Sunday, August 23, 2009


When I came across a blog review of 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy it reminded me of impressions I had after finishing it earlier this year. Apart from being quite beautifully and sparely written, the post-apocalyptic/post nuclear event world was eerie and frighteningly deserted.

It reminded me of John Marsden's 'Tomorrow, When the War Began' and his subsequent books about post-invasion Australia. The characters could never be at ease or safe, always unsure who was watching or lurking around them. It was partly menacing but also forlorn and lonely.

The twist which really surprised me about the story was about perspective in narrative. The man builds a slow picture, through gradual revelation of his and his son's history, of what has happened to the world and to humanity. I did not question the truth of his perspective until the last scene of the book. McCarthy, by the isolation of the two main characters through the book, maintains their perspective as the trustworthy account of how the world has reached the point we glimpse. It was only when other characters entered the narrative and spoke, that the man's perspective was questioned. It was only on reflecting back from the conclusion, that I was able to see the possibility of paranoia or isolating himself for reasons we may not even have known.

The love that the man had for his son was interesting, also. I hope that I would want to stay alive for my child, even when I had lost desire to live. The father's love was fiercely protective and sacrificial, in a strange way. The instinct for survival and care for his son in the midst of loss and desperation was so strong.

I was left wondering how often we picture our own history a certain way, and how often it is only part of the story. We have a particular narrative in mind as we reflect on our experiences and it is so easy to mistake those around us - to misunderstand actions or motives, to perceive situations wrongly. Of course there are times when our version corresponds with the stories of those around us, but sometimes we get it totally wrong and misunderstand completely.

There was a note of hope at the end of the story, but humanity was deeply troubled, lost and struggling. It was evident that survival was a haphazard and dangerous pursuit, and left me thinking of Jesus' compassion for the crowds, 'harrassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd'.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the holy spirit. Romans 15:13.

I keep coming back to this verse from Romans as I finish reading the book this week. The word hope caught my attention, as I try to puzzle out ideas about faith, hope and love for a weekend away later this year.

God = the source of hope.

Hope is future-orientated. It's what we look forward to, what we are waiting for. So often, the way we talk about our 'hopes' is with a sense that they may not eventuate. We hope to get particular things or go to certain places or achieve established goals. Sometimes it just doesn't happen. Sometimes we keep trying and other times we just shift our sights. This is not the hope of God.

When we trust in God for our future, then we can have confident hope. We can be confident that God will take care of us, both here on earth and when we enter the place he is preparing for us in heaven. The holy spirit will remind us again and again of God's promises to seek and find us, to reconcile us to himself, to adopt us as his children, to make us part of Christ's body and work through us, to bring us to the Great City in heaven and place us among the worshipping throngs of people.

God does not make these promises lightly. He makes them as the lord of the universe who speaks and things happen. Hope in God is sure because He is trustworthy, and he is powerful to make it happen. Trust then leads on to confident hope. Trust also gives us joy and peace. Knowing our lives are in God's hands gives us an abundant contentment and a sure hope.

It's hardest to hope when things are falling apart around us. When a child dies, or when a partner leaves us. When we can't find a job or when the one we have seems to hard.

I find it hard to hope when its difficult to see God's work in the lives around me (especially mine). Maybe I don't trust that he can do things, that he will fulfill the promises he has made to rescue people. Sometimes my sin is to trust in my own wisdom for a situation, rather than looking to God and praying desperately for him to do what is needed.

Paul is praying that God will give people joy and hope, as they trust in Him. Then they will have overflowing, confident hope.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


David Malouf's book, Ransom, retells part of the Iliad. Achilles has killed Hector and Hector's father, Priam, king of Troy decides to approach Achilles man-to-man and plead for his son's body in order to give him a proper burial. The book tells the story of this journey and the meeting of the two men.

The book has been described as 'lyrical', and I found it really pleasurable to read. The writing appears effortless and flows so well. I reached the end of the book struck by the beauty and tragedy of the story, having seen so much in such a short, simple picture.

I have never read the classics, as such, but feel inspired to try. We went to see 'Antigone' last year and it had a similar feeling about it. Life, death, betrayal, heroism presented with a certain transparency and urgency. Reactions are visceral and powerful, love is forceful and the gods involved as participants in the drama of life and kingdoms.

This book is definitely worth reading.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grace and Life

Discussion at our place, last night, centred around God's grace.

In our outcome/achievement orientated society we can measure our faith by the 'things' we do for God. Sometimes it feels like we are only pleasing God if we are 'doing' something worthy. This is especially true in Christian ministry. In some circles we boast about 'busy-ness', albeit in a sheepish way. (Our discomfort is more with the posture of boasting rather than being uncomfortable with being too busy.) I have noticed, myself, that when people ask how our church/ministry is going that I want to demonstrate to other Christians the worthy things that we are doing or achieving.

I don't think it is wrong to be busy at times. There will always be times when things pile up on us and different things demand our attention at the same time. The danger comes when we only know how to be busy. When we maintain a roll of busy-ness out of habit it can lead to a lack of skill in discerning what is really important to spend time and energy on. More importantly, it demonstrates to the people around us that we believe personal worth is in achievement rather than in being a beloved child of God.

So often, when busy, we come to trust in our own efforts. We can become proud of what we see as our own achievements as a busy and important person. We can come to think that God will only really love us if we are doing something for him. It is sad that we can sell our loving father so short, that we see his love with worldly eyes, contingent on us being good or worthwhile.

God loves us in our lostness and failure. His grace is that he comes to us and loves us before we can do anything for him. This grace then leads to gratitude in us and a desire to be part of his mission to the world, but the grace comes first.

This must be balanced with a desire to live a holy, godly life and to be involved in labour that will withstand the fire of judgement. God wants us to live a fulfilled life* - I would suggest, a balanced life - where we understand the value of work and service but also know the relief of rest and the joy of celebration. The work God does in our lives and spirits is a much truer mark of value than our own work and achievements.

*John 10:10 - 'I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'
It is interesting that Jesus talks about bringing life for people 'to the full' in the context of his shepherding and his sacrifice. The full life is found in following the shepherd and living in his care.

Crocheted Coral

I have just mailed my contribution to the Sydney Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. I am looking forward to going to the Powerhouse Museum later this month to see the completed reef and see if I can identify my pieces. Here are some pictures for posterity to prove I did take part in an artistic/creative endeavour.

I could not have co-ordinated or concieved this project but I am excited that people who can have made it possible to participate.