Thank you Meredith Lake


As the days warm up, it gets harder to read on my commutes. Passengers are more awake so they talk more. And louder. Annoying.

So thankfully, and in spite of the very dramatic culmination of the footy season (Grand Final is on Sat) ,I got to the end of the really interesting book by Meredith Lake, “The Bible in Australia”.

The last pages had Tim Winton, Helen Garner, Paul Kelly and Gurumul all in a couple of pages. All Australian artists I have come to know and love. All touched by the Bible. All produced work referencing the Bible. Much as the present day secular world hates to admit, the Bible permeates Aussie culture and has a deep and wide influence on many Australians.

Meredith Lake is a terrific author. Her ideology/philosophy notwithstanding. Her avoidance of deeper theological analysis or reflection notwithstanding. And in spite of her ignoring other aspects of Australian church history which is less ideology/activism centered, and simply working to better the lives of people and bringing them to salvation in Christ.  This has made me want to read more, particularly about Australian arts and indigenous history. Thank you, Dr Lake.

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Footy Pointy End and A Little Star


The days are longer now, with sunset happening well past 6pm, inching towards the 6.30pm mark. It has become a little warmer but it stil gets chilly in the morning.

Last Friday, as Victoria and Perth warmed up to see which teams end up with the big dance, the office had its monthly Friday drinks and nibble. Staff were encouraged to come with their team colours but the only colour I was interested in was red, as I finished my two glasses of red fairly quickly and got out to leave for home and catch up with Jason and Mel for dinner at a restaurant where there will be a big screen TV for the first match up between the Tigers and the Pies.

It was good as usual, as Tress and I got to the restaurant and Jason and Mel joined us a little later. We ate and talked and caught up but to all of our surprise (including the group on the table next to us) the Pies swamped the Tigers and by half time, the lead looked insurmountable. We watched the second half at home and tried as they did, Tigers couldn’t reverse the outcome and Pies got up. Some even started saying they’d be favourites for the flag this year. What a reversal of fortune for Buckley their coach, and the rest of the team.

Collingwood (Magpies – “Pies” – are their mascot bird, the black and white team colours reflecting this) is to the AFL what Man Utd is to the EPL. It’s the team everyone loves to hate. The “ABU” – anyone but United – probably has its equivalent here as the “ABC” – Anyone but Collingwood. When we first got here, some colleagues in my earlier workplaces tried to convince me to go with them. We were living however, where most went for the Hawks, and I quite liked their more low keyed DNA. Having “adopted” them not long after that, the 2008 flag and Crawford’s “That’s what I’m talking about at the medal presentation sealed it for me. Collingwood has Eddie McGuire as it’s President/Chairman and McGuire is a local TV player and star. He presents popular shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and started the Footy Show which for many years, was the only show of its kind for AFL. He also ran Channel 9 for a while and remains an influential personality in many Melbourne circles.

On Sat Tress and I went and looked at a couple of units. One was in Croydon East, which was a bit small and has a very large tree in a corner of their backyard. The other is close to our home and is larger but costs more. We liked the second one better but we’ll see what happens. We went back home around 11am and started to work on the outside of the house. I did the usual hedge trimming/lowering, mowing, tidying etc while Tress did a truckload of weeding. We finished up after 2pm, cleaned up, and went for lunch at a really nice Vietnamese joint. Then it was back home for the second preliminary finals game between Eagles  and Demons. The Dees crumbled and it was all over by half-time, with a deficit of 10 or so goals. I said to Tress we could do our grocery shopping then, no point watching the second half. But we soldiered on and finished the game, with West Coast Eagles thumping the Demons to meet the Pies this Saturday – the One Day in September.

Sunday after St Alf’s and lunch, we headed into the city to catch the double billing of the VFLW and VFL Grand Finals. The former is the women’s competition and the VFL is the “reserve” teams competition. Often, AFL first team players would use this forum to test various aspect of a player’s readiness. The quality is reasonably high and nearly 13,000 of us rocked up at the Etihad (now renamed Marvel Stadium) to watch the Box Hill Hawks get up against the Casey Demons. It must be hard for the Demons to lose 2 games on the trot like that but Hawks got up for the women’s competition as well so that was a great afternoon for Hawks to end the season. Hopefully the senior team follow suit in 2019.

Back home after the game, it had gotten a bit dark and I hurried with walking the little guy as Tress prepped for this morning’s brekkie and I made my sangers when I got home later.

At St Alf’s Peter had spoken on Ecclesiastes 11. The message  was one of “getting on with it” instead of waiting for God to perfectly align the stars before making the first move. Do, not wait, appears to be the mantra. But at the same time, that passage extolled the virtues of prudence, of spreading the risks, acknowledging the place of wisdom and contemplation. It feels funny because that has how I have always moved on. And yet, I often feel I had to wait for more stars to align – not necessarily requiring all stars – before making the “big” moves. For now however, I am merely waiting on Him. After the service, Shirley came up to Tress and I to speak about a young couple with whom we have been coming alongside for their work in northern Thailand. They’re finishing up the end of this year and I’ve been thinking about what to do with them going forwards so it was good Shirley approached us to discuss. Maybe this is one star I was waiting, so I’m thinking we move with this for now…

Footy season ends (for Hawks) and the Bible’s effect on Aboriginals


Tress and I were at the G last Friday night – we watched the Hawks’ last game of the season. For the second time in 3 years, they went out in straight sets in September. Back in 2016, the Doggies took us out and went on to win the flag. Will the Dees do likewise? The tune of their song ringing in both Tress’ and my heads may mean something.

Saturday we slept in and had relatively R&R at home. We had to fix a couple of downlights in the bathroom, and so we swapped out some LED globes from the lounge, to sort of identify the problem. It turned out it was a switch problem outside the bathroom. The other switch, inside the bathroom, worked ok and so we put the globes back in and made sure we only used the inside switch, taping over the other one to prevent accidental use.

We then went to Mount Waverley for a really good pho lunch. We hadnt been to MW for ages and just pulling into the shops where the Vietnamese restaurant is, evoked some old memories. The pho was delicious and was perfect antidote to a wet and cold day.

We then went to GW for some grocery shopping and then idled away the rest of the day at home, watching a streaming movie starring Jamie Foxx (“Sleepless”). Later that night, we caught the Pies v Giants game on tele. It was a cracker too and the Pies got up, earning the right to a blockbuster with the Tigers this coming Friday night.

On Sunday after St Alf’s and our usual lunch spot, we got home and took the little one for a walk. The weather had turned and it was a beautiful sunny day, although it remained cold. We then pottered around the house – Tress did some weeding while I wiped down the little Miata – before I did the cooking for the week’s lunches.

This morning, I returned to reading my current book with renewed focus. Meredith Lake’s “The Bible in Australia” has been a joy and rich source of information to educate me on another level of Australian history, this time told from the perspective of the Bible’s journey into and through Australian lives.

The part about how the Bible influenced many indigenous persons and communities, was fascinating. It turned out that the person whose picture adorns our $50 notes, is David Unaipon, an indigenous lay preacher, inventor and cultural icon of sorts.

David Unaipon
David Unaipon on the AUD50 note. He was an indigenous person whose life was changed by the Bible. It started with his father (Ngunatponi) who was an Aboriginal evangelist

His father -Ngunaitponi – was an evangelist – one of many Aboriginal persons and tribes influenced by the Bible. I looked up David Unaipon a little bit and it really is interesting that the trajectory of Aboriginals who are touched by the Bible, is very different to those activists who want to look at it from a different prism. It really leads to the challenge to objectively assess what is good. Not all cultures are equal in terms of the objective good they bring. If there is honest assessment, I believe the impact of the Bible on indigenous lives, is for the better and those influenced by it will want a different outcome to indigenous well being.

Footy Finals and Two Kinds of Nervous


September is a nervous month for many football fans. On Friday morning, I slept in and so I caught a morning breakfast TV interview the host was having with a popular radio talkback host, Neil Mitchell. Neil is a Melbourne Demons fan and Neil said he was nervous, as his team prepared to play Geelong in the first elimination final.

I was nervous too, the day before. I went straight from work to the G on Thursday night, and copped both the rain and a shellacking. The Hawks played really poorly and went down to the Tigers.

At work on Friday, I was off coloured – tired and deflated. That night however, Tress and I caught up with Jason and Mel and A Hooi and U Marloney for dinner and it was very good to meet them and catch up again, so I felt a whole lot better for it.

On Saturday, I went to St Alf’s for sweeping/yard cleaning duty but there was a wedding on so the cleaning was already done. We then kept an appointment with our tax agents, who delivered some bad news. It is painful to be shown how much tax we both have to pay, and it angered me we’re funding some pretty stupid politicians for their shenanigans, with the amount of taxes we cough up. It hurts even as I write this.

We left the tax agents just after noon, got lunch and did some grocery shopping, and then went home for some gardening. Our garden has been neglected for much of winter and I had wanted to reduce the height of our James Sterling hedges. The afternoon was a touch cloudy and cool so it was very nice to stay outside and just work away.

I kept working when the Swans v Giants game started, listening to the first quarter on the radio. I couldn’t stay away from watching the game for too long however, so towards the end of that quarter, I cleaned up and watched the rest of the game on TV. Giants were very good in killing of the Swans, keeping Franklin goalless for much of the game. Swans only had 8 points to almost the end of the game, before a couple of quick late goals made them look more respectable.

Later that night, the West Coast hosted the Pies and it was, to me, the game of the finals so far. The Eagles got up, but the Pies had led by 2 points with 6 minutes to go. I was glued to the TV, even as Tress had gone to bed in the last quarter.

On Sunday at St Alf’s we listened to a speaker with an unusual name. Frog Orr-Ewing is a clergy from Oxford. He is a contemporary of Bear Grylls and they both grew up in the same faith community and jokes about Frog and Bear were easy picking. He was a very good speaker and I later learned he and his wife Amy have written well received books. I must look out for and keep them in my reading list.

Frog did a bit of an altar call thing towards the end of the service and Ginny too, made some points about going out of our usual day to day boundaries to do stuff for Him. This has been resonating for a little while now but the threshold to overcome and actually do something, feels unbearably high. I don’t know how to start.

Tress and I decided to cook some bak kut teh for this week’s lunches so yesterday arvo was a big cookout as I did the BKT on the pressure cooker, did a big pot of stir dry cabbage on a second pot, and cooked brown rice in the rice cooker. All dishes packed away in the freezer and washing done, we finally settled in to get ready for the start of the working week again.

This morning as I jumped online to get tickets for Hawks’ semi-final against Melbourne this Friday, I wondered about what lies ahead. September can fly past in a blur if your team is involved in the finals and stays a bit.

As Tress and I talked about going home to be with her mum in cup week and I read my cousin Joanne’s FB posts about her late mum (my aunt who died over a week ago), I’m grateful for a blurringly quick passing September but I’m also restless about my inability to cross that threshold to do more for Him, with the increasingly less time I now have. I get nervous for a different reason when that happens. Unlike football, there is no next year/season to provide hope fpr comfort. I should therefore be even more nervous, than footy fans get in September.

James Cook and the Bible


I’ve just picked up Meredith Lake’s “The Bible in Australia – A Cultural History” and it has been fascinating. It sounds like a strong contender for the best book I’d read this year.

Cook’s journal on the Endeavour proved to be more than just a record of his voyages and “conquests”. It became a catalyst for someone like William Carey who went on to do great missionary work in India. The Bible was such a central drive for tremendous long term impact, that it is little wonder efforts to tear it down, are consistently strong.

Maybe, there in an undertone to anti-Christian thoughts and action, that underpinned recent denouncements of Cook. If his life, work and activities incorporated the Bible in such a central way, denouncing him could well tear that piece down too.

 

Grey Melbourne and grim news from Klang


The calendar says winter is over and today’s the third day of spring. God’s creation however, not the calendar, dictates the weather; it was still very cold over the weekend. And grey too.

Tress and I went to a local pub styled restaurant just across the road from the station on Friday night. We had a good dinner, wound down the week and chatted. We then went home and having had a long busy week, we were both tired and the good feed set us up for a quiet night to sleep early and recharge our batteries.

I had trouble sleeping however, and some-time in the middle of the night, Tress let out a small “oh no”. Kuan Kuan – wife of Henry, my “7th” chek, had passed away in a hospital in Malaysia. She was operated on earlier in the week, for colon cancer. The operation was a bit more involved than expected but she was expected to make good recovery. Her passing was, therefore, a shock and we took the rest of the weekend to digest the news.
The grey weekend probably reflected our mood from then on. LBJ had his grooming session early on Sat, and we pottered around and when he was finished, Tress and I trekked east to Ringwood where I was strapped in for my now monthly plasma donation.

We had planned to cook a pork rib congee and had wanted to get to an Asian butcher for the ribs. So on the way back from the Red Cross in Ringwood, we decided to drop in the new Glen again. We were there some weeks ago and the ribs we picked up from the Asian butcher was pretty good. We shopped there, then had lunch in the very busy food area in the same building, before coming home and prepping the ribs and other shopping we had done.

We then went for an appointment to see my optometrist, my vision having had occasional less than 100%. While prepping the ribs however, Kiddo rang on occasion of it having been father’s day yesterday. We chatted for a little bit before we head off for my appointment. My vision was only slightly worse and the very honest optometrist said he didn’t think I needed new glasses so we came back.

Tress had been busy prepping to lead the discussion this week and she also kept up with her make belief ghost buster role on imaginative creatures residing mainly on her mobile phone. So through the weekend, she alternated between those two tasks.

Later that Sat night, we went and saw the new movie that was latest hit. “Crazy Rich Asians” was the first mainstream Hollywood all-Asian cast feature film and it was shot in Malaysia and Singapore. Those factors made many of our friends catch the movie and to our surprise, when we went to our seats, we found ourselves seated next to John and his wife Siew. John is Henry’s cousin and he recently vacated the Board of an NFP, which I stepped into. So the coincidences were a bit creepy.

The movie was a lot of fun but other than those features which made it special, it was pretty ordinary stuff. Movies in Melbourne can be expensive on weekends and that feature on a Saturday night was more than $40. As an occasional treat it was fine.

On Sunday it remained wet and cold and St Alf’s had Andy and Mif Little back from MAF in Mareeba. Andy spoke on Colossians 3 and his simple message of keeping our minds on things of God as a means to doing all things as though we’re doing it for Christ, made a lot of sense. It is something I have to try harder at. With help from the third person of the godhead, of course.
After lunch at our usual place, we did a bit more grocery shopping and had coffee, after which we bumped into Barry and Patricia, whom we haven’t met for a while. Their daughter Stephanie is almost as tall as Patricia now and it was good to see them again.

Back home later that arvo, I cooked the congee, packed them away for the week’s lunches, did a minimalist vacuum, and Tress built up her discussion notes and the hunt in her parallel universe. We then put our feet up to watch some tele and caught up again on social media, refreshing our updates on the sad news around my “7 Chim”. She was a beautiful person in all sense, but life is fleeting and often appears bewilderingly senseless, if viewed from other than who God is and what he’s doing.