thinking about tyrants. Stalin, Hitler and now Mao. I suppose all leaders especially these bad guys got fed a diet of what they want to hear. But it would seem to me that Mao's people feed him an even larger amount of lies than was actually happening. I don't think it was an excuse though.

It also gave me an insight into China today. I'm pretty sure the corruption still happens. It would have to be the case with a closed and censored media. China is still a place to watch with scepticism. This stuff only happened on 50 years ago.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Vineyard meets Emerging Missional Churches

The other day I got sent a link to a web a journal article by Darren Cronshaw who used to have a lot with Forge and Peter Downes, National director of the Australian Vineyard Church: titled 'Vineyard meets Emerging Missional Churches'.

It's good to see an academic paper which is Australian about the Vineyard. It gives a good overview of what the Vineyard is about its values/distinctives. Also a good background to the history of the Australian Vineyard.

The gist of the paper is about how the Emerging Missional Church has interacted with Vineyard Church, and how there has been an emphasis on 'incarnational' instead of 'attractional'.

One example was given that of the Vineyard church in Cabramatta Sydney. I know the Church and the pastor the Greg Trainor the article is a fair summation.

There was certainly a time when the Vineyard church flirted with the Emerging Missional Church, especially Forge. I can remember when Alan Hirsch was invited along to the national conference. There is no doubt that to certain degrees the Emerging Church was on the agenda. Yet I would say there were churches in the Vineyard who where almost hostile to the other extreme all embracing. We were the latter.

The interesting thing is the Vineyard was always known as a Church planting movement. The incarnational approach of EMC I think more than any other thing aligned with church planting DNA of movement. There was a lot of young church plants at that time highly influenced by EMC, I mean young in two ways as in the leaders were in their 30's and they were new or beginning churches. The interesting thing is that at least three of these Churches aren't around any more. Neither is 'Forge' in Victoria or for that matter in Australia (there maybe something happening in Queensland, I'm not sure.) Allan Hirsch who kicked Forge off is living in America and doing well, but the home front has withered. The little endeavours have ceased and the ones that survived just look like any other church. Certainly 'red', the Church specifically planted by Allan just looks like any other church with maybe the demographics a bit younger.

It would be interesting where God leads the Vineyard next in Australia certainly from what I hear the compassion side in a systematic way has dropped off. I wouldn't be surprised if this part of the Vineyard AUS DNA is re-ignited.




Friday, July 4, 2014

Spark, John J Ratey

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercies and the brain

Front Cover


This is a book hat just confirmed what I had suspected. The link between exercise and feeling well physically and mentally: it was just logical. Exercise while been good for your body is also good for your brain.

Ratey seems to do his homework, lots of studies to support his main ideas in the book. For one example one of the main ideas on depression was regarding the effectivness of zolof vs exercies for depression, the results were that there was no differnce, in treatment.

Ratey pretty much went through the most prevelant mental health disorders and quoted any studies which also had exercise in it. Most were very favouralbe towards exercies as a positive for any mental health issues as well good for just general health.

Overal its the type of book you want to quote. For me as a nurse and see every second person on anti-depressents quoteing this book is gold.


Releationship within the Vineyard Australia

Had a friend in the United States who asked me a couple of questions about relationships within the Vineyard Australia. I thought that It maybe worthwhile to put up the questions and answers of my experiences of nearly five years ago.


1. What is the overall structure like in Vineyard AUS? Is it based more in legal structural arrangements or more relational?

The relationship is primarily relational. Each church has there own seperate legal incorperation status. Which may or may not specify its relationship to the Vineyard church in Australia. There is an overall seperate organisation in Australia which function to facilitate interatction between churches through, consultants, conferences etc. It is also assists in conflict as well as interacts internationally with Vineyard internationaly This is usualy organised by the national director.

Each church who wants to benifit from the australian organisation has an unspoken expectation to attend conferences. Churches also have to contribute financially to the overarching body, through a levy or tithe.

2. What is the primary metaphor that is lived out in Vineyard AUS? (For instance, some churches and church networks use the "Family of God" metaphor as a basis, some use "church-planting movement", some "prayer movement" is there a primary (or perhaps even some secondary ones) metaphor for Vineyard AUS?

It would be 'Family' as the dominant DNA, although elements of 'church-planting' are there but would seem to me to be secondary. I can remember when I started within the Vineyard as a pastor there was discussion about the metaphor 'family' and conflict. It was stated that just like a family we stick together, through dna: but we maybe differnt.

3. How do churches and Vineyard AUSleaders interact?

Specifically this is through confernces. Its though these conference that may facilitate ongoing relationships with other Vineyard Churches. I found these difficult as I felt like I had to go, even though I didn't want to. My interaction was primarily with a few like minded people there. They conferences were pretty much dominated from a Vineyard 'old school' who had been influenced by the renewal movement which happened in the 80's early 90's. I primarily interacted with other Vineyard churches which had a 'emerging, missional' bent, a minority. If I got any support from the Vineyard, it was these like minded Vineyard whom I sought out, or vice versa.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Suggs, that close


I wouldn't have even known who the lead singer of Madness untilI picked up 'Suggs'. I'm a product of the eighties, so I thought I'd give it a read.

In many ways it was a romantic look back at the eighties. Suggs seemed to have had a ball. It brought back to me fond memories. Madness was probably the first introduction to English pop for myself. When we were having a baby sitter who missed a week and then the following week told us she had been to the band 'Madness' and then played a few of their songs for us. I like them.

Suggs was an interesting guy, he wrote the book without a ghost writer and I think you can tell. Lots of great little stories. Yet he missed or was reluctant to go into details of the more awkward parts of his life. For example the nitty gritty of the tensions in the band. Where he thought his dad was, or ended up? It was all a bit to upbeat. It was as if he never had depression and was constantly bubbly.

I watched a few clips, of Madness, they were fun classic English silliness. So different to the over sexualised trash that music clips are from today.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Marcus Borg: Jesus, Uncovering the life Teachings, Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary

I've been slowly reading "Jesus, Uncovering the life Teachings, Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary" and I've been sum what surprised at the strength of Borg's emphasis about the "political-dominance" and how it implicates especially my understanding of the 'Kingdom of God'.

I suppose a crude way of understanding the 'political dominance' may be the Marxist revolution in Russia. The 'Political-dominance would be the equivalent of the ruling class the tzars and the aristocrats vs the peasants.
Jesus foresaw the new Kingdom of one of Justice and Compassion. I suppose that Marx's saw it in terms of some type of economic equality (I'm no expert on Marx so happy to be shown wrong).

Moving on I can see that Jesus 'Kingdom of God' is almost a template or archetype for most revolutions. It would seem to me that historical revolutions attempts at bringing in parts of 'The Kingdom of God', yet they eventually fail.

It makes me wonder even though Jesus spoke of the 'Kingdom of God' here and now. How did he see it running? I don't think he ever envisaged a democracy, communism or any other political system. I don't think it would have been some peace loving type hippy commune either; or maybe he did?