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Who should you vote for in the upcoming NZ election?

Vote

So, the national election is coming here in NZ and everyone is really starting to ask: “Who should I vote for?”

Unless you’re me. Because I can’t vote. This is actually the third election that I haven’t be able to vote in due to my immigration status. And in a lot of ways this has been a blessing in disguise.

Yay, I don’t have to offend people!

Or can I?

Yes, I imagine I could. I could write a nice long (or short!) piece about why you need to vote for X because Y is of Satan, and Z is the Antichrist, and A is a big ol’ hole in the ground, and besides, X marks the spot anyway.

But I won’t. Rather, all I can really recommend is this: Take the time to sympathetically read and understand X, Y, Z, A’s and any other letter in the alphabet’s platform, especially those of which you prima facie disagree with. Remember, you are electing a government to take care of 4.5 million people, a $188 billion economy, and a geographic area of 268,021 km². Seems like a pretty important decision to me.

So why not take more than 5 minutes and two online quizzes before casting that vote.

You are voting….right? 😉

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What if Planet of the Apes Were True?

image

What if Dawn of the Planet of the Apes were true? What would that mean for Christianity? To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. But it is interesting to ponder.

Would it be definitive evidence that Christianity is false? I don’t think so. But would the few people who were left after a disease wipes out most of humanity think it was definitive evidence that Christianity is false? That’s a real strong possibility.

What would it mean for the Apes who now arguably also seem to have the image of God? They are fully sentient, conscious, beings who now at the very least hold equal dominion over the earth (of course, “image of God” is such a debated term that this question might not even be able to be properly asked). Would Christians start evangelising the Apes? And what would that mean for Apes which had not quite made the jump to full sentience?

Would religion even exist in such a world? I have a strong inclination that it would. It seems to be an essential part of human nature. But would it look anything like we have now? Don’t know.

And what about the peace teachings of Jesus? Would they apply to a sentient Ape who was trying to kill you and possibly the whole human race? I think just war theorists would have a much easier time hashing this question out than those of us in the Christian pacifism tradition.

But maybe the eschaton/end of time would be ushered in before anything like DotPotA could happen? But why think that? I can’t think of any conclusive reason why that should be the case.

Anyway, I really have no idea what would happen. But it sure is an interesting question to ponder. Oh, and the movie is pretty good to 😉

Jesus, Enemy Love, and Time Travel

Deloran

The other day (aka, today in the shower), I was contemplating the idea of “enemy love” as articulated by Jesus. This naturally led to me thinking about time travel and the following question:

“what sort of things would I do to live out the concept of “enemy love” if I had access to time travel?”

Now that’s quite a big question, and I can’t really answer it fully. And given that I just thought of the question, I haven’t put much thought into it. But if I had to answer it now, one thing I would do is go back and talk to all the famous heretics of Christian history. Given that there’s a good chance that the whole story behind these individuals has been lost throughout history it be fascinating to know what made them tick.

“You know Marcion, history says this about you. And from this document, and that writing, it really seems like that’s true. But is it? Have you been misunderstood? Are we missing something?”

<my time travel device is also a universal translator 🙂 >

“Gee Pelagius, is that what you are really saying? Have I misread you? Now that we know X, is it fair to put your writings in a new light? Or do we truly disagree?”

“Arius, what were your motivations? What do you think of your opponents? What did you truly think was at stake?”

Etc.

So that’s one thing I would do. Seek to better understand the people I disagree with. And if I would do that with a time machine, shouldn’t I do the same with those I disagree with today?

Worst Time Ever?

worse-day-ever

What’s a bad day? What’s a bad year? Is it all relative, or is there anywhere in history one can point to and say “Wow, that truly deserves to be number 1.”

I imagine most people would probably place the Holocaust, or some other similar genocide at the top of the list. It’s hard to imagine a scenario worse than Auschwitz. But as I think about it, I think there might be a situation even worse than the Holocaust. The ultimate “I’m having a bad day, but at least it’s nowhere near as bad as X.”

I’m thinking about the Black Death.

black_death

In case you don’t know, the Black Death was a pandemic that tore through Europe in its most destructive form during the years 1348-50. It killed an estimated 75-200 million people (Asia & Europe) and 30–60% of Europe’s total population, at a time when the earth’s total population was only 450 million.

The symptoms were horrendous. Tumor like growths would appear all over your body, which oozed pus when opened, your skin would die and turn black, spots and rashes would cover your body, followed by an acute fever and vomiting of blood. You would die within 2-7 days.

Black_Death_cropped

But that is only the disease. What about the aftermath? For starters, remember this is the 14th century – they don’t know where diseases come from. It’s one thing for a disease like this to happen today, where we all know it’s caused by some germ and thus can begin the campaign to find the cure. We can rationally understand what’s happening even if we can’t solve the problem. But imagine not having any idea of where this sickness has come from or how to get rid of it. At worse, you begin to blame the outsiders in your culture (antisemitism – the persecution of the Jews – increased immensely during this time). At best, you think it might be caused by God or the Devil. But then why are all the clergy getting it?

bd-monks

The clergy angle is interesting. Many, being human, were terrified of the disease. Some would even refuse to help their sick congregants for fear of their own lives. And then they would die anyway. So many clergy ended up dying, the Church needed to replace them with less-than-qualified candidates. Many historians think that this loss of wisdom and experience, the plethora of people who probably should have never been clergy entering the priesthood, on top of the disillusion caused by priests abandoning their parishioners or not being able to do much to help them, is what led to the later corruption and mindset that caused the Protestant Reformation. No Black Death, no Protestant Reformation, no wars caused by religious upheaval, potentially hundreds of thousands of lives saved and church splits prevented.

Also, in a world where human relationships and community were key, imagine how alone people felt. Everyone in your family is dead, but none of your friends want anything to do with you because they are afraid they will get sick from you. Your pastor hasn’t come see you, either because he is dead or justifiably terrified. So you sit alone, crying, beside the rotten corpses of your partner and children, wondering what on earth you did to deserve this.

I could be wrong. There has been plenty of horrible situations throughout history. But, the magnitude of this event coupled with the ignorance of the populace involved, I think puts the Black Death, at the very least, in contention for “worst time in history.”

Have a nice day 🙂

Who was the most influential person of the 20th century?

Screenshot_20th_Century_Fox_Logo_in_1975

Who was the most influential person of the 20th century? I’ve looked at a lot of lists and the names that top them are people like Albert Einstein, Adolf Hitler, Mohandas Gandhi, Mao Zedong, etc. These are all very influential people for sure, but I’m currently interested in the person who had the greatest impact.

And what’s interesting is that people who have had the greatest impact historically are occasionally really insignificant people. For example, Lee Harvey Oswald, incredibly insignificant person historically, but a person who arguably was one of the 20th century’s most influential people (at least according to the Stephen King novel I’m reading right now). How would our world be different if JFK had never been assassinated by Oswald?

Which leads me to the most influential man of the 20th century, and really, I think our modern world. Here he is:

Gavrilo_Princip_cropped

Gavrilo Princip is his name. Never heard of him? Well he was the man who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary which was the event that sparked the First World War (and the story of how he ended up accomplishing this goal is fantastical in itself). WWI massively changed the world, creating the Soviet Union, ending the Ottoman, Austria-Hungarian, and German empires, and creating new significant nation states like Poland, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. It is also widely accepted that the Second World War was largely the direct result of how WWI ended. And well there is no question that WWII greatly impacted our world. Just as one obvious example, if there had been no WWII, there probably would have been no JFK or Lee Harvey Oswald.

I’ve been doing a lot of research into WWI lately, probably because of the recent ANZAC day, and the fact that this is the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict. And in my research I was introduced to the thesis that Gavrilo Princip was the man who had the greatest impact on the 20th Century. I had never given the idea much thought, but as I reflect on it now, I find it strangely compelling.

So what can one take away from all this? One, don’t think you can’t change the world because you are just one individual, and two, always realize that choices have consequences, sometimes consequences you cannot even begin to imagine.

 

Should I Like 14 Minutes of Pissed Off Goalies?

So the other day I watched a video called 14 Minutes of Pissed Off Goalies. A few of my friends posted it so I thought I’d give it a gander. I honestly didn’t think I would watch the whole thing because I thought “how could I possibly be interested in goalies being pissed off for FOURTEEN MINUTES.” But I did. Actually, I was absolutely enthralled by it.

Which then leads me to an interesting question: what is it about me that likes watching pissed off goalies? Is it my love of ice hockey? Do I enjoy schadenfreude too much? Did I like the song? Do I feel a certain sense of relief knowing that other people get frustrated and angry?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just over thinking this. But something seems strangely wrong in enjoying seeing other people angry. On the other hand maybe I just enjoy seeing people passionate about the same thing I am passionate about.

What do you think?

City Club

Loving one another

Today I did something incredibly game changing. Simple in its premise, but pregnant in its implications. I attended what is currently called around these parts, City Club.

What is City Club you may ask? Imagine this conversation:

Bob: Imagine the greatest possible event.

John: Why?

Bob: Because it would be great for this conversation if you did so.

John: Why?

Bob: Just do it.

John: What?

Bob: Imagine the greatest possible event.

John: Ok. Want to know what it was?

Bob: Why?

John: Uh…

Bob: Not important. Ok, now that you have imagined that event, City Club is twice as amazing, with the added bonus of having a cherry on top surrounded by a rainbow and lollipops.

John: Not possible.

Bob: Not only possible, actual.

Ok, so what is City Club? It’s members of my church who work in the city, coming together in the city, during lunch. And what are we doing? We are doing the modern version of breaking bread together. Enjoying each others company for no other reason than to enjoy each others company.

In other words, being a community. And at the end of the day, that’s what I’m about as a pastor. Community. Together. Centered on Christ’s vision of a better world where enemies are loved, friends are trusted, and food is plentiful.