Monday, 30 August 2010

Something good: buying back guns.

The SMH reports on one of the greatest legacies of former PM John Howard.

It's the unexpected saving of 200 lives per year from the guns buy-back in 1996, following the Port Arthur massacre.

From the report:

TEN years of suicide data after John Howard's decision to ban and then buy back 600,000 semi-automatic rifles and shotguns has had a stunning effect.

The buyback cut firearm suicides by 74 per cent, saving 200 lives a year, according to research to be published in The American Law and Economics Review.

A former Australian Treasury economist, Christine Neill, now with Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, said she found the research result so surprising she tried to redo her calculations on the off chance the total could have been smaller.

''I fully expected to find no effect at all,'' she told the Herald. ''That we found such a big effect and that it meshed with a range of other data was just shocking, completely unexpected.''

Mr Howard's agreement with the states to ban and buy back more than 600,000 weapons after the massacre at Port Arthur in April 1996 cut the country's stock of firearms by 20 per cent and roughly halved the number of households with access to guns.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Speaking of good books, here's another (probably)

Well I have to say "probably", because I haven't read it. But I know the preacher and his preaching, and this is his book about that preaching, written together with Paul Grimmond.

It's The Archer and the Arrow, a book all about preaching the gospel from one of Australia's greatest preachers, Phillip Jensen.

Tim Challies reviews it here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Check these kids' books out!

Matthias Media, the buddies I used to work for, have some new kids books out. They are well worth a look.

Here's the Rag Doll by Stephanie Carmichael, and here's Over the Fence, also by Stephanie.

I would have definitely bought both of these for my 3 girls when they were younger. They were supposed to stay the same forever, but they never did. So now I look at books like these and think wistful thoughts.

I also think 'aha! who do I know with little kids?' Christmas approaches...

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Doing theology Luther's way

Carl Trueman points out:

I want to draw attention to the fact that Luther does not talk about what constitutes theology but about what makes a theologian. This is somewhat characteristic of his approach: many people have noted the importance of his "theology of the cross," which he articulated most dramatically at the Heidelberg Disputation in 1518; but the text of the disputation theses do not speak of a theology of the cross; rather they speak of a theologian of the cross. Theology, for Luther, is the words spoken by human beings in response to the words God has first spoken to them; thus, theology is a personal action; and therefore, there can be no discussion of theology without first discussing the agent, the one who speaks theologically. Theology is an abstraction unless it is understood as the action of the theologian.

From here.

It's not first and foremost an intellectual exercise! The failure to realize that is what distresses me about some of the theology I read from time to time.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Kevin Rudd is back

You may or may not have noticed that we're having a Federal Election. You may or may not also have noticed that Kevin Rudd is back!

See here.

PS It's funny.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A bit of Yeats

Sailing To Byzantium, by William Butler Yeats

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
--Those dying generations--at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.