Thoughts of a geek

30 June 2012

Flirting? Or really, relationships and stuff.

Filed under: Christianity, The Blog Roll — Tags: , , , , — qwandor @ 10:56 am

Continuing on with this group-blogging thing, people are writing about flirting. This is an interesting topic, and not one I know a whole lot about. The discussion started with reading this article, which some of us found helpful and interesting (at least in parts), and some had a strong negative reaction to.

A related topic which I think is also interesting to discuss is the issue of why people date (or court, or whatever you want to call it. Pursue relationships with the opposite sex of a romantic nature. Or with the same sex for that matter I guess.) What are people’s intentions in pursuing such relationships? What do they expect of the other party? How do they convey those intentions, and how are they interpreted and understood (or often, misinterpreted and misunderstood)? What happens when the intentions and expectations do not match? Do the intentions and expectations of one party bias how they interpret the actions of the other?

Coincidentally I have ended up having some interesting conversations about some of these issues with a number of intelligent, thoughtful and insightful friends lately, which have been enlightening and thought-provoking. For a start, I have been reminded how different different people’s intentions can be. I guess everyone has a complex mix of motivations and intentions, and these can change as they grow older and mature. Even over the course of a particular relationship these change, which introduces further complications.

One motivation, obviously, is sex. Stereotypically this tends to be a stronger motivation for guys than for girls, and I expect that this has some bearing on reality — though no doubt the stereotype is also biased by social expectations, where sexual desire is associated with promiscuity, and promiscuity is more socially acceptable among males than among females. (As a side note, I do not think that it is wise for either. But that is not the main point here.) One friend related her frustrations at a number of guys she dated, while being interesting and good guys, being significantly motivated by sex, while she just was not after that, and had quite different things she wanted to get out of a relationship.

Some people are looking for a life partner. They see dating primarily as a stage along the way to marriage. Quite a few of my friends are Christians (as am I), and many of them (though not all) fall into this category. Plenty of other people do as well, of course. Some would go so far as to say that you should never date someone unless you intend to seriously consider marrying them, and furthermore that a high degree of emotional and physical distance should be maintained, that degree of intimacy and attachement being reserved solely for marriage. Another friend recently posted this article from an American conservative Christian website for young people espousing such a view. Well, perhaps I exaggerate a little. A number of my friends hold to this sort of view. I am not sure how wise or practical it is, and I do not think the majority would hold to that extreme.

Some people see dating, or romantic relationships in general, as an opportunity to experiment, learn more about people, and have fun, without ever intending for it to be a long-term thing. They are happy to date someone for a time while knowing and intending from the start that it will not last, and to break it off when the time comes. I was reminded of this by a couple of different friends recently, and while I struggle to understand their position it does not seem uncommon in the wider world either.

Some people want fun and excitement. They are after new experiences, surprises, someone to laugh with, to inspire them, to show them things they had not thought of before.

Some people want someone to care for them, somebody they can talk to about anything and everything. To check up on them, support them when times are tough, and just be there for each other.

Most people, of course, are after all of these things, and many others, in some complex and changing mix. They are by no means exclusive categories, or even all the same sort of category, but rather some of the many different motivations and intentions that people may have. Perhaps you can think of more to add to the list, so by all means post them below.

Problems, misunderstandings and hurt often happens when people go into a relationship with different intentions and expectations. Properly communicating and interpreting them is a difficult problem.

Well, I have just written quite a lot about a topic I have very little experience in! To continue with that, but perhaps add in a little bit of personal experience, we come back to the actual topic of flirting.

Flirting seems to mean many different things to different people, so we have a problem not just of actual actions but of terminology. Some other people blogging about it in this group have described it as being “pleasant and interested”, some as “appearing interested, appearing interesting, being aware of the other’s [dis]interest”. Some think of it as more of a sort of teasing interaction, hinting at interest but then backing away coyly waiting for a reaction, alternating between pursuing and being pursued. Perhaps this is more the feminine side of it, I daresay it tends not to work symmetrically between both sides. Coquettish is another word that comes to mind for this idea of it. The guide which started this whole discussion distinguishes between “flirting for fun” and “flirting with intent”, which I think is a useful distinction to make.

Frith makes the good point that it is often hard to separate “flirting” from “everyday affectionate interaction”, and I quite agree. Another friend to whom I was talking recently described similar issues, where what she considered just ordinary physical affection between friends was sometimes mistaken as an indication of a romantic interest or attraction that was not there. Such misunderstandings are by no means terrible things, but can still be less than ideal. Said friend does tend to be a fairly physical sort of a person (which is a great thing, she gives excellent hugs), but sometimes this can be misinterpreted. Things like dancing, especially styles with close connection like blues, can further blur the lines here. This same friend described it as (sometimes) being “5 minutes of true love then you each go your separate ways”, which I thought it an interesting description (though I probably misquoted it a little). Not to be confused with 2 minutes in heaven. Flight of the Conchords may not be the best source of relationship advice. Though actually, they are probably not much worse than many other sources… but I digress.

A question for the reader here: do you think men or women are in general better at distinguishing friendly physical affection from flirting? Is there a difference?

So perhaps the bigger question is: how does one know whether somebody else is flirting with them? Or more generally, is ‘interested’ in them? Perhaps flirting is being more friendly towards one person in particular than towards other people in general. But in the case of people one does not know very well, how can one find that baseline to compare to? Careful observation seems necessary here. I have been learning lately that I am not as good an observer of people as I used to think I was. Some people are excellent at it though! It certainly seems like a very useful skill to have. And how can one avoid being misinterpreted, if that is an issue?

Oh, I had a random thought in the middle of the night last night: perhaps the imperfect communication is a little like playing 500, where an important part of the game is to find ways to communicate to your partner what you have in your hand and how you intend to play without actually saying anything? You need to work together to give hints to each other, interpret them correctly, and then use that information to win tricks and score more points than the other team… okay, perhaps this analogy does not go quite so far. (Hey, anyone up for a game of 500?)

At this point I would insert a list of examples and ask for you readers’ opinions on which ones were and were not flirting, but I think that might not be wise in a public forum such as this, so will leave that out from here.

To ramble a little more, I wonder also whether we could talk about such a think as ‘anti-flirting’: things people do to indicate to someone else that they are not interested in them in a romantic way, or things which they may inadvertently do which may be interpreted as such. This could include, for example, being careful to keep plenty of physical distance, telling someone that they smell bad, are badly dressed, are not very good looking, or other such things. What examples do you have, of such anti-flirting signals that you have either given or received?

Well that post grew and changed rather a lot from what it was originally going to be. (It is also not very well organised or edited, sorry.) This was partly due to a number of interesting discussion with a few friends recently, which got me thinking more along some new lines. Thanks, people! And let’s continue this discussion, here and elsewhere. It is both interesting in general, and relevant to my interests.

I guess I should finish with a list of other people’s posts on the topic:

I also had another post related to this topic that I started writing back on 10th June, but I will leave that for another post I think, as I had more ideas last night to add to it. In the meantime, comment away!

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14 May 2012

Community (The Blog Roll topic 1)

Some friends and I somehow ended up agreeing to try blogging about a series of topics together. For some reason this initiative is called “The Blog Roll”. The first topic is “community”. Perhaps there will be more. So far Melanie, Frith and Polly have blogged on the topic; Daniel and Valerie may also do so at some point. Perhaps other people will decide to join in as well.

So. Community. What can I say about it? I think it is important. It is a fairly vague word that can be used with a variety of different meanings. And it keeps coming up.

I am not very good at contemplating on demand.

Well! Another week has passed. I will try to at least flesh out something from my notes.

One form of community is a group of people who happen to be in the same place regularly. When this happens they tend to at least recognise each other’s faces, and sometimes friendships and deeper community develop. One factor in how much this happens is how big the group is; as groups get bigger there is less opportunity to talk to each individual person for an extended period of time — assuming the time spent together remains constant and that it is split evenly between the people present then the amount of time per person is inversely proportional to the number of people in the group. How much the people in the group have in common also tends to have a significant effect, be it age, situation, common interests or whatever else. What the people are doing and how much opportunity it allows to talk to others and get to know them is also a big factor. I find that walking often works quite well for this, as it tends to break a larger group up into smaller groups of 2–4, while also allowing people to move around between these smaller groups. Situations like working in an office, where everyone is busy at their own desk most of the time, are less conducive.

On the other hand, I found Memphis (the graduate computer science lab at VUW) to be a stronger community, even though on the face of it it seems like a rather similar situation to such an office environment: a bunch of people sitting in front of computers doing their own thing. I think there were a number of reasons for this. One was the presence of (comfortable, old and somewhat dodgy) couches, where people could hang out and chat. While this could sometimes be distracting for those working, it also led to lots of interesting conversations about all sorts of topics, and encouraged an environment where people could ask others for help. Shared music (through the oft-rewritten Memphis stereo system) also contributed significantly, I think. Sharing other people’s choice in music provides a connection in itself I think, it provides some feeling in common. And speaking of the stereo, projects like writing the stereo software and that for Fridge also provided opportunities to work together with other people on interesting and open-ended projects outside of coursework, which also served to build relationships and community. Memphis also organised a number of social and sports events outside of the lab, and built a shared culture through things like the Memphis painting hack, t-shirts and badges. It is a pity that it all died so quickly once the lab was closed and things were restructured for the new engineering degree, but that is often the way in the university environment, with a fresh new group of students coming through each year not knowing much about what has gone before.

Another form of community is when people join particular groups. I distinguish this from the first form because the first is mostly people who just happen to be through together by work, study or something else, while this second form is more a matter of choice, perhaps specifically for the purpose of meeting other people. There is certainly some overlap though. The group may be one that meets together physically, as clubs tend to, or it may be online or through some other mechanism. The #wellingtonlunchchat IRC channel is an example of the latter — a group of people who used to work or study together, who now have mostly moved on to other places, across a number of countries, but still keep in touch on a daily basis in many cases, if in a fairly low-key way. The channel originally started as a way to organise meeting for lunch with those working in other offices in Wellington, but always ended up being more about general procrastination, techy news and asking for help and advice with programming issues.

Examples which come to mind of such groups which did meet together in real life were the two main clubs I was part of at university: Interface and VUWCU. I am still in touch with many people whom I met through both; in fact I think they make up the majority of my friends from Wellington. This suggests that they did something right.

A third form I will categorise is wider communities, where one is a part without knowing the majority of the other people in the community, yet shares some common bond. This is a looser sort of community, yet can be quite cool sometimes, when one can feel like part of something bigger. Perhaps this is important. The common bond of such a community could be some major part of life like religious belief (say the wider Christian community), common interests (people sometimes talk about the geek community as such an entity) or just a common hobby (swing dancing, or Lindy Hop in particular!).

A couple of examples of such connections with a wider community which I thought were cool come to mind. The first was when a friend and I were travelling around Scandinavia and spent a night in Oslo, where we stayed with a group of Christian students in their flat near one of the universities. We did not know any of them personally, but my friend had a connection with one of the people in the flat through some mutual friend through IFES, and they were happy to have us to stay when we visited. Even better, it just so happened that the night we were staying was their weekly community night and so we got to eat dinner together with them all and the two adjacent flats, learn a new card game, and then we all sung a few hymns together in Norwegian. Despite being in a foreign country and not speaking the language, we had something in common. And interestingly I found it easier to pronounce Norwegian words when trying to sing along with a bunch of other people.

The second example was just through swing dancing, Lindy Hop in particular. It is quite cool to be able to go along to a dance anywhere in the world and find people who know the same steps and enjoy the same music, and just be able to dance with people with whom you might not have much else in common. I was in Toronto earlier this year, as I had a week in Kitchener-Waterloo for work and so flew into Toronto and spent the preceeding weekend staying there with a friend. It just so happened that the weekend I was in town was the weekend of the Toronto Swing Dance Exchange, so I dragged my friend along and we went to the Saturday night of it. It was the first time I had done any swing dancing outside of London, so I found it particularly cool just to be able to show up, in a new country, and dance with a whole bunch of people I had not met before, and perhaps never will again. A bigger community!

I was thinking about writing about online community as a fourth form, but I think it is already covered by the other forms: either particular groups like #wellingtonlunchchat, or wider communities like Reddit. Perhaps blogging comes in somewhere here too? Can the ‘blogosphere’ be considered a community, or is it too loose and disconnected?

Community flats probably bear a mention, though I have had mixed experiences there. I have only been in one flat that was explicitly a ‘community flat’ (it even had a blog), but I think I found more community (Can community be compared like that? Closer relationships, perhaps?) in the flat I lived in after that, although it was not particularly organised as a community flat per se. We just happened to get on pretty well, chatting and eating together quite a bit without it being an explicit aim. We still had our conflicts, of course, but on the whole it was pretty good. Perhaps trying to force community is a bad idea? Or perhaps it was just that everyone was really busy and stressed for other reasons, and there were a number of personality conflicts.

On the other hand, there are certainly things that can be done to encourage community. I think the physical layout of a house can make a big difference. Being on a single level, with rooms arranged around a central living room or kitchen can be helpful as people in their bedrooms can hear what is going on and join in. Just having a nice comfortable living room where people want to hang out by default makes a big difference, and having enough room for everyone. That can perhaps be tricky in somewhere like London where space at a premium, and long narrow terraced houses are common. Perhaps some architects out there would like to look at designing houses to encourage communal living in big cities while being space-efficient?

I was thinking of writing more comparing London and Wellington, but I am not too sure what to say, and this post is getting too long as it is, so I think I will just post it (at last). Perhaps that will be a topic for another time, or perhaps not. Hmm, there might be something more to write about music here too, and how it ties people together. But enough for now. In the mean time, what are your thoughts? Comments? Any questions?

7 January 2012

Objectives and Key Results

Filed under: Christianity, Me, Travel — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 8:23 am

At work we plan each quarter by writing Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs for short. The idea is that there are a number of broad objectives, then specific quantifiable and measurable key results that achieve them. So I thought I would try writing some personal OKRs here, though for the year rather than just a quarter. These are more a draft than anything fixed, so I would much appreciate any advice about how to achieve them, what else I should try to do, or anything else.

It is a bit late, this already being 2012, but that is like work too. The top level points are the objectives, the second level are the key results.

  • See some more of the world.
    • Visit the east coast of the US / Canada, and see at least 3 of the 5 friends I know over that way.
    • Visit at least 2 more European countries.
    • Visit Scotland.
    • Visit 2 more places in the UK
  • Improve my dancing (and enjoy it)
    • Learn at least one new dance this year (probably Balboa)
    • Go out for social swing (Lindy Hop) dancing regularly
    • Take some classes / workshops to improve my blues
    • Do some swing and/or blues with friends while I am back in NZ visiting
    • Go to the London Swing Festival again
  • Work out where I stand with God, and what that means.
    • Discuss more with some friends. Not sure exactly what.
    • Finish reading some of the books that are on my shelf, and write up some responses to them.
    • Any other advice?
  • Improve my social life, and build and maintain a good group of friends with whom I regularly do things
    • Host at least 3 social gatherings (parties / dinners / whatever) at my flat
    • Hmm, not sure what else to do towards this, any suggestions?
  • Improve how I dress
    • Buy a suit, or at least something a bit more formal, for the odd occasion when that might be necessary
    • Hmm, not sure about this one either, any advice?
  • Maintain other hobbies
    • Bake something for other people at least once a month, preferably more often.
    • Do some work on my existing programming projects such as theQuotebook and Fridge.
    • Do some work on electronics projects, such as the paper keyboard I started on last year, some kind of floor instrument, or something else based on the Teensy.

Well, does anyone have any suggestions about how to achieve some of these, or other things I should aim for?

20 September 2009

Faith, God and all that jazz

Filed under: Christianity, Me — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — qwandor @ 11:10 pm

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time now, a couple of months I guess, following a few conversations with a couple of people.

I guess I will start off with where I stand. I consider myself a Christian. Certainly I have all the obvious trappings: I go to church every Sunday, read the bible daily, go to a bible study with people from church most weeks, try to pray. I try to live my life, make decisions, from a Christian worldview. I try to be open to discussing my beliefs, ‘faith’ if you will, with others, as this is interesting, worthwhile and indeed a vital part of a Christian life (I Peter 3:15, Mark 16:15).

However, I do find it difficult to explain, and I think this largely comes down to not having a very clear idea in my own mind. On that note I would like to post a few questions, and list (my interpretations of) some people’s answers to them so far. I also include my own in some cases.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts (different answers to the questions, comments on the existing answers) and discuss further, either here or — better — in person. I have been particularly frustrated over these things over the last two or three months, and have found it difficult to talk to people, so this is an attempt to get some of my thoughts out in the hope of being able discuss them further. This is mainly aimed at Christians, but extends to anyone.

What is faith?

  • Blind belief, in the absence of evidence — obviously, I find this an unsatisfactory definition. There needs to be some way to discriminate between things in which you should have faith and things in which you should not.
  • Belief that something is a certain way, or that something will happen, based on past experience and testimony (direct or indirect) of people whom I trust. ‘Faith’ then is very closely related to ‘trust’, perhaps even the same thing. This is my current working definition, but some people I have talked to find it unsatisfactory. I do not really understand why; apparently it is insufficient in some way?

What is the basis of Christian faith?

  • The Bible — this requires first an argument for the historical accuracy of the bible, and then trust in the people whose witness is recorded in it (for example in the gospels). This is difficult due to the lack of a personal relationship, so it becomes a rather indirect thing.
  • Other people’s testimony — friends, family. Again this comes down to accepting what people say based on personal trust in them, which in turn comes from knowing them, observing their words and actions and judging their trustworthiness from that.
  • Supernatural experience — some sort of experience beyond the usual which provokes or confirms a belief in the God conceived by Christianity and described in the Bible. Some people certainly describe such an experience, to greater or lesser extent, or even it being a regular thing.

How does God talk to you?

  • The written word of the Bible is God talking to you — but, it is hardly personal then.
  • While reading the Bible — how?
  • Through other people — He sends people to say things to you, and so what they say is in a sense God talking to you. But then, how does He tell them what to say?
  • Just talking directly to you — again, how? What does this mean, how is it experienced?

How do you know that God is talking to you, and how do you know what He is saying?

  • You hear distinct words
  • It is more of a general feeling of some sort — but then how do you know that it is from God?
  • A ‘prompting’, you just think of doing something — but we often think of doing things. How is this ‘prompt’ different? ‘Prompting’ is a vague term. Perhaps this is the same as or similar to the previous answer.

What does it mean to ‘believe’?

  • A belief is a theorem (in the sense used in mathematics). That is, a statement is ‘believed’ if it there is a proof for it. I know that Peirce’s law holds in classical logic because I can write a proof using only the axioms of that logic, so I can say “I believe that Peirce’s law holds in classical logic”. Nothing can be believed beyond what can be proven, so belief is limited to the formalisms of mathematics. This does not include any of the sciences, as even physics is just a matter of attempting to find a consistent model which fits observed phenomena; no proof is possible as physical laws are only guesses which happen to match reality in a few observations.
  • A belief is a working assumption. I ‘believe’ that the sun will rise tomorrow insofar as I assume it will based on past experience, and so I base my decisions and plans on that assumption. Beliefs then are not certain, cannot be proven, but are necessary for decision-making and, well, life.

Note that the first and last questions are of definition, so it is more a matter of how you choose to define faith and belief than any intrinsic reality. Consistent and agreed-upon definitions are, however, vital to any meaningful communication.

14 June 2009

Glad

Filed under: Christianity, Me — Tags: , , , , — qwandor @ 5:31 pm

I am glad that I do not get sick very often. And even when I do it is generally not very bad really.
I am fortunate to have a good flat this year, with a bunch of pretty good guys really.
I am fortunate to have enough food to eat, access to the Internet, reliable electricity and running water.
I am glad to have met and come to know a little many people over the last few years.
I am glad to be part of a good church.
I am very grateful to my parents for bringing me up and caring for me, and for everything they have done for me over the years, the time they have spent with me and for me.
I am glad for the times friend have shown care for me, talking to me, asking how I am, doing things together, making time to see me.
I am fortunate to have a good job, even though it is frustrating at times, but doing what should be relatively interesting work with some intelligent people.
I owe all to God, Yahweh, who sent his Son to die for me, sinner that I am, that I might be forgiven and restored to relationship with Him. I still do not know how this works, but I am told that it is true and I must believe it. Without God’s grace I am hopeless. With it I must live for Him, somehow.

27 December 2008

An atheist position on Christian proselytism

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , — qwandor @ 1:07 pm

In this video, which I am reposting from a blog I came across, an American comedian named Penn Jillete discusses his view of Christian proselytism, following an encounter with a Christian at one of his shows. Penn seems to be fairly strongly atheist, but you may find what he has to say here surprising. Listen and see; let me know what you think.

16 May 2008

Truth, faith, science and religion

I came across an interesting blog article recently, entitled Internet Arguments and the Search For Truth. It discusses the meaning of ‘faith’, and its relation to religion and science. The author has some interesting things to say about ideologues and debate, and I recommend reading it.

Whether science and religion can co-exist seems to be a common topic of disagreement and confusion, especially the divide manufactured between ‘Creationism’ and ‘Evolution’. Certainly it was a common theme to the questions people had to ask last year when the VUW Christian Union ran our Ask God in the Quad event here at Vic, and it has come up again this year.

Unfortunately some Christians have quite strong and loud beliefs along the lines of ‘God created the Earth in 6 (24 hour) days a few thousand years ago, this is the only possible way of interpreting the bible, and Evolution is an evil plot by Science to destroy people’s faith in God’. For their own part, their opponents often have equally fundamentalist views that Evolution conclusively disproves all religion, without even understanding very well what Evolution means.

I see no contradiction between science and Christianity. I am no biologist, and I cannot claim to have a terribly clear knowledge of exactly which of the claims grouped under the popular heading of ‘Evolution’ are generally accepted by the scientific community from what evidence. The closest I have come to studying evolution is the use of evolutionary computation techniques in AI (genetic algorithms, genetic programming, etc.), where they are a useful technique for optimisation and machine learning. My understanding is that there is a clear case from fossil records that there has been change with species throughout history, and a fairly clear case for speciation and common descent (at least to some extent), but there is no scientific consensus on how life came to exist in the first place. There seem to be a range of models for and hypotheses on abiogenesis, but no substantial evidence.

There are in fact quite a range of views within Christianity on the origins of life, based on different interpretations of the creation account given in Genesis. OriginScience.com gives one useful comparison of some of the views, from the perspective of a proponent of Old-Earth Creationism. TalkOrigins has a much shorter summary of some interpretations.

Christians have been thinking about these issues for quite a long time: Augustine of Hippo (a Christian theologian and philosopher who lived from 354 AD to 430 AD) had some interesting attitudes towards the interpretation of the Genesis account (as well as open-mindedness in general). He makes the excellent point:

In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.

Davis A. Young has written a good article about Augustine’s views that I recommend reading, both for non-Christians and Christians.

21 November 2007

Student Leadership Conference

Filed under: Christianity, Me — qwandor @ 9:26 pm

I spent the last week (Monday 12th November — Sunday 18th November) at SLC, the Student Leadership Conference run each summer by New Zealand’s Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship. It was a great opportunity to take some time out both to study the bible and to consider the application of it to life in general and on campus. We had a mixture of talks and discussions in various groups.

A large part of this year’s SLC was focused around the book of Nehemiah, an old-testament leader who led the Israelites in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after their return from exile in Babylon.

One thing that particularly stood out to me from the conference was the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

There can be a tendency to think of God as described in the Old Testament as judgmental and legalistic, while the God of the New Testament shows grace, love and forgiveness. This is not really true, however. God’s character remains constant: in the Old Testament as in the new he shows his grace time and time again.

Much of the OT, in fact, is about a cycle of Israel rebelling against God (often worshiping idols instead), God sending prophets to warn them, the prophets being largely ignored, and Israel finally losing God’s blessing and being conquered by their enemies (and often taken into exile and slavery). God then hears the prayers of the few remaining righteous, and grants grace to his people while they are still in rebellion. He then gathers them back to their land and himself, and they repent and turn back to him. They are then blessed and celebrate God’s blessing and provision. After a time, the cycle repeats.

The point here is that God restores his people undeservedly. While they are still in rebellion against him he sends leaders such as Nehemiah to bring them back to him, and blesses them generously.

This pattern is then fulfilled ultimately in Jesus, who is not so much a change in God’s actions towards his people but a final and perfect way of bringing them back to him. Jesus is not just a man like the earlier saviours and kings of Israel (although he is also a man), and does not turn away from and rebel against God as even Israel’s greatest king — Solomon — eventually did. Instead, Jesus lived a life in perfect obedience and service to God. He then once more went further than his predecessors in choosing to die to take the punishment deserved by everyone but him.

While I guess I knew all this already in a way, I certainly thought more about it and gained a better understanding.

On a less serious note, yomcat also got and then later lost a mullet. He looks rather unhappy, especially in the second photo.

Andy Shudall has also blogged about SLC, in case you want to read more.

3 September 2007

Christian perspectives on alcohol

Filed under: Christianity — qwandor @ 10:46 am

Last night, I went to All Saints Hataitai‘s ‘to drink or not to drink — Christian perspectives on alcohol’ debate. I saw it mentioned on a couple of blogs (here and here), so decided to go and see what they had to say.

Personally, I do not drink alcohol, but that is mostly because I do not see the point — why acquire a taste for something that is expensive, when there are plenty of nicer and cheaper things to drink?

Anyway, it was interesting hearing two different perspectives, even if they did both come to pretty much the same conclusion (having a couple of drinks is fine, getting drunk is not). A couple of scripture mentioned were Romans 14 and John 2:1-12.

Ben Johnson-Frow (who does not drink) talked about how he used to drink excessively in his teens before he became a Christian, and so he decided to stop completely when he became a Christian, as he would otherwise be temped to drink too much. He also talked about the New Zealand culture of drinking to excess and binge-drinking, and that not drinking at all was partly a way of protesting against that.

Sam Harvey (who brought a bottle of beer up with him to drink while listening to Ben talk) talked about how excessive drinking has never been an issue for him, and he finds it useful to relate to people. He has written a bit about the topic on his blog.

For more discussion, I highly recommend Paul Windsor’s blog post from last year, including the comments. He asks “What is one single redeeming feature of alcohol consumption?”, and some interesting discussion ensues.

This debate was apparently part of a series All Saints are running on the first Sunday of every month, ‘wrestling with some of the big issues of life and seeing what God might have to say about them’. Next month (Sunday 7th October, 6:00 pm) is ‘Truth, Love, Tolerance’, which sounds interesting. I plan to go if I have time, and I recommend it.

1 July 2007

TSCF conference 2007

Filed under: Christianity, University — qwandor @ 10:23 pm

This week I went to the annual TSCF (Tertiary Students’ Christian Fellowship) conference, this year in Waikanae. It was a great week, with about 100 students from universities around New Zealand attending. Andrew Lim (the pastor of Christ Sanctuary in Palmerston North) spoke in the mornings about I Thessalonians, and Dave Wells (from BCNZ) in the evenings about ‘True Witness’. There were also 5 streams of 3 seminars, though I was a bit disappointed with the stream I chose.

One thing that particularly stood out was the need to live a whole life for God. It is too easy for me to think of worship as something done at church (the Christian habit of calling singing at church ‘worship’ does not help this), rather than an attitude to apply to my whole life. Work (in which I would include study) is God-given. As such, I need to remember to do it as for God, to show an example to others and bring glory to God. Colossians 3:23 says ‘whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men’. I have read this before, but I still do not really apply it; I still tend to keep God and the rest of my life separate.

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