Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Slap

I've just finished reading 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas. It was a bit sex-obsessed for my liking, but I thought it was a gripping story and I enjoyed the story coming from a number of different perspectives, through different characters' chapters.

Physical discipline of children is such a fraught issue, and that is not the only complicating factor for the people in this story. Some politically correct views are challenged and there is not a pat solution. Other politically correct perspectives on sexuality, relationships and fundamentalism were not questioned at all.

The portrayal of drug-taking was often as positive, particularly with regard to experimentation and I would want to be more cautious than this. It made me wonder if I am very sheltered and prudish because my experience of illicit drugs is limited and I don't have such an open acceptance of their ubiquity and desirability.

It stood out to me, how much personal history, family and experience shape the reactions of each character. Every person had pain, loss or misunderstanding which was at the source of their broken behaviour. There was also a clear message about the need for forgiveness in order to bring healing.

The mother of the child who is slapped, seeks retribution on his assailant. She is a deeply needy woman, both trapped by and idealising motherhood. She is obsessed with her son and the need to be a 'good' mother, but overwhelmed by his possession of her. The sad implication was that her nurturing of her son was going to be a source of future problems for him. That is a searing possibility which I don't like to consider in my own life. But if I don't, how can I work to stop it happening?

I would recommend this book, for the ideas it raises. It is well written, and accurately portrays the dilemmas and blindnesses of our society.

Friday, June 19, 2009

10 things I want my children to learn and remember...

I have decided to try out a list post as advised by the comment links to Justin Moffatt's blog and Abraham Piper's post. So here are my top 10 things I want my children to learn over the next 20 years.

  1. They are loved
  2. Family is a safe place
  3. Learning something new is good
  4. It's possible to make most things at home
  5. It's OK to be scared, sad or angry
  6. To listen
  7. To handle being wrong
  8. To laugh
  9. To be generous
  10. To love other people

I have compiled these with the understanding that the love of God and being one of his children permeates all these, without including an overt 'be in a relationship with God' lesson.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Being Thankful

How do I teach my children to enjoy good things and be thankful for them?

If something we like happens regularly, we can get to expect it and forget that it is a blessing. We might even get to the point of demanding it and being put out when it doesn't happen. A gracious gift can become a burden to the giver and the recipient takes it for granted.

I am finding this a hard one to teach at home. Maybe I need to look out for where I take gifts for granted?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adopting embryos

I have been listening to a friend talk about frozen embryos which will not be used by couples having IVF. Apparently, in Victoria, these embryos can be offered to other couples for adoption. In NSW this doesn't usually happen, so unused embryos are often destroyed.

It seems strange that it is preferable to kill an embryo rather than allow it to be adopted by someone who longs for a baby. Adoption is so out of favour because of the complications it can bring for children and biological parents. It has now become preferable to be killed rather than adopted. What is going on?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Devilled Sausages

The new favourite meal at our house is devilled sausages. Why is adding a bit of spice, being 'devilled'? Apparently the term is a Georgian one. I hope that we can be godly and spicy in our family.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cha-ordic (aka Paradox #1)

I heard this word today in a podcast sermon from Mars Hill Bible Church and have decided to take it up and use it. Rob Bell used it to describe how the church should be.

It is a combination of the words chaotic and orderly, and I am interpreting it as the positive aspects of both concepts combined. That there is the spontaneity, flexibility and freedom of chaos with the predictability, safety/boundaries and solidness of order.

I like the balace of it as an idea and the paradoxical flavour of it. I am beginning to hatch/gestate an idea of a series of posts about paradox and dialectics. More about that when I do bit more research and thinking.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Jesus' Last Words

We are doing a series in Sunday School about things Jesus said the night before he died. I don't think it will be exhaustive or the last word on last words. I hope it gives the kids a picture of the great promises and encouragements that Jesus gave his disciples and his church.

So far we have spent time thinking about...

"Your lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other." 

"I am going to prepare a place for you, and I will come and get you." 

 As I read through John 14-17 I keep coming up with so much hope for what is to come. Despite Jesus knowing the anguish that lay ahead of him he was able to teach and comfort his friends. Of course there was also a sense of urgency about his teaching, because he knew what was about to happen. Yet he was able to be so clear-sighted in what he said to them, despite their inability to understand what he was pointing out. It would be easy to say how slow they are to 'get it', except that I know how often I don't understand what is happening around me until it has well and truly occurred. I am able to read Jesus' words in the light of the next few days, (and years), which put John 14-17 into perspective.

Jesus' promise to prepare a place for me, has made me wonder what life would be like without the hope that I will one day be in heaven with Jesus. What if the life of 'quiet desperation' most people lead was all we had? D. H Lawrence said that heaven was just a carrot to get poor people to put up with their poverty here in this life. The promise that Jesus is talking about and the glimpses of heaven we get in the bible are much more than that, though.

One day I will live in a place where everything goes right, where there is no danger, where I am perfectly understood and where I perfectly understand - no more confusion, loss, half-heartedness, mind-changing or disappointment. I will never have to watch the news with disgust or horror souring my mouth again. I won't have to wonder about the safety of someone I see in the street or at work. I won't have to feel helpless watching people's lives that seem so difficult to change. 

I love the beautiful pictures of a city, with a river flowing through it, with God in the midst of it, life and love abounding. The city is peaceful, yet filled with people and praise. I have my place in it, as do each of God's people. Thinking about that future helps me put this world in its right place. It cannot defeat me and, more importantly, it cannot overshadow God and his plans.

This Sunday,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Just read some interesting reflections about being stressed and tired and needing to give time to restoring activities. See

The restoring activity I need at the moment is to spend time reading the bible and being challenged to live more saltily. It has become too easy to just drift along and my faith make no difference to how I live. I am busy and I do get tired but I think this saps my strength to the point where I don't even care about the eternal trajectory of the lives around me. Sometimes I struggle to even pray faithfully for my own family.

Putting on a good spiritual face with Christians I have known for a long time is hypocritical and I don't outright bluff and lie. However, I make little additions to the truth of my lasitude, prayerlessness and barrenness, so that they do not see how broken I am and how much I need the mercy of my Father.

I really want the answer to be easy and not to have to change. I want a transformed life with as little effort as possible. I want to be able to carry out all the projects and ideas in my mind, but there just is not time or energy to commit to them all. I need to prioritise and choose but I allow circumstance and laziness to choose for me. It is easier to sit and watch an hour of Brothers and Sisters than to spend an hour praying or talking with my husband in order to encourage him.

I stop to see where I am and how life is progressing. Usually, it is so easy to skim quickly over what I see, so that I do not get too self-critical or discouraged. But sometimes I need to really be honest in my appraisal when I look in the mirror. 

I do believe that there is a time to be gracious to myself and not to be too hard or critical. But if true graciousness is possible, then there is also a time to acknowledge my deep, deep flaws and failures. Not doing it so that someone can hear or see, then reach out and reassure me, but so that I can know how much I need help, how much I need God and his spirit in me.

Only then can I begin to be restored.