Tuesday, November 27, 2007

living courageously, running with the horses

At times I think we live in a world where most people are pretty timid and only a few are game to take some risks and see what happens. This can happen in all areas of our lives: in our friendships, playing sport, while adventuring or travelling, in marriage, as a parenthood, in leadership (especially Christian leadership), in business or our jobs, and in our journey with the Lord. Eugene Peterson writes a stirring and almost poetic account depicting the battle that Jeremiah faced to live out the life that the Lord had install for him:

“Life is difficult, Jeremiah. Are you going to quit at the first wave of opposition? Are you going to retreat when you find out that there is more to life than finding three meals a day and a dry place to sleep at night? Are you going to run home the minute you find that the mass of men and women are more interested in keeping their feet warm than in living at risk to the glory of God? Are you going to live cautiously or courageously? I called you to live at your best, to pursue righteousness, to sustain a drive towards excellence. It is easier, I know, to be neurotic. It is easier to be parasitic. It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of the average. Easier, but not better. Easier, but not more significant. Easier, but not more fulfilling. I called you to a life of purpose far beyond what you think yourself capable of living and promised you adequate strength to fulfill your destiny. Now at the first sign of difficulty you are ready to quit. If you are fatigued by this run-of-the-mill crowd of apathetic mediocrities, what will you do when the real race starts, the race with the swift and determined horses of excellence? What is it you really want Jeremiah, do you want to shuffle along with the crowd, or are you going to run with the horses?” *

Jeremiah’s life became the answer “I’ll run with the horses.”

I have a good friend that is living courageously and taking a risk. He’s got a baby on the way, and he’s just walked away from his safe salaried job to pursue a dream that’s been in the pipeline for a while, starting up his own travel consultancy. The road ahead for him will be rocky, but I’m confident he wont give up at the first sign of trouble as many do. But, if you’re an Australian reader, he could sure use your help, by giving him a call and giving him (instead of the big-guns he used to work for at Flight Centre) the opportunity to arrange a flight, hotel, tour, cruise or travel insurance for you. I think it’s worth supporting someone who’s living courageously! Contact:

Evan Snow
Travel Director
33 Degrees Worldwide Pty Ltd
56 Berry St North Sydney 2060
P: +61 2 9455 0535
E: evan@33degrees.com.au

*Run with the Horses: the Quest for Life at its Best
Pg 18, drawing from Jeremiah 18

Monday, November 26, 2007

What are you thankful for?

wild boar shank at a great Italian restaurant
plenty of Fat Tire Amber Ale
a backyard hot tub
a bike ride with my wife along the Idaho River
going to a pro hockey game
an incredible feast
watching college football
playing Xbox with the men of the family (and the gay cat)
free alcohol on an American domestic flight
time with Jess’ uncle’s family who graciously hosted us for American Thanksgiving
Jess’ parents and grandparents joining the party, driving all the way from CA
and the opportunity to travel to Boise Idaho to enjoy it all!

This was my second thanksgiving in the USA, although since the first was spent riding roller coasters with a bunch of Aussies, Jess’ bridesmaids and her brother the day before I got married 4 years ago, I count this thanksgiving as my first.

I didn’t know what to expect, and am still sketchy on what “Thanksgiving” is beyond the survival of the pilgrims after they survived the Mayflower, and the turkey eating and football watching that is enjoyed to commemorate the pilgrims survival.

“What are you thankful for?”
I had my answer prepared, I thought it was part of the tradition to be asked around the banquet table, but I never was asked, and neither was anyone else.

My impression is, that America doesn’t get much time to ponder or answer this important question anymore. The Boise malls opened at 1am, only 1 hour after the “Thanksgiving” day was over. 80% of the sales that are made during the “Thanksgiving Sales” are made by 10am – I’m not surprised, after nine hours of shopping, I’m sure 80% of the shoppers would be pretty tired and would be thankful for going home to left-over turkey.
Maybe I don’t get it… but with so many things to buy tomorrow, it seems much harder to be thankful for what we have today.

The day before the trip, I had to read and write a response to a fellow students paper, written on the topic of “Measuring Wealth and Poverty”. I wrote my response knowing full well that a glorious week of indulgence and abundance lay ahead and also knowing that the paper I had just read was calling the church back to a “moral vision of poverty as manifested in the Eucharist”. That is, in our poverty, as sinful human beings before a Holy and wonderful God, we are brought to our knees as impoverished people, where being rich or poor (financially and socially) doesn’t matter, as together we receive the body and the blood of the one who became poor so that we could become rich (this is no prosperity gospel). It is when we are on our knees receiving God’s grace together, that we can be gracious towards one another, and lift one another out of our economic and social poverty.

As I emailed the paper off, I couldn’t help but write a few off-the-record words to the author, sharing my experience of reading and responding to his paper in light of the rich week that lay before me. I was very aware of what I didn’t want to give up – my entitlement, my comfort, my security, my opportunities – the trappings of living this-side of any measure of poverty – yet knowing that the “conceptualising and measuring of poverty is a sombre yet important duty. It must start with the sad recognition that the pervasive reality of poverty is a manifestation of sin.” Is it my sinfulness that plays a role in others being poor?

I am not yet ready to deal with the reality of the quote that the paper ended with:
“not to share our wealth with the poor is theft from the poor”. From what I understand, the church fathers, who walked the journey of faith closer to Jesus’ time than us held similar convictions. I do think however, that taking plenty of time to ponder and answer that key question maybe the first step to loving our neighbor who we kneel beside in Eucharistic poverty.
So, what are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sydney: from spectacular to uninhabitable?

Read all about it:

Pessimistic? Realist? Sensationalist? Prophetic?

I do fear for the reef...

Is Kevin'07 or Howard's 'Go for Growth' going to help?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Trans-Gendered Prose

While googling something only distantly related, I came across the “gender genie” http://bookblog.net/gender/genie.php, which will analyse a passage of writing and determine, based upon word usage, whether the author was a man or a woman. So, for fun, I put some of my writing through the genie. The result – I (jessica) write like a man!