Sunday, 26 April 2015

Suspend your morals while I tell you a story

Last night I watched a romantic comedy with a friend and I couldn’t help remembering something J said to me once (or maybe it was someone else, or I read it somewhere.  Anyway, I just remember the conversation I had with J about it).  I’ll tell you what it was in a moment, first I want to write about the movie. 

In the movie we watched there was this guy and girl, best friends, who clearly felt more for each other than friendship, but were always missing each other and were never able to be together until the end (…spoiler?  I haven’t even named the movie, but it’s a romantic film so of course they get together in the end).  All through the movie I groaned whenever one of them was close to telling the other how they felt only to find that the other was in a relationship with someone else. 

As I reflect, this movie wasn’t as bad (subjective term) as some romantic films.  Neither of the main characters cheated on their clearly-wrong-for-them-partner to be with their best friend (a.k.a. love of their life).  But both of them ended up with dissolved marriages before the end.  But that’s okay, right?  They can finally be together now. 

Image from And I know there are other films where you as the viewer are waiting and hoping for a marriage to break up so that the ‘real’ lovers can freely be together.  Of course, the film makers always spin it to make it okay in our minds.  The marriage wasn’t happy, the spouse was having an affair, the spouse was…etc. (because it’s often the spouse’s fault).   

Here’s what J said:  Why is it that in movies we still root for the characters who have fallen in love, waiting and hoping for them to get together, when it is at the expense of a spouse or partner?  We want them to be together even if it means breaking up an existing relationship that one (or both of them) has.  Why are we okay with broken marriages in movies for the sake of ‘true love’?  Somehow we suspend our morals, not just our disbelief, when we get hooked into such a story. 

While I suspended my belief in the importance of marriage during this movie there were a number of other things in the film that did grate against my morals, and I noticed them.  Drunkenness (when does good ever come of it?), lying (this one especially grates when you just want the character to tell the truth about their feelings!), and sex outside of marriage (this one doesn’t always grate, particularly if it’s with the ‘right’ person, the love interest).  So I didn’t suspend all my morals.  But it’s not as though the film was asking me to endorse those things in the same way. 

More could be said on this topic from the perspective of the action or crime-drama genre.  Sometimes we suspend our belief that every life is valuable and murder is wrong when we watch these genres.  We may even suspend our views on justice if it means the bad guy gets caught. 

So what should I do?  Give up romantic comedies and just watch G-rated films (or no films at all)?  Maybe.  I don’t want my culture (or the pop-culture seen in films) to shape my morals.  But I don’t want to disengage completely from my culture either. 

I guess part of this issue can be dealt with by moderating the amount of input these things have in our lives.  As a Christian I get my beliefs and morals from what God says is right and wrong because I believe that he created the whole world and everything in it, including us, and so he not only knows, but made, the best way to live.  So the input of the Bible, God’s words, in my life should be far greater than any input I get from my culture.  In fact, the Bible should shape the way that I view my culture, and everything else. 

I’m sorry that movies can cause me to suspend my morals for the sake of the story.  But after it is over I remember reality, I turn again to look at God and ask him to shape me, knowing that I am a work in progress.  And maybe in the next film, whatever genre it is, I’ll see more of it through God’s eyes. 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thankful Thursday

It has been a little while since I’ve posted but this Thankful Thursday series always seems to give me a little push back into writing.  I already posted something earlier today (mostly because it made this post too long so I had to spread it out).  Sometimes I have other things that I want to write about on Thursdays but I have to wait to spread the posts out. We’ve just gone back to college after a week of holidays so I’ll write a little bit about that.  I also want to post about some of the things I’ve been learning about myself in the last few weeks but they’ll wait for another post.

Anyway, here are some things that I’m thankful for this week:

Busy but good holidays
We did a lot in our one week of holidays.  This has left us a bit tired as we started back at college but I don’t think there’s much I would have changed.  The first weekend we flew back home to attend a family wedding and it was lovely to catch up with friends and family there, and to spend some relaxing time with our parents.  We flew under the radar in order to not tire ourselves out, and only organised one catch-up with friends.  We’re sorry friends if you wanted to see us.  Please let me know if you would like to catch up next time we’re home and let me know what you’re up to in the mean time!  I love hearing from friends.

The view from our campsite.After flying home on Tuesday we readied ourselves to go camping with friends at a spot three hours drive north of Sydney.  We stayed there Wednesday to Friday and had a lovely time relaxing by reading, drawing and knitting (well the drawing and knitting was me not J), sitting around the fire, and doing not much.  On the first night we didn’t have marshmallows to toast over the fire, which was a travesty in my mind.  How can you be camping and sitting around the fire without marshmallows?!  The next day the guys kindly drove the half hour into town to buy some!

Friday afternoon when we got home saw us quickly unpacking the car and re-packing (with the full-size keyboard) to go to a youth conference as part of the music team.  Thankfully that was all we were involved in so we could have some time to relax and get in a bit of college work before term started. 

I loved each of these things that we did but the rush between them was sometimes stressful.  So I’m also thankful for my wonderful husband and his care for me through all of this. 

Wooden floorboards (or simply: no carpet)
If you’ve been paying any attention to the weather in Sydney this week you’d know how the city has been turned into one giant wading pool.  (Actually, as I write this the sky is sunny and the ground dry, hoorah for a reprieve!).  So this week I have been thankful for the wooden floorboards in our house that I don’t have to worry about getting wet as we step inside from the rain.  In fact, our whole house has no carpet.  It’s all floorboards and tiles.  So with the back door leaking a puddle I’m glad I can just leave a towel there to soak it up and not have to worry about drying out wet carpet.

I ran home from college this week!  I’ve posted about it here.  It was rainy and windy and I was so thankful for my raincoat.  It didn’t keep me completely dry but it did keep the wind out so my ears could stay warm.  My ears always ache in the cold wind which makes running unpleasant so I was extremely thankful for warm ears!

What are you thankful for this week?

Achievement unlocked!

At the end of last year I made it my goal to get to a level of fitness that meant I could run the distance between home and college (8km).  Parkrun helped me to get more comfortable with running five kms and helped me to run faster.  The loss of car parks at college provided the motivation for some in our community to up the exercise and start running or cycling to or from college.  But apparently not me.  I talked about running home but kept saying I wasn’t ready.  And it was too hot. 

I think one turning point was on Friday of research week when I went for a run with three guys (friends, neighbours and fellow third year students) and kept pace with them.  One (who was running slower than his usual speed for the sake of the rest of us) encouraged me to just bite the bullet and do the run home from college.  I told myself I would start running home during term two (only a week and a bit away).

Cue wet and windy weather this week. 

But I still did it.  Two neighbour–friends who would normally run home on Tuesday afternoons said they were happy to run in the rain so I went with them so they could show me the shortest route.  We wore rain jackets, I swapped my glasses for contacts (luckily I still had some in my old script) and jumped through the puddles and around fallen branches.  It was actually fun being in the rain but not caring about getting wet. 

Picture from

It was probably a bit crazy to run my first 8km in that sort of weather but I’m so glad I’ve proved to myself that I can do it.  I’m also glad to know that running in the rain isn’t all that bad (so now I have no excuse on a rainy morning!).  I plan to run home from college every Tuesday and hope to eventually add another day, perhaps Thursday morning or Thursday afternoon, and still continue Saturday morning parkrun. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

What drama brings to life

On Wednesday and Thursday last week a bunch of first year students performed in the Mark drama at college, directed by my husband and another third year friend.  I went to see it on Wednesday night. 

I saw it last year when J performed in it (not at college but at a church) so I didn’t expect it to be too different.  Last year I was sick when I saw it so my head was a bit fuzzy.  I was at least looking forward to having a clear head while watching. 

I was blown away. 

I spent the first half of the performance not being able to keep the grin off my face.  Look what Jesus is doing!  He heals people, he loves people, he tells the truth, he’s gentle, he drives out demons, he explains things and leaves you to think about other things.  This is the guy I follow, and he is amazing. 

Then it got uncomfortable. 

Peter denied knowing Jesus once Jesus was arrested.  This friend he had followed for three years and declared himself committed to was cast quickly aside out for fear for himself.  And he cried in anguish long enough to make me uncomfortable. 

“I’m sorry Jesus!”

But it also gave me time to realise how horrible it really was.  Peter broke a promise.  Peter betrayed Jesus.

I have betrayed Jesus.

Then Jesus was crucified and he spent agonising hours on the cross.  We heard Jesus’ ragged breaths and spluttering coughs as he slowly suffocated.  And I felt tears in my eyes.

I’m sorry Jesus.  I did this to you.  I put you here.  I’m part of your pain. 

I’ve been praying that God would help me to hate my sin.  The horrible death that Jesus went through to pay for my sin shows me how horrible my sin is.  I saw and felt this as I listened to Jesus die. 

But he didn’t stay dead.  The Mark drama ends with the women leaving the empty tomb, asking themselves “is it true?  Has he risen?”  I can say with confidence that night, on Resurrection Sunday and always that it is true.  Jesus has risen. 

I pray that this Easter was not just a nice long weekend for you.  Of course we can fill it with nice things like chocolate, family and friends.  But it’s not a nice long weekend.  Friday is Good, but have you stopped to wonder why we call the death-day of the greatest person in history a good day?  Easter Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’ victory.  This long weekend is the time we remember and celebrate the greatest event in history.  Take a look at Jesus, read about him and find out why.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Through family eyes

Sometimes life is busy and things happen that I’d love to update you all about, but then the next thing happens and I don’t seem to find a time to sit down and write about it.  There will (may…) be a few posts up this week about things that happened last week that I’d love to reflect on and write about.  I get frustrated writing about things late that I almost give up on writing about them at all, but there have been some great things that I’d like to write about so I’ll swallow the discomfort and write anyway. 

I went with a family of five to The Easter Show on Tuesday last week.  They have a five-seater car but were able to borrow a bigger car from one of our neighbours so that I could ride in the car with them.  The three kids seats took up the middle row of seats and the back row would normally have been accessed from this middle row.  So I climbed over the back of my seat to get in.  The kids couldn’t see me but we entertained each other by high-fives over the back of their seats and surprise tickles on their hands when they were within my reach. 

I had a lot of fun at The Show, helping keep track of the children, visiting the animals, dodging the rain (okay maybe that bit wasn’t so much fun), watching the wood chopping, keeping the children entertained (and being entertained by them), eating show food and marvelling at the food displays. 

It was nice to experience a bit of life with three children, and to help the parents, whether it was holding a little hand or pushing the pram.  I wasn’t bothered about rides or particularly adult things to do at The Show (if there are things that are particularly adult…) and it was fun to watch little faces light up as they spun around in a giant teacup.  I protected a two-year-old from the piglet in the petting pen when she decided she didn’t really want to pat it, reminded her that Hoot had to go home and we said goodbye to him already, and told an-almost-four-year-old the story of the three little pigs. 

The Show through family eyes was fun.  I found myself looking at certain things from a child’s perspective (piglets are quite large when you’re the size of a two-year-old).  But I also saw the parent perspective: constantly on the look out for the children, following her if she wandered in the other direction, and dealing with tantrums.  And it made The Show enjoyable in a different way being there with a different focus that I would at The Show back home. 

Thanks friends for letting me tag along with you and be part of your family for the day!