Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Spilling the Brew!

When I started this blog, what now seems about a trillion years ago, it was with the idea of exploring something new I was discovering in my faith and in my life.   After decades of earnest (and strict!) religious observance I was finally comfortable to allow myself to ask some "hard questions" and possibly step outside some of the "self-evident truths" held during my upbringing and by subsequent faith communities.

This was not an angry, stricture-tearing impulse.  Rather, it was a joyous discovery of something alive and wonderful, and most of all, real - that my religion often seemed to be at odds with, and yet it made sense of so much that had always puzzled me about the Jesus narrative.  This, in spite of the fact that this same narrative was supposed to be the rock-solid foundation of the faith we shared.  In fact, the name of this blog is a reference to a metaphor Jesus used; likening new truth that is too potent for old structures to contain to "new wine" that will split old wineskins (See my first ever post, here.)

Well, it seems, my "HeadyBrew" wineskin has split.  Along with a lot of my previous understandings of what it means to have faith, and particularly, to "follow Christ".  I'm still learning, and still growing. I still see the example of Christ as the most potent narrative for our world, that I have ever understood. However I have come to see organised Christian (or any) religion as largely irrelevant to me.  Perhaps I will come "full circle" (as some of my friends seem to have done) and find comfort and meaning in liturgy and ritual.  At this point, I do not.  

As a source of reminding, of what is valuable and true and good, and the reasons for love, I do not discount the value of liturgical practice.  However, as a source of rigid "in-group" identification, of "us and them" mentality, of performance anxiety and moral measurement, of control through fear (yes, that's what I just said!) and very definitely as a source of social privilege and influence for a very particular interpretation of life and morality - I most definitely do not support organised religion.

The faith conversation that I became part of, and which inspired the need for this blog, is continuing. I'm certain it is enabling many others to move from fear to love.  And perhaps to redefine "faith". However that conversation is important for folk who are part of organised religion and are seeking to understand how this fits with their modern life experience, and in many cases seeking to reform the"institutions" to which they belong.  This no longer applies to me.  I am not seeking to reform "church".  I've moved on.

So what am I doing now?

Well, I'm writing poetry and short fiction (not as prolifically as I'd like, but working on that...) and I'm proud to announce that a poem and a short story of mine will be appearing in an Australian anthology, due out in September this year.  I think, if you can get a copy to read (it's Called "Seeking Horizons" edited by Mark Tredinnick and Ron Pretty) you will recognise in the story, some of the very same themes that were explored here on HeadyBrew.

I'm also involved in a community initiative called arc-Community.  You can find our (very new) website here.  It's actually one way I am putting my faith into action in the world.  The idea is to share stories of positive community connections and solutions, to encourage dialogue and connections in Australian communities.  Doesn't sound very theological, does it?  Boil it down, though, and it's about love.

Oh, and I have a new personal blog, although I don't post often.  You can find it here  and if you are a Facebook user, you can always find much more of what I'm up to, here.

Thank you, to my blogging friends who have been with me, and been interested enough to share thoughts and ideas with me in this space.  It's been beyond valuable!  Perhaps I'll catch you in some of my new haunts, or vice versa!

With love,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Holy Crap!! (aka Prayer???)

What the????
Okay - I'm trying to be "interest catching" and controversial with that title...  I don't necessarily find the idea of prayer completely synonymous with "Holy Crap" - but often I think it is.  And, a bit of honesty (that may prompt knowing grins from my atheist friends, and exclamations along the lines of "aha!  I KNEW it!!" from some of my Christian friends...  )  At this point in my spiritual journey - I kinda...don't... pray.  I just don't.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

If God isn't love...

I've been wondering whether to continue with the blog, however there's a thought rolling around in my
head that won't let me go, so here I am again!

I've realised something.  There are lots of ideas out there about what "God" is like.  They can't all be right - in fact, (& I guess this ought to be obvious) if we are talking about something as infinite as "God" - none of them can be, really.  I mean - nobody can possibly fit something that large into any kind of human explanation - not in its entirety, anyway.  But that isn't my realisation.

WHAT IF the notion that I hold dearly, that God is Love - and vice versa - is complete nonsense?  (I don't think it is but let's stay with that, for a moment, for argument's sake)   What if God REALLY is a demanding, legalistic, (dare I say, small minded, petty) tyrant, who insists on rigid rules and judges minor details of our lives, with eternal consequences....  (right now I'm looking at that description and wondering how something so petty and narrow could even be called God, but anyway...)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Crime and Punishment

I read this clever take on the old story about the woman caught in adultery, on Shane Clifton's Blog, this morning.

It really IS clever... but somehow, I can't quite agree with it.

Orson Scott Card frames the tension in this story as a tug-of-war between legalism and corruption.  Somehow, "Rabbi Jesus" comes out as having the perfect balance, able to both "preserve the law and forgive the deviation".

Now I might be on shaky theological ground, here... so I'm chucking it out there to see what others have to say... but I don't think Jesus was on the Law/Lenience paradigm at all, at all, at all.  Hear me out... then tell me what you think...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Against such things...

Recently I've been involved in some online discussions regarding the issue of same-sex marriage.  In the first, I posted what I thought was a fairly innocuous comment on facebook, in support of marriage equality.  The reaction was... astounding!!  I was quite unprepared for the level of vitriol - and the most vitriolic responses invoked "God" as their justification.  Ouch!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jesus as Performance Artist...???

Image Credit:
Yes.  I know - this sounds kinda weird...  but I have been switched on to performance art, recently, after viewing a performance by Marina Abramovic, and learning more about her solo work, as well as her collaborations with German artist, Ulay.

Performance art is something I have never previously understood.  My first experience of it was when a friend and I visited the NSW Art Gallery, and attended a performance art event that just happened to be on.  I think we were all of 18 or 19 years old at the time.  We didn't know what to make of the bizarre behaviour of the performer.  It was confronting, to say the least!  Over the years I have seen occasional performance art pieces, but did not find the artform accessible.  The piece by Abramovic, linked to above, moved me to tears - in fact, I was a wreck!  I shared it with a good friend, and she had the same reaction.  Powerful stuff!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hello again, cyber-space!

It has been quite a while since I have even thought about writing a new blog post...  Life has been hectic, wonderful, exciting, challenging and very full, over the last few months.  I do plan to pick up the blogging again, and finally, things have slowed down enough for me to have a few thoughts percolating...  but in the meantime, I thought y'all might like a glimpse of just a few of the things I've been up to over the last few months...

In full housework regalia (and by housework, I mean building the house - plastering walls, putting on cornice, architraves, skirtings, and painting!!)
House Renovations - have taken a leap forward!!  We have new STAIRS, I am now living in a proper bedroom with a REAL closet!!  My daughter has moved out of the study and into her real bedroom, and the upstairs living area is now an actual living area - not a "temporary-bedroom-camp-tool-storage-and-makeshift-office-mess-explosion"!!  What a difference it makes!  There is still a lot that remains unfinished, but the living spaces are functional now, and I'm loving the sense of space and order that has provided.

It was worth the weeks of hard work to get it to that point.  On the way - help from friends and family (my wonderful brother-in-law, Warren, came down for a week's "holiday", just to help with the plastering, and other friends helped with the clean up, shifting furniture, and other things that I really couldn't manage alone) made me feel very loved, and wonderfully connected.

Wazza risking life and limb above the stairwell!
Reno - glam girl!!! 
My plasterwork...  ready for painting
Finished - Doesn't it look beautiful??

We celebrated with a "renovation-warming" party in January...  Which was quite a spectacular celebration!  For me, after not months but years of "makeshift living", to be able to welcome friends and family into my space and have them celebrate with me was something very special and memorable.  We barbecued, ate, drank, laughed, sat around an outdoor fire, watched the kids running around in dressups, and playing with glow sticks and sparklers.  My belly dancing buddies and I performed (whoo-hoo!!) & then lots of the other girls, from the ages of two, to seventy-two (as well as one adventurous boy - who some of you have met on these pages, so I will dob him in - blogging buddy,  Andrew Cook  ) joined in just for the fun of it!

Since the renovation push, I've been concentrating on catching up some of the jobs that had been neglected outdoors, both because of the concentrated renovation efforts, and having been unwell for the last part of 2012.  I'm enjoying seeing my vegetable garden re-emerge from the jungle of weeds, have been doing some very overdue (and enjoyable) Autumn pruning, and am working on building a hen-house for the beautiful Barnevelder chickens I have acquired, and which are currently "agisting" with a friend until their palace is complete.

My beautiful Barnevelder Babies!

On a personal note, there seems to be quite a poetical symmetry between these physical and practical developments and the emotional and relational shifts and changes I've been going through at the same time.  During the time house renovations were being sorted, property settlement and divorce details were amicably arranged.  As with the house, it is not all quite complete - but the important parts are in place, and all is well.  I mentioned that I had not been well for the latter part of 2012, and this has also resolved, and I'm feeling better than I have in a very long time.  On multiple levels, there is a sense of resolution and of moving on.  It is a nice season to be in!

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Big, Fat Jesus Post!


Although it has meandered quite a lot, I think this "series" started out as an attempt to clarify why, although I am not enamoured with institutional Christianity, I still follow Jesus.  Basically, it is because I see in Him the fulfilment of all that I see as real spirituality, and the antidote to religion.  Ironic, huh, that so much religion has grown up surrounding his name!?

Many (perhaps most?) people who are familiar with the Jesus story, see it as a call to live according to Christian "law",  perhaps a declaration that there is only one way; that being the Judeo-Christian cultural tradition, a denouncement of sin (because of course, that is how we got into this mess - all our fault!), a demand to ascribe to a particular set of "righteous" behaviours, and a requirement to join and belong to the "right" group.  The reward for all this, is that you get to go to Heaven, rather than Hell (where all the non-believers end up) after you die, and an implied assumption that "spiritual" and "holy" are something quite apart from this tainted, earthly life.

The thing is, when you do see it that way, the person of Jesus actually becomes very difficult to reconcile with it.  His behaviour and sayings become problematic and contradictory...  because they really don't fit in with that view!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My List

I do love scribbly gums...  Seemed a nice way to make an image of my "list"
Well, I promised in THIS post, that I would come back and add my own "list" of stuff that has seemed to me, to show a glimmer of the ultimate...  If you've just stumbled into the conversation, we've been tossing around ideas on what "authentic spirituality" might be.  (Seems that's a question I ask a lot!).

Some of my wonderful blogging friends added their thoughts to the previous post, and ideas included intuitions of "something more", of connectedness to something greater, and ideals beyond physically tangible reality.  I can relate very much to all of those.  Here is my little list of the kinds of things in my own life that have seemed to touch on something "deeper":

  • Profound family moments...  the birth of a baby is one example that is clear in my mind.  After my daughter, Hannah, was born I remember watching her asleep and feeling absolutely awed by both the presence, and the profound significance of this tiny person.  A whole personality, a whole life, a whole impact on the world around her yet to come...

    There's also just "something" about knowing someone closely enough to really glimpse the infinity within them - & I guess family, and those friends who are family too, is where that happens best.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Um... Hello??? (And launching right back in... Belief... and stuff!)

It's been so long, I'd almost forgotten what my blog looks like!  Anyone still out there??

Sorry for the long silence. Life has been a bit overwhelming over the last couple of months...  but I think I'm back!! :D

AND... I'm still trying to figure out how to write my "Big, Fat, Jesus Post".  Here is Attempt Mark II.

(If you missed it, and are interested; Attempt Mark I is HERE.  )

I think, perhaps, the best way to begin explaining where I think Jesus fits into the whole cosmic picture, is to talk about what authentic spirituality may or may not be...  because I believe that is what he embodies.  I know that's a BIG statement - but let's start a little smaller - and as always, please add your thoughts to the discussion too!
Image credit:  http://library.sasaustin.org/questioning.php

So what is "spirituality"?  Seems to me it is an active desire to find and understand both "ultimate reality", and "a better way".  For many people (myself included) this amounts to some kind of "search for God".  However I know many atheists who would also consider themselves spiritual by this definition - and I agree with them.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

See you Next Week!

Hey, all!

Just a wee update, since I have not been posting so regularly of late!  All is good - work has been very busy - I'm doing a "block" on a K/1 class, and really enjoying having a bit of continuity with the same group of kids.  Catapulting into (temporary) full-time work, though, on the back of having been quite unwell, mid-term, has left little energy for writing/blogging/or anything much else!

SOOOO....  Since it is now school holidays, I am taking the opportunity to head off into the wild blue yonder, to take some time for myself, to rest and reflect.  Ian has the kids during the first holiday week, and I have been wanting some silence, and the space to "reconnect",  for a while - so it seems like the perfect opportunity!

I've found a lovely, quiet little place to stay, and am planning to sleep, walk, meditate, and hopefully do some writing too.  We'll see.  Time alone has often been a very healing thing, for me - and I'm really looking forward to my little break.  I'll let you know how it goes!!  At the very least, I shall bring back some pretty photos to post :)


Monday, September 10, 2012

Parting Ways... and what I don't (and do) believe about the BIBLE!

Did I mention I've just made the decision to pull my kids out of the Christian School they're currently attending?

A big part of the reason is simply financial.  We've been struggling to make ends meet, and it has been necessary to re-evaluate.   Then there's the fact that Hannah's social group seems to have disappeared (and it is a very small school - a factor that attracted us in the first place, and up until now has been a lovely thing!).  I've appreciated lots of things about the school community.  Both of my kids have some "quirks" (how could they not, with me as a mother!) that mean they sometimes need a bit of extra understanding and TLC - and the teachers they've had there have been supportive, gracious and caring. If I needed to look for examples of love, from people who are invested in the Christian "institution" - I could very honestly say that I have seen them there, with a consistency that can't, and shouldn't, be dismissed.  I have seen, in so many of the teachers there, the genuine love of God.  If we could stop there, I would be fighting to find the funds to keep my kids in that education community.

But...  (and it's a REALLY.  BIG.  BUT.)  I've come to the conclusion that the fundamental theology  that the school teaches, is damaging my kids' faith.   I've struggled for a long time, with knowing how to share with my kids a faith that is real and life-giving, without burdening them with the same religious shackles I grew up with, and have taken not years, but decades to recover from!  I still don't have the

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Things I DON'T believe in.

I seem to be suffering from an ongoing case of "blogger's block" of late...  I think it is mostly due to the business of life;  work has been FULL on, lately, and (lucky me) the only times it hasn't been, I've fallen victim to the flu or some other rotten nasty bug (would you believe I and number one son are off to the doctor today, both with tonsillitis!), so a lot of things have been "on hold" for the last little while.

Percolating in the background, however, has been a desire to write a post about where I think the person of Jesus (you know, "Christ", "of Nazareth"... THAT Jesus!) fits into my thinking about life, faith, the universe, etc.  Part of my blogger's block, if I'm honest - is the fact that I find this confronting in a lot of ways.  It is a challenging post for me to write, and confronts not only what I believe, but how I live my life.  I know that I don't embody what I believe to be truth, anywhere NEAR enough.  And I think that's what it's all about - so to write about it is... confronting for me.

Anyway, enough of that.  I am going to ease myself into this via the "path of least resistance".  Today's post is not about what I believe at all - but what I definitely DON'T.  In a sense, it is far easier to be negative about religion and what is wrong with the world, than to BE the solution - but it is also useful to clarify where you are NOT, in order to see where you ARE (if that makes sense), so at the risk of sounding a bit negative, this is where I'm starting.  Bear with me!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Speaking of "Beautiful".

Although some commenters might be wondering, I haven't abandoned the discussion on beauty initiated in the previous post.  It's been a busy week and I haven't had the time or mental energy to put anything coherent together - yet.

However, I was sent something during the week that brought tears to my eyes, and seemed a perfect example of the kinds of things that are "beautiful" in a way that might just transcend biology, attraction, and all that is easily explained.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Image Credit:  http://weheartit.com/entry/29738946
Here's a question that relates to the whole "consciousness" discussion...  What about... beauty!?

I was talking to my deep thinking friend, Monica, the other day and she brought this up.  Her question was, do animals have an aesthetic sense?  Do they stop and gasp in wonder at a starry sky or soaring vista??  Is the concept and experience of "beauty" something unique to conscious thinking... or not?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Catching Up...

UN-varnished ME!!  
I had some thoughts about what I might post about next, but given the fact I've been absent for a while, I think perhaps just a little "personal catch-up" might be in order...  I'll get deep and philosophical later!

I'm not sure why I've had so little to write, of late.  There are a few "common-sense" factors.  Work has been very busy, most of the time - and though I'm enjoying it (most days) I do tend to come home "knackered", and without the available brain-space to put anything very coherent together.  However, even on the days when I'm not working, my head hasn't really been in the right space for writing.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What is "Spiritual"?

Image Credit:  http://www.iconfoundation.net/?q=research-topics/connectomics
Well...  I have been avoiding writing, for some reason, of late...  a bit of writers (hell, everything-ers) block!  Time to kick my brain back into gear and get moving, methinks!

I was on a bit of a roll, about consciousness, and internal, vs. external worlds.  It still seems to me that our internal worlds are bigger, and arguably more influential (?!) than the external, physical world.  My friend Monica, when we were having a conversation about this, made the point that the number of atoms in the physical universe is thought to be finite - yet the world of ideas and imagination is infinite.

In a previous discussion, it was pointed out that some of the things we think of as "transcending" biology, such as art, literature, religion, can be explained in biological terms as "display behaviour".  I'm sure there is very often a strong element of this - but I find it hard to believe it's really that simple.  And to be honest, I think that when any of these things are strongly motivated by something so basic, it shows.  The things that really make "our spirits soar" tend to be those that take us beyond all that in some way.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What's more Real??

Image credit:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/mar/09/why-are-atoms-so-small
We are getting so "life, the universe and everything" here, of late - that some wiseguy is SURE to make the comment "42".  But if you don't mind adding a little chaos to your mental mix, come along for the ride!  There are sure to be more questions than answers, but I've fallen victim to an addictive fascination, so here we go again!!

I've been marvelling at the infinite nature of human consciousness (here and here, if you missed it), and the fact that our own "internal worlds" are immeasurably vast, and able to both represent and transcend the physical universe, in so many ways.  The physical universe and our own biology certainly do place limits on us, and far more than I think we like to believe.  There are many ways in which our behaviour and thinking can be seen as very much "biologically determined".  I get that.  And I know we are adept at inventing fictitious (or at least, semi-fictitious) explanations for our own motivations and actions, fooling even ourselves - so this really is a complex puzzle to tease apart.  

However, as much as I pull and poke at my understanding of ourselves and our universe - I continue to see something infinitely larger than the sum of our atoms.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tardis People!

Each being contains in itself the whole intelligible world.  PLOTINUS
Image Credit:  http://www.androidzoom.com/android_applications/entertainment/tardis_bmqhf.html
Alright.  I'm completely stuck on this notion of each human  being as a "universe" - perhaps several!  Like Doctor Who's Tardis - SOOO much bigger on the inside!!  (and I would argue, in so many more dimensions!)

Walt Whitman, in his famous poem Song of Myself -  described all kinds of things occurring around him, as if they were a part of him and contained within him - and so far as we understand consciousness - they are!!

If we could roll out some kind of map or representation of all that is contained within the consciousness of a single individual - it would display much of the physical world (albeit with individual emphases and distortions) and an infinite amount of thought, feeling, imagination and individual perspective.  It would be HUGE in every dimension possible, and anything but finite or static.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gran Torino

I & my kids spent most of the last week at my brother's house, taking care of my nieces and nevvies, while Josh and his lovely wife were off holidaying  (lucky them)!

While I was there, "playing auntie" I ferreted through Josh and Caro's DVD collection, and found a copy of  √álint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" - a movie I'd always wanted to see but hadn't gotten around to.  I watched it after the kids were in bed.  It. Was. Beautiful!

I blogged a while ago about "types of Christ", mentioning a few I'd seen in movies.  Definitely gotta add Walt Kowalski (Eastwood's character in Gran Torino) to that list.

Seriously - I've been wanting to write some kind of story, of a character who surrenders, gives his life for others - and triumphs in a lasting way - and where "death" of some kind (not necessarily of a person) becomes the gateway to life - but hadn't found the "vehicle" for the story - and Eastwood well and truly beat me to it!!