Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Robert Denethon Returns to Ultima Thule, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently

For many years now I have blogged under the name of Robert Denethon, a name that is clearly identified as a nom de plum in many of my books. A little while ago, I said in one of these blogs that "Robert Denethon might have reached the end of his usefulness" - which was not so much an indication of suicidal ideation or depression (!), as much as a reflection on the question I was then considering, the question of apparent authorship, i.e. whether I would continue publishing under a pseudonym or begin publishing under my real name.

In the past year I have slowly and gradually arrived at the decision to begin publishing my future books under my real name. 

As part of realising this intention, I have begun a new blog, which will perhaps reflect my real life more honestly... (Although the question strikes me here - what might honesty be in this context? Is it not so that sometimes anonymity may enable one to be more honest?) (For instance CS Lewis' most painfully honest book, "A Grief Observed", written after his wife died, was published under a pseudonym.)  Nonetheless, I believe this to be the direction in which God is leading me...

You can find my new blog here: 


Please subscribe! I intend to share some book reviews there and talk about music and composing as well as writing and the Bible and Jesus and will also be sharing the posts on Facebook, & if you can find me there, friend me....

...additional note, re the title of this post: If you come to a different conclusion, i.e. that the Thulean doppelgänger Robert Denethon has returned to his home in the alternate universe, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently, then I am obligated to tell you in the name of honesty that this is entirely incorrect...  ;)




Thursday, 14 December 2017

Letters to an Undisclosed Recipient 3: The Dress

When you wore a certain dress, of a certain colour, I could tell that you felt powerful and wicked, like one of the usurpful Queens of Narnia, like Jadis maybe, or the Ruler of Underland (the one  Puddleglum's stubborn, depressed faith defeated). I could tell you felt rebellious, rebelling against Aslan or maybe even God.

(Incidentally, maybe this is why the magic, which you knew was wrong, to get power like this. ) (Of course, magic is utterly futile, because any power it might have had in the past has already been defeated by Christ on the cross.)

But did you not think you were already powerful? Maybe you thought, I never became a ruler of Narnia, I never had the blessing of rightful authority, so I shall take it this way.

But you see, Edmund, Peter, Lucy, Susan - their reign in Narnia is merely an allegory or shadow of the reality that we can only grasp by faith, the reality that is described in the Bible - for we who belong to Jesus and submit our lives to Him already have the rightful authority of kings and queens beside Him. (And as you already know, Aslan is Jesus in the story). We already have the power to move the planets and stars - we have power over all authorities in heaven and on earth - we can change history and move the world leaders - for we sit on thrones already, in heaven, seated beside Jesus who reigns over the Cosmos.

Of course, as in so many stories of faith where giving up precedes receiving, where humbling ourselves precedes being lifted up, to share Jesus' authority we must first submit ourselves to His authority, something no one can do on their own.

In other words, to be raised up with Christ we must first be made alive with Christ, which only happens through God's grace.

Ephesians 2:1-10
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Letters to an Undisclosed Recipient - 2 Aslan, Jesus, Pacifism and Violence.

You loved Aslan, but sometimes you seemed not so sure about Jesus. I think you found the cross so confronting - and so it is, it must be - and yet it is arguable that Aslan's sacrifice on the stone table in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was an allegory of the cross, or at least, is similar in that Aslan handed himself over to be tortured and killed to save Edmund, just as Jesus died for all of us.

Aslan died to cancel the ancient law that said a traitor would have to die, with an even more ancient law that said an innocent sacrifice can cancel any debt. 

And Jesus died for all law-breakers, for all God-haters and evil people and traitors and adulterers and thieves, that is, all of us, any who are willing to accept his sacrifice on our behalf, to cancel our debts to God. Jesus died as the Lamb of God, the sacrifice to take away all sin. 

I think another reason you liked Aslan more was that the lion had moments of fierceness, where he protected his own. I believe for some reason you felt unsafe in this world - you liked Aslan because he is a fierce protector - you wanted to feel safe, you wanted to feel that God would protect you. 

And so God will protect you, if you put your trust in Him. For the scripture says, 

The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10) 

And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:8-10) 

And the name of the Lord is Jesus, Yeshua in Hebrew, meaning "Yahweh saves". His name is a place of refuge. He is a strong tower. No one who takes refuge in Him will be forsaken. You see, Jesus is not just resurrected, but has ascended into heaven. He sits at God's right hand, right now, and rules over every authority and power and dominion. 

And in fact, in Revelation there is a picture of Jesus very far from "gentle Jesus, meek and mild", where He returns to bring in God's final victory, already won on the cross but now made manifest so that everyone can see it, and He comes to strike down God's enemies: 

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-16)

The parable of the Talents speaks of this too, in a small postscript: 

But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me. (Luke 19:27) 

At his first coming, Jesus was indeed gentle and meek and came to serve and when he was struck he did not strike back and when he was attacked he let them overcome him. 

But when Jesus returns again it will be to rule and to end all opposition to the reign of God. And the thing is, none of us will be able to stand at his coming, except for those who have come to God on God's terms, not on our own terms. 




Letters to an Undisclosed Recipient - 1. Living Through Books.

Books can certainly be magical. The great magic of books is that one can enter a completely different world for a while, live somewhere else entirely. Now I must tell you a secret, something I've never told anyone, but this is a secret I know you will understand, because... well, just because. Put it this way: I saw enough of your cryptic comments, your strange ways, to know that what was really going on was the same secret, the one that I shared but never told you that I shared, something I fully understand, your secret way of reading books.

I understand that when you read books, you become totally absorbed in the story, to the point that you will even think and say things that the main character says, and you become the main character, and other people in your life become signifiers for various other characters, proxies in a way.

I am the same. Because when I read certain books, novels and biographies that hit a certain chord in my life, I can't help living them out. I start to think that I am that character. In my dreams I become the main character, and my own thoughts and problems get filtered through that world, that existence. And I know you're the same, because of the book you didn't want me to read once, that I had already read at least a quarter of, that book that you were living out in those days in your own peculiar way.

Today probably the best books I have read for absolute absorption were Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, and more recently "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman, which I have been absorbing as an audio book after watching the television series. Both of these are amazingly believable chronicles of magic, incredibly absorbing worlds.

In primary school I read through the famous sci fi authors, Philip K Dick, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, and others, but the only one who truly absorbed me was Philip K Dick, and he still does, with his peculiar paranoia and even more peculiar flashes of faith in something, whether it is the amorphous alien Ubik or Yahweh or Christ, seen through the lens of some sort of amphetamine / LSD flashback.

When I was in high school I read my way through modernism and the peculiar twentieth century authors, such as J P Donleavy, Mervyn Peake, as well as Tolkien, and David Eddings and the other fantasy authors of that time. And I discovered Jane Austen, Emily Bronte and Agatha Christie.

The modernism was deadening and horrible and destroyed the spirit with so many authors, authors whose names I can't even think of, except for Hemingway who was absolutely marvellous.

When I was at University despite studying a different subject entirely I spent hours in the library reading. I read my way through CS Lewis and then Chesterton, then Dickens. And the disturbingly modern Thomas DeQuincy. I read the psychotherapists Freud and Jung, I read Jung's successor J.D.Laing (the inventor of transactional analysis and nearly every cliché of pop psychology that people spout today), I read all of Plato's works (except for one or two rather odious books of his that I didn't care to look into. If you went through his books you would know which ones I am talking about. A particularly odious habit of the Greek philosophers.).

And I lived through the Talmud and the deeds of the Jewish saints and inhabited the strange world of Mahayana Buddhism, with the Buddha speaking of his death in mystical terms as going over a waterfall, and his disturbingly prosaic eightfold path (And his disappointingly complex philosophy, which was not what I was expecting from the Buddha - I was expecting the simplicity that I found in Jesus' parables which is simply not present in the Mahayana scriptures.)

And the amazing stories of Chuang Tzu, and the sayings of Lao Tzu, the Taoists, with their Tao which seems almost to correspond to the Word or the Wisdom of the Bible, but not quite, different enough that one can see it is merely an aesthetic understanding rather than spiritual perhaps, but deep enough to give an insight into psychology - for it is not when we are still thinking about doing something that we have mastered it. It is when we can do it without thinking about it, that we truly are masters of a task, an insight that I believe is at the heart of their understanding of how the Tao works, i.e., how to live in the world. (An insight that I am nonetheless not sure can be applied to the whole of life as much as to specific skills...?)

And the marvellously light-filled Bhagavad Gita with its peculiarly bright vision of the gods and its peculiarly uncomfortable caste prejudices, and the Quran, in which you can almost smell the desert sands, a strangely disturbing book in many ways, preaching a different, more judgemental and less forgiving God I think than the Christian and Jewish God.

And I read Evelyn Underhill's works about mysticism and mystics, as well as various other biographies, particularly Christian biographies, the great evangelicals, the Wesleys, Stones of Fire by Isobel Kuhn about missionaries to the Lisu in Burma, the books of Corrie Ten Boom and David Wilkerson, the Indian Christian Sadhu Sundar Singh, Brother Andrew who smuggled Bibles into Soviet Russia, and other sundry authors such as Albert Schweitzer, Leo Tolstoy, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Dostoevsky, Conrad and the Australian authors Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, Louisa Lawson, various playwrights such as Henrik Ibsen, Ray Lawler, Samuel Beckett, and many many poets.

And my reading included the philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaarde, Albert Camus' existentialism (a poetic novelist as well with a heart for humanity, his book the Plague was one of the best for absorbing reading and characterization) and Sartre's existentialism (In Nausea a truly nauseating thought world, that demonstrates the possibility of allowing all existence to become distressingly boring and unfulfilling because of the destruction of the narrative framework. A strange successor to Descartes and a prequel to Foucalt's destruction of all narratives)

And don't forget Descartes himself and Augustine and Aristotle and Aquinas, and the early church fathers, and so many other theologians and Christian thinkers through the ages.

And whatever I was reading, while I was reading it I entered into that thought world.

The protagonist of the book, or the subject of it in the case of the biographies, or sometimes in the case of the philosophers, the author, became someone I would emulate, no, even more than that, someone whose way of seeing and feeling and being I appropriated, in a sense in my own world in my private thoughts I became that character and other people in my life became proxies for various characters - I was Frodo and my best friend seemed like Samwise Gamgee.  I was Sparrowhawk and I could almost believe I was trying to save the universe by going into the world of the dead. I was Anne Frank, hidden away in the tiny hiding place. I was Corrie Ten Boom, living the Christian life in Auschwitz, and everything became a single prison cell, and my acts of generosity in my own life became crucial acts of faith. I was Richard Wurmbrand, slowly going insane in solitary confinement, then by the grace of Jesus coming full circle back to faith and hope and love, as though the process of insanity was merely a circular journey that ended where it had begun, by the grace of God.

All while I was doing the daily chores, teaching, riding the bus or driving to work and back and visiting my sick friends and trying to find out what it meant to live a Christian life.

Reading Pride and Prejudice I became Mister Darcy - puzzled - maligned - or Elizabeth Bennet - proud and ultimately repentant.

Reading Descartes I became Descartes, shedding all my human and cultural preconceptions and realising that "I think therefore I am" (Descartes' approach I now believe to be a complete illusion - firstly because most of our learning becomes unconscious once we have learned it - thus we can only shed the merest fraction of our preconceptions - and further I think that it is actually slightly insane to think one needs proof of one's own existence!)

Reading Dickens I became outraged at the merciless hypocrisy of the outwardly 'good' Victorians and  saw in them people today and celebrated the wonderful compassionate generosity of his truly good characters, who were always full of the joy of life, and tried to be one of them.

And reading Kierkegaarde's I puzzled over Abraham's faith, and shared the impossibility of achieving faith with Kierkegaarde and marvelled (for at the end of the day faith is far more arduous, in fact completely impossible, far more difficult than the rather romantically tragic act of renunciation. Renunciation is the movement towards the infinite, saying, "It can never be," and wallowing in the pleasure of dying to ones dearest wishes for the sake of another, but faith means coming back to the particular after this death to self and is humanly impossible. For in fact, faith is a gift from God. Faith is Abraham believing that God would give him his son Isaac back, even after he sacrificed him. Faith is believing that despite everything that has happened to separate you both, she will still come back and marry you. (This blessing, of marriage, of course was never granted to Kierkegaarde. )

The most problematic for daily life were the books about the saints. You may be able to enter St John of the Cross' strange thought world, but you can never really be like him or even barely understand the experience he was describing - perhaps because his extreme mysticism of suffering (like many Christian mystics I came to discover) came to birth while he was in prison. (St Francis, and the Jewish mystical Protestant preacher, Richard Wurmbrand. And at a stretch, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's most profound thoughts were born while he was in prison. And don't forget Cervantes, whose great work Don Quixote came out of his exile. So much that is deep and good comes out of suffering.)

And speaking of saints there's Evelyn Underhill's Theresa of Avilla - building her strange mystical castles of the mind, and complaining about God's unfairness when the wheel fell off her coach.

Who can live like that?

Then later, I discovered Martin Luther, the cantankerous ex monk whose description of family life and Jesus' humanity were as completely delightful as his anti-semitism and hatred towards the Catholic heirarchy was vile and disgusting. (The Jewish Messianic believer Wurmbrand, who came to be a Lutheran pastor, lived with this paradox.)

And all the other Christian biographies, myriads of them, the protestants, the Cross and the Switchblade, which were not absorbing so much as enlightening, not giving a different thought world as much as calling me to Jesus, to live in this world in a completely different way, as a disciple and believer in Jesus, forgiven and free, and opening to me the possibility of a Spirit-filled life, of that something one sees in the mythical and marvellous, however in the real world and beyond it.

But there is one book that I have never been able to get fully absorbed in, because it is so much bigger than all my efforts to absorb it. In fact, it is not that this book leads to an absorption in the book itself, because this book I am talking about is more like a signpost pointing to a complete absorption not in the book itself but in the Author of everything who is also in a way the author and main character in this book, for the book is the biography of God's dealings with humanity (and of course a complete self-giving to Jesus is the only way to find one's self.)

This book I am talking about does not change your mind, or give you a different world to inhabit, nor does it enable you to perform the grandiose sacrifice, the gesture of tragic renunciation, as much as it brings you back from that point and shows you the love that is at the heart of all possible universes, and rather than swallowing you in a story, this book I am talking about changes your heart and your mind and your being and your whole outlook and your life and makes your faith in God grow and deepen and makes you into a different person, part of a different more wonderful story that beforehand you didn't even have a clue existed, by changing your orientation from enemy of God, someone running away from God, into someone who loves God, someone who is walking with God, someone in whom God's Spirit dwells.

And the book I am talking about is the most amazing, miraculous book of all, the Bible.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Humiliation

Humiliation upon humiliation. For many of us in these days, that is our experience.
Men past a certain age, if they do not have 'status' find they are expendable, abusable,  blameable, particularly since it is perceived that men are the problem today. Older white males, who reputedly hold all the power, are particularly prone to being shamed these days.
But every human being knows what it is like to be humiliated, social shame is one of the common human experiences, a common experience of suffering that unites us all. It is not confined to any one group in society.
But how much worse it is to be humiliated by a fellow Christian.
This is the thing, though: Jesus sees what goes on. God is not blind or deaf or dumb.
And whatever small inconveniences you and I have suffered, whatever humiliations, whether perpetrated by fellow Christians or people who do not even claim to be Christians, it is surely nothing compared to the weight of the suffering and shame and humiliation Jesus endured when he died on the cross and bore the sins of the world.
How wonderful it is to know that Jesus bore our shame and humiliation as well as our sins! How wonderful that we don't have to bear it. This is such a great burden that He has taken on Himself.
Our shame, humiliation, and our sins as well.
And our enemies' sins. Don't let us forget that. Those who have humiliated us are included in the sacrifice Jesus made.
So let us pray for our enemies. They too are human beings, probably far more screwed up and confused and bound up in their sins than we have been, or else they would have more compassion and forgiveness towards our faults and peculiarities.
Let us pray that God sends His Holy Spirit on us afresh, while there is still time.





Wednesday, 1 November 2017

~ ~ ~ How to Choose a Wife ~ ~ ~

I have been praying about my marital status. It feels as though it is (almost past) time to get married.

And here's the thing. The person who is my first preference is not talking to me, no maybe worse, is actively hostile towards me, no maybe worse, would probably shoot me if she had a gun and I came anywhere near her, in fact anyone in her family.

I prayed yesterday that if God wanted me to keep waiting for her, which I have for (-however-long-it-is) then he would give me a sign (I'd see her driving, or she would contact me, or I would have a dream)

Anyhow, I did have a dream which had a clear application to this problem.

It was of a Christian minister whom I respect doing a translation of part of St Paul on a blackboard, which I was also translating into a song.

It went, "If I have an obsession, then if you share my obsession then..."

Well I woke up from the dream and immediately thought, "That's my criterion for choosing a wife!" i..e choose someone who shares my obsessions (with writing fiction for the purpose of reaching people for God, writing hymns from scripture)

Then I thought, "I wonder if there is a Bible verse like this."

I typed, "St Paul, if I have an obsession" into google and came up with a whole bunch of disconnected sites.

But then I typed "St Paul If I have..."

And this came up:

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge

I immediately recognised (as you probably would also)  I Corinthians 13:


If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
So here it is - in an oblique way my dream pointed me towards the perfect criterion for choosing a wife. Choose someone I love, someone who loves me, with this kind of love.

Clearly that is a gift.

Addendum: I know in myself I still love this person I was talking about before, in this way. But it's no use, is it, if she does not love me, no, not even enough to say "Hi" or "I'm sorry" or "I forgive you"?


Sunday, 22 October 2017

A Strange Conundrum, Of Chance & Statistics.

In my latest book (a book I am thinking I might not publish as Robert Denethon as it is a thriller and not fantasy or sci-fi) there is a running theme of chance, coincidence, statistics, these sorts of themes, running through it.

For instance the hero plays professional blackjack, which, believe it or not, is not really a game of chance but of statistical probability (in which the likelihood is of winning, providing the player counts the cards and bets correctly according to statistics).

There are other references to statistics as well in this book, such as the use of large sample sizes to manipulate people online and the power of computers and artificial intelligence to make this kind of manipulation possible. Such power that could make all sorts of false truth claims credible in the future.

But in keeping with this theme of chance, in the story a chance happening drives two characters apart - causes a misunderstanding - which they must resolve by forgiving and trusting the other, despite appearances. (I am not sure of the details of this yet, but it must be, for it fits the theme like a glove) Later, their trust despite appearances results in a resolution where it is clear that the problem really was an unlikely chance occurrence.

Here's the thing - coincidence, statistically unlikely events, chance - can result in things happening to us that appear to defy God's existence as well. Chance happenings may well cause us to doubt God's kindness.  

I am not even sure that the (true) story I am about to tell is an example of this. But it might be. 

At a stage in my life, I asked God for a sign that a particular person was the one for me. 

The thing about it is, that at this stage I asked for a sign for quite a bad reason really: I was not confident in God's guidance apart from that. I felt at times uncertain of my sense of God's will. I was not confident enough that God would guide me through His Holy Spirit's operation in my life. It was lack of faith, I confess to you dear reader, that made me ask for this sign. I have since repented of this and will never again ask for a sign: God's guidance through His Word and Holy Spirit will be enough for me, may God help me in this! 

Nonetheless, God really did give me the sign I asked Him for, at that time, and I rejoiced, not so much that this person was the one for me, but that God would communicate to me! 

The thing is, subsequent events all but disproved this. As far as I can see now, it is totally impossible in human terms that I will ever marry this person.

So what do I believe about this now? 

On the one hand, God gave the sign. There was no doubt about it - it was exactly the sign I asked for, and this being an improbability greater than winning the Lotto (I even calculated the odds at one time, a vain exercise I admit). 

What was it then?

As far as I can see I have three choices of how to view this event. 

1) I can believe that the sign was a meaningless chance event that misled me into believing that this person was for me, despite the fact that God could have prevented that misunderstanding. 

2) Or I can believe that the sign was real, a true sign from God, and it will be fulfilled in time despite the apparent impossibility of that ever happening. 

3) Or I can believe that the sign was real, but that I stuffed up God's plan through my sin and lack of faith and that it won't now be fulfilled. In which case I must leave this whole episode behind and seek my wife elsewhere, if indeed I am meant to be married. 

Which do I believe? 

Well, I believe the one that I believe of these three, and I believe that I believe that through God's guidance. And I also believe that I have to keep that result to myself for the moment. So I apologise dear reader, for I cannot share that with you, apparently I am not allowed to. 

But God knows which one I believe, and He knows which one is true. By His grace may they be one and the same! 

In any case, looking at the first option, perhaps the most discouraging one, or perhaps even the most realistic, the fact is even if this sign was a meaningless chance event where I was manipulated into believing something that wasn't true, I would still believe in God, for He will show His justice in the end, His goodness, despite chance events that might make us think he is not trustworthy. 

Think of Job, whose entire fortune was wiped out in a day - the epitome of chance events, unjustly harsh on someone whom the Bible says was innocent, a statistically unlikely event.  

Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (Job 1: 13-19) 

Of course, in Job's case, Satan (whom I think can be identified as the Leviathan at the end of the book of Job) is the one who actively causes such chance events to happen and who must ask God's permission to harm Job. But at the end of the book of Job, I think it is very clear from God's speech to Job that Satan is to be identified with the mighty dragon Leviathan - and God indicates that this dragon no more able ultimately to accomplish anything than a pet which is enchained by a ring through its nose, i.e. a house pet that God controls completely. 

In other words, ultimately God's speech at the end of the book of Job tells us that God is sovereign over all.

And I think the real message of Job, the reason why he repents in dust and ashes, is that in the end, knowing God and having that assurance that He knows us and wants us to know Him and trust Him, is wonderful, this knowledge of God in a personal way is vastly more wonderful to have than any earthly blessing, even marriage, even children and properties and health and dreams fulfilled and riches and a wonderful life and fame and musical performances and books published and acclaimed and anything else on earth that we might possess or desire. 

And such is the wonder of Jesus' coming on earth. Here in Jesus is God, coming to us, wanting to know each one of us, offering Himself for us and to us. And what a wonderful thing - that the Jewish Messiah came for us Gentiles as well, He came to give the gospel to all the nations, though in the end the scripture tells us that once the complete number of Gentiles has come into God's kingdom the whole Jewish nation will recognise Jesus also for who He is and will be saved as well (Romans 11:26).

And such a communication Jesus was to us, even dying to accomplish this: for Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins - the most awesome divine communication, a deed that will be praised even in heaven for eternity - praise Him! 


Enubiant

Enubiant - (adj.) cloudy, covered as with clouds - from Latin nubes “cloud”. Example: The sky was enubiant with witches cascading through the clouds.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dreams are peculiar. I sometimes get strange dreams, with peculiar, unknown words in them. Last night I dreamt of this word, "enubiant", which I am blogging about because (like the word dithingstump, meaning dishing stump, which I also dreamed and turned out to be probably a real Anglo Saxon word) "enubiant" turned out to have a credible etymology, at least, if it is certainly not a real word.

You see I dreamed I was writing the following phrase down on a piece of paper:

"The sky was enubiant with witches cascading through the clouds"

It kept going over and over in my head in the dream. In the dream I was sure 'enubiant' was a real word, that meant something like 'filled' only more intense, but when I woke up from the dream I wasn't sure any more that the word was real, so I wrote the phrase down so I could check in the morning.

Googling enubiant did not find that word, but with a few etymological searches of similar words I found the latin root, 'nubes'. Perhaps I read it somewhere, but I certainly don't remember doing so.

Interestingly, 'nebulous' is I believe from the same latin root.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

My friend Lord Jesus


All my sins would drag me down to Hades      
I know that I cannot earn God’s favour   
No achievement could lift me to heaven,
Except the cross, the cross of Christ my Saviour
I’ll praise you, hooray! my friend Lord Jesus
You’ve given me brand new hope, hooray! 
I’ll praise you, hooray! my risen Jesus 
Let me sing your praise all through the day. 

Jesus Christ alone is all I have, now, 
All my righteousness is Christ alone! 
All my sins are washed out in His blood now, 
All my wickedness, the cross atones.
I’ll praise you, hooray! my friend Lord Jesus
You’ve given me brand new hope, hooray! 
I’ll praise you, hooray! my risen Jesus 
Let me sing your praise all through the day.

Let the world accuse me, hate, and curse me! 
In my Lord I know I have my home.
I will praise the One whose death has loosed me 
From the bonds of sin and death and tomb.
I’ll praise you, hooray! my friend Lord Jesus
You’ve given me brand new hope, hooray! 
I’ll praise you, hooray! my risen Jesus 
Let me sing your praise all through the day.

How wonderful the Gospel is!

I've said a lot of rubbish in this blog, possibly, but here's something I could never resile from saying: how wonderful the gospel of Jesus Christ is! 

It really is good news. That we don't have to be good, to achieve anything, to do anything, to earn favour with God. That we don't have to come before God lying to ourselves, saying, "Well that thing I did beforehand, that wasn't really me, it was because I was tired or tempted or whatever other excuse I can think of," no, because all our sins are forgiven, we are completely forgiven. That we don't have to achieve anything or to be Biblically all knowing or achieve anything by doing good works or composing or playing music or writing or helping people or (etc etc insert own temptations to self-manufactured righteousness) because Jesus has already done it all for me on the cross. 

How we Christians ought to read the Bible ~!  It would cure so many of our spiritual ills. How we ought to spend more time in prayer! It would bring us closer to Christ. But only when we realise that these aren't 'good' things to do in terms of earning any of God's favour - we're not achieving anything in terms of righteousness by doing them because it's all been done by Jesus on the cross. 

It's such a wonderful mystery really - that God gave undeserved righteousness for us through Jesus' suffering - we don't have our own righteousness - only can have Jesus' righteousness - Jesus' goodness... 



Monday, 16 October 2017

Left Wing, Right Wing or neither?

Right wing or Left wing? Or Neither?

A sensible political philosophy would recognise that human beings tend to exploit one another, and that people will take advantage of weaknesses in the system to exploit one another.

Like the Jewish Torah which explicitly tells judges not to show favouritism to the rich or the poor, a sensible set of laws would regulate both employers and employees, men and women, the rich and the poor, etc etc.

For, quite often the perceived victim in any situation can become the persecutor if the balance of power is redressed too greatly. There is not one set of human beings that is by nature more wicked than any other, there is no group that is by nature an exploiter of others; rather, everyone has this tendency to exploit and take advantage. Good laws would stop evil behaviour from any quarter.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Lack of Forgiveness

What I always feared
Was the lack of forgiveness
So I did something to push her away
Perhaps I thought, if she can forgive me,
Then I will know
That later, when I stuff up, she will still stay.
I fumbled it all and I stuffed it all up, my dear cupid,
So she left me behind.
In my stupid is sense, in my sense is my stupid, I think you will find.

What you love

At the end you never love the pride,
The adequacies, the perfections, the abilities,
Or the greatness, completeness or the beauty,
The handsomeness, the incredible virilities.
(Well you might at the start.)
But the faults, the foibles, the blind spots,
The disabilities, the fumbles, the problems,
The little habits, those annoying silly things, these
Are what you miss,
The very things that rend your heart
When that one is gone.
That kind of love goes on and on and on.

Intensity and Sacrifice

Like the sun emerging through a cloud
She is a light in my cosmos, perfectly lovely,
As pure (she appears) as the sun in a shroud
Showing the light beyond what we see
Beauty and gentleness combined in one
Loveliest sunbeam, sublime as the sun.

But like a wandering traveller at night
Who sees in the distance a tavern at rest
I wonder, should I walk on to that light?
For every welcome is also a test.
When I show my faults, will the portrait be marred?
Will she find in me reasons for her face to go hard?

I once knew a girl perfect as starlight
Moments with her were like Eden again
I danced with her, for she danced me, a far light
Of hope burning brightly, but then, but then,
I in my moments of stress and tension
Pushed her away with grand apprehension.

She also had problems. But if she returned
I would love her and cherish, forever and still,
Oh, how my heart within my chest burned.
But now she is gone and with her, my will.
Intensity clangs like a wedding bell ringing
Peace is the sound of the one you love singing.

And love is the silence between every moment
While I dive in your eyes and you dive in mine
Sacrifice, burning, like a bright comet
Is the one true crossing, the surest love sign,
I waited for you, for that was my cross.
If you don't come, it will be your loss.

Dragon Den! My new book available soon.

Marwe Dragon Den will be available soon on Amazon. Here is the cover:

An excerpt from the beginning of the book... 

Marwe hid in the shadows of a huge pillar-shaped stalagmite that stood beside her like a gnarled, watchful sentry. A jutting cliff curled over her, its reflection a disturbing shape in the pool of water beside her.
She didn’t look up.
What if the dragon looked back at her?
She moved her head and could see her reflection in the pool from a certain angle. A ragged looking, tall-for-her-age ten-or-eleven-or-twelve year old brown-skinned girl with large eyes, wearing a warm coat over pants and a shirt that were little more than rags, and no shoes looked back at her. She wiggled her toe and watched the ripples spread. The ground beneath her feet was hard, uneven stone, but she had never owned shoes, so her calloused soles hardly even noticed it - not like rich folk with their soft, sensitive feet - but she was just wasting time thinking about this stuff.
She peered into the cavern tentatively.
Was the dragon home?
No way of knowing. She couldn’t see any further than ten or fifteen feet.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Reunion (Flash fiction)

"No. I'm married now."
"I thought you said you'd wait for me? That when you died, all the dust of your bones would still love me?"
"Oh, you actually heard that, did you? Well, I did wait for you, for three years. But you made it abundantly clear you didn't want any kind of connection with me."
"Well, that was what my friends and relatives were all telling me to do."
"Well you certainly went along with it well enough didn't you?"
"They convinced me..."
"But you told me it was what you thought as well. Waiting any longer for you seemed like flogging a dead horse."
"You could always leave... the one you're with."
"Why?"
"Because I love you. I realise that now. I didn't realise that then."
"Yes, but you were quite happy to let me languish for all that time, with me not even knowing that you were slightly interested, not even knowing you cared at all."
"I read your blog every day. That's how much I love you. Every single day. I saw all your secret messages to me, read every one of them."
"But you never let me know that you loved me when it might have counted for something."
"If you really loved me, you would leave your partner and come to me." (sobbing)
"No, I'm committed now. Divorce is not an option. If you had really loved me, you would not have left me waiting for you, for so long, without even a single 'hello' or even any acknowledgement of my existence. You had your chance. It's over now.This relationship will never, ever be. Don't even waste your time fantasizing about it." (Exit)

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Passengers - What is love?

Many reviewers didn't like it. I liked it - it's a neat philosophical exploration of what real love is. In a way it's Beauty and the Beast in space.
Here's the thing - his hibernation pod has failed and he is lonely, so he wakes her up from hibernation, ending her chances of reaching the colony planet and fulfilling her ambitions of staying for a year then returning to Earth. The first third of the movie, after he wakes her up, waiting for the inevitable moment when it must be revealed to her that he woke her up and she didn't wake up by accident is excruciating. I found this part hard to bear, as their happiness at this stage was all based on a lie.
But the plot is very neat actually. Strangely enough the real love story follows in the last third of the movie. '
Spoiler alert - don't read on if you don't want to have a fairly broad idea of what the movie's about.
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
But at that point we find out what Passengers is really about: real love is demonstrated by sacrifice. How much someone sacrifices for another shows how much they love that person.
But then again, perhaps the plot is too neat - perhaps the opportunity to make the ultimate sacrifice is too available for both characters. It might imply love can only exist where both have made the ultimate sacrifice.
(The situation in real life is perhaps more complex, where one partner sometimes sacrifices more for the other.) (But this is what grace is from the human point of view - accepting the sacrifice another makes on your behalf graciously.) (From the divine point of view grace is making that sacrifice.) 
Thus the husband's role in a marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33 is to make that sacrifice, a more demanding role, in the image of the divine, and the wive's role is to submit graciously - i.e. to accept the sacrifices the husband makes for her, graciously, as the whole Christian community must accept Christ's sacrifice on our behalf.
But then again - maybe I'm wrong. In the movie Aurora makes the sacrifice of all her own dreams, her own self-willed future, for the sake of his company and companionship. This is precisely the sacrifice each individual Christian must make - of our own self-will - in order to enjoy the companionship of God in Jesus.
Even his waking her up might be seen as allegorical of God's creation - God wakes each of us up in this world without presumably giving us any choice about the matter.
All in all a thought provoking movie, that I think is better than many of the professional reviewers have said.



Passengers - and following the rules, or not.

I am watching Passengers, a movie about a man who wakes up from cryogenic sleep accidentally on an interstellar journey to colonize a new planet, half way through a journey that is taking 180 years. They are 90 years from their destination.
It is quite a philosophical movie, actually, and I'm a little more than half way through.
What is impressive about it is the perceptiveness of the film's depiction of AIs. There is an android barman who talks to him, telling him, "No one ever wakes up early in cryo sleep." But he says, "Then how come I'm here talking to you?" "You're right. It is impossible that you are here." Then continues talking to him, serving him, as if that's perfectly fine.
It is a perfectly accurate depiction of the way an AI would behave, for it is precisely this type of paradox that an automatic system is incapable of noticing.
This was Kurt Gödel's perception, actually, when he critiqued Russell's Principia Mathematica in the early 20th century (an attempt to define all mathematics completely); Gödel produced the Incompleteness Theorem, which points out that the paradoxical type of statement, "This statement is not true", cannot be excluded from any complete logical system.
This has a bearing on morals, actually. No system of logic or laws could ever totally describe moral human behaviour in every circumstance.
After a long time of living alone, with only machines for company and pointless activities to do, but no one to share them with, the space man in Passengers finds his loneliness crippling. It is then he has an agonizing decision to make - will he wake up someone else?
For at the end of the day, it is the fact that there is someone there, that makes all the difference. i.e. a machine loving you is not enough, because you know that it has been programmed to do this. A person's love is infinitely more valuable, because there is actually a person in there, making that decision, choosing to love.
Following the rules is never enough, because someone who followed all the rules would still just be a machine. It is love, eventually, that transcends rules, and is ultimately the only proof that we are human beings and not automata.
~~~an afterthought - this is why "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is the most powerful summary of morals - it puts at the centre the personhood of both people.


Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Red Pill, & Wonder Woman

Watched two movies today. First, let me say Wonder Woman was brilliant, really enjoyed it. It was a great realisation of the DC comics legend, complete with the god Aries being a character in the story.

Then I couldn't sleep tonight so I watched "The Red Pill - a Feminist's Journey Into The Men's Rights Movement", on Amazon where it is free. I was going to watch half of it then go to bed, but it was so gripping and moving that I kept watching till 2:30am!

Here it is on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/movie/the-red-pill/id1195401070

It was also a brilliant movie, one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. The film-maker, Cassie Jaye, a feminist, decided to do a documentary on the Men's Rights Movement to see what makes these men (and women!) tick. She begins believing these activists to be misogynist, patriarchal, misguided, hate-filled. (Previously she had done movies about feminist issues, gay rights, etc etc)

But as the film progresses she changes her mind. How refreshing, actually, to see someone turn from outrage into compassion, to see someone open-minded enough to allow their own assumptions to be challenged! What is commendable is that she is simply concerned about truth, and willing to go where the truth leads. She checks all the statistics and puts the criticisms into context, it is really a very good documentary.

I think everyone should watch this movie. I would challenge anyone who thinks they are an unshakeable feminist to watch it and not find that it changes their views.

It really questions many of the assumptions our society holds. One excellent point the activists made was about language - a fireman has to be called a firefighter to prevent little girls from being daunted by the unjustly gendered label. But in feminism, the source of all good is called "feminism" (a word that basically means, female) and the source of all evil is "patriarchy" (a word that basically means, male) - so how come there are no gender implications for this type of language?

Unfortunately its not available on netflix which many people have: 


Here is where it is available: 


It’s a 2014 movie so may also be available in local video store. 



Wednesday, 27 September 2017