10/30/2009 10:18:00 am

Milestone

Posted by Tom French |

If you look to the left you'll notice that this is post 250 of 2009. That's 9 more posts than were done in the whole of 2008. This will be the first full year of blogging where my number of posts has increased from the year before. That's what's underemployment will do for you I say.

10/26/2009 12:22:00 am

Public Sook

Posted by Tom French |

So the old choking up exited the cinema and happened live on stage in front of a couple of hundred people last night.

I was at Impact, the final concert for Breakthru' Artz as they wrap up 10 years of ministry. Helen asked be to do the task of speaking for two minutes about the year 2005 and its significance for Breakthru' Artz. I think I ended by saying something like, "I think the greatest miracle for Breakthru' Artz is that God used it to bring people to Jesus. Thanks Helen." And it was somewhere in that last bit that I choked up and felt like I was about to cry. Right there, with the spot light on my face, and hundreds of people looking at me. I had no idea it was about to happen. I hadn't be feeling emotional about things at all and then suddenly there I was choking up like a mother and son reunion scene in a Hollywood film.

I couldn't work out if I was getting emotional about Breakthru ending or about people becoming Christians. I wasn't sure if it was a happy sad or a sad sad. Either way is fine. Whatever it is I'm totally getting in touch with my emotions. Or perhaps more precisely my emotions are getting in touch with me.

10/24/2009 12:36:00 am

Line

Posted by Tom French |

Miller Monroe.jpg

I thought of a line the other day to keep up my sleeve. You know, one to use on a lady.

I thought it'd be awesome to say "Can I be your Arthur Miller?" I figured it was both cultured, self-deprecating (depending on what you think of Arthur Miller) and highly complimentary to the girl.

But then I heard this song today by Megan Washington where she used the line:

You'll be my Arthur Miller and I'll be your Marilyn Monroe.

I was a little crushed because the girl could very possibly be a Megan Washington fan and think I was just stealing the line. And if she thought that I could just as easily have used any old line. I could have said "Hey baby, that dress looks good on you, but it'd look even better on my floor (obviously after we've courted and then got engaged and then married and before you leaving your dress on the floor starts to annoy me because you never pick up your freaking clothes)" and it would have made no difference.

I guess I'll just have use it on deaf girls. I wonder how you say "Arthur Miller" in sign language.

10/23/2009 11:59:00 pm

Youth

Posted by Tom French |

I had my first night of Youth Group at my new church. I'm just a lowly leader. As the newest leader, I could be the lowliest. It was pretty great. I do love youth ministry, and tonight I wasn't in-charge of anything. I was just there. I wasn't a guest. Just a leader. I haven't been just a leader since 2001.

The youth group is quite different from my old one. It's a little odd wandering around not knowing what is going on. Every now and again I felt the need to be a youth minister and tell people what to do. But I have to resist. No one likes the new guy who turns up and things he runs the show.

Still it was good to be back hanging out with teenagers again. I have missed them. And at the moment, having had a nine month break and not having to be in charge, I'm feeling full of energy and totally un-jaded. Woo!

Tomorrow night I'm going to a big do for the old church. So I should see a bunch of my old youth too. That's exciting. They're pretty awesome.

10/22/2009 11:40:00 pm

Heavy Weight

Posted by Tom French |

I had a beer with Dicker today. We sat in a pub in the city and drank Kilkenny. Mike (Dicker) got the beers. He bought us a pint each. I drank the whole thing and didn't fall off my stool once. I was so proud of myself. Last time I had a whole pint in one go Helen had to drive us home cause I was making Dad jokes. I didn't let on how proud I was of myself though. That would be un-manly. It's poor form to show that you get mildly inebriated after just one beer.

When we got our beer Mike said it was the "milk and honey of beers". I thought that sounded rather nice, but when I drank it didn't taste at all like milk and honey. I was most disappointed even if it was good beer. It occurs to me had I wanted milk and honey I could have just asked for some milk and honey. I'm sure they could make some. I could have drunk a pint of that. Though I probably would have been in worse shape after that than the beer. "Milk was a bad choice."

10/21/2009 02:43:00 pm

Dance Dance

Posted by Tom French |

I saw this poster the other night when out with the Bennetts:

dance party.jpg

Seeing as that looks like such a winner I've decided to run my own event for people with special needs. I'm going to call it:

Retardance Party
Get downs on the dance floor

10/20/2009 04:47:00 pm

Work Win

Posted by Tom French |

I worked with John the Painter again today. I came home with paint on me. That's a win!

10/19/2009 03:35:00 pm

How 7 Iconic Film Characters Would Battle Zombies

Posted by Tom French |

It's all here.

10/17/2009 12:29:00 am

Sook

Posted by Tom French |

I think I'm turning into a bit of a sook. I tend to get choked up watching movies a lot these days. It seems to happen most in scenes involving husbands and wives and parents and their children. I got a lump in my throat in Up when the old man's wife couldn't have kids and then again when she died. I think I got a little teary in Mao's Last Dancer last night when the guy was reunited with his parents. I even got all emotional when Ellen Page's character reconciled with her parents in Whip It. (Speaking of those movies, I should write my reviews of them.)

What's happening to me? I used to be a rock. Now I'm turning into a blubbering mess. Perhaps I'm learning to express emotion in film so that one day I'll deal with it in real life. I hope not.

I think it may be because I spend so much of my time thinking about marriage and love and husbands and wives and kids and parents, that when I see emotional stuff on film it affects me. I often get annoyed when I see bad marriages on film. I think "Damn it, I want to be married so I can do a better job" and when parents are mean to their kids I think "Give me a kid, I'd love them better than that." I have the luxury of being childless and single so I can arrogantly judge movie characters from my idealistic inexperience.

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure why I'm getting emotional in films now, when I used to just be able to watch in an entertained but detached way. Maybe I'm going through a quarter-life crisis, or man-opause. Maybe my hormone cycle is changing and I'm growing a heart. Who knows? Whatever that case I hope it just stays in the cinema. I can cry in the dark there and no one will know. If I start crying about real life, who knows what will happen to my credibility as an insensitive male? No one will ever trust me in an emergency, I'll be stuck in a life raft with the women and children.

Happily it should just stay in the cinema, because it still takes a lot of emotional music to get me feeling emotional. So until an orchestra starts following me around scoring my life, I should be able to just keep the tears in the dark.

10/15/2009 11:25:00 pm

Boat People

Posted by Tom French |

It makes me angry when the only thing the Government and the Opposition can agree on is that we need to be "tough on illegal immigrants." This whole thing with the Tamil refugees getting intercepted by Indonesian authorities before they reach Australian waters is getting to me. I actually don't mind too much that Australia asked Indonesia to help. Like if there was a problem in your neighbour's backyard you might ask them to deal with it before it gets to your backyard.

But that said I don't know why we have to be so afraid of asylum seekers. We have the means to process them in a humane and dignified way, we just don't have the compassion. It's a political winner for Rudd to say "I make absolutely no apology whatsoever for taking a hard line on illegal immigration to Australia". Refugee policy should be about more than just what looks good to the electorate.

One of the reasons I was excited by a Labor Government was because I thought they might have a better immigration policy. And in fact, they have made some good improvements to the visa system and the use of detention centres. But why can't we say "If you care enough about your safety, and your family's safety, to spend weeks and months travelling across the world, in unsafe transport with dodgy rip-off merchants to get to Australia because you believe Australia will protect you and your family, then we will give you the time of day to investigate your case and process you application of asylum." It makes me sad that Australia wants to be seen as a country that takes a "hard line". Why can't we be a country with a soft heart?

I'll give the last words to Alex the Tamil spokesperson on the refugee boat in Indonesia who I enjoyed listening to tonight: "First of all I would like to say thank you to Mr Kevin Rudd because he has accepted many refugees in the past, and those refugees can be any one of our brothers or sisters who have found refuge and found safety in Australia.

"And we are thankful to him, but the other thing we would like to tell Mr Rudd is the fact that there are still many more Sri Lankans who need help.

"For you to share intelligence and make sure that this boat does not reach Australian waters - it was very difficult for us to accept because we came until the last point believing that Australia will accept us into their country."

10/15/2009 05:36:00 pm

Working Like a Messiah

Posted by Tom French |

tradie.jpg

I've finally gotten to fulfil my long term dream of being a tradie. On Thursday and Friday last week and on Monday and Tuesday this week I got asked by a friend who's a painter to do some work for him stripping wallpaper of the walls of a unit.

It was good fun. I was working with another guy called Mitch. John, the painter, let us into the unit on Thursday morning, bright and early at 7am, taught us how to strip wall paper properly, and then left us to it. He told us we should be able to get the unit done in the next two days.

Mitch and I set to work. Mitch was better at it than me. It took me a while to get the hang of it (like a whole day). At one point I was feeling inadequate about my stripping abilities and was about to pipe up and say "I'm not sure anyone would pay me for my wallpaper stripping abilities" until I remember that someone was paying me.

Despite my lack of skills I enjoyed doing something that was physical with very tangible results you can see. I like that at the end of each day I felt tired from many hours of scrubbing walls and scraping paper. I felt like I was living the tradesman dream. Plus Jesus was a tradesman which makes me feel extra pleased about the work.

By the end of my first day Mitch and I had done three walls of the lounge room. It didn't look like we were going to get the unit done in two days. In fact by the end of the second day we still hadn't finished the first room. John emailed me asking for the account details and mentioned that he was very pleased with the thoroughness of our work. What a nice boss.

In the end after four days we still didn't get everything done, even after getting a hand for a while.

Still I guess I wasn't too terrible because I have some more work with them next Tuesday. On Tuesday I'm planning on wearing stubbies and get a bit of butt crack happening. I wanna be a real tradie.

10/15/2009 01:14:00 pm

Pith Part Three

Posted by Tom French |

"Nothing's changed. We still don't have a deep concern for the welfare of our families and friends, we still don't change our diaries to reflect the people who should matter most to us. And our diaries are still the people who have said "Yes" to Jesus ages ago. We are frightened and we are like rabbits in the headlights when it comes to intentionally sharing the Gospel. Dear friends it's time to come out of the closet with a deep trust in God and prayerfully arrange your diary to be with the people who are like sheep without a shepherd just like our Master said. Will you come out of the closet?" - Geldo, just then.

10/14/2009 02:24:00 pm

Rat Mullet

Posted by Tom French |

I'm not normally one to care about other people's hair styles, but there are some that are really disturbing me at the moment. When did the Lads get together and decide rats tails are hot and the shaved head with bleached mullet is attractive?

Ladies, would you date a man with hair like that?

On the other hand I may just be not up with what's fashionable right now. I should probably make a start on that mullet.

10/10/2009 11:43:00 pm

A Day with a Heretic

Posted by Tom French |

I went to a World Vision event today where Tim Costello, Fuzz and Carolyn Kitto, and Brian McLaren spoke about the way the church can be relevantly engaging with the world.

I went because I wanted to see Brian McLaren. Probably because I'm a stickler for theological controversy. I knew that McLaren gets a bit of bashing from the conservative Christian crowd for his thoughts on scripture and his leadership within the emerging church. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I knew he was in Australia and I wasn't going get the chance to see him as I wasn't going to Stump. So I decided to go to this.

For a while before I forgot what the day was about. Seeing as it was a World Vision event I started to worry that I was going to spend the day being told to sponsor children, give money to World Vision, and get in small groups and discuss the Millennium Development goals. And while all of those are good things, I'm little bored by them.

However when I turned up they told me the day was about helping the church to engage relevantly with the world. They didn't even say "engage relevantly with the world so everyone can give more money to World Vision." I actually felt like it is probably some of the best work that World Vision can be doing in the west for long term change. They are educating people, church leaders in particular, at a fundamental level about why the church needs to shift its focus to the great issues of justice and compassion facing the world today. When you shift people's understanding and attitudes rather than just their money you'll achieve a lot more long term gain.

Tim Costello started off the day by giving an excellent overview of the need for the Church to express it's faith through dealing with the emergencies facing the world today. He showed us the historical underpinnings for Australia's relationship with the church and the churches relationship with society. I enjoyed it a lot.

Fuzz and Carolyn talked about the need for the church to have a missional focus.

And Brian talked about the need for the church to stop focusing on itself and start focusing on the world.

My experience of McLaren is not that he's a raging heretic, false prophet, spawn of Satan. He said a lot of stuff I really liked. He talked about the need for institutions to protect the gains of previous movements and movements to make the gains not being made by institutions. In other words he seemed to be saying the established church is needed to preserve the gains of the reformers of the past. And the emerging church need to make gains to be preserved by established church. So the emergers and reformers make gains in their movements and cement those gains in the the institutions who protect them. The church is always moving forward then with movements leapfrogging the the establishment.

People seemed to hear this as a call to abandon the institutional church and surge on ahead because they're too busy protecting the past. But I heard it as saying both parts of the church are need each other and the best situation is when the whole church can be working together to surge ahead to be growing and adapting to the ever changing contexts it exists in. I liked his optimism for the church.

He had a lot of criticism for the traditional view of salvation being "believe in Jesus, go to heaven." He said salvation isn't about agreeing with a set of doctrines and then getting eternal life, but he related salvation back to Abraham's call in Genesis 12, saying that salvation about being blessed to be a blessing. He wanted to emphasise that our faith is not just to secure us eternal life, or God's blessing, but to transform us to be people who bring God's kingdom to earth now.

I really liked his emphasis on the need for our faith to be outworked in our loving interaction with the world. We need to be people who are caught up in God's preference for justice and mercy. Like James says faith without deeds is dead. We definitely need to get the focus of salvation off being some scheme devised to meet our needs of eternal security.

I did feel however that he seemed to overemphasise the idea that the primary reason for our faith is to transform the world. The impression I got was that he was discounting the eternal nature of salvation to focus on the immediate implications. We need to affirm that God saves us to bless the world without forgetting that there is however more to it than just this world right now. I would want say that while we have a responsibility to be bringing the values of the Kingdom to bare on our communities, society and world right now, that's not the end point of the kingdom. Salvation is not ultimately about our happiness but God's glory. God saves us for his glory. When we are changed and transform the world, he is glorified. When the poor are helped he is glorified. And when his Kingdom comes he is glorified. At some point God will finish the Kingdom work that he started in Christ when Christ comes back and establishes God's just rule for eternity. We are called to be transforming the world now, but in the knowledge and hope that God is going to wholly transform this world in the future.

Another of McLaren's things was that we need to understand the narratives of the Old Testament to properly understand the life of Jesus. The narratives being those of Genesis (creation and reconciliation), Exodus (liberation and formation), and the Peaceable Kingdom (justice and mercy). I really liked the importance he placed on viewing Jesus in light of the stories that have come before. Jesus wasn't just some guy who arrived in Israel in 0 AD as an isolated event in the history of the world. He was the Jewish messiah, the culmination of years of God's self-revelation of his people through the great narratives of his redeeming work, he is the climax of God's story of his work with the world. I think that reading of the OT makes our understanding Jesus' life and work even richer. This is a pretty similar idea to what NT Wright is pushing when he talks about Jesus. I want to keep thinking about that.

So if I can sum up my McLaren thoughts, from everything I saw and heard yesterday he's not a dangerous heretic set to destroy the world as we know it. I know I disagree with him on a number of issues. His view of the Bible is less conservative than mine. (I reckon he and my Mum would get on.) I think he's got lot's of good stuff to say, and he has a lot to helpfully challenge the church on. If he continues to run around the world telling Christians to be blessed to be a blessing, I can't complain about that. Go McLaren.

10/06/2009 11:16:00 pm

On Preaching and Football

Posted by Tom French |

On Sunday I preached at my church for the first time. I had a good time.

The man with an eye patch who I once pondered if he was a pirate turned out to be a swashbuckling Baptist minister who interviewed me so that the congregation would know who I am. He didn't stab me with his cutlass, just jab me with some denominational proddings about my confirmation. I'm not sure my flaky Anglican affirmations of faith were deemed an adequate substitution for a hearty believer baptism. But he is a gracious man, and welcoming, so I was forced down no planks into the baptismal pool and was allowed to preach. I like him a lot.

The other week I introduced him to Gem and he said "Oh I could tell you a few stories about Tom", at which point Gem replied "I think I could tell a few of my own." I was most pleased that he would feel like he knows me well enough to tell stories about, despite the fact that before that we had shaken hands and said "G'day" only twice. I was also pretty sure that any stories Gem has about me would top his stories seeing as "He's said "G'day" on multiple occasions" isn't much of a story. He was probably just saying he could tell stories about me to affirm our congregational connection. I think that's pretty friendly.

I really hope he doesn't mind the pirate references. If he does next time I'll go the evil genius route.

The preach itself went well. I felt ok about it. It was good to be preaching again. I especially loved being able to preach to a group I know (at least know better than almost every other group I've preached to this year, the whole right hand side of the church I haven't really met). It's a real blessing getting preach to your home church. I really find it satisfying because you know where to pitch it. You don't find you're just fumbling around in the dark hoping your application is relevant. Still the topic I was preaching on (God's love and suffering) is a pretty universal one.

After church a guy patted me on bum to say "Good job". It was the first time preaching has got me congratulated like a footballer. It was like I'd just scored a try. I think that's the only time straight men are allowed pat other straight men on the bum. Still perhaps we should institute more bum pats for preachers to make preaching more manly. There could be a few blokey blokes standing on stage with the preacher and every time they make a good point the blokes could grunt and say "Good-one preach!" and pat the preacher on the bum. I think it'd make men feel like church is more like a sporting match and make them want to come more. Perhaps also if church had cheerleaders too.

Speaking of blokeiness, I got to watch the NRL Grand Final on Sunday too. I was pretty cut that I wasn't going get to watch it. The first year I wasn't at Black Stump and I wasn't employed by the church, and I was preaching and I was going to miss it.

But happily, it was organised that we'd all watch a taped version after church and none of us would know the score. And we could fast-forward the ads and the half-time jabber when everyone goes to the toilet.

It worked very well, and I was very happy to be watching. I was keen for the Eels to dominate because they are, I guess, my default favourite team after Norths folded. I also think Storm don't deserve to win because they're from Melbourne and people in Melbourne don't even care about the NRL. It's the worst kind of insult for Melbourne to think our game sucks and still beat us at it.

Alas, the Eels were rather disappointing. The Storm outclassed them with very methodical football. It wasn't showy, just precise and it got the job done. At least that's my analysis and I watch about three games a year, so I should know.

I was so sad for the Eels. I think I felt depressed for at least a minute twenty after the game ended. Then I went and did a wee.

10/06/2009 09:36:00 pm

Storm

Posted by Tom French |

That was fantastic hail storm today. So much hail. There's hail still on the ground now, 3 and a half hours later.

I was driving home at the time. It was the most fun I've had driving in a long time. Rain, ice, low visibility, and I powered on in the trusty Pulsar. It was almost an adventure.

10/02/2009 11:55:00 pm

Colon Cleansing Anyone?

Posted by Tom French |

Facebook is giving me a bad day.

This morning I found my Facebook account had been hacked:

Facebook Hack.jpg

So I went through and changed my password. And I changed a few of my other more sensitive passwords in case I have a virus that has logged my keystrokes or something. And I scanned my computer for viruses but found nothing.

Tonight I came home and found I couldn't log into Gmail or Facebook. I think because I made my passwords too hard to remember. So I had to reset them. But it's hard to do that because they send the password reset to your email and your email is in Gmail and you can't get into Gmail. Argh!

Then when I finally get onto Facebook I see that two of my friends have been status hacked as well.

Facebook Hack 2.jpg

So perhaps the problem is with Facebook and not with me. Or maybe this virus is just going really well. Or maybe Sam and Mathan really did lose 8 1/2 pounds and are really excited to tell everyone. Stranger things have happened.

Whatever the case I'm sick of typing stupid passwords.


I'm not entirely sure what the ethics of sticking up pictures of people's hacked Facebook statuses are. If you want me to take it down Sam, I will. I'm pretty Mathan doesn't read my blog. But Mathan, if you do, let me know and I'll take it down for you too.

10/02/2009 04:31:00 pm

Google Wave

Posted by Tom French |

I'm not one for getting too excited about the internet (Woo Bing!) but I did just watch a one hour presentation on Google Wave. It looks pretty impressive. If this thing takes off it's gonna change how we relate on the web. It seems to put all the best bits of the net into one place so you can share it with everyone. I'm rather excited.

It looks to me like it'll be the usual problem with the internet enhanced. More information, more communication, more time wasted.

Google is going to own the world.

10/01/2009 08:51:00 pm

New Zealand: The Friendly Skies

Posted by Tom French |

Contrary to popular belief, New Zealand didn't sell their entire air force to Australia. They still have an air force, they just sold their fighters to various people around the world. They have still have transport planes however, some helicopters and some snazzy trainers.

So should anyone ever invade New Zealand, New Zealand won't able to fight them from the sky, but they will be able to move things about with skill. But it's not all bad for New Zealand if they get invaded their navy has two combat ships which should keep any invading force busy for a while.

For those who are wondering, this is the entire New Zealand Air Force:

2 Boeing 757, 5 C-130H Hercules, 6 P3-K Orions, 14 Bell UH-1H Iroquois, 5 Bell 47G Sioux, 13 Aerospace CT-4E Airtrainer, and 5 Beech King Air B200. (From here)

10/01/2009 04:32:00 pm

Conversation

Posted by Tom French |

Them: Do you have a girlfriend?
Me: No
Them: How old are you?
Me: 26
Them: Don't worry, you've got time.

I feel like I have this conversation, or variations on it, around once a week with well meaning middle-aged (or old) women. I wonder what they'll be saying when I'm forty?

Them: Well at least you get to watch plenty of TV.

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