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Saturday, 30 December 2017

A Showman Indeed!

Today, I finally went to see The Greatest Showman. I'd been interested in seeing it since I'd initially heard about it - but my interest was heightened when I saw this video with Hugh Jackman and some of the cast singing one of the songs in the initial reading (From Now On). When I saw the song in the movie, I was singing along too! And then I had friend after friend seeing it and saying that it was incredible. So I was pretty keen by the time I went in.

For those who don't know much of the story; The Greatest Showman is inspired by and loosely follows the life of P.T. Barnum, who was one of the figureheads of his time when it came to show business; probably one of the first to do this sort of thing. His show eventually morphed into the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which had its final performance in May this year.
The film, however, showcases his progression from tailor's son, to married man, to owner of a museum of curiosities, to a show of fantastic people, to the circus we are more familiar with today. Many events are compressed or altered somewhat for dramatic purposes; for instance, Barnum did not start his circus until much later in life, having a long break after the museum burnt down, and having other pursuits (such as politics). The side character of Phillip Carlyle, along with his romantic interest, the trapeze artist Anne Wheeler, are both fictional. The bearded lady Barnum actually met when she was quite young, and she grew up in the show; not being known as "the bearded lady" until adulthood. Tom Thumb was also one of the later people that he met.

However, as a story, and conveyer of emotion, it works brilliantly. The songs are brilliant, and this is one soundtrack I know I'll be purchasing before long (I would now, but I have no money after Christmas...), and trying to learn on the piano. The costumes are loud and fun, and you fall in love with the characters. I'll admit, I found the voice coming out of Zac Efron's mouth somewhat...strange, just because it wasn't as boyish as I'm used to. But the performances were all incredible, particularly by the circus family.

As with many movies, it also worked to send a message. And the one portrayed in this movie was quite clear - it wasn't just about acceptance, but a celebration, of all people. That no person should feel excluded, belittled, made small or insignificant, by anyone else. Not because of their class, race, birth, looks, height, weight, or otherwise. For some reason, it's a lesson that we're still struggling to learn. Maybe one day we'll get there - but I won't be holding my breath.

The Greatest Showman is definitely worth watching. You may well get emotional, and if you watch it in the cinema, you may find yourself wanting to clap at the end - as a few people did in the showing I was in! Certainly worth going out to the cinemas for, rather than waiting for the DVD/Netflix.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Worth Remembering.

I've just finished watching the film Amazing Grace. If you're not familiar with it, it depicts the life of William Wilberforce, and particularly his work with the abolition of the slave trade (though he was also involved in a great many other things). I can't recommend the film enough.

But also featured in the film is the character of John Newton, the writer of the hymn Amazing Grace. His story is also something quite remarkable. He was the owner of a slave ship, for about twenty years. But God found him, and he turned his life around. He wrote the tune Amazing Grace - and a couple of others - and eventually published what in the film he called his "confession", his account of all that he had seen and done in that time that he could remember.

By the end of the film, he is waning somewhat; he has become blind, and quite old. And he says a remarkable line, which is a quote from one of his works (I haven't been able to find which one). "Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour."

If we forget all else - let us remember these. The greatness of our sin; and the greatness of his grace.

Particularly as we come into Christmas; his grace was such that our Father sent his Son into this world, to save us from our sins, and bring us back to him. I keep trying to understand that love, that grace; but I don't think I ever will. I can only be thankful for it, remember it, and share it. And so I do.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Seeing Everest.

One day, I would rather love to go and see Mount Everest. At least, to go to the Base Camp. That would be awesome. Part of me would love to go to the top, of course - but the rest of me reminds myself that rather a lot have died doing so. So perhaps not.

Looks rather pretty, though.
But I have my own Everest. It didn't start as big as that, but it grew pretty fast. I built it up. And kept building, and building....until it became what it is now. I'm talking about my idea of a relationship.

I didn't just put it on a pedestal. I fantasised about what being in a relationship might be like, thought about all the different things I might do or see with someone I was in a relationship with, what I might say to them. And the mountain just got bigger. But it was always on the other side of the world, well out of reach, and out of sight. I knew it was there, and I'd get there "one day". But not any time soon.

Recently, I had an experience where Everest suddenly became an awful lot closer. And it scared me. It scared me. And I ran. Nothing quite as dramatic as it sounds - but that's basically what it was.

The idea that this massive mountain that I had built, that I thought was somewhere far away, that I might never even reach for all I know, was suddenly right in front of me - was rather a lot to take in. Everest will do that to you, I guess.

You'd think that making a relationship work would be hard enough for me. But, of course, I have to go and make it harder....

I mentioned in a recent post that I struggle with the lie that I will never be in a romantic relationship. There is part of me that still believes that, at some level, and that's certainly part of the issue.

But I also think I need to start tearing down Everest.

Not because a relationship isn't great. And not because God doesn't want that experience to be amazing, and awesome. He does. But because, if I keep standing in the shadow of Everest, I'm not going to get anywhere. It's no wonder that I find it impossible. But if it's just one person - well, it's still hard, don't get me wrong. But I can work with that.

And when I find the right person, then we can start building together. Rather than me dropping Everest on them. I feel like that wouldn't be ideal. Yeah, let's not do that.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

On Truth.

A couple of weeks ago, I did this post. I mentioned that we filled out a piece of paper that had a brain on one side, and a heart on the other. In the last post, I covered all of the negative ones from the brain side. In this post, I want to show you the positive ones from the brain side. And then I'll talk about the heart side.

Below are all the positive ones that I listed.

I am a son of my Father.
I am a man!
I am a brother of Jesus.
I am SEEN! I can reach people and do things that others can't.
I am LOVED! And I always will be.
I am made NEW.
I am a prince!
I can love and be loved.
I am in the truth. I am in the light.
I am an encouragement to others.
God has never left me alone, and he never will.
I am clean.
I can feel people's pain and comfort them.
I am a man of truth.

I was pretty happy with that :) I could probably add a couple to that these days, but it's a decent list.

Then we come to the heart side. The brain side was ideas and thoughts that we believed about ourselves; then the heart side was verses from the Bible either supporting or disproving these ideas. These are the ones that I came up with.

You are the God who sees me. Genesis 16:13 
I have loved you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3 
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 
He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:5 
So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. Hebrews 2:11 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 
So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4 
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:21

These are the truth that I cling to, and remember. In a world full of lies, darkness, and pain - I do my best to live in the light, and in the truth. I fall plenty of times. But I don't try to hide that. Because that's not how to live true and right. It's hard. But it's so much better than trying to go it alone, doing it in your own strength, and going on what the world tells you. Nothing can replace the truth.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

What Life Matters?

This will probably be a somewhat niche view, but hey! Who am I to care.

Over the past years, we've started moving towards a view where all human lives matter, at a fairly similar level. Most people, if pressed, will probably say that their family matters a bit more, or perhaps that people that can do more should matter more; but, generally speaking, we've moved away from the views that say that particular groups of people don't matter, or that they matter significantly less. At least in thought, if still working on it in practice; and with a fair bit of contention over when an embryo becomes a human, for example. That is not my topic for this post.

Rather, I want to start looking rather wider. To other sorts of life. And ask the question - where do they sit? How much do they matter? When it comes to animals, to plants, to bacteria, single-celled organisms; how much do they, or should they, matter, and what should that look like in our world?

For myself, I have a rather simple, if somewhat reductionist, view: all life matters. (Please do not confuse this with the terrible people who go around saying something very similar in response to #BlackLivesMatter. This is not that at all.)

Just this afternoon, as I was driving along a road where there's a lot of new development happening, I saw a big "Welcome!" sign advertising one of these new suburbs/areas. It was surrounded by trees that had just been cut down. It cut me to the core, and I had to remember that I was still driving and not go into the kerb. Somebody else probably looks at that and goes, "Finally, the land is cleared and I can do something with it!" I look that and go - you have just taken dozens, maybe hundreds, of lives. And it feels to me like an absolute travesty.

I look forward to a time when we can synthesise things like meat, wood, leather, cheaply - so we have no need, nor desire, to end lives. I hope and pray that I will see that day come around in my lifetime. But I fear that it is still very far away. And it makes me sad.

How many lives will it be too late for? How many species will be lost forever? How much of the planet will be surviving by then? To give you an idea, by the way; about 927 trees are cut down every second. And about 1775 animals killed. And dozens, maybe hundreds, of species going extinct each day.

How long?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017


I'd heard about the movie Wonder a couple of times before I went to see it. I knew that it was about a young boy with facial differences and his family, and I'd heard that it was very good. That it was based on a book, and I thought that it would be a good one to see, possibly to read later as well.

I watched the movie this evening, and it was rather incredible. I liked it for a lot of reasons, many of them rather emotional and biased. So I'll try and get the non-biased ones out of the way first.

For those that haven't seen it - the movie is about August, or Auggie, a boy with facial differences, who is going to school for his first time after being homeschooled by his mother. It goes through one school year. One of the things it does really well is that, every now and then, it will jump to playing the story from a different person's point of view. Like the sister, Via (short for Olivia); or Auggie's friend, Jack Will; or Miranda, Via's best friend. It helps you to see the other side to the story now and then, and understand the complexity of what's being portrayed a little more. At a guess, this is something borrowed from the book, where different chapters follow different characters - but not having read it, I couldn't tell you!

I also love the various pop culture references; which vary from Minecraft, to Star Wars, to Major Tom. Seeing random Chewbaccas or space suits popping up was awesome.

It's also great to see the overcoming of bullying presented here. And also showing that, often, the bullies have their own issues that they're dealing with - the bullying is more a show and demonstration of power, trying to be bigger when they feel small; trying to have control when they usually don't. As someone who went through a bit of bullying in school - though not to the same extent Auggie did, and never physical - I really appreciate that.

But what I really love is the heart behind it. The story. Every character here has their own story, their own journey, even if only for a moment. Even the bully! You get to feel their ups and downs, ride with them on the emotional rollercoaster of life, feel the real pitfalls that seem to keep coming. (I may have fallen a little in love with Via - and then checked myself when IMDb told me the actress was only 16. Yeah, let's not go there.)

Having a younger sister with Down Syndrome, I also relate quite well to what is portrayed in the family on-screen. It was rather easy to draw a lot of parallels between my own experiences and what I saw there; though I can't say I've suddenly found myself going from understudy to lead in a moment. (Mild spoiler, sorry!) So, by the end, I was pretty emotionally invested in the film.

And I think all of us can learn a bit from Auggie. And from those like him in the world. Not to put people that are different on a pedestal, just because they're different; or because they have something more to overcome; but for their heart.

Do yourself a favour, and go and see this one. You won't regret it.

"When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind." - Dr Wayne Dwyer

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!
Mark 3:1-5

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

On Lies.

During 2014, in the Life Group that I was in (for those not from that church - like a Bible study group, but you're doing life together, not just reading and praying [not to diminish the importance of reading and praying!]) did a series on identity. As part of that, we completed a bit of an exercise. We were given a piece of paper that had a brain on one side, and a heart on the other. I'll leave the heart for another post, because there will be enough to cover in this one.

On the brain side, we put all the ideas/thoughts that we believed about ourselves. Good, bad, anything. Even if we knew they weren't true, or weren't right - if we believed them somewhere, they went down. I had quite a few, and mostly negative. Not all, thankfully (mostly because of Impart, which was also that year), but quite a few. Each of the negative ones are listed below.

I am unseen, unnoticed, unneeded.
I am unloved, unwanted, uncared for.
I am alone.
I’m not really a man.
I am childish, and don’t understand.
My secrets make me unloveable.
I should be locked away, so I can’t hurt anyone by myself.
I am dirty.
I will never be free of my addictions and temptations; I will never be able to have a wife     and children without these affecting and scaring me.
No one would want to be in a relationship with me.
I will always hurt more than I help.
I am empty.
I am broken.
I only do things to be noticed and recognised.
What I say, what I write, what I make, doesn't matter.
These are lies. Plain and simple. Lies that I have believed, that have been whispered to me over the years, by the deceiver and accuser. Sometimes through people around me; sometimes through circumstances, and how I interpret them. And, in time, I came to believe them. Reinforced them.

Strangely enough, that rather hurt me, and hindered me. Stunted my growth. I wonder why? (Sarcasm, in case you can't tell.)

Three years on, and I'm doing much better than I used to, certainly pre-2014. And, looking at this list, there are some here that don't affect me nearly as much as they used to. But some certainly still claw at me. Some still linger, and I still feel their tug. If you haven't guessed, "No one would want to be in a relationship with me," shows up fairly often.

Slowly, I am working towards the truth, and affirming that in my life. But it takes time, practice, and patience. Another thing I still need to work on a bit more.

We all have lies that we believe. You will have a list just like this. It might be longer, it might be shorter. Chances are, if I thought about it again now, I might have a couple more to add to this one. It changes over time. But you can only fight the lies if you acknowledge their existence. You can't fight a war you don't realise you're in.

So wake up. Name your lies. Then work to shake them. Then work to replace them. With the truth. And that, my friends, is where the second post will come in. But first, for me, sleep.

Monday, 13 November 2017

On Noses And Grindstones.

I've noticed a pattern with many people of late that I think is rather....unhealthy, to say the least, and a little scary. But not altogether surprising, perhaps.

It's fairly prevalent with bigger charities and not-for-profits in general, I think, but certainly not exclusive to there, or always found there. It's also a lot more general than that.

Put simply, it's people being overworked. They don't have enough time in what they're given to do the work they need to do; so they stay longer hours, and work more, when they may not get paid for it. And it's a perpetual cycle, always playing catch-up, never getting through what needs to be done. There's always more.

And many companies will look at someone like this and go, "Fantastic! They're going through this work so quickly! Let's give them more work." Without really worrying about the potential dangers and difficulties that could arise from this. Yet this is almost the norm.

We could try and say that it's the people that are the problem, or that it's the companies that are the problem; but I think it's actually a little bigger than that. I think it's our philosophy that's the problem. Our philosophy of work.

I've talked before about how we tend to focus on work as the most important thing. And this tends to prevail, even if we say that family is more important, or friends are more important, or church is more important - sorry, they need to fit around work. Work comes first. There's an old saying that goes, "Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." Yet this is what we constantly do. And because of it, often, other things will begin to wear down.

The story of the family that felt distant from their father because he was over-committed to his work is an old one. But we don't feel any need to change it, it seems; though we do have more gender equality at least, it could be the mother or the father now. Or even both, quite often. And yet this is seen as okay. As normal. Necessary. How else could it be? Shouldn't we all be doing 9-5, five days a week? (Though some cultures/people would look at that and laugh at how little that is.)

Well, put simply, no. I don't think so. If you don't have a family to go back to and spend time with, then maybe that's a bit different, but really - it seems strange to me for people to spend most of their time at work, making money, so they can then get home exhausted, flop down and do it all again tomorrow. Where has the joy in life gone? People shouldn't be having to choose between rest, work, and family. Work should be constructed so that the people working there are healthy, not drained. People need rest, space, time. But the world of today seems to move too fast to understand that.

I think that work should look a lot more like job-sharing - where you do it for two days a week, someone else does it three days a week, or something like that. Maybe you do mornings, they do afternoons. But, of course, the price of living is built around people working ridiculous hours. That's the problem. Particularly if couples want to raise children - it's typically not financially viable if they're not both working, often full-time.

I don't really have an answer for this one. I'm hoping that a combination of job automation and some sort of universal basic income will help. But it's hard to say. And it's harder to say when that might happen. But hopefully, in our lifetimes. I don't want to bring children up in a world hell-bent on working them to death.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Relationship Tips....from a single guy?

This one may be semi-tongue-in-cheek, but we'll see how we go. Stories may be edited/generalised somewhat to obscure identities. A bunch of these will probably be more for guys than for girls. Hopefully you can still get something out of this, girls! Probably a laugh or two...

1. Poetry....DO!
This is a fairly old one, and may seem somewhat cliché, but it works. A while back, a went to a good friend's birthday party, and I wanted to do something special for them. So I wrote a poem, and had it printed out all nicely and such, and presented it to them on the night. Later on, I asked if I could read it to them - and they rather liked it, if I do say so myself. So I made a little note in the back of my head - that when I was actually pursuing someone, I should try reading poetry to them. Reading it aloud is very important, because it's about how it sounds more than how it looks. Poetry is meant to be read aloud and heard, not looked at! As for whether this will work for girls pursuing guys....depends on the guy. It would work on me, but I'm not your typical guy. Know your audience! Always important.

2. Pester....DON'T!
Hopefully, someone will be able to learn from my mistakes, even if I don't seem to. While part of me likes to call it persistence, or patience, or perseverance....if they're giving clear signs that they're not interested, it's pestering. And it's not okay. I think I may have saved myself a bit of time and heartache (and a few other people, as well) if I was able to learn earlier on that "no" actually meant "no", and not "not right now". And as much as I'll like to cite examples of people pursuing their girl despite them being rather standoffish at first, and eventually winning them over - there's a difference between that and someone quite clearly saying no, and drawing a line. Respect is important, guys. Women like men that respect women. Should be a no-brainer, but sometimes it isn't.
I'll also note here - women, unfortunately, will often be pestered by quite a few different people. You see this even more online. You don't really get much of the reverse (unless you happen to be Chris Hemsworth or Tom Hiddleston). Be refreshingly different.

3. Paying....DO!
This is where we get into the semantics of what you call a date. I've said in the past that I've never been on a date - and I think I'd still say that now, but I'm stretching the definition a little bit thinner than I have before. I define it as two people who are in a romantic relationship, spending intentional time together to further that relationship. Anything less than that is a "catch-up".
There have been a couple of "catch-ups", though, that have gotten fairly close to being a "date". On both occasions, I offered to pay (we were at a café each time), and it was taken well. This may well change from person to person; at times, the girl may offer to pay. I think it's a display of generosity, which most people will appreciate. If not, then respect that; but it's good to offer.

4. Playing....DON'T!
As in, toying with someone. Don't string people along. If you're not interested, don't make them think that you are. If you are interested, don't try and make them think you're not! Mind games don't help anybody. They're mean, and can be quite hurtful.
I have to be quite careful, sometimes. When I'm around a girl that's my age, I can be a lot more...flirty, than I would generally consider myself to be. I'm good at fooling myself into thinking I'm just being friendly; and a moment later, I realise I've gone a bit far. It's particularly awkward when I've been fairly invested in pursuing someone else. There's been a couple of times that I've had to apologise for that. Which isn't great.

Sorry, couldn't think of a P for this one.
With my.......not so great history with relationships, you might have thought I'd put this the opposite way around. But no. Most of the bad stuff has been because I've kept at it after the initial "no", not because of making the initial leap itself. And while it can be gut-wrenching, uncertain, done badly or clumsily, often with terrible timing; I also know how it feels not to make that leap at all. And to wonder what might have happened if I did. And still wondering, sometimes, eight or nine years down the track. Some of those leaps - while being absolute trainwrecks - are memories that I hold quite dearly. Because they are moments when I'm actually being courageous, honest, and open. And I want to be more like that; rather than fearful, or shy, or cautious. And that's still a work in progress.

I can't think of any more neat points to put down. But I'll add a couple of quicker ones.

Don't go in with expectations. They aren't helpful. They tend to blind more than anything else, particularly when you expect people to be amazing. Everyone is broken, including you. Dating someone won't change that.

Don't have a long list of what you do and don't want in a partner, but do have an idea of what you can't wiggle much in. For example, it was only after I fell head over heels for someone that wasn't a Christian that I realised that was something I needed to figure out if I was okay with or not. And it wasn't - I wanted to be in a relationship with someone and with God together, not apart. I also rather like being vegetarian, but I'm not going to make that a requirement. Know what can stretch and what can't. And chances are, God will challenge you a little bit in that. Or love will, if you're a non-Christian reading this.

Understand each other. Can't emphasise how important this is. There are so many break-ups that happen because some undiscovered part of someone is suddenly revealed, that was really there all along if people actually bothered to look. But it's also about loving each other better. Use tools like the Five Love Languages, the Enneagram, all of it.

Forgive each other. You will make mistakes. They will make mistakes. These are indisputable facts that you can't change. What can change is how you react to them when they happen. Be gracious, be forgiving. Doesn't mean that you say that wrong is right - that's not what forgiveness is. Rather, it's choosing not to make a bad thing worse, and creating a burden out of it that you carry around. Because they're not fun.

Make each other laugh. Regularly, and often. :)

Be a little spontaneous. Good surprises are rather romantic. The old "unexpected gift, unexpected time....". Points if you know the movie!

Have little traditions. That are just yours.

Flowers. They're cliché for a reason. I rather love them as well. In case anyone is interested. Purple, preferably.

Secrets aren't helpful. Particularly if we're talking about a longer-term relationship - secrets will eventually come to light. It's much better if you do so yourself in a way that you can talk about it properly, and prepare for it. Rather than it exploding in your face, or something similar. It's also rather freeing.

Remember the little things. People like it when you remember things about them. It makes them feel rather special. Particularly if it's something they've only mentioned in passing, or if it's something that they wouldn't think that you would think of as important. Reverse psychology is fun, right?

That's probably all I've got for now. I'd add hugs in as a must, but I know there are some that aren't as partial as I am. But the number one important thing - listening. With the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply. Get that right, and you just might get somewhere. Let me know, will you? I'll probably still be here.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Sky's The Limit! Or Is It?

This is a phrase that we use semi-regularly as a form of encouragement - the sky is the limit! It's supposed to mean that you can do anything, follow your dreams, that sort of thing. The origin of the phrase is thought to be around when aeroplanes started to be a thing, strangely enough. So in that reference, it makes sense.

But the thing is, this phrase is no longer true.

For decades now, we've been putting things beyond the sky, into space. And space - well, it probably has a limit. But we haven't been able to get there yet! And so saying that the sky is the limit is actually rather a limiting thing to say. It's an example of old thinking, thinking from nearly a century ago.

I'd even hesitate to say that space was the limit. I don't think that works. I think that we are unlimited. Not in every sense, of course. That's evident. But we are always able to do more than what we think or perceive. Our biggest limiter is always ourselves. Our self-imposed limitations and restrictions.

If we live thinking that the sky is the limit, then that's what we'll reach towards. But if we realise that we can reach beyond the sky - and, in fact, well beyond it - then perhaps we will be more daring. More adventurous. Live a more abundant life. And do something truly amazing.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Too Many.

If you've been on social media lately, particularly Facebook and Twitter, you may have noticed the #metoo hashtag showing up abundantly on women's posts. If not, tens of thousands of people are using and responding to this hashtag (and I think that's a fairly conservative estimate, or an old number). I saw it popping up for a while before I saw a post that actually told me what it was for. This is the gist of it:
"Me too... If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Please copy/paste."
I should note, here, that this is something I've been aware of before. I have friends whose stories I have heard in relation to this, and I know that it's a widespread issue. But there's nothing quite like seeing post after post of friends saying "me too" to bring it home quite how big this is.

To give you a bit of an idea; there's been a few different studies over the years, trying to figure out what percentage of women have been sexually assaulted or harassed. The figures that come back vary rather significantly, depending on the size, location, and audience of the study; from one in four, to 30%, to over 60% in some cases. That's too many. Way too many.

But how about if we turn it around? How many guys have done the sexual assault and harassment? Again, it varies. Some studies, again, say one in four; and some, again, say over 60%. I'll note that the figures I'm getting are all from the US, so aren't necessarily global. They come from this article. Feel free to have a look for yourself.

Some guys reading this may be pretty proud of themselves, thinking, well, I've never done anything. This is where I need to reinforce: this is not something to be proud of. Not sexually assaulting and harassing other people is the bare minimum of decency that is expected of you. It is the zero mark. Anything less, and you're in the red. You shouldn't be proud of achieving the bare minimum.

Because the thing is, this isn't going to change if people just get shocked every time something like this happens, make a post on Facebook about it, and then feel good about themselves until the next time. And the next time. And the next time. This is a pervasive, constant issue. Change is only going to happen when it starts with us - and particularly talking about the guys, here.

I mean, I can say that I think all the guys that do stuff like this deserve a solid kick in the groin.

....but again, that's just going to alienate and distance people more. (Even though that's quite tempting.) That's not what we need. We need change. We need every man to see it as their responsibility to be a safe person to be around for women, someone that they can trust, talk to, be with - and feel okay doing so. We need to be actively teaching those around us what that looks like, modelling that to other guys, and making sure that guys get the message that treating girls wrong is exactly that - wrong.

Here, I'm going to borrow a line from the Good Book. "Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters." (1 Timothy 5:2) Sisters. Mothers. Not objects. Not animals, and not yours. Every woman, every girl, is their own unique individual, with their own story, their own life, their own thoughts and feelings. You are not any more, or any greater than they are. They owe you nothing. They are their own. I can't say this enough.

Before, I said that the numbers from those studies were "too many". But let me tell you what too many is.

One. 1. Uno. A single person.

Even that is too many. One person that has been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, is still unacceptable. Not 1%. Not one in a thousand. Not until this doesn't happen at all can we stop. Because this is too big. This is wrong. And it shouldn't happen.

Girls reading this - I do not offer any excuses for what has happened. There are none. There are no apologies or "sorry"s that can cover the sheer magnitude of what continues to happen, every single day, and what you all have to deal with from so many of us. And while I'm better at this than some, I'm by no means perfect. I think a lot of the troubles with this stem from porn and fantasy (though I'm sure that will be a contentious issue), and that's still something I struggle with. Added to that, I know there are times when I've made girls feel uncomfortable because of how I've pursued them in the past. I've been a bit.....obsessive at times.

But we need your help. We do not deserve your help, by any measure. But I think many of us will need it. Need women with a voice, who are willing to stand up and say no. Need women who are willing to say when a line has been crossed. Willing to tell us what we're doing wrong; and perhaps, even how we can do it better. You'd think it would be common sense. But unfortunately, common sense seems to be rather rare these days. I understand that many of you will not feel up to doing this; we have already destroyed your patience. And I am certainly not trying to say that this is your battle, your responsibility, or what you should be doing. It is our fault, and our responsibility, and our problem that we need to deal with. But I also know that the only way forward is going to be bringing as many people together as possible. Together, we can support each other; and together, we are heard.

Too many feel this pain. Too many cause this pain. Let's bring that number down.

Added note: If guys looking at the #metoo posts are getting angry at the "them" who cause all this - there is no "them", folks. There's just us. I guarantee you that at some point in your life, you've done something to make a girl feel uncomfortable. I know I have. It's not someone else's problem. This is something that everyone needs to deal with.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Not One, But Three.

I don't know what I'm writing.
I just know that I need to write.
I need to write, so that my mind will focus on better things.
Better things than what are plaguing it now.
Writing is a better thing.
Because, though words can be used to harm, and to hurt, and to wound -
They can also be used to heal, to build, to grow.
They are powerful.
And in writing, we are (hopefully) choosing words carefully;
Choosing the words with the most power in the right places,
Carefully constructing phrases and sentences to deliver a message well.
It's like making a building with explosive bricks.
Or nuclear bricks.
That's a better analogy.
You can use nuclear energy to build a bomb....
Or to treat cancer.
It is not too dissimilar with words.
And so we have a weighty task.
But one I accept gladly.
For I know words well.
Words are my friends.
They are familiar in my hands, and they do not abandon me.
Words have a beauty, a depth, each one unique and different, sounding and feeling unique.
And so many layers!
They are typed or written; seen; and spoken.
And each brings a particular focus.
A word that is awkward or brobdingnagian to type may be rather enjoyable to speak or see;
A word that is interesting to look at may be rather tricky to fumble the tongue around.
And a word that rolls of the tongue wonderfully may not be anything particularly interesting to see.
But this is the beauty of the word;
That it is not in one,
But in three.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Beautiful Butterflies.

This one's a bit of a quick one. But I thought it was worth posting about.

A few years back, either at the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015 (can't remember which), I came to the end of a time where I had been pursuing someone for a while, and it didn't work out. I went to Cataract Dam for a bit of breathing space/time with God, and one of the things that I saw was a couple of butterflies, like this guy:

Or maybe that's a girl. I'm not up on butterfly genders.
And I got this distinct message/promise from God: "I'm going to make something beautiful out of this." At the time, my assumption was that he was talking about a relationship happening down the road, because that's where my headspace was.

Since then, there's been a few times that he's floated butterflies across my path, to remind me about this promise. Particularly when I've been feeling a bit down - and rather a lot of late.

But last night, I realised that I'd been looking at it all wrong. The "something beautiful" wasn't a relationship - the "something beautiful" was me! I was what he was shaping, through that situation, and the many others since. I was what he was making more beautiful.

It's rather an awesome realisation, when you suddenly find that what you've been looking for you already had. I know this may seem a bit like a "Well, duh," moment looking back - but I'm really thankful. God has given so much to me, and I forget that all too often. And I forget how highly he thinks of me. So this was....a rather lovely reminder :)

Friday, 29 September 2017

Cracked Pots.

Hey folks. I did write up a post a bit over a week ago, but I wasn't able to post it up for reasons. Not sure as yet whether I'll end up posting and edited version, or just posting it up at a later date....though then it will be edited anyway, because I talked about stuff that was in the future at the time, that is now in the past. Anyway.

Life has been a bit crazy of late. A lot crazy, really.

Work is starting to pick up, from a couple of different places, which is awesome. But it's still early days as yet, and rather a lot that's still being worked out there. I've just come home from two nearly back-to-back camps - one for work, and one for Crusaders that I was speaking on. They've both been awesome and tiring in their own ways. I think I was able to really notice this week how drained I was feeling emotionally - not so much from the camp, because I've done that before. I think it just reinforces that I'm not in the best place emotionally at present. Keep wondering about whether I need to actually look at getting professional help or something - but yeah, money. Ha.

And that's the fun one to come back to. At the end of the first camp, I came back to my car after a couple of days and found that I'd left the headlights on, and needed to call the NRMA. But, it turns out I'd discontinued my membership, because I didn't have a car for a I needed to pay for the full year, and the call-out, on the spot. Yay.

Also, yeah, I have a car now. It's rather nice, and I got it quite cheaply. But still, another expense, that I'm working on paying off. Because it was a bit cheaper, rego/green slip is due soon - end of next month. The car also has a push/pull lever for someone that can't use the pedals, and I'm supposed to have it removed (because I'm not disabled). That costs another fair amount. Bank balance is currently sitting in the red, by a fair bit - mainly because of the unexpected NRMA callout. Not fun.

It's hard to know what you're supposed to do, sometimes. Was it too soon to buy the car? Should I have waited longer? Should I not even be considering moving out until next year? I'm wanting to move out shortly after my sister gets married (now only two weeks away, it's crazy....), but the mounting costs seem to be pushing that further and further away. Is this God asking me to trust him to provide - or is it God teaching me to be careful and a good steward of what I'm given? I just don't know. I really don't.

The camp this week was - hard, in a way. Speaking is one of the things that I do quite naturally, but I found these talks harder to write; I also think I didn't like that I didn't have much opportunity to share from my own story, even though I ended up working it in at the end. But when I was giving the talks, and on the camp - a lot of the time, I felt I was wearing a mask. I would get comments about how great the talks were, or things like that; but I just felt terrible. And it was hard to be....honest, in that. Because you have to be on all the time, for the kids. You don't really have space for much of your own emotion, if you're not doing well. You're up before the kids, stay up after them, and then the only time you have to yourself, you're asleep. Or in the bathroom. I actually ended up being glad that I'd forgotten a couple of things, because it meant that I had a quick drive back home and then out again. Some of that I spent just praying - but a lot of it was more....stewing? That might be the right word. Just letting the emotions have some space, because I'd been too busy to let anything have space for a while.

Don't get me wrong, the camp was amazing. I'm not saying anything against the people running the camp, that's not my intention, please don't think that, they're awesome people - I just felt like I was in an unhealthy place when I went on camp, and have been for the past while. I'm preaching on Sunday as well, and don't really know how that's going to go.

The great thing was, though - despite where I was at, God still used me in powerful ways. The kids were engaging in the talks, the leaders were engaging in the talks - I had a few kids that kept asking me to play worship songs with them on the uke. That was fun. Even though I often felt pretty terrible, God was able to work through me. And I think that says rather a lot about what he can do, and the power that he has. And the patience and grace he has with people like me, who are still rather incredibly broken.

Each day that goes by, I seem to just see more cracks, and places that need healing. But each day, he shows me love, and calls me beautiful. And I am swept away.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Enneagram Stress Arrow.

And Why It Makes Relationships Challenging.....or, Why Brendan Is Too Picky. :P

I've previously touched on the Enneagram here and there, but this post is going to go a bit more into it. And why one part of it - the Stress Arrow - makes finding the right person a damn nightmare.

Below is a picture of the Enneagram, with the Nine Types, as described by Riso-Hudson.

For those who haven't seen it mentioned previously, I'm a Four. The one called "The Individualist" here. Because we want to be the most special....

Now, you may notice a sort of pathway between the different numbers. This is quite intentional. The pathway is formed by two different shapes; firstly, an equilateral triangle that joins 9-6-3. I often refer to this as just 'the triangle' to myself, and talk about someone being 'on the triangle'. You find most guys will sit there quite happily. The other shape is a sort of hexagram that bounces between the other numbers; 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8, though not in that order. If you start at 1, it then goes to 4, then 2, then 8, then 5, then 7, and back to 1. And this is where the Stress Arrow comes in.

The tricky part to remember is which way the arrow goes. So, to help, I've got it going both ways below. First the wrong way, and then the right way.
Path of Disintegration (bad)
Path of Integration (good!)
It can get a little bit confusing sometimes, so you don't have to get it straight away. If you can just remember one of the movements, then you can figure out how the rest go. Well, the rest on that cycle, anyway - either the six or the triangle.

So the idea is that with each Type, they have a direction along the path that they move when they are stressed, or not doing well (Path of Disintegration), and then a direction that they move when they are doing well, and growing (Path of Integration). A Four (that is, me), for example, will usually move to Two under stress, and One when they are growing. This does not mean that they become the One or the Two; but they start to exhibit either the better or the worse qualities of them, respectively. For instance, when moving towards the One, becoming more organised and objective.

How does this apply to relationships? Well.

Because my direction of Growth/Integration is towards the One, I find that also tends to represent what I'm looking for in a partner; because they are a good example of what I want to become more like, work more towards, etc. However, the opposite will be true for them. I will represent exactly what they don't want to become - unless they are already at an unhealthy place, and just don't know it yet. But then I probably wouldn't be drawn towards them as much. (Well, maybe. But then I have a thing for broken people. But that's a whole 'nother topic. [Which I probably won't do a post on. If I did a post on all the 'things' I have, it would get rather repetitive - more so than usual.])

On the other hand, a Two may be drawn towards me, because a Four looks like what is more healthy for them. But I would not return it in kind, because they represent what is unhealthy for me.

In short: what you like doesn't like you, and what likes you you don't like.

What he chases after will not let him draw close; neither will he let draw close that which chases him.

It's rather a quandary. But there you go. Relationships still seem to be working out for other people, so I must only assume it's no nail in the coffin. Just takes a bit of time. *sighs* Time....

NB: Diagrams are not my own. They, along with the information about the Stress Arrow, come from this website, which I heartily recommend if you want to learn more about the Enneagram.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Okay? Okay.

Today is R U OK? day. If you haven't heard of it before, it's fairly simple. It's about asking people you know, "Are you okay?" It's about starting a conversation, making it okay to say that you're not okay. Because things like depression, anxiety, and other mental issues are not just issues for some people here and there - they're front and centre as issues that the vast majority of people will have to deal with at some point in their lives.

For me, depression has been on the table for a while now, in one way or another. There's a bit here and there in the family, so I'm probably predisposed towards it. I'm also a 4, and that's their classic struggle. But while there's always been some sort of undertone of sadness (as I talked about in this post quite a while back), I've never really thought that I had depression proper. For two main reasons; firstly, it never lasted long. It might be a day or two, on and off. Never for, say, a week at a time, or more. And secondly, I could always quite clearly communicate what it was that was making me feel down. And that seemed to me to be quite different from my understanding of proper "depression" per say.

Last year, and this year in particular, though, I think there's been more of this creeping in. Particularly recently, and in ways that I can't really explain or put a finger on. When day after day, I'm feeling sluggish, have no motivation, feel quite tired, sad, and down. Of course, it may well be partly due to not getting outside enough, and not really having work for ages. I do tend to perk up when I'm actually outside, or doing something, rather than just sitting at home by myself. Strange, that....

But whether it's caused by stuff that's going on or if it's more ingrained, there's something somewhat dangerous about it that I'm aware of. People will never notice it. Because when I'm around people, I feel good! I enjoy being around other people. (Unless I'm just in the midst of a massive crowd with no-one to connect to, or when it's just random people. Then not as much.) And so, when I'm around others, I feel a lot better than I otherwise might. But when I'm by myself, or at home, I tend to feel a lot more negative, and a lot more down.

Which makes this "Are you okay?" stuff really difficult! Because most of the time, if someone is there to ask me that - then I will be at the time, because I'm around people! But I might not be generally going okay, looking at the bigger picture. And I'm guessing that's not just a me thing - though with others, masking may be more of the problem. Either way, though, that bypasses the power of this question.

And so I guess I want to encourage people to dig a bit deeper. Don't assume that every time a person says they're okay that they are. At the moment, for myself, I think I am - but life is a bit crazy at the moment, so my emotions can be the same. They tend to get rather blown about by whatever's happening, which isn't great....

But yeah. That's enough from me for now. Are you okay? :)

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Black Swan.

At one point in time, Western society had only seen white swans. They had not seen black swans. As such, there was an assumption that all swans were white; and for one reason or another, the black swan became entangled with the idea of impossibility. Unicorns were more likely.

But, of course, then people went and found Australia, much to the despair of the hundreds of thousands of people who already called the place home.

And they found a lot of animals that they found rather ridiculous and absurd. Among them - the black swan. It's now the state emblem of Western Australia.

We see them a fair bit in NSW as well, though. Also, since when is it MA8 rather than M8? Anyway.

After they found black swans, the reference changed from being one of impossibility to one of improbability. It's also an interesting case of confirmation bias. You think there are only white swans, because that's all you've ever seen; and for each white swan you see, that theory is only strengthened. But you only need one black swan to show that it's baloney. It's a demonstration that, often, we don't have as good an idea of how things are as we think we do. That they have a habit of changing around on us.

Now, that's all a good story, but that's not why I'm writing it. That was all just context! Because I wanted to use this as an example of something for me that I struggle with.

Because for me, relationships have been a bit like a black swan. It's seemed improbable, I'm standing in the middle of a Venn diagram that just doesn't like me.

Something like this....
NB: Circles not scaled. Purple circle would be rather smaller than the other two, though hopefully not non-existent....

My previous experience with relationships (in short: hasn't worked out/nothing happening) has left me feeling at times like I'll never be in one. That the hurdles are too big, that the mountain I have to climb is rather ridiculous for me or anyone else to get over. That I can't find the 'right' person, or I'm too introverted/shy/weird, or the things I've done wrong and what I struggle with is going to be too hard for someone to deal with. Or if that doesn't do the trick, that I'll just wreck it by bursting out of the gate at 100km/h. I blame it on not being able to actually be romantic with someone while dreaming about it for the last ten years or so.

Preach it, Sirius!
I can thank being a Four for that. But yeah.

The thing is, like the black swan instance, we have the problem of confirmation bias. If I have a belief that a relationship can't work out - then until one does, pretty much everything else bolsters that belief. Which isn't healthy.

Particularly when I know that there are black swans out there. I live in Australia, damn it, we have the black swans! But I know that a real relationship, a good one, is possible. I believe that. That's not just me hoping, it's a God thing. But I'll hold on to that bit for myself, for now. But I know that it's somewhere in my future. I don't know how. Certainly don't know why, knowing me like I do. Don't know when - in a week, month, year, ten years, more? But God knows.

That's rather hard. Trying to figure out how much of a hand he wants you to have in it - am I supposed to be actively seeking her out, or will God bring her to me? Do I already know her, or is this still all in the murky future? I don't know. But he does.

So I'm trusting; that some day, this old crow will see the black swan. But soon would be nice, God. That would be really nice....

Screwtape #2 - Social Justice

Didn't take me long to come back to this format. It's surprisingly easy to those who missed the first one, it's here.

My dear Wormwood,

You mention that your patient has decided to become a stickler for social justice. Do not see this as a quandary, oh no; in fact, this is a great opportunity to turn that fervour to support our own cause. As you are still yet to learn, every path can be twisted to follow our own. Let him, for example, look to the recent High Court decision, and declare that they are obstructors of equality; that they are denying people their basic human rights (which are, of course, meaningless, being inventions of humans themselves); and that they are standing against love. Let him demonise them, belittle them, insult them, question their morality or their allegiances; all of this just sits him more firmly in our grasp.

In all of this, our greatest weapon is the social media. All you need to convince them of is that the posts they make or share, the videos that they watch, the people they re-tweet - that this is making a tangible difference. That this is all they need to do; that they can change the world from their computer, and what need is there to actually interact with people? He can interact with them just fine from his own couch, with his coffee in his hand, listening to his favourite music. And, of course, social media already reinforces this message for us! Everything is at his fingertips; there is no need to be uncomfortable. He must believe that comfort and justice are perfect bedfellows, rather than at stark contrast to each other.

I notice your point that the patient is starting to feel some pity for those affected by the hurricanes across the globe. This can be a problem if it gets out of hand; pity, we can deal with, as long as it does not progress to empathy. This may lead him back into the Enemy's camp. So, use that weapon of social media! Get him to post about the people that are suffering, saying that his thoughts and prayers are with them; and then, convince him that he has done his duty. That this is all that he can do, and nothing more can be expected of him. After all, they are so far away, and he has a busy life, and other things to attend to. Let him feel the relief of the burden slipping away....when, of course, it has not gone anywhere. It has just been forgotten. Eventually, these forgotten burdens will bend him over like a cripple, and he will not understand why - for hasn't he dealt with these already?

And if you can convince him to take pride in his fight for justice, well, then that is icing on the cake, and he is even further in our camp than we might dare to think. Have him believe that this fight makes him an outstanding model of a human being, that he is more, better, and should be recognised for the work he has done. Have him post about it on social media, so that all may see how good he is! All of this just brings him closer to us, and further from the Enemy.

Your affectionate uncle,

I should note that Screwtape has his own twisted view of everything, that is not necessarily accurate. Comments should be taken with a good measure of salt. Or, indeed, the whole shaker....

Saturday, 2 September 2017

A Screwtape Letter.

Seventy-seven years ago, a man called Jack by his friends wrote a series of letters from the point of view of a senior devil to a junior one; intending it as a discussion on theology, from a somewhat different perspective. I thought I'd give my own letter a go, in regards to a current issue in Australia (and, indeed, in many other places, but coming to a head here). Make of it what you will.

My dear Wormwood,

I see that your patient has become quite intrigued by the debate over same-sex marriage. This is all well and good. Anything that can distract a man from feelings such as love or kindness towards those around him, and instead turn him towards argument or even hatred, should be encouraged.

You ask the question of which side you should turn your patient towards. Wormwood, I think you have failed to grasp something rather fundamental about the nature of all argument - we are on both sides. It does not so much matter which side will hurt the Enemy more - rather, it is the very nature of arguing, the idea of division rather than unification, of separation rather than joining, that we must emphasise. Any time that a man disagrees with his brother is a good time for us. And if he should come to believe that his brother is somehow less because of that belief - which, of course, from our patient's perspective, is foolishly mistaken - then all the better. Our job is not to pick the winning side; instead, we must prolong the argument for as long as possible!

As such, simply turn the patient further in whichever direction he is already turning. If he thinks that it should not be legalised, then let him be embittered against those base people with their wanton lusts, changing the very face of marriage and dirtying that which should be pure; and if he thinks that it should - why, then, have him cry outrage at the very idea of these people having their freedoms curtailed, and these neanderthals whose idea of marriage comes from a book that advocates slavery and the silence of women.

It may stagger you to learn this, Wormwood, but the strange truth is this; most humans know that argument provokes argument. And yet, once it has started, they find it very difficult to stop. And let me tell you, the flame is well and truly lit this time. So just sit back and enjoy the blaze! Our job has never been easier. For how can they have space to love the Enemy when they cannot love their brother?

Your affectionate uncle,

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness. 1 John 2:9-11

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Old Friends

I recently came back from something called Men's Rites Of Passage, in Brisbane. It's not something that I can talk a lot about, but it was awesome. If it sounds interesting, do go and visit the page here.

But while I was out away on that, I wrote this. And thought I'd share it with y'all, because I quite like it.

Old Friends
"Life is hard," said I to the man.
"Tell me something I don't know!" said he.
"Life has always been hard, extremely hard,
And especially so for me!
You say it like it's some new revelation,
Something you've never heard before -
But it's been this way since life began,
If you stop and look at the score.
It's one-nil to life, first goal wins,
We never even had a chance.
Go ahead and play the game if you like,
But it's done - you're just doing a dance.
You can't win against life - so stop trying, stop doing.
That will never get you anywhere."
"So what are you saying?" I asked, "Give up?
Just pretend that I don't care?"
"Ah, but you see," he said, "there's not just one game.
This one might be finished, but that's not all.
Just because you can't win against life,
Doesn't mean that we're always going to fall."

"Life is not that important," said I to the man.
"Really?" said he, "I never knew!
I thought that perhaps I should bow down to worship,
Wondering at the splendiferousness of you!
You'd think that to look at you that Einstein was a fool,
And that Mozart wrote childish tones!
That Socrates babbled nonsense,
And Beethoven played the spoons!
Get down from your cloud, down from your throne,
You're just another simple man.
You breathe, you burp, you fart, just like us.
And when you need to, you use the can.
If everyone's equal, that includes you, you dolt,
You're not somehow specially exempt.
The picture is a lot bigger than your pretty face -
Pretty being a loose term here, but you get what I meant.
I'm not being mean, I'm just being true.
There's more life out there than just yours.
Perhaps pay a little attention to it, you know,
Before you walk through death's doors."

"My life is not about me," said I to the man.
"No shit, Sherlock!" he exclaimed.
"The world's a lot bigger than little old you.
But you don't seem to get that, so let me explain.
You were created - and not by you - for a purpose,
Much bigger and grander than yourself.
That purpose isn't about a job, or even a family,
Or what awards and trophies you put on your shelf.
It's about being part of a picture that glorifies God,
That points the way back to Him.
He's what life is really all about,
That's where you sink or swim.
We're a grand cosmic arrow, a beautiful display,
And aye, we may be the chief exhibit -
But don't fool yourself for a moment
That you are the only one in it.
God loves all his children, not just you,
He's got the biggest family in Creation.
And he's patient - he'll wait for all to come,
For all have been sent the invitation."

"I am not in control," said I to the man.
"Thank goodness," said he, "for that!
Or else nothing would ever really get done,
And we'd probably all be wearing silly hats.
I much prefer it this way, I think -
With someone who knows what they're doing.
He has been doing the job for quite a while now, you know.
Despite all your fro-ing and to-ing.
Even your own life isn't just your own show,
Because it intersects with everything else.
So it's all a grand tapestry, and you're woven in somewhere -
Though why he bothered with you, who can tell?
But you're part of it anyway, and one day we'll be able
To step back and take a good look.
Just for now though, you're just a thread,
Being woven in with a hook.
It's a bit like the worm, but not quite as messy -
And you're catching men, not fish.
It's no easy thing, and it never happens quickly,
But it works a darn sight better than a wish."

"I am going to die," said I to the man.
He smiled. "That isn't such a bad thing," said he.
"This broken and shattered earth
Is no place to spend eternity.
We are bound for a much better home
That has already been prepared
You can't take anything with you -
But what you need is all there.
While we're here, though, everything fades.
Nothing is here for good.
Some last longer than others, for sure,
But all have their time. It's well understood.
It's just not well accepted, or well spoken;
But all know that all things die -
Or at least, all things physical, that are on this earth,
Rather than in the spiritual realm lie.
For faith, hope, and love,
Will never truly have an end.
And a new beginning awaits us;
As does our oldest friend.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


There's a lot of debate, about a lot of things, these days. Some things I give my opinion on, some I tend to leave to others. Often for the simple reason that I believe that what should be done, or what is right, or what is true (as is appropriate to the particular instance), seems blindingly obvious. Yet, apparently not to many.

Perhaps this should be obvious - we have such a wide variety of personalities, backgrounds, upbringings, places we come from; so surely, consensus is never possible? Well, maybe. Maybe complete consensus is impossible. It's hard to tell. There are so many people these days.

But there are some things we seem to have all agreed on, by now. Slavery, for instance. It's a given that this is morally wrong, and just shouldn't happen, at all, period. It still does, in some places, in various forms and guises. But there's no trying to pretend that it's a good thing. It's a black market, and the people involved in it know that they're doing wrong - and choose to do it anyway. Or at least, that's my guess. I can't say I've chatted to any slave traders recently; or not as far as I know.

A while back, I wrote a post mentioning that my moral compass for many things was asking whether it hurt people or not. I realise that's a fairly un-specific measure - what do you call hurting? Physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically? But it seems to work fairly well. If what you want to do hurts other people - it's probably not great. If it doesn't - well, it still might not be great. But at least it's not not great in that particular way! It's not foolproof. But it can be helpful.

What about if it doesn't hurt anyone else, but just yourself? Yeah, still not good. Perhaps 'better', in some senses, because you're being self-sacrificial or something - but you get too many people that are torturing themselves on the inside, and nobody knows a thing about it. So that would be a no.

Think that things would work a lot better if people used a measure something like this. Of course, I'm somewhat biased. But, in my defence, it's not just my idea. "First, do no harm." That probably sounds fairly familiar....also, this one: "Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law." (Romans 13:10, New International Version)

It's not just about tolerating people, or the views that they have. I've never been a fan of that word, personally. It brings to mind the idea that I really don't like you, but I'll barely tolerate you. I'll tolerate your continued existence. That's not what it should be about. (And I realise this is not what people use the word for. This is just for me, my mental picture and understanding of this word.) Love is what I aim for. If you love someone, it's not just about going, "Oh, well, I guess you can keep doing that." Instead, it's about looking out for their best interests. It's about building connections, building intimacy, bringing people together, establishing community. It's not saying, you do your thing over there, and I'll do my thing over here, and if they don't touch we're all good. It's asking, how can I support you? How can I champion you? How can I help you, be there for you, love you?

This is what I want to be able to do, for people in general. I want this to be my default. And perhaps that's naïve, in a world with politicians, and scammers, and tricksters, and people that seem to be out to get you everywhere. But I guess that's not the world that I see. I see a world of beauty, full of beautiful people. Hurting people, yes. And people being hurt by, and that are hurting, other people. But beautiful people, all the same.

Think that's enough rambling for now. Probably enough in there for people to think about.

Monday, 7 August 2017


First, the skin goes.
Then the muscles, nerves, sinews.
The organs.
And all you've got left is bones.
A skeleton.
Skeletons can't do much.
They don't have muscles to move with.
Or lungs to breathe with.
Or a stomach to get energy with.
Or even bowels to relieve themselves with.
They just stand there.
Or sit there.
Or lie there.
Taking the hits.
When you take away everything - how do you start?
When nothing is left - how can you live?
Of course, a skeleton doesn't live.
It just is.
And continues to be.

Desperation Is Not Attractive.

Cutting, cutting, cutting....
I get nowhere. I go nowhere.
Just cutting and falling, cutting and falling.
But I keep climbing back up.

Cutting, cutting, cutting....
Because I don't know anything else.
I keep thinking I can do better.
But I'm just trimming the tree.

Cutting, cutting, cutting....
Making it harder for myself each time, not easier.
Desperation sets in.
It just means that I'm doing it all faster.

Cutting, cutting, cutting....
How do I stop?
Each branch is less sturdy than the last, not more.
The higher you climb, the less they hold your weight.

Cutting, cutting, cutting....
I'd say move to a different tree -
But you only get one.
What happens when all the branches are gone?

Cutting, cutting, cutting....
Perhaps one day I'll stop long enough for branches to start growing back.
But until then, I'm always

Cutting, cutting, cutting....

Author's note: this poem is not referring to "cutting" in the sense of self-harm. While that may fit with some of the metaphor used, this was not the intended meaning. I do not and have not self-harmed before. If this is something that you struggle with, please seek professional help.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Sacredness Of Sex.

That title is probably going to draw a few in. Haha. A bit of a different topic from my usual, for today.

There's somewhat of a perception that the majority of non-Christians have (and even some Christians, depending on age and denomination) that Christianity can be a bit of a "fun police".

Particularly when it comes to sex.

"Aw, come on, no sex before marriage? You've got to be kidding me!"

Particularly in today's society, this idea is often seen as pretty ludicrous. The majority of couples will now live together before getting married; many often having had sex before then, with other partners. (I'll admit, I have not researched this extensively. But I'm relatively confident that research would bear that out.) And, of course, you get some Christians doing this as well. (We're not perfect, folks. Shock horror.) It can feel like a bit of a 'dirty secret' that nobody talks about, sometimes. It's just shuffled off to the side, and we hope that nobody notices....yeah, that'll totally work.

But in today's culture, there has grown a celebration of sex and sexuality. You can see it pretty much anywhere you turn - but particularly in art, and various creative mediums. In the language we use; and just the openness of it all. And the perception is that Christians think that sex is this terrible, dirty thing that we shouldn't talk about or see - hide the kiddies precious eyes so they don't see this disgusting thing! - that's what people think. But actually, that couldn't be further from the truth. And it really rather annoys me. So I thought I'd set the record straight.

Part of Christianity is that we see the act of sex as profoundly sacred. Not dirty. Not disgusting. Sacred. Precious. Insanely valuable and special. It is the ultimate demonstration of two people becoming one - their union and intermingling. (Yes, you're probably doing fun things with that phrase right about now. I'll just wait here for you.) And as such, it's also the ultimate representation of our union and intermingling with God - how we are united, by having his Spirit within us. As such, it is extremely sacred. And so we say, don't have sex until you're married. Don't take this profoundly sacred thing - and just use it in a casual way. Think of it like using a bone china tea set for a kid's tea set to play with. Or for them playing in the mud, or to build sand castles with at the beach. That's the sort of distance we're talking about, multiplied by a hundredfold or so.

We don't see sex as a dirty, terrible, or disgusting thing. We see its misuse, its casual treatment by so many, as terrible, and often disgusting. It is taking something that is extremely precious - and throwing it around like it's worth nothing. You might not feel like that's what you're doing, and perhaps it isn't always that extreme - but very often, it is not treated as sacred. It is not treated as precious. It's just thought of as fun, enjoyable, a release, a connection - and while these aren't incorrect, in a sense, they are not all that sex is.

This is why we get so riled up about how sex is portrayed in today's society. The sexualisation of so many things, in so many places - why pornography is so terrible. Because it is taking one of God's most precious gifts, and twisting it to serve lust, rather than love. Sex was meant to be the ultimate expression of love - not an outpouring of lust.

Think that's it for now. Not much else I can really say. But yeah. This is something that I'm rather passionate about. And it saddens me - it really, really saddens me - that this is so often lost in today's world, and even some Christians don't seem to understand this. But again - none of us are perfect.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Political Thoughts - Environment

In a break from my usual - today, I'm going to do a list of some things that I think should be law here in Australia. Well, I kinda think they should just be generalised, but you know. One thing at a time. These are all environment-based, but I could probably have a good think and come up with other ones for other areas of law. Maybe I'll just do different posts for different areas every now and then.

Ban plastic bags. They can no longer be made, bought, or sold, in any form. Every store must use bags that are re-usable, like paper or canvas. Thicker-grade plastic bags, or "biodegradable plastic", is still not okay.

Ban disposable coffee cups. As above; stores must utilise alternative, re-usable mugs (like ceramic) and cups, or implement a #BYOCoffeeCup system, potentially both.

Clothes Recycling. Every clothing store, as a requirement, must have a place to recycle clothing, and clear communication as to where this goes to.

Commercial food waste is a crime. Unsold food is required to be donated to food relief organisations, given away, etc.

Waste Tax. Taxes on waste and rubbish (both commercial and household), and a higher cost for council pick-ups.

Education and Information. Education about what is recyclable in each council is part of the school curriculum, and this information is easy to access for all people. There is also a requirement for clearer labelling on all products.

Bin Costs. Waste bin costs money. Recycling and green waste bins are free.

Re-use/Repair. Incentives are put in place to re-use and repair items rather than get rid of them. More centres available for these.

Renewable Energy. It is a requirement that every new house or building is built with a water tank, and solar panels on the roof.

Zero Waste. Incentives are offered to businesses to work towards zero waste.

What are your thoughts on these? Are they too radical? Pie-in-the-sky? Or are there others that you would add? Let's start a discussion!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

On Possibly Hat-Eating....

NB: this one will probably be a longer one, and more emotional. If that's not your flavour, try another post over on the right somewhere.


Last night (as of writing these lines) I went on an online Christian dating site for the first time. Yeah.

It feels kind of weird, saying it. (Writing it. Whatever.) Like a dirty secret that I'm airing out, even though I've barely used it yet. Previously, I've been one of the first people to say that I'll never use a dating site, dating apps, anything like that, for many reasons - I'm not into casual dating, I think it's a bit weird pouring your money into that before you even get anywhere, and there's already a lot of great people that I know. It's mainly that last one that grates on me a bit, but we'll get to that in a moment. First up, I want to talk about why I went there, rather than why I feel so weird about it etc.

So, for anyone who's been reading/aware of what's been going on for me for the past while, I've talked a few times about my desire to be in a relationship. But almost always, along with the caveat of, "I'm not in a healthy place for that right now." I needed to do some growing, I needed to focus on my relationship with God. Which is good! And I'm glad that I've had the strength to do that.

More recently, though, I feel like I'm getting into a healthier place. I'm no longer blinkered in to just this person, or that person - there isn't really anyone that I'm just super-crazy about, which is fairly rare for me. Not saying there's no-one I'm interested in at all - because that wouldn't be true - but not to the degree that I have been in the past. And I think that means that I can come at it a lot better than I have previously; I have been a bit.....all at once, before. It's not ideal. But hey, emotions, right? Fun stuff.

At the same time, I'm not saying I have it all together now! I don't. I'm still figuring out work stuff (as in, trying to get more, so that I can actually move out again, and stop sleeping on the couch bed), still trying to spend more time with God, and still struggling with stuff like loneliness, and fantasy, and lust, and all that great stuff. But hey, that's just Thursday for me. And Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday, and....anyway. You get the picture.

So I guess I wanted to start taking a couple of steps towards being in a relationship with someone. But then the question is - who? And that's where it gets fun. Because I could give you a list of people (not a super-long list, but a list) that I'd be quite happy to be in a relationship with, or at least get to know better to see if I would be interested in that. But, for all I know, they're not wanting a relationship right now, or I don't really know where they're at with God (which is rather an important thing for me), or they're just really not interested in me (which is totally fine - there's another 3 billion other guys out there for them to choose from).

This is where that last point I made earlier about why I generally don't like online dating sites comes in, and why I'm kind of annoyed at myself. Because for me, the fact that I am looking there, online, rather than just sending a message to someone that I already know - it feels like a sort of fear, and cowardice. That I'm afraid to put myself "out there", and potentially ruin a friendship.

And I'll admit - that is quite a real fear that I have, born from experience. So far, each of the times that I've been interested in someone and talked to them about it, that has resulted in us not really talking any more. Not always immediately, and not always completely, but pretty close to. To clarify - I still think that each of these girls are amazing, beautiful people, that I still call friends, and often think the world of. But I don't really know what they think of me (or, admittedly, if they think of me, in the earlier cases), and perhaps it's best that I don't know. And yeah, we don't really talk.

I don't really want that to keep happening. Maybe it would be a bit different if I'm just asking if someone wants to catch up for a drink (read: tea/hot chocolate/milkshake, not alcohol), rather than getting super-emotional over them, and it probably would be. I'm probably getting a bit paranoid about it. But forgive me - when you're putting your heart on the line (which is what I do), and it already feels pretty tattered and broken, you don't want to be just throwing it around casually. You want to be careful with who you give it to. And I have tried to be, in the past, and I think I was. Just a bit too....quick, perhaps. It's hard to know. Relational and emotional understanding isn't my forte. Thanks, Asperger's. Doesn't stop me from having crazy emotions!

So, yeah. After the constant thoughts of, "I want to be in a relationship, I want to be in a relationship," rattling around for quite some time, and rather insistently over the past while - I checked out a few Christian dating sites. The hard part is finding ones that are free, that also allow you to message people for free. Those ones also have lots of fun ad pop-ups all over the place, but hey - beggars can't be choosers.

It seems like there's some good people there, but it's hard to tell sometimes. People can write what they like on a computer, and what they write isn't always them. I guess that's the risk that you run with this sort of thing - and what you pay for on the better ones.

At this stage, I don't really know what I'm going to do. I think it's something I'll need to sit with for a bit of time, and talk to God about a bit more. I really don't know. I'm just making it up as I go - and hoping I don't make any mistakes that are too massive. Because that's always fun.....

If you want to talk to me about any of this, feel free to drop me a line. Realise I'm talking about a couple of things I haven't talked about in quite this depth before. But be nice, please. :)

Friday, 21 July 2017

Interview Bias.

I should note that I'm not talking here about bias in interviews. I'm talking about the inherent bias of interviews themselves. Let me explain.

In every interview that I've been in, whether it's a solo interview or a group interview, you don't get told the questions beforehand. You might get a vague idea of some topics that might be covered, but for the most part, you're going in blind. There are plenty of sites on the internet that spurt out lists of questions that prospective employers ask; but really, there are always going to be things that you won't expect. And of course, that's part of the idea. They want to get your honest response in the moment, rather than something that's pre-conceived and built up. They want to get to know you, not a façade.

Part of me totally gets that. But part of me also finds it rather annoying.

Because the thing is that I'm at my worst when I have to think on my feet. You give me a question and say that you need an answer right now - my brain pretty much shuts down. It hates having to work fast; it moves along at its own pace, jumping here and there, mulling over things, reflecting on them, all that sort of thing. It doesn't really do fast. And so, in most of the interviews that I'll go to, there will be at least one question that I can't answer. That I think over and think over, but I can't come up with anything. Because I'm terrible when you put me on the spot, in the heat of the moment.

But what I'm fantastic at is planning. Where I'm best, is planning. Analysing. Breaking something down, and understanding it at every level. Thinking about things in ways that other people don't, coming at it from a different angle. You give me a project ahead of time, chances are, I'm going to smash it. But you give it to me and say you need it done right now - I'm going to be terrible.

It rather annoys me that interviews are specifically geared against people like me. I've gotten better at this over time than I used to be, but it's something I definitely still struggle with. I'm just not good at thinking on my feet. And I don't really know how you'd be able to change that for an interview, without compromising what you're trying to achieve. Maybe you can't. But yeah. It makes things rather difficult, sometimes.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Feeling Like A Kid.

This is something that's been buzzing around my brain for a while now, but I haven't known quite how to nail it down properly. Hopefully I can express it well enough now, though.

Often, I feel like I'm still a kid. Like I'm still 12, or something. Though I should probably separate this from my usual thing where I say I feel like I'm 8 and 80 at the same time - though it might be related, but I think it's a different thing. I certainly don't feel 24, though. (Though what does 24 feel like, really?) I feel like I'm a little boy, just crying out for attention. And I'm not sure how to stop that.

Because on the one hand - I feel so alone, and lonely, most of the time. I don't have many people that I hang out with; one on a somewhat regular basis, and other random ones here and there somewhat sporadically. I don't really chat to people that often, and I'm not the type to just head down the bar/club on a Friday/Saturday night. Just no. I have people that I'd call close friends - but I don't know if anyone would call me a close friend. And so part of me cries out, trying to get people to come closer, to hear, to see.

But on the other hand - I feel like that pushes people away, rather than bringing them near. Because no-one wants to be near a 24-year-old that's acting like a 12-year-old. It's just weird, and embarrassing. And so I feel like I should stop - but then, won't I just be alone?

It's a vicious cycle. I feel alone, so I try to bring people closer, but that ends up pushing people away, so I feel even more alone, and feel even more pressure to try and bring people closer. And so it just feeds into itself, getting worse, and can I break that cycle? By just being myself? There isn't really anyone to be myself around. My family, sure, but they're along for the ride anyway. Just stop? But then, is anyone else actually going to put the effort into engaging with me? Most of the time, it seems like people don't put in that effort unless you put the same into them first - and even then, that's no guarantee. That's not the case with everyone, mind, and usually each person has a few people that they're willing to just give their time to - but I don't think that's ever me, really.

People are hard. Worth it, mind - but hard.

NB: Sorry if today's post is a bit ranty. Just been impacted by this sort of thing a fair bit lately, and had more time to dwell on it.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Patriam Semper

Also, this is the "national anthem", if you like, of the land of Patriam, which is the land that Septimus takes place in. 'Semper' means forever, so the title would be "Patriam Forever". Though I will note that 'patriam' actually just means country. So it's "Country Forever", I guess. Oh well. It's less a song, more spoken word. It has a strict tempo and rhythm to it, so imagine a drum beating in the background while each septimus says their section. Then they all say the last line together.

Patriam Semper
White are the peaks where the wise monks live;
White are the flowers that they give.
White are their robes,
White is their hair;
White is the colour of Seneca fair.
Orange is the clay that the builders mould;
Orange are the bricks and stones they hold.
Orange are the cliffs,
Orange is their due.
Orange is the colour of Ennius true.
Grey is the fog where the soldiers dwell;
Grey are the metals they dig and sell.
Grey is the storm,
Grey is their song.
Grey is the colour of Petronia strong.
Blue are the seas where the boatmen sail;
Blue are the skies under which they hail.
Blue are their eyes;
Blue is their meat.
Blue is the colour of Terentius fleet.
Red is the fire that the powdermen burn;
Red is the desert in which they turn.
Red are their hearts;
Red they do see.
Red is the colour of Ignatia free.
Green are the trees where the glassmen toil;
Green are the grasses on their fine-tuned soil.
Green are their crops;
Green they do build.
Green is the colour of Maximilianus skilled.
Purple is the silk of the trickster’s dress;
Purple is the heather which they possess.
Purple is their mark;
Purple is their sound.
Purple is the colour of Untalia proud.

Patriam, Patriam, the Septem Septimus unite! Patriam, Patriam, the Septem Septimus unite!