Archive for October, 2011

Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!

Monday, October 31st, 2011


Callum & Fiona McKinlay, OMF missionaries who have recently returned from Taiwan, spoke at our church yesterday.  Having spent years reaching out to blue collar Mandarin speakers more used to the oral tradition than reading scripture, Callum demonstrated the storytelling methods he uses to share his faith.  He told the story of Jesus healing the paralysed man (Mark 2:1-12) who had been lowered through the roof by his faithful friends.

After telling the story, Callum asked us to chat to those seated next to us and consider any new insight that we gleaned through hearing the story.  Most of us commented on how hard they had worked to bring the man before Jesus and how He healed the crippled man by forgiving his sins in response to his friends’ faith.

It also occurred to me that a crippled man such as this, living 2000 years ago, would have probably lacked the benefits of medical care and basic hygiene. This being the case, he may well have been lying in his own waste for years and it struck me that this could also be a metaphor for what we strive – and sometimes struggle – to leave behind when when come to faith.

While exegesis can be enlightening and knowing a bit of Greek and Hebrew help unpacked a verse or two, nothing beats a good story told well.  As for the paralysed man, wouldn’t you love to know why he hurried away without so much as a ‘thank you’?

Soul Surfer : Bethany Hamilton

Saturday, October 29th, 2011


Spent a lovely evening watching Soul Surfer with my three eldest girls last night.  The film recounts the true story of a competitive teen surfer Bethany Hamilton from the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii.  Bethany lost her arm in a shark attack in 2003 and the film recounts her life before, during and after the attack.

Her determination to become a champion again is the main thread of the movie but it also touches on how Bethany and her family’s faith was instrumental in her recovery and reassessment of her life.  AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia – filmed just a few miles from our house) does a stand-out job as Bethany, with Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid well cast as her parents.  Robyn, who has read the book, noticed that Hamilton has a brief cameo as an extra in the scene about a World Vision mission to Thailand, while her mum and dad appear as extras in a church scene. American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, in her first movie, has a supporting role as Bethany’s youth group leader. The beautiful scenery and cloudscapes of Kauai also feature prominently and we found ourselves all keen to go see the place for ourselves!

While I am the first to admit to groans and grumbles at the sight of another teenage chick flick – seemingly hundreds pass through this house annually – this movie was so much more than that; it’s great to watch as a family or as an inspirational film for a youth group. Definitely one for our ‘to buy’ list.

The Important Field

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

I hear in some places, you need one form of ID to buy a gun, but two to pay for it by check. It's interesting who has what incentives to care about what mistakes.

from the ever-intriguing and often hilarious XKCD.

While driving

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011


My prayers – and the ways in which I pray – are many and varied but increasingly I feel drawn to the ‘expectant silence’ of Quaker prayer I grew up with.  Driving to work today after the excitement and drama of the long weekend, I was trying to still my mind and ‘wait upon the Lord’.

As I came to the top of the hill, a movement on the other side of the carriageway caught my eye.  I glanced across and saw a clutch of tiny ducklings were frantically running in circles on the edge of the road.  Snatching a second glance, I saw what I knew I’d see next – their mother’s body lying smashed on the white line a little further along the road.

I couldn’t help but feel for the orphaned ducklings and, as my heart softened, I immediately realised that I was being presented with two distinct pictures.  The first, a stark snapshot a sacrifice made so that others could live; the second, a metaphor for how we often behave, running around lost and bereft without a guiding presence.

As I drove on, I thought of a worship song lyric I’ve often sung – ‘break my heart for what breaks yours’ – and I realised I had been taken at my word, my heart breaking for His sacrifice and our need for Him.  More and more, I am drawn to conclude that my faith journey is experiential above all else.

Birthday at the zoo

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Today, we spent a great afternoon walking around Auckland Zoo, celebrating Robyn’s birthday in the warm sunshine of the early summer. With the girls growing up, family days like this are to be cherished and this one was one for the album.

IMG 6615

A soulful White Rhino

IMG 6863

Oz the Sumatran tiger.

IMG 6827

Spider monkey swinging over the river.

IMG 6757

Tumu Herenga Waka – a 7m tall sculpture at the entrance to Te Wao Nui.

IMG 6912

The King of Pridelands.


All Blacks: RWC 2011 Champions

Monday, October 24th, 2011


Local prop Tony Woodcock scores the only try of the game – there’ll be dancing in the streets of Kaukapakapa and Helensville tonight.


Stephen Donald, Waikato whitebait fisherman and fourth choice ‘prodigal son’ first-five seals the deal with his kick.


A picture twenty four years in the making – big hearts and a tiny trophy.

Photos © Brett Phibbs; AP/Alastair Grant; Getty Images.


The Night Shift

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011


In an hour and a half, these blokes will clock on for the most important 80 minutes of their playing career.  4.5 million people will hold their breath, hoping to see the All Blacks win the William Web Ellis Trophy on home ground and cement themselves into the history books and the country’s collective consciousness for ever. Excited to be a Kiwi tonight.

Dinner Ladies

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011



I’m not scared. I’ve already had three near death experiences. Do you remember Bren? Oh, no, you weren’t there. The last one there was a light at the end of a long, dark passage and Dusty Springfield was beckoning to me with a lovely smile….turned out i’d passed out in the Mersey Tunnel with a drag act.

from Petula’s living will video in the last episode of ‘Dinnerladies’.

Victoria Wood’s words and Julie Walter’s delivery – few can match that combination for laughs and pathos.

Saturday Night At The Movies

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

As the father of four females and the husband of a fifth, my ability to influence prime time viewing in our house is somewhat limited, to say the least.

At one end of the televisual spectrum is surfeit of SPCA inspector / model / singer / designer / cook / doctor / customs dog handler reality fare.  At the other end of that spectrum is the seemingly unending geyser of imported rites of passage, ‘good vs evil’ movies.  These invariably feature a multi-cultural teenage dance crew/cheerleader squad/football team (who are secret either witches or superheroes) battling to save the world from sparkly vampires, t-shirtless werewolves or plain ol’ baddies aided by bespectacled boys, talking animals and cameos who should know better.

It is for this reason that, while reading this week’s TV Guide just now, I laughed out loud upon reading the following superbly acerbic movie review.

IMG 0280

Clearly, I am not alone in my misery but I think the reviewer’s pain threshold is higher then mine, as I would definitely question the two-stars (FAIR) rating.


Monday, October 17th, 2011

IMG 0255

The 99 per cent have taken up residence in Aotea Square, much to the befuddlement of the locals and international rugby fans enjoying the spring sun this afternoon.  The NZ Herald reports that collating statistics from NZ survey data and the Luxembourg Wealth Study shows New Zealand is the 3rd most unequal country in terms of how much of the nation’s wealth is held by the ‘top’ 1% of the population.  At 16%, where just behind 2nd place Sweden at 18% but way short of the 33% of the U.S.A.

When I was working in the corporate social responsibility field just a couple of years back, one in seven families in New Zealand were living below the generally acknowledged poverty line.  Now, according to Dr. Claire Dale, co-editor of the CPAG‘s September 2011 report, Left Further Behind: how policies fail the poorest children in New Zealand, “at least one in five New Zealand children experiences significant deprivation that compromises their health, their education and their future”.

While I offer no insight or opinion regarding these global protests, their validity or their efficacy, I do wonder about the values we model as citizens – to our kids, our communities and the world at large.

Edit 18-10-11:  This morning, the NZ Herald reported that John Key has admitted that the “growing underclass’ he committed to help during the period I mentioned above has, in all likelihood, grown further in the intervening period. Whether the Government has done its best to insulate people from the recession, as he claims, is something I’ll leave you to decide for yourself.