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The Irish Hit Melbourne

31 October, 2003 9:49 PM

If you're thinking of visiting Melbourne this weekend you'd better have booked some accommodation a month or two back because the news reported tonight that there is not a spare room in any hotel in the city. Actually there isn't even a spare room in Geelong or Ballarat (two cities 45 minutes and 1.5 hours out of Melbourne). You see the Irish have invaded for one of the biggest sporting weekends of the year.

Tonight Australia is playing Ireland in International Rules Football. (Ireland won the game, but not by enough to stop us winning the series). Tomorrow night Australia and Ireland are playing in the Rugby World Cup.

On top of that Melbourne is in the middle of the Spring Horse Racing Carnival which draws huge crowds of hundreds of thousands on Saturday with Derby Day and then climaxes on Tuesday with the Melbourne Cup (we even get a public holiday for it...woohooo). Irish stayer 'Holy Orders' is running in the cup to complete the weekend for the Irish.

Update: Phew - Australia won the rugby by 1!

Micro Church

31 October, 2003 12:38 PM

Small churches have their unique joys and challenges.

I've been involved in ministry in both now and find myself sometimes a little torn between the two.

I love the intimacy of smaller churches. The depth of community that I'm seeing start to emerge from our group is something I've not experienced much of before. I also love the fluidity of what we have. We have the ability to make decisions, change direction and adapt very quickly. We also are able to focus all our energies upon a given task without having to start a major strategy...or worse starting a committee.

I also love the lack of politics, administration and logistics that we have. In previous churches I've found it so easy to get bogged down in this stuff!

The stats also show smaller churches are often more effective at evangelism.

On the downside I'm constantly aware of our fragility. One person leaving or even being away for a week or two changes the dynamics of the group considerably. For one person to be away in our group is more than 10% of who we are.

There is also some potential for feeling lonely or isolated when your community is small in number. I'm not sure we've felt this too much yet because we all have strong connections with other Christians. We've also met with other smaller groups to get a sense of something bigger than ourselves.

Another challenge is that whilst we are not tied down by complex leadership structures and committees etc we actually the reality is that everyone that is part of the group is actually central in leadership. Whilst this is fantastic it also is weird. As V said the other night, we are all the elders...and the worship team...and the prayer committee...and the welcomers....etc. I personally find this refreshing, but it does add a rather new and strange dynamic.

Its been interesting making the transition from big to small. I'm interested in others experiences of big and small churches - share yours in comments.

Another Blog Study

31 October, 2003 8:45 AM

Another blog study. It samples only 400 English written blogs, interesting results.

The starting point was a this hypothesis based on the media and observing A-list blogs:

1. Blog content tends to be external to the author ie not personal.
2. Blog authors are typically well-educated adult males
3. Blogs are interactive, attracting multiple comments
4. Blogs are heavily interlinked

They found that each of the above was largely untrue. Their findings include the following:

Gender
- 54 % written by males
- Gender of blog author varies according to blog content - eg Personal Journals tend to be written by females (60%) while Filters, Knowledge-logs etc were more likely to be written by males (85%).

Age
- 59% written by people over 20 years old (many adult bloggers appear to be in their early 20's)
- Age of blog author varies according to blog content - eg Personal journals are more likely to be written by teens (60%) while Filters and knowledge-logs are almost always written by Adults (95%).

Comments
- 43% allowed comments
- Mean number of comments: .3. ie most entries receive no comments.

Links
- 69.5% of blogs link to external sites (excluding badges/buttons). ie this means 30% have no external links!
- 8.2% of entries link to news items
- 6.7% of entries link to other blogs
- Therefore most entries contain no links.

Other
- 70% are personal journals
- 70% written within the USA
- 91% are single author blogs

I gleaned these stats from here and here. The results are also here in the form of a powerpoint.

Church in our Living Room

30 October, 2003 10:09 PM

From time to time people ask what does 'church' looks like at LivingRoom? It's a question that is a little difficult to answer mainly because what we do changes from week to week — but I thought I'd attempt to describe a typical night here anyway.

We meet on Tuesday nights, usually at one or another of the groups homes.

- The evening begins with some sort of prayer or reflection. This might be anything from a read prayer to a moment of silence, the lighting of a candle, to a short guided meditation.

- Dinner Time! The meal is usually quite a feast with each person brings something to contribute. We always eat vegetarian food which has often been made with ingredients grown organically in one of the groups gardens. Most of us will have a glass of wine with our meal.

- Dinner is a pretty informal time of sharing, catching up, laughing, story telling and reflecting upon our weeks. We often end up talking about any missional opportunities we've had during the week here.

- After the main course we often move into the living room of the home for some sort of activity or reflection. We tend to mix up what we do in this time from week to week. Some weeks it's fairly discussion oriented around a passage of Scripture. Other weeks we might do a prayer/meditation or some sort of creative worship experience. Some weeks we pause during or after dinner for a formal time of communion - other weeks it is something that goes unspoken, yet amidst our eating and drinking it is obvious that we are celebrating the Lords Supper.

- Depending upon what we've just done and where the group is at, we sometimes end the night with prayer for one another and more sharing.

- Lastly we have dessert, tea (usually herbal — peppermint is a popular choice), coffee and then do the dishes together.

The whole feel of the night is pretty intimate and informal. The most we've ever had on a Tuesday night is 10 people. We currently have 7 committed core members who are all amazing people who I'm coming to be very fond of!

Harry Potter and the Magician's Migraine

30 October, 2003 10:01 PM

A Washington doctor warns that he's seeing a number of children with Hogwarts Headaches. This new ailment is caused from eye strain as kids wade through the 870 page 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'.

Blog Tip 7 - Set Boundaries

30 October, 2003 11:11 AM

I found this great page 47 key tips from the World's best Bloggers.

It was interesting to see that most of them talked about establishing boundaries for the content of your blog.

Here is what some of them had to say:

Meg from Megnut - 'Set boundaries. Think about how much of yourself you're comfortable sharing. You don't have to �tell all�. Just decide which parts of your life you're willing to share, and try to find a balance that works for you.'

Fraser from Blogjam - 'Don't write about work, and avoid writing about people you know in general. You'll end up offending someone.....

This post has been moved. Read the rest of it at Pro Blogger - Set Boundaries

Godblog Stats

30 October, 2003 8:53 AM

Bene Diction has been going nuts looking at 'GodBlogs'. The stats are quite interesting and confirm some of the suspicions that a number of us have voiced previously.

1. 'Godblogs' are more often written by males than females. At JesusJournal 75% of the individual non anonamous blogs listed are written by males. (that includes both live and dead links). This is very similar to my own mini survey of 600 blogs at B4G.

This piece of information on its own is not overly amazing until you compare it with the stats of the 'blogosphere' in general which seems to indicate that in the 'real world' of blogging the split between genders is pretty even if not slightly in favor of females.

2. God Blogs are more often written by people from the US. Over 90% of blogs surveyed were from the US.

Of course these pieces of information are just statistics. They will probably be used by some to support arguments or make points about who is dominating who etc.

For me I guess they are just handy pieces of information to keep in the back of my mind as I surf the blogosphere. Its good to consider who you are listening to in life and to seek to allow the information you ingest to be balanced. I personally read a lot of male American bloggers, but information like this also challenges me to continue to find and interact with bloggers from other perspectives.

Thanks Bene for the stats - looking forward to the next installment.

Fear of the Stranger

29 October, 2003 10:10 PM

'Christian communities fear difference sufficiently that they usually spend a considerable amount of time tending the margins or boundaries of their communities, not in order to connect with those outside but, rather, to protect themselves from strangers.

Sometimes discussions of church membership are more concerned with who is in or out than about how to be an open and welcoming community. This fear of difference is reinforced by a dualistic view of church and world that assigns good spiritual aspects to the church and evil material aspects to the surrounding world The result of this dualistic way of thinking is that Christian communities can excuse their refusal to move out to the margins as a calling to practice piety.'

- Letty Russell in 'Church in the Round'

Last Class Beer

29 October, 2003 4:34 PM

I just finished my last class at college for the year. I'm about 500 words away from finishing my last essay for the year (its on Hospitality in Multicultural Churches). I'm feeling the weight lifting from my shoulders as a I speak.

I might have to treat myself to a quiet celebratory beer tonight!

First Time Here?

29 October, 2003 4:15 PM

Is this your first time to this site? If so welcome to the LivingRoom. Pull up a bean bag, grab a coffee and stay a while.

My name is Darren Rowse. I live in Melbourne Australia. If you want to know more about me click here.

What is this Website?

You are currently reading a blog.

  • In short a blog is an online journal or diary.
  • They are usually written by one person and are updated pretty regularly.
  • Blogs are usually written on a particular topic - there are blogs on virtually any topic you can think of. From photography, to spirituality, to recipes, to personal diaries to hobbies.
  • There are literally millions of blogs in existence at the moment. If you want more info on blogging and how to start a blog read this article or check out my own Blog Tips.
  • My blog 'LivingRoom' is a pretty general one that covers all kinds of topics from Spirituality, Technology, Culture, Emerging Church through to Blogging, Movies and Australiana.
  • How do I read it?

  • You are currently deep in the middle of my blog on an individual entry page. It is a simple entry on one topic only. To get to the main part of my page click on the Home link at the topic of this page to go to the front page. Most people surf into the front page which contains the most recent updates. At the top of that page is the last thing I wrote and under that are entries from the last week.
  • Each blog entry is followed by some text that looks like this - 'Have your say? >> Comments (4)'. This is an invitation for you to interact with what I've just written. I read every comment that you post. The number in brackets is how many people have already made comments. Click on the link and you'll be taken to a new window where you can make a comment. You do not have to leave a name, email or web address to leave a comment.
  • The front page only has the last 7 days entries on it. I have been doing this since November 2002 so there is a lot more material than what you see on the front page. To view older material there are a few options.
    • At the top of every page is a number of links. Click on the Archives link and you will be taken to a page listing every entry since the beginning of this blog. They are arranged in catagories

    • If you are searching for something in particular there is a search option in the side bar on the front page that allows you to search for words or phrases.

    • At the end of each entry is a reference to a Category that they entry belongs to. If you click on this it will lead you to the last 30 entries from within the same category.

    If you have any question please or would like to know more about me or this blogging thing please feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email. (see Contact link above).

  • Blog Tip 6 - The Rhythm Method

    29 October, 2003 7:54 AM

    One of the keys to blogging is frequent posting. This is what distinguishes weblogs from from static websites.

    The average blogger posts once every 14 days - personally I tend to mainly visit bloggers who update more regularly than that. As a blog reader I get to know the rhythm of the blogs that I read. I don't mind if they are daily, weekly or even fortnightly bloggers - but whatever their rhythm I find myself loosing interest if they disappear for unexplained periods of time. So get into a rhythm of blogging.

    I personally blog....

    This post has been moved to Pro Blogger - The Rhythm Method of Blogging.

    What do we do with New Christians?

    28 October, 2003 4:43 PM

    Should we extract New Christians from their 'secular' networks, or resource them to live there missionaly?

    Recently I've found myself in a number of conversations with new Christians.

    Its so exciting to spend time with people who have just made a decision to journey with Jesus and who are discovering God in new ways. They have so much energy, so much passion and the biggest and most fantastic ideas about sharing Jesus with those around them. It is inspiring to hang with them.

    Having had these conversations I'm left asking the question 'What do we do with new Christians?'

    In some senses they are 'babies' in their faith, they don't know much, sometimes they come with 'rough edges' and behavior that disturbs those of us who have lived our lives almost exclusively in church circles.

    One of the typical responses that I've seen from churches is to extract the new Christian out of their current life and place them in a new and improved one. This is done for their protection and to build them up in faith. They are told to 'clean up their act' behaviorally, to stop hanging around with their current friends (who have a bad influence on them) and to spend copious amounts of time at church services, in bible study groups, in new believers classes, baptism classes and socializing...sorry 'in fellowship'... with their new family.

    I know numerous people who within weeks of becoming Christians went through this process, even to the extent of being told to change jobs, end long term relationships and move into new suburbs to be closer to their new life at Church.

    Whilst I agree there are times when extraction might be good (ie in cases of addiction or abuse) I wonder if it is really a wise - or biblical - approach.

    Neil Cole recently said 'What you do with a new Christian in the first 24 hours is crucial - the first 24 hours is like an imprint upon their lives that will greatly impact how they live for years to come.' He went on to say that if you treat them like 'babies', they will usually continue to live as babies.

    His approach was very different. It included immediate baptism (no classes or preparation period), immediate immersion in Scripture (they get them into small groups that read 30 chapters a week) and immediate evangelism and praying for friends. They are not babied but rather their energy and passion is harnessed and the momentum is allowed to continue. New Christians are not extracted from their network, rather the aim is to start a new church within it. The new Christian instantly becomes a missionary in the world they live. As a result they often see whole families, groups of friends and networks won for Christ very quickly.

    This approach makes a lot of sense to me. What do you think?

    Why Do I Read the Blogs I Read?

    28 October, 2003 4:42 PM

    Brian got me thinking a little by asking the question:

    'Why Do I Read the Blogs I Read?'

    Its a question worth asking - both as a blog reader and writer. I left my comments there - leave yours too.

    Blog Tip 5 — Titles are Everything

    28 October, 2003 7:59 AM

    After slaving away on your latest blog post pause before you hit that 'publish' button and consider your title. What does it convey to your potential reader? Titles can be the difference between having your post read or ignored. Of course there are No Rules that will guarantee your post to get noticed, but you might want to consider some of the following.

    Simplify — Studies show that blog readers prefer straightforward, short and simple titles to cute or cryptic ones.....

    The rest of this Blog Tip on Titles has been moved to Pro Blogger - Blog Content Tip - Titles are Everything

    Australian Idol - Farewell Paulini

    27 October, 2003 9:34 PM

    Keep up to date with season two of Australian Idol at Australian Idol Blog.

    Update: Cosima Withdraws from the Show!

    Paulini.jpgLast night Australia narrowed the competition down to three and eliminated Paulini (who in my opinion was in the top two!) Once again I think the voting system was partly to blame for her 'eviction' - had we been given the opportunity to vote the worst performance out last night Cosima would have gone for sure. Its all the wrong way around.

    Update: Can't sleep tonight - so I thought I'd log onto the Australian Idol Chat page (yeah I'm bored). One of the main things that is being 'chatted' about is Paulini being voted out because of the color of her skin. I don't buy into this at all. The voting system will not allow you to target and vote someone out like that - not based on the color of your skin, your dress choice, your talent ...anything.

    Update - Click here for Guy's Climb Every Mountain

    Update II: Cosima Withdraws from the Show!

    Serenity Now!

    27 October, 2003 4:56 PM

    Can I suggest you check out this excellent brand new blog called Serenity Dawn. It is written by Michelle who has been commenting on my blog for a while now. She describes herself as a:

    South African single mom
    Christian worship musician
    Day-dreamer
    Seeker of many things on a long journey

    I've only been in conversation with her a couple of weeks but I suspect there will be some good stuff coming out of her blog. Head over and make her feel welcome to the neighborhood.

    Hospitality

    27 October, 2003 1:14 PM

    When did Hospitality become an Industry rather then just a normal and expected part of life and faith?

    Blog Tip 4 — Make it Scannable

    27 October, 2003 8:04 AM

    Only 16% of people read web sites word for word. Source

    Most people read online by scanning the page for individual words or phrases, headings and other visual cues. Studies have shown that reading from a screen is more tiring and therefore about 25% slower than reading from paper — hense scanning becomes a technique that most employ....

    This post has been moved to Pro Blogger - Writing Blog Content - Make it Scannable

    Church and Discipleship

    27 October, 2003 7:57 AM

    'We need to lower the bar of what it means to be a church and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.'

    Neil Cole - 15th October 2003

    Patenting Shock and Awe

    26 October, 2003 10:59 PM

    The US patent office has had a run of trademark applications using "Shock and Awe" in their names. The list of 29 products includes condoms, coffee, golf clubs, pesticides, dietary supplements, fireworks, video games, salsa, energy drinks, yo-yos, lingerie, Bloody Mary mix and "infant action crib toys. Source

    Blog Roll Poll

    26 October, 2003 12:22 PM

    In the past month a number of people have mentioned to me (via email, msn and in person) that one of the things that annoys them about my blog is that the blog roll links open in a new window. One has refrains from reading my blog because of it!

    I'd not considered that this might irritate some. I originally set it up that way because I personally found it easier to surf my blog roll that way. Since I've started using tabbed browsing with Safari it doesn't whether I have it or not personally.

    Interested in what others think about it? Does it annoy you?

    Lets take a poll in comments - should I change it or keep it - or don't you care? Feel free to be brutally honest - I'd rather know if people are annoyed by something in my blog than to find out later - or never know.

    The decision is in your hands.

    Worst album covers of all time

    26 October, 2003 12:01 PM

    Gianna has posted her worst album covers of all time. Very amusing.

    Rugby World Cup Thrashing

    25 October, 2003 5:49 PM

    Australia d Namibia

    142 - 0

    Need I say anything else?

    Thank you

    25 October, 2003 4:01 PM

    This is just a quick post to say thanks to those sites that generously linked to my post on length of stay at blogs. Thanks a lot.

    Psalm 121

    25 October, 2003 2:15 PM

    Have found myself drawn to this Psalm the past few days.

    I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
    No, my strength comes from GOD,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

    He won't let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
    Not on your life! Israel's
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.

    GOD's your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you--
    Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moonstroke.

    GOD guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
    He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always.

    Blog Tip 3 - Blog Designers

    25 October, 2003 1:47 PM

    My post Where are the Blog Designers? got a bit of interest yesterday and a number of Blog Designers let us know about themselves and gave examples of their work.

    I thought I'd give them a little exposure here:

    As previously mentioned Cre8d Design is a personal favorite of mine. She produces clean....

    This post has been moved - read more of it at Pro Blogger - Blog Designers.

    Droolings over Apples

    25 October, 2003 1:40 PM

    I've avoided heading over to Apple since hearing about the release of the new G4 ibook. I had a feeling they'd release one soon and having bought a G3 ibook last year I wish they'd done it sooner. Oh well. It looks like a great little machine and pretty cheap too! Hmmm...I wonder how much I'd get for my G3 as a trade in.

    I am also tossing up whether to fork out the money to buy the OS X Panther. Would be interested to hear how others are finding it if they go the upgrade.

    Open Mike

    24 October, 2003 8:06 AM

    mike.jpgNo posting today as I'm heading down the highway to Nana's funeral.

    But there is plenty for you to do here - yesterday I posted 6 times - interested to hear your thoughts on some of those issues. There are some good conversations happening in those comments sections already.

    Feel free to post comments on this post on any topic you'd like. The keys to the Living Room are in your hands.

    Tell us what you're thinking (and blogging about today), share your own blog tips or get something off your chest.

    Have fun - last person out please shut the door behind you!

    update: the funeral went very well. It was good to see a lot of family we hadn't connected with for a long time. The feeling was one of celebration of a life well lived. It was a long day, but a worthwhile one.

    Thanks for your support - normal blogging will resume tomorrow.

    The Matrix - Revolutions

    23 October, 2003 10:41 PM

    November 5th will see The Matrix - Revolutions released.

    November 6th will see youth pastors across the globe trying to incorporate it into their Sunday night sermons. The Christian blog scene will be in a frenzy interpreting what it all means. Parallels between Neo and Christ will be drawn til the cows come home.

    I remember last year when The Matrix - Reloaded was released reading two blog reviews of the movie that came from a similar yet different perspective to the typical Christian review. One was from a Muslim gentleman the other from a Jewish woman. Both interpreted it through their own faith perspectives.

    Strange how the same thing can be interpreted through such different lenses.

    Here are some links looking at the movies from different perspectives.

    Buddhism, Christianity, and The Matrix

    Matrix as Messiah Movie

    Similarities between the Matrix and the Gospel

    The Matrix is a Parable of old-fashion religious redemption

    The New Gnostic Gospel

    The Matrix and Nondual Spirituality

    Is the movie "The Matrix" about the Christianity Meme?

    Philosophy and the Matrix

    The Matrix and Quantum Consciousness

    The Matrix and Buddhism

    The Matrix: Religion vs. Philosophy

    The Matrix and Skepticism

    Escaping the Matrix

    The Matrix, or, the two sides of Perversion

    Myth meets Internet in 'Matrix'

    Moving into the Matrix: An examination of postmodernism, Cyberpunk, and technology's role in future societies

    The Matrix Metaphor

    Reexamining Reloaded: A Christian Perspective on the Matrix Trilogy

    Matrix Reloaded Explained

    Matrix Continues New Age Gospel of Christian, Egyptian & Greek Mythology Blend

    Review of Matrix Revolutions from a Christian perspective - and another

    The Matrix Revolutions: Back to a Messianic Allegory

    There are loads more links out there. I have not read all of the above and cannot guarantee their quality, but offer it as a starting point for thinking about the different perspectives on this fascinating trilogy that people have taken. Enjoy. Feel free to leave your own links in comments.

    update: My reflections on how the Matrix has made people think.

    You may also be interested in a similar list on links about The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

    If you have found this entry helpful helpful please consider making a contribution to help keep this site running.

    Where are the Blog Designers?

    23 October, 2003 4:23 PM

    Over the past week I've had a number of people ask me how to start a blog.

    One of the frustrations that those starting blogs face is how to get it looking right. Most blog services come with a limited number of free templates (just surf blogs for 15 minutes and you'll see most of them) but to get something that looks unique means you have to know some html and have some web design skills. When I started I had neither - today I know enough to know I know nothing.

    As a result I've ended up with a blog that has evolved over the past year. Slowly I've added to it bit by bit. My coding is messy. I'm sure it could load a lot faster if I knew how to streamline it. When I look at my templates I'm sure they are held together with 'virtual string and chewing gum'. I'm too scared to change it now, although it desperately needs updating, for fear of ruining it all.

    There are a few sites out there that help people design their own templates - but the more I search the more I realize just how few options there are for the novice blogger. There is a big opportunity for some blog designers to provide some services for the blogger just starting out.

    If I knew what I now know when I first started this blog I'd get it designed professionally. The outlay of a couple of hundred dollars would have been well worth it.

    But where are the blog designers? I've seen a few around - one of the best is Cre8d Design. She's a specialist blog designer who runs her own blog and knows what she's doing - but I haven't seen too many others.

    Perseus estimates there are 4.2 million blogs in existence already and that by the end of next year there will be over 10.2 million - surely the market is big enough for people to be coming up with some affordable yet flexible designs for the novice.

    Is blog design something that will remain a 'do it yourself' domain? Is it not profitable enough to specialize in? Where are the blog designers?

    George W. Bush in Australia

    23 October, 2003 4:15 PM

    George W. Bush waltzed into Australia last night and has been received with a very mixed response.

    The protests in most capital cities around the country started last night and continued throughout the day with around 5000 people booing him as he entered Parliament in Canberra.

    He started a Mutual Admiration Society with our Prime Minister. He had an Aussie BBQ at our Prime Ministers house with some of out top sporting stars.

    His speech to our parliament was disrupted by two of our Senators who were then asked to leave. Other MPs protested a little more subtly by wearing armbands, badges and not standing to applaud him (radical hey!?!).

    He avoided any contact with the Australian media.

    This afternoon he's lay a wreath at the War Memorial and head off after his 21 hours in the country.

    Blog Tip 2 - Keep it Simple (Stupid)

    23 October, 2003 1:49 PM

    The average person only comprehends 60% of what they read. How much do you comprehend?.

    To ensure your reader 'gets' what you're saying you need to make it clear by using some of the following techniques.

    - Use simple language. Avoid technical jargon.

    - Don't introduce too many ideas in one post. You can always add another post later.....

    This post has been moved. Read more of it at Writing Blog Content - Keep it Simple

    Blog Tip 1 - Get to the Point

    23 October, 2003 10:31 AM

    The average person reads 200 words per minute - What's Yours? (The speed reading record is 1347 wpm)

    In 96 seconds they will read 320 words.

    So keep things short and to the point. I know this sounds crazy coming from me - but the stats show my longer posts are often largely are ignored.

    EXTENDED ENTRY - If you're going to write a long post....

    Read the rest of this blog tip at Pro Blogger - Get to the Point

    The 96 second window of opportunity

    23 October, 2003 10:30 AM

    We've established that the average Joe spends about 96 seconds at your blog. Its not long in the scheme of things - but when you think about it its actually a real opportunity.

    - The average TV commercial is 15-30 seconds long. (you could fit four in that time!)
    - You can learn the Tango in 60 seconds
    - You can Learn to be more creative in 60 seconds
    - All it takes is 60 seconds to change the world
    - All it takes is 30 seconds to become Famous
    - It only takes 30 Seconds to make half a gallon of ice-cream
    - The world record for speed reading is 1347.81 wpm. (she could read 2156.496 words in 96 seconds!)

    Get the picture - 96 seconds is actually a real window of opportunity! So how do we make the most of it as bloggers? Leave your tips in comments - and stay tuned for some of my ideas - hopefully we'll all learn something in the process.

    Blog Tip 1 - Get to the Point
    Blog Tip 2 - Keep it Simple...Stupid

    Blog Statistics - Length of Stay

    22 October, 2003 10:56 AM

    How long does the average blog reader stay on a blog on any given visit?

    I searched for the statistic on Google but couldn't find it so I decided to do some of my own investigations.

    I headed over to The Truth Laid Bear: Traffic Ranking Page. It lists blogs in order of how much traffic they attract. It is limited to blogs using the Site Meter stats package that have made their statistic public.

    I surveyed 350 blogs - 25% of the blogs listed (it took me a few days on my dial up connection) and found the following results.

    According to Site Meter stats the average reader spends 96 seconds reading the average blog.

    The blogs surveyed came from across the board in terms of their traffic levels. (ie I took results from everything from Instapundit (who reportedly has 80768 visits a day) through to The Trouble with the Baby (who has 1 visit per day).

    Other findings

    - The top ten blogs on the list had an average of only 37 seconds where as the bottom ten averaged 83 seconds.

    - Apart from the 'top ten' there was not a huge difference between blogs receiving high and low traffic. For example - blogs receiving 60 visits per day had an average visit length of 100 seconds which was almost the same as blogs averaging 2000 visits a day (ave 97 seconds).

    - Blogs with comments scored a higher average than those without. (this might partly explain the 'top ten' scoring lower as most of them do not have comments) I did not collect data on this, but it became very clear anecdotally.

    Implications

    96 seconds is not a very long time. It is quite disillusioning to realize that after slaving over a post for hours (or days as this one has taken me) that it is likely to be skimmed over in less than two minutes)

    The average blogger would desire to lengthen the stay of their reader. This motivation might be that they are trying to create community and build relationships with their readers. It might be that they have advertising on their site (the longer the stay the more chance of a click through) or it might be that they are wanting to have some sort of a lasting impact on their reader through their writing - the longer the stay the higher chance of this.

    Is interaction the key?

    My study is by no means conclusive in terms of comments adding to length of stay on blogs - however it does indicate that if bloggers allow for their readers to respond and interact with the writer and each other that they will stay longer. Therefore an interactive approach might be a wise move for bloggers desiring lengthy visits.

    Questions and areas for further research

    - Does blog design/loading time impact the the length of stay?
    - Does blog topic impact the length of stay?
    - Do bloggers from certain countries (with high local readership) have different lengths of stay?
    - Does posting length have an impact?
    - How are News Aggregators impacting length of stay?

    This brief survey is limited by the accuracy of Site Meters measuring of length of stay The way they do this is by measuring the difference in time between page views on a site. Accuracy is a problems as some readers will only view the one page on a site - thus registering a time of 0 seconds for their length of stay. Once again this may partly explain how the 'top ten' have low averages as I guess that they would have more readers surfing in throughout the day to check for updates and not surfing through links. As a result of this my 'study' is not something to base life an death blogging decisions on - but is something I'm posting more out of interest than anything else.

    I would love to hear your opinions on these results - ideas for further research and ways that you try to lengthen the stay of your readers.

    So grab a coffee, put your feet up click on comments below and stay a while!

    UPDATE: Rachel from Cre8d Design has just posted a great post tell us Why Visit Length Statistics are Meaningless which explains my above concerns with my 'study' a lot better than I can.

    Also in this series of posts How long is 96 seconds? -- Blog Tip 1 - Get to the Point -- Blog Tip 2 - Keep it Simple...Stupid.

    Also out my mini study into Gender and Blogging in the 'God-blogosphere.

    Bonhoeffer

    22 October, 2003 8:59 AM

    bonhoeffer_poster.jpgLast night for Living Room we went to to our local cinema to see Bonhoeffer - the documentary which tells the amazing story of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

    Having read some of his work I found the film added a new dimension to his writing as it brought alive the circumstances he found himself in. I always knew of his imprisonment by the Nazi regime and his part in the plots to kill Hitler, but seeing the photos and hearing first hand accounts added so much.

    We all left the cinema very challenged by the cost that he paid for his faith. Whilst its no hollywood blockbuster (it is a little dry) its an important and challenging film that I highly recommend. I'd rate it 7.5 out of 10.

    Spencer Tunick Photos

    21 October, 2003 9:36 PM

    I logged onto my photolog this afternoon and there has been a flood of hits looking for Spencer Tunick photos. I only mentioned him in passing one day. He must have just had another photoshoot somewhere and everyone is looking for the shots. Sorry, I don't have any photos - but the Spencer Tunick site is here.

    Also available on .

    Nana's Garden - A Memorial

    21 October, 2003 11:43 AM

    This morning my Nana, Ethel Rowse, passed away. She was 90. Thank you to all that have been praying for her and our family these past weeks. On Thursday after visiting the hospital Dad and I took a trip out of her little house to pick up some papers. While dad found them I took a walk through her garden with my digital camera. It is a place where I have many memories of her.

    The garden is a little run down now as she's been in care for a while. Nana loved her garden, it brought a lot of joy to her and our family and so I'll post these pictures of it and the views from her house in loving memory of her.

    house.jpg

    flower1.jpg

    flower2.jpg

    flower3.jpg

    flower4.jpg

    view.jpg

    (click for enlarged views)

    Too White for Asia?

    21 October, 2003 10:52 AM

    'The tiny island nation's Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, said Australians could not be regarded as "indigenous Asians".' This is how Melbourne's Herald Sun reported Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's remarks. The Age and The Australian pick up the same story.

    It's an interesting question. It boils down to a question of identity - Who are we?

    It reminds me of the statement a friend made recently about this - he said 'You are trying to be like America. Your roots are in Europe and you're living in Asia. You guys have no idea who you are.'

    So what are our roots? From where do we come?

    Indigenous Australians have lived here for thousands of years. In the latest two centuries we were 'settled' (many are now realizing it was actually an invasion) by the English. Since that time there have been waves of immigration from a variety of countries of origin. Early on it was mainly those from the UK and Northern Europe. This century there have many from Greece, Italy and other Southern European countries and more recently an influx of new Australians from Asia (5% of our population were born there), Africa and the Middle East. (Since World War II about 5.5 million immigrants have come to Australia.)

    25% of Australians were born overseas. 40% have at least one parent who was born overseas. We are increasingly multicultural and have an incredible mix of ethnic backgrounds. Melbourne is proud of its multicultural influences and for years boasted of having the largest Greek population in the world outside of Athens.

    But the fact of the matter is that the majority of Australians are Anglo and yet geographically we find ourselves in the Asia Pacific.

    Politically we are increasingly aligning ourselves with America.

    George W Bush recently called us the 'Sherif' of the Asia Pacific - a partner (should that be pardner?) of the US in keeping law and order in the region. This was met with cries of protest from the region. Some responded by labeling us the 'puppet' of the region. To me the 'sherif' tag reeks of arrogance and shows a lack of understanding of the region.

    So who are we? We are Australian. We need to remember that we are small in population (19,967,601 last time I checked. (it will increase by one every 2 or so minutes) Despite our leadership's power plays, ideas of self importance and arrogance we are but a bit player on the world scene. Perhaps we need to quit pretending we are anything else and get on with loving our neighbor and serving our region.

    How Inclusive?

    21 October, 2003 10:13 AM

    Leighton asks 'Should a church�accept everyone�regardless of their commitment to Jesus Christ?' I left my comments there.

    The Perfect Blog Post?

    20 October, 2003 8:00 PM

    Saw a post over at The Lingering Lemon of Death that totally captivated me by incorporating three of my greatest loves.

    Coffee - Photography - Philosophical Thought

    Australian Idol - More Controversy

    20 October, 2003 6:40 PM

    Keep up to date with season two of Australian Idol at Australian Idol Blog.

    Update: Cosima Withdraws from the Show!

    Paulini is in the thick of controversy again. Last night the two male judges, Dicko and Mark Holden, both criticized her dress - one took it a step further and told her to 'shed some pounds' if she was going to pull off a dress like she wore. Of course today talk back radio and the evening current affair programs went into a frenzy over the issue. I reckon this will guarantee Paulini gets through at least to the next round as Australia once again reacts against the comments of the judges. We'll find out tonight.

    I reckon there will be some new judges on Australian Idol II.

    I still think my theories on the voting system are having an impact.

    Update: As I suspected - Paulini got through. Apparently there were more votes tonight than ever before. Rob (Millsy) was voted out. Good decision Australia.

    Update: Paulini's Out! and Guy just Climbed Every Mountain!

    Update II: Cosima Withdraws from the Show!

    Differences between Traditional/Seeker/Emerging Church

    20 October, 2003 9:08 AM

    I received an email from a college student in the US over the weekend asking for information on Emerging Church's approach to Care.

    Due to personal circumstances this week I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get around to answering it so I thought I'd open it up for discussion in the hope that others might be able to offer her some wisdom. Here is what she wrote...

    'In my Pastoral Thelogy class I am studing the differences between the traditional, seeker sensitive, and the emerging church. I was hoping that some of my research would come from people who are involved in these churches and who have a understanding of them. If you could give me any information on the views and ways that the emerging church does things it would be greatly appreciated.

    The topic is care.
    Definition
    Assumptions/Starting point
    Styles
    Visitation
    Water Baptism
    Communion
    Baby dedications
    Weddings
    Healing ministries
    Counseling Funerals
    Ministry to the poor/ compassionate ministries
    Church discipline
    Methodologies
    Models
    Metaphors
    Biblical Example of how the emerging church would do care

    Feel free to contribute to the conversation below.

    Japanese Story

    19 October, 2003 6:09 PM

    Just saw Japanese Story starring Toni Collette and Gotaro Tsunashim. Its been receiving pretty good reviews in the papers, but I'm afraid I found it rather slow.

    The basic plot is about a Japanese man visiting the outback of Australia who falls in love with an Australian woman. There were some good things about the movie — the first half was interesting. The interaction between Japanese and Australian cultures, some amazing scenery (its my favourite part of the world) and some humorous scenes. It was ok until they fell in love — and then I'm afraid I began to doze. Toni was good, but the characters all seemed underdeveloped but the plot ...well it lost the plot. 5 out of 10.

    Sauna World Championships

    19 October, 2003 11:14 AM

    Sauna World Championships. What is it? Basically its the person who remains sitting in a steaming sauna with temperatures between 100-110C for the longest time!

    Source - Presurfer

    Marrying Fido

    19 October, 2003 10:50 AM

    You and Fido have been living together for a few years now. He's been faithful. You know each others routines, likes and dislikes. You can put up with his hair on the couch, woopsies on the porch and his howling at the moon. Perhaps its time to take the relationship to the next level!? You need to contact Marry Your Pet.

    Drink Mowing

    18 October, 2003 3:52 PM

    Man loses driving license for drink driving...on his lawn mower

    GodBlog Awards

    18 October, 2003 11:38 AM

    Superblessed is holding his annual Christian Blogger awards and has been kind enough to include Living Room in his list. Thanks Ganns. If only he'd have a category for 'ability to post on topics ranging from farting to spiritual formation in the space of an hour'. I think I'd be competitive in that one!

    His list is packed with quality links - a lot that I've never heard of before - which says to me that the 'GodBlog' Community is getting bigger and bigger. Check some of them out - there is enough to keep you going for quite some time.

    George W. Bush is 50 Cent!

    17 October, 2003 10:55 PM

    GeorgeWBush.gif50Cent.jpg50 cent is heading for Australia and as usual when such artists announce tours the debate begins as to whether people with criminal records should be allowed in the country.

    Its happened before - most recently with Eminem. The protest will be made (I wouldn't be surprised if it is actually started by his tour promoters) - pressure will be applied on the government - there will be a media frenzy - he will be allowed entry - the concerts will happen - they will be sold out due to the publicity - there will be no incidents but lots of rumors - 50 cent will leave Australia a lot richer.

    If only George W Bush could pull the same scam on his upcoming visit to Australia - he'd be able to fund his upcoming presidential race purely out of the pockets of teen age Australians.

    Hmmm....maybe 50 Cent and George W. Bush are actually one in the same person and they are out here to raise campaigning money! That would explain why they are both here at once. Has anyone ever seen the two of them in the same room before?? I think I might be onto something here.

    Where Would Jesus Go? - Revisited

    17 October, 2003 1:49 PM

    Michelle (I'm trying to get her to start a blog - it'd be great) has been dropping by my blog for a little while now and last night left a great comment on an old post (Where Would Jesus Go? - which at the time created a bit of debate). I thought it was a pity to leave a good comment like this lurking in the archives where no one will stumble on it. This is what she wrote:

    Just gotta throw this into the mix, even though it's an "old" discussion. Here in Cape Town, South Africa, there's a church for prositutes - begun simply because there are those trapped in a lifestyle they can't see out of, but feel they need a place to meet God and that they'd be shunned if they turned up on an ordinary church doorstep. Pretty spot-on re the last one I suspect. Anyway, this church is providing a place for the street ladies to meet God and out of that has come some life-changing stuff.

    Yes, we DO need to get out into the world to be able to see and change it. We need to be able to relate to how people "out there" perceive things in order to minister in a relevant way to them. There are many folk who simply won't come to us.

    I don't feel we should hate the sinner. God requires us to love each other as Christians, to show His unconditional love. I believe that a conviction of "sin" in one's life comes into focus the closer you get to God - pretty soon you'll know you can't keep it up and still be completely God's.

    And yes, if Jesus were here today we'd find him hanging out at the places folk need him most. Whether it's the member keeping up apperances in the back pew at church or the drunk passed out in the alley outside the bar. See this article on Next-Wave for inspiration!

    Thanks Michelle.

    US Faith Poll

    17 October, 2003 11:08 AM

    'Fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles, according to the latest FOX News poll. Though belief in God has remained at about the same level, belief in the devil has increased slightly over the last few years � from 63 percent in 1997 to 71 percent today.'

    Other observations from the study include:

    - Women were more likely to believe in the supernatural than men.
    - Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they believe in the God, heaven, hell and the devil.
    - Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they believe in reincarnation, astrology, ghosts and UFOs.
    - Young people are much more likely than older Americans to believe in both hell and the devil.

    It Works

    16 October, 2003 9:34 PM

    He Noticed.

    Thanks all for the comments and emails letting me know you're thinking about my family at the moment - it means a lot to know people are praying for us - please pray for my parents and their siblings especially as they are going through what I went through yesterday on a daily basis.

    Sadness

    16 October, 2003 8:37 PM

    Today was a sad day. I spent a few hours this afternoon with my Nana who is very ill in hospital. Its hard saying goodbye.

    Blogging Crushes Revealed

    16 October, 2003 12:24 PM

    Thanks for the overwhelming response to my call for your 'Blogging Crushes'. It reminds me of July's Underblog Campaign.

    Ok here are the results. I should have asked for URLs as well as names of blogs - some I've tracked down, others I havn't. If you could leave URLs in comments I'll add them to make them live links.

    Remember what we're doing here is trying make connections with people. Its not about climbing the blog ladder, but introducing people to bloggers they admire the work of. If you know one of the people who is admired - be a go between between the crushee and the crusher (hmm...bad terminology). Help make some connections.

    Bene started the ball rolling by revealing an admiration for Real Live Preacher

    Beth likes Wendy Cooper.

    Phil has a crush on Leslie Harpold, The Happy Tutor and Rageboy.

    Barry likes James Lileks.

    David Trigueros likes LivingRoom...awww shucks....Rudy and Josh.

    Christop had one on Broken Hammock and was successful in making the connection. There is hope!!

    Irene (who I think is a mighty fine blogger) admires some of the pomo bloggers including Jordon Cooper, Ballad of a Thin Man/Tall Skinny Kiwi and Signposts

    Josh talked about Jordon Cooper too.

    Denise thinks Josh is pretty good (he just keeps coming up) and also mentions Parading His Greatness and 7 Day Holy which both look like quality blogs.

    Missy likes anyone who responds and interacts with her (this was a very common theme) and mentioned some examples of people who have as being Bene Jon, Kevin, Jen, Rachel

    Stacy also likes interactive bloggers who take notice of their readers and mentions Clarity amidst Chaos and Josh special.

    Clarence is smitten with Real Live Preacher and The World According to Chuck.

    Alice (who I've been reading a lot lately) thinks Richard is great and also likes Rachel, and Bene and yours truly.

    Luke is looking for someone to have a crush on him. I sort of do, but then he doesn't quite fit the criteria as we know each other quite well! But if you're looking for someone to have a blog crush on I'd recommend him and will do the introductions!

    Mike just loves it when someone goes to the effort of leaving a comment on his blog.

    Rich likes Gavin Again and Tall Skinny Kiwi.

    So there you have it - installment one of blog crushes. Hope you have some fun clicking through some of those. If nothing else I've found a few new blogs through the process - there is some real quality in the list, including those who have crushes.

    I'm happy to do a second installment if you want to leave more crushes here (please leave URLs as well as names of blogs).

    Remember - can you help connections for people????

    I'm Spent

    16 October, 2003 12:37 AM

    It was a big day today, but a good one.

    This morning I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop by Neil Cole from Church Multiplication Associates which from what I've heard and read is doing some amazing things in the US and more recently globally. They expect to have planted 180 organic churches in just 12 months by the end of the year.

    Neil's input was excellent. Whilst I had heard similar things before the strength of what he said was that he was not talking in purely theoretic terms but rather spoke out of years of experience of church planting and evangelism at the coal face. Some of his stories were remarkable. I'll try to post some more reflections on the morning in the coming days.

    I had to leave the workshop early to go present a paper at college. It was on Event-Centred congregations in comparison to Programmatic-Centred ones. I think it went well.

    Tonight we had Living Room. It was a sad night in many ways as one of our founding members announced to the group that she was moving on. She will leave a hole and be sadly missed - however I think we all sense God is at work in the transition. Still sad. We also had a great discussion on John 15. I love that passage. We also had a really inspiring time of dreaming about ways that we can make connections in our community and support one another in mission through natural gatherings and intentional involvement in one another's lives. It was a very energizing discussion.

    Tired now though, feeling numb but satisfied.

    The quiet re-emergence of the church

    16 October, 2003 12:05 AM

    Melbourne Newspaper The Age today had an interesting article entitled The quiet re-emergence of the church. Its about some of the changes that are happening here in Melbourne in the church.

    I was excited to hear about it (thanks for the email Rob) but was a little surprised by the content - it didn't really go into much detail or give any specific examples of communities that were 'emerging'. Maybe it wasn't the place for examples but I found it a very general and not very grounded.

    Whilst I'm glad it is on the agenda, I'm somewhat disappointed by the article and wonder what the point of it really was.

    Update: Signposts already has commented on it - similar sentiments to mine, yet more eloquently expressed.

    Potluck Worship

    15 October, 2003 9:24 AM

    "The origins of the word liturgy can be traced back to a combination of the ancient Greek leiter or work and laos or people and meant "something performed for the benefit of the city." Early church leaders used it to refer to "something performed by the people for the benefit of others." ...This notion, when applied to the work of worship, was new to me. I had rather naively viewed worship as something like a meal in a restaurant. If the worship leaders, who might be compared to the chef, host, hostess, and servers, did their work well, we "feasted." If their effort was more routine, we might be filled and satisfied. If their work was sloppy or inattentive, we might leave hungry or frustrated.

    On that Sunday morning at East Harlem Parish, with a ministry that crossed the borders of race, class, and culture, I had a different experience. Worship was more like a church potluck supper. Everyone contributed; everyone participated; everyone benefited."

    From Charles Foster's Embracing Diversity: Leadership in multicultural congregations. (p100)

    Bells Palsy Links

    14 October, 2003 10:45 PM

    Since telling the story of my Bells Palsy condition (or Bells Paulsy as some have spelt it) I've had a lot of people email me asking questions about the condition. I don't know much from a medical perspective, all I can really share is my own story. Because a lot of people are searching for information on it, I thought I'd post some links that might be of help. Feel free to add your own in comments and I'll add them to the main post. Here is what I've found so far:

    Bells Palsy Information Site - This is comprehensive - includes FAQ's, Treatments, Descriptions, Links and Forums.

    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Bells Palsy Page

    Neurology Channel

    A personal Bells Palsy Page

    Doctor what is Bells Palsy?

    An Interactive Tutorial into Bells Palsy. This one is very interesting - requires Flash.

    The Bells Palsy Network: A technical Explanation of Bells Palsy

    Kids Health: Bells Palsy Explained

    A Bells Palsy Diary: Personal Story

    Bells Palsy Information Centre

    Bells Palsy Facial Exercises

    National Center for Facial Paralysis

    Bells Palsy Discussion Forum

    A personal story of Bells Palsy

    (Book)

    *DISCLAIMER The intent of this post is to provide some general background about Bell's palsy, and to suggest some starting points for further investigation. Whilst care has been taken with the selection of links presented the accuracy of information obtained from these links cannot be guaranteed. I am not and do not pretend to be a medical practitioner and strongly advise readers to consult with a qualified health care provider before taking any action. Readers take full responsibility for any action taken as a result of these links. I hope that they are of some help.

    If you have found this entry helpful helpful please consider making a contribution to help keep this site running.

    Slick's Pic

    14 October, 2003 4:52 PM

    Just added a pic of Slick to my previous entry Glimpses of Slick. Thanks to Shaz for it - its exactly as I remember him.

    Blogging Crushes

    14 October, 2003 9:00 AM

    Have you ever had a 'crush' on another blogger? I don't mean a romantic crush where you feel butterflies every time your news aggregator tells you they've posted and where you dream of walking into cyber sunsets holding their virtual hands.

    I mean has there ever been a blogger that you've admired from a far (purely as a blogger), that you'd like to get into dialogue with - perhaps even get on their blog roll? You love their style of writing, their witty off the cuff remarks, their blog design or their ability to influence so many readers. What ever it is, you like their style and you think you could be good blogging buddies, yet that you don't know how to approach them?

    You've thought about strategies to get them to notice you but so far no good. You've tried leaving comments on their site or have sent them an email or two - but nothing. You've referred to them incessantly on your blog hoping they check their Technorati referrers or will notice your referrals in their stats but it all seem to no avail. You've posted on topics that you think will interest them but THEY JUST DON'T SEEM TO CARE!!!

    Errr.... ok.... you know this is all just a hypothetical post.... I'm not talking out of personal experience here or anything....really I'm not.

    I just thought it might be fun to share our blogging crushes - get them out of our systems - it might be theraputic. Maybe we could even help each other out in making contact with the ones we admire from a far!?

    When we were kids and we had a crush our approach was often to ask our best friend, to ask someone else, to ask someone else to ask the person we had the crush on if they liked us. (Well thats the way if worked at my primary school)

    I wonder if it would work if we adopt a similar strategy here?

    Post in comments the blog or blogs (up to three) that you have or have had a blogging crush on. Give us a reason if you'd like. I'll post your comments in the main blog in a day or two. If you know the person on the receiving end of the crush (or even if you don't) perhaps you could let them know that you know someone who 'has a crush on them' and arrange a virtual introduction. I'm not proposing a way to climb the 'blogging ladder' here - but rather its about making connections.

    You never know - we might see some new blogging buddies emerge...or at the very least we might find some good new blogs.

    Or maybe I've had one too many coffees this morning.

    Let me start by revealing one of my crushes - for a long time I've been reading They Blinked. I don't exactly know why, I just feel at home there on my morning blog rounds. There is a certain gritty, earthy, humorous quality to it all and I guess I often feel I come away from it feeling a little different to when I started reading. (Dan is currently drawing attention to the predicament of his brothers fiancee who is struggling to be with his brother at present.

    Ok, I've bared all - your turn.

    To Save or not to Save...

    13 October, 2003 10:38 PM

    'Emerging churches are not seeing people saved.' Steve responds with a good post.

    Australian Idol Theories

    13 October, 2003 10:05 PM

    Keep up to date with season two of Australian Idol at Australian Idol Blog. What will the Australian Idol Results be who will be the winner? I'd tip Courtney, Casey, Anthony or Hayley as possible winners but follow it all at Australian Idol Blog.

    --------------

    Update: Cosima Withdraws from the Show!

    And then there was 5. In tonight's elimination show there was a little controversy.

    It came about when Paulini was voted by the public into the bottom three for the week. Luckily for her only one was eliminated tonight and it was young Levi.

    Prevailing public opinion is that Paulini is one of the best (if not THE best) singer of the finalists. I would rate her in the top three with Guy and Cosima. After Sunday night's show the judges nominated Paulini as being one of the best singers but it seems the Australian public didn't quite agree.

    The controversy of the night came after it was revealed Paulini was among the three lowest contestants and the judges were asked for comment.

    Mark said 'it's a disgrace'. Then he virtually admitted that he gave false praise to Levi last night - what a stupid man.

    Marcia was 'speechless', but managed to also say, 'I really hope Australia are voting for the contestant with the best voice'.

    You see there are some 'theories' floating around that Australia might be voting along gender and racial lines.

    I'm not sure that that is the problem. (although I have previously wondered about it) I don't think we need to leap to accusing the public of racist voting just yet. Instead I think there might be a couple of other reasons.

    1. Australia is voting for an 'idol' and not a 'singer' as such. I think Paulini is a natural performer, she's better than half of them, but I'm not sure she's an 'idol' as such. As I've said, she's right up there for me and I will not be disappointed if she wins — but it won't surprise me if she's pipped by one of the others with a more marketable image.

    2. I also wonder if the voting system might be to blame. Australia is asked to vote for their favourite not their least favourite. I think most people would rank Paulini in their top two or three but perhaps not their number one. How many people will vote for more than one person? V tried to vote tonight, but it was going to be for Cosima, even though she loves Paulini, I wonder how many others are voting that way.

    Perhaps if they took the Big Brother approach and voted out the least favourite we'd end up 'evicting' the worst performer, instead of the one that doesn't attract primary votes. Maybe I'm drawing too fine a line on this, but it's a possibility.

    Update 1 - Read here for the latest controversy over Pauli - and THAT dress

    Update 2Paulini's Out! and Guy just Climbed Every Mountain

    Update 3: Cosima Withdraws from the Show!

    Open Mike

    13 October, 2003 10:33 AM

    mike.jpgOne of my favorite blogs has an Open Mike most Thursdays when his normal posting is light. Today I'm trying to get my head into the books for some study so thought I'd let you do the posting.

    Leave a comment on any topic. Introduce yourself, tell us what you're posting on today (free plug), what you're reading, what you think about some world event, what you had for breakfast, tell your favorite joke, gloat about your football teams win (no all blacks comments please :-) )share a poem, do a jig ...whatever you want. Enjoy - but be good!

    Rugby World Cup Blogs

    13 October, 2003 10:30 AM

    Here is an interesting blog for those of us following the Rugby World Cup complete with reviews from most of the games and a whole heap of interesting links.

    Martin Roth also is posting about it - although I'm not sure I can trust him now I've found out he's got a dual New Zealand and Australian passport!

    Also check out Rugby Blog and ruckyou.com.

    If you find more - let me know and I'll add them.

    A Glimpse of Slick

    12 October, 2003 11:32 PM

    slick.jpgThe following is a journal entry (slightly edited) from a short term mission trip taken in January 2002 to the Philippines.

    We called him 'Slick'.

    We first noticed Slick hovering around the edge of the large group of children we were participating in a sports day with. There was something different about him. It was his big eyes and lopsided smile that first made me notice him. But as I watched him I began to realise that there was something else underneath that drew me to him.

    There was a certain 'wildness' about little Slick. He was very dishevelled looking. Bare feet, dirty shorts and t-shirt, hair poking up everywhere. His face was covered in grime from the street and his legs had open sores on them. He must have been about 5 or 6 years old, but he had a hardened look to him.

    He didn't stop moving. He paced backwards and forwards around the edge of the group like an animal that wasn't quite tame. He was drawn to the group, seeming to want the social contact, yet he would not join it. Every time someone approached he would scamper away....

    His eyes fascinated me. They were a deep dark chocolate brown in colour, slightly bigger than most of the other children. But unlike those of the other kids they would not look directly into mine — or anyone elses for that matter.

    The other children noticed him around the same time that we did and it was then that the teasing began. Some of the local kids seemed to know him and were quick to begin to taunt this easy target. It started with the throwing of a few words but soon progressed to the throwing of objects yet he continued to circle us.

    Members of the team were quick to place themselves between the group and Slick and put a stop to the teasing. On turning to Slick and in attempting to make contact to see if he was ok it soon became evident that the teasing was probably the least of his worries.

    At first he wouldn't let us near. Maybe it was because we were big and white — so different to everyone else of the street — or maybe it was because he didn't let anyone close. After a lot of smiling, coaxing and offering of food some trust was built and he let us close.

    Slick did not talk. He made noises and gestures but no words formed in his mouth. He seemed to have some sort of Intellectual Disability — it wasn't severe, yet enough to make living life on the streets of Manilla a challenge for an adult, let alone a small child.

    Over the course of the day different members of our team spent quite a bit of time with Slick. I'm not sure exactly where the name came from — it might have been after one of the women took him over to a tap and helped him to wash his face and hair (she slicked it back) and then gave him a nice new clean T-shirt to wear. We also shared food with him (I've never seen someone eat with such desperation) and gave him a small toy truck to play with. You should have seen his eyes light up when he realized the truck was for him.

    One of our local hosts began to ask around some of the locals to find out where he was from. The story began to emerge that no one knew his name, but that he was a bit of a local identity. His mother had deserted him recently and he had begun to wander around the streets alone fending for himself as best he could.

    By the end of the day we had grown quite fond of Slick. He would still only look at us out of the corner of his eye, but he would now initiate closer contact and seemed to trust us. At different times during the day bigger kids had attempted to tease him, but team members intervened and by the end of the day had encouraged the some of the other children to even happily include him in a game they were playing with a ball. The progress was small but significant. The change in Slick even in one day was remarkable — it was as though he was in heaven — he was literally beaming.

    The end of the sports day came and we become tired. We said our farewells to the children and to Slick. One of the local workers said they would attempt to find him some help in the following days. We all piled into the mini van and drove off back to our base leaving our team leader, Glenda, to pack up and follow us shortly after.

    Back at the base we relaxed after our exhausting day of sport and began to eat dinner. Glenda arrived as we ate and it was obvious that she was upset.

    Glenda told us that minutes after we had left a group of older children had descended upon little Slick. They took his toy truck, stripped him of his new T-shirt and began to beat him with punches and kicks. Within seconds everything Slick had been given was taken from him. Glenda and others intervened, but Slick was not having anything more to do with anyone and ran off alone into the streets.

    People can be so cruel. Slick is at the bottom of the heap and yet for some reason there's something inside people that just have to push him lower down. What can we do — it seems hopeless — I have no answers or solutions.

    All I know is that I worship a God has compassion for the poor, the widow and the orphan. Today I saw the orphan up close — the one God's heart breaks for — a confused, dirty, simple, beaten up little boy who thirsts for love.

    Remembering

    12 October, 2003 9:59 PM

    Today Australia remembered. Dog Fight At Bankstown does so in a simple yet powerful way.

    'Hi' Spam

    12 October, 2003 9:17 AM

    Has anyone else been getting daily emails from assorted hotmail addresses that just contain the word,

    'Hi'

    Maybe the Nigerian Spammers are taking a different approach?

    Ethos, Pathos, Logos Links

    11 October, 2003 4:06 PM

    Search Engine searches for Ethos, Logos and Pathos make up around 10% of all incoming engine referals. I wrote about it and how it might relate to blogging here and since then it gets daily hits.

    I don't feel it is the best link around on the topic (although others seem to have linked to it) so I thought I'd post a collection of other online resources on it. Here is what I found:

    (Book)

    Simple Definitions

    More detailed Definitions

    Winning Arguments with Ethos, Pathos and Logos

    Ethos, Pathos, Logos and Statistics

    Ethos, Pathos, Logos and Public Speaking

    Ethos, Pathos and Logos as applied in George W. Bush's speech at Ground Zero

    The Three "Artistic Proofs."

    Business Writing and Persuasion

    Martin Luther King's
    Letter from Birmingham Jail--a rhetorical analysis

    Martin Luther King and his usage of Ethos, Pathos, Mythos and Logos

    Logos
    Pathos
    Ethos

    Logos: Logical Proofs
    Ethos: Ethical Proofs
    Pathos: Pathetic Emotional Proofs

    The University of Iowa: The Rhetorical Triangle

    Preaching Rhetorically

    Hypertext vs. Papertext: Establishing Online Credibility

    Ethos, Pathos and Logos as they relate to Press Releases

    Learning how to use the 3 Rhetorical Styles

    Mythos: The forth proof?

    Using evidence to prove your point in Business Writing

    I can't guarantee all of the above are high quality, although I have weeded out some of the lesser quality links already. If you have or find other good links leave a comment below and I'll add them to the resource. I hope some of that is helpful!

    If you have found this entry helpful helpful please consider making a contribution to help keep this site running.

    $87,000,000,000.00

    11 October, 2003 11:48 AM

    Check out this amazing site that attempts to bring a little perspective on the $87billion George W. Bush is asking Congress for for the next fiscal year to continue to fight the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its hard to visualize this type of money...until now. now.

    My Homecoming King

    11 October, 2003 11:45 AM

    We've had Andy stay with us again. The poor guy has to put up with so much - his health is not good and there is constant pain - his diet has little variety - communication can be difficult. Yet none of this stops him from experiencing life to the full.

    I saw this story of how a young guy with Downs Syndrome was made homecoming king at his school and it reminded me so much of Andy. His passion for life and loving those around him is infectious.

    Sporting Obsession

    10 October, 2003 10:25 PM

    Sport is in the headlines on a number of fronts in Australia today.

    In Cricket Matthew Hayden broke the world record for the highest individual score in a Test match by scoring 380 today against Zimbabwe after 622 minutes at the crease.

    The Rugby Union World Cup kicked off tonight with its opening ceremony and a comfortable win to Australia against Argentina 24 - 8.

    Its going to be a good few weeks of Sport ahead.

    Introducing the Offering Machine

    10 October, 2003 3:16 PM

    offerning.jpg I guess an offering machine like this had to show up some time. I sort of surprised its taken so long. However it doesn't really sit too comfortably with me - Like Michael I'm still trying to work out why I am reacting against it. I mean I'm all for churches changing with the times but....hmmm.....I don't think LivingRoom will be signing up for one.

    What do others think?

    Photologging

    10 October, 2003 11:05 AM

    I just added a couple more photos from our trip to the photolog.

    Vatican: Condoms don't stop AIDS

    10 October, 2003 12:00 AM

    'The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to risk. The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus.'

    I'm not wanting to start a debate over the Catholic Church and its view of contraception - however isn't this approach somewhat irresponsible?

    The most disturbing line in the article to me was this one that turned my stomach.

    'Sex and the Holy City includes a Catholic nun advising her HIV-infected choirmaster against using condoms with his wife because "the virus can pass through".'

    As someone who spent two months living and working in an Aids hospice in a slum in Bangkok this distresses me.

    Bali Remembered

    9 October, 2003 11:35 PM

    This Sunday (October 12) is the one year anniversary of the bombing in Bali. Australia is presently fairly focused upon remembering the tragedy in which 202 people (including 88 Australians) lost their lives.

    My fear has been that the media will go into 'frenzy' mode as it often does on such occasions. So far I've seen a few examples of hype, however there have also been some worthwhile articles.

    Of particular interest is the approach that The Age Newspaper is taking. They have a wide range of articles from different perspectives, but the centerpiece of their reporting is their 88 Australian Stories series in which articles have been written telling the story of each Australian that lost their life. As I read a number of them today I felt as though I was undergoing some therapeutic exercise.

    Storytelling is such a powerful medium and for me is probably the most appropriate way of remembering the event. My prayer is that in the sharing of these stories (and in the telling of stories for the other 114 victims internationally) that the families and friends of those that were lost and Australia (and the world) as a whole will find they are able to continue to move through their grief and somehow find some peace in their sufferiing.

    The Multicultural Church

    9 October, 2003 4:30 PM

    I am doing a subject this semester at college called 'The Multicultural Church'.

    I love the idea of people worshipping together from different cultures, each adding their own ethnicity into the 'worship stew'. Some of the most meaningful times that I've ever had in church have been when in Thailand or the Philippines.

    The idea of a Multicultural Church is fantastic, but it also has its challenges. I'm wondering if others might have seen models or creative ways that faith communities have celebrated and fostered multiculturalism?

    Bored Men Kindergarten

    9 October, 2003 4:25 PM

    On our recent trip I discovered that bored men standing outside of change rooms in women's fashion shops is a world wide phenomenon. Thank goodness the Germans are doing something about it!

    German women fed up with their partners' grumbling on weekend shopping trips can now dump them at a special kindergarten for men offering beer and entertainment.... The men are given a name tag on arrival and for 10 euros ($11.80) they get two beers, a hot meal, televised football and games.'

    Men everywhere will be hoping the next one is in their city!

    Clowning Around In Church

    9 October, 2003 9:11 AM

    When I was 6 I found Church very boring. My mates Simon, Ben, Scott and I would always try to sit together so that we could entertain ourselves til it was time for the kids to go out for Sunday School. We'd talk, make paper planes, tell jokes and giggle. Of course it always ended with one of our mums telling us to 'stop clowning around!' I never had a come back or way of justifying our fun. now I do.

    What Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Can Teach the Church

    8 October, 2003 7:53 PM

    group05.jpgOk...this post could be the end of what is left of my rep... give me a chance ok?

    The last couple of Monday nights I've found myself home and in front of the TV. For some reason I've been watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy which is in its first season here in Australia. For those who haven't watched its basically about five gay guys (the fab 5) who spend a day giving a straight guy (with no 'style') a make over. They usually give his apartment a renovation, update his wardrobe, give him a hair cut, teach him to cook a dish and help him with some social or relational skill.

    I've heard a lot of people here complaining about the show on talk back radio. Some are Christians ringing up to share their moral views, others are average Joe conservative Aussies who don't want their kids to see it and others just think its dumb.

    I don't think its the most amazing show on TV at the moment - I find the stars of the show mildly amusing - I'm a bit over all the sexual innuendo already (I can't imagine how they will keep finding suggestive gay jokes for a whole season) - it is all a bit superficial at times - but I will admit I've learnt one or two things about what's lacking in my wardrobe!

    But the thing that caught my attention the most was a statement made in the first week by one of the stars. To paraphrase him he said:

    'We just want to help this guy reach his potential.... to be the man he has the potential to be.'

    It strikes me that although he went about it very differently, Jesus actually spoke of something very similar when he said 'I've come that they may have life'. (Jn 10:10) As I look at his ministry this is what he did - he drew people into life itself. Sometimes he does it in a very quick yet tangible way as he touches someone who has been lame for life and other times he lives with them for years, challenging attitudes, teaching and encouraging them to grow.

    Jesus was on about helping people to reach their potential. His make over was generally a lot more comprehensive than the fab 5, but he was in the life giving business and as his Body so should we be.

    Added Ads

    8 October, 2003 12:18 PM

    Some of you will have noticed that I've added some text advertisements to this blog today. To be honest its purely to help supplement the cost of running the blog and to help develop a proper Living Room info site.

    If you'd like to support me in this way and you see an ad that interests you just click on it. If you're dead against the idea feel free to ignore them and to voice your opinion here.

    I'll attempt to make them a little more subtle and unobtrusive in the next few days. Suggestions, comments and critiques welcome.

    Godly Play - The Aftermath

    8 October, 2003 9:41 AM

    godlyplay.jpg Thanks to those who asked how our Godly Play time went last night in the last posts comments and via email. Thanks also to those who prayed for us last night - I appreciate everyones interest in what we're up to.

    How did it go? - Personally I felt it went really well. The group probably thought I was a little nuts when I started explaining it, but they through themselves into it.

    We used Luke 15 (the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son). I read each story and then we paused for a time of 'wondering' (as outlined in the last post). I had prepared some of my own 'wonderings' to get the ball rolling, but didn't need them at all as the group took the initiative. The only rule I set at the start was that if you wanted to say something you had to phrase it as an 'I wonder...statement or question. While we played with the passage we also played with play-doh to help us get into a more playful frame of mind. (see pictures)

    godlyplay2.jpgThere were a number of things I liked about the activity.

    * Its an all ages way of engaging with Scripture. Our youngest member Yol (who is 10) got into the play-doh and wondering along with the rest of us and had some good things to contribute to the conversations.

    * The wondering process is actually a very freeing experience. You can wonder anything at all without having to worry about someone correcting you, without having to come up with something deeply profound. Its actually quite fun to do as a group. I also loved that it approached Scripture in a much more imaginative and dreamlike way. Not that I don't like the academic/thinking approach (we're going to do that next week) but sometimes I think we think way way too much about it all. Jesus told stories that evoke the imagination, that leave the listener questioning, that are often open ended - perhaps we need to relearn how to listen to them. Godly play is a good starting point.

    * Its a truly collaborative experience. There will be periods of silence during the activity and then one person will wonder something which will often stimulate a stream of others to wonder things related but adding to the first. It was amazing how quickly we got to some quite profound insights purely though asking questions.

    godlyplay3.jpg* In each of the three parables I felt we really explored well. I tried to write down all the 'wonderings' of the group so I could reflect back to them what they had said - as I look back over the list now I'm quite staggered by the depth we went to and by the new thoughts that came out that I'd never considered before. We ended up looking at each story from a whole heap of perspectives.

    In all it was well worth the effort. In fact I think its something that could be used in all kinds of settings. I'd like to experiment with it in a larger gathering both in small groups and big ones. I think it will be very useful for me in my private reading of the bible and in sermon preparation and I also think it would be good for a worship team trying to plan a service with a particular passage.

    I could talk about this for ages, but I'll leave it at that - if you want to know more about how we did it feel free to converse with me via email or in comments.

    Godly Play

    7 October, 2003 2:07 PM

    Tonight at our weekly LivingRoom gathering we're going have a time of Godly Play.

    I first heard about Godly play when Ian Mobsby blogged about it. It grabbed my attention straight away as it reminded me of the fuzzy logic bible study I've experimented with a few times.

    When Steve blogged about Godly Play in such a positive way I decided it was something worth exploring and experimenting with. Following the links I ended up at godlyplay.org.uk which is a site dedicated to sharing a method of helping children engage with Scripture.

    As both Ian and Steve say - to limit this method to being used only with children seems a bit of a pity (although I have no doubt its brilliant with them). To me it seems like a perfect way of helping both children and adults to engage with Scripture in a very postmodern kind of way. It allows people to engage their imaginations, to connect through story and it brings some of the mystery of God into an interaction with Scripture.

    Having said this, I've never done it or seen it done in a group before (or been trained in it) - but this afternoon I gave it a go by myself and found it to be a very rich experience.

    What is Godly Play?

    Well its described on all the above sites better than I can - but the basics of it entail the telling of a story/parable/passage from Scripture and then having times where the group is allowed to 'wonder' out loud.

    In this time anyone can put a 'wondering' to the group.... 'I wonder who was listening to Jesus when he said that?....I wonder why he chose fishermen as disciples?... I wonder what it was like to be a Pharisee?...I wonder why he talked so much about sheep?' You can wonder about anything at all.

    The facilitator can wonder back at participants...'I wonder what makes you wonder that?... I wonder where you see yourself in the story?...'

    The point isn't necessarily to come up with a whole heap of answers or a three point sermon, but to 'play' with the passage, to ask questions, to engage with it, to tease it out, to step inside it and look at it from different perspectives.

    Oh yeah - they 'experts' suggest you use some visual aid that will help bring the story alive. They suggest a sandpit. Might be a bit much for us tonight so we're going to be using play-doh/clay to help us get into the 'play' frame of mind.

    As I said, I'm yet to try it with a group (I'll let you know how it goes tonight) but in preparation I spent some time playing with Luke 15 this afternoon and found myself in a very refreshing and energizing space with God.

    Sheep without Shepherds or Shepherds without Sheep?

    7 October, 2003 9:49 AM

    Joe asks the question over at Ooze blog.

    More Blog Stats

    6 October, 2003 6:42 PM

    Another Blogging Survey's results are in. Some of the findings include:

    * 4.12 million blogs in existence using the following blog clients: Blog-City, BlogSpot, Diaryland, LiveJournal, Pitas, TypePad, Weblogger and Xanga.

    * 66.0% of blogs haven't been updated for at least 2 months. (thats 2.72 million abandoned blogs out of the above total)

    * 1.09 million were one day blogs only with only posts on their first day

    * Males are more likely to abandon blogs. Those writing long posts (on average) were less likely to abandon their blogs.

    * The average active blog is updated once every 14 days.

    * 92.4% of blogs were created by those under 30 years of age.

    * 56% of blogs were created by females.

    * Projected estimates see 5 million blogs by the end of 2003 and 10 million by the end of 2004.

    Hmmm - so the average blog was started by a teenage girl, its likely to have been abandoned, probably only ever written in once. If she updates it, its probably only once a fortnight. But have no fear, there will be twice as many of them in just 15 months time.

    Source

    Church Blogs

    6 October, 2003 12:34 PM

    At Bloggercon Buzz Machine comments briefly on the benefits of Church Blogs. He talks about how one benefit is that it will get the church listed on Google which is good for publicity. I have to admit that we've had a number of church hunters find us through search engines but I'm wondering if there are other benefits also of a Church operating a blog.

    I've looked at quite a few such blogs over the past 6 months - some are communal blogs where Ministry Teams do the blogging, others are open for all church members to participate in, others are run by just one minister/leader/member.

    I guess the benefits will vary between churches - for some they are about building community, for others its about teaching, others seem to be more focused upon promoting upcoming events or programs, some seem to be more interested in connecting with other like-minded churches around the globe and for others its about thinking through issues of theology, ecclesiology, doctrine or faith in an open discussion kind of way.

    Of course with all good things there are usually flip sides. As I peruse some church blogs I sometimes wonder if they are more about grandstanding than they are about genuine community. Some seem to promote individuals more than they do God or the Church itself. Other dangers include miscommunication (which is so often a part of communication online) and gossip.

    What benefits and dangers do you see in Churches having blogs?

    Jesus Hits Winning Home Run for BoSox

    6 October, 2003 12:25 PM

    "It wasn't me swinging that bat. It was the Lord Jesus Christ." That according to BoSox game winner Trot Nixon after his 11th-inning smack into the stands that brought Doub Mirabelli in for the winning run. Source

    If only I could get Jesus swinging my tennis racquet for me next time I play.

    Confession

    6 October, 2003 10:36 AM

    The Washington Post has an interesting article on the changing nature of the sacrament of Confession in the Catholic Church. Here are some excerpts:

    'Gone are the days when it was customary for Catholics to confess frequently, even if they had no serious sin to declare. Gone, too, is the sense among Catholics that they cannot take communion at Mass unless they have recently been to confession.

    There are many reasons for the decline in confession-going. Many Catholics find the ritual too formulaic or say they are too busy. But the major reason, experts say, is a changed sense of what constitutes a sin....

    At the same time, some priests and scholars say they have seen a modest revival of interest in confession, especially among young people whose spiritual searches are drawing them back to the traditional religious practices that their baby-boomer parents left behind....

    Some Protestant scholars have observed renewed interest in the practice of confession in their denominations as well.'

    Running the Race

    6 October, 2003 12:13 AM

    Imagine running for 24,800 miles over 7 years in nothing more than a handmade sandals and robe! Why? Surely there must be a sponsorship with Nike involved, maybe a movie deal or some sort of big financial incentive?!

    Not so for Genshin Fujinam, a 44 year old Buddhist monk from Japan who has just completed his 7 year ancient path to enlightenment which not only includes thousands of miles walking and running, but also an incredible amount of prayer, meditation and fasting along the way.

    Did I mention that any monk who starts such a journey but fails to complete it, must die by his own hands by hanging or disemboweling himself?

    Suddenly getting up in the morning for a 15 minute quiet time doesn't seem to onerous!

    Read more of this amazing feat here, here and here.

    Californian Circus

    5 October, 2003 10:58 PM

    Is anyone else sick of the coverage of the Californian Governorship circus? Ok - it started off a little interesting, but frankly I can't wait til its all over. How and why does such a local (at the most national) issue get such dominant international coverage in the media? Lets get it over and done with shall we?

    Papacy Musings

    5 October, 2003 10:44 PM

    Robert is watching the situation with the ailing health of the Pope and asks the question who is next in line? It will be an interesting process to watch - the implications will be significant.

    Scanning the News

    5 October, 2003 5:10 PM

    What a crazy world we live in. Here's a few of the headlines in the news this week.

    Dieting Dollars 'There are no official statistics for spending on diet products, but estimates vary from $40bn to $100bn in the US alone - more than the combined value of the government's budget for health, education and welfare.' Source

    M&M eating with chopsticks world record broken Source

    Boob Aerobics London gym offers boob aerobics Source

    Man steals back his stolen truck When Joe Francis' truck was stolen, he didn't get mad. He just stole it back. Source

    Nigeria and Mexico: Happiest Nations in the World says study "New Zealand ranked 15 for overall satisfaction, the U.S. 16th, Australia 20th and Britain 24th -- though Australia beats the other three for day-to-day happiness. Source

    Vegetables for OneOne of Japan's leading supermarkets is to start stocking quarter-size cauliflowers and cabbages as part of a new dwarf vegetable range for single people.Source

    Virtually Melbourne

    4 October, 2003 11:10 AM

    melbourne.jpg

    Have you ever wanted to visit Melbourne Australia? Got a spare 15 minutes? Let me show you around using a series of Melbourne web cams and other sites (you might also like to visit our Melbourne Hotels page if planning a trip to Melbourne).


    Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria which is on the south eastern corner of the mainland of Australia. Here is a map to help you get your orientation. The population of the Melbourne and its suburbs is in excess of 3.5 million people. The suburban sprawl extends out from Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River for up to 50km in some directions. It is well known for its many gardens and parks, great shopping, passion for sport, cosmopolitan food and wine and great weather (some days!).

    melbourne-1.jpgTo get the best webcam views of Melbourne head to This Site which has 28 different cams from all over the city. (some are better than others - just hope its not raining or night time when you look!)

    Visit Victoria and Visit Melbourne both have have a plethora of information including information on upcoming festivals, things to do, accommodation (for your non virtual trips), maps, weather, nightlife and our Top 20 Tourist Attractions. This site also has heap of info and pictures of Melbourne.

    mcg.jpgThe MCG - Melbourne Cricket Ground is a central feature of our city. It is the home of football (Aussie Rules) and cricket. There is nothing like a capacity crowd of 90,000 or so screaming people when your team is on top! This site has some great 360 degree virtual views of the ground.

    Melbourne is famous for its zoo. Check out what's happening live in the butterfly and gorilla enclosure! Also worth the trip is Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary.

    One of the most spectacular destinations in our state and my personal favorite is The Great Ocean Road where there is some amazing views of a rugged coast line, some great little towns, some beautiful beaches and great surfing. This person's gallery will give you a feel for the coastline.

    koala.jpgAnother popular destination is Phillip Island where tourist flock in their thousands nightly to see the penguins march up the beach with tummies full of fish for their babies. There is also a koala reserve as well as some great surfing, diving, seal watching and coastline/beaches. Its a great place to spend a week.

    There is of course a lot more that can be said about and seen in Melbourne. Below are a number of Melbourne information links and an assortment of online galleries and 'virtual tours' for your perusal. If you're a Melbournian or have visited feel free to leave your own personal descriptions, highlights, Melbourne links in comments.

    Melbourne links

    City of Melbourne - official site

    Stats about Melbourne

    Weather Bureau

    Melbourne Museum

    Melbourne Park - Home of the Tennis Australian Open

    Melbourne Aquarium

    Melbourne/Vic Public Transport

    Lonely Planet on Melbourne

    Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne

    AFL - Australian Football League

    Assorted online Melbourne Photo Galleries and Virtual Tours

    Miscellaneous Melbourne Architecture .

    Skyline shots.

    Assorted Melbourne Photos including some of our parks and night skyscapes.

    Melbourne's Drains!

    A much better Virtual Tour of Melbourne and Victoria than mine! Check it out.

    360 degree Panoramic Views from around Australia (there are heaps!)

    How to live like an Aussie links including guides to eating Vegemite, going to the footy, having a BBQ Aussie style, surviving a hot Christmas downunder, finding a best mate, plus lots more.

    Outback Australia Virtual Tour

    Australian Wildlife Virtual Tour

    Melbourne Virtual Tour

    Aboriginal Australia Virtual Tour

    Melbourne Hotels

    Does anyone know how to make tents?

    3 October, 2003 6:10 PM

    Do we need to rethink how we encourage 'ministers' to think about training, careers and skills?

    I'm a little unsure about posting this...but here goes. .

    When I was 21 years of age and began to feel God's call to 'ministry' (I still struggle with that word) I turned to those 'wise ones' around me for advice as to how to move forward. The encouragement I received was pretty unanimous.

    I should quit studying the Marketing degree I was studying (I was three quarters of the way through) and go to bible college full time. I should work part time in any job I could get. If the opportunity for part time ministry as a youth pastor arose I should quit my secular work, cut my study back to part time and take the work. It sounded sensible so I quit my degree, enrolled in bible college and took a job selling office stationery part time. A position came up at my home church to be a youth pastor and I took the job.

    After 10 years of working in churches and as a missionary in high schools — I find myself wondering about the wisdom of the advice I was given and the decision that I made.

    Let me state clearly that on one level the path I've taken has been most satisfying. God is good and has provided for me in so many ways. He's also been gracious enough to use me in the work he's doing around me.

    However I wonder if there might have been another way?

    You see I now find myself in a bit of a predicament....

    I'm now 31 years of age. I have almost finished a Bachelor of Theology. I have no other formal qualifications. I am working for a small organic church that has amazing potential in many ways, yet because of its form it's unlikely to ever employ a minister more than at a part time rate. Most of my limited work experience outside the Church is in laboring, retail sales and other 'odd jobs'. I live and feel called to one of the most expensive parts of the city to live. I am able to pick up the occasional gig speaking in churches, marrying people or taking photos at weddings. I'm married to a wonderful woman who fortunately is able to earn a reasonable wage — however in the medium term we'd love to start a family and share the parenting responsibilities which will mean her cutting back on work.

    Now I'm not sharing this to have a 'pity party' (although to be honest it does stress me out at times) but because I am concerned that the 'wise counsel' we give our young people exploring a life of ministry could be setting them up for a more a fall.

    I know so many ministers who get to mid-life only to find that they are trapped in full time ministry even though they are burnt out or have lost their call (and even their faith) because they have no other skills or options to sustain them and their families. They are unable to take a break from ministry because they know nothing else than working in churches.

    Today over lunch one of my colleagues reflected that he wished he'd continued to work in the business world along side his study and ministry. He said he'd recommend to any young person that they explore tent-making as a way to sustain themselves in a life of mission and ministry. As he spoke I found myself wondering what life might be like if I'd managed to complete my marketing degree and continued to circulate in the group of friends and contacts that I once did instead of ripping myself from it and immersing myself in the Christian world.

    These are unfinished thoughts. I'm interested in others thoughts and experiences.

    By the way, if anyone knows how to make tents, I'm willing to learn.

    Is the Emerging Church just another Male thing? II

    3 October, 2003 5:05 PM

    The conversation that we started on this topic has kindly been continued (and extended to include the 'whiteness' of many Emerging Church people) over at The Ooze's blog. Check out the comments for some interesting perspectives.

    Time tells

    2 October, 2003 7:15 PM

    "Ecuador began a national punctuality campaign on Wednesday to wipe out the socially acceptable but costly practice of running late.

    Hundreds of officials gathered in the heart of Quito's colonial-style downtown to mark a ceremonious start to the drive, which is led by a local civic group that estimates the poor nation may lose up to $724 million a year due to lateness." source

    Its an amusing story, but I can't help but feel a little sad. I've travelled to and lived in a number of countries that are renowned for being late - or who operate with a 'slightly more relaxed sense of time'. Whilst it can be very frustrating as a visitor to such countries I have found it really challenging to the way we often live in the West - trapped and constrained by the clock. Maybe if we all relaxed a little when it came to running on schedule we'd find that maybe the Ecuadorians actually have it something that we don't.

    Distinguishing Accents

    2 October, 2003 9:07 AM

    One of the highlights of our recent trip OS was just listening to the huge array of accents and languages that people spoke. There were common words between some languages, but also huge variety. Even within small regions the accents could vary incredibly.

    This week as I've surfed around different blogs and sites of people grapple with issues of Emerging Church I've begun to wonder if perhaps we are speaking different languages (or at the very least with different accents) when it comes to what we are doing.

    I've seen people write about the commonalities between what is happening in Europe, the US, Canada, Africa, Downunder etc - but I've never seen anyone try to describe the differences.

    I think it would be important for us to identify these for a number of reasons.

    1. So we can celebrate our diversity. I don't believe we are called to be clones of one another. I'm a big believer that church should rise up and be relevant to particular contexts. I'm all for us creating indigenous worshipping communities and therefore believe that there should be a vast variety of different expressions of Church across the globe. Our differences are not something to hide and push under the carpet, but they should be celebrated.

    2. So we can learn from and challenge one another. Having said that we should be diverse, there is also room for examination of our differences in order to spur each other on. I suspect that each region of EC has a lot to offer and teach other regions out of their own personal experience and context. This is not done in order to clone, but to encourage, inspire, teach and bring some accountability.

    Having said all this it can be a little daunting to point out differences - they can often be framed as critiques - I've found this post quite hard to word out of this fear - however if done so in love I think it might be a worthwhile venture. In doing so lets allow each other the grace to make some 'sweeping generalizations' and keep in mind that even within our 'regions' there will be an incredible amount of diversity also.

    So what are the accents, flavors and unique things that you're observing about EC in different parts of the world? What can we learn and celebrate?

    As I rush out the door this morning a couple of basic observations spring to mind.

    Firstly I think there is a lot that we have and will continue to learn from those in the UK when it comes to Emerging forms of Worship.

    Secondly, one of the emerging strains I've noticed out of a lot of Aussie and NZ EC's is a strong missional and justice focus.

    Got to run, interested in your thoughts.

    Increase Your Traffic

    1 October, 2003 1:27 PM

    Texan Survey: The average rush-hour driver wasted more than a full day -- about 26 hours -- sitting in traffic in 2001. Hmmm, that doesn't seem that much over a full year.

    The average Australian wastes more than 8 years of their life (10%) watching TV! Now that is a statistic that makes me think.

    emergingchurch.info

    1 October, 2003 9:29 AM

    This looks like an interesting new site on EC.

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