Sunday, November 21, 2010

Theology and Perspective (Part 1)

We frequently get told the typical 'Love isn't a feeling - it's a decision' aphorism beloved of the Joshua Harris school of thought.

And, of course, there's a lot of truth in that.

Going by the Self Help philosophy, virtually everything is a decision. You can decide to be happy, sad, excited, motivated, depressed, whatever - and Make It True In Your Life™.

And of course, we do have an element of choice in how we react to situations; our responces are not all pre-determined by DNA, our upbringing, nor instinct. Choosing to live purposefully (not in the Purpose Driven Life sense) - saying 'I'm going to sail to this specific place, whether or not it's easy, whether or not the wind is against me, whether or nor it's raining.' is more likely, I feel, to lead to something meaningful than simply being tossed around by whatever weather (whether favourable or not).

Ha! I managed it. Weather followed by whether in a sentence. Betcha didn't see that one comin'. All this blogging stuff is helping my spelling to impruve.

Now the Perciever (MBTI) in me says 'hang on a second, mate - you've got the whole thing backwards. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. So actually, taking what weather comes at you along the way - being flexible; able to adapt to the situation; enjoying the mood - is more important than whether you're actually got some place to finally end up. And when you end up there, you're really just en route to somewhere else! There are no desinations, only stepping stones.'

So here's now an interesting concept. Totally un-scientific, un-tested, un-official and un-ilateral (OK, OK, superfluous punctuation for the sake of continuing the sequence humour. Sorry). The Church, in general, especially the Reformed branches of it, are dominated by J types. The theologians, especially, of the NTJs. This leads very easily to Us/Them; Saved/Unsaved; Elect/Damned; Christian/Heathen; Religious/Secular distinctions. At some level, this is fine. When it's implimented by well integrated balanced and loving Js, it can become an inspiration to many, and allow huge, complex theological issues to be understood slightly better by us plebs. The trouble comes when we don't realise that it is an abstraction, and that every piece of theology that we come up with - no matter how brilliant or water-tight it seems - is merely the wrestling of a fallen finite mind with concepts of an infinite perfect God.

Those of us who are not NTJs, when we pick up on NTJ thought patterns, and try to live that style, often pick it up very badly, and express the worst elements of it. I feel that myself, when I try to think or live as a Calvinist, become the worst form of Calvinist. I don't have the capacity inside to take those black and white and apply them without either falling into Lord of the Flies over-bearing judgementalism and pettiness, or else wishy-washing it out into something which would have me burned at the stake for relativism - should the Reformation Inquisition ever catch me.

My natural tendancy, I feel, would be to go to almost the other extreme, and say 'Look at Jesus' life. How He seemed to get distracted along the way by the people He met. He didn't go charging around from destination to destination, but wandered around meeting, healing, teaching, loving. We're not called to judge people as saved or unsaved - we're called to love them, and point them to Jesus.'

There's quite a lot of books being published basically saying that. Theres whole streams of Christianity going into this philosophy quite deeply. And it annoys the hell out of the Reformed dudes. I saw a video clip of that scarily smiling Joel Osteen bloke saying "You know, I ain't called to tell people they're, you know, like, going to hell. I'm just called to encourage them to go to God. Tell them about His love, y'all.". This was being mocked by the Reformed crowd, who were saying 'unless you tell people that they're going to hell, and the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ, then you're leading them astray, Osteen, you're a false prophet!'

Now Joel Osteen is on one waaaay out limb of the Feel-Good Self-Help neo-Prosperity Post-Schuller "positive Christianity" thing, while WotM and others who mock him are waaaay along the other wing. Most of us, I suspect, are not exactly "somewhere inbetween", but more like a third group, wandering after Jesus, trying to love Him, love others, figure out exactly what we believe, and trying not to get hit by collateral from the missiles being thrown around in the wings.

Something like this, maybe:

Although I think the following may actually be better:

Where do you fit into the spectrum?

(Part 2 of at least 3)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Areopress, coffee, etc...

So I thought it might be interesting to post about some things which are adding to my life here.

First post is coffee. I'm quite the coffee fan, over here. Compared so some people, not so much, but for Carlisle, quite high up the coffee freak ladder.

Unless there is a hidden coffee community I'm not finding somehow.

I don't have a massive budget for going to flashy cafes or expensive bistros or whatever all the time, so what I'm more interested in is good tasting home coffee.

Here's my current collection of coffee related clobber.

First a fun story, and then I'll go into more detail about everything else, so if you're not interested in coffee, then you can skip the end. :-)

So when I moved into this house with Euan, there was a french press / cafetiere in the cupboard, so I thought "Oh good - I don't need to buy anything for making coffee, I can use that". So the first morning I boiled the kettle, let it cool for a while I put some ground coffee in the cafetiere, and then poured the water in.

I thought it was a pyrex pot, but alas, I was wrong. There was a tremendous 'crack!' sound, and coffee started to leak from the bottom. Oh no! What to do, lah?

So since it was only leaking very very slowly, I thought, well, I won't waste the coffee, I'll let it brew, plunge it very carefully, then pour the coffee out - if any glass did shatter, the plunger/filter will clean it out, and then I can see how bad the damage is.

So duely I followed the above plan, until the pouring bit. I lifted up the pot, only to find that in fact the crack had been ALL the way around the base! So when I lifted it up, the base stayed on the work surface, and the rest of the pot came up in my hand.

The coffee, alas, followed the laws of physics (I know, I can hardly blaim it...) and went everywhere.

No coffee for me that morning.

So I bought a new french press to replace the one I'd exploded, but by that time, I'd already found
A Krups espresso/filter machine.
in Charlie? (the used clothes / stuff team cupboard, when you leave, you can leave anything you don't want to take with you for others to have).

So I was quite surprised to find this in Charlie - until I looked it up online.

It has terrible reviews.

Here's my take - it's kinda fun to play with, but I'm not convinced by the 'crema' that the espresso part produces. It feels kinda fake to me, almost like the machine is somehow 'frothing' it to make it seem more real or something. The coffee doesn't taste too horrible, just ... meh. Not really rich and interesting. Maybe un-set up temperature and pressure stuff? I dunno. I'm no expert on any of this! The milk steaming wand is very cheap and plasticy, as well as seeming near impossible to actually steam milk in proper microfoam also seems to taint the milk with a kind of rubbery aftertaste. Maybe it's just me though...

The coffee grinder I bought in singapore a few years ago, and it's been getting lots of use over the last 2 and a half years or so. A very worth while investment - grinding the coffee beans freshly makes the biggest difference to taste of anything that I've found.

The Moka pot is also lots of fun - it's quite a lot more work than the areopress to make coffee and clean again afterwards, but also makes very good coffee, with quite a different flavour to -

the weird syringe thingy on the right of the picture.

It's called an Areopress - it's a relatively new way of making coffee, very 'low tech' in some ways. It makes coffee in a kind of hybrid way between french press / cafetiere and a filter machine (with hints of espresso method dashed in for extra flavour). You mix the ground coffee with hot water, and let it get totally imersed, like a french press, and then use the synringe bit to push the drinkable coffee through a paper filter. It's incredibly easy to clean, makes very nice coffee very simply and quickly.

I'm totally a fan of the areopress now. It's so portable and rugged too, I'll easily be able to take it to conferences and other events.

So that's my first coffee post this week. We'll see if I can remember to post further...