Remembering and Opportunities


6 years ago today, I received a call from Malaysia. Jean, my brother’s wife, rang to say my father had passed away. It was a difficult time for me then, and the months following that were made even more difficult. Recently the convicted murderer of the prominent surgeon Victor Chang, was released and returned to Malaysia. He was able to be with his family again, after a very long time. He returned home in time to attend his daughter’s wedding.

That wedding must have been fraught with myriads of questions and issues. Above them all, I hope that family was able to cherish the mere fact of being together. Being together and connecting with each other must have been such a privilege. I wonder if that family was able to deal with all of the years of pain without sacrificing time spent together.

We all have regrets, of all kinds and of all magnitudes and severity. My one lingering regret is I never had the opportunity to spend more time with my father. Or maybe more accurately, I did not create or use the opportunities I had. There must be a lesson in that.

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Team Build (here we go again)


The team in my department is doing one of those team building exercises that go on from time to time. It is always a bit of a challenge to strike a proper balance in this sort of thing. On the one hand, this is a job and all most of us want to do is show up, do our work and go home. Every fortnight or month, we get paid. Every year, we go away for a holiday to rest and recover. And then we’re back to showing up daily, working, going home and getting paid periodically. On the other hand though, because we spend a fair bit of time with our team members/people in an organisation that is our employer, it only makes sense to see how we can make it all happier and more meaningful for everyone. Hence these team building sessions. It’s almost like a necessary evil but it’s also counter-productive to so call it. Perhaps it’s like a work-out. It doesn’t quite sound like fun but it can be very good for you…

 

Ricky Ponting Retires


It was my first full summer in Melbourne, in 2005. Ponting was captain then and he was about to hit another milestone. I can’t remember if it was a tonne or a double tonne now, but I remember a mate had texted me to go over to his place for a barbie. I said to him I was at the MCG and was about to see Ponting make that tonne (I think). Ponting went on to chalk up that century and I was really happy to have seen him do it, live, at The G.

Ponting has just announced his retirement from Test cricket. The current South African series hasn’t been good to him and he has top scored 16 runs in 3 innings. That is a far cry for a veteran batsman who has accumulated more runs than the Don himself. It’s always sad to see a giant walking into the sunset. We’ve seen a few of them in recent years. Waugh, Langer, Hayden, Gilchrist, McGrath and of course, Shane Warne himself.

Thanks for the wonderful memories, Ricky.

 

 

Caffeine Deficiency


I haven’t recovered too well from the eventful weekend that was the drive to and from Canberra over last weekend. It’s mid-week now and I’m still feeling the effects. I’m tired, smarting from a back strain, skipping gym as a result and bearing the weight of the prospect of a busy weekend ahead.

Towards the end of last week I got someone to get rid of a tree stump just outside our home. The job left remnants of woodchip and mulch strewn across the front and side of the house. Also, almost as if the stump carried remnants of life and being ground down spawned dozens of little plants sprouting up all across the front and side lawns to compensate for the loss of the mother ship. The stump was a strain of elm and these little buggers bear every resemblance of being of the elm variety. It’s scary and annoying.

All of that meant the spectre of a busy clean-up of a weekend stares me in the face and the mere thought of that tires me out.

So for three days running now, just after 4pm, I feel zonked out and ready to go home. Admittedly, not going to the gym meant I start work early and so that probably accounts for why I feel like home time earlier. It’s still a far cry from my previous work style – when I would soldier on till late-ish, perhaps closer to 7pm or even later. Hmmm… yawn….

Be “In Touch” And Lose The Pulse


The below story in the Sydney Morning Herald today, is an interesting one. Actually, I have always enjoyed reading Gerard Henderson. He argues really well from well researched facts. He seems to be asking the right questions and drawing what look like intuitively correct conclusions.

Ironically however, the takeaway after reading the below piece, appears to be that if you live in a major city and the more you keep in touch through the print and broadcast media, the more out of touch you can be with real people of the suburbs and towns.

Here’s the SMH piece:

President Barack Obama’s convincing victory this month reinforced the truism that, in the United States, what matters is the support received by the Democrats and the Republicans in the swing states. It’s the same in Australia, except that the focus is on marginal seats.

The early indications are that next year’s election will be decided in western Sydney, northern NSW, Queensland and, perhaps, Tasmania. Julia Gillard and Labor seem to be holding up relatively well in Victoria and South Australia while the Coalition remains dominant in Western Australia.

In recent weeks the Herald’s Phillip Coorey and The Australian’s Peter Van Onselen have reported internal Labor polling for western Sydney. If this research is correct, and if political attitudes do not change significantly over the next year, then Labor’s prospects do not look good for the 2013 election.

Last month, Richard Aedy, who presents The Media Report on Radio National, commented on the fact that the news agenda sometimes seems very narrow. As a case study, he mentioned that ”seemingly every week” the issues of asylum seekers and gay marriage are discussed on the ABC Q&A program.

Advertisement The Q&A audience invariably reflects prevailing inner-city values – as does the public broadcaster itself. This is the case whether the program is filmed in the ABC’s Sydney studio in Ultimo or in other capital cities. Many inner-city types – Labor, Greens and Liberal voters alike – are very sympathetic to asylum seekers and advocate same-sex marriage. Such views are not necessarily shared in the suburbs and regional centres of Australia. And this is Labor’s core problem – made worse by the agreement entered into after the 2010 election between Labor and the Greens.

Take western Sydney, for example. The inner-city types who adopt the laudable approach of sympathising with asylum seekers mostly do not live among them. Many asylum seekers who become accepted as refugees live in western Sydney. Here they compete with less well-off Australians for access to public housing and preferred medical care and education facilities. They also take up slots in Australian refugee and humanitarian intake quotas.

Labor’s policy, announced in 2007 by Kevin Rudd and supported by the present Prime Minister, to abandon the Howard government’s successful hardline approach to people smugglers has been badly received in western Sydney. This primarily explains the current haste to dismantle the policy which Labor took to the 2007 election.

The former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser received an extremely soft interview on ABC 702 Mornings with Linda Mottram program yesterday. Present or current Liberals who criticise the Coalition invariably are well-received by ABC presenters. This is not surprising since the ABC still does not have one conservative presenter, producer or editor on any of its prominent radio, TV or online outlets.

In the interview with Mottram, Fraser said he didn’t believe there was any hope of getting to a ”sensible, sane, humane policy on asylum seekers”. But he overlooked one central fact. The total number of unauthorised boat arrivals in the seven-year term of the Fraser government was 2059. Currently, about 2000 asylum seekers are arriving each month.

The fact is that the Fraser government never experienced an unauthorised asylum seeker problem – unlike the Keating, Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments.

Moreover, large numbers of Australians living in the suburbs and regional centres want the government they elect to control Australia’s borders. This is why the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s unequivocal message on border protection has been electorally popular in western Sydney.

Labor’s problems in western Sydney do not turn on the handling of asylum of seekers alone. Residents in this area are also experiencing rising energy costs – at least partly due to the carbon tax and the increased cost of green energy. There are problems of inadequate infrastructure and unemployment.

Then there is the other half of the Q&A obsession. Namely, same-sex marriage. Suburban and regional Australia is very much a socially conservative place. This is especially the case with migrants – particularly those of Christian, Hindu and Muslim backgrounds. To the extent to which Labor has been identified with the Greens’ radical social agenda, it has damaged the Gillard government.

Labor’s policy difficulties in western Sydney take place within the context of the current headings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption into the activities of the recent state Labor governments. The allegations against former left faction leader Ian Macdonald and former right faction leader Eddie Obeid, both of whom are former state Labor ministers, raise deeply disturbing questions about the NSW Labor Party.

Gillard and her colleagues may yet adopt policies to win back support in western Sydney. Spin alone will not do. Abbott appears to have greater appeal in suburban and regional Australia than he does in the cities. That’s why nationwide approval ratings do not matter much. It’s the suburbs and towns that matter.

Gerard Henderson is executive director of The Sydney Institute.

Need for Creed


Extract from this piece:

The spirit of our age ignores history, distrusts institutions, values emotions more than words, and hankers after novelty. For moderns, the loftiest goal is to be authentic, to speak spontaneously from the heart, giving voice to unique insights from our own points of view. For this mindset, the idea of reciting a set of ancient words in public agreement with a group is, if the word be allowed, anathema.

It resonated roundly with my current thoughts about why our leaders can sound so hollow these days. When someone appears to be articulating what appear to be authentic and spontaneous thoughts, applause rings out and those thoughts are given credibility and often, elevated to a level where it is preserved as true and to be taken on board – all for no other reasons than the thoughts were authentic and spontaneous from the heart.

It certainly is another book on the “to-read” list. Here’s the review (from CT):

The Need for Creed – It’s more than merely helpful to set down the church’s core convictions in words.

Review by: Fred Sanders

Book Title: The Creedal Imperative

Author: Carl R. Trueman

Publisher: Crossway Books & Bibles

Our church has a need for a creed. In The Creedal Imperative (Crossway), Westminster Theological Seminary’s Carl R. Trueman presses the case that "creeds and confessions are vital to the present and future well-being of the church."

It’s not just that a creed (a public, established statement of a church’s most important beliefs) is a useful tool for teaching doctrine, holding leaders accountable, defining the boundaries of church membership or cooperation among churches, and telling the world what a church stands for. Creeds do all that. But this book is not about the handy helpfulness of creeds; it’s about the creedal imperative. A church that obeys the Bible should follow the injunction of the apostle Paul’s pastoral epistles to Timothy, and resolve to guard "a form of sound words transmitted by eldership … ensuring good management of the household of God."

Trueman builds up this biblical case for creeds, layers over it the historical case from both the patristic church and confessional Protestantism, and puts the burden of proof on what he calls the "’No Creed but the Bible!’ brigade." Given this biblical and historical trajectory of churches using creeds, "the question is not so much ‘Should we use them?’ as ‘Why would we not use them?’"

Trueman acknowledges that there is a case to be made against creedalism, but he thinks that case is spurious because it is entirely cultural: The spirit of our age ignores history, distrusts institutions, values emotions more than words, and hankers after novelty. For moderns, the loftiest goal is to be authentic, to speak spontaneously from the heart, giving voice to unique insights from our own points of view. For this mindset, the idea of reciting a set of ancient words in public agreement with a group is, if the word be allowed, anathema.

As a result, anti-creedal evangelicalism is, ironically, "not countercultural, but culturally enslaved." Trueman is passionate and eloquent about how creeds enable churches to dig in their heels and stand with the great tradition, pushing against the modern temperament.

One of Trueman’s most deft arguments is that every Christian and every church already has a creed in the sense that they all "think the Bible means something and that its teaching can be summarized" in different words.

He continues, "The only difference is whether one writes the confession down, so that others may scrutinize it and judge whether its teaching is consistent with Scripture, or whether one refuses to do so, in which case one’s beliefs are essentially identified with the teaching of Scripture and placed above such scrutiny."

It is the anti-creedalist, in other words, who trumps the Bible with an unassailable (because unstated) tradition.

Ironies like this are delicious to the already persuaded, but they are unlikely to change minds. Trueman almost always avoids what he calls the "rather distasteful, not to mention sinful, tendency among many confessional writers to look down with scorn and derision on those who are not confessional." But he does lecture from a rather high seat, and at times he makes it clear that all God’s ways tend toward a good Presbyterian church.

But what about evangelicals not already convinced by confessionalism? Perhaps, for them, the most helpful parts of The Creedal Imperative will be the section on the biblical foundations of creedalism and the delightful chapter on "confession as praise." Trueman’s fine book may actually give them a glimpse of the high helpfulness, if not the necessity, of creeds.

Fred Sanders is associate professor of theology at Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute, and the author of The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (Crossway).

Loose Ends


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ian Teh <ianteh08@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 8:53 AM
Subject: Re: Catching up
To:
Cc:  <  >, <  >

Tham Fuan

Form and process remain on the periphery at best. The essence appears to be still missing. Perhaps whoever relayed to you information about my leaving LifeGate can fill you in about what I mean but really, other than it shouldn’t have been necessary, it will also no longer have any consequence especially given your recent most email.

I also don’t understand what releasing forgiveness means. You either forgive someone or you don’t. “Releasing” forgiveness doesn’t add anything other than layer up with new age type of lingo. Or maybe there is a new version of bible translation which now requires Christians to release forgiveness to each other instead of just forgiving each other. In any event, forgiveness cannot be relevant without proper context.

There is plenty to talk about but I have no desire to revisit any of these things any more. When I said to you during our dinner meeting that I have moved on, I meant it in every sense.

Ian

On Thu, Nov 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM, thamfuan <   > wrote:

Hi Ian,

Thank you for the prompt reply.

We are aware of your attendance at Edge Church the past couple of weeks. The purpose of my intended visit, which I have been thinking the last couple of weeks, was to continue to heal the relationship rift, which we at least try to resolve in our last outing together. Somehow, I felt it didn’t go as well as it should. Perhaps we can meet up another time however things pan out, sooner rather than later.

Ian, I really want to say sorry for bursting out in frustration in one of the Board meetings about you asking me to lead at your convenience. Please forgive me for my insensitivity and carelessness. Your pain and hurt no doubt would have affected the rest in the family, and for that I want to say sorry to Theresa as well.

There are probably other things I may have done and said which have hurt you, and for those things I ask that you release your forgiveness as well. In time, I pray and hope that our friendship can achieve a certain degree of normalcy.

By the way, with the way things are going, I understand your declination, and I don’t see that as being rude. Sincerely and genuinely, I have been and will continue to pray for you and your family for some time to come.

Take care.

thamfuan

On Thu, Nov 22, 2012 at 11:27 AM, Ian Teh <  > wrote:

Tham Fuan
I’m not sure if you noticed, but I have not been in church these past couple of Sundays. This is because I have decided to move on. I was at the Edge Church in Doncaster on those Sundays and I am likely to continue attending there for a little while to see how it works out.

On that note, I prefer to decline your visit. I hope that is not being rude on my part but just in line with the way things have panned out (and perhaps continue to pan out).

Ian Teh
Legal Counsel
L19 Casselden
T: 03 9200 4897
M: 0477 700 602
On 22/11/2012, at 10:26 AM, thamfuan <  > wrote:

> Hi Ian & Theresa,
>
> Suanchoo and I would like to drop in at your place for a catch-up Tuesday evening next week. Is that a possibility? Or would you prefer to meet somewhere else?
>
> Thank you.
>
> thamfuan

Hume Again


Tress and I were both very tired last Friday night. After an early dinner, we went home and went to bed early. Just before 4 the next morning, Tress got up and I, shortly after. We left home just before 5, and began the drive. It would hopefully be the last road trip up to Canberra for this year.

We started loading Kiddo’s stuff onto the car as soon as we arrived at Burton and Garran Hall, just before 11.30. It took less than an hour, then we headed to Dixon for a much needed lunch – I’ve had a cup of coffee since 5am and not much else.

After lunch we headed to our regular abode – in Campbell – then headed to the National Museum, which is another fascinating place displaying all the splendour of our tax dollars. While there we met an employee of the museum, who was a refugee from Laos. The arts, history and welfare of a fellow human being – all good spends of our tax dollars.

The next day after lunch with Ruth and Jon we dropped kiddo off at a house she would stay in (sort of, with a week off to Hurstville sandwiched in between) for the next 2½ weeks. We left Canberra close to 3pm, and got home just after 9.30 last night.

It was a bit of a crawl this morning – the slight back strain from Saturday meant I skipped gym this morning and still feeling the effects of a compacted weekend flanked by long driving stretches. There’s a dinner in some Korean place tonight, not sure if I really look forward to it. I love the company and the food sounds good but I also want a quiet night of being at home…

 

Speedy Gonzales Weber Q


The weber is perfect for a summer quickie meal which is delicious.
The weber is perfect for a summer quickie meal which is delicious.

Tress and I got home after work last night and after taking the little golliwog for his walk, we did a simple barbie dinner.

I had bought a couple of porterhouse cuts of steaks on Sat and I had the butcher slice the steaks across into 2 thinner pieces. We cooked a couple of the halved portions last night and with just a bit of pumpkin (also barbequed) it was very quick and really nice.

I had the Weber turned on, left it on to get to about 220deg and while waiting, had the meat seasoned with just sea salt, black pepper and rubbed with a bit of cooking oil. I did the same with the pumpkin (which Tress had cut into slices of about 1cm thick) but used white instead of black pepper.

The meat should not take more than a couple of minutes on each side to cook (for every cm of meat). Overcooked steak tastes bad, and is a waste especially for a good cut of meat. So the dinner was cooked in about 4 minutes. I let the pumpkin stay on the grill a bit longer as some of the pieces had thicker portions. When that was done, and I had taken the tongs et al into the house and taken the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard out to leave them on the table, it was still only about 10 minutes to lay it all on the table, ready to go.

It was a gorgeous meal inside 10minutes. Eat your heart out, Jamie Oliver… LOL