Thursday, 30 October 2008

Sydney Uni ovals run

Ran the ovals at Sydney Uni this morning. St Andrew's, No. 1, No. 2, St John's...ending at St Paul's and then to where I was staying in Newtown.

I can't for the life of me work out why they needed to put in an extra oval since I ran this 20 years ago, nor even how they managed to fit it onto such a crowded campus.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A couple of thousand words

I am trying to think about subjects that could helpfully be addressed in a couple of thousand words.

They need to be about what Christians believe. They need to be worth reading for anybody who would not call themselves a Christian. They need to be interesting, even if they are not popular.

I'm trying to write some short tracts; at least one.

Ideas I've had so far.

Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan becomes a Christian.
Bob Dylan drifts away from Christianity.

So that is three brilliant ones already. But your interests may lie elsewhere, and that is what I am hoping to find out.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Gospel ministry: How to blunt the edge

The Sola Panel continues its brilliant work:

Last millennium, I got ordained as an Anglican minister, and Jean Penman, wife of Archbishop David Penman of Melbourne, presented each of my group of candidates for ordination with a copy of John Stott's excellent book I Believe in Preaching. David had died suddenly, but the note from Jean said that David had originally intended to present this book himself. It was a great idea to have a book entitled I Believe in Preaching, especially as, quite frankly, most of us didn't—including the leaders of the silent retreat that all the ordination candidates were invited to attend.


Being deliberately offensive

Michael Leunig is one of my favourite artists in the world.

There was a good article in the SMH this weekend, with an extract from his book, where he wishes out loud that religious leaders would be more offensive.

Yes please!

Thanks to Mark Barry for taking the trouble to type out the relevant part of the quote.

And 'mealy-mouthed' is such a good word.

Disappearing wealth

Paul Sheehan in today's SMH

I was advised by a very wealthy friend to borrow the full $1 million and put it into super. The cost of servicing the debt, he said, would be covered by tax-free dividend payments, and the rising value of the super would be free money. He made it sound so simple, and inevitable, perhaps because he had done so well for so long by borrowing to the hilt.

That was 18 months ago. Since then his company has collapsed. He has sold his waterfront mansion. He has left the country, with no plans to return for the foreseeable future. I did not take his advice. I borrowed nothing. Rather than leverage up, I de-leveraged down. I have no debt, no mortgage, not even a car. What I wanted was the ultimate luxury good, something invisible but palpable - peace of mind.

From here.

Saturday, 25 October 2008


"Everybody likes motorcycles to some degree."










When I get older, losin' my hair

My daughters are in the next room singing When I'm 64.

They changed the words to 'When I'm 46'.

('You do the Olympics and eat Weetbix')

But I'm 47!

Friday, 24 October 2008

I worked it out!

People wake up at 4 in the morning to pray. (not me)

I get up at some time after 5 to beat my kids to the computer.

Perhaps I missed something

But if someone asks, can the answer be 'no'?

And if someone says 'Because you must', can the answer be 'why'?

I've always taken the view that you give your answer and you deal with the consequences, for better or for worse.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


"Young men tend to overestimate how much they can accomplish in the short term, but underestimate how much they can accomplish in the long term."

That's true of all sorts of things in life. I got this comment off the 9Marks blog, an anonymous church elder's comment. The long-term accomplishment, under God, is what counts, and people consistently think they can't do much. Marriage, work, all sorts of things.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

For your entertainment

For the entertainment of blog readers, and particularly for those of you who have had to put up with working with me closely on any project that required significant attention to detail, I submit an extract of the final comments on my Masters thesis from one of the markers:

Report on G.Cheng Thesis
3 August,2008


His bibliography has been improved in scope and use, but I am still irritated at the number of omissions and inconsistencies, which suggest that the candidate is not good at accurate checking, or does not believe that such matters are important. If the candidate is to go on to doctoral studies, he will have to improve in this regard. There are mistakes in citation of sources, which I have indicated in the margin.


Yeouch! Cop that!

Well, guilty as charged your honour. I admit it. I am lousy at paying attention to typographical and publication details, and probably quite a bit more besides along similar lines.

Only, if I may be allowed the smallest of responses, may I point out that the title of these comments, 'Report on G.Cheng Thesis' does not conform to the usual way of citing such sources. Nor does it provide sufficient information to accurately identify the publication referred to.

In addition, the formatting of these comments is sloppy, noting for instance the absence of a single space after the fullstop in 'G.Cheng'[sic] and the similar absence of a single space after the name of the month in '3 August,2008'[sic].

There, got that off my chest. Now I better stop being a smartmouth, before my marker googles these comments and threatens to challenge the awarding of the degree. As you were, everybody, move along, nothing to see here.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Dilmah is the world's first truly ethical tea

Explain the logic underlying that conclusion.

Especially since, on the other side of the pack, you tell me that you are 'proud'.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Marriage enrichment weekend

Fifi and I are going away on a marriage enrichment weekend. We're running it!

Our dear friends Keith and Sarah Condie gave us their notes from similar weekends that they've run, together with a lot of reading material.

I'm excited about this; one of the greatest traumas and sadnesses in our society is marriages that don't work. What we are trying to stress on the weekend are two things:

1. God favours marriage
2. Marriages that are also friendships work well.

I am so thankful to God for Fiona's friendship over more than 23 years, and I would like to help other people who are married work on their friendships with their spouses.

Friday, 17 October 2008

My pants are fat!

Hey! How come my pants are fat!

I know I'm not.

The Lord, Jesus.

Clifford Warne lectured us in second year of Moore College.

One thing that stuck with me was that in conversation with friends, he always used to say "The Lord, Jesus". They used to say "The Lord Jesus".

It took several conversations before they worked out that he was being deliberately offensive!
We've reached a crisis. Could I ask those who are in the habit of praying to ask the Lord Jesus what we should do next? Thank you.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Singing about divine judgement

There just ain't that many songs about it.

Good on you Simone R. for writing one.

From the song:

The lion roars! Oh nations will you heed the warning
Before in judgement stubborn hearts are torn?
For every knee will bow and every tongue will worship
Flee to his side find shelter from the storm.

Public transport

At the moment they work out fares for planes, trains, buses and taxis roughly on the basis of distance travelled, ie

Fare = z + Fd

Where d is 'distance travelled', z is 'base cost' (things like 'flag fall' in a taxi) and 'F' is fudge factor.

But if they worked it out in a multifactorial way, on the basis of weight of passenger and distance travelled, such that lighter passengers travelling the same distance as heavier passengers paid less, this would be more accurately reflective of actual costs. The formula would be

Fare = z + Fdw

where w is 'weight'.

Not at all complicated; you would be weighed when you stepped onto the bus, or whatever, and the ticket seller would automatically offer the relevant fare scale for your weight. Except in the case of anorexics, there would be clear health benefits to the society that would no doubt offset the initial cost of weighing equipment over time.

Think about it folks, this idea has legs!

PS And that's this blog's 1000th post.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Thoughts scribbled on a piece of paper in a doctor's waiting room. A couple of weeks ago.

Some random musings. If you spend enough time in a doctor's waiting room, anything becomes blogworthy.

And if you spend long enough in the doctor's waiting room, nothing is secret. All will become known, as announced by the receptionist, who repeats addresses, phone numbers and medications in a voice for all to hear. I might as well put it on my blog.

On the radio, which is presumably playing to drown out the sound of the receptionist announcing medications and addresses: We believe all classic hits deserve to be played. Really? Including Denim and Lace by Marty Rhone, Bang Bang Boomerang by Abba, and Never been to me by Charlene?


Time in waiting rooms is dead time. I forgot to bring a book. The magazines are not worth looking at. Maybe I should do some singing practice, or some push-ups. Hmm. No, better not, that receptionist is already giving me a funny look. I wonder if you could do like they used to do in Moscow, which is to pay someone a small amount to wait in your place. There must be some truant kid from the local school who'd do it for two bucks and text me when it was time.

I've got to think!

Maybe I'll try to sing Mozart's Requiem in my head like these dudes.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Peter Jensen in the SMH

The SMH chose to report Archbishop Peter Jensen's comments on the economic recession:

"We are experiencing a significant economic downturn, with a possible increase in unemployment, poverty, homelessness - even of hunger."

What sort of people would we be now? he wondered.

"Our investment in secular individualistic values will prove as illusory as our investment in some parts of the market. Choice will disappear for many; tolerance will prove too cool for comfort; work may be harder to find."

If Australia did better than other countries in the crisis, it must bear an even greater responsibility for the poor of the earth, he said. If it suffered with the rest, then "the days ahead may well test our capacity to love each other in our community, to be real neighbours, true mates".

Dr Jensen called on Christians to lead the way by providing faith, hope and love. He cited the example of R.B.S. Hammond, the rector of St Barnabas Broadway, who once displayed a sign reading, "This state has the best politicians the breweries can buy."

During the Depression, Archdeacon Hammond had given away his clothes to the needy. "A beggar once asked him for his trousers. Hammond refused on grounds of decency. They were the only pair he had left."

From here, part of Peter's presidential address to Sydney's Anglican synod.

The 80 minute audio file of the address is here.

Michael Kellahan highlights Peter's comments on GAFCON and church planting, here. Mike highlighted these comments:

I have always thought that part of the answer will include a dedicated evangelistic fellowship, a local missionary society. I have looked to create something like that without success. As we have prayed for our city and its region this year, there has been what seems like a remarkable spiritual movement summoning young men into church planting. Is this an answer to our prayers? I think that this could be exactly what it is. Something is happening and it may be of great significance. Our local churches need to be on top evangelistically. Connect 09 is part of that. But for whole areas of the city and whole tribes this is not going to be enough. I hope that when we meet again next year I will be able to describe the way in which a movement of the Spirit has begun.

It's a safe bet that what Mike blogged is closer to the heart of what the Archbishop was speaking about.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Abortion in Victoria

Abortion in Victoria has now been decriminalized, and made easier to obtain even for unborn babies older than 24 weeks. Doctors who oppose abortion are now compelled by legislation to refer women seeking abortion to doctors who will provide it.

Trevor Cairney has a worthwhile article on the CASE website summarizing the current state of play.

Trevor concludes:

My point in writing this post has not been to be judgmental and simply to take the high moral ground, it has been motivated by sadness at the rejoicing in the streets by some, that it has just become that little bit easier in Victoria to terminate life than it once was. History will judge us badly when it considers that in Australia alone up to 100,000 abortions are performed each year.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Bathroom Rhapsody

Lily Violet, age 5 1/2, is singing in the bathtub.

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine-
Body's aching all the time,
Goodbye everybody-I've got to go-
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth-
Mama ooo- (any way the wind blows)
I don't want to die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all-

The words are mostly correct, except for 'Sends shivers down my spine', which comes out as 'Send shiver to my spine'

The original.

Back from holidays

We had a wonderful time in Melbourne, seeing many friends (not as many as we would have liked) and visiting many favourite places.

We got back a couple of hours ago. Amongst the junk mail, bills, and local newspapers I found a letter that said

The Board of Studies at its meeting on Friday 26 September resolved to recommend to the Governing Board of the College that you be awarded the Master of Theology.

So that's OK, after 20 years.

I'd like to thank Fifi, my supervisors, my markers...

Thursday, 2 October 2008


At rehearsal the other day the choir director decided we would be singing Mozart's Requiem, the whole darn lot, 90 or minutes or so, from memory. So we went from 'hey this is pretty cool singing this' to 'GAAA'.

Trying to learn it now. Here's a bit of it from the movie Amadeus, unfortunately mythical but still good in parts.

Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis,
voca me cum benedictus.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis,
gere curam mei finis.

When the accused are confounded,
and doomed to flames of woe,
call me among the blessed.

Internet challenged

I'm a bit internet challenged for a couple of weeks.

"You're a lightweight. You're fired."

-Alan Sugars The Apprentice

Or at least, taking a holiday.