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The Ruthless Church

30 September, 2003 11:56 PM

Steve who is currently in London has written this challenging reflection which echoes around in my head tonight - mainly because it reminds me of numerous similar conversations I've had with young people the last couple of years.

PS: sorry about the title of this post - I couldn't resist.

iblog, ublog weallblog

30 September, 2003 3:24 PM

I wonder what the future of blogging is now that really big boys and girls are entering the blog service provider market. With Google taking over Blogger, Apple releasing iblog and Microsoft reportedly getting ready to release one too. Imagine if they start bundling blog applications with new PCs and Macs - the mind boggles (see I resisted saying 'bloggles'!) at the potential size of the blogging community. I wonder if its rise in popularlity will actually be responsible for it choking to death?

What a Pearler

30 September, 2003 9:49 AM

'The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who is looking for fine pearls, and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has , and buys that pearl.' Matthew 13:45-46.

What passionate imagery of the Kingdom of God.

I was once given this little parable to speak on. I was preparing to present a challenge to 'give up all' for the 'pearl of Jesus' when a soft voice whispered in my inner ear.

'You're the pearl Darren.'

There began another journey of discovery, healing and freedom.

Are You a Blogaholic?

30 September, 2003 9:18 AM

Take the quiz (there had to be one!)

I got a score of 56 out of 100. (phew)

You are a dedicated weblogger. You post frequently because you enjoy weblogging a lot, yet you still manage to have a social life. You're the best kind of weblogger. Way to go!

Statistically Speaking

29 September, 2003 1:57 PM

Occasionally when I've got a spare bit of time on my hand I like to enter into my web-hosting statistics package to see what is happening behind my blog. I've always been a bit of a sucker for stats and research and am always interested to see which posts people are reading and how they end up at LivingRoom.

Its been a while since I've checked - there are a few new patterns emerging since January.

Firstly I've noticed that more and more people are surfing in from search engines than previously. I guess the longer your blog is around the higher its ranking on the engines. Of course Google is the highest referrer with 57% of the total, followed by Yahoo.

Secondly I've noticed that a lot more people seem to be using news aggregators, around 40% of total referrals (not including search engines) are coming from aggregators with the biggest by far being Radio. I guess its worth having xml and rss feeds after all. (not that I completely understand it still!)

Popular Posts: I also was a little discouraged by the posts that seem to be being hit the most by search engines. You spend all this time focussing your energies on writing articles about ways forward for the Church, issues of faith etc and then you look at your top ten entry pages:

1. Gary Kotter and the Theologians Drone
2. Hillsong (lately there has been a lot!)
3. Ethos, Pathos, Logos....Blogos
4. Flatulence Tax
5. The day my face stopped working
6. America's Best Christian Paintball Park
7. Moon Walk a FAKE?
8. Inflatable Church
9. Watch me Grow my Beard
10. Brennan Manning Interview

(closely followed by - Examen Explained, Gender Blogging and Lectio Divina)

I guess it could have been worse - I guess thats what happens when you get flashes of hyperactivity.

Search Engine Key words/phrases: In addition to searches on the above I continue to get daily hits from people searching for 'living room designs', also a considerable amount looking for 'punk hairstyles' (I have no idea why), quite a few people looking for information on 'bells palsy' and my fair share of people looking for 'Melbourne Nudie Bars'.

Country of origin of readers: 1. Australia, 2. US, 3. New Zealand, 4. Canada, 5. United Kingdom, 6. Belgium, 7. Malaysia, 8. Netherlands, 9. South Africa and 10. Philippines.

On average Thursdays and Fridays see more traffic than other days and between 2-4pm and 2-3am (Aussie time) seems to be when most people log in.

So after all the analysis is done I'm none the wiser really. None of it really matters - I guess I'll just keep on keeping on.

Church Leavers

29 September, 2003 12:54 PM

Just founds some amazing stats from a study on people leaving the church.

��They were not leaving 'mainline' churches in decline. They were leaving growing evangelical, pentecostal, and charismatic churches.

��They were not leaving during 'adolescence'. They were leaving as adults, predominantly between thirty and forty-five years of age.

��They were not leaving after being involved for a short time. They were leaving after an average of 15.8 years of involvement.

� They were not leaving from the fringe, but from the very core. 94% were church leaders. P18 40% in full-time Christian study or work or both.

There is heaps more here. Insightful stuff.

Visually Speaking

29 September, 2003 10:33 AM

I take a lot of photographs.

On our recent one month trip I shot 19 rolls of film and took 700 digital shots. Thats around 1400 pictures.

I considered posting them all here on the blog, but thought it would slow things down a little. So after a lot of too-ing and fro-ing I decided a new blog....a photo-log was in order.

So if you're a visual kind of person like me you might want to surf over to Visually Speaking once in a while to see what I've added. Its not likely to be updated as frequently as this blog, I'll try to rig up some way of showing you the latest pic in thumbnail format here so you'll know. (I'm sure there is a way) The site is not perfect, but it will do til I have time to make it look a little more spiffy.

For now, I've added two series of pics from our trip, firstly from Madrid - Museo Nacional Del Prado and secondly from Fes - Morocco.

Enjoy

Jesus - Strikes a Pose

28 September, 2003 2:16 PM

This morning I went shopping - summer is coming (I HOPE) and I'm one or two T-Shirts short. So I decided to walk down Brunswick St and into the city. (a good half hour walk). I've talked about Brunswick St before here - its heaven - great cafes, bars, organic food shops, internet cafes and fashion shops. Its got a real alternative edgy vibe.

As I often do I decided to treat my walk as a bit of a prayer exercise and ask myself the question - 'Where is Jesus in Brunswick St?. Another way of asking it is to ask 'Where are God's fingerprints?' (this is part of an exercise from Ignition)

Today I saw Jesus in all the usual places on Brunswick St - in the community, the eating, the celebration of yesterdays football final, in the community care centers, in the park etc. But today I also saw him in a new place....the fashion!

Jesus featured prominently and explicitly on five T-shirts and one sweatshirt that I saw today. And I'm not talking about T-shirts I saw in Christian bookshops or from Christian fashion labels - I'm talking T-shirts in edgy alternative fashion shops and on street-wear labels!

In some the message seemed a little sarcastic - those I saw included:

'JE$U$ $AVE$!' another simple said 'Jesus loves me' and a third said 'Jesus is my homeboy'.

The others had pictures of him.

I also saw a huge sign of Jesus which said 'Jesus was a Refugee' which was in the window of a multi cultural center. It was a larger version of a postcard that has been very popular on the streets that is campaigning for rights for refugees.

Lastly I saw Jesus in some street art in the city. It was a chalk artist in one of the Malls. The rest of his work wasn't religious at all so I'm not sure he was a Christian.

I'm not sure what my point is - or even if there is one - except to say that Jesus seems to be featuring a fair bit in pop culture in Melbourne at present - interesting.

Australia's most spiritual gathering?

27 September, 2003 12:01 PM

If you live in Melbourne and you want to do a day trip to the beach or the wine region - today is the day. If you want to go to the museum or aquarium or art gallery, go this afternoon. In fact if you want to go anywhere that there are normally long lines of people - today is your safest bet for having the place to yourself.

Its grandfinal day in the AFL. (Australian Rules Football...or 'Footy' as we call it). Its a wonderful occassion to celebrate the best code of football in the world!

This afternoon the teams from Collingwood (the Pies...as in Magpies - they are from Melbourne) and Brisbane (the Lions...as in...ROAR!) will run out onto the MCG (Melbourne CRICKET Ground - ironically referred to as the home of FOOTBALL). 72,814 people will be there (normally we get closer to 90,000 people, but there are some 'renovations' going on in one of the stands) despite the expected rain to participate in an event that many see as one of Australia's most spiritual gatherings.

This is one of the few occasions when Aussies sing together. They also drink a lot of beer (which might explain the singing), eat a lot of meat pies (not mag-pies) and do a lot of screaming and dancing around together. Its quite a tribal gathering and something to be experienced.

Those of us Aussies too unconnected and poor to get tickets will gather around TV sets throughout the country (and around the globe) - beer and meat pies in hand - cheering our teams on. It is quite the event.

We're having a couple of friends over to watch the game with and tonight some more will come for a BBQ on the balcony to debrief after the game.

I'm still in two minds as to which team to support - Collingwood is a Melbourne team, but they are my team's (Carlton) arch rival - I don't think I can bring myself to go for them. Brisbane are from interstate - but they sort of originated from the suburb I live in before moving to Brisbane. So I guess Brisbane it is.

GO LIONS!!!

update: as you can no doubt tell by the comments - the Lions won convincingly - it was quite a comprehensive win. That is three years in a row they've come away with the premiership.

I went to the morning after Melbourne celebrations which were held at the end of our street this morning which was fun. Pity the game wasn't a little closer...

Controlled Chaos

26 September, 2003 2:52 PM

Its amazing - you begin to gather with a few other likeminded people - you pray, you dream, you talk and you begin to grow as a community. You spend time listening to each others stories and as you listen to God and each other you begin to see a way forward as a group. At some point you look up from your red wine and vegetarian meal at those around you and you realise that you're 'a Church'! It all seems rather chaotic, haphazard and random.

What's even more amazing is that one day you jump on the net and find yourself talking to a guy who lives on the other side of the world and he asks what your church does when it meets. You tell him and after a short pause he says 'That's exactly what we do - virtually word for word!'

Perhaps things are not quite as haphazard or random as they might seem.

Attention Grabbers

26 September, 2003 9:54 AM

Two posts caught my attention yesterday in others blogs.

Firstly Steve Taylor asks the question. Can Christians be too biblical?

To use the Bible all the time is, ironically, not Biblical. Not fully following in the way of Jesus.

Secondly Mike Bishop talks about the question....How Big Is Your Church?.

i hate that question too....its like when we were kids....mines bigger than yours....hmmm.....I'm talking hamburgers of course.

seriously I guess we need to find another method of measuring 'success' - numbers still seems to be what it all comes back to...

Hypothetically Speaking

25 September, 2003 10:40 AM

Here is a 'Hypothetical' Question: If you were asked to run a 14 week course on 'Alternative Worship' how would you approach it? What articles and books would you use? What subjects would you cover? Who would you use as a model and what resources would you point your students to? What ideas would you like to see explored? What assessment tasks would you give?

The group that you'd be 'hypothetically' working with would be a mixture of worship leaders and bible college students (mixed ages from young adults though to....older adults).

Last Night

24 September, 2003 2:37 PM

Last night at Living Room was great. Chrissie led us through a guided meditation. She cleverly combined the crucifiction account with a great little childrens story.

It was really nice to be back with the group after a month away.

Thankyou

24 September, 2003 9:42 AM

I want to thank you my readers for your wonderful support of me, this blog and my ministry. Some days I get a little overwhelmed by life - today is one of them. However to log into the blog this morning and to see a couple of really worthwhile discussions happening in recent posts means a lot to me.

Some days I feel I have more questions than I do answers - I love that I have found a place to ask them and find others going out of their way to join with me in my discovery and learning. Not only that, your wisdom and experience is teaching me heaps.

Thanks for your comments - and a special congratulations to Jer Olson for leaving the 1400th to comment here since I switched over to MT! I really should think of a prize for such momentous achievements!

Loving Critique?

23 September, 2003 3:11 PM

Lately I've been hearing an increasing among of criticism of some of the newer forms of Church that are popping up around the place. At first it was nothing direct but were under the breath comments, remarks that could be interpreted different ways or 'knowing looks' between people at meetings. But lately some of the criticisms are beginning to surface in more tangible ways. (which I actually think is a healthy thing and welcome)

A lot of this criticism is that those in the 'Emerging Church' are too negative and cynical about the 'mainline' Church. Some have even gone so far as to say that the EC is actively setting themselves up against and working in opposition to what most churches are doing having written them off as being irrelevant.

I've sat on this argument for a while now and spent some time asking if there is some element of truth to it.

To be honest I can think of a few times when I have heard negative remarks made about the mainline church in conferences or in conversation - there are times when I've wondered if those speaking have gone too far with their critiques. I've witnessed on a few occasions bridges being burnt and relationships being broken over such comments. This saddens me as in my reading of the words of Jesus in John 17 - we are called to unity and love as we interact with one another as his disciples.

However I wonder if there is a place for evaluation and critique when it comes to thinking about the state of the church today. Without it does the church run the risk of becoming somewhat stagnant? It strikes me that throughout history the church has often made great leaps forward in times when those within (and particularly those on the fringes of it) have had the courage to ask questions, make stands and argue against those in the centre. We see this throughout history, going right back as far as Paul in making a stand over the Gentile issue.

Unfortunately as we trace these instances back through history we also see that these can be times of pain and even of splitting within the body. In nature we often see that its in such painful circumstances (even to the point of death) that change and new growth comes.

Perhaps we find ourselves with somewhat of a paradoxical calling?

We are called as the Body of Christ to love one another. By this love the world will know of our discipleship. However we are also called to be a dynamic organism that is willing and able to change and become renewed as we worship and reach out to our world. There is some tension here - yet I do not see a problem with these two callings working themselves out together.

I've got more to say - but have to run. Thoughts anyone?

A Pommy view of Melbourne

23 September, 2003 2:28 PM

Ok I know I've referred to this blog 3 times in the last 9 posts - this will be the last time for a while - but Ian has just posted his reflections on my wonderful city of Melbourne on his blog. He comments on Cafe Culture, the Arts, the Christian scene and Aboriginal Christian Art. Hopefully it will give those of you who are curious a bit of a feel for where us Melbournians live. (through the eyes of a Londoner)

BlogRoll Updates

22 September, 2003 5:06 PM

I just updated my blogroll. I'm a little unsure how to keep it under control. (how do others make their mind up who to link to?) I took a few off that havn't been updating or that have dropped off the blogosphere and added a few new ones too including:

Home South :: Mootblog :: Stinky Convoluted Past (the boys have been updating again...occassionally) :: Le Sabot Post-Moderne (who I've been reading for a while now) :: Ballad of a Thin Man (Tall Skinny Kiwi's new blog).

I realise there are alot more blogs out there that have been kind enough to link to me and whom I reguarly read - however if I included everyone it would be completely out of control - maybe I need to find another way to acknowledge everyone that I read. Has anyone seen a better way to do this?

Small Things

22 September, 2003 10:11 AM


Sometimes its the smallest things that you miss the most while you're away.

This morning I'm going down to one of our local cafes - The Tin Pot Cafe - for a coffee, its been way too long between lattes!

Update: It was good!

Boxing the 'Emerging Church'

21 September, 2003 10:48 AM

In the current Hot Topic Penny writes an interesting question/comment:

'I've been in the middle of moving and have missed a couple of months reading, but all of a sudden (it seems to me, at least), this exciting new stuff going on at Living Room and others has become labelled and to some extent, put in the box of 'Emerging Church'.

I read here some months back that there are now conferences on Emerging Church, discussing how they should be structured...AGGGHHHHH!!! Here we go again! I've been part of a church for 7 years that grew from nothing - it had no denomination requirements, no structures in place - the church was completely free to follow its own vision of building community. 7 years down the line, and it's hard to tell it apart from other 'new' churches. The people wanted the same leadership roles, the same Sunday and Wednesday meetings, the same accountability....

I'm frustrated that such a cool idea like Living Room has felt the need to align itself with others who are doing similar 'new' stuff - why not have the courage and vision to do your own thing and not harp back to the old structures (which come from the Roman Empire, not Christ)?

Will the 'Emerging Church' become just another historical ideal, like all the other denominations that have come and gone?'

Thanks Penny, there are some interesting questions there that I'd like to open up for discussion.

Pete Ward talks about the importance of 'Liquidity' for new churches - do we run the risk of solidifying as we develop relationships with other new churches, as we name our movement and even as we formalise what we do? How do we keep the spark of creativity, enterprise and life burning?

Networks

20 September, 2003 10:36 PM

In my jet lagged state this afternoon I was fortunate enough to spend an hour or so with Ian Mobsby from Moot. He's passing through Melbourne after spending a few weeks out East (New Zealand) where he's spent time interacting with some innovative churches there.

It was good to hear more of what God is doing in London through and in the gang at Moot. It sounds like they are on a similar journey to us at Living Room exploring art, story and community. He also suggested some great contacts of people doing similar stuff to us that I'm keen to connect with.

The more I hear about what is going on around the world the more inspired I am here in our local context.

Ahhh

20 September, 2003 3:03 PM

My body tells me its 6am but its 3pm.

I've slept for 5 hours in the past 49 hours.

I've had breakfast three times in the past 20 hours. (British Airways did their best)

We've done four three loads of washing already. (two more to go)

Our bank rang to welcome us home and to check if we knew my credit card was being used in Europe - yep...we definately had. (not looking forward to that statement)

I just downloaded 789 emails - 259 were junk.

Collected our real mail from the Post Office - almost needed a trolley to cart it home again. There was a similar proportion of junk mail in that too.

Our bed felt really good this morning - much better than the floor we've been sleeping on in London.

There is nothing edible in the fridge.

Melbourne looks much more spacious and clean that I remember it looking.

Our house seems alot bigger than when we left it.

My eyelids seem alot heavier than normal.

Maybe its time for a nappppp .......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz z........zzzzzz.....zzzzzzzzzz

Is the Emerging Church just another Male thing?

18 September, 2003 5:47 PM

Jonny commented on one of our conversation threads the other night by writing: one of the things we chatted about was whether emerging church was just another male thing - hopefully it isn't... it certainly shouldn't be or something's gone wrong. but we certainly need more female voices and leaders and bloggers....

It's something we've kind of talked about here before, but I am still wondering a lot about it too. My anecdotal evidence is that the make up of those attending Emerging Churches in Melbourne is 60-70% female, yet most EC networking gatherings (for leaders and key players) are dominated by males. (which is pretty similar to mainline church in Australia too)

Is Emerging Church thinking and leadership dominated by males? If so what might be the reasons? How might balance be attained?

Homeward bound

18 September, 2003 1:38 AM

The time has come to return home. Today we did our last minute shopping and as I write this V is desperately trying to fit everything into our cases. We leave tomorrow evening.

I have mixed feelings about returning home.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Living Room has been going in our absense - it will be great to see the group on Tuesday night! It is strange to have not have had Tuesday nights in our weekly routine. I'm also looking forward to seeing family and the guys at Forge.

I'm not so excited about going back to college. I've missed four weeks of semester so there is alot of reading and a couple of essays waiting for me in the week I get home.

Amidst all the siteseeing and touristy stuff of the past month I've found my mind wondering to questions of personal direction. Next year I will be finished my Theology degree and the grant I've been given from our denomination to plant 'Living Room' begins to decrease. Questions of sustainability, passion and direction have been circling through my mind more and more as the time to go home gets closer. So far there are few answers.

Alfresco Dining

17 September, 2003 6:32 PM

Last night V and I spent a very pleasant evening with Steve, Jonny and Jen (who we all think should start a blog - it would be a good one!). We ate alfresco in their courtyard making the most of Londons mild weather while it lasts. Jonny and Jen cooked up a storm!

Its always an interesting experience to meet people that you've only ever 'virtually' interacted with before. It was good to hear more of how the Alt Worship and Emerging Church movement is going here in the London. The more I hear the more I realise how similar our experiences are across the globe, especially between the UK and Australia - we seem to be talking a similar language which is refreshing.

Thanks for your hospitality guys!

Moot

17 September, 2003 1:08 AM

Had an email from Ian Mobsby last night. Ian was out from London last year visiting Melbourne - touring some of the Alt Worship and Emerging churches downunder in Aus and NZ. We had a good couple of meetings with him and I was hoping to catch up with him here in London. Ironically Ian is presently downunder! Luckily we can catch up on the weekend after I return.

I also happened to stumble upon a group blog that he's part of called Moot. It looks good. Thanks to Jonny and Steve for the heads up on this new blog.

Post France

16 September, 2003 9:08 PM

This morning I'm recovering from our long weekend in France. We estimate that we walked around 10km per day for each of the three days plus quite a few more on the tube. They were big days, but they were good days!

I really like Paris, there is something about it that captures the imagination, I'd have to say its up there as my favourite city of the trip. (although the Moroccan cities were amazing too)

We visited Musee d'Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Lourve, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Bastille, Montmartre, Notre Dame, Musee Picasso ....just to name a few highlights.

Tonight we're having dinner with Jonny which will be fun.

Lomography explained

12 September, 2003 11:57 PM

After posting on my lomo camera purchase I was asked to explain Lomography a little more. Whilst I have been aware of it and reading up a bit on it for the last year or so I am no expert, but here is what I've found and what I like about it. (Basically if you want to know more from the experts, the lomography website has all the info you'll need - most of what I'm writing here has been gathered from this site.)

As far as I can gather, lomography is a movement which started back in 1982 with the development of the Lomo LC-A compact camera in Russia. It was developed as a cheap but reliable camera that all Russians could afford. Millions were sold throughout communist countries in the 80's but its popularity began to wane with the introduction of cheaper Asian produced cameras.

In 1991 a group of students from Vienna bought a couple of LC-A's while on holiday for fun and were surprised with the results of the little camera. A movement was born as the word spread about the camera and the unique pictures it produced. Over the 90's the Lomographic Society was born and Lomo Embassies began to spring up around the world.

Exhibitions, galleries and tours began to happen and a website was developed. In 1997 the first Lomographic World Conference took place in Madrid and in the late 90s the Actionsampler was released, a camera that shot four images on the one photograph - shortly after was the first action sampler world championship in NYC. Other cameras have been released since.

So what is lomography? I guess you'd get as many answers to that as there are lomographers. To me it seems to be about going back to basics photographically, shooting lots of pictures, forgetting all the traditional rules of composition and having alot of fun. I guess the 10 'RULES' of lomography try to sum it all up. In short they are...

1. take your camera everywhere you go
2. use it any time - day and night
3. lomography is not an interference to your life but a part of it
4. shoot from the hip
5. approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible
6. don't think
7. be fast
8. you don't have to know before hand what you captured on film
9. afterwards either
10. don't worry about any rules

Lastly, the thing I most love about it all is the amazing photographs that I've seen come out of these little cameras. Vivid colors, amazing composition, surprising subject matter - all from the every day experience of those using lomos around the world.

Fundamentalism

12 September, 2003 5:45 AM

"The regressive appeal of the religious fundamentalisms has to be taken seriously at this time. After 11 September 2001, and the collapsing of the World Trade Center in New York, all of us should be concerned about the rising tide of fundamentalism, especially within the three monotheisms: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. In the contemporary world, where so much is open and uncertain, where traditions have been shaken or overturned, where we stand almost naked before the spirit, there is a strong counter-revolutionary force: a desire for absolute certainty, religious security, and nostalgic traditionalism. Fundamentalisms offer us a parodic version of our need to turn back to the past, only here the turn back is a full blown regression, a deliberate and systematic retreat from the demands and revolutions of the modern period. This is not going back in order to move forward, but going back to escape the tensions and complexities of a different present.

Fundamentalism also supplies a distorted version of the past: its past is largely invented, a projection of regressive social values and anti-modern perspectives into an imagine former era."

David Tacey - The Spiritual Revolution: The emergence of contemporary spirituality

My first rainy London day

12 September, 2003 5:29 AM

Today we spent the day with a mate from Australia who is living over here at the moment. It was good to spend the day with him and also see some more sights. We visited St Pauls Cathedral and climbed 500 or 600 stairs to get a rainy view of London. (I knew the blue sunny skies we were getting was too good to last)

After a good pub lunch we spent the afternoon at the Tate Modern Art Gallery which was great. (Thanks for the suggestion Paul)

Tomorrow night we're off to Paris for the weekend.

The weather has turned.... I need to buy some jeans.

Show Time

11 September, 2003 2:19 AM

We are going to catch a show somewhere in the West End tonight and then hopefully see Londons sights by night on one of there big red double deckers.

This is one that almost ran me over yesterday.

UPDATE: We're going to see Lion King!!!

Lomo

11 September, 2003 1:15 AM

Still in London. I had a quiet morning recovering from the past three weeks today. I needed it.

This afternoon I went to a lomography gallery over near Kings Cross. I've been hearing about lomography for a couple of years now and thought I'd go check it out.

The gallery was pretty cool. It was a tiny shopfront on a semi busy road. You walked in the door from the street and the room was probably 2 metres by 4 metres, white walls, pretty grungey looking. All around the walls were photographs...sorry lomographs...of any number of subjects. Most were the normal sized photos that you'd get back at your local photo lab, some were a little more professionally presented than others and they were on a range of subjects. Most were of every day experiences and sights that we'd all have from all kinds of interesting and unique perspectives. There must have been 100 or so images in the small room. It was pretty basic in its presentation, it looked like anyone and everyone could walk in and stick their pics on the wall and put their name on a hand written list of 'exhibitors', but I spent about 15 minutes gazing into the every day lives of those exhibiting their work. Side by side these every day images were very powerful - a real celebration of life.

In the corner of the room were some stairs down into another tiny room. There a guy worked at his computer editing his own lomographs. He had a range of books, postcards and of course cameras for sale. We spent about half an hour talking about his work. He's actually making a living out of it and taking some unbelievable photographs.

Half an hour later I walked out carrying my very own Lomo LC-A.

I think I'm going to have some fun with this.

Home - The Bad

10 September, 2003 7:43 PM

There are plenty of things I have a new found appreciation for about home, but as I said last post, traveling also can highlight those things in your own culture which you are not so proud of.

- One of the main things I noticed when traveling through Morocco was the value that was placed upon family and community living. It made me realize all the more how individualistic life in Australia is becoming. To witness extended families living under the one roof, to see how the elderly were valued and cared for in a very personal way and to see people sharing their possessions with neighbors was all very challenging. Whilst the group I'm thinking about in particular are a Muslim family it very much reminded me of the picture we see of the early church in Acts 1-2.

- Perhaps linked to the above I've had a growing awareness of the obsession so many of us have in Australia with accumulation. Whilst I suspect its a world wide obsession it is interesting to see the different levels, focus and priorities in different parts of the world.

- One of the first things I noticed traveling through Spain (and in each country since) is the ancientness of the cities, monuments and art work that we are seeing. Every day of the tour we visited 9th century castles, aqueducts build pre Christ or galleries with paintings from early last millennium! Its been interesting to see how these things have become part of daily life for those living in these cities. Even those buildings and monuments that have been destroyed though the centuries seem to live on in story.

Australia has an ancient history also. Europeans may have only shown up on our shores two hundred years ago and therefore our oldest moments and buildings are new in comparison to Europe and Northern Africa's, however people lived in our country for many centuries before the invasion. Unfortunately the indigenous people of our land and their stories and history are not given the prominence or recognition that they deserve. Too often when Aussies talk about history it begins with convicts and tall ships. I've often heard Australians talk about how we have no real history or culture - perhaps its time we looked beyond our great grand parents and talked more with true Australian people.

That's enough for today. Interested to hear others reflections on the things they've noticed about home whilst traveling.

Home - The Good

10 September, 2003 12:33 AM

V made a comment back in Morocco that has stuck in my mind. The crux of what she said was that when you travel you often come back with a new found appreciation for the place where you live. How true that is. On the flip side I've also found that sometimes you also find yourself critiquing home also.

I've decided to start making a list of both my newfound appreciations and critiques of home....lets start with some of the positives:

- I never thought I'd say this, but I appreciate retail sales people at home! Yes at times they can be a tad intrusive, but at least they acknowledge your existence upon entering their store and are generally willing to assist!

- I appreciate the space of our country and its cities. After walking though some of the Moroccan cities and even some parts of those in Europe I now see how open and wide the streets of Melbourne are. I do love the nooks and crannies I've seen over the past few weeks, but at times have felt pretty claustrophobic.

- I love freedom that we have in Australia. Whilst at times we do get a little overwhelmed by the hassles and stresses of life, we truly are free to say and do virtually whatever we like. When I am confronted by the poverty and powerlessness that some live with I only begin to see how much many of us living in the west have without even knowing it.

- I have a new found appreciation for the cleanliness and hygiene of Melbourne. Whilst I suspect at times we can get a little obsessive when it comes to this (I mean how many brands of soap do we need!!!) I appreciate that we have the opportunities to have clean water, food and homes which enable us to lead relatively healthy lives.

- As with previous trips to Asia I have become increasingly aware of the social services that our country provides for those who are sick, unemployed etc. Whilst I know there is a lot more that we can do to provide for those struggling on the fringes our system is actually quite advanced in many regards. To see the desperation of so many in Morocco that have to literally beg to put food on the table for their children is so confronting. Whilst this happens in Australia also it is on such a small scale in comparison.

- At virtually every meal that I've eaten out over the past few weeks I've been grateful for the anti smoking laws that Australia has! Over the past decade these laws have tightened up so that now smoking is prohibited in most enclosed public spaces including restaurants, many sporting events, workplaces etc. As an ex smoker I know how frustrating this has been for smokers, but as someone who has quit I am very grateful!

- Similarly I have also been aware of the general health consciousness of Aussies. Healthy eating is something that we are constantly being reminded of and provided for. I didn't realise how different this was to some parts of the world - fruit, salad and non fatty food seem to be a rarity in some places.

Ok - this list could go on quite a bit, I'll add more later probably. Will work on the critiques in the next day or two.

Gallery Central

10 September, 2003 12:33 AM

Another busy day today in London. I started at the London eye (just for a look...too expensive for a ride) then wandered up to the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery for the morning. Its quite overwhelming to see the vast quantity of art on display.

After that I had lunch in Trafalgar square again. Then it was off to Piccadily Circus (where were the clowns!?) and up to Tottenham Court Rd to visit all the techie gadget shops.

It was a nice day - but tomorrow I don't think I'll be walking quite so far.

London Town

9 September, 2003 1:53 AM

london 008d.jpg

Had an enjoyable day today. This morning we did a fair bit of walking. We visited Westminster Abbey which I found very interesting. I've seen a fair few cathedrals over the past few weeks, but it was really unique. Seeing the memorials and crypts of so many royals and other famous people was quite amazing, yet the most moving thing to me in the midst of it was a prayer that someone said over the PA at 11am - a very simple prayer asking that we'd be aware of God's presence. I'm not sure why but it touched something inside. I had an email from home this morning with news that my nana has been pretty sick this week - I lit a candle for her and said a prayer...and then the prayer came over the speakers...was one of 'those' moments where you wonder if maybe God was 'saying' something.

After the Abbey we visited parliament, Downing St, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, St Martins, the London Photography gallery (very cool) and then walked up to Covent Gardens. I felt like I was playing monopoly on a life sized board.

The whole day has left me quite tired, I'm not sure I've fully recovered from the tour over the past two weeks yet, my head is full of new stuff, my feet are cracked and sore and I'm all up for a quiet night in front of a video or something.

Postcard from London

8 September, 2003 5:28 PM

This morning I'm sitting sipping a cup of tea looking out the window of my sister in laws appartment in West Brompton (London) watching an old lady feed a huge swarm (or should that be flock!?) of pidgeons.

Its nice to know that for the next week and a half that we don't have to pack and unpack our bags in a new hotel every day or two, a very nice feeling.

Today we're off to Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Downing St plus whatever else we find along the way. Will blog a tad more here as we have internet available all day every day.

Anyone for a coffee in London?

6 September, 2003 10:18 PM

We�ll be in London as of tomorrow, if anyone wants to hook up for coffee shoot me an email or leave a comment.

Street Evangelism Madrid Style

6 September, 2003 10:16 PM

Spent the morning wandering the streets of Madrid today before we head off to London tomorrow. While I waited to meet up with V (shopping :-) I witnessed three groups of people doing street evangelism in 5 minutes. I�m always somewhat drawn to people doing it to see their approach....I�m not sure why, I personally struggle with the �cold call� approach and would rather build relationships with people in the places I naturally live and relate in.... however I still am interested in others approaches.

The first couple I watched were walking down the street chanting while holding signs. Their signs and chanting were in Spanish so I didn�t get the full gist of it but I did recognise the words �SIN� and �JESUS� on the sign.

The second group was similar. As they walked one held a sign (again with the word �SIN� clearly visable while the other played a harmonica (mouth organ) through a megaphone.

The third group (6 people) had signs hung around their neck each with a different part of John 3:16 on them. They were attempting (unsuccessfully) to get those passing by to arrange them in the correct order. It reminded me of a memory verse game we used to play in Sunday School as children.

I am not in a position to judge these different approaches, partly because my Spanish doesn�t go past saying �hello�and �thankyou�and partly because I only saw 30 seconds of each group, however I wonder what the result of their time is and what other approaches people take around the world?

here are some of my photos from our visit to the Museo Nacional Del Prado here in Madrid.

Postcard from Salamanca

5 September, 2003 6:06 AM

Tonight I find myself in festive Salamanca. THIS is what I expected Europe to be like. Big plaza surrounded by cafes, packed with people having a great time. I�m full of great food, have had an afternoon in the sun looking at some amazing sights and am having a great time.

This morning we visited Fatima (in Portugal) which is one of the Catholic churches most famous places to make pilgramage to in Europe. Up to this point we have mainly visited cities that have been in existance for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. Fatima has only existed since around 1917 yet today has grown quite large, purely because millions of people make the pilgramage there every year.

It was a fascinating visit as I had heard of the story of what is said to have happened there during WW1 many times. As we drove towards it our tour guide shared the story again. It was interesting to see how many of my fellow travellers (mainly American and Australians) reacted to it. "What a load of rubbish." "Yawn." "Pull the other one." These were just a few of the comments...along with one or two trying to scientifically explain the apparitions. The mystery and unexplainable of the story was just too much for most to get their heads around.

As we walked into the vast square where Mass was happening as we arrived I witnessed a different response to the story of Fatima. Even though it was only 9am hundreds (if not thousands) of people were already gathered to pray. Many participated in Mass, others sat in the Basilica, some lit candles and many others made the 200 metre journey through the square crawling on their knees whilst praying the rosary. (some did this repeatedly!...ouch) Whilst those around me on the tour responded to the story with skeptisism, disbelief, boredom and disinterest many many others hold onto it as something that gives them great strength and hope. I later saw pictures of the square filled with hundreds of thousands of people and was told that over two million come to the main festivals!

I find it fascinating to contrast the reactions and wonder if perhaps it has something to say to us as people grappling with what church might look like in this post modern world. I wonder if we maybe need to recapture some of the mystery of the gospel - perhaps we explain too much and put God too neatly in boxes for fear that people won�t understand and therefore won�t respond.... Maybe like at Fatima the majority of those in our world will embrace the mystery and in the process engage with the Lord of intruige and mystery?

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