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.

Don’t Give Up On Me Now

Ben Harper is definitely one of my heroes. I am working on owning everything he has ever made (i’m nearly there!). I find him totally authentic, but at the same time musically pleasing. His music style is true to who he is, but ready to experiment, to grow, to evolve. His lyrics are profound – both in the content but also the context – that is, the way he structures the sentences. I think the combination of the profound lyrics and the moving melodies, plus the things that Ben stands for make him one of my heroes.

I hope you enjoy his latest song 🙂

My trip to Tiritiri Matangi

Last weekend my wife and I were lucky enough to visit Tiritiri Matangi thanks to a GrabOne voucher. I had heard a lot about “Tiri” but never been so was very keen.

During the ferry trip there, we came across a pod of dolphins – there must have been around 20 to 30 of them – and they were very keen to play with the boat! It was an awesome sight – although pretty hard to get on camera, they move so quick.

Tiri totally delivered! We signed up for a guided tour with a very knowledgable guide, Derek, who took us on a 2.5 hour exploration of the island, pointing out the flora and the fauna. I was most impressed with Dereks level of knowledge regarding not just bird song but also their taxonomy, and ecological specifics. In addition, Derek was also very knowledgeable on the plant life – what species and family they were from, their “siblings” and “cousins”, and their characteristics. Not bad for a volunteer!

After our guided tour, we decided to do some further exploring ourselves. We headed round to the north eastern side of the island, where we saw some impressive cliffs and land formations, as well as a whole swarm of Tui! Not a normal sight, even for someone like me who grew up in the NZ bush.

We were at Tiri for about 5 hours. There was still plenty (perhaps even the majority of the island, actually) we didn’t explore, but the guided tour was quite slow – not a complaint though! We learnt so much from Derek. Next time though, we will probably go for an explore by ourselves instead of taking the tour. You can also stay the night at Tiri, in the “bunk house” – which would be a pretty awesome experience.

Anyway, I have added some of my photos here – nothing fantastic in terms of my camera work – but hopefully it gives you a sense of some of what Tiri has to offer!

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Blogging.

So,

Just got my blog up and running after a long hiatus. Still really trying to work out exactly how i am going to use this part of my online presence. I am slowly feeling more and more compelled to start actually blogging, rather than just sharing as I do on facebook. As you will notice below, thats a little bit of what i have started here. I hope to find a happy medium. I enjoy writing, and so I hope that blogging will help me get better!

Expect to see more!

>How to lead a scammer / phisher on!

NB – I have reblogged this from another blogger, and unfortunately cannot find the original! It’s still a great piece and should live on, but i claim no credit for authorship!


Phishing — where scammers attempt to steal sensitive information like account passwords and credit card numbers by posing as trusted sources or web sites — is all too common. Fraudulent e-mails and sites are best avoided altogether, but if you’re feeling particularly “vigilante,” there are a number of ways you can ruin a phisher’s operation, and perhaps help protect your fellow web users in the process. Here’s how.


1. Bait the Waters


Lure would-be scammers by registering dozens of e-mail addresses, using fake names and identifying information. The more e-mail identities you have, the more spam e-mail you will receive.


2. Respond Credulously


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When you get a come-on from an e-mail scammer, write back enthusiastically and ask for more details. “I am sorry to hear that your brother is being held prisoner! Where exactly is the prison he is being held at? Were you hurt when you were deposed in the coup?”


3. Create the Impression of Great Wealth


Mention in your reply e-mail that it is currently a very busy time for your business, or that you are in mourning for your wealthy uncle who has just died and left you his estate.


4. Invent a Persona


Make up a name, and include small details in your e-mail, including the name of a spouse or a pet. Do not select a real name for your persona, in order to avoid implicating other people in your anti-scam scam. Name yourself something that is clearly ridiculous to you, but that a foreign scammer might not recognize, such as “Alfred E. Newman.” Find stock photographs to complement your new persona.


5. Ask for Proof


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When the scammer expresses his desire for you to wire money, act as though you are wary. Ask him to send proof of the legitimacy of his business. Ask for photographs of his office, his co-workers, and his car. Remember, the more time he spends satisfying your requests, the less time he has to devote to scamming other people.


6. Ask for Patience


Keep the scammer excited about how much they are going to fleece you for. “After reviewing my accounts, I think I will soon be able to comply with your request, and in fact can double it.” First, though, say you must arrange to have the money released, which will take time. Apologize.


7. Ask for Money


Turn the tables on the scammer by explaining that, before you can wire the money, you need to pay a fee to your own bank to have the funds released. Ask him to wire you money. If he sends a check, do not cash it, but record the account information, as it is likely a stolen or made-up account.


8. Poison Future Scams


Over the course of your correspondence, relay incorrect information that will make the scammer’s future scams less effective. For example, mention that American women love to be called dirty, offensive, names, or that most American banks are only open on Sundays.


9. Delay


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Invent more and more delays to the promised pay-off. The scammer just has to do one more thing for you, send one more photograph, etc., before you can go ahead and send the money. The more hoops you make the scammer jump through, the more willing he will be to do more, since he has already invested so much time and energy.


10. Enjoy


Increase the difficulty level of the requests. Ask the scammer to travel to another country “to meet your representative” there. Then e-mail again, apologizing for the mix-up and reschedule the meeting. If you start to feel badly, remind yourself that this is the same technique scammers use on their victims. They get them to sink more and more money in, in the form of fees and upfront costs, making it harder and harder for the victim to admit to him or herself that it’s a scam.


11. Abruptly Cease Corresponding


Cancel the phony e-mail you had set up. Post the scammer’s name and any other identifying information you have received on anti-scam web sites.


Be Aware, and Be Safe


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– The most infamous pool of e-mail scammers is in Lagos, Nigeria, but they come from all over the world, including from within the United States.

– Never use your real name, or any real-world details about yourself or your family, when interacting with a scammer. If you correspond via letter or package, use a safety deposit box and a fake address. Though there may be a comic element to their communication, scammers are professional criminals.

Editor’s note: The preceding post is a work of satire.