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April 30, 2005

The $2 Challenge - Day 6

There are subtle signs ... searching for something to nibble on... looking for a different taste as much as something to satiate hunger. There has been a lot of creativity exhibited as a result of this week. Turning left-overs into another meal (done much more intentionally than normal)... thinking of ways of using the ingredients that we have remaining to create more food options.

What has been a totally unexpected side-effect is the decrease in household waste, particularly plastic and paper packaging. We can see how our ecological footprint has reduced this week.

Posted by gary at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2005

The $2 Challenge - Day 5

The children have encountered difficult moments at school, particularly when they have seen what their friends have been eating. We spoke about how it must feel for many people in the world to see what we have available to us, and whether there is a parallel to their own feelings on this occasion.

As supplies run low, we look to the weekend and see that there will be further sacrifices to be made. Low margarine supplies are being earmarked for our youngest, who has struggled with bronchitis this week.

R has commented that she has enjoyed her school lunches more because of greater variety. C comments that he is finding it harder the further the week progresses.

We are appreciating the value of each piece of food more, and lamenting what is wasted.

Posted by gary at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

The $2 Challenge - Day 4

There are two competing desires in eating... hunger and savour. When our food resources are limited, we focus more on satisfying hunger: feeding the body so it is resourced for the day's events and nourished at its end. In the normal course of events, this desire is balanced with that of taste: what would I "like" to eat tonight? What do I "feel" like eating?

All of the children have commented that, although they have not been underfed, they find themselves desiring other tastes which are denied them. Seeing other children with all that they have is difficult.

Posted by gary at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005

The $2 Challenge - Day 3

It is starting to have an effect on all of us. Our two older children have indicated that they are feeling hungry during the day. Our youngest was away from school today with bronchitis. We have all noted how much more we are enjoying meals. I was required to undertake manual labour today in 25-degree temperature. It was hard going.

Still, E's creativity in the kitchen is showing through!

Posted by gary at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005

The $2 Challenge - Day 2

Some comments from day 1...

S (youngest @ 8) "I wonder how much small tins of Milo cost"

R (middle (@ 8) "This was harder than I thought it would be..."

C (oldest @ 11) "I miss the cartons of milk, the powdered milk tastes like cream..."

E "We made breadcrumbs out of the crusts of the bread. It feels like a desperate thing to do to eke out the hamburgers... Our pantry is obscene - we could live out of it for a year"

It's amazing how much food is a habit, and can be a time filler. With it removed, there much more time available, although not as much energy to use it with.

Posted by gary at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2005

The $2 Challenge - Day 1

We are keeping a journal of comments for the week. All are asked to write something about the journey and how we are experiencing it. I'd have to say that it has increased the hunger levels of at least one of our children. R, who would normally require force feeding at the breakfast table at heartily and was complaining within an hour or so that she was starving!

The level of creativity has risen also. One person ate an apple, so another used the peel and core to make an apple tea drink. To think that so many live with less than this each day in total... we are simply limiting it to food.

Posted by gary at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

This week's challenge

Starting tomorrow, our family is taking on the challenge to live on $2 per day. Given that one billion people live on one dollar a day or less, without choice, we agreed that it would be a way of identifying with the challenges faced by one in five of the world's people, and learning first-hand. We have spent the last week preparing: deciding on what to purchase, what we could and couldn't eat, what sacrifices needed to be made, etc. We have just completed the family meeting where we tallied up our budget to decide what was in and what wasn't.

I'll let you know how we fare.

Posted by gary at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

At the Zoo

Spent some quiet reflective time at the zoo over lunch and found myself in the area containing endangered and vulnerable species of cat, which got me to thinking. In every case the threat to the species was associated with loss of habitat. These powerful hunters now found their habitat defined by human barriers to the point where they now appeared tamed, tormented and ridiculed. Humans observing them were often chiding them to "do something". What future do they have, given that we will never return to them the thing which would allow them to thrive: their habitat.

Which got me to thinking about the church, whose habitat has also been severely transformed over the last hundred years. Once the centre of the community, shaping and defining its culture, the church too often appears like these powerful animals in the zoo: lethargic, robbed of majesty, turned into a curio.

It is the animals who have adapted to the change which are thriving. How are we to adapt to this new cultural environment whilst still maintaining the power which the gospel has always exuded? Seems the answer might have something to do with rediscovering those aspects of the gospel which aren't so culturally defined and to focus on those. The church - as it has borne the gospel of Jesus - has survived and thrived through radical cultural shifts before, but its expression of community and faithfulness has adapted to the new environs. As the church continues to express this gospel so will its fortunes and the purposes of God endure.

Posted by gary at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

The Fitness Challenge

Trying to maintain balance in life is an ongoing challenge: health and well-being which embraces the spiritual, social, emotional, familial, communial and physical (to name just a few) is an ongoing challenge in the busy lifestyle we find ourselves leading. It is nearly five years since I ran a marathon. Now I'll be the first one to admit that running a marathon is not part of a balanced life - there are considerable sacrifices to be made to train one's body to run 42 kilometres. Running a marathon had been a back-of-the-mind challenge since my teenage years, along with riding a bike from Melbourne to Adelaide.

I have to say that I felt great during the training and at that level of fitness. But it could not last without considerable cost in other areas of life. With a growing family about to enter the teenage years, it would almost be derelict to devote the time needed to run consistent marathons.

However, the last six months has seen me getting increasingly unfit - the pendulum had swung too far in the other direction. Although I continue to play basketball weekly, my fitness has taken a nose dive. In the midst of the many challenges, running got the squeeze. Until holidays last week. I hit the road again, starting small.

The hardest part is knowing where one has been. There is a voice inside reminding me of what had been achieved and pushing me to get back there. I won't. At least not for a few years. This is a voice that needs to be resisted and refashioned. Sometimes our histories can be our worst task-masters.

Posted by gary at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2005

Off-beat insight

Sitting around the family table over holidays has been a relaxed affair over the past week as we have shared many a laugh, insight or story. One comment from our eldest son reveals both his maturing insight (he is in his last year of Primary School) and his creativity. My wife is extremely creative, and her mind works overtime in its quiet space. Occasionally in the midst of conversation she will erupt with a comment which takes us all off guard, but which is perfectly sensible to her. In the wake of silence created by one such comment this past week, C observed: "Mum, you are just so totally random!" Well, you could have heard a pin drop, as my beloved couldn't work out whether to be offended or simply thankful for the observation. It was an 'Aha!' moment, the comment meant as an innocent observation.

If I remember correctly, something that is random is defined as having a pattern which is not obvious. But is that a modern mindset response?

Posted by gary at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

Lessons from the Sand

Enjoyed some time on the beach at Point Addis this afternoon, where I was captivated by the waves pounding the steep beach. What fascinated me most was the changing patterns the retreating waves left upon the sand. Each wave would wipe clean the surface. As it retreated, a clear flat surface was initially revealed, followed by variegated patterns. Their artistry had to be seen (sorry, didn’t have a camera with me!) to be appreciated.

The wave created three different effects; the first by its arrival, the second by its presence, and the third by its departure.

It strikes me that we are the same. We create an effect by our arrival, impacting conversation and perspective, interrupting the present balance. A new impact emerges from our presence, as we are incorporated into the setting and as we become part of the atmosphere and conversation. The third impact follows our departure, when the trails that we have left become clear to those around. Although we do not see this impact - because we are gone - it is as important, perhaps more long-lasting than the first two.

Posted by gary at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2005

The Emmaus Road

The story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus presents a strange state of affairs indeed. Jesus was more with them on their journey, even in their doubt and unbelief, than when they actually saw and recognized him and finally believed. And it was only in retrospect that they could see that their hearts were enkindled as they were walking and talking on the road—even though they did not know that it was he who was explaining the scriptures to them.
- John Kavanaugh, The Word Embodied

The eyes of Mary in the Garden, Thomas with his doubts, the disciples in a dark room, the disciples on the road to Emmaus - were all opened in different ways and by different events to the resurrected Jesus. Sometimes a word, a remembrance, a familiar act, a symbol of his life. And the recognition of Jesus invariably brings about an end to the story, and the beginning of a new quest. The resurrected Jesus resists our capture, and in the wake of our discovery invites us into a new journey for other things. We are never allowed to rest on our laurels. Our journey of knowing and serving is always before us.

See The story of Emmaus in Art and Text by Ruben Duran

Posted by gary at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Death of Pope John Paul II

The outpouring of emotion and reflection following the death of Pope John Paul II has been quite amazing. The volume of newspaper space, alongside the electronic media has been most positive towards the Pope. This pontiff generated an enormous reservoir of goodwill around the world, having invested a lot of time in travelling and meeting people of all backgrounds.

Which stands in stark contrast to key elements of his teaching and 'politics'. Over the length of this papacy there has been much public hand-wringing in relation to the attitude of Rome towards women, and AIDS sufferers. An increasing lament about the overall direction of the Catholic Church under this Pope's tutelage has been evident, with the increasing shift towards conservative stances.

That this has remained in the background in the public memory in the immediate aftermath of his death highlights an interesting paradox: the Pope was much-loved for his pastoral skills, but not for the content of his teaching.

This, in some sense, ought not surprise, with the increasing emphasis on relationships for their importance, over against doctrine and dogma. It is more important in contemporary eyes to be seen as a nice person than the fined nuancing of teaching.

This is not to say that teaching is not important. There are boundaries of tolerance which once approached - or even transgressed - eat into that reservoir of acceptance. But this Pope's commitment to the people has been the key point of his papacy, and that for which he is immediately remembered.

There are those in the faith communities who would lament such a shift, and others who would deny it, preferring to believe that the Pope's legacy is the doctrine (which isn't untrue). Yet clearly people want to known that you care about them first and foremost. When convinced of this they are much more likely to hear you out on other matters, and much more gracious in accepting difference.

In one sense this is the essence of Jesus' ministry. His key message "The kingdom of God" found its strongest place amongst those who encountered Jesus as loving and compassionate.

Perhaps we need to remember that purity of doctrine is much less important than the expression of love and compassion.

Posted by gary at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2005

What Country are you?

Have to categorise this one as humour... hate to think what this result says about me!

You're Vatican City!
You're pretty sure that you're infallible in all that you do or say, and it's hard to say whether you're right.  You have a lot of followers, most of whom will do whatever you say without question, or line up to see you ride around in your spiffy car.  Religious and reserved, you have some wisdom, but also a bit much contempt for everyone around you.  You're also fabulously wealthy, no matter what you say to the contrary.
Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Try the test yourself here.

Posted by gary at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2005

The Saturday Obituary of Jesus of Nazareth

OK... I may be a week late (or four weeks early if you are of the Orthodox tradition), but I'll share it anyway. We used it in our sacred space last Sunday as a powerpoint opening the time together (using the tag line at the end "... or did it?")

Jesus Christ, 33, of Nazareth, died Friday on Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha, the place of the skull. Betrayed by the apostle Judas, Jesus was crucified by the Romans, by order of the Ruler Pontius Pilate. The causes of death were crucifixion, extreme exhaustion, severe torture, and loss of blood.

Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham, was a member of the house of David. He was the son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and Mary, his devoted Mother. Jesus was born in a stable in the city of Bethlehem, Judea. Humble beginnings for one who, at the time of his death, was labeled "King of the Jews". He is survived by his mother Mary, his brothers including James, John the beloved, his other faithful disciples, and many other followers. It was thought that Peter would be one of his staunchest supporters, but he denied Jesus, not once but three times.

Jesus was self educated and spent most of his adult life working as a carpenter and later a teacher. Jesus also occasionally worked as a medical doctor and it is reported that he healed many patients. Up until the time of his death, Jesus was teaching and sharing his Good News, healing the sick, touching the lonely, feeding the hungry, and helping the poor.

Jesus was most noted for telling parables about his Father's Kingdom and performing miracles, such as feeding over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and healing a man who was born blind. On Thursday, the night before his death, he held a last supper celebrating the Passover Feast, at which he reportedly washed his disciples feet and foretold his death.

The body was quickly buried in a stone grave, which was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family. By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of the tomb. Roman soldiers were put on guard and remain there today.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that everyone try to live as Jesus did. Donations may be sent to anyone in need.

Jesus Christ had such a promising ministry. It is too bad it had to end this way.

Posted by gary at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

Conversations with an author

I have a friend who occasionally borrows books from me. I value the opportunity, because when these books are returned, they come with pencil notations scribbled through the book. When I read a book, I feel as though I am holding a conversation with the author - or at least an audience. With my friend's comments in the margin, and often my own, a return read of the book becomes a four-way conversation: the author, my original notations, my friends, and my present thoughts.

I know a number of people who detest marks in books... I am not one of those. I enjoy returning to books from time to time and noting my own progress in thinking. If this is aided by the comments of another, we are all enriched.

Posted by gary at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)

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