8/31/2009 11:37:00 pm

Picnic Food Party Fear

Posted by Tom French |

Chances are if you know me you'll know that I have all these dumb phobias about dumb things. Like hair dressers, foreign coffee shops and parties.

Parties are bad because you have figure out the appropriate dress code (casual, smart-casual, semi-formal, formal, dress-up), the appropriate gift policy and the appropriate time of arrival.

On Saturday I had to go to an engagement party afternoon tea picnic. That caused me particular stress because while you can usually figure out what to wear to an engagement party (smart-casual) if it's in a park, that's a little bit harder. Were it a barbecue, you'd know you could probably go casual. But afternoon tea? Not so sure.

Then there was the problem that the invitation told us to bring some food to share. Now this always scares me. This scares me worse than clothes and gifts. Firstly I can't cook. I can't bake cupcakes, I can't make sandwiches, and I don't do scones and jam. Second, what do people eat for afternoon tea anyway? I never have afternoon tea or if I do it looks remarkably like last night's dinner.

So I ended up going to the shops wandering the isles, feeling stressed and imagining everyone laughing at me when I turn up with the wrong thing. I ended up opting for Doritos and salsa. I stressed a bit about the fact that you can't serve Doritos at a party straight out of a packet and I did have a bowl. Plus no one who's worried about their image eats corn chips for afternoon tea, it's just not done. But I decided that corn chips were better than muesli bars, which was my other supermarket option.

As I drove to the party I continued to worry about the Doritos and how they weren't cupcakes (probably the ultimate afternoon-tea party food). When I arrived I had decided to leave my food in the car, wander over to the party, and then if the table looked like it needed some Doritos and dip I'd say "Oh, I forgot get my food out of the car" and the go and get it. This cunning plan would save me the public scorn from providing inferior food.

In the end the table was well stocked with food, even Doritos, so I just quietly slipped into the party in the hopes that no one would notice that I didn't contribute anything. I never went back to the car for the Doritos. I thought by that stage that the embarrassment of having to put food on the table late would be worse than having brought no food at all, especially when I was pretty sure no one noticed that I was stingy.

The upside to all this however, was that I could take the Doritos to the Church picnic the next day, so I did and they got squashed by a ball. Success!

It's hard going to parties sometimes.

8/31/2009 11:07:00 pm

Growth Sector

Posted by Tom French |

In the ten jobs to apply for this fortnight (which I did in one week), I had four to apply for today. Of the four I applied for, two were to do work with people with disabilities. Those two both have contacted me to make interview times with me. Which leads me to think three things:

1) The disabilities sector may be fairly desperate for people right now.
2) Adopting Hannah could have be a very foresighted career move on the part of my family on my behalf.
3) Why didn't I start applying for these jobs earlier?

Plus there are one or two other possibilities floating around at the moment, so it's nice that this quiet season might be coming an end.

8/31/2009 03:59:00 pm

Preacher

Posted by Tom French |

We had a guest preacher at church last night. I had been looking forward to him all week. I had heard people tell me he was good. I think I may have even listened to him online.

He preached on Jeremiah 1. You don't often hear people preach on Jeremiah. But this guy knew Jeremiah well. He told us to be obedient to God's call and that our excuses are never good enough for God.

I was challenged. He did well. I wasn't disappointed. He can come back.

8/27/2009 09:49:00 am

Good

Posted by Tom French |

Cadbury Dairy Milk is going Fairtrade. Applause.

8/26/2009 06:14:00 pm

Dog leg

Posted by Tom French |

I saw a man walking along with a three legged dog today. The dog was hobbling along in typical three-legged dog fashion. A woman also walking a dog (with four legs) went over to him and pointed to the dog and said something. The man stopped and got the dog to lie down. As I walked past him he was checking the dog's single front paw looking concerned. I wanted to say to him "I don't think that's the leg you should be worried about."

I didn't though, just in case the guy already knew.

8/25/2009 07:11:00 pm

Productive Day

Posted by Tom French |

I had a very productive day today. I had holographic peace talks with Kim Jong Il. We talked about sailing, this unseasonable weather and the musical Cats.

We're working towards a better world.

Peace Talks.jpg

8/25/2009 11:47:00 am

Still A Little Longer Till I Get the Funny Hat

Posted by Tom French |

I thought I was going to finish college this semester but I sent an email to the registrar to make sure, and he wrote back and said that after this semester I still have one more subject to go. Ah, shame.

But when I asked him what I have to do he said TH403, which is a theology subject. So it turns out, I'm not disappointed at all. I love theology. I'll happily spend another six months at college for theology. I might even get to buy some more big books. Woo!

Now I have to find out what Theology subject it is. I'm guessing it's "Holy Spirit, Grace and Hope" but that's just a guess.

8/24/2009 11:31:00 am

The Postman is My Friend

Posted by Tom French |

Just got a sweet cheque and a late group certificate in the post. Thank you Jesus, the riches are coming!

8/23/2009 11:33:00 pm

Pink Lemonade

Posted by Tom French |

In follow up to the last post: We did meet at the pub, he wasn't over 18 and I bought him pink lemonade. As you can see he was pretty angry I wouldn't buy him J├Ągerbombs.

Angry Sam.jpg

8/23/2009 12:40:00 am

Punking the Punks

Posted by Tom French |

I currently typing this offline. My internet has a problem with working after about midnight these days. As does the light in my room. It works fine during the day, switch it on at night, nada.

Tomorrow (today) I'm going to have lunch with a guy from my old youth group. He organised to meet me at the pub. He's not 18 yet, not for another two weeks or so. Sneaky bugger. It's probably a set up and he's wearing a hidden camera for Today/Tonight. They're going to be doing a story on corruption in the church. "Ex-Youth Minister takes ex-youth out for under-age drink." Well, I'm not going to be fooled that easy. No sir. I'm going to teach the kid a lesson. The only drink he'll be drinking tomorrow is pink lemonade. He's not allowed within 2 metres of the bar which means I'm buying. Pink lemonade punk! That's what you get for trying to punk a pastor.

If he gives me any cheek I'll lock him in the car with the windows up and go play the pokies.

8/20/2009 09:22:00 pm

Ladies Man!

Posted by Tom French |

I just did the "how many people want to [colourful euphemism] you?" quiz on Facebook. This was my result:

shagg.jpg

Classy.

8/20/2009 12:26:00 pm

District 9

Posted by Tom French |

District 9.jpg

I went and saw District 9 the other night. I was looking forward to it. Some people, like Harry Knowles, have said it's the best sci-fi of the new millennium and raved about it's ground breaking take on the sci-fi genre. Other people, like Chris Morphew, said that it didn't live up to the thinky-apartheid hype and was more about blowing things up that dealing with issues.

Frankly, I was happy for either blowing stuff up or issues. If there could be both...perfect.

Well for me, there was both. The first half of the film was shot like a documentary about alien injustice. And I was hooked from the beginning. I cared about the issues. I wanted to be out there protesting for alien rights. I was angry about MNU conspiracy and the abuse of sentient beings. I wanted justice. Free Mandela!

And then the second half gave way to awesome alien-versus-elite-private-military-versus-gang-lord violence. There were guns, explosions and people splattering all over the place. And half a movie of emotional set up left me with no doubt who to cheer for. I was jittery in my seat with the excitement.

The main character is the kinda guy who is so selfish and unpleasant for most of the film you just want to punch him out. That fact that he's the only hope for the aliens means you're not sure whether the like him or hate him. It was good bit of conflict they created.

In the end the film left me feeling both a disgust at injustice and the thrill of seeing some fantastic action. It left me feeling similar to how I felt about Taken.

I was well impressed by District 9. I want to see it again.

8/19/2009 06:17:00 pm

Went up the F3

Posted by Tom French |

Yesterday I went to Newcastle. I went to do some filming for Soul Survivor with Geldo and the world's most famous Christian named Fuzz. Geldo was excited to tell me that he'd got me an HD camera. He did. It was a still SLR camera which also shot video at full HD. It was interesting. It meant the lens was lovely, but the functionality was terrible and you couldn't attach an external mic and the internal one was probably terrible. Plus I felt a bit dumb when Matt (Geldo) would send me off to film some Novacastrian youth worker and I'd pull out the camera and they'd say "You're filming me with that?"

Still I had fun, I like filming. I got to spend a lot of the day by myself travelling around the city filming stuff. I enjoyed that. I also ate noodles.

In the car home Geldo and Fuzz both gave me quotes for the blog. This time I don't have to pretend they're mine. That's nicer.

8/19/2009 06:04:00 pm

Pith Part Two

Posted by Tom French |

"If being a teenager is all about building castles in the sky then adulthood is all about building ladders to get there."

and

"If Newcastle is to remain new it must be renewed."

8/16/2009 11:44:00 pm

Power and Grace

Posted by Tom French |

I went out for dinner last night with my churchies. I only had $5. I did mention this while people were making decisions but the people who heard it didn't seem that concerned. I also didn't say it very loud. I'm not sure that imposing my poverty on a group is really that friendly.

We ended up at a pizza and pasta place where the cheapest pizza was $16.50. I could however afford garlic bread. But Loz and Will were sitting opposite me and they both offered to cover my costs. This was most kind of them.

I ordered a Hawaiian pizza. When all our meals came it turned out that me and the guy next to me were the only people who had ordered a whole pizza. Everyone else was sharing. That was a little embarrassing. The poorest guy orders the biggest meal.

I made sure I ate the whole pizza to justify the buying of it. I felt a little full, but you have to keep up appearances. Though it may have looked a little like: "The poor guy never gets to eat. Look at how he ate the whole pizza. It's probably the first thing he's eaten all week."

The whole process of having my whole dinner brought for me was rather stressful. I don't like having people pay for stuff for me. I'm rather independent and I like being independent. To be at the stage where to eat like everyone else you need other people to pay for you is not independence. At least not when they actually pay for you. If I really wanted to be independent I could have just gone home, or bought the garlic bread or shopped at Woolies and sat outside the restaurant with my $5 worth of Fantastic Noodles.

But having things bought for you is good for you. I've always advocated that as Christians what just as important as learning to show grace is learning to accept grace. I've talked about it often. I may have blogged about it, I definitely preached about it.

I've always felt that we need to learn not to argue when people offer to buy stuff for us, to pay for our drink, or do us a favour. Not to say "I'll pay you back", "I'll get the next round", "I owe you one". Just to say "Thank you."

And I was getting alright at that. At least at not arguing too much. And just accepting. Although I'd often say things like "I'll pay for you next time." just to make myself feel better.

But last night caused me much more consternation. I think the problem we have with accepting grace is the power imbalance it creates. The one giving grace is the powerful one, the person receiving it is the weak one. We love to show grace, to pay for things, to shout drinks, because it feels good, it is good and we look good. But when we accept grace we can look weak, poor, and dependant. We don't like to be people who can't look after themselves.

In the past when people have paid for stuff, I've accepted it. Often it's ok because it's been part of my quest to understand grace better by accepting grace better. But I've also been able to rationalise it in my head and think to myself "I could have paid for that if I needed to" or "I didn't need that but it's a nice gift." I have been able to reduce the power imbalance in my head so that taking grace has not been so humbling.

But last night was different. The was no way to talk myself out of it. I have no way of paying back people. I had no way of paying for my dinner. I have no spare money in bank accounts. I literally had $5 in my wallet and $3 in the bank. I cannot say "I'll pay next time" or "I'll pay you back" (Though at one stage I did say a feeble "When I'm rich I'll take you guys out to dinner"), because I don't know if I will be able to do either of those. The power imbalance was real. I was powerless, they were powerful. It wasn't just an exercise in politeness or learning about grace. It was just me having to accept other people doing for me what I couldn't do for myself. There was no pretence in this grace. I really am just poor (relatively) and to do life with my friends I need help.

And that bugged me. I want to be strong. I want to be self-sufficient. I want grace to be a lifestyle choice not a necessity.

But having to accept grace on other people's terms is good for me. Because grace isn't really that impressive when the grace your shown you could have done for yourself.

The gospel is not about a God who knew we could rescue ourselves but thought he'd just save us the effort. It's not a polite exchange between equals. The power imbalance is real and eternal. We have no way of saving ourselves. Our sin is too great, our goodness too impotent. We are totally in need of God's forgiveness and redemption because we can never attain them ourselves. In Jesus' death and resurrection he pays the way because we are totally spiritually and morally bankrupt. Our only hope is Jesus.

We need to learn to accept grace not as people who choose it because it's the best option available but because it's the only choice we have. We do not come to God as equals but desperate paupers. The only status we have beyond that is status that has been bestowed upon us by the grace of God who gives us every spiritual blessing in Christ.

And that is what I learnt about last night through my Hawaiian pizza. Grace hurts because it humbles us. But grace is amazing because it saves us.

Thanks for the pizza folks.

8/16/2009 11:38:00 pm

Global Warming Makes Me Happy

Posted by Tom French |

Today was brilliantly nice. I spent time sitting on the back veranda reading theology. Then the Gowies and I had a little handball competition in the driveway/carport. Tonight was church which ended with chatting in on a back veranda (a different one) in the warm winter air.

Sunshine and warmth are good things.

8/16/2009 11:28:00 pm

Quote of the Evening

Posted by Tom French |

Them: Who was Michelangelo?
Him: A painter.
Them: What did he paint?
Him: He painted the sixteenth channel.

8/15/2009 11:43:00 am

Abs

Posted by Tom French |

Norton Abs.jpg

I love this ad on Facebook for getting buff.

They've just ripped this picture of Edward Norton off American History X and cropped it.

"Get great abs, become a neo-Nazi."

8/13/2009 11:45:00 pm

Accountability

Posted by Tom French |

I haven't been to bed before 2:30am for a long time. A least a few days. Maybe weeks. I can't remember. Mostly I've just stayed up watching DVDs. On Sunday I was creating DVDs. That was novel. While the Gowie's were away I was just having drunken orgies.

My new aim is to go to bed before 1am for a week. You can all hold me accountable, because if there is anything the internet is good for it's accountability. I learnt that when the cops busted me in that chat room that one time. How was I to know it was a police officer posing as a horse?

8/13/2009 11:35:00 pm

Ma and Pa

Posted by Tom French |

Ma and Pa.jpg

"Argh." These are my parents. I like them.

I stole the photo off my Mum's current Facebook photo uploading extravaganza. Thanks Ma.

8/12/2009 06:20:00 pm

Just Walk Across the Street

Posted by Tom French |

We're doing a series on Just Walk Across the Room at church at the moment. On Monday night I went to a Bible study about living in 3D. (I can't remember what the three Ds stand for. Dedication, Dieting and Dogmatics perhaps.) We watched a video of Bill Hybels sitting on a wharf surrounded by yachts talking about evangelism while wearing bad glasses. He told us stories of converting people while racing yachts, which felt was a little bit incongruous with the majority of Christians in the world. At least it wasn't "Mega-Church Pastor converts CEOs while playing polo and racing Porches."

But aside from the video we were given the task of talking to the people in our group about our neighbours. We had to write in our book the names of our neighbours, whether we'd had a meaningful conversation with them, what they did for a job and whether they were Christians or not. I didn't write a list because I had a borrowed book. But if I did write a list, I realised I would have known the name of one of our neighbours. And I only know that because he came and talked to Jenny after she called the police when an angry man started smashing their windows when they weren't home. I've never talked to him personally. I wave at the people behind us when I see them and say "Hello" when the Mum and daughter come home from school, but that's about it. I've been in our place almost a year and I haven't had a conversation with one of our neighbours. That's pretty poor.

Yesterday I had a coffee with Geldo and he was telling me about a guy he knows who church planted where all they did was meet their neighbours and give them bread and drink tea with them (or something). That sounded pretty friendly to me.

I'm a big fan of "community". I'm just not that good at it. I think I want to do better. The introvert in me would love to just continue my comfortable existence. But I feel like that's not exactly the best option. I can't exactly be a blessing to and be blessed by those in my community if I don't know any of them. So I'll try and be on the look out now foropportunities, or excuses, to meet my neighbours. And if anyone has any good ideas, feel free to share.

8/11/2009 11:34:00 pm

Mad

Posted by Tom French |

I've been watching Mad Men lately. It's a very good show. I'm only 8 episodes into Season 1, but I'm loving it. It's so idyllic looking with so much messiness and horrid behaviour just beneath the surface. It's kinda like watching Revolutionary Road in slow motion. While Kate and Leo screamed and threw stuff at each other, the characters in this just eat away at each other with passive-aggressiveness. The acting is classy and the art direction is amazing. I'm very impressed.

It's not my replacement West Wing. It may even be better made than West Wing but it's totally lacking the optimism of the West Wing. What it's not lacking is Zoe Bartlett (Elisabeth Moss) who plays Peggy, and does a bang up job at it.

I reckon this show's a keeper.

Now I just have to get my hands on The Wire.

8/11/2009 06:18:00 pm

Pith

Posted by Tom French |

Not all horses have riders but all riders have horses.

8/07/2009 06:25:00 pm

Home Ground Advantage

Posted by Tom French |

I went back to my old church on Sunday. It was odd. I think what was most odd was that it felt so normal. I expected it to feel like I was intruding. But it just felt like home. Except perhaps that people were more excited to see me than they ever were when I was going there.

I got pulled up to talk about my life and I felt bad about telling people that I'm unemployed. Partly because it's embarrassing, partly because I feel like I'm letting the church down by not doing what I left to do. Although I am, I may not be getting paid for my experiences, but I am experiencing the life of almost 6% of the population, which is probably rather helpful for ministry. It's not like there are any professions out there with 6% of the population. And while unemployment is not really that hard to do, it's not exactly easy. For many people it leads to depression, feelings of uselessness, addiction to gaming consoles and tracksuit pants.

I have had a remarkably happy unemployment. Probably because I had money for most of it. And because I left my job on purpose to live the life I live on purpose. If I work, I'm learning, growing, experiencing. If I don't work, I'm learning, growing and experiencing. Plus I've had plenty of voluntary work to do, and college learning to boot. But it's also meant that I've had to work hard to not let myself be defined by my unemployment. So often we define ourselves by our job. And not having one leaves you with a bit of an identity crisis. Especially when people say "What do you do?" "Apply for 10 jobs a fortnight" doesn't really sound that good. Perhaps I should find some other responses:

"I study the global economic crisis from the perspective of the unemployed."
"I'm a systems worker with Centrelink."
"I work the job market."
"I do paperwork for the Federal Government."

Still perhaps the best response is just to say "I'm unemployed" and not worry about how people view me and not let my identity be defined by my employment or lack of.

This post was meant to be about visiting my old church, but I got distracted.

So anyway, it was nice to go back. I loved seeing people. There were some guys from the youth group that I missed talking to which was sad. It reminded me that I miss my old church. If I'd hated it when I left things probably would have been different. I should have started more fights. Oh well.

I do like my new church however. I look forward to the day when it feels like home too.

8/07/2009 05:31:00 pm

Update

Posted by Tom French |

Essay is done. Handed in. I rewarded myself for 8 years of poorly written essays with a Bacon Deluxe meal from Hungary Jacks. The bacon was square. Fitting really. Poorly executed bacon for poorly executed essays.

The special vanishing boxers have been found. They shacked up in the sleeve of one of my jackets with one of my socks. Peter was right. I should keep an eye out in future for more items of clothing sneaking off for illicit rendezvous with other items of clothing in other items of clothing. I'm having trouble figuring out if the jacket was also involved in the affair, just facilitating the affair, or just being used because of it's bulk. If it was in fact a three-way laundry liaison I am rather disgusted by the moral turpitude of my clothing and I shall be taking action to do segregated washes from now on. It's as bad as running a youth camp. "No socks in the boxers wash, no boxers in the jackets wash, and no jackets in the boxers or socks wash."

8/06/2009 09:02:00 pm

Tommunism

Posted by Tom French |

I am in the process of writing my last essay for college eva!*

This is an exciting feeling. My eight years of perpetual essay writing are coming to an end. If I finish this and hand it in tomorrow it will be first essay I've handed in on time in three years. I think that's pretty good.

The essay is on church government which I'm finding interesting because, while you probably wouldn't guess it, I've been thinking a lot about the subject lately. I have to compare and contrast two forms of Church Government and then propose the perfect one. I have decided that neither Episcopalian, Presbyterian or Congregational are perfect (they're the big three). So I will create my own. I'm trying to decide what to call it. Right now I'm thinking Tommunism and if you are a member of my denomination you'll be called a Tommunist.

Tommunist.jpg

First Bishop of the Tommunist Church

I read a little book by Driscoll on Church Leadership while doing my study. It's annoying but of everything I read I think I like his form of church government the best. But I'm not going write that in my essay. I'm going write about Tommunism (which will be like Driscollism, but better).


*That is assuming that I pass and that this is actually my last semester and there aren't subjects that I should have done but didn't. But I'm pretty sure this is it. It's also assuming I don't go do a masters one day or something dumb like that. But I probably won't. I'm pretty crap at being academic

8/05/2009 10:27:00 pm

Sleep Easy

Posted by Tom French |

I went to the interview at the funeral place today. I saw a room full of coffins. They were all hanging on the wall like bunk beds. It looked like vampire camp.

Lucky Edward Cullen doesn't sleep in a coffin or funeral homes would be regularly invaded by teenage girls wanting a sleep over.

8/05/2009 10:00:00 pm

116

Posted by Tom French |

How can I repay the LORD
for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.

I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:12-14

8/04/2009 11:19:00 pm

Vanishing Underwear

Posted by Tom French |

I did a wash yesterday and as I was putting my clothes into the washing machine I noticed right at the bottom of the basket was one of my favourite pairs of boxers. I put them in with a little bit of joy because I knew they'd clean and ready to wear again soon.

Once everything was washed I hung out the clothes. But I realised, after hanging them all out, that I hadn't hung out that lovely pair of boxers. I went and looking in the washing machine, not there. I checked around the clothes line in case they had fallen on the ground and I missed them, not there. I checked in the clothes on the line in case they were stuck in there, Nope. I even checked in the plants under the clothes line, I found two socks but no boxers. I have no idea where they could have gone.

The boxers have just disappeared. There aren't that many options and they've just vanished. It's a mystery that isn't really all that interesting, but a mystery none the less.

8/01/2009 01:09:00 pm

Facebook Policy

Posted by Tom French |

You're probably all wondering what I did with Facebook.

I didn't delete it. I really wanted to but decided it's probably too useful for ministry.

But for the moment, while I still feel the need to use Facebook to show everyone how wonderful I am this is what I've decided to do:

- Stop updating my status
- Stop commenting on other people's statuses
- Comment on photos only if I think they're really worth commenting on
- Reply to inbox messages and wall posts
- Stop tagging photos or uploading photos
- Check Facebook less
- Send more emails

I'm not sure I'm going to stick to this forever. Probably just till I stop feeling the need to check Facebook all the time. I got sick of it wasting my time, having to read everyone's status updates (most of which are useless) and most of all I got sick of worrying about projecting the proper image of myself to everyone on Facebook. So now I will attempt to project very little image at all.

"Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity."

I will probably keep looking at photos of myself though. I do like to be reminded how good looking and fun loving I am.

8/01/2009 12:55:00 pm

Quiet

Posted by Tom French |

I know you're all stressing because I've disappeared off the blogging front. I blame the global economic crisis. My internet ran out of credit at the beginning of the week and I can't afford new credit until Tuesday so I've been leeching my internet off other people. This morning Howie crept into my room bright and early looking for his modem. I'd stolen it after he'd gone to bed and forgot to put it back. Poor guy was probably searching since 4am.

Right now I'm at the parents. They have internet always. I spent all day here on Thursday applying for jobs. I was making Mr Centrelink happy but it took me forever because I decided to apply only for jobs I actually would be able to do. That takes a long time when you're as old and inexperienced as me.

I do have an interview next week with a funeral place. If I get the job I'll give you a discount when you die.

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