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Canoeing The Mountains

The nature of the pastoral role is defined by the Bible.

The cultural context in which the pastoral role is expressed is changing. Rapidly.

Canoeing The Mountains by Tod Bolsinger is a book that addresses the challenge of change.

It even has a study guide. It must be practical.


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The Fountain Of Public Prosperity by Stuart Piggin and Robert Lindner

The Fountain Of Public Prosperity by Stuart Piggin and Robert Lindner is a scholarly history of evangelical Christians in Australian history in the period from 1740 to 1914. (A second proposed volume will cover the period from 1914 to 2014).
Not only do the authors seek to demonstrate the ways in which evangelicals have shaped, and been shaped by, Australian society; they also seek to examine why historians have not recognised the distinctives at work in that interaction.
The aim of the authors:

“This book is primarily the story of how the evangelical movement has helped to shape Australian history. It is secondarily the story of how the evangelical movement has been shaped by its Australian context. The first story is much harder to document than the second, and more effort will be expended in finding it. Both stories are largely untold, but lots of stories are untold. Why are these deserving of particular attention, and, if they are so valuable, why have they not already become part of the historiographical mainstream? An analysis follows of the possible reasons for the chronic neglect of these stories. Definitions of evangelicalism are then reviewed and the main findings and themes of the present study are summarised.”

The Fountain Of Public Prosperity, Stuart Piggin and Robert D. Lindner. Monash University Publishing, 2018, pg 12.


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Living At Midnight (via Fleming Rutledge)

Fleming Rutledge reflects on Christian life as a time of waiting, doubt, and preparation.

In the last week of his life, Jesus went to the temple every day to teach. He was engaged in a fight to the death, literally, with the religious leaders. This whole section of the Gospel of Matthew is always read toward the end of the church year; it projects an atmosphere of impending crisis. The parable of the ten Virgins, or bridesmaids, is one of the very last that Jesus told. We are meant to see ourselves in this story. Ten young women with lamps and oil are waiting for a wedding procession. It is midnight, and the bridegroom has not come. The lamps are burning low. Maybe he is never coming. Maybe the whole thing was a mistake.
Midnight is the time of the church year that we are in. This is the time for asking if there is some mistake, for, as W. H. Auden wrote, “Unless you exclaim — ‘There must be some mistake’ — you must be mistaken.”

Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pg 91.


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All The Advent Preparation In The World Would Not Be Enough Unless God Were Favourably Disposed To Us In The First Place (via Fleming Rutledge)

I’ll be working through Fleming Rutledge’s just released collection of materials gathered together in book form and titled Advent.
From her introductory essay:

Because the church in modern times has turned away from the proclamation of the second coming, which Jesus repeatedly says will come by God’s decision at an hour we do not expect, is the Advent emphasis on the agency of God as contrasted with the “works” of human beings. An exclusive emphasis on Advent as a season of preparation risks putting human endeavor in the spotlight for all four weeks of the season. All the Advent preparation in the world would not be enough unless God were favourably disposed to us in the first place.

Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pg 5.


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The House by Helen Pitt

Trapped in Sydney Airport I saw The House, Helen Pitt’s history of the construction of the Sydney Opera House.
It seemed an irresistible subject having seen the structure most of the days I’d been in Sydney.
It’s a very engaging read weaving a narrative of the numerous larger than life characters responsible for the creation of the iconic structure.

Here’s an observation about architect Jørn Utzon working in Europe to visualise a building in Australia that is attractive no matter what angle it is viewed from:

At Kronborg Castle he paced out distances, his long legs stretching to count the meters as he tried to picture Bennelong Point. While walking around the castle’s ancient walls he realised that the Sydney Opera House would be like Kronborg: viewed from all sides. He had often sailed around the Kronborg peninsula, observing the castle from all angles, so knew the Sydney Opera House could not have an ugly side. It needed to be beautiful from all angles. Around, above and below. From a ferry on the harbour or from a car on the Harbour Bridge.

The House, Helen Pitt, Allen & Unwin, 2018, pg 106.

Even with the controversy surrounding its design and construction, it does achieve that brief.
No matter where the Opera House is viewed from, and no matter how many times you’ve seen it before, it is a pleasure to look at.


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In his autobiography, Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen reflects on the profound impact his relationship with his father, had on his life and performance persona.

Those whose love we wanted but could not get, we emulate. It is dangerous but makes us feel closer, gives us an illusion of the intimacy we never had. It stakes our claim upon that which was rightfully ours but denied. In my twenties, as my song and my story began to take shape, I searched for the voice I would blend with mine to do the telling. It is a moment when through creativity and will you can rework, repossess and rebirth the conflicting voices of your childhood, to turn them into something alive, powerful and seeking light. I’m a repairman. That’s part of my job. So I, who’d never done a week’s worth of manual labor in my life (hail, hail rock ‘n’ roll!), put on a factory worker’s clothes, my father’s clothes, and went to work.
One night I had a dream. I’m onstage in full flight, the night is burning and my dad, long dead, sits quietly in an aisle seat in the audience. Then … I’m kneeling next to him in the aisle, and for a moment, we both watch the man on fire onstage. I touch his forearm and say to my dad, who for so many years sat paralysed by depression, “Look, Dad, look … that guy onstage … that’s you, that’s how I see you.”

Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen, Simon & Schuster, 2016, pg 414


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Sinclair Ferguson’s Preface To Reformation Worship

When the Gospel was rediscovered at the Reformation a focus on worship accompanied it.
Paying heed to the practice of worship from the past is an insight into the impact of the Gospel on the gathered people of God.
This is based on an understanding of worship as a whole as a means of grace, something from God to us (vertical downward focused); rather than something that people are doing for God (vertical upward focused), or developing an effective content delivery system (horizontal focused) primarily to educate non-Christians.
In reality all three aspects have to be acknowledged and incorporated; and I’m sure the current horizontal obsession will mitigate over time and we’ll see less of Sunday morning as Christian TAFE and something a little more … worshipful.

Sinclair Ferguson writes an introduction to Reformation Worship, a new book on this classic subject.

This isn’t a plea for a wooden adopting, or a slavish imitation, of any or all older liturgies; nor is it an intimidating and metallic insistence that we should use them today “because the reformers used them.” That could—and almost certainly would—have a deadening effect on our worship. Most of us do not live on the continent of Europe, and none of us lives in the 16th century.
Our greatest need is for worship in Spirit as well as in truth today. But older liturgies should stimulate us to careful thought, and cause us to ask how we can apply their principles today in a way that echoes their Trinitarian, Christ-centered, biblically informed content, so that our worship, in our place and time, will echo the gospel content and rhythm they exhibit.
This is no easy task, and it requires wisdom, tact, sensitivity, and careful communication of principles and goals. But it’s also true that, at the end of the day, people tend to learn and to grow as much by experience as by verbal instructions. They need to sense and taste the help and the value of a better way. And since their appetite may have been blunted by a diet of modernity, it’s important to advance little by little.

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