2/28/2011 11:13:00 pm

Christians and Government Aid

Posted by Tom French |

I read this blogpost on Ed Stetzer's blog about how huge amounts of evangelicals in the US are in favor of cutting foreign aid, welfare, unemployment benefits and education in the federal budget, as opposed to spending on the military and security.

I don't understand how a Christian can arrive at a view like that. Like if you said to Jesus "Should the government spend $10 on clean water for an African village or should it buy some bullets?" I feel like I know what Jesus' answer would be.

But Stetzer poses the question about how the church should be responding to the talk of the federal budget and the responses he got were enlightening.

Basically, the people who were in favour of budget cuts to aid and education seem to be saying that it's wrong for the Christian to be outsourcing their individual responsibility to help the poor to the government. Christians should be changing the world, not getting their government to do it for them. When we support aid we're just avoiding what we should be doing ourselves.

Now this idea makes more sense than just saying "Stuff poor people, let's buy tanks!" (Though tanks are awesome!)

The advantages to aid coming from the church and individuals is that it can bypass the government's political agenda, money doesn't have to be spent on propping up government backed dictators, or doing aid work to ultimately benefit the donor country. It means that aid can go where it's needed, with no agenda or a gospel agenda. Both agendas I think would be more appealing to Jesus.

However my view is that if the government is going to take the money that God has entrusted me with then I would like them to be spending it on things that seem to be more in-line with God's Kingdom values that nuclear submarines. Plus as a member of a democracy when the government that represents me spends money they do it on my behalf. So it is my responsibility to urge them to spend the money on the things that align with my values. As a Christian that falls more in the camp of aid and education than national security. I'm not shirking my responsibility by seeking that my government helps the poor and marginalised, I'm fulfilling it. And with the money that is left over after tax I still have a responsibility as a Christian to spend my money on helping the poor and marginalised. It's not either/or, it's both.

That's what I think. I might put some of that in a comment.

Anyway, what I am pleased about is that now I have a better understanding of why people disagree with government aid and it's not as loony as it first seemed.

2/27/2011 11:02:00 pm

Oscars 2011

Posted by Tom French |

Here are my Oscar picks for this year.

Actor in a Leading Role

• Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
• Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
• Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
• James Franco in “127 Hours”

Actor in a Supporting Role

• Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
• John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
• Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
• Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”

Actress in a Leading Role

• Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
• Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
• Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
• Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Actress in a Supporting Role

• Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
• Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
• Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
• Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Animated Feature Film

• “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
• “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
“Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Art Direction

• “Alice in Wonderland”
Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan

• “Inception”
Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
• “The King's Speech”
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
• “True Grit”
Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

Cinematography

• “Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
• “Inception” Wally Pfister
• “The King's Speech” Danny Cohen
• “The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
“True Grit” Roger Deakins

Costume Design

• “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
• “I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
• “The King's Speech” Jenny Beavan
• “The Tempest” Sandy Powell
“True Grit” Mary Zophres

Directing

• “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
• “The Fighter” David O. Russell
• “The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
“The Social Network” David Fincher
• “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)

• “Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
• “Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
• “Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
“Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
• “Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject)

“Killing in the Name” Jed Rothstein
• “Poster Girl” Sara Nesson and Mitchell W. Block
• “Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
• “Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
• “The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Film Editing

“Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
• “The Fighter” Pamela Martin
• “The King's Speech” Tariq Anwar
• “127 Hours” Jon Harris
• “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Foreign Language Film

“Biutiful” Mexico
• “Dogtooth” Greece
• “In a Better World” Denmark
• “Incendies” Canada
• “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria

Makeup

• “Barney's Version” Adrien Morot
• “The Way Back” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
“The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)

• “How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
“Inception” Hans Zimmer
• “The King's Speech” Alexandre Desplat
• “127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
• “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)

• “Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
• “I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
• “If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Best Picture

• “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
• “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
• “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
• “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
“The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
• “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
• “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ce├ín Chaffin, Producers
• “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
• “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
• “Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Short Film (Animated)

“Day & Night” Teddy Newton
• “The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
• “Let's Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
• “The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
• “Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)

• “The Confession” Tanel Toom
• “The Crush” Michael Creagh
• “God of Love” Luke Matheny
“Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
• “Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing

“Inception” Richard King
• “Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
• “Tron: Legacy” Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
• “True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
• “Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing

• “Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
• “The King's Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
• “Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
“The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
• “True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects

• “Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
• “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
• “Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky and Joe Farrell
“Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
• “Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

• “127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
“The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
• “Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
• “True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
• “Winter's Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)

• “Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
• “The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
• “Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
• “The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
“The King's Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

2/27/2011 08:54:00 am

Late Summer

Posted by Tom French |

“Late Summer” by C.S. Lewis

I, dusty and bedraggled as I am,
Pestered with wasps and weed and making jam,
Blowzy and stale, my welcome long outstayed,
Proved false in every promise that I made,
At my beginning I believed, like you,
Something would come of all my green and blue.
Mortals remember, looking on the thing
I am, that I, even I, was once a spring.


I found it here.

2/27/2011 12:54:00 am

Runaway

Posted by Tom French |

This is a good film clip. It's certainly not your usual hip-hop fare. There are no jets, girls in bikinis, cars or bling. In fact it's not really like most film clips of any genre. It's not trying to be funny, it doesn't have some terribly unsubtle storyline running through it, it's not just an advertisment or a chance to be a sexy as possible.

If you want a music video where the video and the music work to serve each other, this is the one to watch. I'm impressed. If you're really keen watch the half-hour version, it's good too.

2/25/2011 12:51:00 am

Hardship

Posted by Tom French |

Today I had a shoelace coming out of my shoe and dragging on the ground. I noticed it just as I was walking into the toilets at Hoyts to do a wee. I had been planning to use the urinal but had to change my plans because, had I gone to the wee wall, there's a high chance my shoelace would have fallen through the grate and into the urine flowing rapidly below. I re-adjusted my heading and went to a proper toilet instead.

It's because of quick thinking and ingenious problem solving like this that wars are won, nuclear meltdowns are averted and men don't go around smelling like urinals as often.

It's also a clear indication of why men have harder lives than women. Women don't have to contend with such dangers or make decisions of such magnitude on a daily basis.


Speaking of women having hard lives, my sister's due to have a baby today. How exciting. If the nurses know about anatomy then she's having a small man. May he grow up to have clean shoelaces and a peaceful life.

2/20/2011 03:21:00 pm

Resolutions

Posted by Tom French |

I made a list of things I wanted to achieve by the end of the year today. If all goes according to plan, I'll have $1000 in a savings account and a tidy room.

Reach for the stars.

2/15/2011 11:39:00 am

Tom's Jungle Adventure

Posted by Howie |

Being teased for this shirt by colleagues. I can't see why.

2/14/2011 11:35:00 pm

The State of No Union

Posted by Tom French |

Happy Valentines Day and all that.

I've been thinking about being better at dating lately.

A friend challenged me to be engaged by the end of the year, and there's nothing I love more than a challenge. Except perhaps potato wedges. And Thai food.

Oh and movies.

But aside from those things (and some other things I've not mentioned), there's nothing I love more than a challenge.

Actually I only really like challenges when people are challenging me to do something I want to do. "Tom, I challenge you to go a month without eating Thai food." That's a crap challenge, who wants to do that?

"Tom, I challenge you to go the the movies 15 times in one weekend." Now that's a good challenge.

So getting challenged to be engaged is a good challenge because I would actually like to get engaged. I'm very happy being single, but I reckon I could be pretty happy being engaged too. Particularly if I was engaged to someone I was in love with, rather than just someone I was getting engaged to to successfully complete a challenge.

Still I didn't accept the challenge, because though I am romantically deficient even I can see that getting engaged to win a challenge is a bad reason to get engaged. Especially since my friend didn't offer me a reward for success. I would only get engaged to someone I didn't love if there was a particularly handsome reward, like a Ferrari, or my own kidnapped Thai chef to live in my kitchen and cook for me.

However what this thinking about relationships has meant is that I have decided to be more open to getting to know women this year. And I have also decided to let my friends meddle a bit more in my love life, like setting me up and stuff. The idea doesn't particularly excite me but if there is anything that the last half of my life has taught me, it's that I'm pretty much romantically incapable by myself. Perhaps it's more a team sport, so I should let people help out a bit more.

I know I blogged last year about how happy I was being single, and I am still happy. Singleness rocks! But who knows I might get a wife who I love out of this, or even my very own Thai chef.

These are prime dating years of my life, what's the worst that can happen? Apart from losing my freedom and ending up married to someone I despise, things can't go too badly wrong can they?

2/14/2011 11:24:00 pm

Gay Marriage and Sexual Discrimination

Posted by Tom French |

I have tried to avoid blogging about gay marriage, but Dicker just wrote a good post on it which you should read, so I just thought I'd agree.

My general feeling is I'm quite happy for homosexual marriage to be allowed. Christians don't own marriage and I don't think we have the right to dictate who gets married and who doesn't. It's silly for us to impose our morality on a bunch of people who don't agree with our beliefs.

I do think that Churches should have the right to not marry homosexual couples. We shouldn't be forced to sanction something which we fundamentally disagree with.

What I'm wondering is, does the church currently have the right to discriminate against hetrosexual couples who want to get married? Could my pastor refuse to marry a couple who formed as an adulterous relationship? Could they refuse to marry someone who got divorced but didn't meet the Biblical guidelines for divorce? I assume they can, but I wonder if that will always be the case.

It's interesting that there is an article in SMH today about religious organisations fighting to maintain their rights to hire and fire in relation to the moral (particulaly sexual) behaviour of their employees and potential employees.

The writer seems pretty outraged that religious organisations would be so callous as to destroy someone's career because of an adulterous relationship even if their sexual conduct isn't directly related to their job. But I think if the religious institutions make clear the standards of behaviour expected from the outset they should be allowed to decide who they do and don't employ if it's vital to their faith.

If the NRL can fire or suspend a footballer for bad sexual conduct, though their sex life has nothing to do with how well they play football, then religious organisations should have similar rights, even if their standards of behaviour are a little more exacting.

Anyway, I'm sure there's something here for everyone to disagree with. But thems are my thoughts.

2/12/2011 11:58:00 am

Things to Rely On

Posted by Tom French |

I had another night of youth group last night. I'm in my 11th year of youth ministry this year. I'm pretty sure that makes me some kinda veteran. If youth ministry had a life cycle, I would have died twice and now be reincarnated as a dolphin.

But what I've noticed in my many years of youth ministry is that there are a few things you can always expect to happen in youth ministry.

- If you have chips they will always end up on the floor. And if you have chips in a small group there is always one kid whose chip eating skills are slightly deficient, and they will end up with an inverted halo of chips on the floor around them, like they are some deity who has been visited by worshippers that lay offerings of crisps at their feet.

- If there's a ball, there will be soccer. It doesn't matter how small the room, or how un-soccer like the ball, if there's a ball there will be soccer. "Oh we're in a cupboard and I just found an elliptical cushion. Soccer!"

- You can say a thousand things of great spiritual importance but the one time you make a joke that you would never want the parents to hear, that's the one thing they remember and repeat for weeks.

- At any given moment in a youth night there is an 85% chance that there is at least one group of girls standing off to the side, giggling. In all my years of youth ministry, I have never once heard one of these conversations so I have no idea what they giggle about.

- In every youth leadership team for every one leader that is super organised there are five leaders who prepare during the first 10 minutes of youth group.

- People love to donate stuff to the youth group. Sometimes this is awesome and you score cool stuff usually it's not. "Oh I was just cleaning up and I found 200 old issues of "Popular Mechanics". I thought the youth group might want it so I've just left them in the youth cupboard for you."

- On that note, every church has at least on youth cupboard, but no one is quite sure whats in it or how it got there. Like the 40 pairs of stockings, the 4 half used rolls of toilet paper, or the box of lollies that went out of date in 1995.

- There is often a boy who all the girls like, and there is often a girl who all the boys like. And there is almost always a boy who all the leaders like and think the girls should like, but they don't and a girl who all the leaders like and think the boys should like, but they don't. This is eternally dissatisfying. (When I say the leaders like them I don't mean like-like, just to clear that up.)

- Youth leaders think their youth group should start dating each other until they do, then they think they should stop.

- There's always one kid who has been coming for a year, but no one can remember their name.

That's all I got for now. If you have more, feel free to add them. Right now, I should go get on with my day.

2/10/2011 12:47:00 am

Sex and Bible and Ignorant Talkings

Posted by Tom French |

It annoys me when I read articles about what the Bible says from people who don't really know what the Bible says. I read an article by Katherine Feeney on SMH who "is a blogger, multimedia guru and entertainment reporter", and has decided to write about what the Bible says about sex. A little bit at least. She's really just using it as a spring board to get people to talk about how they make moral decisions on sex. None the less she speaks authoritatively about things I'm pretty sure she doesn't know about.

I'm sure it annoys scientists when I talk about science and molecules and nuclear atomising and stuff.

Aside from the fact that I was annoyed, it intrigued me that in the article she says this:

If the Bible is actually more erotic, more ‘liberal’ or socially progressive than otherwise assumed, does it deserve more credit as a contemporary reference point for our love and sex lives?

It's interesting that for her the way you decide if the Bible should have an influence is if it is erotic, liberal or socially progressive. She's not concerned if it's right, or true, or God-given. If the Bible is those things, it'll be those things because it's socially progressive. Eroticism, liberalism and social progression are the test for relevancy, authority and contemporary reference points.

That doesn't make much sense to me, I'd have things the other way around, but then again, I don't really know what I'm talking about.

2/08/2011 11:17:00 pm

Black Swan

Posted by Tom French |

Black Swan.jpg

I went and saw Black Swan tonight. It was intense. I spent the whole movie feeling uncomfortable.

However it was very, very good. Natalie was brilliant. And Aronofsky directs like a machine. And it hurts your brain. It's like Step Up gone evil.

I love Oscar season.

2/07/2011 04:14:00 pm

Forgettable Moments

Posted by Tom French |

Remembered history says that David ran up to me on my first day of primary school and said "Will you be my friend?" and we've been friends ever since.

On Saturday I went to Melbourne see him get married to Andreana. It was, to be sure, a lovely wedding. If I'm honest I'll probably forget the vows, though I liked them more than most. I'll probably forget that I had to pretend to be a water pot, though I've never done that before, least of all in the middle of a wedding ceremony. I'll probably forget that there were people handing out food and drink before the ceremony or that the whole thing happened on soggy ground while the rain made empty threats to come. I'll forget the conversations I had before and after, I'm already forgetting them. I'll forget the jokes Howie and I made as MCs at the reception, and I'll forget Russell the manager of the bowling club who kept asking us questions about the wedding we didn't know, ("We're just the MCs!"). I'll forget that there were three different types of cake and that I forgot to bring a belt and a jacket. I'll forget that Anmol ate two cheeseburgers on our way home.

I'll forget most things about Saturday.

But then again, I've forgotten most of the things David and I have done together as friends. The few significant moments are eclipsed by the thousands of insignificant ones. But whatever the memories are, when David asked me to be his friend he changed our lives. Neither of us would be where we or who we are today, if it wasn't for that moment 23 years ago when David began something significant.

So while I will mostly forget the wedding, I probably won't forget that under a giant tree one February afternoon in 2011 in Melbourne, one of my oldest friends married one of his newest friends. They will profoundly change each other's lives. My prayer is that they help each other be the best David and Andreana they can be and they love each other in all the forgettable moments as well as the memorable ones.

For myself, I'm thankful that David is still beginning significant things and creating relationships that change lives.

2/02/2011 11:14:00 pm

Word Play

Posted by Tom French |

I'm working on a talk for youth group on pop music so I'm listening to the top fifty. It took me till the second chorus of "Hold it Against me" to notice that when Britney Spears sings "If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?", it's actually a double meaning. She's a clever girl that Britney. A regular wordsmith. A Hemingway for the pop scene.

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