zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (christianity)
Every now and then Northern Hemisphereans will muse about how having Christmas in summer or Easter in autumn is weird and not just weird but wrong. Southern Hemisphereans have never found it to be either, mostly because we've grown up with it, but also because come on: autumn is what Easter's all about.

Do you think the disciples were wandering the garden that morning squeeing over cute bunny rabbits and spring flowers peeking out of fresh new grass? God, no! They'd just lost their friend and teacher, and they'd come to bury their hope for a better world there in the grave with him.

And then they find his tomb desecrated. His body stolen. Who the hell would do a thing like that? How ugly has the world become? The men returned helplessly back home, and Mary stayed crying so bitterly she couldn't see through her tears or recognise a friend's voice through her sobs. If a fluffy yellow chick had been peeping in its shell in front of her she'd have trod on it without even noticing, and wouldn't that just figure? It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and everything sucked.

Just like it sucks today, with earthquakes and floods and climate change and war, and racism and misogyny and beneficiary bashing, and companies decimating their staffing while economists promise this "bubble" is going to burst, and as the world goes to hell in a handbasket the days are getting shorter and the clouds are dimming what little light remains to us and even the goddamn leaves are falling off the goddamn trees and clogging the drains all brown and slimy.

And that is the moment when Mary learns, and we remember, that Christ is risen!

Love triumphs over hate; life over death; peace over war; justice over injustice; public holidays over the erosion of workers' rights; Maccabeus over thunderstorms; and chocolate over all. Happy Easter!
zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (credo)
If religion vs atheism cage-matches are bad for your blood pressure, look away now.

--I hope this won't be a cage-match, actually, it's just one particular argh I need to get out of my system briefly and then I'll probably be good for another year or so. I used to read Greta Christina's blog, because she's clever and says smart things in defence of atheism, but I slowly realised she didn't just want to defend atheism, she really wanted to do away with religion. She honestly feels that religion is not just bad for her, but bad for everyone. Which is a fair belief to hold, and I can understand people holding it... Just, I believe it's really really false (since, for a start, I know that religion is good for me) so it's really disconcerting to see an otherwise intelligent person so inflexible on the subject.

Also I accidentally got into an argument with her (I was trying to constructively critique a particular argument she put forth, and things got sidetracked) and it just wasn't the same after that.

Anyway, so today I followed a reference to "how do you know that your cherries are the ones Jesus would approve of?" thinking it was something about homosexual virginity or... something, I don't know, but it sounded amusing until the bit.ly link resolved and I realised where I was and that I'd totally misconstrued it.

--Okay, two particular arghs. The first one is that one of the reasons religion is good for me is that it makes me happy. This and other things mean that if I were in a religious contingent in a gay pride parade and saw an atheism contingent next to us, I'd be smiling and going "Yay, more people for gay pride!" because that's kind of the point of the parade. Greta Christina's reaction to such smiles and happiness is... to want to argue with the religious people about their religion.

She doesn't do this, to be completely fair. And maybe it's unfair to hold her confession that this is her reaction against her, since it's on her own blog -- she's not actually going out and evangelising anyone. But still, knowing that this is her reaction makes me recoil even more from her brand of atheism. Which is why I ultimately stopped reading her blog, because I'd started reading it with the (unverbalised) aim of understanding/respecting atheism more, and instead she just put me off it more.

Anyway, so the second/real argh is that the "cherry" quote turned out to be:
How do you know that you're getting it right? What reason do you have to think that you, personally, know what Jesus really meant, and that all these other jackasses are getting it wrong? They cherry-pick scripture to support their position; you cherry-pick scripture to support yours -- how do you know that your cherries are the ones Jesus would approve of?[1]
And the thing is -- Well, of course I don't know that I'm totally right. It seems unlikely that I am, in fact. I never was when I was younger, after all, and I've never met anyone else who's totally right. But I believe I'm more right than I used to be because as I learn more about a) the world and b) the Bible, I can interpret the latter in ways that are more internally self-consistent and more consistent with the way the world works than my understanding of "those other jackasses"' interpretation. For example, we both believe that Jesus said stuff about loving everyone-I-mean-everyone-that-means-them-too; but "those other jackasses" think that means loving the sinner while stoning the sin which is inseparable from the sinner, and I think it means loving people enough to realise that their difference in taste is not necessarily a sin. And my interpretation is more self-consistent and more consistent with the things Jesus said and did than theirs.

And yes, this relies on my judgement. But so does all this religion and atheism stuff rely on people's judgement. You can't judge without judgement, that's what judgement is. Greta Christina judges that atheism is more self-consistent and consistent with empirical reality than religion is. She may well even be correct, I just don't think empirical reality is all it's cracked up to be. (See also: footnote [1])

Ultimately, it's each of us who chooses which beliefs and morality we subscribe to. I'm the one who approves my cherries (picked from the world and my religion, including the Bible). Greta Christina's the one who approves hers (picked from the world, excluding religion and the Bible). And then we go around judging other people's cherries, partly because humans are judgey, but partly it makes good sense as a reality check. And when you see someone whose cherries match your cherries (this metaphor is getting increasingly unwieldy) it's natural to be happy.

So when a Christian and an atheist meet at a gay pride parade, it seems reasonable for the Christian to assume that they both believe that homosexuality is cool and that the fundamentalist Christians who disagree are wrong to disagree. That doesn't mean that the Christian thinks the atheist should agree with the Christian about whichever liberal version of Christianity they subscribe to. It doesn't mean that they're asking for "the Atheist Seal of Approval". It just means that they recognise that, while disagreeing on some things which aren't that important right now, they can still agree on other things which are important right now, and this is awesome. Christians, other religions, and atheists (as well as piles of people who don't care about religion one way or another all that much) all united for LGBT rights. How is this not awesome cherry sauce?

I... find it very frustrating that Greta Christina so desperately wants everyone to be an atheist that she couldn't see the awesome in that part of the parade. And again, if believing as she does meant that I became unable to see the awesome, I really don't want any of it.

[1] Also
Oh, and while we're on the subject: What evidence do you have to believe that Jesus is the divine son of God in the first place? Are you aware of how laughably unreliable the New Testament is as a historical document? Are you familiar with the arguments that the historical Jesus probably didn't even exist, and that the case for him being the divine son of God is a total joke?
to which my answer is -- and was, when we got into that argument -- that yes, I do know that, and am quite happy to believe that Jesus son of Joseph was invented as a story to explain this awesome new philosophy some dudes were coming up with, but even if that's so, it's still a cool story and cool philosophy and I believe in both of them. Yes, even if I believe the story isn't true I can still believe in it. The argument kind of went off the rails at this point.
zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (christianity)
I'm wearing my favourite skirt, which is red and goes right to the floor and swirls and has pretty swirls embroidered. It's possibly fading a bit and has a stubborn stain but I can generally hide that, and the hem is a bit battered but what do you expect, and anyway it's awesome. With it I normally wear a white blouse that ties in a bow at the front and has its own embroidery on the breasts, the main disadvantage of which is that it's sufficiently short that it shows a bit of waist.

When I say "disadvantage" I don't mean that I care, just that when I'm considering my wardrobe in the morning I always have this vague idea that someone sometime might be all, "Ooo-er, Zeborah's showing a bit of waist!" which would be mildly embarrassing. Then I defy this hypothetical person and put it on anyway.

So the other day I was reading Guys on Immodesty, Lust, and the Violence of Women’s Bodies, a survey in which a bunch of Christian guys say that it's immodest when a woman shows skin, has embroidery drawing attention to an area, bends over so her bum is more prominent, stretches so her chest is more prominent, moves other than sedately so her breasts jiggle, or just dresses in any way that's designed to draw a guy's attention to her body or which he thinks is so designed because he's horny. And women shouldn't do this because it makes it haaaaaard for guys to think pure thoughts.


The thing is, I guess they're coming from that line of Paul's where, in a completely different context (talking about eating food sacrificed to idols), he says doing this isn't sinful in itself but some people think it is so when they're around don't do it because it could weaken their faith. Basically avoid it for their sake. (Note that I'm pretty sure he didn't say that it was a sin to not avoid it for their sake. He just said that avoiding it for their sake was a kindness and a virtue. In fact I think something can only be such a virtue if it's not totally obligatory.) And within the specific historical context where the issue was being hotly debated and was genuinely controversial I think that's a decent compromise and I rather like it, and also I think it can be applicable elsewhere sometimes maybe, if you're careful.

Not here. Not when it boils down to "You're immodest if I say you're immodest, now stop being immodest."

This is my theory on women's clothes and guys trying to think pure thoughts:
Dear Christian guys,

If you really have no control over your physiological/mental response to a woman's beauty then God's not going to send you to hell for it. OTOH, if you do have control over it then quit with the "It's all her fault" excuse. That didn't work in the Garden of Eden and it's not going to work on the Day of Judgement either.



PS You do have total control over your physical actions. Just so we're clear on that part.
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
From the end of The Life of Saint Clare:
There was a maid of the castle Convary which sat on a time in a field, and another woman had laid her head in her lap. And in the mean while there came a wolf which was accustomed to run on the people, and came to this maid and swallowed the visage and all the mouth and so ran with her toward the wood. And the good woman that rested in her lap when she saw it, was much abashed and began to call on Saint Clare and said: Help! help! Saint Clare, and succour us, I recommend to thee at this time this maid. And she whom the wolf bare, said unto the wolf: Art not thou afeard to bear me any farther that am recommended to so great and worthy lady? And with that word that the maid said, the wolf, all confused and shamed, set softly the maid down, and fled away like a thief, and so she was delivered. Then let us pray unto this glorious virgin Saint Clare to be our advocate in all our needs; and by the merits of her we may so amend our life in this world that we may come unto everlasting life and bliss in heaven. Amen.
(I'm not quite clear how the maid managed to talk when the wolf had swallowed her face and mouth, but that's obviously far from the most important part of this story.)
zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (credo)
(For Bearing Witness.)

(NB: When I say "we", I generally mean "I and people who are like me in the respect presently under discussion". Probably not always, but mostly.)

Part 1
There are a lot of Christians who would say to gay people, "Jesus totally welcomes you to his church, as long as you stop being gay." You know, just stop having sex with the person you love and/or are married to.

2000 years ago, a lot of Christians were equally 'welcoming'. They said to gentiles, "You can totally be a Christian, as long as you stop being uncircumcised." Just a wee snip, nothing to it.

And then there were some other Christians who said, "What does God care how much skin you've got? You can totally be a Christian. Full stop."

Arguments ensued between the two factions.

Peter (the Peter who all the Popes are spiritually descended from) belonged to the first camp. And then he has a dream in which God tells him to kill and eat an animal which, according to Mosaic law, was considered unclean. Peter -- very self-righteously, as Peter was wont to be -- says "No way, I've never eaten anything unclean!" and God says "Don't call anything unclean which I have made clean." (Read the unmangled original here, NIV version.) This happens three times, because Peter always needs things to happen three times before they can sink into his head.

Then Peter wakes up and a bunch of uncircumcised men come along and invite him to their place to teach them about Christ, and one thing follows another and he has this "Oh, I get it!" moment. And later on when his fellow Christians are all "Dude! You ate with uncircumcised people, ew!" he explains his dream to them and they all have the "Oh, we get it!" moment. Moreover, they have a "Whoa, God's giving new life to everyone, isn't he awesome!" moment.

2000 years later. I'm googling for "what I have made clean" instead of checking my church service sheet for the chapter and verse, and I come across someone on Yahoo Answers asking "Which is the worse sin, eating pork or homosexuality?" and a whole bunch of people saying homosexuality. One guy in particular reasons thus: because of Peter's vision, God made eating pork clean, but homosexuality is still a sin. And I... I just... Okay, I shouldn't have clicked on a link to Yahoo Answers, but seriously...

You know how when Jesus is wandering around telling parables, and they're totally missing the point -- oh look, by "people" I mean Peter -- and he does this awesome wee rant of frustration at how stupid they are? I kind of want to do the same thing.

People! It was a vision, a parable! It wasn't about the food! --Okay, it was a little bit about the food. But mostly it was about how the whole entirety of the Mosaic code doesn't matter anymore. Jesus's death has made everything and everyone clean. Pork doesn't matter. Circumcision doesn't matter. Homosexuality doesn't matter.

This is what Peter's vision says: God has welcomed everyone. How dare we unwelcome them?

Part 2
Originally I was going to say something like "These things don't matter; all that matters is love. If you love your neighbour, if you welcome everyone, you can be a Christian." But... you know, that's still a conditional.

A while ago when I was googling on Anne Lamott, I found a quote of hers, "You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do," which made me a) giggle and b) wonder in a kind of Steve Urkel voice "Do I do that?"

And while I was listening to my minister's sermon on Peter's vision I was pondering about how religions/denominations can start off so tolerant in one area and then become so intolerant in others. Christianity is totally tolerant of gentiles but... well, I love Paul-was-Saul, but his asexuality has had, shall we say, an unfortunately disproportionate influence on the Church's development.

And I think what might be going on is maybe that we say "X doesn't matter because what really matters is Y":
  • Making the right sacrifice doesn't matter because what really matters is being circumcised.
  • Circumcision doesn't matter because what really matters is not having the wrong sex.
  • Homosexuality doesn't matter because what really matters is being tolerant.
Not only do we claim we have the final say on what matters, we also claim that we can judge how well someone has followed our rules -- despite that famous line "Judge not lest ye be judged."

And Peter's vision says we can't do that. All those Christian fundamentalists who keep hatefully rejecting people, all those money-grubbing evangelists who I don't think are acting like real Christians? Too bad for me, because who's Christian and who isn't is not my call. If I believe that God welcomes everyone unconditionally, then I've got to allow the ramifications of that "unconditionally". And that is: If someone wants to be a Christian, then they're a Christian. No "ifs". Just done, full stop.

This doesn't mean I can't tell them when I think they're doing Christianity wrong of course. Because...

Part 3
I need to circle back to the point about how dull and slow Peter is.

I mean, Jesus told him back in Matthew that what goes into your mouth isn't what makes you unclean (this is really important, so it's worth repeating: Jesus says oral sex is A-OK, folks!), but only what comes out of your mouth. And years later Peter still needed a threefold vision to hammer essentially the same point home again.

But despite the fact that Peter was so dull and slow, Jesus kept on more-or-less-patiently explaining, again and again, no matter how many times it took. And/but/because/so Peter was the guy Jesus decided to make the foundation of his church.

My three thoughts on this:
  1. I think each of us has something we're dull and slow about sometimes -- a lesson that we have to learn over and over again. So, while rolling our eyes at Peter is fun, I think there's room to identify with him too.
  2. Jesus' mix of patience, occasional exasperation, but fundamental love and especially perseverance sets a really good and vital example for us when we think people are doing Christianity wrong.
  3. Eventually Peter got it. It took him years and plenty of divine head-banging, but in the end he got it and himself passed the message on. And, when it sometimes seems to us that people -- including Peter's spiritual descendants -- are never going to get it, that is an awesome message of hope.
zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (credo)
If you're a Christian and you're subscribed to me then chances are you're sick of how the vast majority of Christians who make it into the media are saying things that really don't represent our actual faith. Like, really don't represent it. Like, they're bashing the very groups of people Jesus was best buddies with. They're perverting his message of "Love your neighbour as yourself" by hedging it about with "except" and "unless". And when we're silent, we're letting them do it.

So me and [personal profile] julesjones and [personal profile] alex_beecroft have decided to speak up. This Pentecost (Sunday May 23rd) we're going to each write a blogpost aimed at explaining to the more 'fundamentalist' of our fellow Christians why we think it's fundamental to Christianity to be pro-choice, pro-LGBTQ rights, pro-immigration, pro-healthcare, pro-taxes -- in short, pro-love.

And if you're a fellow Christian, we'd love it if you'd join us in making your own blogpost and/or spreading the word around. --Note in particular: We're not aiming to convert any non-Christians to Christianity. (I might end up writing about why I think seeking converts nowadays is downright wrong.) We're aiming to convert fellow Christians into love.

We have a Dreamwidth community and a LiveJournal community. (Current settings are just pending a chance for us to chat when we're all awake, yay timezones.) Our official blurb-thing is in the profile. Feel free to gank my icon here, or any of the ones Alex made, or make your own.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I currently have a cat sprawled all over me, though at least she's stopped trying to poke at the flies landing on my laptop. In any case it makes me notice again that there are scattered hairs on her that are significantly longer than the rest of her fur, and thence to wonder if those are related to the hairs on humans, and thence to wonder how on earth she fits all this fur on her skin because this is one seriously furry cat.

--Ah, she's just leapt off me to fall instantly asleep on her armchair, I suppose I should go do some dishes and make a cake or something.

Oh but first I was meaning to write about something I was thinking about during a hymn at church today. We had two really interminable hymns and, gorgeous as they were, about halfway through the second one I was getting ideas for a story where a character finds themself singing a song and they're trapped until it's over, but the verses keep on going and going and just when it seems like it must end at this verse, suddenly there's another one.

But also I was thinking about the chorus of the second song (I had about six or seven opportunities to think about it after all), which was:
Lift high the cross, the love of God proclaim
Till all the world adore his glorious name. --Shirley Murray
And I am so not an evangelist for so many reasons, one of which is that I'm pretty sure anyone I'm ever likely to meet has probably already heard about God/Christ's name, and if they don't already adore it then me telling them about it yet again is just going to make them even more sick of it.

So I started thinking that what we actually need to do these days might be (to heinously misparse the word) to in-vangelise: to remind other Christians that our religion's meant to be about God's love and that when Jesus talked about hell he never once mentioned abortion or homosexuality or anything like that (when he talked about things like that he mostly said "Keep your sticky beak out and worry about your own conscience"), but rather the sin of not giving practical help to people who need practical help.

And (to parse the word properly) "You're going to hell unless you do what I say" isn't actually good news. It's more like blackmail. So when we let that be the message that gets spread we're kind of failing. If we want to spread good news we've first got to create it, by proclaiming love and living love and spreading love. We need every mention of "God" or "Jesus" or "Christian" to be associated with something good happening, something making people happy. Because when we associate those words with door-knocking and hellfire that's just a really great way to make God's name dreaded; but if we associate them with hugs and puppies then whether or not people actually convert -- it doesn't follow, after all, and honestly I don't think God cares, cf the Good Samaritan -- they'll at least like hearing his name.


Boots just looked out the window and noticed that it's 5pm, therefore time for her to be fed.


In other random news:
* I ate a peach from my peach tree (the others all went mouldy on the tree, I need to do something about that);
* I ate a blueberry from my blueberry bush (I think the birds got the other one, note the singular, it's a very small bush);
* the neighbour seems to be halfway through chopping down plum trees though he hasn't yet attacked the main one;
* the other neighbour, who pops over every now and then to retrieve errant tennis balls, is going to nail our fence back together temporarily and also talk with his landlord about going halves with me to arrange a more permanent solution;
* filling a green bin with garden waste once a week actually makes a measurable difference to how tidy said garden is;
* otoh doing so during the sunniest part of the day leaves one in danger of sunburn (albeit mild and easily treated with aloe vera gel);
* the company who was going to give me fake double-glazing has now decided that they don't want to be responsible for actually guaranteeing it so have refunded my money, so I guess the next thing on my to-do list is to get a new roof.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Dear colleague,

You've never managed to get a foot in the door at this event [tomorrow]. When I suggested trying again this year you said they just wouldn't want us. Last Thursday morning you finally said you'd email the head honcho. Then on Friday and Monday you were on leave so I thought I'd better follow up with him in case he'd emailed you back, so I phoned him. It turned out you hadn't emailed him yet, but I managed to get us our 3-minute timeslot in the event anyway.

I admit I screwed up in not showing you yesterday a copy of the powerpoint I threw together. And when, having created a 15-slide show (I go through photos quickly), I suddenly got told by the organiser that we were limited to 4 slides, or could I get it down to 10? I admit I was kind of flippant in just scrunching a bunch of those photos with timelapse onto a single slide so we'd keep the same 3-minute content.

But I was under a time constraint to get it to her, so I did it as quickly as I could. So when you then saw the slides and said it was off-message, and then refused to tell me in what ways it was off-message, only saying that we should talk about it with our manager 'later', that's really not helpful. If you'd told me the problems I could have fixed them and sent it immediately to the organiser, but 'later' is too late. As I told you but it apparently didn't change your mind.

So now, later, I finally know what you meant when you said that. And, duh, it's too late, though I've fiddled with the script as best I can.

And anyway if we don't cover all the things you want to cover, what's the difference? If I hadn't forced things along we'd never have got permission to even come to this event anyway.

<deep breath> It's the crazy time of year, and we're merging two teams together, so culture clash. And delays in construction making everything crazier. So stress. If it weren't Lent I'd go for chocolate about now...

Oh, hah. The thing I worked out about giving up chocolate for Lent last year is that when I want chocolate I remember to think about Lent and stuff. So thinking about chocolate now reminds me that I want to read through the Psalms, and then Psalm 8 comes into my head, and Psalm 8 is just awesome, so now I feel quite an awful lot better.
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (books)
I don't think it's really a spoiler in any concrete way for this year's Doctor Who Christmas special to say that if you're going to resurrect someone then, by golly, *that's* the way to go about it. With double-plus cracktastic panache.

Also this morning I got an email from the city library to tell me my request for "Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (a novel)" was available. So then I spent the day reading that. Which is also full of resurrections, starting with Biff and some lizards, and then various attempted, partial, fake, and attempted fake, through to... Well, this is Christ, so y'know. The author treats Jesus completely as the Son of God and completely as human, and the Gospels as pretty much true just with certain omissions. Like the thirty years between Jesus's birth and his ministry; Biff fills in the gaps by describing his childhood and then his quest to learn from the three wise men how to be the Messiah. Fundamentalists would hate it. I loved it.

Favourite quotes!

From the afterword, the author talking: "to remain historically accurate, I would have had to leave out an important question that I felt needed to be addressed, which is, 'What if Jesus had known kung fu?'" Other than that he says he tried to be faithful to his research, though I have certain doubts about relying so heavily on the "eyewitness accounts of [the festival of Kali] from nineteenth-century British soldiers" cited in Joseph Campbell's Oriental Mythology. I haven't read Campbell or the soldiers in question, but it seems to me that there's a certain potential there for bias to creep in, y'know?

But anyway, from the actual story:
Joshua [aka Jesus] reached across the table and took the old man's hand. "You drill us every day in the same movements, we practice the same brush strokes over and over, we chant the same mantras, why? So that these actions will become natural, spontaneous, without being diluted by thought, right?"

"Yes," said Gaspar [aka one of the three wise men aka the anachronistic pseudo-Bodhidharma].

"Compassion is the same way," said Joshua. "That's what the yeti knew. He loved constantly, instantly, spontaneously, without thought or words. That's what he taught me. Love is not something you think about, it is a state in which you dwell. That was his gift."


Maggie (aka Mary the Magdalene) talking to Joshua about the disciples: "Every time you give them a new metaphor for the kingdom they see the metaphor, a mustard seed, a field, a garden, a vineyard, it's like pointing something out to a cat -- the cat looks at your finger, not at what you're pointing at." (In context she's saying that this doesn't matter because faith's more important than intelligence, but I just love that simile, because I keep trying to point things out to Boots and she keeps wondering what's so interesting about my finger.)

In summary: Awesome book. (ETA: Er, other than that whole cultural appropriation thing - there was besides what I already mentioned the whole exotic oriental magician thing, plus a certain amount of "Yay, Chinese concubines!" on the parts of Biff and the author. But besides that, if that's the kind of thing you can put aside.) I must recommend to the library that they not put it back into storage, especially seeing as how someone else was reading it when I requested it so it's clearly not as unpopular as they thought.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
At least that's what Mum said when we arrived home after attending a midnight carol service.

One of the carols talked about how the shepherds had been asleep in the snow. Which is kind of silly because they'd get hypothermia, and also the current weather in Bethlehem is 17 Celsius, and I don't think we've had that much global warming in 2000 years. (Also Jesus wasn't born in December but that only amplifies my point.)

Occasionally northern hemisphere people ask whether it's strange not having a white Christmas, and... well, no, because I've had not-white Christmases all my life. And so did Jesus, so I feel we're doing pretty well upholding an age-old tradition here.

We have our own traditions too: pohutukawa and Christmas lilies (spelled "lillies" by grocers nationwide); barbecues and swimming at the beach; carols by Shirley Murray and Colin Gibson.

And we have family traditions, like all of us coming to the parents' house to stay the night, and me and Mum going to the midnight service, and all of us opening our stockings in the morning, in which there will always be sellotape and a bag of chocolate money (which we've nicknamed "prostitute money" after Saint Nick) followed eventually by presents under the tree and then sometime in the afternoon Christmas dinner.

White Christmases are kind of a cute novelty - I've had a couple in my years of travels - but Christmas for me is spending the long warm evenings in busy shopping malls, and three days of icing the cake, and getting up early on Christmas morning to jump on my siblings' beds (or have them jump on mine) and then our parents' while we go through a prolonged ritual of (re)opening our stockings. (Being cold would really cramp our style with that one.)

Christmas is what we make happen.

Merry Christmas!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Rainbow)
Conservative protesters tear down the canvas with which liberal destroyers-of-society had concealed a GLBT church service billboard. (This is what they were removing.)

Bonus feature: The following video contains sexual content, if you think that dancing fingers in condoms are sexual. (New Zealand's Advertising Standards Authority doesn't.)

My favourite part is the New Zealand-in-a-condom logo near the end. It makes my heart swell with patriotic pride to see how uniquely suited for safe sex my country is!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Inspired by musing while composing the previous post: faith vs works is not a dichotomy.

Inside of me, faith is what matters.

Outside of me, works is what matters.

There is no inside without the outside; there is no outside without the inside. There is no faith without works, and there is no works without faith.

Now I have to go read... Corinthians? again and see if this is what Paul meant and I'm just reinventing the wheel.


zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)

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