Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mainstream Fundamentalists

Some "interesting" comments from gaynz on the Family First event on the weekend. Whatever you think of Family First, this writer got it completely wrong with his description of Vision Network New Zealand and Daystar. Elements within the gay community are very free with their demonising language: you are homophobic if you express any reservation about the gay lifestyle; now you are a fundamentalist if you adopt an historic Christian viewpoint (appropriately balanced by love, tolerance etc).

Actually when you think about it there is a sectarian, fundamentalism that goes with that kind of attitude. I'm as tired of the rhetoric from some of these idiots as I am with the litany of hate that issues forth from extreme elements of the Christian "right".

It seems a shame to target some of the more genuine defenders of orthodox Christianity as if they are indistinguishable from the more militant elements.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I asked, "Do you speak-a my language?"

He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich.

Well not it seems if you are one of the near 100,000 Australian and New Zealand expatriates in the US who are officially up in arms at crazy US border guards searching them for Vegemite. The reason? Vegemite has fallen foul of an obscure US dietary law that bans folate, one of its ingredients, from anything other than bread and cereals. Folate is a highly dangerous compound, necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. In fact, and this is where it gets bizarre, since 1998, food manufacturers in the US have been required to add folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice, and other grain products. These regulations were specifically targeted to reduce the risk of birth defects in newborns. So go figure why its not allowed in Vegemite.

But I have a suggestion for you: they're not yet onto the fact that marmite also contains folic acid - so just take your marmite in instead and look the border guard straight in the eye when you deny the presence of vegemite in your bags. After all, right-thinking people, understand that marmite is the superior product.

I do wonder if this will create some real issues for customs/immigration:

  • Will it now be a crime to joke in line, "Do you want to see my vegemite sandwich?"
  • Will jars of vegemite left unattended in airports be blown up by bomb squads?
  • And if an overzealous border guard conducts a cavity search, how will they know if its vegemite?

Monday, October 23, 2006

The End of the Beginning

A big night for cessioncommunity last night as we celebrated a feast of community:

  • The recognition of cessioncommunity as an Established church within the Wesleyan Methodist church
  • The commissioning of our foundation Servant Leaders
  • The Ministerial Licensing of Frank Ritchie

Such a significant time.

I sense that it truly is the end of the beginning. We are no longer a church plant able to trade on the "we're just getting started" thing. We are now the real deal. I believe its time to step up.

Especially the pastor...not because of the "special" in "especially" but because I know I have more to give and I'm not prepared to leave anything on the field, as they say in sporting parlance.

My biggest challenge? To consistently live out of Luke 4:16-21 and be one of the crowd with my eyes "fastened" on Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Images from Vacation

So I finally got round to downloading our vacation pictures! There are more family type pictures (mainly of Rhys over at Jonescam).

St Louis - Gateway to the West!

The Mississippi

The Winemaker was a Kiwi!

"It's grapejuice I swear!"

"Is it wine?"

Bluegrass - Just like Parachute!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Poetry

Ode to a Flightless Bird

The air was black with beating wings
A flash of steel ripping soft flesh
The stench of scorched meat
Tossed and turned
Laid out in neat rows
Vitality draining below
Flinching at the scalding hiss
Life extinguished
It is finished
No more Kiwis flying
At this BBQ

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Tough Question

Sometimes life serves up some real ethical dilemmas. You don't know which way to turn. Both paths seem to offer something and yet there is a downside to each as well. Dilemmas of this sort can weigh a person down, lead them to lose weight, become stressed and ultimately drive them to drink.

Which leads me to my dilemma.

I have recently become the owner of a bottle of Penfolds Bin 707 1996. This is a premium wine that could easily set you back $200. It has a recommended drinking range between 2008-2020.

The issues are twofold - the former a matter of preference - the latter the ethical dilemma. First and perhaps easiest: when should I drink it? If I had a great cellar I might wait till 2020, but i think not. I doubt it will last beyond 2010! But, just when and on what occasion is a prospect to inhale...a date to roll across the tongue...a fleeting aftertaste of speculation. I'd value your thoughts... a birthday? A child's birth? A boring Friday night with pizza?

The harder and more delicate issue is who with? Or rather: with anyone? It might be the sin of drunkenness to drink the entire bottle solo...although stretching it over 2 nights would not offend my palate nor the Wesleyan police. But might others be offended when they ask: whatever happened to that Penfolds Bin 707 1996 you had in the cellar? Yet the more one involves the less there is for oneself. I have had offers already (from the usual suspects). But what do you gentle reader and potential supplicant think? To share or not to share...that is the question!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Benny and the Jet

No its not an Elton John remake - something rather less tasteful I'm afraid. Benny Hinn has bought a private jet! I'm sure its good stewardship but the $6m price tag is a little hard to swallow (some would say it cost more). Not only that for a gift of $1,000 you can have you name written on the interior of the plane, so in Benny's words not only will you be prayed for, you will be honoured. So, what you're saying Benny is that if I give you $1,000 you will pray for me and my money will buy me honour in your kingdom? I shouldn't channel surf so early in the morning.

Also from the bizarre and silly was an item on Breakfast this morning. A Ukrainian has invented a musical condom designed to play louder and faster as lovers reach a climax. Apparently the condoms are fitted with a special sensor that registers when the condom is put on. It transmits a signal to a miniature speaker in the base of the condom. The speaker then plays a melody. Here's the catch, because the music played is quite limited it sounds like an old cell phone ring - which I would have thought would be somewhat distracting! And what "ringtone" would you use? "How Deep is Your Love"?

But the most bizarre news of all? The NZ Cricket team are all fit at the same time! The TAB is taking bets on who will be first to reinjure himself.

You heard it here first.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Epidemic Strikes New Zealand

With Bird 'Flu and HIV so prominent in the scaremedia these days its surprising that a more subtle and insidious disease has not made it to the front of the media queue. The results of this disease are debilitating the country and causing individuals to suffer quite profoundly:

  • Elevation of stress levels with attendant impact on blood pressure
  • Mood swings caused by conflicting diagnoses
  • Increasing levels of phone rage
  • Circular neurolinguistic utterance
  • Diabetes (brought on by saccharine responses and fake smiles)

I speak of course of the Call Centre epidemic. It is now virtually impossible for anyone in New Zealand to actually speak to the person handling their file. So a game of "Chinese" whispers begins. Let me give you 2 examples (both true stories):

Example 1

Person receives notice that Family Assistance has been overpaid

Person phone IRD to clarify and is given good news - a fresh assessment is to be sent out

Fresh Assessment arrives...with exactly the same amount to pay

Person quitely goes crazy and ignores

Out of the blue another assessment arrives for half of the original amount but still twice the amount verbally reported by phone as owing

Person rings again to clarify. Having told the story again, the person is put on hold. After waiting for a lengthy period the person is cut off without an answer

Next day (having waited in vain for a returned call) the person rings again and is told by a different call centre person that both assessments seem wrong and that a fresh assessment will need to be completed

Person waits cyncially for the next chapter

Example 2

Person rings IRD to enquire of the status of an organisation's application. This is the person who has (a) Completed all the forms (b) Been nominated as contact (c) Has received communication from the IRD in writing. Person is told they are not listed as an official contact.

Who is an official contact? Can't tell you as you're not an official contact.

Is it "x"? No.

Well there is no one else! And IRD have already been in contact with me - I think this is your mistake in loading the information. Can I speak to the department concerned who is dealing with this file? No, no one gets to speak to the processing centres.

So how does one go about getting the forms looked at? The contact person could ask.

Who is that person? I can't tell you.

Can you send a letter out to the contact person telling them that they are the contact person? No

(penny drops as he realises IRD's mistake) Is the contact person "y" (involved with the national church) I can't tell you.

Well if it is then its your mistake, he was simply endorsing the church as being within the denomination. I still don't have you as a contact - perhaps "y" could contact us?

"y" is not available for national duties at present. Well I'm sorry I can't help you.

Call ends.

Insanity. I have also had this same scenario play out with Immigration, DHB's etc. Its not obesity thats causing heart disease to rise in NZ, its call centres...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

WiSPA or Shout?

The World Society for the Protection of Animals is lobbying the UN for a Universal Declaration for the Welfare of Animals at the United Nations. They are trying to collect 10,000,000 signatures to demonstrate to the UN that this is something people want. I tried in vain to find something on their website (the international one was down) that would help me understand what they're seeking - for example I don't think its a good thing to treat animals cruelly...but I am inclined to continue eating some of them, which some would say is cruel! Best I can ascertain it is about recognising that animals do feel pain and can suffer and that whether animals are being used for food, transport, protection, labour or companionship, this should be recognised by law. I can support that so I signed the petition. Check it out for yourself.