A letter from Simon Moyle via Jarod Mc Kenna
April 17, 2012
January 13, 2012
To start, a story.
A few years ago a female student wanted to visit with me about some difficulties she was having, mainly with her family life. As is my practice, we walked around campus as we talked.
After talking for some time about her family situation we turned to other areas of her life. When she reached spiritual matters we had the following exchange:
“I need to spend more time working on my relationship with God.”
I responded, “Why would you want to do that?”
Startled she says, “What do you mean?”
“Well, why would you want to spend any time at all on working on your relationship with God?”
“Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?”
“Let me answer by asking you a question. Can you think of anyone, right now, to whom you need to apologize? Anyone you’ve wronged?”
She thinks and answers, “Yes.”
“Well, why don’t you give them a call today and ask for their forgiveness. That might be a better use of your time than working on your relationship with God.”
Obviously, I was being a bit provocative with the student. And I did go on to clarify. But I was trying to push back on a strain of Christianity I see in both my students and the larger Christian culture. Specifically, when the student said “I need to work on my relationship with God” I knew exactly what she meant. It meant praying more, getting up early to study the bible, to start going back to church. Things along those lines. The goal of these activities is to get “closer” to God. To “waste time with Jesus.” Of course, please hear me on this point, nothing is wrong with those activities. Personal acts of piety and devotion are vital to a vibrant spiritual life and continued spiritual formation. But all too often “working on my relationship with God” has almost nothing to do with trying to become a more decent human being.
The trouble with contemporary Christianity is that a massive bait and switch is going on. “Christianity” has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed “spiritual” substitute. For example, rather than being a decent human being the following is a list of some commonly acceptable substitutes:
•Going to church
•Spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting)
•Going on spiritual retreats
•Reading religious books
•Arguing with evolutionists
•Sending your child to a Christian school or providing education at home
•Using religious language
•Avoiding R-rated movies
•Not reading Harry Potter.
The point is that one can fill a life full of spiritual activities without ever, actually, trying to become a more decent human being. Much of this activity can actually distract one from becoming a more decent human being. In fact, some of these activities make you worse, interpersonally speaking. Many churches are jerk factories.
Take, for example, how Christians tip and behave in restaurants. If you have ever worked in the restaurant industry you know the reputation of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Millions of Christians go to lunch after church on Sundays and their behavior is abysmal. The single most damaging phenomenon to the witness of Christianity in America today is the collective behavior of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Never has a more well-dressed, entitled, dismissive, haughty or cheap collection of Christians been seen on the face of the earth.
I exaggerate of course. But I hope you see my point. Rather than pouring our efforts into two hours of worship, bible study and Christian fellowship on Sunday why don’t we just take a moment and a few extra bucks to act like a decent human being when we go to lunch afterwards? Just think about it. What if the entire restaurant industry actually began to look forward to working Sunday lunch? If they said amongst themselves, “I love the church crowd. They are kind, patient and very generous. It’s my favorite part of the week waiting on Christians.” How might such a change affect the way the world sees us? Think about it. Just being a decent human being for one hour each Sunday and the world sees us in a whole new way.
But it’s not going to happen. Because behavior at lunch isn’t considered to be “working on your relationship with God.” Behavior at lunch isn’t spiritual. Going to church, well, that is working on your relationship with God. But, as we all know, any jerk can sit in a pew. But you can’t be a jerk if you take the time to treat your waitress as if she were your friend, daughter or mother.
My point in all this is that contemporary Christianity has lost its way. Christians don’t wake up every morning thinking about how to become a more decent human being. Instead, they wake up trying to “work on their relationship with God” which very often has nothing to do with treating people better. How could such a confusion have occurred? How did we end up going so wrong? I’m sure there are lots of answers, but at the end of the day we need to face up to our collective failure. I’m not saying we need to do anything dramatic. A baby step would do to start. Waking up trying to be a little more kind, more generous, more interruptible, more forgiving, more humble, more civil, more tolerant. Do these things and prayer and worship will come alongside to support us.
I truly want people to spend time working on their relationship with God. I just want them to do it by taking the time to care about the person standing right in front of them.
Richard Beck is Professor and Department Chair of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. He is the author of Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality and Mortality. Richard’s area of interest — be it research, writing, or blogging — is on the interface of Christian theology and psychology, with a particular focus on how existential issues affect Christian belief and practice. Richard’s published research covers topics as diverse as the psychology of profanity to why Christian bookstore art is so bad. He blogs at Experimental Theology, where this post originally appeared.
October 10, 2011
Well, lets see where we were…agh yes I had just glassed the inside. Well I trimmed the excess glass as I did for the outside. I did the 2 recommended coats instead of the three the outside got, But unfortunately I laid it on too think and missed the textured finish intended.
It was around this time (or in fact some weeks before) I had picked up all my timber from am old guy I knew from my days at Whitford Church. He had a shed full of nice Sheoak, great grain and various lengths. He cut it all and thined it to size – Thanks Ken!
I played with the gunnel lengths against the side and in doing so discovered that this Sheoak is a bit brittle. I snapped a length. Well, I had multiple lengths as they were not long enough to go the full 16ft. So a knew I had to join (and now steam bend) them.
But after shaping them and cutting the scupper holes into the inwales It seemed more flexible and indeed, when it came to fitting them the bent nicely with no cracking. (I stll steam bents the outwales) I tapered them at the ends so there are nice lines and used resin and lots of clamps! I was careful to clean up the excess as I knew how hard dried resin was to get rid off! Once I took off the clamps, I was getting excited. In fact it was this fittings process that sent me into the worst obsessive stage of the whole project. It was deeply satisfying seeing this wood shaped, sanded and watching the grain come out in it. It was also great plaining the actual shear line of the canoe down to meet the top of the gunnel. I wake up at 3am thinking about building boats!
Whilst the gunnels were doing their drying thing I gave the thwart carving a go. I tried downloading plans as I wanted a yolked thwart. But nothing seemed easy…until I put a cake tin and coffee cup on a piece of paper, traced out a design, then just doubled it over so it was a perfect mirror. I spent ages getting the shape and used the router table (free hand) to trim the edges. In fact I forgot to mention how the router ripped into some of the scupper holes…I need some serious repairs done…and repending for bad language in the shed! I must say, the thwart is my highlight. It came up a treat, really nice.
I started on the 2 little decks. I had decided this simple task would be my first attempt at laminating. It worked! In fact I chose not to round the decks as the guy on the DVD does. I just kept it plain, but the effect of the strip of ask down the middle looks sweet.
As I am just using webbing (like seat belt straps) I just made plain seats with right angles. I did not drill a big enough hole into the end grain on one of them and it split. A quick trip to Ken’s to grab some more (no such thing as a quick visit to Ken!) and I was home again giving it another go. Later the other seat that I made first was to crack in my hand, effected by the same mistake. It had set (resin) so I could not pull it apart even though one join was loose as a result of the crack. I made a resin brace…lets home it holds!
They look and feel great, it was good to use the router here to round all the edges. I like router
Couple of challenges around this point;
1) The decks did not just neatly slide into place. I think I should have been more careful making up my little cardboard templates. It took ages and in the end I just left it to the thickened epoxy resin to fill my gaps. They do look nice still.
2) The seats were hard to hang. I am still thinking something is wrong about the whole seat thing. I have this bad feeling that in its maiden voyage if something will go wrong it will that the seats snap or something like this.
Once the seats were fitted, the bolts drilled into the gunnels and counter sunk, I then did the same for the thwart. But before I set where the thwart was to go Mikaela and I stood either side of the boat and lifted it by the thwart to determine where the boat balanced. It was not meant to balance perfectly, but rather tip to the rear a little, this is so when you are carrying the boat on your shoulder by yourself, the front lifts up a little to be able to see. I counter sunk the bolts then buried them all in some of my tinted resin. When it was dry I sanded it all back to the gunnels.
The varnish was long winded. I sanded, then varnished, then sanded the varnished. I did this 3 times on the inside and 6 times on the outside. The fittings all got three each. The outside hull gets beat up pretty bad so 6 coats are needed.
Oh by the way I finally tracked down brass strip. Half round brass strip is rare in Australia. I ordered some from the UK but they failed to contact me about price. I emailed twice, but they failed me, and lost my business…not so bad as I ended up finding some in Henderson, so off I go for a long drive…and it turned out to be the wrong stuff! So I will get the strip from the UK when I can afford it.
The varnish ran, plus when I tried to re-coat I did so before the previous coat was properly dry and it blistered (see pic).
I was running too late to care, so I will come back and do another few coats later. I had to launch on the 1st of Oct at our family holiday in Walpole. But I had no paddles!
I was impressed with how a very rough paddle together, I am definitely wanting to make some more.
The paddle still a little wet, we loaded Bonnie onto the car and headed to Walpole – it’s LAUNCH DAY!
Check it out here -
She floats! Thanks for the good times…now the adventures begin!
September 6, 2011
By the way – This is my 1000th post to this blog!
(See Part I here)
Part II of The Canoe Building Saga
Well last time I typed in here about the Canoe Build was on the 10th of December last year (2010). I was 6 strips of Cedar into a very large project. If I thought I had had some challenges to that point I was dreaming! I have seen some real tough challenges as well as some very creative recoveries, I have invented some cool little jigs to help out in tough corners as well as discovering how to use resin to fill in big mistakes!
I have just finished fibre glassing the inside and started building my gunwales, I thought I may have finished by now, hence my last post suggesting I would do this in two posts…Ok so I thought I was half way through back then…I guess that depends on how fast you go and how many breaks you take.
Where was I?
Just outside of this picture (on the right) is the end stem. The careful shaping of this stem with block plane and spoke shave as well as the occassional hack with a sharp chisel proved to be a challenge, but a satisfying one…no lets face it it was BLOODY frustrating at times. You had to shape it just right to recieve the strips coming in on the angle.
The higher the strips went up the more they began to twist. They were verticle in the middle, but as they moved to the end stems they began to twist to horizontal, as they were meant to…but this pulled out the staples and made the strips want to pop off the frame.
26th January – Invasion Day, Australia.
So I made up the first of quite a few little jigs. (pictured)
Speaking of end stem trimming…it was here I made my biggest mistake. I trimmed the strips back too far up the stem so that I was kind of trimming on the keel, not meant to happen. You are meant to bevel out a kind of trench into the strip ends there at the keel and seat the new outer end stem into the trench. I was left with some gaping holes I needed to later fill with resin, at first I thought it was the end of the world, but resin covers over a multitude of sins!
This picture show the outer stem after fitting with the gaps.
Meanwhile (got out of order there for a second!) I was puting the low short strips on, then drawing my curved line and then cutting off excess with a sharp chisel and block plane…my tool of choice!
Here you can see before and after the trimming and shaping.
This end jig was made as the wood strips began to twist. I used it in conjunction with the little stip jigs pictured above. It was awkward, but I don’t think I could have got the end of the strips to stay down without it. (Max the Border Collie in the background, lives pretty much under my feet in the shed).
Once I turned the corner and my strips left the end stem I had to work only on one side, as aposed to the way I had been working, left then right then left then right. You do all of them until the very middle of the boat is covered. A centre string (in pretty pink) is laid down the hay diddle diddle and a line drawn. A sharp chisel (sweet feeling!) is used to cut away all the excess over the centre line and my sweet little block plane to trim it down to the centre line. This looked great.
Now here is where I began to REALLY go mad. Matching the strips end to end along the centre line on the other side was very difficult, in fact I was all out of alignment and had to keep triming the ends and at one point I inserted a unique little strip just so I could rematch the 2 sides. The other challenge was the joining at the ends, this was a great challenge for someone with endless patience … but for someone like me…I just swore a lot! There are still some little spots of light coming through the hull, but now the glass is on, it will only be light – not water!
The last piece/s get glued together and shaped before being ‘dropped’ into place. This process was quite complicated, too detailed to explain here, but it was clever, much respect for Bear Mountain Boat designs! But I tell you this…each stage of building has ‘sweet’ moments, sanding, glassing, etc. Dropping the keystone piece into place was one of those moments – sweet!
The very last part of this process was cleaning up the end stems and putting the outer stem layer and shaping it. Nice process, might have been made easier if I knew how to use the spoke shave properly…or at all, but the block plane was my friend again…my best friend.
Fairing the hull was another beautiful moment. After some three months of laying strips around the mould stations, I was desperate to do something different, and different it was…days and days of endless…different! Neighbour annoying, family destroying orbital sanding…for days.
By March 19th I was over all the sanding. In fact I sanded first, then did some patching with resin…then sanded again..a mistake. I should have patched then sanded, then did some little patches after the first sand. Hard, resin is like sanding steel.
So towards the end of the process I took a few hours off to build some little stands in preparation for the big flip!
The Glassing Begins!
April 26th, after waiting for perfect weather conditions and good help in the form of my brother-in-law Scotty amongst others! In fact on the day every man and their dog came past to visit. I was so focused I didn’t notice who was there nor what the time was. The word “harrowing” comes to mind. In fact I still think that the fiberglassing has been the most stressful aspect of the whole build. The timing, the fact that if the resin goes off its all over, the fibre glass cloth moving… aghhh just typing this I get stressed. I had to join the glass down the middle as they don’t sell it big enough to go over the whole boat.
I did 2 coats on the one day, a third a week or so later, but was not happy with that so I did another day of sanding and cut it back to the second coat, then bought a roller. This worked better, less runs.
Then one morning, whilst still in our P.J’s Sophie and I flipped the baby! It took a bit to get it off, the glue had stuck to the mould in a few places. Booy it felt great to finally see the inside!
Lots more fairing, then sanding. Only this time the sanding took longer as it had to be done manually as the sander didn’t work in the concave surface without cutting into the sides, so – LOTS OF LONG WEEKENDS hand sanding!
We are now up to August 19th.
The inside was meant to remain with the rough textured surface that 2 coats gives. But obviously my second coat was too think and I ended up with a bit of a patch work of resin. I am not upset, but I know it could have come out much better.
This was the end of the glassing, in fact it was the end of making what I might call the shell or the basic hull.
I think I will post it here, even though I am ahead of this at the time of typing. It seems appropriate to make a separate post for the trim; that is the seats, the decks, the gunnels and the thwart…then the finishing varnish, which I bought today…along with all these really expensive stainless steel screws and bolts and nuts!
Christine is almost still talking to me, I have spent the family savings…and food budget…
August 9, 2011
This blog is becoming my dumping ground for cut and paste book reviews, but – whatever!
The White Earth by Andrew McGahan has been one of the best reads for the year. I am not sure who recommended it to me, but I picked it up in a new little bookshop in William St Northbridge – SECONDHAND! Yes I love a bargain and this I found for $4. I carry a list of books I wantto read and if I find a shop that stocks second hand books I pull out the iPhone and search my list until I find one on the shelf, and this was found! I seem to be reading into a bit of a rut in the past year. An enjoyable one though. The theme seems to be around either early Australian white settlement/invasion and the interaction with indigenous Aussies or more recent history (still Australian) and (again) white fella interaction with black fellas, like this one around the Mabo issue and land rights in the early ’90′s. Some ugly history we have, obvioulsy good fodder for the stuff novels are made of, but what I like is that the books I have been reading reveal something of the truth behind the ugliness and bloody mindedness of white settlers, pioneers and explorers. I know that it can be passed off as ‘culture’, ‘the way things were’, ‘the times’ or whatever, and some say we would have done the same in the time…but I hope not! I love that many if not all the books I have read lately have shown the one or two stand out European characters that have stood their ground, stood for the Aboriginal, built relationship with one or many. Usually what follows for the white is rejection, isolation and sometimes even punishment and death for the stand taken for the plight of the Aboriginal. I plan to read an auto biography next…wait and see.
(Miles Franklin Award 2005)
William is only eight when he sees a huge smoke cloud erupt on the family farm. He is confused by the events that follow – the smell of smoke, the ringing of the telephone, the appearance of neighbour’s vehicles. But eventually he realises his father has been killed in a tractor fire. William and his mother are left destitute by his father’s passing, and with the unstable mother unable to either care properly for William or work for a living, they are forced to accept the charity of an uncle William didn’t know existed.
Moving into his uncle’s home, Kuran House, does not provide the stability William needs. His uncle has spent his life in an obsessed quest to own Kuran Station and now needs an heir to continue his life’s work. He is not, however, prepared to simply name William in his will. He wants the boy to prove himself. William’s mother, desperate for security and a better life, expects William to perform for his uncle. And, while William works to try to balance the competing needs of these two unbalanced adults, he is also battling a health problem which no one around seems at all concerned with.
Alongside the personal struggles of William and the unstable grown ups who seem to occupy his world is the story of the Mabo case and the land rights debates of the late 20th century. The novel is set in 1992, the year the Mabo case was playing out in the nation’s courtrooms and television sets. William’s uncle is involved in the White Australia movement, through the Australian Independence League and has William assist him in his work. William is a boy desperate for love, acceptance and order and he is drawn into what he sees the League offering him. It is much later in the novel that he is forced to question both the League and his uncle’s beliefs and action.
The White Earth is a complex story, with parallel plots involving William’s present and his Uncle John’s past. As William’s story unfolds we also learn what has brought his uncle to this place in his life – both physically and emotionally. It is a novel with many shocks, gripping the reader with its sheer awfulness. Those who have read Dickens will draw parallels between Uncle John and Miss Havisham and be aware of the Dickensian feel to both the progression of the tale and the overall tone.
That said, this is a very Australian novel, with a very Australian setting and cast.
The White Earth, by Andrew McGahan
Allen & Unwin, 2004
Review ref here
July 22, 2011
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I found an amazing little bookshop in Leura and spent too much money…I really need to get over my need to own books…what’s wrong with my awesome library? Anyway I had been chasing this book since I heard the ABC interview with Cannold. So I grabbed it and devoured it before the nice open fire in the Blue Mountains. Don’t read it if you are looking to appease your ‘biblically correct’ needs. It is not true to scripture, it is probably true to the culture of the time, in fact it gives a wonderful look into the way it may have been, looking into the circle of friends Jesus (Joshua) hung with, imaging life in his family, it was a penetrating look at the plight of women in that culture 2000 years ago.
Named one of Australia’s top 20 public intellectuals in 2005, Leslie Cannold is an author, commentator and ethicist.
With two non-fiction books to her name, The Abortion Myth and What, No Baby?, Leslie Cannold now adds a novel to her catalogue.
ABC bookshow interview here .
What if the man you loved betrayed your brother?
Two thousand years ago, while a young Jewish preacher from Nazareth was gathering followers among the people of Galilee, his sister swept floors and dreamed of learning to read.
In Leslie Cannold’s story, it is the women of Nazareth who take centre stage.
The rebellious, gifted Rachael, consigned by her sex to a life of drudgery.
Bindy, the crone who teaches her the skills of the healer.
Shona her sister, the victim of a harsh social code, and their mother Miriame, a woman seemingly unable to love.
When Rachael falls in love with her brother’s dearest friend, the rebel Judah of Iscariot, it seems that at least one of the women of Nazareth may find happiness. Then a message comes from her brother in Jerusalem. And the events begin to unfold that will change not just Rachael’s life, but the world forever.
July 21, 2011
I have just read That Deadman Dance by WA author Kim Scott, judges have just awarded it this years Miles Franklin
prize. In their shortlist announcement, the judges of the prize said, “That Deadman’s Dance is alive in the spaces between these two worlds as they collide and collaborate. It tells the story of the rapid destruction of Noongar people and their traditions. At the same time, there is the enchanting possibility of the birth of a new world in the strange song, dance, ceremony and language that are produced by these encounters of very different peoples.”
That Deadman Dance has been critically praised since its release last year and has also been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction and the WA Premier’s Literary Award for fiction.
A great read for anyone but particularly West Aussies, Albany folks, Noongar’s and um…well anyone.