Erwin McManus on the gospel narrative

Erwin McManus has a fantastic post up at that blog of The Origins Project:

Recently, I was having dinner with one of Hollywood’s gifted cinematographers and directors. In the course of the conversation, he asked me what my newest book, Wide Awake, was about. At first, I simply said it is about finding a dream that fits your life. He looked interested, so I pressed ahead: “You know the narrative known as the Gospel? I think it has been demeaned. It has been reduced to this, ‘Come to Jesus so that your sins will be forgiven and you can go to heaven and not hell.’ For me this is the most narcissistic and self-preserving message I have ever heard. Wide Awake proposes that Jesus lived the ultimately heroic life by giving Himself as a sacrifice for all of humanity and that He now calls us to give ourselves away for the good of the world.”

As soon we left and began walking the streets of Hermosa Beach, he remarked after much thought, “The Gospel has never made sense to me. It is such a narcissistic narrative. But this idea that it is about provoking us to the heroic—this is intriguing to me.” Then he asked me a question I will never forget: “Is it possible that Christianity has rejected this Gospel because it demands too much of us?”

via Living Wide Awake : The Origins Project.

At the risk of sounding all “Bill and Ted”: woah!

This is what NT Wright hits on when he says that we are “saved for good works”. I like it a lot – the post does sound more and more American as it goes, but the heart of the quote above blew me away.


Hottest 100 of all time

Hi – if you’ve googled here hoping to find the list of Triple J’s Hottest 100, you’re only likely to find my votes. I’d suggest checking out the Triple J twitter stream (@triplej)

Voted in the Triple J Hottest 100 of all time tonight: which was quite an arduous task.

The 10 I ended up voting for are below, followed by my (not very short) shortlist:

(in no particular order)

  1. U2 – One
  2. Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye
  3. Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower
  4. Beatles, The – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  5. Bob Dylan – Maggie’s Farm
  6. Frank Sinatra – Mack The Knife
  7. Paul Kelly – How To Make Gravy
  8. Queen – Bohemain Rhapsody
  9. U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
  10. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl

Beatles, The – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Beatles, The – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Bob Dylan – All Along The Watchtower
Bob Dylan – Maggie’s Farm
Bob Dylan – The Story Of Hurricane
Bob Dylan – Tombstone Blues
Boomtown Rats, The – I Don’t Like Mondays
Cab Calloway – Minnie The Moocher
CAKE – Short Skirt Long Jacket
Crowded House – Don’t Dream Its Over
Damien Rice – The Blower’s Daughter
Flight of the Conchords – Business Time
Frank Sinatra – Mack The Knife
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – Gurrumul History (i Was Born Blind)
Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová – Falling Slowly
Herd, The – I was only 19
Hilltop Hoods – Nosebleed Section
Huey Lewis & The News – Power Of Love
Ingrid Michaelson – The Way I Am
INXS – By My Side
Jackson 5 – Abc
James Brown – Get Up (sex Machine)
Jeff Buckley – Halleujah
Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye
Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower
Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson
José González – Heartbeats
Kimya Dawson – Loose Lips
Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way
Living End, The – Second Solution
Living End, The – Tainted Love
Living End, The – West End Riot
Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side
Louis Armstrong – Summertime (feat. Ella Fitzgerald)
Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal
Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning
Monty Python – Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
My Friend the Chocolate Cake – It’s All In The Way
Nick Cave – Red Right Hand
Nick Cave – The Ship Song
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Weeping Song
Oasis – Wonderwall
Paul Kelly – How To Make Gravy
Paul Kelly – Love Never Runs On Time
Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall
pink floyd – comfortably numb
Powderfinger – Already Gone
Queen – Bohemain Rhapsody
Queen – Fat Bottomed Girls
Queen – Somebody To Love
Queen – You’re My Best Friend
Queens of the Stone Age – Nobody Knows
R.E.M. – Losing My Religion
Ray Charles – Georgia On My Mind
Ray Charles – Shake A Tail Feather
Rolling Stones, The – Sympathy For The Devil
Roy Orbison – Crying
Run-D.M.C. – It’s Tricky
Salmon Hater – 6.66
Santana – Smooth
Sarah Blasko – Flame Trees
Scissor Sisters – Take Your Mama
Shins, The – Caring Is Creepy
Simon & Garfunkel – Scarborough Fair
Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound Of Silence
Skyhooks – Ego (is Not A Dirty Word)
Skyhooks – Living In The 70s
Stevie Wonder – Superstition
U2 – I Still Havent Found What I’m Looking For
U2 – Magnificent
U2 – One
U2 – Pride (in The Name Of Love)
U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
U2 – Windows In The Skies
U2 & Johnny Cash – The Wanderer
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
Verve, The – Bitter Sweet Symphony


On Staying Married

One of my favourite “people-I-don’t-know-personally” is Scot McKnight (which lots of you will have picked up on already). He’s guest-posted over at Out of Ur, on staying married. It’s a beautiful read, and I was struck particularly by this quote:

One pragmatic argument on which I have reflected is the value of memory. Kris and I have been married for thirty-five years. We grew up in the same community; our fathers coached together; we were boyfriend and girlfriend in grade school and junior high. We got serious as sophomores in high school and got married as sophomores in college. (Not what we recommended for our two kids.)

Here’s my point: nearly everything about each of our lives is known to the other. Furthermore, in our daily conversations, we draw on our collective memory of our thirty-five years of life together, and it is now rare that one of us says something about the past that the other one doesn’t already know. Our stories are reminders, not revelations, of our past together. They glue our stories into one story. Admittedly, that we grew up together gives our collective memory a dimension that most don’t know, but my point is not so much about marrying someone from your hometown as staying married.

Scot McKnight: The Story Called Us – Out of Ur

I’ve been thinking about the whole marriage thing a bit recently, partly because wifey has posted on it, and partly because I’ve been stressed lately with a few (good and bad) things going on – and as a result I’ve ended up acting like a jerk to my wife some of the time. And as a result of that I’ve made an effort to do some good things as well. But as the deep romantic that I am, I’m absolutely struck by the vision of life in the whole post. Obviously, having been married for the past 18 months, Rebecca and I are at a much earlier point in the journey than Scot and Kris, but the heart is still the same.

I am such a lucky man.


Required Reading

I always feel that when I don’t post for a while, I should at least share other places around the internet with worthwhile content. So with that in mind, I give you a couple of suggestions:

Off Air

Tony Eastley, Mark Colvin and Leigh Sales have started blogging at the ABC site on a blog called “Off Air”. It’s a relatively new blog, and at the moment it’s pretty much Tony Eastley commenting on a news story for the day, with Sales and Colvin pitching in with cameos. The trio are all journalists for the ABC: Tony Eastley hosts AM for ABC radio, Mark Colvin hosts PM, and Leigh Sales is the host of Lateline (3 days a week, anyway). If you’ve got any interest in news and current affairs in Australia, then “Off Air” is a worthwhile read. (Leigh Sales and Mark Colvin are both twitterers, and worth following – if you’re into that sort of thing).

Recent Gems:

measured words

"But I like my daughter's picture of autumn better"

"But I love my daughter's picture of autumn more"

This blog is a little more personally connected: my good friend, mentor, former youth pastor and mother to two of my favourite children has started blogging. Catherine has a beautiful writing voice, and is just delightful to read. She hasn’t been blogging at measured words for very long, and is not particularly prolific; but she is always worth reading. Even (or perhaps especially) when she writes a little post like: “I love autumn, but I love my daughter’s picture of autumn more”.

Recent gems:

Have a read: if one doesn’t suit you the other surely will. And if you’ve made a recent discovery in the world wide interweb, then comment below (it doesn’t bite) and share the wealth.


Remembering Tiananmen

20 years ago, the Chinese government unleashed their army on civilian protesters. Estimates vary wildly, but there is no doubt that hundreds of people were killed at the very least: some suggest thousands. To this day China effectively pretends that the incident never happened, or at least try to distort the story. Chinese citizens can still not talk about what happened in Tiananmen square – as those who have are often placed under arrest.

Tiananmen Square Tanks

Tiananmen Square Tanks

China has become one of Australia’s most important trading partners, and are ultimately the biggest reason our economy hasn’t gone completely down the toilet. But at some stage, someone has to stand up and force China to face up to the harsh realities of their actions. Sadly, with our current leadership (or current opposition) it’s unlikely to get much help from Australia.

Some good resources from the ABC on the Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary: