Sunday, October 24, 2010

Politics, Again!

Seems I'm suffering a bit of a dry spell in terms of blog inspiration - however I just read a post by Winn Collier (whose writing I always enjoy) that clearly expresses some of my own very vague mullings, to do with Christians and politics.  So... since I have had so little to say for so long, I shall go where angels fear to tread in the hope of at least stirring up some controversy!!

Find Winn's excellent post on politics and fear here

For me, Winn's post really highlights the true agenda behind a lot of the "Christian" politicking that goes on;  fear that "our place at the centre of the table" may be threatened and that we will lose "(perceived) control" of the political or social agenda.   

Interestingly, the ruckus about changes to "Scripture in Schools" has come up in the news afresh

Monday, August 23, 2010

Religion and Politics

Australian Politics has become rather fascinating of late.  Here we are, stuck without a real government, because nobody can agree on which direction is best - or who can best take us there!  Like almost everyone I talked to, I had difficulty working out who to vote for.  I wasn't really happy with any of the choices, and didn't actually decide until the morning of the election.  Seems I was anything but alone in that!

I also couldn't resist jumping into a facebook conversation this morning, about politics and the different agendas that might be propelling us God-knows-where, now that a handful of independents have the balance of power.  One of my very good friends was defending one of the independents who she knows personally (& she feels is an honest and trustworthy person - which is reassuring) however she did add as an aside "and he's a Christian".  I'm glad to say I know my friend well enough to know that she would not vote for anyone simply based on their profession of religion - but it did rankle one of my pet "bugbears".  I get a bit riled at many the so-called "Christian" political agendas that are pushed forward.  So often they seem to be focused on protecting their own position of privilege, and oblivious, at best, to issues of justice.  Thankfully it isn't always the case - but there is more than enough of it to make me hopping mad!!

Anyway, in the light of all that very un-inspiring reality, just before the election I came across something that I thought was quite inspiring.  I found it in a (surprisingly balanced) Christian publication.  It is attributed to an American faith community called the Sojourners  (about whom I know absolutely nothing) and I thought it was well worth reflecting on.  For me it is also really encouraging that this has come out of America, when American politics can often seem (to many of us Aussies, self included) so very blinkered.   

Anyway, here goes.  Its a series of statements which were released prior to a recent US election, entitled "God is not a Republican.  Or a Democrat".  I don't have a link, so will just copy them here (& for those reading who don't identify themselves as Christians, I think you could substitute "people of faith", or even just "people" for the word Christian, and just "ethical" instead of "religious".  The principles are still worth pondering):

* We believe that sincere Christians can choose to vote for any party for reasons deeply rooted in their faith.

*We believe that poverty - caring for the poor and vulnerable - is a religious issue.  Do the parties' budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families?  Do their foreign policies include fair trade and debt cancellation for the poorest countries? (Matt 25:35-40, Isaiah 10:1-2)

*We believe that the environment - caring for God's earth - is a religious issue.  Do the parties' policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it? (Genesis 2:15, Psalm 24:1)

*We believe that war - and our call to be peacemakers - is a religious issue.  Do the parties' policies pursue 'wars of choice' or respect international law and cooperation in responding to real global threats (Matt 56:9)

* We believe that truth-telling is a religious issue.  Do the parties tell the truth in foreign and domestic policies? (John 8:32)

*We believe that human rights - respecting the image of God in every person - is a religious issue.  In our case, do the parties have a compassionate approach to asylum seekers (Genesis 1:27)

*We believe that our response to terrorism is a religious issue.  Do the parties see evil only in our enemies but never in our own policies? (Matt 6:33, Proverbs 8:12-13)

*We believe that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue.  Do the parties' positions on abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS - and other pandemics - and genocide around the world - obey the biblical injunction to choose life? (Deut 30:19)

Food for thought.  Shalom.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

House update

After the last post, I thought I should probably add the end of the house-buying saga, just so everyone doesn't wonder whether or not we are currently homeless!

Yes.  The vendors did finally work out their legal tangle and settle - two weeks late.  Ian had taken two weeks off work to do some renovating work and get ready to move in - the settlement happened

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Opportunities for Grace

We've had a few things NOT go smoothly lately.

For those who don't know us, we are in the process of buying a house.

It is THE house. The GOD house that we know that we know that we know He found for us. We are dreaming of wonderful times with family and friends, not to mention chooks, vegie gardens and fruit trees. We love the little village community in which it is located. Seriously - this is THE house!!

Along the way there have been some remarkable ways in which things have fallen together unexpectedly super-smoothly. For example,there was a tenant with a loooong lease (& we really

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mud and Mothers Day

Well I haven't had much to say for a while, but I was given the opportunity to share some of what I've been thinking and writing about in our weekly gathering, on Mother's Day. It was posted on the web - & so I thought I'd share it here... in spite of the fact that it shows up my very stumbly mumbly public speaking skills!! (well it was kind of "off the cuff", too)

I thought it was worth sharing here because it expands and also gives a bit of a practical example of some of the thoughts in my "mud" post (how it applied to me on Mothers day - a tough day in the Whalen house - if nothing else!!)

There were actually 3 of us sharing, the first 15 mins is me - Then Ros, then Carolyn - if you listen to all 3 it takes about 35 mins total.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Death before life.

I'm so stuck on this "death before life" thing. It is just burning in me, lately! It seems everywhere I look, and every thoughtful conversation I have, points me to death and resurrection! I still don't think I've really said it clearly (maybe I'm still working it out) so I'm going to have another crack at it.

I think it's the absolute centre of this "following Jesus" thing. (Duh! I hear all the Christians say... Jesus died for our sins etc. etc. .... ) Well... yes. But I'm not talking theology or doctrine here - I'm talking about stepping into the real - & when Jesus died and rose again, He was showing us the way there.

Christians have symbols like baptism (you get pushed under the water, to symbolise death - & when you come up again it symbolises a new life), use terms like "born again" which is supposed to imply the start of a completely new life. The language of death and resurrection permeates all the Christian traditions I know. But somehow it often seems to get watered down to mean more like "a

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I often have the most awesome thoughts first thing in the morning, when I am half awake. Maybe things have been sorting themselves out in my sleep. Maybe it's because I'm relaxed enough to be listening? Anyway, since the "dying" post, I have been thinking more about how God seems to do things. Using death to bring life is, in so many ways, how "God stuff" happens. He has a way of taking stuff that stinks - & turning it into something beautiful. He doesn't throw away our mistakes - He transforms them.

This isn't "Plan B" because we humans messed it up. It's the way God is! Look at the very beginning of the Bible narrative - God took dust, breathed on it, and made man. I'm no Hebrew scholar, but someone once told me that the Hebrew word we translate as "dust" can also be translated as "rubbish". So, according to the Bible (which also affirms us as incredibly, sacrificially valued and

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Woke up with a revelatory thought, the other morning - a real "WOW" moment!!

But to explain it, I think I need to give some background.

There have been some points in my life, where I have "given up" something, feeling it was a difficult sacrifice - only to find that as I let go of whatever it was, I found myself in an amazing new place, wondering why I had never let go before. The most recent of these was a bit of a turning point in my

Friday, February 12, 2010

Triumph by Grace!

A friend sent me an email with a clip of these guys in action. The image that stays with me still, is of Ricky Hoyt crossing the finish line, arm raised to the crowd, ecstatic with achievement and triumph - and it still strikes me that it was one of the most humble things I've ever seen! Anyway - enough from me. Watch for yourself!

** Seems I can't get the link to work properly - cut and paste the address into your browser and it will take you there!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Upside-down reality!

This is something old-ish. Some time ago I was challenged by an email a friend sent me. It was all about success and prosperity and living big in the "God Bubble" (my label for all that "ra ra" christian culture!). I'd been reading Jesus' words that morning about being blessed (find them in Matthew 5 - well known as the "Beatitudes"). It prompted me to sit down and paraphrase what I'd read - more as a way to really get my head into it, than anything.

What strikes me, is how opposite Jesus' words are to our consumerist, success-driven way of thinking. It completely dominates our culture, yet I think to most of us (religious or not) Jesus' very

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why Heady Brew?

Setting up this blog is a spur-of-the-moment decision, that has been a long time coming!

Previously, when I toyed with the idea of starting my own blog, I tried to think of a name that would capture the essence of what I'm mostly on about - authentic spirituality - as opposed to "religion" of any sort. As you'll probably pick up as this develops (& if you read on), I'm an imperfect & often stumbling follower of Jesus - but don't jump to any conclusions about that! I am completely convinced that Jesus' whole purpose was to liberate us from "religion" & allow us to relate honestly and freely with God - without having to jump through any special hoops!

Back to the blog name, then - Jesus had something to say about "New wine" not being contained in old wineskins. In other words - a new way that is too explosively vibrant to be contained in any traditions, just as new wine expands and bursts old wineskins. New wine seemed to be the concept I was after - but if you have any christian religious background at all - you'll know it's an overused (& often misused) cliche. & since it's about my own personal headspace as well (a crazy place to be, at times!) "Heady Brew" seemed to fit nicely. Hope it lives up to the label!