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Sunday, 28 June 2015

God's Plans vs My Plans

Well. Today has been interesting.

I've done a couple of posts recently about some of my projects, and ideas for the future, and where I thought God was leading me and such.

God just came in from left field and hit it out of the park, like he does.

Let me explain.

Today at my church, we had a pastor come in from Thailand, because we're supporting the people from a particular area there, and particularly this pastor's ministry (he oversees a few different churches, I believe). For those who aren't aware, I went on a Thailand Outreach Trip in 2008 with my school to Varee Chiangmai School, along with a group from Pacific Academy in Canada. Cause we be cool like that. Mainly teaching kids English, Bible, maths, science, etc. So I know a bit about Thailand and that sort of thing, but it's been a while. My vocabulary of Thai is "hello" and "thank you".

So, after the service, I thought I'd go and say hello. In Thai. Because why not? He's surprised, obviously, and asks me if I speak Thai. I say only a little, and tell him about the mission trip I went on. He then asks me a bit more about myself, and I tell him that I did music at uni and did a year of Bible college. He then excitedly says, "You should come do a mission with us!" And proceeds to talk about me teaching English at the school there, teaching music at the church on the weekends, having a place to stay in, being over there for six months or even a was a little bit much for me, particularly for this guy who finds this idea of doing anything for a long time quite strange! It was pretty overwhelming, needless to say.

And, being me, I was thinking that would be fun, and nice, and great, but surely I wouldn't be able to. I just wouldn't have the money, or the time, and I just have so many other things to do here. But the more that I thought about it - I guess the more I realised that those were more excuses than anything else. I had always wanted to go back to Thailand at some point, but I never thought it would be anything like this. I never saw myself as being a missionary - or a teacher! Oh, I'm a terrible teacher. I just move way too fast.... but yeah. I saw that these were more excuses that I was throwing up, more than anything else. And that actually, the only reason I wouldn't be able to go was my own unwillingness. As the Thai pastor had said this very morning - with God, anything is possible.

Right now - I don't know what God is wanting me to do. I thought I had a good idea about where God was leading me (well, sort of). But this kinda blows that all out of the water. So it's something that I'm going to need to take some time to think and pray about - but it's certainly challenged me, and my ideas about what God's got in store. Challenged me to think a bit further beyond myself. (Nice one, CCOC people, right? Right? ;) ) Anyway. We'll see, I guess. Knowing God, this is probably going to be another one of those I'm-going-to-leave-it-up-to-you kind of ones. But yeah. Will let you know if anything further develops along this line!

Well, a thing happened....

So, if you're on Facebook (as the vast majority of people are), you may have experienced something like this over the past couple of days.

If you're not aware of why this has happened, reading this might help.

Before we go any further, a quick disclaimer. My comments and opinions here are exactly that - comments and opinions. Please don't take them as representing any particular group, affiliation, movement, denomination, church, company, etc. etc. Also, don't take them as necessarily being right. I'm human and all.


So I have a lot of friends who support this cause pretty heavily, as well as various LGBTQI (apologies if I'm missing a letter or two, it seems to be getting longer all the time) issues around the place. I also have a fair few friends who are against it pretty heavily. And probably a fair few in between, being the way of things. But don't worry, Tim Minchin made a song for you guys! And me....well, yeah. I'm still trying to figure that out, in some ways. So. Let's start with the easy ones.

1. God loves all people. Easy one. God made everyone - God loves everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, marriage or relationship status, and no matter what you've said or done. That's a constant. The Bible's pretty clear on that one, I reckon.

2. Adultery is a sin. Bible is pretty clear on that one. Doesn't matter who it's with, guys, girls - if you're not married and you're having sex, God calls that not good.

Now, opinion.

3. I don't think that your sexual preference, in and of itself, is a sin. This is more my opinion. But I don't think that the way you're sexually inclined - nature vs. nurture debate aside - is a sin in itself.

4. I think that having a mum and a dad is super-duper important. Not because two mums or two dads can't raise kids, or can't love their kids, because that's just a bit silly. But because it's part of learning your identity as a man or woman - and having the male and female role model there for that is so important. However. This, in itself, should not be an argument against gay marriage. Why? Single parents. Exactly the same problem, but I don't see people saying, "Oy, you need to get a partner now, so that you can raise your kids right!" Because it's insensitive, and wrong. That's not how it works. I do think, though, that having a father figure, or a mother figure, if one or the other isn't there, is so vitally important to a child's development and understanding of who they are as a man or woman. (Yes, people will probably respond to that saying, well, what about other genders? I'm sorry, I just don't know the issue well enough to speak to that.)

5. The Bible says that God made us with free will. And quite intentionally made us that way, so that we could freely choose right or wrong in our lives. That was so, so important to him in making us, that he limited himself in doing so. (Because if he wants to preserve our own free will, that means there are some things that he can't do. Even though he could, he restricts himself.) I think that preserving that free will is so important - whether we agree with the choices being made or not. Now, that doesn't mean that those choices won't have consequences - and, sometimes, those choices will have consequences that have a legal nature, such as fines and prison and such. That's a whole different issue, which is fun itself to talk about. But I don't think that preventing people from being able to make a decision is ever helpful - particularly not when we're talking about adults. If you're talking about kids, to a degree, I'll get you - though I won't always agree - but we're not.

That's all I've got. And, drawing from these that I am pretty sure of - I'm pretty happy with what's happened in America. Don't I think that it redefines and endangers the sacred idea of marriage as defined by the Bible? Sure, it probably does. And if that's a view of marriage that you hold as your ideal - then fantastic, treasure that for yourself. But perhaps let others make their own choice, and have their own definition of marriage? I've heard plenty of arguments from both sides, and plenty to make me think in both camps. (One I'd be interested to get peoples thoughts on is this one, that I found quite interesting. I do realise it's using the Slippery Slope fallacy.) And, to be honest, I'm not exactly sure where I fit. It's changed a fair bit over the years. But I do think that people should be allowed to make their own choices - and if they're bad choices or wrong choices, then sure, help them with the consequences of that. And every choice does have consequences, good and bad. But you shouldn't be prevented from making that choice.

And, just because you're nice and you've gotten through the whole post, rainbow pigs!

Doing The Unimaginable.

So, in my recent post, I talked a bit about The Imitation Game. Essentially, it was pretty awesome. And it centred around this guy called Alan Turing, who was very much presented as being Aspie, on the Autism Spectrum. (Though those words were never used.) As such, I suppose there was very much a connection point for me there, with a lot of what he was struggling with - because in some aspects, I've struggled with similar things in my past. And some now, as well. However, there are some things that I think are quite different between us, which I'm quite thankful of. I like people, firstly. People are good.

One of the quotes that I loved from the film was this one: "Sometimes it's the very people who no-one imagines anything of who do the things no-one can imagine." And that made me wonder a bit, I must say. Because I think for me, my growing up has been very different; people have often imagined much of me. I'm often expected to do well, seen as the person to go to (even from people who don't know me well!). And I wonder sometimes if I've lost a bit of that 'unimaginable' element there; if I've become too predictable, too standardised and normal (there's some people probably shaking their heads a lot here) and understandable, and whether through that I've really lost something.

It's a hard thing to figure out. And I think there is some truth to that; because the more you are with particular people, the more you will become like them. That's just how we work as people, in general. But that means a compromise - losing some of yourself. So I suppose you have to make that choice - firstly, how much you want to connect with people; and secondly, which people you connect with. Because that can very much define who you are, I think. But yeah. Just something that got me wondering.

The Incredible Imitation Game.

Okay. This is number two of three posts. It became three, because it was going to be too long to do a review and reflection in the one post. So.

The Imitation Game.

I watched this - now over a week ago - with some pretty high expectations, I must admit. I am a bit of a Cumberbatch fan, and I also love the story of Alan Turing and the Enigma machine (which, if you didn't know, is what the movie is about). So again, somewhat biased. My expectations were surpassed, regardless.

For those who haven't seen the movie, I will quickly summarise. Alan Turing is a maths whiz, who approaches the army with the idea of trying to solve Enigma - because it's the greatest puzzle, and he loves puzzles. He gets put on as part of a team, but really works by himself on his own idea instead; the others are working to try and decode the bits that they intercept, while he's working on a machine to translate everything. He goes to the head of the unit, saying that he needs 100,000 pounds to build his machine. He says no, so Alan sends a letter to Churchill; who gives him the money, and puts him in charge of the unit. He puts out a test to get new people in, and hires Joan, who is a graduate from Cambridge. They put in a lot of work, and make the machine happen, through a bunch of things working out nicely, essentially. With the help of the machine and MI6, they provide certain pieces of information to the Allies to help them win the war, but not let the Germans know they've cracked Enigma. Following this, all the records are destroyed, they go their separate ways, and told never to speak of this again. Many years later, a police investigation into Alan reveals that he is paying men to have sex with him. He is convicted of indecency, and chooses to undergo chemical castration instead of going to prison. He commits suicide.

There's a lot of subtlety in this movie. The basic idea - that Turing builds a machine to crack Enigma - is very simple. But this movie isn't about the machine; it's about Alan Turing. And as such, it follows his story, and how he develops and changes over time - and jumps into his backstory at points, going back to his time at school. In effect, the whole story is being told during an interrogation of Turing by a policeman much later in his life; so it has particular elements peculiar to that style. But the story is done very well. The historical nuances are done very well; talking about issues of homosexuality, gender bias, politics, social issues and the like - this movie is quite a complex tapestry that is woven through Alan's life. Alan Turing is certainly portrayed as being on the Autism Spectrum, which you will pick up if you're familiar with Asperger's or Autism. This, along with some other aspects of the film, have been criticised by some; (look here for a good example) and, not having read the proper biography myself, I can't comment on this. However, it's not surprising that Hollywood will dramatise the story a bit, and accentuate the Aspie-ness a little; it is a Spectrum, so it's quite possible that he could have been not as pronounced as the movie suggests, yet still on the Spectrum.

I thought that this was an incredible movie, and all of the aspects were done very well. One thing that I particularly loved was the ending. Because it didn't end with his suicide; in fact, his suicide is not shown on-screen. Instead, it ends with the group of them celebrating the end of the war, around a fire, throwing all their documents in. It finishes on joy and celebration of Alan's life, not mourning his death. And I think that was a good choice, and very well done. Definitely recommend this movie to anyone - but be aware that it is very much a feelings movie. So not if you're wanting a fun movie to just laugh and such. But very good.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Don't Do It Yourself.

Sorry about the lack of posts of late. I'm currently writing two (now three), that I'm hoping I'll have finished at some point this week (and, that was last week). Time doesn't like me.

I've been struggling - particularly over the last few weeks. And it's not so much the busyness, actually, I'm pretty used to that. What's been hard has been trying to do it by myself. 

Last year - I had so much support, from so many people. Individuals, groups - everyone, it was really awesome. But a lot of that finished up near the end of last year or the beginning of this year. I finished up with Impart; I finished up with Youth Group; I finished up with my life group (bible study); and because I seemed to be doing fairly well, I wasn't keeping up as often with people who had been checking in with me before.

And I think it's really just slowly piled up to the point where I'm really feeling it, and it's really taking a toll. I think that in many ways, I got so hyped up after last year, and I was ready to just charge out and go. But I think I did a lot of that in my own power, and in my own strength. Which isn't all that much. So no surprise that now, it's running rather short.

I'm not trying to do an "oh, woe is me" post here. What I am trying to get at is this - don't try and go it alone. Never underestimate the value and power of support, encouragement, love, time and fun from the people around you. And from God, very, very importantly. People are there to help - but they can only help most of the time if they know that there's something wrong, and that you want help. :) And hang in there! Seasons change, and you can get through a lot with the right support. Speaking from experience. ;)

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Too many ideas.... + Patreon

I've mentioned many times that I tend to have a lot of ideas. In this post, I'm going to give you a bit of an idea of at least some of the different project ideas that I've started on at some level.

This one I've actually posted on here about; you can see my two posts on it here and here. Since then, I've come pretty darn far. I've got some of the rules of how the language works; things like verbs, plurals, proper nouns, possessives, genders, tense, and a couple of numbers. I've got a couple of sentences happening, and some words are really long. That's because each word is describing what it is, not just being a bunch of sounds that I'm clumping together. (Unless it's one of those words that I'm using to describe it. You can only build down so far.) One simple example is Father. The word for this in the language is Dt'ungoyoaidwur, which translates to "life that is the guardian of the family". A more complex example is Amen. The words I have this translating to is, "Please, may the words I have said be true." As such, it translates to: Prinai, yat thron mai dt’ahthræ nor shuhng. Yep. Eventually, I'm going to make a whole script for this as well. But I need to make the language first. I'm having a lot of fun with it.

Living album
So, last year I released a proper CD album called About You, and had an album launch and everything. That was actually almost exactly a year ago that I did the album launch, as an aside. And the songs were great - but the album was very rough. And that was part of the idea, but it has meant that I am a bit loath these days to give out any of the CDs that I still have sitting around in my room. But. Last year I also intentionally didn't write heaps of songs - instead, just writing them as I felt a particularly strong idea come along. And out of that, I got an album - that I've called Living, which is the name of the second last track. It's nine songs, and three spoken word tracks. It's all written, but none of it is recorded yet - that's what I have to try and find the time for! At the moment, I have scratch tracks for six of the audio tracks. Still a long way to go.

Munchkin versions
This is a bit of a fun thing. I quite enjoy the game Munchkin. If you haven't heard of it - think of nerds making a card game for nerds, and that's pretty much it. It's pretty awesome. And there's all these different versions - like ninjas, pirates, apocalypse, zombies, and a good few more. But there was a few that I thought could be pretty cool - like Doctor Who, or Harry Potter, or Mass Effect. At the moment, I've got ideas for the last one, but I've been focussing mainly on the first - so I've got a whole list of cards to make, and a good bunch I've already done. It takes Pages ages to load up when I open it, because there's so many pictures :P At the moment, I have 47 done, including Class and Race cards. I also have ideas for an expansion, because there are too many cards....

So, I've frequently been told when I'm performing that my songs very much have the feeling of musical theatre. As such, I've always wanted to write a musical - and I've had ideas before, but never really gotten very far with them. This time, though, I've actually sat down and gotten a (very very loose) idea, and have a list of some of my songs that work in well for it. At the moment, that is pretty much it, unfortunately! I'm still debating as to whether the main characters are kids, teenagers, or adults, and what I'm going to have as a bit of a driving force in there. Perhaps a hint of tragedy....

Son, Brother, Bride
This is one I've been working on since early-ish last year, and is very much borne out of everything that I learned in Impart (just as the Living album is, really). Essentially, it's a book for guys, talking about how we're the sons of the Father, the brothers of Jesus, and the bride of Christ. It's giving a better idea of who we are as guys, as well as a better idea of who God is. It's a pretty massive idea, and I'm really only just started - I have about five and a half thousand words written; which is not much, in terms of a book. And I haven't done much on it in quite a while.

Actually, I haven't done much on any of these in quite a while. Because I've had no time. My time has been swallowed up by a combination of work and other people's projects that I'm involved in - and those projects are great, but it's meant that I really haven't been able to do any of this at all. And these are just some of the main ones - it's not counting the different ideas I'm working on musically, or the ridiculous number of stories and things I've started and never gone back to.

And, of course, as I've mentioned in a previous post, money is a bit of an essential thing these days. I'm not a fan of it, but it's becoming darn hard to manage without. Hence, work. Which isn't ideal, because these are the things that I'd really love to be spending my time on, and really like to be able to show you guys more of.

As such, I'm trying a thing. I've started up a Patreon account, which is essentially a platform where people can support me as a creator. It's done according to the amount of stuff I do, rather than being one-off donations; and it has cool rewards and thingos as well. I'm expecting it to go nowhere, because you really need a decent crowd behind you to make these sorts of things work - but I'm hoping that it might be able to help a bit, at least. You can find it here:
I'm still building the page (and probably will be over the next little while), so you might not be able to follow that link quite yet. But hopefully, soon, I'll have it up and running. And I'm hoping that this might be able to help me put a little bit more into these projects that I really want to be able to do more of :)