Monday, March 31, 2008

No more midsemester, go away Autumn

So, it's been a little while since I posted last. I mean, lifeblogged last - I don't count my previous post as a post about me, so...

I didn't get as much assessment done as I had planned - I finished about 45% worth. Enough to keep me safe from handing in late assignments for the next week, yes, but when I have a total of 120% of 300% (pre-prac) due on a Friday-Monday coming up in five scant weeks, with other stuff due in the meantime, you can probably see why I'm not really concerned with the whole head-above-water stuff - keeping ahead is keeping my head above water.

Saturday was an awesome night. Preceded by going to Raby Bay as a household trip, I went to church. As part of the Earth Hour deal, the priests decided to celebrate in the dark. Any excuse for a vigil, I suppose! Anyway, it rocked, and Lucas has a good post that I'm not going to copy.

Sunday, went to church, came back, spent the afternoon at my housemates place of work. After that, went to the Bible study (that isn't really a Bible study - more of a topic study, as I was trying to explain to my housemate...but topic study just doesn't sound good), came back and went to bed. Sunday's are always a long day, starting at 5am, but never so much as when I don't get to sleep until the evening. It's good, because that means that I don't screw up my sleeping pattern, but not so good, because I feel tired for a portion of the day, which is a sensation that I don't particularly enjoy.

Woke up this morning to find out, in no uncertain manner, that it was Autumn. I'd been able to ignore this for the best part of a month, because it just wasn't acting like Autumn, but today I could ignore it no longer. I'm wearing my senior's jersey from high school, and even though I miss Summer, at least I get to wear this. Kinda a consolation prize.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Sensible Nonsense that is the Definition of God

Below is the main part of an e-mail that I sent to a friend regarding a common objection to Chalcedonian Christianity - Trinitarian theology and Christology. I think it explains my position rather well, with quoted references. Comments very welcomed, and lifeblogging to resume soon.

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A common problem that people have with both the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God (Trinitarian Theology) and with the dual natures of Christ (Christology) is the very simple idea of maths. 1+1+1=1 or 1+1=1, how does that work, it doesn't (short of trippy, funky maths which, aside from being beyond my understanding, is really rather beside the point).

But, it's not supposed to work based on our logic.
"If God were small enough to fit in our heads, He would not be big enough to worship" - Paul Tyson, c.2001.
We have to be willing to admit that God is bigger than us, that in the same way as we can look at the world around us and comprehend it without it comprehending us, God comprehends us without us comprehending it. In fact, moreso - God created us, so the relationship is not dissimiliar to God knowing us like an engineer knows their building, or a watchmaker knows their watch, or a programmer knows their program.

And, back to the point...
"certum est, quia impossibile / it is certain--because it is impossible." - Tertullian, 2nd Century AD
How could humans come up with something like Trinitarian theology? It's a mess, and on quite a number of levels nigh-on impossible to defend - it took the Church until the late 300s to have the final church-wide (i.e. second ecumenical) council on Trinitarian theology, and until the 600s to have the final Church-wide (i.e. sixth ecumenical) council on the subject of Christology.

But, the point is that we didn't come up with it. If humans had, then humans would feel quite free to change it - and many did try. Rather:
"We cannot change these things, because we did not make them. They came from above." - Abp Stylianos of Australia, 2002.
Because the Trinity was revealed to us, because the two natures of Christ are so blatantly revealed to us, we do not have the luxury of changing them so that we get better advantage in a debate, nor the luxury of changing to a more defensible position. We must be true to what we have seen and beheld, not to what we can logically defend.

And so, we believe the logically impossible - or rather, we see the limits of human logic and human intelligence. At some point we must realise that we can't go further - our brains aren't big enough, we aren't ready, we're not quite 'solid' enough (which seems to convey the general idea) - and we must simply bow before the mystery.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Big Ol' Ordination

Wow.
That was a big weekend.

So we had the metropolitan up this weekend, which was awesomely intense - started at the Akathist on Friday, through Vespers on Saturday and culminating in a matins and hierarchical Divine Liturgy with an ordination to the diaconate. *turns fanboy*.

Ordinations are always amazing experiences. Photos are available.

That was pretty much my weekend.

On the Thursday preceding, we had a game of Mahjong, which was totally awesome. The winner that day was...Emma - congrats!

Tonight we had another game, with Bradley being the winner - again, congrats!

I have to say, it's really starting to annoy me that I have done really well, pretty well each week. And I've done quite nicely on quite a few nights. But aside from the first few times we've played (when everyone basically didn't know what they were doing), I've basically made the second place my own. First Bradley trended winning, then Emi, and now it seems to be spiralling again...but whatever seems to happen, I seem to be holding onto second.

See, in Mahjong, it doesn't actually matter how well you do if you don't win that hand - only the winner's tiles and points are counted, and for whatever reason, I don't win big - I generally get a couple of points above the bad-win-bonus (the winner gets 20 points, and if they don't have any valuable sets of tiles, then they get double that as a consolation - I, on the other hand, get the 20 points but don't get the double because I've gotten a three-of-a-kind or somesuch - e.g. tonight, my biggest win was 24x4 which, rounded down, totals 80). However, the person who comes first invariably flukes a massive win (the big win tonight, for comparison, netted 960 points), which means that it's very difficult for someone like me to catch up.

Other things I did this week include getting the marks for one of my three applied theology subjects back (of the three passing grades, I got the top passing grade) and doing assessment. I did 40% worth on Monday, but the week has gotten away from me, so I will have to do a decent effort tomorrow to get to my desired total for this break...and I didn't factor Holy Week into my calculations, so I'll be working as much as I can tomorrow and Saturday so that Holy Week isn't affected too much...

Lastly, the funniest 'game over' interaction that I've read (see Barmaid Blog):
Dude: Can I buy you a drink?
Chick: No hablo ingl├ęs.
Dude: ¿Bien, puedo comprarte una bebida?
Chick: Ich spreche nicht Spanischen.
Classic!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just a short update

My parents left to go see my brother yesterday. They've left me as the housesitter for a little while.

I got something cool today - my futon mattress. Can't get the frame to me as yet - it doesn't fit in a sedan, sadly, but that'll be coming in about three weeks.

I also did a small bit of assessment today - not long (150w, worth 1.75%), but just long enough to be annoying. After a three-week reprieve, I now have to do about 30% each week (and 60% during midsemester). Can't say I'm looking forward to it, but with my parent's absence, I should be able to throw something together.

And tomorrow: the Bishop is coming...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Long Time Between Posts

I didn't think it was so long between posts...

The rest of Wednesday last ended with the Presanctified Liturgy, which was awesome (in more than one sense).

The end of last week was rather quiet. Lots of assignment writing. I finished that assignment, then used Sunday to do the bibliography. Sadly, I'm having to get used to APA style, instead of Harvard, which is similar enough to be really annoying - it's basically just different commas, full stops and brackets...very annoying.

In addition to that, we had the landlord visit to do some repairs. Now, when you're renting, the landlord has to give three days notice to do an inspection. This wasn't an inspection, but you know that if they enter the house and see it a mess, they're going to end up by saying 'and we'll see you in three days', so you basically have to treat it like an inspection. So that was my Thursday.

It gave me a chance to clean my room and to finally put together my prayer corner (which is rather traditional amongst Orthodox); and it gave one of my housemates a chance to make a rather dodgy looking chair into what I dubbed 'the radioactive chair'. Check out the pic to see what I mean...

Sunday, I went to my usual church, and was asked if I'd be able to do some sermons, which I was very happy to accept. I've got about 10 weeks notice, but I've finished them already, so there'll be a little bit of playing with the fonts and margins and a fair bit of coming back to them in a week to make sure that they a) flow and b) are less than 10mins long.

I also got given a bottle of tonic (this one was a light-red colour). Whatever that is, I thought that the labels for it were awesome - it's supposed to look like medicine, and starts off with "for the temporary relief of normal", and I'll let my devoted readers read the rest :)

Monday, I taught an R.E. class. Kinda trippy - started off with St Gregory Palamas, when I found out that it's really hard to teach people who don't really want to learn, then flipped it to someone else to talk about Job, who found a similar thing, then flipped back to me when I did a little bit on Christology - who Jesus is. I tried to summarise both segments with some easy-to-remember lines; don't know how much sunk in. Then, for whatever reason, a whole bunch of students asked about paganism, so I tried to do a comparative segment about that. Fortunately (or otherwise), I know a fair bit about the subject matter, so I feel like I was able to do it justice.

Today I went to uni, and sent a very annoyed e-mail to another lecturer about some of the members in a presentation group. Think I'll be external for that subject...

Got a pretty sweet ending to today - my grandma called and offered to buy me a bed (a 'luxury' that I had eschewed since moving to my current abode) as a belated birthday, which is totally awesome!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tute quote

had an awesome interchange in my tute today. Rest assured that it had nothing to with the tute:

"*light slap on arm*"
"Ow! My arm is blue for a reason!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Weekends Are Big

It's like my time at uni is really my weekend!

Friday...not sure what I did. Went to uni, I think.

Saturday was a day of chilling - said goodbye to a housemate's mother who had been staying for a little bit - then church in the evening. Caught up with some of the OCCG folks, which was both a bit different and nice. Was supposed to go out that night, but things took a different turn and I ended up just going to sleep.

Had a bit of a discussion about "external relations", if you will. One of the natural consequences of believing that Orthodoxy is, well, God's religion (it's a little more complicated, but this adjectival statement will do) is that one has to decide how to relate to those outside the Church. The person I was talking to was saying that we should have a deal of respect for other Christian denominations, but seemed to stop part way through because I was frowning rather noticeably.

To be fair, my interlocutor was riffing on an experience where a (protestant) Christian was attacking said interlocutor based on Orthodox theology - especially icons.
However, I don't think that people should be accorded more respect because of their religion or lack thereof, or their denomination or deficiency therein, and I think that I did disagree with this, but I think that 'should we offer protestants respect because they also worship Christ' is asking the wrong question: we were told to love everyone. We can respect another person's ability to believe and the sincerity of that belief without necessarily referencing the truth of that belief, and certainly without implying acceptance of that belief. Any evangelistic endeavour (in the sense that living the Christian life should be leading people towards Christ) that starts off saying 'you are wrong' is doomed to failure - through no fruit, or worse, through poisonous fruit.

Sunday, I went to church - got a picture of a sign at the train station that had graffiti on it, which I found amusing (look at the head of the pedestrian). It was Forgiveness Sunday, so after the service we had a rite of forgiveness - in this case, it involves asking everyone present for their forgiveness, bowing as it happens. After this, I was driven back, and we went to another church that was doing much the same thing - this time, using a double cheek-kiss. Went home, then went to another church for the same deal, but this time it came after a Vespers (as is the ideal). After that, someone invited me to share a pre-lent meal, which was awesome - cheese pizza, chocolate iceblocks, prawns and rice in sauce, defrosted battered fish, washed down by chocolate milk...it was awesome.

Monday saw me teach RE. Not as good a class, I think - I could have planned my content a little better. It still worked very well, though.
Then went to have coffee with a friend at uni, did a little study, then went to a tute. Went home, went to church for Great Compline, which went for a lot longer than I thought it would - 2 hours, when I'm used to about 40mins! It was good, though. As cliched as it sounds, praying rocks, particularly in community.

Today was a lecture, then home, then submitting my form for the government-funded student subsidy. Oh, and I set up an account to do payments with.

Things still yet to do - renew learner's permit (I know...); laundry; like, every essay...

Looking forward to a friend's ordination to the diaconate, which is coming up in the next two weeks...stay tuned.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lyrics - Nathanial Miles by Fr Justin Mathews

That song I downloaded (see last entry) doesn't seem to have lyrics up anywhere, so I thought I'd see what I could do...

Nathanial Miles, by Justin Mathews.
from the album Confessing Between the Lines (also available on iTunes).

Nathanial Miles was a good man,
Always willing to stay late or lend you a hand.
Come from the deep south, from old Alabama,
Met him at forty-eight, I was 24, but
He didn't seem to mind...

Picked him up at 6am by the radio station
Stopped for some coffee saying he felt like talking
Told me 'bout his wife and kids and the day she left him
How he spent 20 years living out of box cars,
A life that almost killed him.

I've been looking for a heart I've never known
Searching for someone to sing me sweetly home

He said, I slid off the rail by that old rescue mission,
The crave and the DT's had shaken the hop from him.
Got a hot meal and a warm cot, but I laid awake,
Something that the preacher said, about the thirsting dead,
And the water that Jesus had...

I've been looking for a heart I've never known,
Searching for someone to sing me sweetly home

(instrumental interlude)

With the last sip of coffee he said,
Here's the part that i bet you would never guess

Upstairs the mission offered life recovery,
Powder for the shot to those losing the war.
Thought about my wife and kids and the years I've been running,
And I made up my mind, it was long past time,
To put the past behind

I've been looking for a heart I've never known
Searching for someone to sing me sweetly home
I've been looking for a heart I've never known
Searching for someone to sing me sweetly home
Sweetly home
Sweetly home

More shoutout than post

Well, I've continued the streak, and it's now three-in-a-row. My new phone takes good enough pictures - with easy enugh connection to Wingman (the laptop) - that I can just take a photo and easily upload it when I get home. The novelty hasn't worn off, anyway.

I'd like to do a shout-out to the folks at Icon New Media Network, particularly at Generation Orthodox. They've put out some really great podcasts thus far, and I'm impatiently waiting for a new show...very impatiently! Especially the GenOrthodox podcast, the people on there seem very...real about their faith. It's cool to listen to. I even have a t-shirt - black, with the logo on the front. I suppose I can give a secondary shout to Fullness of the Faith for making that t-shirt :) They make plenty of Orthodox stuff that I would actually wear - so check it out!

Based on playing this song on a Generation Orthodox podcast, I downloaded a song by Fr Justin Mathews called 'nathanial miles' (nocaps and all). It's not a particularly preachy song, and certainly not Byzantine chant - it sounded, well, like a song with drums, a guitar and a singer, that kinda thing. Check it out (I got it from iTunes)!

Today I went to uni and got a book of readings. I have to say that I kinda feel sorry for the lady taking this course - she's obviously well overworked. Did a little study, looked at my first piece of assessment and kinda felt an implosion in my brain, and stopped thinking about it :)

To all those who had commented - thanks! I didn't actually know that there were any comments being made until I accidentally saw one and then scrolled down to see more...and realised that I didn't set it so that I'd get comment notifications in my e-mail. Fixed now, so I'll actually start replying to comments :)
Regarding the Converts group - prayers much appreciated. It's kinda unfortunate that it is needed, but with that assumed it's certainly a positive step forward.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Post Illustrated

This was the view of the bus that I took to get from uni today to the city. It's an inter-campus shuttle bus, goes quarter-hourly, and it's full. Now, admittedly, the other end of the shuttle bus takes you to the city, which is where most people would go to get a bus home or whatnot, but still - what is with all the traffic?

Today at uni I figured out more about how to do my first real piece of assessment (3.75% doesn't really count - 20%, 1000w, on the other hand, totally counts).

I also decided to effectively change teaching areas - before, I was going to be a social science teacher (3 subjects), with an extra specialisation in senior history (1 subject); now, I'm going to be a social science teacher (2 subjects) with an emphasis on history (1 subject that's part of the social science sequence) and an extra specialisation in English (1 subject).

After another fiasco today (i.e. rent day), my housemates also decided to get a house account to pay the rent from. Should make life much easier.

Part of that fiasco was that I had to settle accounts with my previous place of residence - now, almost everything is sorted - all over bar the bond, I suppose.

Dear me, is this a short post after only a one day interval? Is it possible that I'm returning to more frequent blogging - with pictures? Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

First Week of Uni

It's been a long time since I've updated. It seems longer because February is a little shorter, but it's not that much shorter...it's been about a week.

I really enjoyed my first week back at uni. Great lectures, met some people (hi!), interesting topics. I'm really concerned about the assessment, though. Really. Hopefully this will mean that I'll be nervous enough to do it all quickly or something, but I have a bad feeling that it's going to rise and rise and the nerves will actually prevent me from doing much. I suppose I'll have to chill. Or get a valium or something :P

I'm trying to go to uni even on the days when I don't have class, just to do some study - not sure how well it's going to work, but with the state of my room, it's almost giving me an incentive to go to uni...

Friday was adjudicating - my last school vs my old school. I have to say that I was really disappointed with the behaviour and debating etiquette amongst one of those schools especially (and it's probably too easy to figure out which is which, so I'll avoid the defamation case now by not specifying). It's not hard to listen to an adjudication and not talk, particularly when the adjudicator is speaking about not talking while a speaker is talking. Seriously.

Saturday was the aforementioned Orthodox Christian Converts Group (now at occg.info), which was good - there's a definite attempt to avoid politics, which is both good and difficult...at some level, politicking is probably a significant reason why the group needs to exist in the first place. But, it's good, because there's no point getting away from something when all that you're doing is replicating it. Hopefully there'll be a change there and growth can happen.

Sunday saw me at the Gold Coast - today, a former Anglican priest (chrismated into the Church about 9 months ago now) served in the altar, which was really good to see - and about time, too. That night was a Bible study of sorts - it's called that, but the topic of discussion is very much on theology - that night was 'predestination and free will', for example, and aside from looking at where the basis of predestinationism was in Scripture (mostly through misapplication and taking out of context with the rest of Scripture, btw), it was mostly historical.

The next day, I was at RE, and found myself teaching not only my own year 10 class (11 students), but also the year 8 and 9 class (about 17 students) - 38 students in total, for a class that lasted for 70mins!
All in all, it actually worked out fantastically. My basic deal was to...act like a teacher. I know, profound. I even told one boy to tuck in his shirt - it's the power establishment that is so essential in class management - I don't enjoy it, but it's a tool I'll need to use, and then relax as the year goes on.
I don't know what changed, though, between the last time I taught - here or at my last school - but something seems different now. I was able to hold the attention of about 35 students (of the 38) for an hour, which is something that I never could have done before. When I last taught RE here, I was holding the attention of the whole class of 15 for most of the 30min period, which I was very happy with; when I last taught, I could hold attention for most of the class, but often couldn't actually come up with enough content for the whole length of class. That almost happened on Monday, actually, then I did a quick left turn.
I think that I'm starting to act like a teacher, and behave like a teacher would, and I think that the students respect that relationship. There's only a finite number of relationships that most students have - parent-child, teacher/coach-student, friend-friend. Before, I tried to be like the cool uncle or the much-older brother, and I think that's a relationship that most students don't have, and won't have until they're adults, and so it's easier to develop that cool uncle/nephew relationship - and you can't forge a new style of relationship in a group over about 5.

After that, I sorted out the music for a Presanctified Liturgy, then went to an interview for a chaplaincy position. I'm fairly confident about how I went in the interview.
After that, I tried to go back to uni, but it was too late. I was told later that it was a good thing I didn't go, so I'm happy.

Today was uni - went there, came home, slept. I think teaching so many for so long and an interview really took it out of me.