I love our new house. I love the view, waking up and looking up those mountains is so wonderful. I love the bright colours that we have painted it. I love the pictures we have put up and all the photos of family and friends. I love cooking in our kitchen with our good knives and having a hotplate and oven. I love my cupboard, hanging clothes is such a luxury and having enough room for all my clothes. I love the shower, it is solar and excellent pressure. I love the size of it, not too big, not too small. I love that almost all the furniture is second hand (except perhaps the flat screen TV we bought and I even love that too). I love the outdoor spaces. I love that I know how much work went into it and I did heaps of it myself. I love that we have already been able to offer much hospitality in it and I look forward to more. Most of I love that Martin and I live in it together.

Lots of thanks to my mum and Keith who put so much effort and money into providing it for us.

Book Twelve: The heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg

I loved, loved, loved this book. It was one of those books that you come across every now and then that seems to put into words (and eloquently) all the things that you have been struggling to get straight in your head but don’t seem to be able. One of those books that some how makes you feel at home and less alone in your thoughts. I am recommending it to everyone especially people who are perhaps disillusioned with Christianity and are needing a new way of understanding and living it out if they are to be able to stick with it at all.

Not that Marcus would say that the “the emerging paradigm”, what is described in this book is new, rather he sees it as the truly traditional way of approaching Christianity. I quoted this book a little bit in my last post, obviously the emerging paradigm is a more inclusive paradigm that envisages equality in the church between women (as well as homosexuals but let’s not go there perhaps) however I will quote it once more.

“Within this framework, being Christian is not primarily about believing, in the modern sense of believing certain propositions to be true. Instead, the emerging paradigm emphasizes the relational meanings of faith and leads to a relational and transformational vision of the Christian life. To be Christian means to in a relationship with God, lived within the Christian tradition.”

Women in Ministry

It seems this theme is no longer so hot here on blogfeed but the conversation continues no doubt and I would like to contribute my thoughts. We had one opinon from Tom, another from BJD and it is important to me (and perhaps others) that someone gives the other opinion (even if a bit late, it took awhile to write this post) and I do so with respect for all those who have written and commented.

I believe that all people, including men and women, are equal. By equal I mean completely equal thus equally capable, and with the blessing of God, to lead businesses, countries, families and churches.

I admit up front that I read the Bible from a historical, metaphorical and sacramental point of view. Thus for me the Bible is a sacred document and central to my faith and the way I live. I try to read it every day and it helps me understand who I am, who God is and what my life with Him should look like. However, I do not believe that the world was created in a literal 7 days, that the red sea was literally parted in two for the Israelites to pass, that Jonah was literally swallowed by a fish and I am even unsure of some of the miracles of Jesus. And even if they were literal I am unsure of their relevance to how I live my life. That does mean I do not believe in the truth of these stories. I believe that they have a very profound “more than literal” meaning that is still very relevant today. That God created and is in the world, that no matter where we go it is in God “that we live and move and have our being” that the spirit of God was in Jesus and in him we can see what a life lived fully in God looks like and finally that our God is a transfornming God who brings people from slavery into freedom, fear into truth, crucifixion into ressurection etc. I also do not believe that God really called the Israelites to bring down death and destruction on the communities around them, such as they did (as much as I do not believe that He called the crusaders). Nor do I believe he told Isiah he would “dash infants to pieces before their eyes” or that He was/is particularly concerned about whether we eat animals that “have a split hoof and chew the cud”. For me these have a historical context of people trying to understand their God. Just as the idea that a woman is unclean for a week after the birth of a baby boy and two weeks after the birth of a baby girl. And if we need a New Testament example I do not believe that slaves should obey their masters.

It has been argued that this way of reading the Bible is arrogant. I would argue that almost everyone reads the Bible this way (hence the fact that very few people, probably none, continue to live by the above regulations) but I also believe that as Marcus Borg (and other Biblical scholars) argue the historical, metaphorical and sacramental way is the traditional way of reading the Bible. He says “the notion of Biblical infallibility and inerrancey first appeared in the 1600’s.” He goes on to argue that “it was the Enlightment that identified truth with factuality. Before that people were more concerned with the more than literal meaning.”

Thus I come to my argument about women in ministry, believing that much of what was written about men’s and women’s roles has a historical context (and I remind you I am not being selective as I read the whole Bible this way). And while I believe in the wisdom of wives at times “submitting to their husbands” I do not see it as a blanket rule (and most would certainly agree with me when we throw in the issue of domestic violence). Just as I believe at times “women being silent and listening to the wisdom of men” is important so do I believe in the importance of men doing the same. And I would argue if one truly believes in the inerrancy of this statement they should be silencing women in churches and in fact all circumstances totally.

For me the message of the Bible as a whole and of Jesus (who was suprisingly silent on the issue given how much air time it gets in church circles) is one of equality of all people, “in Christ Jesus there is no male and female”. The message is one of liberation, of giving voice to the voiceless and empowering the oppressed and if we silence women in any way they become voiceless. And as many have commented (even those who disagree with me), women held leadership positions in the Bible and in the ministry of Jesus. I am constantly drawn to the story of the crucifixion where, as the men flap around betraying and denying Jesus and then don’t even recognise him when he appears to them, the women stand at the foot of the cross and then go to the tomb. It is to them that the news of the ressurection is first given and to them the responsibility to share it with others (to minister perhaps).

It has been argued that this isn’t a salvation issue. As someone who believes that salvation is as relevent in this life as it is the next, if not more so, it is a salvation issue. This is a justice issue, and like all issues of injustice such as slavery, poverty, racism we as Christians are called to liberate. Christ has called us to freedom and I just can’t envisage full freedom for women while they are not able to lead chuches just as if black people were not able to lead churches I would be saying the same. This may seem over the top to some but perhaps not to the massive amounts of people who are leaving the church because of its irrelevance. And that is an issue that needs to be taken seriously in this debate.

Well that’s enough I think (although I could go on I am sure). Again I remind people I have written this post with respect and admiration for others who have written simply with the hope that as people consider this issue they hear both sides of view. I hope if you choose to comment you would offer me the same respect.

A few good things

It’s been the desert festival here in Alice Springs and last Sunday night we got to go to the coolest concert by the Black Arm Band. It was absolutely sensational and I would like to join with Keith in saying to everyone that if you ever get the opportunity to see them you must. The nigght was made even richer by the fact that it was a night in which indigenous and non indigenous people came together and danced and partied. So much of life in Alice Springs happens seperately so it is special when the whole community comes together. Keith and the choir also sung that night. They were great too. I was very sad that I was not able to join the choir in the end as I now work on Thursday nights.

On Friday night, some people and I gathered in down town Alice Springs for a little non violent protest against some particularly racist proposed by laws. My mum has written a bit more about this so read hers for more details. I had a lot of fun even though I got next to no sleep with the lights, the noise and the fact that somehow Martin and I ended up sharing a single swag because two kids moved into the other one. I confess I was a little nervous before hand, I thought perhaps that the local street community, predominantly indigenous, would be at the very least indifferent to us but they were not at all. They were so welcoming. I don’t know why I would have thought that seeing as almost all my experience with homeless people and indigenous people proves contribute, if even ever so slightly to break down some of those.

Yesterday, Martin had his soccer grand final. I went along with some other wives of the players to watch and although they did not win I had a good time. Martin’s soccer team is predominantly African and thus the cheer squad is top quality. I have no idea what they are saying but they sing out loudly and sound great. Afterwards we all went to the pub across the road. It was not a bit pub and so we and the dozen Africans filled out the place easily. It was quite a hoot.

And finally, in most exciting news Martin and I have finally moved into our house. I am so happy. I have stuck up all my pictures and got out all my books and albums and I feel so much more like me. I also have a proper cupboard to hang my clothes in and a kitchen in which I have space to chop things up and I don’t have to cook on a gas stove. I wake up every morning and look out over the ranges and I feel so very blessed. Going without things for a little while helps us to appreciate them so much more. I hope that feeling lasts a long time.

It’s been a very sad week for my family and some friends too but I am trying to trust and stay hopeful.

Come on home by the Indigo Girls.

Dark clouds are comin’ like an army
Soon the sky will open up and disarm me
You will go just like you’ve gone before
One sad soldier off to war, enemies that only you can see.
Dishes stacked, the table cleared
It’s always like the scene of the last supper here
You speak so cryptically that’s not news to me
The flood is here it will carry you
And I’ve got work to do.

Come on home, the team you’re hitched to has a mind of its own
But it’s just the forces of your past you’ve fought before
Come back here and shut the door
I’m stacking sandbags against the river of your troubles.

There is fire there is lust
Some will trade it all for someone they could trust
There’s a bag of silver for a box of nails
It’s so simple the betrayal
Though it’s known to change the world and what’s to come.

Just come on home, the team you’re hitched to has a mind of its own
But it’s just the forces of your past you’ve fought before
Don’t you recognize them anymore
I’m stacking sandbags against the river of your troubles.

Come on home, the team you’re hitched to has a mind of its own
But it’s just the forces of your past you’ve fought before
Come back here and shut the door
I’m stacking sandbags against the river of your troubles.


I didn’t think that I would have any Westerns on my movie list this year but movie 6 Apaloosa is a Western. I guess it is good to not always follow our stereotypes. I saw this movie on my last day in Darwin. In Darwin they have what is called the Deckchair cinema. Outdoor cinema, like in Sydney but much funkier and less commercial. I really wanted to go and it was between Apaloosa and Bruno and given I think I would rather pull my eyes out than watch Bruno Apaloosa was it. Perhaps it was the the beautiful back drop of the Darwin coast and the most delicious lebanese food ever with a glass of wine that put me in a positive mood but I thought it was quite good. It had Viggo Mortensen in it from Lord of the Rings who I think is very gorgeous. And was a fairly interesting look at life at that time

Books Nine to Eleven

Book Nine: Poustinia by Catherine De Hueck Doherty
This book is about Poustinia (in case the title didn’t give it away). Poustinia is a Russian word meaning desert or a quiet lonely place. However, it is also a Russian tradition of taking time away to pray, to spend time in silence and stillness, to spend time in the mysterious presence of God. It is something that a friend here has practiced for some time and something that I am interested in trying to do on a regular basis ( 24 hours per month, although I already missed month three). For me Alice Springs is a place that really calls me to prayer and the hut that Keith and friends built is such a perfect setting beautiful, simple and quiet. Anyway, my friend lent me the book. It is an old book and thus some of it was a little bit old fashioned for me and the author is a very strong Catholic and it certainly had more of a Catholic flavour to it than I am used to but all in all it was very inspiring and gave me some new things to ponder.

“One day we realise all these geographical spaces are not enough, that they do not satisfy one’s desire for space. At that point we begin the journey inward. This journey is far more beautiful and satisfies far more ddeeply. The poustinia is involved in the great journey inward, exploring the vast spaces of God. A goal to strive for is when the need to have becomes the need not to have.”

Book Ten: The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville
I heard Kate speak at the writer’s festival when I first got here. She read some parts of this book and they were lovely and so I had been meaning to get to it for awhile. It was lovely to read. In fact I had to try hard not to read it too fast as to try and savour it a little bit. It is a story about a friendship between a white lieutenant in the first fleet and a young aboriginal girl. It was very hopeful really which is not often the case with indigenous issues so it was a breath of fresh air.

“What he had not learned from Latin or Greek he was learning from the people of New South Wales. It was this: you did not learn a language without entering into a relationship with the people who spoke it with you. He friendship with Tagaran wasn’t a list of objects or the words for things it was the slow constructing of the map of a relationship.”

Kate got the idea from some real diaries that were found in which the liutenant records some of the language he was learning and writes about some of the interactions he has with the girl. Kate Grenville is truly gifted in the way that she can write fiction novels about real events that happened (particularly to do with indigenous issues) that some how get to the truth of the matter better than any history book would. Not to mention I am sure they engage people and get them concerned about the issues more than a history book.

“The girls lay quietly and he went back to the notebook. How would he record the joke that he and this child had shared? What had passed between Tagaran and himself had gone beyond vocabulary and grammar. It was the heart of talking not just words and their meanings. But how did you write down truth in a notebook when the truth was far more than the words and actions. When even in English he couldn’t describe what had passed between them. He would have to be willing to go beyond the literal, to take words into some place where they were no longer simply descriptive”.

Book Eleven: Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coehlo
This book isn’t actually book eleven. I think it was more like book six or seven but I forgot to write about it back then so it has become book eleven (and coincidentally it is called eleven minutes). This book is a love story, a love story between a prostitute and a famous artist. It was a very confronting book for me, a lot of dirty sex scenes in all their gory details, but after getting through all that I quite liked it. I like Paulo Coehlo’s writing and his thoughts about life even if they are not completely the same as mine. He managed to write a story about a prostitute, Maria who was a fantastic character, without been in anyway judgmental or condescending while also acknowledging that the work is not good for the souls of anyone involved.

I don’t care whether it was once sacred or not, I hate what I do. It’s destroying my soul, making me lose touch with myselg, teaching me that pain is a reward, that money buys everything and justifies everything. No one around me is happy; the clients know they are paying for something that should be fore free, and that’s depressing. The women know that they have to sell something they would like to give out of pleasure and affection. I need to love – that’s all. I need to love. Life is too short, or too long, for me to allow myself the luxury of living it so badly.

And I like stories about messy, broken people and their paths to redemption. I also like stories about love when they don’t fit the format of romantic comedy and this didn’t.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I realise that I didn’t go into that cafe by chance; really important meetings are planned by souls long before the bodies see each other. Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn.

The setting of Australia (well one of them).

I am in Darwin. It’s my first time here so feels a little bit special. I came up for work yesterday. Finally got to meet my boss and colleagues. They are all a bit mad I think, they all seem to talk more that me (which as you all know is a fair bit) but they are great. All very passionate about what we do and passion is contagious so I am feeling all inspired too. I was only at the office on Friday for two hours but it already feels so valuable. I have been winging it a fair bit since I started and haven’t been entirely sure if I’m on the right track at all but when I went through the stuff with my boss she kept saying things like, “this is so great” and “what a good idea” (she even wants to use some it herself) and was really excited by some of the students work. It was such a weight off my shoulders. I am going back on Monday and Tuesday to go through some admin stuff, observe classes, have some meetings (of course) etc but I feel like even if I wasn’t that the trip would be worth it.

This weekend though I am hanging Darwin. I am staying with some friends of mum’s. They are uniting church minister’s (even the wife) and are very cool hippy Christians, who have a very cool hippy Christian house, with lots of cool hippy Christian books and friends so I am really indulging that side of me. I am reading Marcus Borg because Gemma has been talking to me about him and I like him too.

Today, I went to the beach. It made me so happy. I don’t think I realised how much I missed that salty smell and the sounds of the waves and the feel of sand and water on my feet. It was a beautiful beach, surrounded by these amazing cliffs but no one it really. I went for a massive walk. I didn’t swim. They said you could, the box jelly fish don’t come until October but I was still a bit nervous so I went to the pool instead. It is right on the beach so I could still enjoy the view without the worry and I could also swim some laps. it has been a long time and that also made me so happy.

Tonight the hosts are taking me to the beach again to watch the sunset and drink wine with nice cheeses. How perfect is that.

My work is like exercise too.

Perhaps I could come up with a reason why everthing in my life is like exercise. But right now I think my work is like exercise in that when I am not teaching classes I find myself dreading them a little. I feel nervous, inadequate and all those things. However when I actually am in class I really enjoy it and after feeel quite good after. I feel the same about exercise. When I am not doing it I find it hard to get motivated but once I do I really enjoy it and feel great after.