mgpcpastor's blog

reports, reviews, thoughts, news (and fun) posted by Gary Ware


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Rent-A-Mourners (via TIME)

A TIME online portal has a featurette about a UK company that provides mourners to attend funerals for a fee.

Worried that not enough people will show up your funeral? Let Rent-A-Mourner help. The ingenious and aptly-named company allows concerned parties to pay for professional grievers to fill a funeral home and make sure that the deceased gets a fitting and extremely well-attended sendoff.
For approximately $68 a head, the U.K.-based business will send “professional, polite, well dressed individuals” to attend your funeral or wake, and will weep, wail and generally appear sad about the passing of whatever person happens to be filling the casket for about two hours. Rent-A-Mourner promises that your paid grievers will be “discreet” and “professional,” according to its website.
Read the rest of the article here for more details.

The article points out that similar practices are part of non-western cultures.


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“When You Try To Make A Story Out Of Persuasion Then You’ve Done Something Wrong To The Story”

Thoughts on the difference between being a Christian who creates and Christian creativity by Jeffrey Overstreet at The Rabbit Room.
It’s helpful you find yourself considering a book, movie or music and wondering ‘Is it Christian?’

Something that has stayed with me is this quote from Katherine Pearson, which Overstreet uses in his essay.

Novelists write out of their deepest selves. Whatever is there in them comes out willy-nilly, and it is not a conscious act on their part. If I were to consciously say, ‘This book shall now be a Christian book,’ then the act would become conscious and not out of myself. It would either be a very peculiar thing to do—like saying, ‘I shall now be humble’ — or it would be simple propaganda…
Propaganda occurs when a writer is directly trying to persuade, and in that sense, propaganda is not bad.. . . But persuasion is not story, and when you try to make a story out of persuasion then you’ve done something wrong to the story. You’ve violated the essence of what a story is.

I think the essence of that quote is that it’s one situation to create a story and then find out it reflects a Christian theme, but something very different to start with a Christian theme and then compose a story communicate it.
They are different activities.
Read Why I Want to Be George R. R. Martin’s Neighbor by Jeffrey Overstreet at The Rabbit Room.


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My Brittle Bones by Philip C. Burcham (via First Things)

Phil Burcham is remembered by South Australian Presbyterians from his time here (he and his family are now based in Perth, WA), and is known by some around the nation.
In this extended article, published on the First Things website, he writes of his personal experience with the modern eugenics movement, now known as genetic counseling, and relates how, because of a mild genetic condition which results in bones which break more easily than normal, that medical wisdom believes it would be better if he, his extended family, and even his daughter were never born.
Read My Brittle Bones at First Things.
HT: Michael Bird.

Excerpts:

Upon learning of the disorder affecting my family, the emergency-room staff in the local children’s hospital told us about a gifted doctor who knew a lot about OI. I was keen to meet the doctor, given my positive memories of the orthopedic surgeons who cared for me in childhood. A pharmacologist by training, I also knew that the bisphosphonates—a class of drugs developed for osteoporosis sufferers—were then being tested on OI patients. I hoped the doctor would know if they might help our daughter.
We found the doctor had little interest in the clinical management of pediatric OI patients and knew little of bisphosphonate pharmacology. The doctor and attending nurse initially engaged us in chatty small talk, but their intentions soon became clear: They wanted to know whether we hoped to have another baby. After my wife said we did, exasperated grimaces passed between them.

As one born congenitally frail, I have come to respect this mysterious disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta and even thank heaven for how it prematurely confronted me with my own frailty during my youth. By forcing me to face my limitations and find the fortitude to transcend repeated bouts of medical adversity, in requiring me to choose a vocation in which success did not depend on brute strength, OI made me a stronger and more mature individual.
In the end, we are all frail creatures. Maybe this is why some people wish to abort persons like my father and me: Perhaps we confront them with the inconvenient truth of their own mortality and the ultimate futility of their existential rebelliousness. Rather than pursuing the futile idea that humanity can live in perpetual defiance of God, we Brittle Burchams have found great hope and refuge in the arms of the strong God who became as weak as a newborn baby to conquer the evil that stains our fallen world.


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The True And False Mirrors With Which We Form Our Body Images

We inhabit a culture obsessed with images of perfection, whether they be our bodies or our lifestyles.
Add to that our inclination to idealise and normalise the best of what we perceive around us and our lives become a mire of dis-satisfaction.
Altered photographs fill our media, creating a false sense of bodily perfection.
Commerce feeds the false impression that our satisfaction will flow from our next purchase.
How do we grow an image of ourselves free from harmful distortion and fruitless desire?

From CCEF:

Do you constantly scrutinize your appearance? Is it as though you walk around with a mirror held out in front of you reminding you what is lacking? In reality, that mirror reflects a distorted perception; much like a carnival mirror that distorts reality. It not only prevents you from seeing yourself accurately, but it creates a self-focused absorption. “You” become more important than truly being known as a person. The mirror creates a wall that isolates you from others. You become enslaved to the pursuit of an ideal image and to caring too much about what others think. So the question remains: How should I view myself?
Read the whole post here.


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Is There Any Other Country In The World?

That has a vending machine selling what I grew up calling thongs, known to others as flip-flops?
I guess there’d have to be, but here it just feels so right.
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“I Love A Sunburnt Country” – My Country by Dorothea Mackellar

The second verse of Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country is embedded into the psyche of Australia.
Even for someone like me who can’t stand being outdoors.
It will be constantly referenced in some form or another over this Australia Day weekend.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

There are five other stanzas in the original.
Apparently there’s some controversy surrounding the original word ‘ragged’ against the more popularly used ‘rugged’.
Go over to the Dorothea Mackellar website and read the whole poem and then spend some time looking around.


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‘Melbournised’ Was Coined As A Word To Describe Mount Gambier

This is gold.
“Many of the residents have never seen Adelaide, and some apparently do not care whether they ever are so favored.” may be the best quote ever.
On the Ozwords blog there’s a post about what’s described as the ‘Melbournising effect’ on other cities, notably Sydney.

Of greatest interest is to find out the origins of the word is attributed to an Adelaide journalist who wasn’t too pleased with the situation in Mount Gambier way back in 1879.

A visitor from Adelaide to Mount Gambier and neighboring towns cannot fail to be struck with the Melbournised—if I may use the term—character of the inhabitants. The people there take quite as much if not more interest in Victorian matters than in South Australian. Many of the residents have never seen Adelaide, and some apparently do not care whether they ever are so favored. (Supplement to South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail, 31 May 1879)

Read the whole post at Ozwords.