Saturday, September 23, 2017

Wagga Beach 5pm wave

A journey to country New South Wales town of Wagga Wagga led to a discovery of a local urban myth.  Wagga Beach - a decent 100 metre stretch of river sand on a bend in the Murrumbidgee River - is said to have a single wave.  That wave is known ad the Wagga Beach 5pm wave.  That wave passes through at exactly 5pm each day.  The urban myth seems to follow from the logic that a beach needs waves; or a beach needs at least one wave.  The wave justifies Wagga Beach - a beach more than 200 kilometres from the nearest ocean - as a Beach.  Google have been considerate of the wave by granting it a position on their map.  A non-local may conclude that the wave should be called the Wagga Wagga Beach 5pm wave yet that is to neglect the habit of Wagga Wagga locals to tend to refer to their lovely town as just Wagga.

5pm wave, or not, it is a very nice beach.  The local Council have provided suitable recreation facilities including playground, BBQs, ample untimed parking and so on.  There are warning signs that identify the water's variable current and the absence of lifeguards.  The Beach is a short distance from the centre of Wagga's business district.  The Beach is easily accessible on foot or by bicycle.

Asking around, as I performed an ad hoc survey of locals, I discovered two theories as to the origin of the myth:

1. A release of water from one or two upstream dams at 5pm causes a wave to pass by the beach.  I tried to point out the obvious problem that the water could not be released at 5pm and the wave occur at 5pm (given the distance of the beach from the water release point) but locals did not seem to care for such logic.  Local urban myths and logic do not always come together!  This linked website contains a picture of the wave.
2. Mothers were want to have their children return home for a meal and there was a time when they would request their children leave the beach before the 5pm wave.  The mother's apparently were particularly keen to promote such departure from the beach on school days amongst children who found the beach an joyous distraction on the way home from school.  A local adjacent to the chap who shared this idea immediately re-buffed it. This goes to show that urban myths still thrive when there is disagreement.  

Anyway, urban myths gain their own legs and who am I to doubt the Wagga Beach 5pm wave.  I certainly do not care to enter into conjecture that the wave occurs alternatively at 5am.  And, who can argue with anything of a town that is known to have debuted the finest of Australian cuisine; the Chiko Roll.

The Bible is not a book of urban myths.  It is a book of truths.  As I considered the Wagga Beach 5pm wave I was also considering one of the Bible's greatest truths.  That Truth is found in a short letter in the New Testament called 1 John.  Here is the verse that I was considering:

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God lives in them and they in God.

The verse tells of a most wonderful truth.  By acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, a person is part of God's kingdom.  God is love.  It is through God's love that he wants everyone to acknowledge him.  You can accept God into your heart by acknowledging Jesus as God's Son.  No-one has seen God yet there is a solid record of Jesus.  Jesus came to make God known.  We can know God by knowing Jesus. 

It is not enough to acknowledge Jesus as a historical figure.  You must instead specifically acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God.  An acknowledgement that God so loved everyone in the world that he arranged for his Son to be born of a human woman.

There is much more to say about this truth.  If you want to understand more reach for another of John's works - his good news account of Jesus Christ's mission work - the Gospel of John.  Chapter 3 of the Gospel of John is a good starting point to understand further. Oh!, and don't fear asking questions of someone who attends church - or consider attending a church.  Churches love questions!


Note: all links good as at 23 September 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sinners welcome here

My habit on approaching a welcomer at a church, of church that is new to me, at the entrance to the church, is to ask most earnestly:

“I am new to your town and your church,
are sinners welcome here?”
One of two responses commonly arises.  The two responses are poles apart. Either the welcomer comprehends the question immediately, and responds warmly or, the welcomer hesitates and bids the question gone.  The former response is normally accompanied with a hearty laugh.  The latter response is usually accompanied by the welcomer's scowled face. 
Generally, the warm responses indicate a God-fearing church and the grimacing responses indicate a church of thin theology.  Churches are for sinners.  As the saying goes: churches are hospitals for sinners, not museums for saints.  So, churches always have room for one more sinner!

With a record of some wonderfully warm, heart-felt, God-fearing responses, I am always keen to see if a church welcomer can top another welcomer’s best.  A best ever response came last Sunday morning in the country Victorian town of Bendigo.  The town's Baptists were sure to do things right.  I’ll identify the welcomer by the name 'Phil'.
Phil was an elderly gentlemen; I was later to discovered that he was a retiree.  He wore a name-tag. He was neatly attired in a freshly ironed shirt.  His black shoes shone as if they were freshly polished.  The name-tag was attached to a blue tie. 
Phil fielded the question and threw his head back in laughter.  I immediately expected a response to the usual order – in which Phil would self-identify as a sinner and that if he was welcome; then another sinner was welcome.  I was surprised in that Phil had a much more intelligent and developed response at hand:
“This is why we sing;
it makes Satan flee away”
How blessed was this response! Phil saw the humor in the question, pushed past the derision of any answer other than affirmation and cognitively addressed an answer that settled me right into the church:
  • the church folk, a bunch of sinners, sang,
  • so that Satan would flee,
  • so that they may be filled with God’s word!
That is, Phil effectively communicated: “We are all sinners here mate! We recognise the need to sing so that we may leave strengthened in God’s Word so that we face our sins afresh”.
One cannot expect a better welcome to a church! 

Monday, September 18, 2017

No grubbing

 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

"No Grubbing" a homemade sign in approximately 200 font, sans serif,
 acrylic paint on corrugated iron, circa year 2015

A curious sign that was within a farm property led me to exhaustively investigate it's purpose.  No stone was left unturned in ferreting out why the farmer placed this sign on his property.  As the farmer was not in the immediate vicinity a firsthand account was not readily obtained.  So, I enquired of the first fellow who passed on the same cycle path that I was on. He happened to be a local fellow with extensive knowledge of grubs and the history of grubbing.  That's one of the things I like about country towns - you are more likely to find an expert there than in a big city.

It seems that the local crayfish think there to be no better food than a native grub.  That grub lives in a single native tree.  One species of grub, one species of tree.  Now, the crayfish live in a water habitat and the tree does not.  This creates a problem for the crayfish in that they prefer to stay in their water based habitat.  Many years ago the crayfish thought through the issue of how to best get the grubs to them, or them to the grubs.  The crayfish did this thinking at the First Aquatic Council of the Greater Murray Region.  The crayfish after much deliberation determined two options:

 I) leave their water based environment and go to the trees, or,
II) get the trees to come to them.

A small grouping of crayfish also had an innovative idea that did not meet with the full council's approval:

III) plant seeds of the tree by the riverbank to grow a future home for grubs.

Neither I) or II) were determined to be feasible.  Option III) was abandoned in early voting.

By the time of the Second Aquatic Council of the Greater Murray Region, the innovative set of crayfish who had proposed planting seeds had come up with another idea.  The idea was deliberated upon and warmly accepted.  It was a simple but most effective idea.  It was an idea that was so well received that the collected crayfish appointed the most senior of the innovative group's crayfish as President of the upcoming Third Aquatic Council of the Greater Murray Region.

The idea that was so warmly accepted by the crayfish at the Second Aquatic Council of the Greater Murray Region was to use an intermediary to bring the grubs to the crayfish.  That intermediary was of human form.  The intermediary was a sub-species of human that the crayfish had cleverly observed would happily obtain grubs for them.  Specifically the steps involved were: trespass on a farmer's property, defile the farmer's trees, rip grubs from their comfortable tree based homes and bring them to the crayfish.  That sub-species of human is commonly known as a fisherman.

Of course, the fisherman thinks he is deploying great ingenuity and skill in using the grubs as bait.  Little does he know that he is simply fulfilling the desire of the crayfish!

That brings us to the sign.  The farmer knew nothing of the First Aquatic Council of the Greater Murray Region or the Second Aquatic Council of the Greater Murray Region nor did he particularly care for the taste of crayfish.  He did however prefer that only he and his cattle roam upon his property.  So, with only the standard three strand barb-wire fence to prevent fisherman entering his property, he installed the "No Grubbing" sign.  "No Grubbing" sign > no trespassers > no trees defiled > no grubs removed.....Simple! 


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Foraging edible flowers of Bendigo

They spring up like flowers and wither away;
like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.

Roadside weeds are a valuable source of nutrition.  You could probably survive in Australia eating the available vegetation for free.  Here are two edible flowers that I found while in Bendigo, Victoria.  The flowers were both adjacent a laneway in the Bendigo suburb of Eaglehawk.

Wood sorrel

The flowers of Wood Sorrel - a common weed - are edible.  The flowers are yellow. They have a slightly bitter taste.  They add well to salads.  They are a refreshing pick-me-up for the walker.  I've seen wood sorrel in Sydney - mainly in the Carlingford area.


This popular garden plant has a variety of different flower colours.  The flowers are edible as are the younger circular leaves.  The flowers and leaves have a peppery taste.  I've dried the leaves and added them to tea. They are common to Sydney gardens and popular in community garden plots.



Consideration of Luke 9:60

Good Biblical exegesis is life-giving. 
I recently came across an article written by a Christian academic where Luke 9:60 was quoted.   The verse was quoted amongst a list of awkward sayings of Jesus about the common family unit.  Here is the specific text of the article:

“I’ve heard some proponents of the Yes case saying Jesus never talked about homosexuality. Sure, but he spoke about family quite a bit. It’s just that what he said was kinda, well, awkward.
When a would-be disciple asks if he might bury his dead father before joining him, Jesus scoffs, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Lk 9:60)

If you think that’s harsh….”

And, here is the link to the article.

Now, Luke 9:60 is a fine verse.  It is nestled amongst three illustrations, through Luke 9:57-62, that all build to a single point.  The point is to how one is to follow Jesus over all else.  The three illustrations are structured such that draw out the ludicrous nature of the antagonist's enquiry as one progresses through them:
Verse 57-58, a man seemingly open to the idea of following Jesus everywhere
Jesus had no home on earth and only he could go to the cross
Person did not know what they were saying
Person was unlikely to accept the lack of earthly comforts
Intellectual resistance
Verse 59-60, a man could not follow Jesus for he had to bury his father
Jesus had a role for the man that was (metaphorically) more pressing than an earthly need
Unknown to the man was that he was of the living.  The living had a role to play.
Absence of purpose
Verse 61-62, a man sought to say farewell to his family
Jesus knew that following him was a matter of the heart not of the foot
Unknown to the man he could follow Jesus while being amongst his family
Absence of comprehension
Commentators suggest that the three illustrations did not present to Jesus and his travelling group in immediate succession.  It is plausible that Luke collected these three illustrations together to make them powerfully build to a crescendo.  Luke plausibly was paralleling the three consecutive illustrations with the growth of proof of the divinity of Jesus.  So, in this way, we could possibly read the three illustrations at staged points in Luke’s gospel.  In this way, Luke is sharing how the resistance to accepting Jesus intensified the more that it was apparent that Jesus was King.
Luke 9:60 is life-giving in that it identifies with a person’s purpose as a builder of the Kingdom.  One concludes that Jesus knows that the person is not dead but instead alive to the prospect of being a valuable proclaimer of the kingdom.
The article’s author sought to make the familial aspect of Luke 9:60 – the man’s dead father; Luke 9:60a - the subject of Jesus words.  But, it is the proclaiming of the kingdom of God; Luke 9:60b, that is the subject of Jesus words.
Note 1: all links good as at 17 September 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

Learning from Don Juan

There is a dangerous silence in that hour,
     A stillness, which leaves room for the full soul
To open all itself, without the power
     Of calling wholly back its self-control;
The silver light which, hallowing tree and tower,
     Sheds beauty and deep softness o'er the whole,
Breathes also to the heart, and o'er it throws
     A loving languor, which is not repose.

Don Juan, first canto, stanza 114

I was drawn to the stanza of poetry when considering contemplations of the Australian Nation of marriage legislation.  The potential conclusion of such contemplations is that same-sex couples will be availed marriage status.  Such change will not affect only the same-sex couples – it will affect others in society.

The stanza speaks to how the full soul opens in such a manner that it may change without self-control.  It speaks of how a listless outcome may arise for the soul.  The soul may not find rest.  The reference to ‘self-control’ is particularly captivating.  It is captivating in that vitriolic secular/church incidents that have arisen perhaps illustrate an absence of self-control.  The reference to silver light is also captivating – it suggests that a richer light – a gold light, perhaps - has eluded us all.

I draw from the stanza in that the nation’s soul is currently open.  The nation’s soul is exposed - rhetoric (silver light) has replaced robust debate (gold light).  The soul may shut and be forever without rest.

The change of definition of marriage is profound.  The implications of the change are deep. No-one wants a ‘loving langour, which is not repose’.



Note 1: All links good as at 11 September 2017
Note 2: After the reign of the militia in Argentina the nation was open to some freedoms that arguably damaged its heart.  The oppression of the militia was not itself favorable and yet the end of the militia opened a time when pornography, marital infidelity, divorce and the like increased. I raise this as all times of social change (even good change) need deep consideration of all societal implications.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

One of the funniest Facebook conversations I've seen

There was a time when I shared a single Facebook account with my wife.  The Facebook name read as an amalgam of both our first and surnames (with my wife maintaining her original surname).  When we posted status updates or comments we would regularly conclude the post with our initials to indicate who was posting. 

With that background, I found this exchange on Facebook quite amusing.  Kevin (or Junette) opens this exchange with a question on Michael Frost's status update: