Thursday, July 28, 2005

Jesus of the People

Who is Jesus? What did he look like?

In the previous post, Alan, a much loved friend and man after my own heart, asserted that metrosexuals (although, he may not have meant that term? It is my presumption) would do well to remove their earrings.

My maternally-challenged clone, Paul, stated that perhaps Jesus might, in this day and age, don earrings - and what would be wrong with that?

What indeed? Is that likely? Be in no doubt that humanity has shaped Christ after their own image for the last 2000 years and will continue to do so. Artwork abounds throughout the ages, twisting Christ and framing these impressions of Our Lord into forms most beauteous in the eye of the artisan.

Maybe we don't like the idea of a Christ that wears earrings. Maybe we don't like the idea of a Christ who might be tattooed. Maybe we don't like the idea of an African Christ. Maybe we don't like the idea of an Asian Christ. Maybe we don't like the idea of a feminine Christ. Maybe we don't like the idea of a fat Christ.

Who are we to make those decisions? Who are we to say that Christ cannot meet people where they are, relating to them as 100% human at whatever level they're at or body-image that they have?

When you or I meet Christ one day, he will ask us why we didn't help him. He'll ask why we didn't help him when we saw the Asian struggling to be understood. He'll ask us why we didn't help him when we saw the homeless man shivering under Grafton Bridge. He'll ask us why we didn't help him when we saw the woman squirming in her seat from the lewd comments of the other passengers on the Bus.

We see Christ every day, we walk past Christ every day. If we only see Christ in other people who are just like us, then we are only loving images of ourselves.

So I bring to you Janet McKenzie's painting, "Jesus of the People" (click for larger image, I hope).


Caption from here:

Jesus Christ is dominantly represented as a white, European male. Grant says non-European women, such as African American women are "twice removed from the image of God" . . . This image "Jesus of the People" by Janet McKenzie
portrays Jesus as relatively androgynous and as black.


If you are uncomfortable with this image, as with many possible images of Christ, then it begs the question, "Why?"

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Towards an effective "missional church"

[Written to be posted here, to a new BCNZ blog that I am a contributor for]

In the US they call it the "missional church"
In the UK they call it the "emerging missional church"
Here, they call it the "emerging church".

It's about living life relevantly to everyone, including those people who would feel more at home if their cellgroup was held weekly outside a Ponsonby Cafe around communal coffee.

It's about finding a message and offering a life in Christ that fits for those people who might have too many earrings or too many tattoos to sit in your average pew.

It's about learning how to speak to those people who "listen with their eyes and think with their emotions" (Ravi Zacharias).

Emerging church isn't about discarding all forms of the past; in fact, emerging church is also about expressing itself in forms whereby it reintegrates contemplative uses of traditional liturgy, weaving it through artform and around contemporary worship, until you get an approach to God that accepts the good from many different streams of 'sacred'.

That being said, this next chart was very telling. What do you think about it? I found it while reading "360-degree Preaching" by M. Quicke, who quoted from the book, "Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World", by R.E. Webber.

PARADIGMS OF CHURCH HISTORY.

Ancient:
Mystery, Community, Symbol

Medieval:
Institutional

Reformation:
Word

Modern:
Reason, Systematic & Analytical, Verbal, Individualistic

Postmodern:
Mystery, Community, Symbol


It's the ultimate ego trip to always consider that you are taking your religion back to what is pure and right, but Quicke reckons this guy might have noticed something quite important.

Quicke says that Webber, "pleads for a rediscovery of core elements - mystery, community and symbol - in order for the missional church to be effective today."

I think he might have something. Not all of the advances that the Church has made in the shadow of PoMo has been bad. I think that the emerging church reflects just this, the need to grasp in tension these core elements: mystery - the type found in experiencing God, the source of Truth - with symbol - both the cipher and the 'carrier' of truths - within the bounds of our faith community.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Stress free games

If you're every wondering what to do and you have some time to kill, consider turning your relaxation energies in this warm fuzzy direction, rather than finding some Virtual Enemy to slaughter or watch some DVD glorifying Bankrobbery.

Yes, it's "Orisinal", the Japanese answer to spare time.

Orisinal, sure to be the Japanese answer to small offices and short lunchbreaks
There are a whole tonne of incredibly G-Rated games here, some bordering on the downright bizarre but others providing a fairly fun time.

If pastel colours and fuzzy cartoon animals gliding through peaceful skies aren't your cup of tea, then take a gander at Orisinal's action-packed Trailer for their website and maybe you'll think again.

I mean, come on, who can deny the obvious attraction of "Bum bum koala" or "Bungee Bear".

Actually, Bum Bum Koala is terrible.

But some are good: Bungee Bear (here) is kinda relaxing, same with Among the Clouds (here).

Don't forget to try the insanely rediculous catch-shots-of-the-flying-saucer-on-handycam game, The Truth is Up There (here).

It's addictive - searching through all their games is, I mean. Some are just terrible, while others have a peculiar attractiveness about their simplicity and their peacefulness (Oh, except Swordsman, but I won't mention that). You could almost have a nap to some of their backing tunes.

Orisinal is the Eastern version of an executive stress-ball.

p.s. I dare you to get to the Bottom of the Sea, here.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Music, from Studio to Headphones

In the attempt to keep up with the play of integrating a variety of interests with blogs, as embarassingly good blogs like BlogCritics or TallSkinny manages, I've added the humble feature of favourite Streaming Radio links to my sidebar.

So while you're surfing the Net or reading my posts, you can listen to my music too

That means you can have The Total Iain Experience (tm)

I'll meet you in DI's Chillout ;)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Herald says mysticism good, religion bad

Clicking on the picture MAY give you a readable version (darn internet!). Download it from the page that the picture links to and zoom in if that doesn't satisfy your feeble eyes.


(backup link)

What do you all think?

EDIT: Oh... my Dad is now hosting my better original version of the file here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Insanity 101

Here's an interesting cycle I discovered recently.

It starts in...

AMERICA, where Corporations with multinational reach and international resources find the need to create products to sell to rich American consumers. Cost is key, naturally, and so they outsource their factory-level production to...

TAIWAN, where a cheap labour force is in abundance. These workers are willing and able to do it at low pay, which suits the Corporations just fine. An added fact is that Taiwan receives enough business at higher wages than even poorer nearby countries, so it attracts many immigrant workers from...

PHILIPPINES, because at home their wages can be dirt-low and working conditions can be very bad. But people from here have high hopes, and even at these conditions they answered positively in a survey about their own economic status, security and place in society. In fact, these bottom-rate, underpaid workers rated themselves better in terms of their lot in life and their job situation then an equivalent survey of workers from...

AMERICA, where Corporations with...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Life: the update

I have had an interesting last few days.

I went to stay at my sister's flat for a while, hence the lack of blogging. I had a good time there. While I was there I found out that my very old Grandmother has begun to slip away. She isn't in pain or anything, it is just that she seems very thin, like butter spread over too much bread. She isn't dead yet, but the Doctors say that it is more a matter of which week rather than which month it happens. Grandma sleeps much of the time, and doesn't speak much if she can speak at all (sometimes she can't).
To refer back to some of Paul's reflections on the anglo- take on death, I myself found it very weird to hear my Grandmother even SAY the word 'dying'.
But I am not wholly sad about this experience, my emotions are quite mixed. I had been concerned that, even with a part-time job (which I actually don't have yet), I wouldn't be able to get enough money to go to India. My Grandmother has just given me a large sum of money, more than half of what I needed to go on my three month mission-trip to India. She didn't even know about the trip, so I was so glad to see the look of pure excitement on her face when I got to tell her about the mission-trip that her money would ensure that I would go on.
I don't know what the trip has in store for me, but it starts here. Now I can begin this next semester knowing with certainty that I will be able to go on the trip, and that means that I can plan my studies and direct my passions in a very specific direction.
My trip will take me into the rural outback of india, half-way down the eastern coast and then inland. I'm not sure on the exact long-and-complex name my region has, a missionary couple I know tell me that my description sounds like it is near Andra Pradesh, a popular missions target. I'll know more after the three day preliminary 'Meet-the-Team' Camp I'm having this Friday to Sunday.
I'll be going with a group called GlobalTask, an organisation that one of my friends works for. GlobalTask sends teams yearly to India, Africa and other places (like Cambodia perhaps?). I had the option of either a one month trip or a three month trip for only $500 more. Naturally, wanting to avoid the major hiccups of an "STM" that was more like an "S!!tm", I chose the three month option.
The first month with be spent with the other 1-M'ers, taking a large trek around an area accompanying a local Indian missionary, covering the villages that he tries to reach the rest of the year. I don't envy him at all, the distances walked are large and the life must be lonely for him. I only hope that we can do him justice and not stick our foot in it like a bunch of goobers. From the sounds of it, he appreciates the teams that come through with him. Like it or not, the reality seems to be that the annual foreign presence opens a few doors for him and the people seem a little more receptive to him and the gospel every year. Some of these villages he can't even see himself more than once a year, due to the large area that he covers and the remoteness of some locations.
The remaining two months will be spent doing a multiplicity of things. The exact itinerary for the 3-M'ers hasn't been set yet because this will be the first year that people have gone on a three month trip to India. From the sounds of it, the remaining members of the team (after the rest have returned home) will head to a more urban locale, working with Indian Pastors in the region and maybe even doing some work with an Orphanage. I'm looking forward to doing work with Indian Pastors, especially since there is often so much zeal and passion in an area but so little good biblical training. Whatever I can do or add in my short time there, I will be glad to do so. As with the rest of it, good follow through and continual communication is needed. There is no use thinking that Christianity will thrive in a region from a hit-and-run approach. I used to be involved with TSCF while I was at Auckland University, and they in turn raised money for IFES which helped sponsor Indian pastors through a Bible college. I wonder, will any of my past TSCF contacts will help me achieve more when I go over there? I'll have to let a few know and see what happens.
So, I've got until about October to raise the rest of the money. I think I can do it, particularly if I get a part-time job (hopefully I'll be able to raise it all and more, if I do).
It's going to be the biggest experience of my life so far. When I get back, I'm sure I'll go crazy when I see the luxury and the apathy of our society rolled into a neat Western ball. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be scary. By the end of it I'm sure I'll have wanted to go home more than once. By the end of it I'm sure that I'll wish that I could stay forever.
There is going to be more than a little spiritual warfare happening against my favour, so hopefully the community at home will dedicate themselves to prayer for myself and my team. We're going to need it.
More than anything, I myself pray that the team that goes with me will be sensitive to the needs and the desires of the people that they go to reach. I pray that we will put others before our own desire to have a good time, and not use the trip only as a chance for personal growth.
And so it begins! Thanks, Myra.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Saturday, July 02, 2005

My secret clone...

There is a "what famous person are you most like" test flitting around the blog-O-sphere, I saw Allan do it, then Frank.

Here's my results:



I think it probably stereotyped me based on my conflict-based responses. I feel so marginalised by their violent and oppressive metanarrative ^_^

Friday, July 01, 2005

Votes, lies and ballot-tape

After discovering to what is, I'm sure, our total amazement that Politicians aren't trusted - at least among Readers Digest types - it seems apt to discuss the lie that is currently permeating small-party campaign tactics.

The scurrilous "redistribution" of votes.

I've made a comment that pretty much says it all on Big News, here, but I want room to get some conversation about it on my own Blog.

Essentially, small-party Candidates such as Bernie Ogilvy will come along to a meeting and tell you (as he did me) via a flashy slide-show presentation, with pie-charts and everything, that if you vote for a party that doesn't cross the 5% threshold, then the satanic Labour Party will steal your vote and use it to recruit nasty people like the Apathetic Watchman himself, Ashraf Choudry (the guy who didn't stop the Prostitution Reform Bill from coming through).

This simply isn't true.

It is, however, 'close enough'; but intentional misuse of statistics for Party gain is still a lie. Tsk tsk, Mr Ogilvy.

What DOES happen is that Parliament is divided up among the Parties that cross the threshold, according to the relative proportion of Party votes which they have received from the original election.

What happens is that people say, (hypothetical example about to occur) "Wait a moment... but if Labour had 40% of New Zealand's vote during the country-wide election, how come they get 50% of Parliament? Uh oh, my vote must have been stolen by Labour". Well, if 20% of the country voted across Parties that never cross the threshold, then Labour's election Proportion of Party votes IS 50% of the remaining 80% used to comprise Parliament, which is why they get half the seats.

There are no shifted votes, if you count Labour as having "40% of 100%" or "50% of 80%", they reach the same number of seats in Parliament. Think about it.

What Bernie does, and others using the same scare-tactic, is tell you that if you were thinking of voting for a small party, you'd better consolidate all your votes on THEIR PARTY, or else you'll somehow lose the seats in Parliament that your votes represent. But, of course, they don't represent seats... that right is reserved for the Party-votes on those that cross the threshold... your votes represent the democratic opinion of a New Zealander - and ALL of those balloted opinions are counted.

Allow me a brief parody of faulty statistics used on the Local MP voting system:

"Did you know that if you vote for an MP and that person doesn't get in, then your valuable vote is redistributed to an MP that YOU didn't vote for?!

Chris Carter, MP for Te Atatu, received more votes than Tau Henare in the 2002 General Elections.

Chris Carter finished the elections with only a margin of 12, 932 - far less than 100% support!

After crossing the threshold of first place, EVERY SINGLE VOTE that had been given to Tau Henare and other candidates for Te Atatu was redistributed to Chris Carter making him 100% the MP for Te Atatu.

If you don't want your vote to be redistributed and go to Chris Carter in the next election, then everybody MUST VOTE HENARE. If you don't, your wasted vote will be given to a homosexual Labour MP."

What will we do with all these lying Politicians? Thank goodness we have Sarah Ulmer and McDonalds to usher in a new Utopia.

"Secret Sacrament" by Sherryl Jordan

Nooo!

It can't end like that! One more book! Chapter? Page?

I've just finished reading this book that was recommended to me by the fantabulous Sharyn & Simona. It's good. It made me laugh, get angry, not-quite-cry... all that kind of stuff.

Worth reading. But man oh man did I hate reaching that last chapter. I dreaded the finish so much that my heart leaped in my chest when I realised the slim number of pages in my right hand.

Incidentally, I have no idea whether this lady is Christian or not, but I had a huge number of God moments while reading this book.

It certainly was a moving book.

Pathos, it's a good thing.

Thanks, Helen. Yeah right.

"Even When" by Seven Places

Awesome song, check out the lyrics of the chorus and 3rd verse! None of this Jesus-is-my-boyfriend type songs!

It's called "Even When" by the CCM band Seven Places, off their album, "Hear Us Say Jesus".
This week, I prayed, one time
My phone, it rang, I put You on the other line
And now my thoughts they drift around
My knees remain unacquainted with the ground
Unless my faith is put to the test and I am forced to bow
Although I'm in this flesh it doesn't mean You shouldn't have the best from me, From me

[Chorus:]
Even when my eyes are dry
Even when my soul is tired
Even when my hands are heavy, I will lift them up to You
It's not about how I feel, oh Lord I am here for You
I exist for you

I close my eyes but all I see
Is a background of black, bouncy squiggly lines
And this week's mistakes coming back to mind but
I will lift my voice and make a joyful sound
Forget about me, I only get me down
Although I cannot see it doesn't mean I shouldn't sing to You,
To You

[Chorus]

You've given me Your life and have held mine together yet I find
Excuses to slouch in my pew
But when glory divine
Is sitting in my very presence, the least that I can do
Is give my all to You,
Give my all to You

[Chorus]


Damn straight!

Now THAT is worship.