Monday, December 18, 2006

Reflections, life, & SLC

A little while ago I went to a 'Student Leadership Conference' (SLC) that was run by TSCF, a national support organisation that helps out the Auckland Uni christian group, EU.

They covered 2 Timothy as their text. I may have heard it before...?

Those who I have talked to over the last little while may have realised that I have been having an "interesting" time with my faith.

Part of my recent doubts have in some ways felt liberating, especially since genuine questioning borne of actual doubt creates a sense of true clarity. A person who lives in the closet all their life doesn't know what the room is like outside. The room might be filled with snakes, on fire, or contain a mountain full of golden marshmallows. That doesn't mean the person in the closet is wrong... or even that they are right... it just means they haven't bothered to find out, and so they can't really know.

I watched a little bit of Richard Dawkins, tried to get into some Carl Sagan, and also managed to re-read some C.S. Lewis.

Richard Dawkins seemed nice, although still somehow confused - and slightly robbed of a true sense of security. I'd prefer to talk to him, however, than to Ted Haggard whom I saw him interview (who seems slightly snakey and two-faced).

Carl Sagan is always fun, but he doesn't really provide any for's or against's in the search for the Dragon in our Garages. In fact, both sides of the fence use his facts about the universe to prove or disprove God; did you know that there is 116 gigabytes of information in the DNA of one Paramecium? That's 10^12 bits of information - or 10000000000000 bits, or 116GB - in a single-cell of our simplest bacteria!

C.S. Lewis is interesting, too. I haven't read as much of him as I should like, although he seems to go between amazingly insightful or logical at one moment, while at another moment being slightly too foregone in his conclusions. However, if I could be one person (aside from Jesus? although, maybe bags not him) then I'd probably choose C.S. Lewis.

When talking to people, or when reading books from theists or athiests, I guess I realised that people gain the answer most appropriate and convincing to themselves, while not necessarily being able to communicate the impact of those answers to others.
Im not being poMo in a painfully relativistic sense here, I'm simply saying that I won't necessarily care about the issues and insights that rock your world most, nor you will of mine.

And now for the happy ending?

I found SLC to be very good. I went there for encouragement if any could have been found, and I did find it. I was feeling relatively near the end of my patience with... God? My faith? Religion? It's hard to describe. There was one session about people who leave churches, and that was really interesting to hear. The lady who took it demonstrated that she didn't just have a list of pat answers to apologetinate at me... but in fact she listened to me and didn't seem all that surprised with some of more candid admissions. Sure, i had 5 minutes with her, but it was nice all the same.

I realised at SLC that having been trained at the Bible College of NZ means that I can say all the right things, and people presume something about me even when i haven't been saying that at all. There is no way I tried to seem like a super-christian at SLC, especially since I set out to be honest with people, but I think that some people still had an overly generous estimation of the current place in my faith.

The message I heard coming out of the study of 2 Tim was of returning to beginnings, remembering the past, going back to basics. It is always good to move forward, yet sometimes it is even more important to focus on the simple things. Life, God, and religion can certainly become over-complicated. A significant moment for me was during a worship session led by the Fijian contingent (who were visiting from a sister campus group on Fiji!). Seeing their passion and energy was special, but it was the fact that they represented differences and harmonious unity all at once that hit home. My Bachelor of Ministries has a 'major' of Missions; my vision of true Christianity, and of 'heaven' (and the ideal faith community), is one where all nations, all people, all cultures can love each other despite differences and because of differences! Life is about people, and loving people and giving of yourself for them is the highest and most noble goal (Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for their friend. ~Jesus). The song sung by a faith that embraces cultures isn't about having one voice - no great choral piece is ever done with only one part. I have sung that song in my heart before: I have sung it at Church; I have sung it among my Korean, African, Tongan, and Kiwi brothers and sisters at BCNZ; and I sung it that night as the Fijians stood before us.

No moment and no one, single feeling will ever ultimately replace all doubt (at least, not one that I have had so far!) - yet that night was the drink that my parched lips so desired.

I feel so very weary of not having any 'final answers' to address any doubts once and for all, but I suspect my whole life will be an interesting rollercoaster.
I know, however, that an important decision to make is to accept life as a journey (rather than waiting for THE answer), and to make sure that I am not alone as I travel along.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

~ Robert Frost, excerpt from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (link).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Heart Jon Stewart

I have got back from TSCF's SLC (Student Leader's Conference). I'll post something wise about this later, but for now I just wanted to post something that stems from my unadulterated desire to be like Jon Stewart (and/or Steven Colbert):



Brink of War???

Enjoy, I did.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It is finished... (hopefully)

Hooray!

So, given that my worst exam doesn't turn into a terrible stuff up (its complicated...) I should have just finished my Bachelor of Science, Psychology!

Tired but happy.

I have learned much: about Crowds, Individuals, Pigeons, Terror, Hatred, Prejudice, Love, Persuasion, and Brains.

If you have a spare year (and the cash) then I recommend a Postgrad Diploma in Psych, its an extremely fascinating subject.

I can say that it definately changed my opinions about people, very much so. People are so complex, and how we behave is so saturated with influences and ideas, some obvious but many subconscious.

I have had my moments where I was disgusted with people, seeing e.g. how crowds would taunt a suicidal edge-sitter into jumping. Or learning about how even the most "normal" and respectable person could be swept into a horrifyingly savage lynchmob.

But overall it made me realise how special people are.

I also realised how important principles like group cohesion and minority influence (how small groups influence large groups) might be if used strategically in churches and Christian groups. There is something to be said about understanding people well and applying that understanding effectively, and I don't think that is 'evil' or negative.

It reminds me of the Maori saying that I may have once blogged about:

He aha te mea nui?
He tangata.
He tangata.
He tangata.

What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Maybe I'm a fruitcake...

...but I'm pretty glad that the Democrats just got the Majority position in the House.

News-type articles here (NYT) and here (also NYT).

This almost feels like the best of both worlds: America gets to blow stuff up with GWB at the helm, while at the same time the Democrats get to keep him on his leash a bit more.

Perhaps I should use less offensive metaphors, but I'm tired and about to sleep... and then about to get up at 5am. Exam at 9am. Yeah.

Still, at least its the final exam... of my whole degree.

Anyway, Dubyah. Yes it appears that he's been pushing his agenda a bit too much, and now people can't hack it anymore. One figure put it that 4/10 people voted against him, being about twice that who said they voted for him.

I couldn't stand to be an American and not vote in every little ballot I could. The Republicans don't need to put ads on TV to get ME to have my say! But I'd probably vote Democrat most of the time anyway :P

Not that I *am* a Democrat, I think NZ'ers who say that who aren't Ex-Pat Americans are manuses. Manus's. Mahon-uses? It doesn't make sense to frame oneself in the political terms of an independant country. I may as well say I'm a Californian because if I lived in the US it would be in San Francisco (now I'm really hoping SF is actually in California...).

Maybe if I keep posting political commentary I'll get to be on RadioLive just like Dave Farrar. Lucky sod.

p.s. notice how RadioLive can be split into the words: Radi Olive. I can't stand it, now all I can think about is Olives whenever I tune in.

God Bless Olives.

Like children...

I love these two photos. They never cease to make me smile (I need a smile, I'm studying!).

Peeking around my mum's leg.


Iain Hood? The beginning of my love affair with all things medieval.
My sister, Kristin - the Susan to my Peter.


I wish sometimes that I could go back there. Instead, I'll settle for the memories... and the smile.

Peace.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sponsor my Mo!

Greetings all,

My Mo is coming along nicely. I still have 95% of the month to go, but at least it looks like I'm part of Movember now ;)
Because men suck so much at looking after their health - particularly where it competes with their need to be manly and independent - Movember is trying to raise money and awareness globally.

As I said, here in NZ Movember is raising money for those such as the Prostate Cancer Foundation of NZ.

I would love it if anyone felt generous enough to sponsor me through the Movember website, no amount is too small!


You could alternatively go to http://www.movember.com.au/nz/sponsor/ and locate me via my name (Iain McMahon) or Mo Rego number (27777).

There will be a Movember "Gala Partè" at the end of the month, for $25 per ticket, but I'm probably to busy and too poor to personally attend.

May the fuzz be with you.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Movember is here!

It has begun!

Friends, countrymen, shave off your beards! Movember is upon us!

According to the Movember website, Movember is a month where proud men shave their faces and begin afresh to sprout their Mo's proudly.


The idea of Movember is to raise awareness of male health issues, and funds raised in NZ will be allocated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.

Funds will be raised through the end of Movember Gala Party and sponsorships.

Individuals and Teams can sign up.

I haven't signed up yet (and, I may not :P), but I have prepared my Mo canvas for the mighty month of Movember.

'Mo Sistas' are also encouraged to get involved, possibly by sponsoring a Mo Brother or by spreading the Good News of Movember. One will even be crowned Miss Movember!

MOVEMBER - Changing the face of men's health.


Good luck, Mo Speed.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Disclaimer and Zeitgeist 2006

I wouldn't want anybody to read my posts as of late and think that I was going crazy.


Rather, in fact, I think that I am using my current place in time to challenge and consider the various points of view that have been fed to me over the course of my life.

Of course, it helps that I should be studying (that always encourages deep thought on unrelated topics!).

I can't help but think too much, it must be in my genes. I know that Paul has certainly inherited the philosphical bits of the McMahon Y Chromosome, too.

For those of you who weren't around in my personal life much this year (due to Blog-like distances separating us), you wouldn't have known that I broke up with my girlfriend of 11 months in August. I imagine that contributed to some of the questions I had of life & fate, but then again I've always had them.

As you may tell by my last post, I'm acutely aware that people are able to question God. I guess its natural for people to do that when things don't go their way. I'll enjoy my liberties in that area while I still have things to rant about.

But, all in all, I'm grateful for this year. It has been fun. In about 1.5 weeks I will do the last exam for my BSc Psychology - hooray! When I quit CompSci to go to Bible College, I never expected to still graduate from Auckland Uni eventually.

I expect next year to be just as fun as this year was. I'll be (hopefully) doing work as the lackey of an Applied Behavioural Therapist, and I have a couple of papers to finish at Bible College. That should give me time to think, I'm sure. As those of you who are closer to home know, I've been resurrecting old ties with some good friends I haven't seen in a while (and even attending a home group or two with them).

Since this feels like a diary entry, I'll complete the picture (I don't send you all enough emails anyway, so I'm sure this is just as good :P). I recently attended a local church called, 'Church of the Saviour,' with my friend Jasmine (of blog-commenting fame) and I also bumped into somebody else I knew there. They all seem nice, and we managed to laugh our heads off after the evening service. Perhaps it is a well timed happenstance when I feel so out of place at my old church now.

I'll also be going to SLC (Student Leadership Conference, the kind of Conferences where I met Chez) in Wellington (or thereabouts) with some buddies from EU after exams are all over. That should be fun, challenging, and a great time of mucking around like lunatics.

Oh, and singing.Exams are almost upon me, I shall sleep.

Have a great week.
[How did I make those South Parkesque versions of me? From here]

Bible Verses for Angry People

Thankfully, the Bible isn't just for happy clappy people:



Habakkuk Chapter 1 verses 2-3 says,
2How long, O LORD, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, "Violence!"
Yet You do not save.
3Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Yeah, you tell 'em Habs. What's with that? Where IS God when we need Them*?

Psalm Chapter 13 verses 1-2 says,
1How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Yeah! Go King David, speak your mind, brother! So much for the ol' promises, huh? Meh, being sad sucks.

Psalm Chapter 22, Verses 1-2 says,
1My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
2O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.
Good question, 'why?'
Uh oh, we seem to have a pattern here. This problem seems so endemic that even Jesus has the same issue, here.

Oh well, at least it means we're all a bit Christ-like sometimes, only we happen to feel like rubbish at the time. Sweet irony.

All those little calendars with cute Psalms are nice and everything, but isn't it nice to read about people with real life problems every now and again?

Now all I need to figure out is how they got an answer.

Ground Control to Major Tom...?

Over and out.


p.s. I also love the way the Disciples were such 'special people' sometimes too:

Like then, then, then, then, then, then, then, and possibly also then.


*'Them' - the best english slang I have found for God. Them can denote a single gender-nonspecific friend, and also a plural. Seems to capture male-femaleness and trinity nicely, in my book. I have a problem saying Him all the time, like God is a big white-robed Santa Claus on a cloud.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't fight wars, invade Titans

Being the dedicated, fun-loving Pacifist that I am, I generally enjoy playing FPS (first-person shooter) games.

Yes, since Wolf 3D there has only been up... Doom, Quake, Doom II, Quake 2 & 3, Tribes 2...

Now of course computer games have graduated to propaganda-level quality, such as the fantastic suck-you-in soldier-simulation, America's Army.

And now, ladies and gents, I bring you: Battlefield 2142.


(click for better detail, and the original FUNNY website)

In the far future, there is only war. With spawnpoints. And no actual dying.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The irksome question

I have a question...

Why can people think of things they would do if they were God?

I mean, if God is of the calibre that the Bible suggests, presumably that would mean we should not be able to even *imagine* anything better.

Such as less children dying, less poor starving, and more people happy.

I guess its a twist on the 'problem of evil' vs. an omnipotent good deity.


It seems to suggest that either God doesn't exist, God isn't the way we think, or that this world is pretty much the best it can get.

Or I've forgotten something.

Still, its a very difficult issue to think my way around. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Jesus was a Pentecostal?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how the Bible says that God relates to us.

Some scripture that I came across was this: (from 1 Corinthians, chapter 2)

1And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

2For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

3I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,

4and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

That makes me think that Christians shouldn't have a life less ordinary, if the faith they proclaim is true. It makes me think that power should accompany their words.

That makes me think about Pentecostals, with their emphasis on 'power' and the Spirit.
For all of their faults, it makes me think they have got something right.

At least if you live so boldly, even should you fail you go out with a bang.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Prodigal Son

Hello, Father, I'm back!

I didn't mean to be away for so long.

You probably hate me by now, I didn't contact you while I was away because I didn't like the thought of your reaction!

Hello?

Oh well, it's probably best you aren't in here. We didn't exactly leave on good terms.
I wonder what everyone else will think. They've probably been telling you I'm no good too, doing what I did. 'You're better off without him,' yeah, I can imagine.

I wonder where you've gone. It would be good to see you again... well, maybe.

I could always just leave again, make sure that everything in here is just as I found it.

But it is pretty cold out there, and the fire crackling away in the hearth here is really good.

I can't decide, maybe I'll just sit here a while and wait for you.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Violence, Jihad, the Pope

The Pope does a speech reprimanding violence perpetrated in the name of religion.

The 'shocked' response from Islam around the world is... violence:

Thus far there has been effigy burning, church firebombing, threats of death to the enemies of Islam.

("How dare you say religious violence is bad... die!" *firebomb*)

And if, as a result of the outrage, some Catholics get killed or their churches burned down by offended scholars and textual exegesists it might be thought that Manuel's original point had rather been made.

Quoting Stephen Bates of The Guardian, article here.

Doesn't this all seem a little bit unusual/ironic/hypocritical to you?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

You're walking along at night

You're walking along at night and you find this alley...


The grimy alleyway looks dark, but its your only way home.

The only way home is to walk down it, go on:

Click the picture.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"Telecon" spoof Telecom advertisement

Allow me to stick it to The Man.

Some brilliant soul made this awesome parody of the T3G Telecom ad featuring emotional manipulation through children.

I think this sums up the general sentiment of hard-core internet users or anti-monopoly pundits.

(Hello to all the Gamers out there)

And now, I'm proud to present to you - the video that Telecom had banned from YouTube.com...



Nice.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Great Quotations pt. 2

Here's a modified quote, I believe the author would forgive my presumptuous changes:

Christ said "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" and when asked "who is thy neighbour?" went on to the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you wish to understand this parable as it was understood by his hearers, you should substitute "[Arabs] and [Terrorists]" for Samaritan. I fear my modern day Christians would resent such a substitution, because it would compel them to realize how far they have departed from the teachings of the founder of their religion.

Bertrand Russell (wiki & quotes)

Granted, the application doesn't work for all, but none can deny that it points the finger at some.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ethnomusicology

This has got to be the coolest dancer/comedian this side of the sun.

My friend Chris showed me this, it's called The Evolution of Dance. This dude (who can obviously dance well) goes through a medley of all the dance styles in the last few decades. Very funny, and well timed. It's worth the loading-time!

Oh, and you'll really want sound or it won't make sense, now will it?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Where is the Love?

This is a really great entry into a Flash competition that went down at Flashwars.net.

It features the Black-eyed Peas song, 'Where is the Love'. I love that song, I like this flash movie.

Check it out (if my piecemeal HTML hacking works..., otherwise its here).



-sv3- ::
Finals















Up & Down





"You work so hard, you do everything you can to get away from a place, and when you finally get your chance to leave, you find a reason to stay."

-- Vincent, Gattaca.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Another random test

Hat Tip: Josh.

So, it says I'm Straight with 38% gay, but it also says I'm in the 79th "Homopoints" percentile for my age and gender.

That seems pretty far up the percentile rating. Wait, did I type that in public?

Ohhhh, the stories I could tell.
Yet I won't. And neither will Charlotte, on pain of death.

I don't know, I think I'm more of an ubersexual, right Frank?

Or maybe a SNAG... *cough*

The Straight
Stand up and be heard! You're 38% gay!
You're straight! You can choose whether or not you should be proud of that. You have just enough gay in you to not look like a liar, but too little to be really gay. You're suprised, aren't you?



My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 79% on homopoints
Link: The Am I Gay? Test written by alone2gether

Faith, Hope & Videotape

I've been thinking.

Certainty can't be a precondition for salvation. Allow me to explain.

I have decided that faith and knowledge/certainty are mutually exclusive. If faith is, "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1), then it presumes a state of uncertainty. If God revealed certain portions of information to us, was extremely clear in personal Revelation etc, then our facts would lead us to a certainty that can only come through experiential knowledge.

But knowing isn't faith.

In fact, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

I think that faith when somebody says, "Okay, God, I'll give you the benefit of my doubts", or even maybe a kind of eternal hope, "O God, I hope that what the Bible says is true. I trust that You've got us all in Your hands!"

But I also think that faith fits with the person who says, "I don't know," because they can also say, "No, I really don't know if what my family/church/bible/friends say is true. But I have faith that it is. I trust that God has got me covered, my hope is in Christ".

I think that if God wanted more from me than, "I don't know if its true but I have faith (trust/hope) that it is", then we would get a lot more divine confirmation on our confused planet full of religious seekers;

But that would be knowing, facts, data... and that wouldn't be faith at all.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My Personal DNA - Animated Inventor

Hat tip: Rhett's wife, Sarah

Hey all...

I'm an ANIMATED INVENTOR.

In other words: (mouse over to see details)



No clue? See my Personal DNA report in full

Homework for my friends.

Contextual statement:
People will believe what they have been told to believe until something shocks them into a different belief, and when you are surrounded by people who consider any doubt to be proof of an evil character you have a strong incentive to keep your doubts to yourself.
Presupposition:
We cannot know anything except what we know ourselves, that we were told and who told us. . . . Once believing something becomes an act that is regarded as good in and of itself all prospects of knowing what has really gone on have been lost.
So then we get to this...

Claim:
How can you take the faith of the faithful seriously any more than you can trust the testimony of the murderer's wife? People of faith believe not because they know but because they choose to believe in order to receive a reward [such as entrance to heaven, avoidance of hell, or being socially accepted by their Christian peers, Church, or family.]
Critically evaluate this statement, focusing on your basis of faith and belief with particular consideration in how to communicate this truth to others in practical & specific ways, giving examples.

I'd include reference to the original article, but this would risk drawing the post away into other areas discussed by the article.

Comments very much welcomed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In a distant land where geeks rule

Hat tip: Wilson Tan

I Am A: Neutral-Good, Gnome, Mage/Bard


Alignment:
Neutral Good characters believe in the power of good above all else. They will work to make the world a better place, and will do whatever is necessary to bring that about, whether it goes for or against whatever is considered 'normal'.


Race:
Gnomes are also short, like dwarves, but much skinnier. They have no beards, and are very inclined towards technology, although they have been known to dabble in magic, too. They tend to be fun-loving and fond of jokes and humor. Some gnomes live underground, and some live in cities and villages. They are very tolerant of other races, and are generally well-liked, though occasionally considered frivolous.


Primary Class:
Mages harness the magical energies for their own use. Spells, spell books, and long hours in the library are their loves. While often not physically strong, their mental talents can make up for this.


Secondary Class:
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.


Deity:
Mystra is the Neutral Good goddess of magic. She is also known as the Lady of Mysteries. Followers of Mystra wear armor and carry shields with her symbol on them. Mystra's symbol is a ring of stars.


Find out What D&D Character Are You?

Done the test, but forgotten what it means?
Want to know what other characters there can be?
The list of all possible character results, and full descriptions, is here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fun Quotations pt. 1



An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.

G. K. Chesterton



G. K. Chesterton was a journalist, poet, novelist, playwright, debater, and Catholic apologist in the early twentieth century.
Information and a library of his works here.





Poet and liar. -- The poet considers the liar a foster brother whom he did out of his milk. Hence his brother remained weak and wretched and never even attained a good conscience.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was a German, existentialist philosopher of the late 19th Century. Along with sources such as the Bible and Shakespeare, Nietzsche's collective works has made him one of the five most quoted authors on earth. Nietzsche popularised the phrase, "God is Dead", and stupid people can still quote that even if they haven't read his books.
(Notably, Nietzsche wrote a letter to his sister denouncing anti-semitism, so you can't blame him for everything in the 20th Century.)
Information at Stanford and Wikipedia.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Turn It Up - TCP/IP Style

Allow me to revisit music on the 'Net.

Those of you who happen to be among those lucky ones who are able to appreciate a wider variety of music than that found in the latest pop-cult charts and repetitive radio track listings may find this reminder useful.

Here at Phrenic Philosophy, we love a good electronic track, especially one laid down among cruisy rhythms, a bit of funky break-beats here and there to crescendo the musical journey at just the right time, and maybe the odd pleasant female vocalist or ambient soundscape.


Digitally Imported Internet Radio has altogether a massive selection of TWENTY EIGHT different genre 'streaming radio' channels. There is virtually no advertisement, save the occasional self-promo or sponsor ad squeaking in (but that's like once-every-never). The good thing about streaming radio is that you can pick the style of music that you like, and that's ALL you get.

Might I add, this is FANTASTIC for social gatherings. You can just hook up your stereo and away it goes playing hours of 99.5% seamless music. Great if you choose funky background music (such as Lounge). Of course, if you desire something with a bit more bite, you can always choose another genre.

My favourites there (in no particular order) are:

Lounge, hear some grooves:

Vocal Trance, float along:

Chillout, wind down:

(The bit-rates are: WinAmp@95K, WMP@32K stream)

With the internet, you don't have to get R&B addicts hoping that Eight will end shortly, or Rock junkies bemoaning TobyMac.
You surf, you find the channel you want, you hope your internet connection can handle it, and you ease into an state of audiogenic bliss until your ISP cuts you off.

Clearly, my preference (in terms of a wide variety of Dance music) is DI.fm, but another streaming radio favourite is Soma fm, which also has an indie rock channel, a lounge channel and... well... others.

While the following aren't as "pure" as the above in terms of ads or music, other convenient NZ internet listening choices that I like include Life FM, RadioLive (er... not for music though), and MoreFM (Auckland, or choose your city).

Enjoy.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Does anybody care to explain?

Violence in the Bible. It bites.

Edit:
Let me just say, I'm referring to apparently, demonstrably evil acts. Ones that seem to violate common morality as we understand it in the light of Christ, most current New Testament theology, and the ten commandments. Violence that, unless it were under the banner of, "God commanded it", would clearly be considered prohibited and immoral acts by most conscienced individuals. I hope that clears this up.

Personally, I can't figure it out. In fact, its so sticky that I still can't reconcile some of the contents of the Old Testament even after doing a theology degree at Bible College.

So, here is a snippet of a play that I have written. It's not only based on the Bible but it is as true and consistent to the text as I can manage without presenting a boring repeat.

Note: The language is modern, I don't think God said, "Whup-ass".

If people wish to tackle the problem of Biblical violence with me then comments, as long as you need, are welcome.

THE HOLY BIBLE - A DRAMATIC REINACTMENT
by Iain McMahon

ACT IV

SCENE 31

MIDIAN - Moses' tent
Moses has just heard the vows of his Captains, the heads of the tribes of Israel.

YHWH: Moses.

Moses: Yes, Adonai?

YHWH: Go and tell your boys to lay the smack on the Midianites.

Moses: Yes, Sir!

Moses turns to leave.

YHWH: Oh, and Moses?

Moses: Yes, Lord?

YHWH: Open up the WHOLE can of whup-ass.

Moses: (gulps) Sure thing.

Moses strides out of his tent, his robes flapping in the late afternoon breeze. Before him on the plains stands a vast army. He raises his hand and all eyes fall on him.

Moses: Arm yourself for war! You go to execute the vengeance of our Lord! Go now to Midian, take one thousand soldiers from each of the twelve tribes! To war!

A great force arises, twelve thousand warriors brandishing their arms, they carry their holy vessels and trumpets and march to war on Midian. They descend upon the Midianites and slaughter every last male. The host of war spares no man even of noble birth; among the dead were the five kings of Midian. For their plunder they take both beasts of burden and people whom they enslave.

Moses goes to meet them where they made camp on a nearby plain.

Moses: (to his Captains) Did you kill everyone?

A Captain: Yes, Sir, every last man.

Moses: (angrily) Kill the boy children, too! And kill any women that has slept with a man; but you can keep the virgins for yourselves. Give some of all the slaves and animals to the priest, Eleazar, and some also to the Levites, and split the rest up among the tribes. They deserve to be rewarded.

A Captain: Yes, Sir.

The Tribal Leader turns to leave.

Moses: Oh, and Captain?

A Captain: Yes, Lord?

Moses: Bring all of the gold to me.

END OF SCENE 31

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tradgedie Comique

[Topic: Current Events]

Iran--

Okay, well there isn't really much "comique" about the situation between Iran and USA, oh... sorry, I mean The Free World, at the moment.

It's sad really. I don't know why Iran feels the need to flex their political muscles (read, jaws) and go on about their Uranium Enriching programme when they're only at about 4% if I recall correctly. They need 80% to make feasible nuclear weaponry. That's a far cry off it, and already there is tension building between USA and what should more correctly be called Iran's, "Dirty Uranian Becoming Slightly Less Dirty" Programme.

And of course, we can add that to what I heard on the radio this morning: apprarently Iran has stated that they will be arresting liberal women in their society. Any women seen with either skirts too short or dresses too tight will be arrested.

I understand the need for Iran to find their national 'personality', so to speak, and what better way to do that then react in a dipolar manner against their common foe: Perceived Western "Values". So yes, it isn't surprising. But it IS unfortunate, this kind of move will only make it easier for certain western media groups to demonise them further in the lead up to any potential invasions etc.


Petrol Prices--

Argh, I feel like they're crushing my fingers in a Christmas Nutcracker. My local price, at least for now, is something like $1.67 per litre for 91.

The Rising Costs of Petrol Pump Prices across 2006
That's not very good, I can tell you, and it's REALLY putting the burn on my already budget budget! And it's only set to keep going up, they say.

I have a question though. If our government has that massive billions-of-dollars surplus, can't we have a little subsidy at the petrol pump?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Immoral theology?

Question: When is a person considered to be moral?

Or, more specifically, what motivations are considered to be "moral" (versus amoral or immoral)?

What do you make of this:

Mark Twain (1967), contemplating the sources of morality, reckoned that " there are several good protections against temptations but the surest is cowardice" (p. 4). Obviously, fear of punishment does keep some people from yielding to temptations and doing harm - at least some of the time. But we do not ordinarily think of fear of punishment as a moral motive. On the contrary, the moral person resists temptation and treats others well out of "internal" motives, doing so even when he or she can get away with doing otherwise.


Now consider 'common' theology i.e. popular, person-on-the-street beliefs; Heaven, hell, judgement and the rest as it pertains to those who go about running the rat-race, doing their bit and having a few drinks with mates on the weekend.

Do you think that a large part of MANY people's motivation is according to their theology teaching them the fear of punishment? i.e. hell

Do you think that a large part of MANY people's motivation is according to their theology teaching them about self-gratification via rewards, albeit a "late payment"? i.e. heaven

Putting it another way, if I paid a mercenary to help an old lady across the road, would you consider that mercenary to be "good"? Is that person any better or worse than those who do the same deed with their eyes on the post-apocalyptic prize of eternal rewards?

Mercenaries of Heaven?

Equally, imagine that your Boss was a workplace bully. Imagine that I showed up with Giuseppe, Allesandro, and a few of their brothers and put the squeeze on your Boss. Would it be to his own credit that your Boss turned over a new leaf and announced you employee of the month?

'Friends' of The Family?

I'm moving closer to the conclusion that these theological conceptions of 'coercion', positive or negative, render our 'moral' responses/choices irrelevant - at best - and selfish at worst.

Comments welcome.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Longest Distance to Here


I've been going through interesting times lately.

I have been feeling better recently, whatever that means, but there are times when I feel that God - or at least the God that people have told me about - is further away from me at times.

Of course, after 3 years of Theology, I'm expressing something deeper than the ignorance of God's "immanence". Yes, God is all around us. Yes, we are 'In Christ'. Yes, "atonement" means "at-one-ment" with God.

I know.

But then again, were God not to be the same as that which people have educated me about, represented towards me and so forth, then all that might not quite be as I understand it anyway.

At the end of the day, I'm only going by somebody elses word that things are the way they are; not, to the most part, on my own personal experience.

So I decided I wanted to change that. Head knowledge is only good to a point, but without the accompanying 'power', as the Apostle Paul might just say, our words are pretty empty. The correlate to that, of course, says the same things about our beliefs (the words of our internal dialogue).

So: "more love, more power, more of You in my life". Sounds like a plan.

During one of my more contemplative stages, when I was feeling decidedly confused and generally misunderstood, I came across some interesting song lyrics.
The song is called, "Lay Me Down", and its from the album Oceans Away by Season Pass. You might remember the post I made about them ages ago. My friend Matt is in the band, but the other band member, Evan, wrote this particular song (I guess, he sings it).

So says the song,
I've spent all this time / listening for you / and all I can hear is my voice / or is it yours? / Surely you're not that far / if you're living in me
I couldn't be certain that Evan even wrote those lyrics coming from my own particular perspective, but I don't actually think it matters. Sometimes its nice to feel like you're not the only one thinking something at the time.

Cheers, Evan.

Peace.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Military Might

My sister is finally back from a 6 month trip, going to {Classified} places and evangelising people of {Classified} religions.

On the way back home, she stayed in Oz for a little while.

While she was there, to augment her international trip of intrigue and mystery, she managed to score herself some Official Australian Defence Force Rations... which she gave to me!

So I have finished partaking of a taster from my pack of Australian Defence Force COMBAT RATIONS (ONE MAN), Menu C.
Among the many combat nutrients I had such as Beverage, Powder, Sport, Mixed Berry and Biscuit, ANZAC, I carefully selected and ate two items from my Matt Green Camoflage pack of Biscuits, Cream Cracker. Of course, to facilitate this delicate operation I had to equip myself with two equally camoflaged tubes: Vegetable Extract, Codename 'Vegemite' and Fruitspread, Raspberry.

But don't tell anyone, it's {Classified}

Monday, March 27, 2006

My pet Dragon

Serious question now, commented answers much appreciated...

Why do YOU believe in the existence of God?

Why do you "buy" the Christian message (presuming that whoever answers is Christian), so to speak?

Now let me tell you a story that another somewhat more skeptical man once told.

It's called,

The Dragon In My Garage

by Carl Sagan

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"


Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle -- but no dragon.

"Where's the dragon?" you ask.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick." And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. The only thing you've really learned from my insistence that there's a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You'd wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I've seriously underestimated human fallibility. Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don't outright reject the notion that there's a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you're prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it's unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative -- merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of "not proved."

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons -- to say nothing about invisible ones -- you must now acknowledge that there's something here, and that in a preliminary way it's consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it's not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you're pretty sure don't know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages -- but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we're disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I'd rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren't myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they're never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such "evidence" -- no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it -- is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Ooo, me Brain!

psy·chol·o·gy {si-kol'e-jee} n. pl. psy·chol·o·gies

1. The science that deals with mental processes and behavior.

2. The emotional and behavioral characteristics of an individual, group, or
activity: the psychology of war.

3. Subtle tactical action or argument used to manipulate or influence
another: He used poor psychology on his employer when trying to make the point.

4. Philosophy. The branch of metaphysics that studies the
soul, the mind, and the relationship of life and mind to the functions of the
body.


And I'll be learning all of them!

I just had my first day at Uni doing Psych and it's looking good.

I'll be (1) learning how brains work and how neurological pathways do their thing (or don't do it, depending).

I'll be (2) learning why we behave the way we do (all the way down to first principles in animals) as an individual and in a group.

I'll be (3) learning how influence works, and how we create and manage impressions of ourselves in others' minds.

And when I take all this knowledge back with me to do my Theology Masters, then I'll be (4) amalgamating psychology and theology to help us better relate to God, each other, and ourself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Beauty of Creation



The sky might display God's glory, but how about the Night Sky?

I find the calm serenity of the universe - daubed by the soft paintbrush of nebulous gasses and shining with the light of millions of stars - to be as beautiful as any green, mountaintop vista on earth. We don't even need to travel to see this view. We just need to go outside at night and stare upward into the inky blackness.

To me, there is something magical about the fact that this beauty is so quiet and slow-changing, not like our season-swept earth. Take the above picture of the Horse-Head Nebula, for example, where this nebula only happens to be shaped like the head of a horse right now. It only happens to have been sculpted like this by stellar winds and radiation, but it will stay in this anthromorphically interesting shape for many more years to come.

Imagine the beauty that we might find in the smoke from a burning fire if it moved as slowly.

This NASA Website will provide an astrology photo each day. There is also an archive of their previous photos.

Monday, February 20, 2006

S'me!

[BREAKING UPDATE: For those of you who know my friend Dave G from New Lynn, AKL, he is having an Operation tomorrow and would appreciate prayer. Retroactive prayers still appreciated, I'm sure (I believe Dave's god-paradigm allows for retroactive prayer-granting)]

Hello!

It's a post!

Awesome, lets get into it. No time like the present...

So 2006 is going to be a big year. I've been having a summer of fun with my girlfriend, Charlotte. Things have been going well generally, save a few slight hiccups in my homelife just recently.

However studies have fallen into place for this big year of much studious efforts.

My five year plan is something like this...

Finish my "secular" degree: a BSc now majoring in Psychology!
Finish my "sacred" degree: a BMin or possibly a DipGrad depending on ease of completion.
Bridge to Masters of Thelogical Studies and upgrade quickly to Masters of Theology.
Start my PhD either fulltime (if I can't find any Church or Academic-teaching type jobs) or work and do it part time while I be a Minister or a Lecturer (or both).

So it's a big year for me since I'll be tackling my BSc again, but this time my major will be Psych instead of CompSci!! Yes, in keeping with my people-personality this degree should prove useful to both my career and my upcoming Bible College research. Michelle Burstall from the Psych department was extremely helpful and ended up providing me with everything I need to complete my BSc in two semesters. So Convocation Ceremony here I come! (finally!)

It will feel really good to complete both my Auckland Uni and my BCNZ degrees, and it will make my none-too-limited loan worthwhile.

Next episode: Stay tuned for more exciting news as Iain investigate the Anglicans!