Saturday, April 15, 2017

Blueback by Tim Winton, some questions

My child was set Blueback as a novel to read over the April school holiday.  The teacher's questions will follow in the school term that commences in May.  In the meantime I set these questions for my daughter. 

The answers were strong.  The answers showed that my daughter had a good comprehension of the novel.  I hope that others may find these questions helpful.

Q14 proved quite challenging for my child at first.  The answer is a derived one and a good knowledge of the book is needed.


Q1: What kind of fish is Blueback?

Q2: Write down a list of everything you have learnt about abalone.

Q3: What do you learn about Abel's father? (page 30)

Q4: How does Abel's mother remember her husband? (page 49)

Q5: What does Abel have to learn before he can use the boat that is given to him? (page 59)

Q6: In what ways are Abel and Stella different? (page 110).  In what ways are Abel and Stella the same?

Q7: Draw a diagram that depicts baby Dora's family tree.  The diagram should start with baby Dora's grandparents.

Q8: The author describes Longboat Bay in many different ways.  The author also names various points within the bay.  Draw the Bay and name as many points as you can.

Q9: Abel and his mother lived in a self-sustaining manner.  Identify all the ways they sustained themselves (do not think only of what they gained from the sea).

Q10: Longboat Bay is attractive to a number of different people.  What do each group of people want of the Bay?  Why does Abel's mother resist the people?

Q11: Imagine that you are sitting at Abel's kitchen table with Abel's mother.  It is breakfast time.  You decide to go out diving.  What steps must you take so that you can safely go out diving?

Q12: Identify three minor characters in tehbook.  What are their names?  What interactions do they have with Abel and his mother?

Q13: Identify all of the major life changes that occur in Abel's life throughout the book.

Q14: Is Abel Jewish? (hint: read the Bible: Acts chapter 10 verse 9 to 16).

Q15: Is Abel like the Abel of the first book in the Bible, Genesis chapter 4, in any way?

Q16: Draw a diagram that estimaes the part of each charatcer's life that is depicted in the book.  Draw a line with a starting point "Birth" and an ending point "Death".  The draw a bar that estimates the point where we first read of the charater and the point of life they are at by book's end.  Do this for Abel, Abel's mother, Abel's wife Stella and Abel's daughter Dora.

Adventures with Herbie’s Spices - Beef ‘Not quite falafel’

This is a Saturday favourite dish.  It uses Ras El Hanout – a spice mix common to North Africa.  It is fragrant spice mix that contains paprika, cumin and ginger.  We serve with grated carrot and boiled peas.

The prepared meat balls just before sprinkling dried thyme over the top.

3 tablespoons of Ras El Hanout (we used Herbie’s Spices mix)
Handful of parsley (we used parsley from the garden)
4 young dandelion leaves (from the garden)
4 cloves of garlic, pealed
1 red onion, pealed
1 brown onion
3 cups of almond meal
1kg beef mince (we used a 100 day aged angus beef mince from Coles)
3 teaspoons dried thyme
1.    Place dandelion leaves, parsley, onions, garlic and parsley in Thermomix and chop finely (about 7 seconds on speed 7).
2.    Place almond meal and Ras El Hanout in bowl and mix well.
3.    Add contents of Thermomix bowl to almond mix and mix well.
4.    Add mince to other ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended.
5.    Roll into golf ball size balls and place on oven tray
6.    Sprinkle dried thyme evenly over meat balls.
7.    Place in oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes
8.    Check they are cooked through.
9.    Serve with choose of vegetables.
Note: Herbie’s Spices Ras El Hanout is sold in 40 gram packets.  It is a blend of 23 different spices including saffron.  We varied the recipe that was published in Delicious Magazine’s April 2017 edition on page 62.  That recipe was for “Cauliflower & Lamb ‘Not Quite Falafel’.

Friday, April 7, 2017

When does salvation come?

Salvation comes when one acknowledges Christ as Lord?  Yes?

free and unattributable

Well, maybe not.  The story of the man born blind (John 9) generates two interesting questions: 

1.    When in that story does the man acknowledge Christ as Lord? 

2.    Has the man exhibited salvation before he acknowledges Christ as Lord?

I plan to explore these questions in a later post, yet in brief the answers to these questions are:

1.    Towards the end of the account after the man had been thrown out of the synagogue by the Pharisees.

2.    Yes, he has proclaimed Christ.  He has stood firm against the religious leaders and identified with the glory that was upon him.

It is plausible that the man’s salvation came at the time of his obedience – the time when the man responded completely to the message of going to wash.  Obedience is a wonderful thing.  It was first and last in Peter’s calling (at the start of the Gospel; ‘follow me’ and at the end of the Gospel; ‘feed my sheep’).


Note 1: this post arose from a talk with a Moore College fourth year student.

Note 2: it seems ironic that the Gospel’s first account of audaciousness for Christ in the form of bold evangelic preaching, of a man born blind then miraculously healed, is absent the name of the subject. 

What did Christ perceive?

As I think of the many healing accounts in the Gospels my mind has sought to understand what Christ perceived when he looked at a person before him.  I specifically use “perceive” here after first dismissing the consideration of what Christ “identified through his optical nerve”.  “Perceived” allows for Christ’s impression of a person from all sources – some of which we possibly do not understand.  In the healing of the paralytic in Luke, Christ clearly perceived what the Pharisees were thinking (Luke 5:22) – a perception which clearly relied on sense other than sight.  At the well, Christ perceived the whole of a Samaritan women’s relationship history (John 4).

free and unattributable

Such thinking raises interesting questions, for instance, Did Christ:

-       see a person before him as a complete, yet separately definable, combination of flesh, mind and soul?,

-       see the ultimate destiny of the person’s soul, of their means of death (John 21:19)

-       observe not the immediacy of outer appearance – cloth and flesh - but a cloud of atoms that made up the clothing and the flesh,

-       indeed, as an extension of the notion of a cloud of atoms, did Christ see the mass of DNA of bacteria in a person’s gut (said to be a greater mass of DNA than in a person themselves),

-       understand the influence of gut flora on a person’s behaviour or overall health,

-       see cancerous cells and other maladies – not the immediate subject of the healing he addressed,

-       perceive a person’s malady at the sub-atomic level of erroneously aligned matter.

In the absence of Christ a paralytic simply does not rise and take his mat.  Much physiotherapy is needed to ensure that muscle, bone and tendons strengthen.  The brain needs to re-form sensory maps.  Calcium needs to be absorbed and transported within the body and laid down into bone.  Learning, or re-learning, needs to be accompanied with rest.  Christ healed holistically and at a depth of interaction of organic matter that modern medicine cannot yet address.  Is it not implausible that in healing Christ treated the root cause.  Did Christ order, and indeed bring into position, individual atoms that make up cells?  Was he performing a min-act of creation?

So, in healing lifelong blindness (John 9), did Jesus first perceive that a very limited number of nerve fibres or neural pathways were in error? That is, the man’s eyes may have been sound yet the vision they took in may not have been processed by the brain.  It is important question in that Christ involves his patients in their healing – the man born blind of John 9 is sent to wash – does the act of being involved in the healing positively lend to the outcome?  That is, could neural pathways only set if the person was disposed to such a thing?

The Bible does not specifically talk of atoms and knowledge of atoms is relatively new.  An understanding of gut flora and its influence is newer still.  We may not fully know of how to perceive and treat people at an atomic level but Christ could have.

 (This video gives a view on the world that opens
 one's eyes as to how the invisible can be made visible)

These are wonderful thoughts. Praise be to God of Creation.


Note 1: all links good as at 16 June 2017

Note 2: this was written after hearing a speculative item on radio that pointed to how mental health issues, such as depression, may one day be treated not of the head, but, of the digestive system.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Each a guardian angel?

Biblical scholars, theologians and evangelic preachers throughout time seem to have let fall a lot of ink discussing the words of Christ in Matthew 18:10:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10 NIV

free and unattributable

There seems to be few themes running through the discussion of that verse.  One theme tackles the issue of what is meant by “little ones”. American evangelic preacher Billy Graham, in his book Angels, God’s Secret Agents possibly takes up the notion of “little ones” being children.  This notion forms from Matthew 18:2 where Jesus calls a child before him so that he may illustrate who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  The expression “little ones” needs to be understood in terms of determining assignment of angels:

"Some believe strongly that each Christian may have his own guardian angel to watch over him or her.  This guardianship possibly begins in infancy, for Jesus said, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.  For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven"", p74, Angels, God’s Secret Agents.

John Piper in a post on the Desiring God blog is more direct in identifying “little ones” as followers of Christ (regardless of age):
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.” They are true believers in Jesus, viewed from the standpoint of their childlike trust in God. They are the heaven-bound children of God. We know this because of the immediate and wider context of the Gospel of Matthew.” (underlining added).
Piper identifies how Christ’s call for the child to come before him is to make an illustrative point rather than a direct point – that is, the child assisted in the illustration of how people needed to “become like little children” Matthew 18:3 NIV.  For example, it was to Nicodemus that Christ said that “you must be born again” John 3:7 NIV.

Piper furthers the point with:

In other words, the text is not about children. It is about those who become like children, and thus enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s about true disciples of Jesus.



So, each Christian, each man, woman and child who has given their life to Christ, has guardianship of angels (not just from Matthew 18:10 but also richly from Psalm 34:7, Psalm 91:11, Hebrews 1:14).  And possibly, Matthew 18:10, indicates a one-to-one relationship between each Christian and an assigned angel in the heavenly realms.  More sweetly, Matthew 18:10 could identify with a multitude assignment of angels per Christian.  Jesus had call on “more than twelve legions of angels” Matthew 26:53 NIV


So, it is plausible that there are guardian angels.  If there can be an angel to a church – each of the seven letters in Revelation 2 is written “To the angel of the church in …..” - then why shan’t there be an angel to a Christian?


This little child is willing to hold that in God’s great majesty and glory the notion of one Christian is to one Guardian Angel is a possibility.  If Christ had call on more than 12,000 angels at a moment it is not unfathomable to think that someone who has taken up Christ’s cross has call on one angel.



Note: all links good at 5 April 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Difficult conversations

At some time in your life you’ll have to face a difficult conversation.  In some roles you may have to face such conversations daily.

free and unattributable
A recent TED talk by Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, has given consideration to the key steps that make difficult conversations possible.  These steps are summarised below.  They are worthy of study to ensure that you are well placed to enter any conversation:

1.    Don’t assume bad intent – assuming good or neutral intent provides a good starting point for the conversation.  Any bad intent will reveal itself during the conversation.  As an example, Jesus conducts the conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, (John 3) in a manner where Nicodemus is treated with neutral intent.  Jesus elsewhere in the Gospels is less forbearing of his treatment of the Pharisees.

2.    Ask questions – without genuinely understanding where the other party is coming from you are unable to frame your arguments.  As an example, Jesus asks questions of the Samaritan Woman at the well in John 4.  It is the women who responds to one of Christ’s questions so that we may understand the cultural setting of Jews and Samaritans (John 4:9)

3.    Stay calm – patience requires practice.  If you dial up the volume and the snarky responses then all you are likely to do is bring the conversation to an unsatisfactory end. As an example, Paul exhibits great calm before Festus and Agrippa (Acts 25 and 26)

4.    Make the argument – we cannot expect another person to change their mind without reason. Make the argument soundly and with good indication that you have listened to the other person.  As an example, Jesus powerfully makes the argument of what will be revealed in his kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 and 7).


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Adventures with Herbie’s Spices – Lentil Chicken one-pot

The end of daylight savings bought an interest in preparing a new dish.  This is a great Saturday night meal with taste buds tantalised by the flavours that escape the oven during the two hour roasting time.  The kaffir leaves add to the richness of the citrus flavour without adding to the acidity of the meal.

Serves 5
Ingredients for main dish
60g coconut oil
1/3 cup loosely packed Herbie’s Spices kaffir leaves
1 tbs Herbie’s Spices ground turmeric
2 tbs Herbie’s Spices ground coriander (I milled whole seeds from the Herbie’s Spices 25g pack)
1 tbs ground yellow mustard seeds
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 cups of soaked red split lentils (I soak these overnight after rinsing)
500 mL homemade chicken stock and 250mL of water (I used a jellied chicken stock, if using a purchased stock use 1L of it)
1.8kg free range chicken pieces with bone, skin on (I purchase Maryland packs)
1 garlic bulb, finely diced
1 large carrot, cut in half longways, finely sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Half cup of fresh parsley and/or coriander to your taste

Ingredients for mint cucumber yoghurt topping
1 cup homemade yoghurt (or 1 cup think Greek-style yoghurt)
½ cup thinly shredded mint leaves
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed, finely chopped

1.    Prepare topping first so that it can chilled.  Add all ingredients in bowl and stir to mix well.  Cover and refrigerate.
2.    Preheat an oven to 180 degrees Celsius
3.    In a frypan melt the coconut oil then add kaffir leaves, ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground mustard seeds and the onions.  Cook until onions are ready.  Then add lentils and stock and stir to combine.
4.    Pour contents from frypan into oven dish (I used a Corningware dish).  Place chicken pieces on top and sprinkle garlic across chicken.  Place carrot pieces between chicken pieces.  Pour lemon juice over chicken.  Cover with baking paper and then a sheet of aluminium foil.  The baking paper ensures that the acid from the lemon juice does not interact with the aluminium foil.  Place in oven for two hours.
5.    Uncover after two hours.  Put oven up to 220 degrees Celsius and sprinkle over parsley and/or coriander and cook for another ten minutes.
6.    Leave to stand out of oven for five minutes.
7.    Serve with yoghurt topping.

Herbie’s Spices are available from stockists as listed on the Herbie’s Spices website.

Free range chicken was purchased from About Life Lane Cove.

Vegetables, garlic and coriander were purchased from Lime Leaf Fruit Market

Mint leaves were foraged from a nearby community garden patch

The recipe was adapted from the April 2017 delicious magazine, page 93.  The original recipe was on a base of rice yet the household favours lentils over rice.