Monday, 27 October 2014

Missing the point?

I wrote this a while back but never finished it:

In Sunday school we're doing a series about kings and prophets. The series includes the stories of King Joash and King Josiah. As told in the lesson book, the stories are very similar:
  • Becomes king at age 7 (Joash) / age 8 (Josiah).
  • When he grows up, renovates the temple (Joash) / renovates the temple and finds God's law (Josiah).
  • Basically, he's an all-round good guy who follows God and does what he says.
The aims given for the first lesson are that adults can help you to know God (like Joash's uncle did).
The aims for the second are that you can seek God when you are young, and he can change your life.

Despite many differences, the basic plots of the stories are soooo similar that they could easily be confused, and really end up rather boring.

But there are two things missed out of Joash's story - and adding them would make a huge difference.

First - Joash lived the first 7 years of his life in hiding because the evil queen (his gran) wanted to kill him. That's too exciting to miss out!

And second - after his uncle died, Joash completely turned his back on God, abandoned the temple, worshipped idols and had his cousin killed when he pointed out he was doing wrong. Maybe not such a good guy after all? 

And when you include that bit, the aim of the lesson changes, too. Not just that the children need adults to teach them to follow God (although that's true). But that that isn't enough

Joash followed God when he had the influence of a godly father figure. But you get the impression his faith depended on his uncle. And that's not what we want for the children. 

All of the kids in my class have Christian families. They come to Sunday School and church, and we try to make it a positive experience where they can learn about God and what Jesus has done.  We sing great songs that get the Bible firmly in their heads. That's great. But that isn't enough.

As I never stop telling them - it's not what your mum and dad believe that matters - it's what you believe. It doesn't matter if your mum or dad love God - do you love God? 

And, however well we teach the children, only God can do that bit.

Friday, 24 October 2014

“Jesus wept.”

"Why is Jesus weeping? The context of the verse is that Jesus just learned that his old friend Lazarus has died. In just a few more verses, Jesus is going to raise him from the dead, and yet there are still tears to be had. Death is bad, and even when Jesus is going to resurrect Lazarus physical death is still a bad thing."

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The design of independence (or not)

Today Scotland was voting on whether we should be independent from the UK.

One thing I have found interesting about this debate is the design aspect - of course!
The comments below are totally politically objective - they're about design and nothing to do with how I voted :-)

'Yes' is an easy message to design for - the word is inherently positive; you just need to say it with no frills. Here's their logo:


The other side had a definite disadvantage from that point of view - 'no' is an inherently negative word (of course, if the question had been 'should Scotland remain in the UK?' it would have been the other side dealing with this problem). The slogan they started with (and have kept for some things) was 'Better Together'.
Positive, but hardly competes for snappiness with a large 3-letter word. Not ideal for window stickers, and also, importantly, doesn't explicitly tell people what to vote.

So, they changed their logo and slogan to this one:

no thanks.png
I really like this solution: The addition of the word 'thanks' makes it polite and friendly. The cross shows you that you've to vote 'no', and, when reversed out of blue, it looks like a Scottish flag:
Not sure if that was deliberate, as they often don't reverse it, or use other colours. But I think it's a good way to emphasise that voting against independence is not being unpatriotic.

And on that note, here's another one I liked:

It parodies the 'Yes' logo, and it is both Scottish and, importantly in this debate, working class.

Alea jacta est

I have cast my vote.

Some random thoughts:
  • I really wish there was an 'I don't know' box. Because, really, I don't. Therefore, I would prefer to vote 'I don't know', and that we would only have independence if a majority actually voted yes.
  • I hope, whichever way it goes, there is a very clear majority. Scary if it was just one vote out and therefore the result was my fault.
  • In the end, I voted based on 'which would I regret most not doing?'
  • If the result is 'no', I'll be relieved; if it's 'yes' I'll be excited. And have some fairly negative feelings with both results as well.
  • There has been so much scaremongering on both sides, and accusations of lying on both sides, it's hard to have any clear idea of what independence would actually mean.
  • It's not about the SNP and the Tories. If we have independence, in the long term we could have any kind of government including conservative. Therefore all the SNP's socialist utopia ideas will only last until the next general election - which is either good or bad depending on your views :-)
  • There is no morally/spiritually 'right' way to vote, but there are morally/spiritually good reasons for voting each way, morally/spiritually bad reasons for voting each way, and morally/spiritually neutral reasons for voting each way.
  • I found the Independence Debate at Harper Memorial church very helpful. Although it did confuse me more about which way I wanted to vote, it also allayed some of my fears on both sides. Nice to see politicians being nice to each other, actually answering questions (!) and referring to each other as brothers.
  • "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4v6-7
  • "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8v28  Which is not to say everything will work out in a way that seems good at the time...
  • Will Scotland get to keep unmarked stamps? Because it was a Scot who invented them.

Computer-generated 'art'?

"I believe that the human brain has the best scripts possible and no computer can recreate the same. It can look the same, it can imitate it pretty well but it will never have a "Soul" to it. a script can’t know that a tiny white dot in the eye is a reflection that gives emotion to the whole work."
Mordy Levi
Click here to see his beautiful hand-generated Low-Poly* illustrations of sealife. And also some portraits and pictures showing how he did it here.

*i.e. made only of flat-colour triangles - as few as possible.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Cute little robot

I was needing a new USB hub.
I couldn't resist this one.

Do you think Wall•E and Eve are his parents? Seems to have a mix of their genes.

DI Wall.e (1)

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Jesus, hope of the nations

Today at church there were people from:
Scotland, Iran, England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Argentina, Spain, Azerbaijan...