Paralysed by Infinite Choice

Moving to something of a lighter topic than the last post (while keeping the same holiday setting as an introduction), I want to use this post as an opportunity to discuss my theory of the crushing burden of too much choice. Yes, that’s right, I said “too much choice”.

Please let me explain.

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The Value of Human Life, and the ‘Other’

I was recently on holidays with my family in Australia’s magnificent Whitsundays(!). This post could easily become an advertisement for such a truly beautiful part of the world (and the extraordinary privilege I have to be able to take a holiday there), but I’ll try to stay on point. It was a wonderful time for our family, and our children enjoyed it immensely.

Many times the kids simply wore themselves out, and we ended up carrying them back to our resort room for a rest before once more setting out on our adventures. One such time, I was carrying my exhausted 2-year-old daughter in both arms (with her in a reclined position across my body), and I got caught up in admiring her beautiful porcelain-like skin and her perfect face and began smiling to myself at just how tired she must have been to be in such a comatose-like state.

However, as I admired her almost-perfect stillness, my thoughts were violently invaded by the powerful and highly distressing pictures I had recently seen from the excellent French photographer Anne Paq (follow her on Twitter at @annepaq). You can view some of the images here:  http://activestills.org/collection/1199/142 (*I do warn you, as strongly as I can, that these images probably will – and should – stay with you forever*).

Continue reading The Value of Human Life, and the ‘Other’

Daniel the Prophet and His ‘Sealed Scroll’

Lately I’ve been doing a bit of reading and thinking about the early ‘apocalyptic’ texts, especially the book of Daniel. It’s a truly fascinating text for so many reasons, and has proven itself over and again to be an enigma to many who have tried to navigate these difficult waters but who’ve found themselves hermeneutically shipwrecked along the way.

Daniellion

 As a (partial) tangent, I’ve had the joy of re-reading an excellent article written by my friend, the brilliant Dr George Athas (of Sydney’s Moore Theological College), entitled “In Search of the Seventy ‘Weeks’ of Daniel 9.” It is an historically, theologically, and exegetically astute article, and offers what is, I think, a very helpful way of thinking about this issue. You can find a post summarising the article (which also contains a link to the original article in JHS) on George’s blog: With Meagre Powers.

Anyway (and getting back to the real point of writing this post), something that has often bugged me about the way many have interacted with this text is the issue of the prophet being told to ‘seal up’ his prophetic words.

Continue reading Daniel the Prophet and His ‘Sealed Scroll’

The Second Amendment and (Biblical) Hermeneutics

The most recent (and I do hate that I have to distinguish between so many) mass shooting in the U.S. has reignited fierce debates over gun control and the place of the Second Amendment.

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At this point in time, those who desire change remain deadlocked in debate with those who oppose any such legislation. The NRA has publicly stated that the best way forward is more guns, and the Second Amendment is being used as the ideological basis of much of the resistance to gun control measures.

I have already posted my thoughts about the need for more gun control in the U.S. (and my disgust at the actions of the NRA), and I don’t wish to revisit that conversation here. I want, rather, to talk briefly here about the very interesting ways in which the Second Amendment is interpreted and applied. I think it is actually quite revealing, and the discussion is of great help in regards to thinking about biblical interpretation and application (something about which I am very interested).

Please let me illustrate the link.

Continue reading The Second Amendment and (Biblical) Hermeneutics

Before there is Hate, there is Hope.

I spent most of yesterday with my wife and daughters at an amazing outdoor playground in Homebush, Sydney. It is a truly extraordinary (and free!) playground, that could much better be described as a play ‘wonder land’. My kids absolutely loved it, as did the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other kids that were there yesterday too.

Though I enjoyed just taking some time out with the family and watching the joy on the faces of my girls as they played on the swings, climbed soft-fall rock climbing walls to go down giant slippery dips, scurried over the huge rope-netting area and journeyed to the top of the massive cubby-house tower, I was also struck by a profound realisation.

As we were watching our kids as they rapturously ran under the synchronised water fountains, I became aware, firstly, of just how many different cultures were represented by these sometimes giggling, sometimes squealing children and, secondly, of the complete lack of hate shown by these kids, united in their joy and sense of wonder.

Continue reading Before there is Hate, there is Hope.

Gun Reform or the Horrifying Norm?

The recent mass shooting of young school children (and some of their teachers) in Newtown, Connecticut, has shocked the world. It is truly horrific. It’s hard to even think about without feeling physically ill or having tears begin to well up.

Somewhat predictably, it has also resulted in the same media frenzy – verging on the obsessive – that usually follows such events, as well as the tired emotive rhetoric that stymies actual discussion and which usually results in the maintaining of the status quo (once the news cycle has moved on to the next tragedy, or some Royal somewhere does pretty much anything).

Much has already been written on these events, and there will be much more to come. Knowing this, I would just like to offer a couple of thoughts that, I hope, might be helpful.

Continue reading Gun Reform or the Horrifying Norm?

Redeeming My Roots

For almost a decade now, I’ve been thinking about the concept of ‘redeeming my roots’.

Please let me explain what I mean.

Before I became a Christian, I was a reasonably open-minded individual. Working from the foundation of a basic liberal worldview, I was an advocate for freedom and equality and the necessity of a good classical liberal arts education as the corner stone of a strong society. From that foundation, the framework of my political and philosophical outlook on life was built around a fairly strong suspicion of authority, taking the shape of anarchism.

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