James Bond Fridays – Dr No

So after receiving the very fun gift of all the James Bond films on DVD, the Matheson Family are embarking on James Bond Friday nights: working chronologically through the Bond films from start to finish. So obviously we got going with Dr No.

The most obvious thing about this film is how well it stands up for a 50 year old film. Certainly all the standard Bond aspects are there: the girls, the action and the witticisms, and it is no surprise that this film sets up such an epic franchise given a solid foundation. From the moment Connery shows up he rides that delicate balance between James Dean über cool and actually being likeable.

Naturally this film is outright sexist, though I have a feeling it will get worse in the franchise before it gets better. Ursula Andress is renowned for looking fantastic in this film, but is wholly unbelievable as a generically European diver. The villain, Dr No is not the strongest Bond villain by any measure, but he works well enough. This is a good Bond, and it holds up remarkably well in 2012, but it is clear that the Bond films picked up momentum later from this start.

No idea if I’ll keep blogging the Bonds, but this was fun to start with.


The Next Big (and really little) Thing

So our tiny prodigy is due today. And whether it happens today, tomorrow or in two-week’s time, it is so exciting to be so close to such an enormous life change. In many ways it feels like we’re ready: we’ve been around plenty of friends with young kids and we’ve certainly done all the “required reading” but naturally in so many other ways this is something that no theoretical education is going to adequately prepare us for.

But as much as the nervousness and terror associated with impending parenthood looms large, the far greater emotion right now is the excitement at becoming a dad. It’s not by mistake that I spend so much of my time with young people and there’s certainly something innate that brought me into teaching which is only going to grow when I’m hanging out with a little person of my own. Even just playing with our little nephew in the last few months since he arrived has been amazing: something changes when the little ball of person is somehow related to you.

So without having really said anything, (clearly out of practice with the whole blogging thing) – it’s nice to blurt some thoughts out again and share them with the world. Who knows when I’ll be able to do that again!

The Awareness Myth

I realise that it’s always a shock to see something actually being posted on this blog, but meh.

My current favourite hobby horse is the degree to which “awareness” has become the new model of social action. In some ways it really started (at least in my mind) with the Make Poverty History campaign and Bono’s call that “we don’t want your money, we want your voice”. And while I get that, it seems to me that the vast majority of Gen Y is being passed a pale imitation of activism: where it doesn’t cost you anything except for a little badge on your Twitter avatar or a Facebook status message. The grand-mother of them all is the ubiquitous Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns. Is it too terse to say that perhaps the battle for Breast Cancer Awareness(TM) has been run and won? Are there really women still out there not aware of the need to check with their doctor about any lumps?

This was spurred on by seeing the magnificent opposite. Last night I saw “The Most Dangerous Man In America”, a doco on Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers. He was an defence analyst who made the decision to release masses of documents on the Vietnam War: showing that the US were essentially in it to save face. I was incredibly struck by an press-conference in the film where Ellsberg was being asked whether he was concerned that he was risking a jail term by releasing these papers. He replied: “Wouldn’t you go to jail to end this war?”

Now I’m not on my way to jail, but I refuse to believe that anything of value comes without a cost. Much as I love U2’s music, I’ll take Ellsberg’s activism over Bono’s any day.

Things have changed

I’m furiously trying to get school reports, university assignments and Cert IV Training and Assessment stuff done all pretty much this week, and found this note. It’d obviously come from some stream-of-consciousness exercise a couple of years ago, before the whole teaching adventure started, but it’s a fair indication of how much life has changed. The note reads:

I’m so stuck. Stuck creatively, stuck in my job, just stuck where I am. There has to be more than this, more to this life than my impotent suburbia. I want to love (or perhaps it says “live” – it’s unclear), I want to do something, not get sucked into this pathetic nothingness. I’m desperate for somet….. (trails off)

Life is stressful, crazy and hard at the moment. But I’m so glad it’s definitely not “impotent suburbia”.

A note from a past existence
A note from a past existence

The law you use to accuse

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings,42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God[d]?

45But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

John 5:41-45 NIV

The above passage came up at Missio on Sunday, and I was struck in particular by the words in bold. Specifically, I came across the idea that the law of Moses was the law they used to justify their place in society, it was the law they used to accuse. And yet Jesus says very clearly: this law you accuse with is a law you can’t meet yourself. You cannot hold up the standard you hold others too.

How amazingly true for us today. The church’s main message to society seems to ultimately be one of condemning the sexual ethics of the world and yet it is undoubtedly the sexual failings of clergy and church-goers that has torn so many communities and marriages apart.

The challenge then is not to sit back and hurl abuse at the sins of the church, but instead to ask: what is the law “on whom your hopes are set”. I’m not sure I’ve even got the self-awareness to know that for myself, but it’s a haunting and challenging question.

Fantasy Election

Having voiced my distaste for the current options in the Federal Election, and with lots of people (myself included) getting caught up in fantasy football competitions like SuperCoach and DreamTeam, I wondered what this election might instead look like with the party leaders I’d prefer to have the option of voting for. So here it is, my Fantasy Election dream team.

Labor Party: Lindsay Tanner

Sure Lindsay is officially stepping down at this election, but you can’t tell me that the Labor leadership wouldn’t tempt this man to make a run at glory. And Lindsay is one of the best things about the Rudd government: the one member of the “gang of four” you felt could genuinely be trusted and a man who genuinely believes in things and speaks intelligently about why he does so.

Interchange: Penny Wong impressed me on Q and A last night. Mind you I reckon I’d almost take anyn of the Labor politicians without the “faceless back-room hacks”.

Liberal Party: Malcolm Turnbull

Maybe he just feels let off the leash now he’s a glorified back-bencher, but Malcolm was very impressive last night on Q&A. He showed that he actually had vision for the nation that didn’t involve shutting the front door and bagging out the other guy. While I think he got a bit lost in his first attempt at the Liberal Party leadership I’m pretty certain that he wouldn’t take the same crap if he got another go around.

Interchange: Ummmm. Well. Would it be too late to get Fraser back? Perhaps Joe Hockey on a really good day, but it’d be touch and go.

Greens: Christine Milne

Bob Brown is a little past it for my liking, and while I have little doubt the man is passionate he usually comes across as though he’s just watched “How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days” for every day for four months and has completely lost the will to keep his eyes open. Christine Milne in contrast actually composes well constructed arguments in response to the sort of lines that have historically always been used against the Greens (blah blah hippies, blah blah unrealistic, blah blah blah).

Interchange: Do the Greens have anyone else in parliament? Let’s leave this as is.

Democrats (or perhaps just as an independent): Andrew Bartlett

Sure he’s running for the Greens in the House of Reps this year, and the Dems are well and truly dead (buried and cremated?) but Andrew Bartlett is still one of the best thinkers in Aussie politics, and the parliament is much much poorer for his absence. His blog is still worth a read.

That’s my ideal election: at least with the poor standard of politicians we have on offer right at the moment. Feel free to submit your own if you’re the kind of politics nerd who thinks about these things too.

Policy is dead, long live the Spin

I watched the “Great Debate” (or should that be “Grate Debate”, given the vocal characteristics of both our leadership options in this election) last night. Has there ever been two parties more desperately trying to convince you that the other is unelectable, without actually providing any compelling reason to vote for them? It will surprise nobody that I lean well to the left, but I was hoping at least that the nominally left Labor Party (whose current leader I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at a TFA event) would provide some positive policy focus, but instead all she seemed willing to talk about was the ways in which a Liberal government would hurt the world.

Abbott was worse: even his summation failed to provide any positive policy that wasn’t just a reaction to the Labor party. The sole time he impressed was when he got on the subject of paid parental leave: a position that is surely from the playbook of the other party and a clever attempt to bring some dissatisfied Labor supporters across.

But the saddest part about politics this year and every year for as long as I’ve been allowed to vote is that the migration of about 2000 desperate people a year (in a country who reportedly takes about 300,000 a year) will define how a huge percentage of constituents vote, and will likely decide the election whichever way it goes. It’s the most pathetic issue, and apparently the only way to make it work for you is to see who can possibly be the nastiest.

So I’ll be voting, but certainly not for either of these two disgraceful attempts at political parties, and I’m definitely not happy about having to vote for the guys who will end up with it. Politics is very hard to love these days.

Be in the light

1 John 1:5-9

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all [b] sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

I had a bit of an Inigo Montoya moment with this one (you know the bit where Vizzini keeps saying “inconceivable” and then after a while Inigo says “I don’t think it means what you think it means). Well I don’t think this means what I thought it meant.

The book of the month for our Missio Dei crew is in actual fact all three of the numbered Johns, so in a moment of procrastinating from writing reports I started reading and didn’t get very far at all before I found something I needed to blurt about. For all my life: whether through poor teaching or (more likely) through theological laziness, I’ve assumed that wherever the Bible talks about “being in light”, I’ve equated that with some form of sin-management style “righteousness”. So being in the light means doing the good things, not doing the things from the dark-side, and mostly just being a nice guy.

But that’s not what I read here when I have another go. Because this does talk about sin, but it talks about says that when you’re in the light you “have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all [b] sin.” If “being in the light” was about not sinning then the sentence is farcical: when you don’t sin Jesus purifies you from sin.

Instead, what I’m reading here is closer to this: being “in the light” is about vulnerability with one another. It’s about being real about where we are: not “claiming to be without sin” and making Jesus a liar, but instead opening ourselves up to the harsh reality of light – letting the people you are in fellowship with see who you really are – warts and all.

So maybe this is not a new thing for most people, but I can’t remember hearing this taught on like this. Regardless, this represents a huge challenge for whatever brand of faith community you are a part of: being really honest with one another, genuinely transparent. In a similar vein, I wanted to share something from Pete Rollins’ “Ikon” community who have just done a thing on this theme:

Most of the time when we are with each other we are covered.  We have so much technology now – technology that shrinks the distance between each of us and makes all sorts of new communication possible.  And yet a lot of the time we still feel far apart from each other.  It is almost as if our virtual selves have become just that – almost selves hovering around our lonely and disconnected interiors.  Almost selves covered in the salve of technology bravely telling ourselves that we are showing our real selves for the first time.

But one of the amazing and frustrating things about being a human being is there is always the OTHER and nothing can get rid of it – nothing can span the space, nothing can take away the distance that exists between the OTHER inside and the OTHER in those around us.  That no matter how many beautiful words and liturgies we construct, no matter how warm and inviting the atmosphere we provide, no matter how much we want it that we will always be in a state of lack.

And what happens when we set down our props – our candles, music, multi-media and set pieces.  What happens when we only have our eyes, our ears, our mouths, our guts, our bodies to know each other with?  What happens when we sit down with our lack and the OTHER and try to speak?  What would we say?

PeterRollins.net – Naked

Hope that helps you think, anyway.

The “iPad Revolution”

Here’s a video, and two thoughts that are sadly in conflict:

  1. I can’t watch this video without believing, at least for a moment or two – that this piece of technology would make me a happier, more complete person. It’s a fantastically brilliant piece of advertising.
  2. Promises like this feel to me to be an alternate gospel.