Lenting Alcohol

Lent? Really?

One of the things that I have been realising recently is the immense depth and richness that can be found in some of the age old traditions of the church. It seems that there is a global resurgence (at least amongst Millenials) to reclaim some of these traditions that our parents have rejected. I guess my one caveat is that I write from a predominantly ‘low church’ (e.g., baptist) perspective, since that is all I have really known first hand, so I am happy to be proven wrong by others who have grown up in ‘high church’ circles.

My realisation initially began with my exploration into theology, particularly reading some of the writings of the early church fathers. However, my latest exploration has been into the practice of Lent.

For me, Lent used to be something that ‘catholics’ did, and (ashamedly) I thought it was to do with a warped understanding of penance and grace. However, the more I reflected on my own baptist ecclesiology, the more I realised that I was getting more and more frustrated with the ‘candy floss’ that church had become. I totally believe we have traded the depth, mystery and richness of the traditions for a clinical, cold, and shallow version of church. Baptism and The Eucharist becomes ‘merely a symbol,’ our songs are all about ourselves and generally are musically the equivalent of pop songs. The preaching is often about changing behaviour, or how to be a better christian.

So, to me, Lent seemed like a great place to start to reclaim some of the depth that exists in the great christian tradition.

Okay, so why alcohol?

I decided to give up alcohol for the period of Lent for a few reasons. Part of the thinking behind Lent is to give up something that you enjoy, and something that you can legitimately go without. This then highlights to you (during Lent) the place that this has in your life. Do you miss it? Do you crave it?

For me, I enjoy alcohol – not the ‘boozer’ type of enjoyment, but I actually legitimately enjoy the fine craft behind a good wine, a craft beer, or a single malt whiskey. I enjoy the flavours and matching various drinks to various foods, tastes, and occasions. However, I also wanted to “make sure” that I could go without it.

This seemed like a great thing to give up. Not only would I be conducting a mini-experiment on myself, but I also firmly believed that the process would deepen my relationship with God.

So, how has it been?

I am now almost a month into Lent and I can definitively say that it has been fine. I have gone to bars, restaurants, had dinner parties with friends, and maintained my normal rhythm and routine of life – that is to say, I haven’t shyed away from places and events where alcohol is normall consumed. I have been content with my Lemon Lime and Bitters.

There have also been times when I have definitely felt like a cold craft beer – especially after a long week at the office, or spending a few hours in the sea. And a few fantastic meals I have had recently haven’t been quite as fantastic without the glass of wine to match. However, I have totally enjoyed the process. It has made me appreciate the ‘luxury’ of having alcohol, it has made me really think about why I like alcohol, it has also brought me closer to God – because in those moments when I really feel like a beer, I remember why I am doing this and the immensely rich tradition that stands behind it.

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Life as a Story?

An Epic Tale

Does this video ring true with you? I know that when I first saw this DVD series, I was quite captivated by the concept. Life as a story? It sounded intriguing, and yet, remarkably simple at the same time. In fact it wasn’t really a big stretch to think about my life as a story. And, the more that I explored this idea, I found that 1) quite a number of other people were discussing and talking about it, and 2) it actually wasn’t a ‘new idea.’ However what really captivated my imagination was the fact that Eldredge, but also others like him, were talking about The Bible as A Story – a single, large Epic. A story that has spanned (and outlasted) thousands of years, thousands of governments, political structures, revolutions. A story that still marches onwards to an absolutely magnificent end, undeterred by the twists and turns of history. Since I grew up in Sunday school, I was very aware that the Bible contained lots of stories, but I had never really thought about the whole thing, from beginning to end, as being a continuous story. In fact, when I really thought about it hard, I wasn’t even sure that I could place the biblical events in order. I knew of the stories, and the supposed ‘lesson,’ but they were discrete units that really didn’t join together in any meaningful way for me. And so, like much of christendom I think, I (by default) viewed the Bible as a random collection of events, stories, and morals.

Just a tool?

It was about this time as well that I took a ‘Christology’ paper at Carey Baptist College. What really blew my mind in this paper was the anemic and watered down version of Christ that I had somehow acquired over my life. I suddenly realised that there was a much bigger story at work even in the life of Christ. Unfortunately, my understanding of Christ was actually purely instrumental. I realised that in my version of Christ’s story, I had lost the first three chapters and the last chapter – and so the story didn’t really make any sense anymore. In this corrupted version of the Christ story, I saw Christ as merely a means to an end – an instrument – sent only to die, to fix Adam’s mistake thousands of years earlier. However the more I studied Christ’s life, and the more I thought about how this fits as a big story, I realised that there was indeed a MUCH bigger story at work. I even drew this diagram to explain it:

At the same time that all of this was going on, I was becomingly increasingly frustrated with the way ‘Church’ continues to be done in Western countries. Unfortunately, it seems that the Church has really sold out to the dominant story of consumerism in the west, and now, Churches are producers and dispensers of religious goods and services.

It didn’t take long for me to put 1+1 together and realise that the way we had been viewing Christ, the way we had been using and reading scripture (as a treasure trove ready to be mined of ‘objective truths,’ rather than as a narrative), created a church that had lost its sense of the big story and it’s place in it.

A much bigger story

The exciting thing for me was actually two-fold. You see, I had come to realise that the church was (unwittingly?) making me the highpoint in the story – it came down to my personal relationship with God, it came down to my behaviours, it was about how I lived my life in the world or in the workplace. I needed to find God’s will for my life, and avoid the world and it’s dirtiness. However, when I started to think about history as a narrative that God is directing – I suddenly realised it’s not about me!

God has been at work in history since it’s inception, moving history along to it’s divinely appointed end, the culmination of the plan that was started in Genesis 1:1 – not a return to Eden, but something even greater. When the New Jerusalem will be present on this earth, and Christ, the man, the first fruits, the ultimate human will rule from Jerusalem. What is more, what I do now, counts – because I am participating with God’s work, I am going along for the ride.

The millennials

The more I listen to my generation (the Millennials), the more I realise that all we really want is to have a sense of purpose. We have seen our parents (and our grandparents) slog their guts out 9-5, 5 days a week, 49-50 weeks of the year, for 40-50 years, many of them hating it the whole time. Millennials look at that and say “Why do something you don’t love?” We want to believe in what we do – so much so that volunteerism is at an all time high amongst Millennials. We want to belong to something, something we can believe in, something that gives our lives purpose because it is bigger than us. Something that is the same size as you doesn’t really give you a deep sense of purpose – because, let’s face it, you came up with the idea and you could stop it at any point. Things that provide meaning and purpose need to go on without us, and despite us.

This is where I think the church has really been missing the boat. We have watered down the grand story of God’s actions throughout history, and the imagination gripping tale of his mission and his unrelentless love towards humanity into “a random collection of stories, morals, and good advice.” We have made Christ into a placid whipping boy ‘who died for the sins of the world’ and then fades from view. We have made the Bible about us, and we have made the church into a dispenser of religious goods and services. No wonder Millennials are leaving the church in droves. Give us something bigger than ourselves to belong to, to devote our lives to, to believe in. Give us something that resembles a movement, not an institution that stubbornly continues to indoctrinate people with dualism. Give us authenticity.

Until then, you will find us partnering with God elsewhere – in the movements that are actually making a difference in this world.

“The biggest challenge we are going to face is a generation, who have spent their entire lives building something, letting go and allowing [Millennials] to come in and change it”

– Sam Johnson, Young New Zealander of the Year 2011

iPhone Apps I Recommend

UPDATE: It seems the icons didn’t come across :/ I will work on getting these posted soon. In the meantime, here’s a PDF version

So, I have been an avid iPhone user for about 1 year now. I have amassed quite a collection of apps, and given many a test drive only to delete them. The following is my list of ones that I recommend (as of August 2011!).

Apps I recommend:

Name Icon Link
Twitter pastedGraphic.pdf View In iTunes
Agenda pastedGraphic_1.pdf View In iTunes
Foursquare pastedGraphic_2.pdf View in iTunes
Google+ pastedGraphic_3.pdf id447119634
Facebook pastedGraphic_4.pdf http://getap.ps/+284882215
Wikiamo pastedGraphic_5.pdf http://getap.ps/+290882494
Evernote pastedGraphic_6.pdf http://getap.ps/+290882494
Consume pastedGraphic_7.pdf http://getap.ps/+337064413
Holy Bible pastedGraphic_8.pdf http://getap.ps/+291877741
Find NZ pastedGraphic_9.pdf http://getap.ps/+311117200
Shop Savvy pastedGraphic_10.pdf http://getap.ps/+338828953
Yellow pastedGraphic_11.pdf http://getap.ps/+325450909
Gas Cubby pastedGraphic_12.pdf http://getap.ps/+338828953
Faces pastedGraphic_13.pdf http://getap.ps/+338828953
Flashlight** pastedGraphic_14.pdf http://getap.ps/+383722266
Instagram pastedGraphic_15.pdf http://getap.ps/+389801252
TradeMe pastedGraphic_16.pdf http://getap.ps/+392567559
GeorgeFM pastedGraphic_17.pdf http://getap.ps/+299731204
Waze pastedGraphic_18.pdf http://getap.ps/+323229106
RunKeeper pastedGraphic_19.pdf http://getap.ps/+300235330
Shazam pastedGraphic_20.pdf http://getap.ps/+284993459
Skype pastedGraphic_21.pdf http://getap.ps/+304878510
Wunderlist pastedGraphic_22.pdf http://getap.ps/+406644151
Do5 pastedGraphic_23.pdf http://getap.ps/+415938059
ReaddleDocs pastedGraphic_24.pdf http://getap.ps/+285053111
Viber pastedGraphic_25.pdf http://getap.ps/+382617920
Dropbox pastedGraphic_26.pdf http://getap.ps/+327630330
GrocerySmart pastedGraphic_27.pdf http://getap.ps/+415326784
Hello Vino pastedGraphic_28.pdf http://getap.ps/+318447346
Menus pastedGraphic_29.pdf http://getap.ps/+382371588
Subway pastedGraphic_30.pdf id380354815
VoucherMob pastedGraphic_31.pdf http://getap.ps/+394489809
Rowmote pastedGraphic_32.pdf http://getap.ps/+300265786
Remote pastedGraphic_33.pdf http://getap.ps/+284417350
LinkedIn pastedGraphic_34.pdf http://getap.ps/+288429040
NotifyMe2There is a lite (free) version available somewhere pastedGraphic_35.pdf http://getap.ps/+319840387
Flicks pastedGraphic_36.pdf http://getap.ps/+338053302
Tap Forms Database Lite pastedGraphic_37.pdf http://getap.ps/+332203469
Dealshrimp pastedGraphic_38.pdf http://getap.ps/+367220505
TV listing pastedGraphic_39.pdf http://getap.ps/+334528998
Speakers (Airfoil) pastedGraphic_40.pdf http://getap.ps/+311357351
SCVNGR pastedGraphic_41.pdf http://getap.ps/+323248984
Marco Friend Locator pastedGraphic_42.pdf http://getap.ps/+392988859
iKiva pastedGraphic_43.pdf http://getap.ps/+431378735
NatureSpace pastedGraphic_44.pdf http://getap.ps/+312618509
IMDB pastedGraphic_45.pdf http://getap.ps/+342792525
StumbleUpon pastedGraphic_46.pdf http://getap.ps/+386244833
Instapaper pastedGraphic_47.pdf http://getap.ps/+288545208
Kindle pastedGraphic_48.pdf http://getap.ps/+302584613
Dictionary pastedGraphic_49.pdf http://getap.ps/+308750436
Sleep Cycle pastedGraphic_50.pdf http://getap.ps/+320606217
Bump pastedGraphic_51.pdf http://getap.ps/+305479724
Ispeedy pastedGraphic_52.pdf http://getap.ps/+329939889
AKL airport pastedGraphic_53.pdf http://getap.ps/+333250619
TripIt pastedGraphic_54.pdf http://getap.ps/+311035142
TripDeck pastedGraphic_55.pdf http://getap.ps/+338048730
Alarm Clock pastedGraphic_56.pdf http://getap.ps/+332064280
iStudiez lite pastedGraphic_57.pdf http://getap.ps/+322439186
Find iPhone** pastedGraphic_58.pdf http://getap.ps/+376101648
TransitTimes pastedGraphic_59.pdf http://getap.ps/+423455205
Recco pastedGraphic_60.pdf http://getap.ps/+406020418
Good Reads pastedGraphic_61.pdf http://getap.ps/+355833469
TrafficAKL pastedGraphic_62.pdf http://getap.ps/+401575740 Or View In iTunes
Pano pastedGraphic_63.pdf http://getap.ps/+293709029
Entertainment pastedGraphic_64.pdf http://getap.ps/+427086820

Disappearing Images!

[UPDATE  July 2011]:
I talked to my hosting company, who told me that they would look into it. They discovered they had a setting enabled called ‘web page compression’. After they disabled this, it has been completely resolved.

Ok, so after months of frustration, I am still no closer to solving this issue.

Here’s the back story:

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I am currently working on a project called “2ndcity”. Part of my role was to create the website. This worked well, until the site grew to a point where we made the call to shift to a (wordpress) multisite install. The reason for this was because we had three very separate target audiences for our product, and we wanted to customise each site towards each particular audience.

So, I made the transition to:

[ROOT SITE] – http://2ndcity.co.nz

[USERS SITE] – http://2ndcity.co.nz/users

[PARENTS SITE] – http://2ndcity.co.nz/parents

[CHURCHES SITE] – http://2ndcity.co.nz/churches

The transition went well, after following some helpful tutorials both on the wordpress codex and on some other blogs. My trouble started when I began to add ‘featured images’ to my posts on any of the sub-folder sites. The image would load, but then as soon as the page finished loading, the image would ‘break’.

I soon realised that this was a Google Chrome only issue, as it was not occurring in any other browser. I also realised that I was not alone, and many other people were having some version of this issue.

So, after months of detective work, I am closer, but the actual issue is not solved. Here is what I have deduced so far:

  • This is not a TimThumb.php issue, since this is also happening to any image that I upload.
  • If I reduce the image size (say to 150×150) then on some sites, it works (and the images persist). On others, some images persist, some disappear, and on others none persist.
  • The image is definitely “there”, since opening the broken image icon in a new tab reveals the image, as well as the fact that it appears in other browsers.
  • The file type makes no difference
  • The image file size makes no difference
  • Clearing the cache makes no difference
  • Removing “content-length’ from the headers makes no difference.
  • I don’t believe that this is a htaccess error, as all permalinks are working, the images are there, and, once again, it works in all other browsers.
  • I have disabled CSS and JS, and it makes no difference
  • The google chrome inspector says “failed to load resource”
Obviously this will be a post that hopefully has a [RESOLVED] tag on it one day, but if anyone out there knows of something I may not have tried, feel free to let me know!
[UPDATE 15 Jun 2011]:
I am beginning to think that it still may be an issue with TimThumb. I think that perhaps it is related to the zoom/crop function, because today I uploaded an image that was W235 x H259 (px). My Timthumb crop settings were set to W306 x H191. This meant that the top and bottom of the image was cropped (based on the Timthumb function). The image disappeared. I then changed the crop settings / dimensions to W306 x H291, and the image persisted.

Tunerfish

>So I discovered Tunerfish today and it seems interesting. I am quite interested in these new apps that are offering 'badges' in reward for certain tasks. I love Foursquare, (and I dabble in GoWalla) and so no wonder! Other examples of services who are 'incentivising' include Yelp, and Hollrr – i wonder how many more startups will hop on this bandwagon? 

While it certainly has a certain buzz about it, it seems the catch is motivating users to stay and to continue to use the service – there needs to be some point, some added value. I was quite attracted to Hollrr when I first discovered it, however I must admit that I haven't really used it lately because there is little enticement except for some badges.


Anyway, anyone else using tunerfish? I wonder how this will fare?

I plan to update this as i progress and answer my own questions. Consider this an experiment!

Screen shot 2010-10-12 at 10.45.22 PM.png

Skies of Glory

>

So I have gone and joined the herd and become slave to the latest addictive iPhone game – Skies of Glory. What I like about this game is the full use of the iphone accelerometer, as well as the great UI, theming, and game play. There are multiple missions, game styles, etc. I guess this game reminds me of my days growing up playing “Retalliator” with my Dad (as his wingman!) on our old 286. I guess since then i have always had a penchant for Flight / Dogfight type games.

However what I really like about this game is the business model that the makers have employed. As was mentioned over at Mashable recently, this game employs the “add-on” model. You see, the actual game is free, thus eliminating any barriers to mass adoption and spread. This also means that the user can experience enough of the game to really “get into it” (a.k.a – get addicted!). The way that SGN (the makers) make a living however, is that you can then buy ‘add-ons’ for the game – either a new level, a new setting, a new plane, new weapons, new game modes. Some may call this sneaky and be turned off by it, however I think that this is really clever. Not only does it encourage wide adoption, it means that SGN is able to make more than 0.99USD from each player. Also however, it means that this is a thoroughly user-centric model – you buy what you want, when you want it.

If that wasn’t enough, the makers have also added the social element – and not just multiplayer – but you can also join the twitter and facebook community, where there are prizes, competitions, updates, and just general banter around the game. Good fun!

I thoroughly recommend trying it out!