7/26/2009 05:47:00 pm

Driscollites

Posted by Tom French |

I've noticed a growing trend of excitable Driscoll followers swelling the ranks of conservative evangelicals over the past few months. These are usually young men, and their submissive girlfriends, who religiously get Driscoll's podcast, quote him regularly and will vigorously defend the doctrines of predestination and ecclesiastical male headship when needed. They're the neo-Calvinists, they listen to John Piper too but their main man is Driscoll. They're the Driscollites.

I think I particularly noticed it on this camp. We had a "Big Questions" night that I was running. I decided to run it as a discussion among the campers facilitated by me, rather than just me answering all the questions. For the first time ever in one of these discussions I had a sizable chunk of people vigorously discussing predestination with all the best informed people arguing for total depravity and unconditional election. Usually it's just me explaining predestination to a bunch of teenagers who are saying things like "my brain hurts".

When the issue of women in ministry came up the only argument made with any cohesiveness was for not having women in ministry and it was the only view viewpoint defended. Only at the end of the discussion did I point out that the issue was much more divided that had been presented and that there are also strong Biblical arguments for having women in ministry.

People came up to me on camp and asked me if I was an Arminian or a Calvinist.

I'm pretty sure this is all the work of the Driscollites.

Now I'm not saying this is a bad trend. As many of you would know, I'm a regular Driscoll listener myself. I love listening to him. In fact I think he's my favourite preacher to listen to at the moment. I appreciate his clarity, his solid Bibleness, his humour, his willingness to give the hard word and his obsessive focus on Jesus. He is very good at what he does.

However He hasn't instilled in me a rabid love of Calvinism. Nor has he convinced me of his view point for the role of women in the church and family.

I guess I am interested to see this Driscollite thing happening. I think it's great that there are so many young men passionately caring about theology and the faithful teaching of Scripture. I worry a little that Driscoll's opinionated approach to preaching has rubbed off on the Driscollites giving them a keen need to instil in people doctrinal correctness. In my experience of conservative evangelical men they can sometimes get more obsessed with doctrine than Jesus, and evangelism starts with Jesus but ends with Luther. This isn't new, but Driscoll seems to have opened up the obsession to a whole new and broader cross-section.

If I had to hope for anything to come out of this I hope it opens more young men up to a love of Jesus, a love of the Bible and a love of preaching. I hope the Driscollites (of which I may be one) don't just stop at Dricoll but get excited to get the podcasts of all sorts of preachers. To get Louie Giglio's gentleness, Rob Bells lateral Biblical contextualisation and focus on the poor, to get John Stott's calm, understated evangelical passion, John Piper's thoroughness, Paul Washer's anger, T.D. Jake's excitement. And I hope that they discover a bunch of preachers I know nothing about. I'd love to see this Driscoll wave open people up, not narrow them down. So that by the end they've seen Jesus through many different eyes, and love him, worship him and proclaim him more and better because of it.

7/26/2009 05:35:00 pm

Weeked

Posted by Tom French |

It does occur to me that I haven't really blogged about Camp. But I don't really want to. What I will say though is that it was good and the talks went well. I continued to sweat my way through them. It was only on the last day that I managed to maintain a normal body temperature throughout the exercise.

This camp's celebrity look alike for me was Jerry Seinfeld. I prefer Chris Martin. I think Ryan Gosling has been by favourite though. Ronald McDonald my least favourite.

7/24/2009 05:45:00 pm

Sucked In

Posted by Tom French |

I returned from camp this arvo and my email inbox is overflowing with emails. Three from someone called Ash. One just said "Hi" and then two that said:

"Whats cookin good lookin..its ASH*LEY! remember me..
we use to chat on F_B til u DELETED ME lol.. well anyways no more BF
so lets hook up.. chat me on here

A`~ I M = DizzyOil3
M ~S -N = IzzyTutzy *a*t L.I.V.E dot -com-"

Now I'm not the kinda guy to go pursuing random women over the internet. (I only pursue random pastors over the internet.) But I did feel a little bad for this girl that she thought we could now get together since she's broken up with her boyfriend. It was clearly a case of mistaken identity, as I've never deleted anyone from my Facebook, and I can't remember chatting to anyone called Ash.

So I wrote back to her explaining the mistaken identity in the hope that she will one day find her true love who has an email address similar to mine.

She wrote back immediately and invited me to chat in her VIP chat room.

Damn it! I hadn't seen it. I wrote back to a spam bot. Foolish. Now I'm going to get double spammed.

It was the fact that she wrote like a teenager that got me. I tend not to ignore teenagers who contact me on the internet and say they know me because generally they do and I've just forgotten them from some camp or other I did.

Oh well. I hope Spambot Ash finds her true love. I don't think I'll go meet her in her VIP chat room.

7/20/2009 05:12:00 pm

Camp

Posted by Tom French |

I'm on camp at the moment.

Actually I'm not, I'm at home. But I was on Camp till two hours ago. I'm the Senior High speaker and we're talking about Jonah.

Unfortunately I arrived at camp on Saturday and had a little bit of cough. Yesterday morning I felt pretty terrible and asked to be excused from the Leader training. Fever, cough, that sort of thing. In the afternoon I sat in at the back of the Camp Welcome for all the campers and the Director saw me and afterwards he asked me to stay in my room. So I got quarantined. I think he's worried it's swine flu.

I pretty much spent all yesterday and all today in my tiny little room, with just a bed, a desk, a phone that rings some times (but I don't answer it), and a bookshelf with old Christian books on it. It felt like a cross between prison and hospital, but it's probably better than both.

The lack of stimulation didn't really bother me. I had my book but I spent most of my time sleeping.

I did my first talk today. I got out of bed, did my talk, and went back to bed. I'm not sure if it was any good. I remember sweating a lot.

I'm going to spend tonight at home and I'll go back tomorrow for talk two. I shouldn't be too bad tomorrow. I'm feeling much improved this afternoon. I even made it to Centrelink to squeeze some more money out of Rudd. I'm looking forward to being employed.

7/17/2009 01:25:00 am

Request Ignored

Posted by Tom French |

I'm seriously thinking about deleting Facebook. Anyone have any objections?

7/16/2009 04:23:00 pm

Wizard People Dear Readers

Posted by Tom French |



In honour of HP6.

7/15/2009 02:35:00 pm

Joy

Posted by Tom French |

I love pulling hairs out of my nose. It's really satisfying.

7/14/2009 09:48:00 pm

Brown Man

Posted by Tom French |

I was at the station today and over the loud speaker I think I heard the man say "Would the brown man in the white sneakers please stand behind the yellow line". Then one Indian turned to another Indian (wearing white sneakers and standing over the yellow line) and said "That's you man. He wants you to move."

I don't know if I heard right, but if I did, it was odd.

7/11/2009 12:38:00 pm

Sydney

Posted by Tom French |

I'm back.

It's nice to be home. The jet lag seems to be pretty well taken care of, which is nice. The flight home was pretty easy. I was in a seat near the back of the plane with one empty seat next to me when I arrived. Then I looked up and there was a hot American girl who was sitting next to me. Suddenly the pressure of all those daydreams where you find yourself sitting next to a hot girl who also turns out to be the love of your life came tumbling down on me. I started to stress about if I should be pulling out all my suave plane traveller moves. But I needn't have worried because the girl sat down, put on headphones, eye mask, and went to sleep. She didn't take off her headphones the whole trip. Even after she woke up, and when we were diverted to Brisbane to refuel, she was stubbornly listening to Qantas radio. So there was no opportunity to dazzle her. I suspect she may have kept the headphones on as she saw the anxiety on my face when I saw her and realised I might have just stumbled into a romantic comedy. She wanted to make sure there was no romance and no comedy to be had in row 72 of that flight.

Since being in Sydney, I've just mooched around. Watched (and slept through) some DVDs, visited the parents, been barred by Oscar. I did see Helen and Jon and Helen, Mike and Hannah in Westfield yesterday when I was buying my fruity bodywash. That was serendipitous seeing as 4 out of the 6 of us had, until very recently been on other sides of the globe.

Today I'm working. I managed to turn up for work 2 hours early so I got a hair cut. The hair dresser made me look a little trendy, which caused me a fair bit of distress till I rectified it in the toilets.

And that is life back in the greatest city in the entire universe (except maybe Wellington)!

7/07/2009 07:46:00 pm

Back Lots and Knights

Posted by Tom French |

Yesterday was very expensive and very worth it.

At the beginning of the day we went on the Warner Bros. Deluxe VIP Studio Tour. That's 5 hours of touring the back lots and sound stages of Warner Bros. studios in Burbank. It's $150 more expensive than the 2 hour version, but it's oh so fun.

I love back lots and sound stages. In fact if you said to me, where would you like to spend the rest of your life, I reckon a working film studio would be top of my list. I spent much of my childhood looking at books full of pictures of studios. And then yesterday I got to spend 5 hours at one. I was so happy.

We arrived to find our parking lot just down the road from the famous Warner Bros. Water Tower. I kinda geeked out at that stage.

We got our tickets an hour before our tour started so we sat out the front reading books. I kept looking up at the sign that said "Warner Bros. Studios" and getting excited that I was actually at them.

When it was time for the tour we were shown a short film (because every tour you do here in the States has at least one film you have to watch) and then we met our guide and group. Seeing as the tour is the expensive deluxe tour I was hoping we would have die hard film fans, not rich people who just did it because it was better. I think we got a mix.

When the tour started our group looked like it was going be a bit of a problem. There was a woman and her family who was angry at the tour guide because he made them sit three people on the seat in the cart, which she found too squashy. There was a rich mother and daughter from just outside Chicago who came because they watch a lot of TV. And there was a mother and daughter from Norway. The daughter was a huge Friends fan and came just to see stuff from the show. So she got very upset when our guide told her that due to the fact that Friends is no longer filming all the sets have been archived and are no longer set up.

Still, I was very happy. And Lesley wasn't angry about anything.

The guide first took us too the back lot and showed us the fake New York streets, Chicago Streets, the New England town, the suburban street, the jungle and more. We got to walk around them and go in some of the buildings. We saw the jungle were Leo was stuck in Vietnam in "The West Wing". We saw the shop where Mog Wai was bought in Gremlins, we saw where Annie sang Tomorrow in Annie and we saw where Spiderman kissed Mary-Jane upside down in Spider Man, to name just a few.

We learnt that every building on the Warners Lot is built to look generic so it can double as something else. Some of their offices look like a motel. Some look like the entrance to a hospital, some look like a high school. It's very cool. The whole place is made to act as on big filming location.

We got taken into the sound stage for Two and a Half Men and we got to walk on the set of Chuck's apartment complex in Chuck (I've never seen the show, but I love sets). Oh it was all so fun. I love sets and lights, and set dressing.

We got taken to the work shops, and into the ADR (dialogue replacement) and orchestra recording stages.

We got given a very nice meal in the Commissary, where the stars eat, or so we're told.

We were taken to the prop storage, which was really fun, because I love props. We also got taken into a room off the side which our tour guide had deliberately not told us about. It was a room where they had set up the actual set of Central Perk from Friends. The girl from Norway got so excited. I think she might have cried a little bit. It was great to see. She'd been sad all day, and then all her dreams came true. I'm not a big Friends but I did enjoy seeing the set.

At the end of the day we got let loose in a museum full of Warners memorabilia on one floor and Harry Potter memorabilia on the other. That was lots of fun.

Then we had to go home. I can't really express how much fun I had. It was like one of those days when your dreams come true. I wish I could live at a film studio. That would just make my life.

The evening we spent at Medieval Times, which was exciting in a whole different way. I was inspired by Dicker's Mum and The Cable Guy. It's a themed restaurant set in medieval times where you dinner and watch a show of knights riding around on horses and pretending to kill each other. It was pretty tacky, and very fun. We cheered for our knights, ate meat with our hands of pewter plates, and were served by wenches. If you get the chance, you should go. The world needs more tacky themed restaurants.

I even got to go back to Medieval Times today because I left my camera there last night. But it's back safe with me now.

Today Lesley went to the Getty Centre, while I drive across LA and back getting my camera. I think it's good I didn't go to the Getty Centre too, because while it's a cool building, what I did see of it didn't really interest me much.

And now we're at the Airport, waiting in the good old ReLAX lounge ready to go home. I'll be fun.

America has been good to me. I do like this country. I'm coming back.

7/05/2009 09:13:00 pm

Hollywood

Posted by Tom French |

We went to church this morning because it's Sunday and both of us were craving Church. We went to the Presbyterian church just up the road from our hostel. They had a big sign out the front telling us "It's ok to come in sandals, he did". So I felt pretty comfortable not dressing up. Unfortunately I was the only guy there not in a collared shirt. Everyone was looking shmick in their Sunday best.

The service was pretty unimpressive. It was a special Independence day service. The kid's talk was an explanation of what the American flag stands for, and throughout the service there was no sermon or Bible, just a bunch of pre-organised people talking about why they're proud to be American. No one really mentioned Jesus in any meaningful fashion. The only time the gospel was mentioned was in the songs we sang. They band were pretty good thought.

It upset me. I go to church to celebrate Jesus. We should spend our time talking about the one who is greater than any nation. The one who gives true freedom. The one superpower who rules with true justice, mercy and compassion. I'm all for celebrating national holidays in church. I'm not for making church about your nation.

But, like I said, the band was good.

We went to Hollywood today. I wanted to see the Graumann's Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood sign. I saw both.

Hollywood is strange. Especially Hollywood Boulevard. It's a whole street full of tacky shops, bad museums, and over sized cinemas. The street is filled with people doing bad impressions of characters from movies. The whole thing was just kind of tacky. I love movies, but I can't say what I saw of Hollywood impressed me. We saw the Kodak theatre where they have the Oscars. It turns out the red carpet for the Oscars runs right through a shopping mall.

What a strange place.

We went and saw The Taking of Pelham 123 in the Chinese theatre. It's an impressive theatre. I liked it a lot. The film was fun, especially as it's all set in New York, so we got to see all the places we were at last week. I was happy we went there.

Then it was off to find the Hollywood sign. We wound our way through the Hollywood hills till we got to a really good spot to see it. I loved seeing the sign. I've seen it so many times in Australia on TV, in books, on film. And I got to see it in real life. That was cool.

Still if I ever become a famous movie star, I think I'll live in New York.

Tonight we headed off to go to Church at the Crystal Cathedral because I wanted to go to a mega-church, but by the time we had driven to the other side of LA we had to buy petrol, were running too late to get to church on time, so we just drove back to the Hostel. It was a shame. But maybe tonight's church wouldn't have been any better than this morning's.

Now I'm going to bed. Tomorrow we get a VIP tour of Warner Bros studios. That I am very excited about. Plus we're off to Medieval Times for dinner. What a wonderful way to end a holiday!

7/04/2009 11:49:00 pm

Happy Fourth

Posted by Tom French |

Today was Independance Day and it was good.

We'd decided to have a slow day. So it was breakfast late, followed by a movie (The Hangover - inappropriate and rather funny), followed by reading and snoozing. It was a good day.

Tonight we went to the fireworks a Culver City High School. It was exciting to go to something local, seeing what locals do. The event was on the high school football field. We sat in the bleechers surrounded by families while their 5 year olds agreesivly launched beach balls at us. The whole fied was surrounded by American flags and bunting. There was a stage at the front with a band playing classic rock songs. It was good fun. We even did Mexican waves in honour of America's illegal immigrants.

We wanted to eat hot dogs but they sold out.

The fireworks themsleves were more impressive than any school in Sydney would put on, but still small. But we weren't there for the fireworks. The fireworks were to a soundtrack of patriotic songs. I didn't know there were so many songs about American out there. I was thinking about it, in Australia we don't have any. At least none like these, God Bless America, Freedom Reigns, God Bless the USA, etc. We have Land Down Under, which is about vegemite and people vomiting, Waltzing Matilda, about a guy who kidnaps a sheep then suicides and I Still Call Australia Home, which, well that's alright. But none of them sound like praise and worship for Australia. I think I like that, because some of the American songs a little embarrassing.

Still I appreciate their love of their country. They don't play down their pride. And they love their freedom. The fireworks were the Freedom Fireworks. The songs were about freedom. And as I mentioned before every war as been fought in the name of freedom. I'm not even sure what Australia is all about. Mateship? Fair Go? Being girt by sea? I don't know. I love being Australian but buggered if I know what it actually means to be Australian.

Freedom is pretty good. It's better than conformist totalitarianism. I think perhaps I feel a little bit uncomfortable with the impression I get from here that America is the world leader in freedom. Like they invented it and export it to the rest of the world. But certainly if there is anything for a democratic society to get excited about freedom is good. Love might be better. Freedom, while positive, seems to feed into idividualism and self-interest, while love leads to community and selflessness.

But if there was a country that was all about love they'd totally get payed out by all the other countries. Their delegate to the UN would get picked on by every other UN delegates, even the African one who don't get to pick on anyone. When it comes to national values, love is for pansies. And if you dedicated your war memorials to those who "Fought and died in the cause of love" the irony would probably be a little to obvious. So freedom is better.

But like I said it's not as if Australia stands for love either. We do like to be good at swimming though. Swimming is pretty good too. Like freedom I guess.

Happy Fourth.

7/03/2009 11:02:00 pm

Angels

Posted by Tom French |

We've made it to the last stop on the North American World Tour: Los Angeles. We flew in this afternoon on Virgin America. Virgin American have the funnest planes I've ever been on. Which isn't really hard because most planes don't aim to be "fun". But this plane was all lit inside in purple and blue. It was kinda like being inside a flying neon sign.

Other than that it was a pretty good flight. Except that it stuffed up both our ears a bit.

We picked up our hire car at the airport, expecting it to be a Corolla they gave us a PT Cruiser. That was pretty fun, because I've always thought they'd be interesting to drive. Like the new beetle only less cool.

I didn't really get the chance to think about that, because driving was a little stressful today. It was my first time driving in LA and my first time driving on the right side of the road in a left-hand drive car. I told Lesley she had to just keep telling me to keep right, and that seemed to do the trick. Although being in a left-hand drive car I tend to drift right in my lane too, and I don't think I should keep that right.

Our hostel is in Santa Monica and we made it there without one crash. Santa Monica is tourist land to the max. It's full of buskers, beggars and people looking like they're on holidays. It's pretty fun, but I reckon I'd get sick of it pretty quick.

I'm wearing my brown Jesus t-shirt from Mexico today that Jem bought me. I was walking into a food court and a black guy stopped me and asked me where I got my shirt. I told him a friend got it from Mexico for me and he was very upset. Then when I was on the Boardwalk a Latino Breakdancer saw me and said "I like your shirt man!" and I said "Thank you". I've been feeling pretty good about myself since then; I'm a fashionsable white guy, yeah!

Tonight we went and saw Public Enemies which was pretty cool. Good writing, good acting, lots of gangsters. Michael Mann makes good films. I like him a lot.

Oh and we went up the Empire State Building last night (That's in New York). It was tall and good and not raining.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July so we're gonna eat a hot dog, maybe watch some fireworks and definitely insult the British.

7/02/2009 06:19:00 pm

Rock On

Posted by Tom French |

We caught the ferry to Statton Island today. It's free. It takes you past the Statue of Liberty. It doesn't make taking photos very good if you have a little camera. Still we did get to see her, and she's famous and all that.

On Statton Island we wandered into a cafe to find some Coke and got sucked in by the friendly waitress who asked us if we wanted breakfast. Seeing as we hadn't eaten breakfast since Monday, we stayed. Once we'd sat down we discovered it was some clandestine, hippy, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, chick-pea cafe. I felt very ripped off. I don't go places like that when I'm on holidays. Unless I'm on holidays with the majority of my friends and then sometimes I have to.

Still they did do stuff for real people too, so I ate some french toast. It wasn't that good but at least it had gluten in it.

Once we escaped the den of health and ethics, we got back on the ferry for our free trip back. Then it was off to the Rockefeller Centre to see the New York from up high. We managed to be up there about 5 minutes before the rain set in. The approaching rain made for some good photos, but the rain itself just made us wet. So we sheltered in a room with light up squares on the roof and walls. It was like a giant, inverted Dance Dance Revolution. I'm sure those of Asian decent with us felt very at home.

Eventually the rain eased and we made it outside. We were very high up, New York is full of tall buildings. In the worlds of Mick Harvey "Whenever I see New York, New York USA...every time I see it I get high, oh so high." Actually it wasn't quite like that but as the song names every tall building in the city, I sang it to myself as I looked at each other buildings in his song.

When we descended from those art deco heights of steel and over priced gift shops, we ate a hot dog from someone who sells them on the street. I was eating mine as we crossed the road, over a grate with steam coming out of it. It was that moment that I truly felt like I was in New York.

I visited the NBC store which had very little West Wing merchandise in it. Travesty. Seeing as Lesley had left by that stage to go look at art, I took myself on the NBC Studio tour. We got to see the Saturday Night Live studio and the Late Show with Jimmy Kimmel studio. That was fun. But that was about the whole tour. I reckon if I wasn't a production geek, I would have felt ripped off by the tour. But I did appreciate getting in the studios. And I got to see the inside the broadcast suite for a precious 10 seconds. I would have loved to have stared for an hour or two but I got the feeling from the security guards that they weren't that keen on us dallying about.

I caught the subway home, feeling impressed with myself that I hadn't got confused, which was just about the time that I got confused. But I made it back here to the hostel.

Tonight we do the night tour, and go up the Empire State building. And then it's good bye New York.

7/01/2009 11:20:00 pm

9 to 5

Posted by Tom French |

Day two in New York and I spent most of it on an Aircraft Carrier. I love my life.

We went to the Intrepid Sea, Air, Space and America Rocks Museum which is on the aircraft carrier Intrepid. It's appropriately full of cool planes and propaganda. I had such a good time, looking at helicopters, planes, guns and boats. There was a little bit of space stuff but it wasn't much, and it was nothing compared to the Smithsonian collection. But what was cool is that on the flight deck you can get right up close to a bunch of cool planes and choppers. F-14, F-16, Blackbird, Harrier, Huey, Cobra, MIGs and more. It was major happiness. And it was all aboard an aircraft carrier that served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. It was great.

We also got to watch a movie about how the ship had served the cause of freedom over the years. There were interviews with the sailors and airmen for the ship who talked about how during the cold war they were practicing nuclear bombing raids for the cause of peace and how during Vietnam America was fighting to stop the communists take over the world. It didn't seem to phase the guy who mentioned it that America lost that war and communism didn't take over the world, he just mentioned that the war didn't turn out as they'd hoped.

What I have found interesting is that any mention of war here emphasises how people fighting for America are fighting for freedom. "Freedom is not free" is a popular slogan here. There is little ambiguity about war. The Intrepid was just a celebration of America's ability to blow up enemies. The video we watched proudly gave us the statistics of how many planes the ship had shot down and how many boats it had sunk. It didn't mention how many lives it had taken in the process.

I do love planes because they go fast. And I do love bombs and guns because they go bang. But I can't celebrate war. I wish guns and bombs were only used as plot devices in movies. And I can't easily swallow that every war America has fought has been about freedom.

Anyway, I had a good time even with my conflicting excitement. I got to walk through a British Airways Concord. That never bombed anyone.

We had planned to spend the afternoon seeing the Statue of Liberty and going up various tall buildings. But when we made it back to Times Square to get on a bus we noticed that Alison Janney from The West Wing is in the Broadway Musical version of that Dolly Parton classic movie 9 to 5. Of course the musical had no appeal at all until we saw that CJ was in it, and then Lesley and I couldn't resist. We love The West Wing. So we bought tickets for tonight's show then caught the Hop-On-Hop off bus around Manhattan, saw the sights slowly, then ate some overpriced, Italian and watched the show. Oh and I bought some jeans because I felt underdressed going to the theatre in shorts.

The show was totally adequate. It was funny and the music wasn't bad. But really the excitement was just seeing Alison Janney in the flesh. We were in the 6th row, so we were pretty close. I think I might have spent most of the show just remembering all my favourite CJ moments. It was pretty fun.

We caught the subway home and no one mugged us. I think the day was quite a success.

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