SA Harvest near Two Wells, Nov 2014

One Man's Web

Commentary on Mark,  11 January 2021

The latest update to my Markan commentary is here.
(Updated November 24 2021)

Why what happens to Tharnicaa is more important than any threat of people smuggling...,  16 June 2021

Theology means to talk about God. Our God-talk evolves. Babylonian theology thought there were lots of Gods which were arbitrary, capricious, and violent; rather like us, only worse. People were created as slaves when the Gods  decided it was too hard getting their own food. Once when people were too noisy, the Gods wiped them out with a big flood, a story on which the story of Noah does commentary

Jesus’ ancestors were attacked by the Babylonians, defeated in battle, and the cream of the country taken back to Babylon. Among these exiles were a group who made the remarkable decision that just because Babylon had won the war, it didn’t mean they were right about the Gods. Out of that insight and revelation came a new theology which we see, for example, in the beginning of Genesis: One God. Majestically in control, rather than struggling chaotically. Just. A God who made people at the centre of Creation in order that they might enjoy it rather than as an afterthought when that god needed some slave labour. 

The long evolution of that insight and revelation has brought us to an understanding of a God who loves us extravagantly that God would rather die for us than use violence against us. It is so radical a view still,  that we call one of Jesus’ stories the Parable of the Prodigal Son, as though it is about a footloose, wayward son. It is the story of a God who is so loving that we might better call it the Parable of the Profligate Father. ... Read on >>>>

What makes us who we are?,  13 June 2021

In response the post The Handing Over of Kopika and Tharnicaa, which was linked on Facebook, someone said: 

Where does our so called man of God [He means the Prime Minister] fit into this if at all? For the life of me I cannot see how this person can stand up in front of a church conference with which he is associated with and ask them to pray for him and then turns around and acts no differently to some thug on the street. As someone who has spent many years within a Pentecostal environment, this bloke is far removed from what I have experienced.

This is my response to that question.

The Prime Minister fascinates me and frightens me. Here’s why: He is clearly genuine about his faith. But doesn’t it have such a blind spot from our point of view‒ well, several!? What frightens me is that I have learned just how easy it is to have these blind spots, and how quickly they can develop.

How did he get there? And how did I end up where I am? .... Read on >>>>

The Handing Over of Kopika and Tharnicaa,  11 June 2021

This is an excerpt from a commentary I am currently writing on the Gospel of Mark.  How might Mark see the appalling treatment of Kopika and Tharnicaa, two innocent little Australian girls from Biloela, who are being traumatised by their imprisonment and isolation on Christmas Island?  We join the text of Mark at Mark 1:14-15.  The text deals with faith, politics and crowds.  You will find reference to three other places in the draft commentary, which I have added at the end of the section on 1:14-15... Read on >>>>

God has a lot to answer for...,  10 June 2021

Dear Jen,

It was wonderful to meet you the other night— 35 years since youth group, where does time go!? And it was good to meet David. You've done well for yourself there; he's a really nice bloke. Don't worry about his "outburst," as you've called it.  Part of the job as a minister is to stand in for God sometimes, and bear people's rage and pain, even at someone else's birthday party.  Jannie's story is more than enough reason for David to be furious at God.

I must say that his being angry strikes me as a basically healthy reaction. The people who I worry for are those who are full of all the right language about God's love etc., but seem to feel no pain or anger at all. That seems to me to be a bit unnatural, and quite unhealthy. I know it's five years now, as you said, but the grief for the loss of a child... well, I don't think it ever quite goes away. My Dad's been dead ten years now, and that was a timely death in the best of circumstances really, but some days the grief pops back up as fresh as yesterday.

It's fine to be angry with God.  The Psalms are full of human anger and lament.  I'm sure I'd shock a few folk in my congregation by saying this but, frankly, God has a lot to answer for: Jannie is one more innocent among a countless number of innocent and unfair deaths. If the God we imagine can't handle our anger at her suffering, and the suffering of those who are left grieving her, then that God is not worthy of being God.... Read on >>>>

Kapunda Loop - May 28 2021,  04 June 2021

300-mapThis ride was an approximate 300km at a time when I've not had as much riding as normal. The plan was to test a winter ride with only two trunk bags and see if I could maintain 6 hour 100km stages. There were two major climbs on this route: from Palmer up to Tungkillo, and then from Balhannah to the top of Greenhill Road.... Read on >>>>

How do we live: Notes on a plan for personal action,  03 June 2021

9-hardgrazingHow do we live through the climate crisis? Is there anything significant that we can do? I listen to colleagues who have worked in the area for decades and hear them wonder if any progress has been made at all. Despair can tug at us.

I think there has been significant change, even though there has been far from enough. I grew up in a conservative country community which voted Liberal and Country League. We would have voted for coal, for diesel subsidies, and derided "Greenies." Recently,  I was at a meeting where someone reported that the Superannuation Fund used by many of us within the Uniting Church has said it will have divested from "dirty coal" investments by 2050. A farmer from the area I grew up exclaimed, "2050!" She muttered something under her breath which I'm pretty sure was "Bloody hell!" What enables us conservative farming types to change, and to immediately see that Fund statement as nothing but a deflection? As someone asked the meeting, "Is there anything but dirty coal?"... Read on >>>>

What happened to our big trip?,  27 May 2021

debBecause South Australia suffered very little in the pandemic, Deborah and I were able to keep fit on the fire trails and back roads of the Adelaide Hills once the original Covid lockdown was relaxed. But our planned ride to Tamworth was not able to happen on schedule due to the pandemic. However, the Triennial made some adjustments to its program... Read on >>>>

Supporting the partners of abused church leaders,  24 May 2021

This post explores the way the church may help a person who is supporting their partner through current or recent abuse within the church. The article pays particular attention to abuse connected with a church, but much of it will apply to support of someone whose partner's abuse is unconnected with the church.... Read on >>>>

The Tunnel Under Main North Road,  13 May 2021

tunnel-tinyThere is now a tunnel under Main North Road. When Dry Creek is flowing after heavy rain the path will likely be under water, but otherwise the route is fast and delivers the rider, via a couple of lanes and back streets, to the south parklands bike path up past the Velodrome and across Grand Junction Road. Hopefully a couple of hundred metres of gravel path along Dry Creek will be sealed in future.... Read on >>>>

How a cyclist sees Adelaide,  12 May 2021

Drivers and riders see two different cities.

Take last Friday, when I had an appointment in Unley. Taking the car, I'd allow half an hour from our place, and take Shakespeare Avenue through the Gums Reserve down to Glynburn Road. In the middle of the day I'd take Glynburn through three sets of lights to the Greenhill Road roundabout, and then negotiate eight more sets of lights to get onto Unley Road. This is not counting any lights at pedestrian crossings.... Read on >>>>

Cleland Loop,  16 April 2021

bartrilspurtrackToday's ride left Waterfall Gully and meandered in a 22km loop around the park on the beginner and intermediate paths, returning to Adelaide down the Old Bullock Track from near Measday's Lookout on the old freeway. This would also be a good day walk.  Read on >>>>

 

 

Two Trips to Burra,  12 April 2021

burrasignBurra is around 160km from Adelaide by car. The bike friendly routes are a scenic delight and cover some of my favourite South Australian country. This is the story of two round trips, and what can happen when it rains. The plan was for a 'non-stop' loop up and back, which I managed both times, but only the second trip was able to stay on the planned course. The course was designed to maximise the distance spent off the bitumen.... Read on >>>>

And begin to live again...,  07 November 2020

The truism says every age thinks it's the one where something truly significant is happening. It's always said with hindsight, safely separated from the disaster or event in question. But our time is the moment in which we must live, and at the moment we are watching with horror as the deranged president of the United States seems hell bent on accelerating the decline and fall of his nation in order to satisfy his own narcissism. If this tragedy, which will reshape the world, and if the current pandemic were not enough, they are distracting us from the accelerating climate catastrophe which according to the science, not to opinion, will cause unparalleled suffering, and which risks societal collapse, and may threaten our very survival. How do we live in this? What does the gospel say?

I'm currently working in the Gospel of Mark and for some reason thought of the two women in Chapter five. Does this story say anything to us in our predicament?

The story is a Markan sandwich. The story of the older woman is placed within the story of the girl who is on the cusp of womanhood, and starting her life. This literary technique tells us to read and interpret the story which is "the bread," the girl's story, in terms of the filling which it contains. The bread is the story of a little girl who is on the point of death. The father comes to Jesus in desperation... Read on >>>>

Niblet Gap,  25 June 2020

Top of Niblet Gap, looking westThis was a 238km loop with lots of gravel. I wanted to ride Niblet Gap as a little joke between friends, but it's also a way to see some really remote farming country. Niblet Gap itself is only about a kilometre, so strictly road bikes would be a fairly easy carry through. The Tothill Range area to the east of Robertstown has numbers of similar tracks cutting through the ridges. Read on >>>>

The Gift of Tully Harris,  22 June 2020

It was clear the papers were correct about people not going to the doctor during lock-down. Because within ten days of seeing my own doctor, I was sitting in a socially distanced chair outside the office of a skin specialist: one Dr. Tully Harris.

I wondered if he was the same Tully Harris who had been in the youth group of a congregation where, years ago, I had filled in for a few months. He would be old enough by now.

That Tully Harris had been a quiet kid who seemed to live in a universe which occasionally intersected with the one the rest of us were in. But he had a skill which the youth group were keen to show the new minister: Out on the basketball courts, Tully Harris sat backwards on his pushbike and rode a perfectly symmetrical figure eight across the asphalt...  Read on >>>>

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