One Man's Web


... As I grew up, I began to hear rumours of a deeper life in the church: A meeting with the Spirit of God which promised healing; which promised a depth of reality that would let me be at home in the world, rather than excluded, alone, and questioning whether life was worth it. At that time, I could not have used those words to describe my situation, but I certainly heard the promise of a knowledge and experience which would heal, and build up, and it sounded like cool water to a man "doing a perish."

One night, on a long drive through the bush, I was favoured with an overwhelming ecstatic experience. Although, even then, a little piece of me stood apart, watching with a raised eyebrow and asking, "Really!?" This doubt didn't then matter so much, because something real had happened to me; something real had given me a new ease with life. I had been give an epiphany. And, suddenly, I was accepted; in the church, I had become one of those who had "seen." ...  Read on >>>>

A long article, plus a sermon draft, this week. You may prefer to listen to the podcast.

From the text...

I remain Christian because of the writings of a Buddhist author who showed me a way through philosophical and theological dead ends. I returned to active ministry within the Uniting Church because of the witness of my Muslim friend, Fata. My Hazarra neighbours' grace and generosity enlivens my soul. But all this is necessarily experienced and processed through the story of Jesus, and the imagery of the Christian church. It's where I live.

All I would achieve by abandoning that imagery ... is that I would construct a new religious language and imagery. If it were to mean anything, and have any depth, it would necessarily in some sense still exclude those who had not "entrusted" themselves to it. But that does not mean it would have the whole truth!! I can lean over the fence and ask Hussein how things look from his backyard, but I must live in my own home.

Life is deep, and the depths can only be entered by the discipline and practice of a particular imagination, or home.... Read on >>>>

The Melbourne trip was the usual learning curve of unexpected events which seems to characterise long rides.... Read on >>>>





Listen to the podcast

John 9 is a deep meditation upon a story of Jesus meeting a blind man. The man is described as born blind and blind from birth. We are told his eyes are opened; his sight is received; he had formerly been blind. (See here) The meditation is not about physical healing, but about seeing.

It is hard to see clearly, and difficult to see life for ourselves. As John 9 says, "Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind." (John 9:32)

There are always people who wish to define what we see.  The story of the man who had been born blind leads us into John Chapter 10. For his story is a story of Jesus' argument with the gatekeepers of the faith. Those careful keepers of rules we call Pharisees tend also to be arbiters of people's faith. They are gatekeepers of people's access to God. They define what it means to be in relationship with God, or not.... Read on >>>>

In our church today, the congregations meet together, and we will sing in Bahasa and English. Then it will be quiet, and we will listen to the whole passion narrative, read in a mixture of both languages. We will act out some of the story using a variation on Dorothy MCrae's wonderful liturgy. I get to introduce this part of the service.

I am
I don’t have a lot to say about Good Friday.

Jesus' death was a tragedy. He was an innocent man who was killed by the mob. He was the best of all people, who showed us how to be human, who showed us how to live fully. And he was killed— murdered in a most inhumane way.

What can we say about this that is adequate? What can we say which won't domesticate it and hide the horror under a heap of words?

Feel this in your heart    rather than filling your mind   with words which can do it no justice.

Earlier in the Gospel of John, (Chapter 8) before our readings today, some people were arguing with Jesus. They said that they were God's people because they were Abraham's children. And Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am." Which is a little Jewish joke about a great and wonderful love… because… I am is the name for God. (Exodus 3)

John is teaching us that God is saying to us   that in Jesus… I am.

God is saying to us   that when Jesus is on the cross… I am.

When we suffer, when we are lost, when we have no hope,  God says… I am…
I  am here; I know what it is to suffer and to be lost.

Listen to the story today.

Hear the sadness, and the tragedy, and the futility. Remember your own suffering and grief.

God knows. God is in it with us.

Don't spend today looking to work out how all this Good Friday stuff works; you've got the rest of your life to do that—

Hear the story. Feel the pain. Be appalled… and remember that God says, I am.
I am here.
I am yours.
You are mine. Amen

Archived here

I've just put on a new set of tyres. My tyres of choice are Shwalbe Marathon Plus, 700 x 32. In the photo you can see the new front tyre with the two I have just taken off. These two gave me 12,000km with no punctures. They're not exactly bald, but I'm doing a long trip and want the insurance of new casings... Read on >>>>

Please bear with me for a few paragraphs…

What will happen when I die? My heart will stop beating. Oxygen will no longer be carried to the brain and autonomous nervous system, and my body will begin to decay. Am I more than a body-brain? No one actually knows. What we do know is that the stream of consciousness we all call 'Andrew,' is something with which we can no longer communicate, when he dies. Whether 'Andrew' will stop, or cease to be, we do not know.

We know there will be no 'Andrew' we can talk to, or measure. And if he is limited only to the biological processes of the body; if that stream of consciousness we call 'Andrew' is just a chemical by-product of the processes of the body, then the death of the body would seem to imply the end of 'Andrew.' But is that all 'Andrew' is; just chemistry? We don't know.

We know we can observe some of 'Andrew's' emotions light up predictable bits of his brain. But he does not experience "Area C" light up. He knows love, or anger. He feels he is more than just meat. Is he, in some way, independent of the meat? If he is, the decay of the meat might not mean the decay of 'Andrew,' when he dies.

The answers to questions about such things are not obvious. We simply do not know, and this side of death, cannot know, what happens when our body dies. It is extraordinarily difficult for me to say who 'Andrew' is when I am alive, let alone imagine what happens when I die.

What I am trying to say here is that definitive statements about what happens when we die have no basis in scientific fact, or in lived experience. We simply don't know, and cannot know. And if we preach simplistic Easter sermons, even though some who want to be easily comforted may be comforted, there are others who will conclude we have nothing to say... Read on >>>

Long rides are different. The effects of fatigue, sun, cold, and rain, are magnified. But endurance rides mean we don’t have the option to stop and camp until things improve. We need a survival plan if things go wrong. Just riding to the next town may mean another 100km, so on an all-night ride we need to carry something which will let us stop and stay warm.  That means more gear that we’d carry for a day ride. But food and gear means more weight, which chews up energy. Panniers add wind resistance. There are brilliant lightweight bivvy bags and frame bags for biking, but they are not cheap.

Each long ride has its own issues that need to be covered, depending on the distance and season, etc.

This is my game plan for an upcoming long ride from Adelaide to Melbourne. I hope to get away with only a short 90 minute sleep, mid ride.... Read on >>>

This odd piece of kit is a strip of weld mesh, suitably cut and rounded off with a grinder.

It's purpose is to lie across the top of a rack and extend its length to hold up the end of a sports bag.  I made it up for the purposes of endurance rides of a day or two where I need to carry some kit, but don't want the drag of panniers.... Read on >>>>







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The Latest Comments...

Some thoughts   (Bill Schlesinger)
I'm reminded of my mother's admonition: you can't control what happens to you, but you can decide how to relate to it. Lots of teasing...    Read more ...

Your notes
   (Ian Cayzer)
I keep being constantly amazed at your continual willingness to self-disclose parts of your life, which even at this distance, still seem to bring you...    Read more ...

Re Bible Study in Canada   (Andrew Prior)
Absolutely, Hal. Go for it! I hope it proves fruitful for you all. Andrew    Read more ...

Anglican Bible Study in Canada   (Rev. Hal Graham)
I'm an associate priest at an Anglican Church in Ontario, Canada. Would you give me permission to print 12 copies of your on line article...    Read more ...

Wow   (Bill Schlesinger)
Got to say this is one of the best demythologizing pieces I've read! It reframes the text in very helpful ways! The word 'meno' is used...    Read more ...

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