Saturday, June 30, 2007

If In Doubt - Fry It!

Enjoyed a wonderful culinary experience tonight - and I'm not just talking about my wife's delicious American style chilli which cooked all day...

No, I'm talking fried cheese! Good friend Phil called in for chilli but brought some Haloumi cheese with him - it comes from Cyprus. It is used in cooking as it can be fried until brown without melting due to its higher-than-normal melting point. Sure enough the thing fries like a hash brown - then chopped into chunks - golden brown with just a squeeze of lemon, some sea salt and ground pepper...amazing!

If cheese doesn't have enough calories for you already, then I recommend frying it...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sugar and Spice and All Things...

So the Spice Girls are reuniting and its NOT about the's really ALL about the fans...which is a relief really for all those fans who will no doubt enjoy free concerts and CD's...NOT! I'm not sure whether they've signed with Virgin records again...somehow doesn't seem to fit this time round (although some unkind people will say it never did).

Speaking of virgins, I once had this idea to start a Christian Girl band - I thought it would be a winner - I even had a name: The Nice Girls. I mentioned it to a few candidates but they didn't seem interested so I put it down as one of those ideas for the future. Maybe I could launch it on the back of the reunion tour?

One of the best Spice Girls remakes around can be viewed here. It made me think that a name change might be in order for the girls this time round. Something evocative, something with zing, something fresh and fruity:

"Old Spice"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Triple Standards?

So Helen Clark is urging New Zealanders not to holiday in Fiji - there's more than a hint of moral overtone to her advice:

"The reality is that one of our fellow citizens who was doing his job, expressing the values of New Zealanders about the importance of constitutional government and process, has been treated in a ridiculous and horrible way. I don't think we should take that lightly."

Her reaction, apparently, would be to boycott the destination.

Strange then that Helen's sense of moral outrage seems a little selective. Where China is concerned she has no such qualms about taking the moral "low road" such is the importance of the pending free trade agreement with China. So important, that she's not prepared to meet with the Dalai Lama.

"The Dalai Lama is not a head of government, I don't meet every visitor to New Zealand," Clark said. "He is no ordinary spiritual or religious leader either, you can see that by the way in which controversy surrounds these visits," Clark told TV One's Breakfast programme.

Anyone, who saw John Cambell's TV3 interview with the Dalai last night would have heard his politely framed but hardly subtle characterisation of her refusal as placing economic advantage over morality - in his worldview sacrificing a longer term, big picture interest (doing the right thing) for a short term interest.

Fortunately karma has intruded to allow Helen's usual brand of pragmatic diplomacy to win the day - I haven't seen it widely reported but apparently she DID meet the Dalai - in Brisbane airport. The PM was flying business class and the Dalai Lama was in economy, but Qantas was not about to force an international celebrity of such stature (just to be clear: the Dalai Lama) to cool his heals in the transfer "lounge" with the rest of cattle class.

"It was pure chance we were on the same plane together," Helen Clark said. "I've been aware of this for several days now but there was no pre-arranged meeting because one doesn't know whether people are going to be in the lounge, or what time other passengers are boarded ..."It so happened there were around 10 minutes to be taken with the discussion. "So I did sit down with him ... and had a discussion of the kind which is appropriate with him as a religious and spiritual leader."

Helen Clark apparently told the Dalai Lama of New Zealand's initiatives on interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue.

"He was very interested in that.

So are we. I was about to remark on the incongruity in her refusing to see him with her (agnostic) zeal for the inter faith deal. Guess I was wrong.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Big Dreams

What would make a father prouder?
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Just Noticed This...

Just too good to let go by! Just click on this Word from the Lord...

From the Holy Observer (just found at the KenDen)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Literary Lust

I never wanted to be the guy who'd get all excited about theology. I'm much more the practical ministry kinda guy. But...

I find myself salivating over a new commentary on Romans I just picked up from the Carey library! I couldn't believe it was there!

The commentary is Ben Witherington's "Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary".

Here is why I'm excited:

  • It's written by an Arminian/Wesleyan who is trying to bring this orientation to the exegesis as opposed to the more Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist readings generally available - in fact the author claims there hasn't been a reading of Romans from this perspective since the Reformation itself!
  • It deliberately incorporates a consideration of social and rhetorical factors in developing its exegesis - the socio-rhetorical bit
  • Witherington contents that Romans 7 is not autobiographical of Paul's life but rather descriptive of a spiritual crisis in the non-Christian's life - the celebrated "I do the things I don't want to do" loses its force as a mantra for the masses looking to find an ally in Paul and crediting him with the same sense of enduring moral failure that they experience as a Christ follower - this is where the Augustinian inheritance around original sin seems to come into play in a strong way - so I'm fascinated by this crucial distinction and the possibility it offers for a more optimistic reading of the holy life
  • I've also wondered for a while whether an Arminian view of scripture and salvation is actually more accessible to the post modern mindset so I'll be interested to see how this plays out in this most theological of epistles

So I am officially a theology nerd joining Frank and Rhett in endless controversies...

Well maybe not, but I'm glad to have found the commentary as I am preparing sermons over coming weeks on Romans and starting a paper on Romans at Carey...should be fun to wave the Arminian flag high within a Baptist College!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Benny and the

So, Benny Hinn is in New Zealand. Its not the first time he's appeared on this blog - For interesting insights on other blogs I follow, try Frank's Letter to Benny or Rhett's Benny TV

Apparently, Hinn has been saying some not very nice things to people at his rallies - if the Herald is be believed:

"Shut up. You cannot be speaking when I am preaching. Nobody can do that here. We cannot allow people to be speaking back to me when I am ministering the word," Hinn yelled...
Another churchgoer was also humiliated in front of the 7000-strong audience, this time a lone man, who was discovered wandering around the auditorium.
"Would you please find a seat? You must understand, distraction kills the anointing and I won't allow no one to distract me, so sit down now. I am not going to change," Hinn snapped."

There is something about that which just doesn't feel right...its not the first time he's been reported saying stuff like that. Christianity Today reported an even more intense tirade in California back in the 90's:

"Now I'm pointing my finger with the mighty power of God on me. ...You hear this. There are men and women in Southern California attacking me. I will tell you under the anointing now, you'll reap it in your children. You'll never win. ...And you children will suffer. You're attacking me on the radio every night; you'll pay, and your children will. Hear this from the lips of God's servant. You are in danger. Repent, or God Almighty will move his hand. ..."

He's variously accused of heresy and/or deception by various "watchdog" organisations but interestingly has made quite a few public repentances over the years involving a greater grounding in the scriptures and a more Christological focus. Some remain unconvinced. He's also done and said some quite bizarre things - there's quite a celebrated account of him visiting Kuhlman's grave to receive the annointing and a weird word from the Lord where the Holy Spirit apparently revealed that women are supposed to give birth trhough their sides! But the stories as with many other public figures have reached mythic proportions.

Anyways, he's easy to observe on TV if you don't want to wait in the queues of people that will take the time and money to seek his presence. And you can join in praying for a financial miracle so that his TV programme will remain on the air (Benny sell the jet).

One thing seems clear: people will pay a big price for hope.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Is Brian Tamaki Almost Right?

This week I find myself in a strange place: almost agreeing with Brian Tamaki on the prayer in parliament debate. Oh, I understand the arguments for diversity well enough. But there is also the reality check inherent in the census figures (quoting from memory) - around 55% say they're some species of Christian, 35% say they're "no faith" and that leaves a very small minority of "introduced" faiths in a distant last place. Now I know the 55% is a soft 55% but when you think about it, the diversity argument is actually stronger for no prayer in parliament. Of course its not that simple. But I found myself profoundly influenced by the show of support for Tamaki at Waitangi from local iwi - how important is Christian faith for the tangata whenua? I guess that's also not as simple, but its a question that needs to be asked more directly. I find it odd that NZ's delegation to the interfaith forum should have 4 Christians and 3 Muslims...not that its a matter of representation, but I wonder if that's almost the sense of relativity we're being asked to embrace when our country is described as "multi faith" and diverse. Somehow I'm left with the impression that our diversity is being overstated. The reality is NZ has 2 major faith traditions - faith in the Christian God and faith in the individual - these 2 faith streams take us to 85%. Is it any wonder that some speculate that some of the influential 35% are using the 15% to disempower the 55%? Is it just a matter of relieving tensions in the Asia-Pacific region or is Helen Clark, as one of the 35%, using diversity and pluralism as just one more plank in her Godless "civic society"?

Jim Hopkins hits some great notes in his revised National Anthem in todays Herald:

All Gods bright and beautiful
All creators great and small
Fatwahs. Jihads. Satanists.
We're going to love them all.
In cuddly wee New Zealand
We'll worship everything
We've no faith left to call our own
And that is why we sing
All Gods weird and wonderful
All demons, ghosts and ghouls
Are equal here in Allgodzone

We're multi-faithful fools