The Apocalypse Codex

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Just finished this book by Charles Stross.  I am rather fond of this series.  While I’m no spy-thriller fan I find the over-the-top humour of this series makes me giggle.  I consider it a documentary in the same way that I consider The IT Crowd to be a documentary.

Several new characters are put into play.  Most interesting to me is the introduction of the local vicar and his wife.  They are introduced as sympathetic characters.  I will watch out for them in future titles in this series as they are enmeshed into the slowly developing supernatural tragedy in nine volumes that this series promises to be.   They will be challenged as the Elder Gods awaken to the universe again.  People will be broken.  How they respond will be interesting to watch.

Haven’t seen any Presbyterians and/or Calvinists mentioned without being coupled with Fundamentalists.  Although the aforesaid cults are mentioned as owning secret doctrines allying them with the Deep Ones as god’s elect.  This suggests interesting ideas about the secret history of living in Dunedin, New Zealand: closest city to R’lyeh; settled by Presbyterians; their close relationship with the University of Otago…lots of suggestions there!

As well considering the manipulations of religion by supernatural agencies it looks like Stross has put into effect his musings on a Strangecraft scenario, a belief by Strangelovian deep government agencies that they can survive the intervention of Lovecraftian great powers who are indifferent to human survival.  There will be consequences from this emerging in future titles in this series.

Ethnic Flames of the Burning Bush by Tokerau Joseph

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tokerauRev.  Tokerau Joseph is the Presbyterian Church’s newest Doctorate.  He completed his Ph.D. this year.  His accomplishment was celebrated by his Cook Island community and his Church community at First Church of Otago.  These communities are not exclusive.  They overlap each other in his ministry.  His thesis is a study of the ethnic communities in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand at their broadest level: European, Maori, Polynesian, and Asian.  Each community participates in the Church’s symbolism of the Burning Bush, none of us are consumed in the fire.  I am reminded of a thought I had recently after a sermon: Our Unity is in Perichoresis, the dynamic dance that can never end in existence.

What sort of body is the Church?  What are Presbyterian congregations like in our sect?  We allow for ethnic representation from congregations with significantly large ethnic groups represented within them to our regional courts.  There is no ruling in the Book of Order for representation within the congregational courts.

International studies define a multi-cultural congregation as one where no ethnic group is greater than 80% of the membership.  The total membership of the sample surveyed in this study was 71% European.  However 83% of the congregations are homogenous.  Presbyterian congregations are more homogenous than the societies in which their churches are planted.  Moreover Pacific Island congregations may be homogenous to one Island group.  All of the diverse multi-cultural congregations in the Presbyterian Church include European New Zealander groups.

The clergy usually share the same ethnic matching as the majority of their congregation.  At the time of the survey two of the Pacific Island Churches had retired European ministers serving in an interim ministry, which they valued.

People go to the services to which they are aligned, most people belonged to a congregation and a minister to which they match ethnically.  Ministers relate to the same ethnicity in their theological or ministry training, and their congregations in ministry.  They continue the same experience from the congregations from which they came into ministry.

43% of ministers expected to work in majority-matched congregations; 70% of them did.

15% of ministers expected to work in diverse congregations; 15% of them did.

6% of ministers expected to work in minority-matched congregations; 12% of them did.

We believe the church to be diverse.  In reality it is homogenous.  This is a challenge to our confession: One Cup, One Bread, One Body.  Grace becomes important in the life of multi-cultural congregations like First Church of Otago with European and Pacific Island congregations.  There has to be room to talk to each other.  It involves hard work.

What is Just? – A Question by Darrin Belousek

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This is the origin of quarrels and complaints – when either equals have unequal shares, or unequals equal shares.

Aristotle

Jesus set aside the purity code when it came to advice on what he ate and who he ate with.  When he set his face to Jerusalem he set aside the purity code when it came to people.  He did not avoid travelling through the Samaritan land unlike other Judeans who would go around it in order to be righteous for participating in the feast.

Lend as though the Jubilee year will not come!

Belousek cited the example of the parables as examples of justice.  I was reminded of an observation made on Malcolm Gordon’s blog One Voice, “the first person Jesus names in his parables is usually the person he wants his listeners to relate too”.  Imagine the difference it would make if we read the parables like this:

The kingdom of god is like this, let’s suppose you’re a man on the road to Jericho when you get beaten by bandits, stripped, and left for dead by the side of the road…

The kingdom of god is like this, let’s suppose you’re a father of two sons, and your younger son comes to you and says “Give me my share of your life-savings now”…

The kingdom of god is like this, let’s suppose you’re the master of a vineyard, and you go out looking for workers for the day…

What if the parables don’t tell us about god, they tell us about how Jesus expects us to act and respond to his call?  Does this become more shocking?

And then the Epistles talk about the justice of god and the faithfulness of Jesus revealed on the cross of Christ to the believers.  I was interested in the word for believers which is ‘the faithing’.  We become, quite literally, the trustees.  Suddenly the whole action of salvation takes on a unity.

There were other things said.  These are the thoughts that inspired me to think.

Meals for Me

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I live alone.  I make my meals for my convenience.  I had defrosted a tray of three pieces of schnitzel overnight.  Back from a visit to the library I cooked them in my electric pan.  Living in a studio flat it is easier to cook in my room than to go downstairs to use the kitchen.    I had no onions to cook with them but there was still the debris of them in the pan from my last dish.  I had washed out a jar of Vegemite and kept the water.  That was added to the pan for flavour.  When the meat had browned I added some soy sauce.

I cooked a couple of hashbrowns in the griller and cut up some vegetables to heat in a bowl in the microwave, a bit of capsicum, a mushroom, a couple of florets of brocolli.  I topped it up with some frozen winter vegetables from a bag.  When the hashbrowns were ready I served them sprinkled with cayenne, then the vegetables sprinkled with ginger and spread with sour cream.  This is common practice for me to do vegetables.  I served a slice of schnitzel beside the vegetables covered with liquids from the pan as a sauce.

The same dish will follow for the next two nights.