Thursday, 20 October 2011

The present task

The present task set us must remain at our mind's fore; for while dreams are golden, if we are apprehended or detained on account of failing our present duties then our dreams will (always) remain merely that - dreams.

I've been caught out again by my own optimism in the face of an avalanche of assessment. There are, currently, no less than 13 (!) draft posts for this blog. All have been worked on within the last month, but none are finished. I'd be disheartened - I was disheartened - but then this morning the words at the beginning of this post came to mind and (as so often happens when Providence grants us an epiphany) my outlook on a number of fundamental things (at least, I had thought them fundamental) changed. Much of what I grasped in that moment of clarity has faded or been lost in part (I'm not worried. It's the way of such things and when the time is right those previous revelations will make themselves known once again). One thing, however, that has stuck with me is that I'll not worry if I fail at getting many, or even most, things right (including, but not limited to getting blog post out on time). Just so long as I succeed at life - those present tasks set before me - I'll be alright. And dreams - though immediate duty seems to set them back unrightly - will (always) remain, quietly, within my grasp.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ugh.

Been wanting to finish a number of posts these last few days but seems I've reached do-or-die time with a number of my assessments (a flipbook, a resource portfolio, a podcast, a website, and an ethics essay), so they take priority. This brief post is all the procrastination I can afford.

The plan is to resurface (at the latest) Saturday week with a piece on Cain's wife (comes from some research I did for my father-in-law a while ago, I thought people might find it interesting) and a digitised copy of an entry from a teaching journal I've been keeping as I progress through my Bach. Ed.

That's the plan anyway...

Saturday, 24 September 2011

SPACE! (The Cassini Solstice Mission)

There's a lot to be said about the Cassini Solstice Mission and how it's informed our understanding of Saturn, the discoveries and images so far have been amazing.

But despite all of that, I'd like to dedicate this post to a humble 'raw' photograph:

Isn't it pretty? (Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)

It was taken some 2,330,428 kilometers away pointing directly towards Saturn. No, I don't see Saturn either; but that's not the point. The point here is all the SPACE!

I was browsing through the CSM site and noticed there was a collection of 'raw images' that hadn't yet been cleaned up, 'nstuff. "Why not check them out?" I thought, clicking through to the image above which, I have to say, took my breath away. I completely missed its being overexposed, its dust speck-inspired dark blotches, its utter lack of Saturn - I saw it and went: "Wow".

Space has always held a fascination for me; not for all sparkly/spectacular stuff (although I like that too), but for the fact that it simply is. The majestic utter incomprehensibly, the HUGENESS, the vastness of space is, to my understanding, unquestionably sublime (see Ch.1 of C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man).

Looking at this picture, I am analogously caught up to the second heaven and, at the same time, I have Patrick Stewart (if you missed getting an education, click here) splitting the infinitive (again, click) as he states the awful (definitions 2, 3 & 4) task set before the Enterprise (that is, to explore SPACE!). In this grubby image I get a glimpse of the infinite; I feel closer to Heaven, closer to home, and my spirit is impressed once again with the knowledge that they are, ultimately, one and the same place; I am afforded an association with the glassy sea below the throne; and in being drawn into this overwhelming aspect of God's nature, I find who I am in relation to Him. And that's a comfort.

There's more I could say (particularly about how, were I unmarried, I would probably run away and marry Patrick Stewart's voice), but instead I'll leave you with another wonderful shot - this time the moon Enceladus rising over Saturn's rim (click here for more info):

...wow... (Courtesy of  NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Twitter (with apologies to T.S. Eliot)

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a twitter.
And so, I now have Twitter.

Good Lord.

I can't really think of anything to say. I mean, I think it a good move, all things told; the idea being that I could use it as a medium for expressing odd-ball half-thoughts that hit me but aren't yet ready to grow into full blown absurdities of mind. That's the theory. Let's hope it's sound. Otherwise, Lord knows where we'll end up.

I hope it's a good thing.

I hope it's not one of those 'less-than-prudent-when-considered-in-hindsight' things.

I really hope it doesn't turn me into a postmodernist.

I now have Twitter.

I think I might cry.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Looking at sin.

Fyi announcement: I'd like to introduce a new feature to this little blog whereby I tag things I mean to follow up later as a 'boomerang' and then get back to them when I have whatever I was lacking at the time I originally posted - e.g. in this post I'm musing about sin don't have very many statistics or studies on sinful activities on hand; so I going to tag this post boomerang, and when I have whatever it was I was lacking, I'll come back and post a followup! Neat, huh?
---

When you get down to it, we all know that sin is 'bad' (or 'wrong', or 'evil' - the choice of word can change subtly what you're talking about, but that's for some other time. Here/now I'm using them as if they all have the same function, more or less). We may disagree on the particulars--which acts are/are not 'sin'--but on the whole almost no one thinks that sin is 'good' [although, for argument's sake it should be pointed out that there are two groups who do think that sin (or at least, some sin) is 'good': those persons who are using 'good' with reference to sensation and perception (i.e. they mean that it {the sin} either feels good, or can be viewed as favourable from a particular {and often limited} perspective), and those warped individuals who consider sin as something of a moral obligation (it gets complicated. As said, I'll cover it another time and in the meanwhile, try to remember that 'good & evil', 'good & bad' and 'right & wrong' aren't all necessarily synonymous - which is why people pay philosophers to make it go away and stop making their heads hurt)].

...

Anywho. Sin. It's bad. Little argument there. But why? Is it bad because 'sin' is the label our ethical systems apply to things that are 'not good', or because in 'sinning' one preforms an inherently harmful act? Those blessed to receive a classical education will recognise this as a variation on Euthyphro's Dilemma (those robbed of such an education please click here for a nice breakdown of the dilemma by the folks over at Stand to Reason. NB: if you've not come across them before then I highly recommend their blog) where I have substituted goodness for sin. This post is me airing my desire to determine (or to make moves towards determining) whether 'sinfulness' [as defined by the Word - I am, after all, Christian; and anyway I can't think of (off hand) another ethical system that escapes the dilemma] actually has an 'inherently harmful' effect that can be measured. I think it does. My hypothesis is based on the theory that a true religion, in representing the world, should afford no cause for disagreement between it and any observation of said world (i.e. there should be no disparity between religion and science--between faith and reason--when looking at the world. If there is then one, the other or both of them need checking/fine tuning. I'll explain it sometime...).

The point of the exercise would be to A) provide a counter-example for those who feel that "sin is strictly about 'morality' and doesn't have a practical impact on daily existence" (you know who you are); and, B) provide further ammunition against the idea that faith and reason (religion and science) don't mix. I'll get back when I have some hard evidence.

sdg

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The distance between 9 and 11 is short, right?

Technically I'm still buried under a mass of assignments, so this'll have to be short, but I felt that the principle of 'making time if you're serious about something' I mentioned yesterday applies here too.

I noticed today was 15/IX/2011 and my first thought was "It's September. That makes it, what, four days after the 11th?". Groundbreaking stuff I know, but I guess it makes a statement about how much impact the events of 9/11 had on the rest of the world [i.e. Australia (and more to the point, me)] when you consider that over ten years later it came to mind simply because I noticed it was September (not something that happens regularly as me and months have an indifferent relationship and anyhow, September accounts for only 1/12 of the year. What? I don't have a head for dates! Gimme a break!).

Coming to the point of this post (I can already feel my mind starting to whir & click and if I'm not careful this'll become another accidental monster write up, so getting to the point. Soon. I promise. Eventually...), I read a post recently (Sept. 12) on Del Tackett's Truth Observed blog where he discussed something that comes up occasionally, briefly, right before the PC brigade swoop in to chastise the bigoted hack who dares question the wisdom that is postmodern subjectiveness - i.e. he talked about Islam.

As stated earlier, I honestly don't have time to pull apart the sticky, prickly, laser-mine covered issue that is Islam right now; so instead I'll just wonder aloud. If Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Western culture (both the Judo-Christian and the more laissez-faire aspects), as I am convinced it is (I'll explain some other time), then:
  1. What is the endgame scenario for an increasingly globalised world? Will Islam stay, go, or morph into something new?
  2. If it becomes widely recognised that for practical and ideological purposes the West and Islam cannot co-exist, will postmodernism take a fatal blow?
I'm not trying to fear-monger, I'm not attempting to incite nasty things towards Muslims, and I'm definitely not suggesting that my analysis is flawless. I just feel that these questions (or others like them) need to be asked - and answered satisfactorily.

Ha! See? I can do short posts! :p

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A grey landscape

Reading the post below one could be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the next thirty days (i.e. from August the 23rd to September the 22nd) would be spent reading veraciously through Romans and sharing my wise insights here. At least, I hope there is forgiveness available - seeing as that was my impression too. Turns out life is not what it seems and while one minute you can be blithely twiddling your thumbs, chances are you're about to get hit with an assessment workload somewhat analogous to a ton of bricks...

Anyway, I've managed to get partway into the epistle (kudos to Mark D. Niehus for reminding me that "If you are serious–you will make time") and something that has struck is just how closely 'the law' in the OT is tied up in God's character. What got me thinking was Romans 4:13-17, specifically verse 15 where it says:
For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Now I realise that 'if there are no rules you can't break any' sounds obvious, kinda circular and even a bit shallow; but unpack it in light of an understanding of God's nature and suddenly it's got a whole lot more depth to it.

Some years ago I conducted a number of thought experiments that have since merged with past juvenile writings and begun to evolve into what will one day probably be a set of three novels. (Maybe something to write about another day?). In one of these thought experiments I tried to conceive a world (or more strictly, a reality) where there was no right or wrong, where God had not seen fit to define the parameters of good and evil. I failed miserably. The best I could come up with was a sort of 'grey world' where everything -everything, mind you- was ill-defined and not actually, you know, really real (which is, I'm sure you'll agree, rather problematic when you're talking about an entire reality). It was a bleak world that no person of any recognisable humanity could live in, and that no god who in any way resembled the God of this world could create. I mentioned the idea of a 'grey world' to an older friend and he pointed out that seeing as it is part of God's nature is to define reality around Himself,  it would be quite impossible for Him to create such a place - it would be a irreconcilable paradox! (As compared to those reconcilable paradoxes that we mere immortals must contend with this side of eternity).

Reading Romans 4:15 I was reminded about my 'grey world', things suddenly clicked, and I realised that 'the law' is an inescapable necessity! Our very existence is contingent on God having defined the bounds of reality by declaring what is/is not 'good'. In other words, without 'the law' we wouldn't be here. Now, I'm not going to go into all the implications of having an absolute standard of right and wrong based on the immutable character of God here and now in this overgrown post; but I'd just like to wonder aloud:

What does it mean, for anyone of us, that 'the law' is of such vital importance that our very existence depends upon it? If life (the world, the very fabric of reality) is reliant upon the existence of a foundational, incontrovertible, universal moral law, how then (in the words of Francis Schaeffer) should we live?
sdg

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A month of Romans

My, my... That last post looks a bit dire — particularly when you consider the long silence that follows; it would have been ten months, three days hence...
---

Anywho. Today I began what I am terming "A month of Romans" wherein I aim to spend a month reading through Romans. I'm not using a particular study or schedule; however, I am using several different translations and Mathew Henry's Commentary. I plan to read my way through the epistle in the ESV, NIV (the 1984 version - less chance of PC that way, I hope...), NAB, NKJV, and the Recovery Version. I was also planning on using The Message, but discovered that Peterson was bitten by the purple prose bug and hence says:
  I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God's words and acts. I write this letter to all the believers in Rome, God's friends. The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God's Son,
 when he could have gotten along very well saying:
  Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son,
and left it at that. Of course, I realise that Peterson's paraphrasation is meant to give people a fresh look at the text, but that doesn't mean the English language needs to be butchered in the process "The sacred writings contain preliminary reports" I mean, come on! You serious?!?? Additionally, I know there are areas where The Message gets it wrong and effectively alters the meaning of the passage and the nagging thought that I might be reading one of those passages right now was unduefully stressful; so I decided to pitch The Message and replace it with J. B. Phillips' Letters to Young Churches which is infinitely more readable and if it contains errors I haven't heard of them and am not worried, yet... :p

Fyi, I make no plans to write great passages expounding upon each chapter; rather if something that leaps out at me I'll talk about it, otherwise not.

It is late and I have class in the morning. Bonne nuit.
sdg