Dear 2012, it’s nice to meet you

Dear 2012,

We haven’t met yet. My name is Utterance and I’m a blog. Sorry I haven’t said hello earlier but it has taken a touch of insomnia from my mate Pete to get things going this year. Um, that’s you isn’t it. This year that is. Well look, I’ve never talked to a year before so if I get a bit muddled, please forgive me.

Anyway, we have a bit in common, me (Utterance) and you (2012). Being a new year, as you are, you’d be interested to know that I pretty much began when my mate Pete made a New Year’s Resolution involving your colleague 2010. This was that Pete would write a new post on me every day during 2010.

Well he managed 266 posts which is not bad, I think 2010 was pleased, and he reflected on this here. He kept going in your other colleague, 2011, and I had my busiest ever day on August 17, 2011 when nearly 700 people dropped by to read my account of Kate Bracks winning Masterchef. Strangely enough, my most popular post of all time is to do with food as well, with 8632 people dropping in on MasterChef’s seven sins; God’s endless forgiveness.

Sorry to say there appears to be no such resolution this you, as here it is your 11th and we’ve only just met. But I’m sure we’ll get better acquainted as the year, sorry, as you progress and to help I’ll give you a bit more background.

As a blog I’m rather hard to define, deliberately so I think, which is a bit like my writer who has never been comfortable in a box, sometimes to his detriment. You know you can get further sometimes just by fitting in but he’s one of those early sixties babies who was never quite Boomer, never quite Buster and then had three Gen Y kids and so it’s all over the place.

I’m quite reflective at times, possibly a bit sentimental and even a little regretful. Please 2012, give me a slap around the ears if I go to far down that path.

I love the news – bit of the old printers’ ink in the blood  – well that would be his blood I guess as technically blogs have bytes and hits and posts but not so much of blood. But yes he was and is a journalist so there’s a newsiness to myself.

I especially like spotting God in the headlines, little signs of faith and the divine that manage to emerge in the daily dust of the world’s happenings. That’s why I might talk about Tim Tebow or job ads or Ayrton Senna or buggity, buggity, buggity or the Amazing Race.

Sydney’s a favourite, this great sprawling city of broad beaches, tense traffic, drive by shootings and colourful characters. And the occasional dead body, rainbow or pedestrian poem.

And if I try and get a little wise, a little insightful, bear with me, this too will surely pass.

So dear 2012, I hope we get along okay and catch up more than occasionally. For your part, could please slow down a little as it’s hard enough to find a moment without you being in a rush too, insomnia aside.

Oh, and as you are just at the beginning, here’s mine, it might help complete the picture of what I’m about.

Fare thee well and remember the advice I give everyone – breath, speak, breath and don’t forget to jump.

Much love
Utterance

PS Mr 2012, you can also follow my friend Pete on Twitter.
PPS Mr 2012, I’ve heard rumours that you are meant to be associated with the end of the world, something to do with Mayan calendars etc. Anyway, just to reassure you I have much higher hopes for you than that and in any case, the world won’t end until He says so.

Kate enters MasterChef final with plenty of prayerful support

Several thousand past and present students of Greenacre Baptist Christian Community School will be glued to the MasterChef finale with former teacher Kate Bracks one of the final two contestants.

And quite a few might be saying the occasional prayer to see her win the final challenge next week. They’ll be joined by the members of Orange Evangelical Church where Kate, husband Luke and three children are members. Throw in additional prayerful support from Orange Christian School and it could be suggested that Kate has an unfair advantage.

But it will come down to taste and so far, Kate has proved time and again that her food has plenty of that. The township of Orange is, no doubt, in raptures about her success and will be hopeful her cool and calm approach will continue into the grand final.

Back in the early years of this century when Kate was teaching at Greenacre, she was a much-loved and respected teacher at a beautiful little school located in an area often referred to, somewhat ominously, as south-west Sydney.

And while fires and shootings at nearby car wrecking yards were routine, there was an atmosphere of love and peace that enveloped the school and embraced two of my children for several years.

Kate taught my youngest son in his pivotal Year 6 and, while there was no hint of her cooking prowess in those days, she was an excellent teacher.

On his Year 6 progress report, she wrote: “He is cooperative, modest and encouraging in his dealings with others.” Sounds very much like Kate’s own approach to her time on MasterChef.

Kate spoke about taking on the challenge of MasterChef to show her children that it’s possible to chase one’s dreams and be stretched beyond our normal existence. It might also be a shout-out to all parents to be living examples of faith in action to their children, shrugging of conformity and consumerism and doing something generous with their lives.

As for taking on the MasterChef challenge, Kate credits family and friends for their support. The Central Western Daily newspaper (worked there myself back in the day…) reports:

“Despite her love of cooking Mrs Bracks said she wouldn’t be competing in MasterChef if she didn’t have the support of her family and friends, including those from the Orange Evangelical Church. ‘I’ve got such a supportive network,’ she said.
Even after a successful audition for the show it took an extra push from her husband Luke, a teacher at Orange Christian School, to remind her that she was up to the challenge ahead. ‘He just told me not to let other things get in the way [of me doing this],’ she said.”

Kate and the Dalai Lama

From MasterChef to Q&A – smorgasbord of religious offerings

I’ll admit missing all of these television programs as I was actually busy doing other things (for a change), but it hasn’t escaped me that although atheists are telling us we are no longer religious, religion simply won’t lay down and die.

If reality television is any gauge (let’s include Q&A in that genre for now) then religion sits right at the heart of the public’s psyche – for this week at least.

Amazing Race Australia had contestants carrying crosses through the streets of Jerusalem, MasterChef had the Dalai Lama, Rev Bill Cruse and Rev Tim Costello as guest judges while the ABC’s Q & A last night had a ‘spiritual special’ featuring Christian mathematician Prof John Lennox and perennial religious researcher, John Safran.

And an interesting inclusion in this program was “pentecostal scholar” Jacqueline Grey who lectures in Old Testament studies and is the Academic Dean of Alphacrucis College in Sydney.

Safran follows up tonight with his latest TV series – Jedis & Juggalos: Your Census Guide on ABC TV 1. In preparation for the upcoming Australian census,  John scours the globe and hunts down people who blend spirituality with popular culture. The context for this program is the Australian Atheist Foundation’s billboard campaign urging Australian’s to tick ‘no religion’ on census night. (Also see the comment on this post regarding Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey series)

In all of this, one of the most personally challenging situations was MasterChef contestant Kate Bracks’ encounter with the Dalai Lama. Kate is a devout Christian (former teacher of my youngest son) and chose not to refer to the Buddhist leader as Your Holiness. Christian ministers, Rev Cruse and Costello had no such qualms, perhaps being acquainted with various church dignitaries who go by similar titles.

Kate’s view is that there is no one holy but God and presumably she would happily apply the same rule to Christian leaders who might have this included in their title. More power to her.

And while the tide of religion-in-popular-culture will no doubt recede as quickly as it came, we humans are still far more likely to consider there is a God and spiritual reality than not.

Oh, and just when we thought the topic had drifted away, good old Fred Nile stirs up the opposing camps by saying he’ll vote to rescind the NSW government’s public service pay bill unless ethic classes in schools are scrapped. He and many Christians oppose them because they compete with Scripture in schools.

Read the Herald Sun’s report of Kate’s response: Title one ingredient too much for MasterChef contestant.

Fred Nile’s ethic classes demand

Watch the ABC’s Q & A’s ‘spiritual special’.

Check out details of John Lennox’s debate with Peter Singer.

See my previous post re the AFA’s billboard campaign

Slow rain on fast blog

It’s snowing on Utterance, a WordPress nod to Christmas. But as we are in the southern hemisphere, and the weather is decidedly warm and damp, I think we can describe it as ‘slow rain’. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it may be time to upgrade your computer…

The Seven Deadly Sins. From Boccaccio (s.a.) D...
Image via Wikipedia

And some trivia for a slow, wet Saturday afternoon… I wrote a story about Masterchef and the seven deadly sins on July 11 and since then it has recorded 2,109 world-wide hits. That’s a lot of people reading an article that ends with this comment:

The message – however much we have been sinned against, forgiveness can be greater. Obviously, we can turn that around and say that however many times we have sinned, God’s grace is sufficient to bring forgiveness – if we sincerely receive it.

 The problem is that if we do not acknowledge the existence of sin – a widespread modern phenomenon – we will not access God’s forgiveness. In this case, if sin does exist , despite our disbelief, we remain unforgiven.

Most people visiting the article have used an internet search related to seven deadly sins or terms such as ‘gluttony’.

Another very popular post relates to Bear Grylls and his Christian faith – about 1,700 readers in five months. Grylls says this about his faith:

‘Christianity is not about religion – it’s about faith, about being held, about being forgiven. It’s about finding joy, finding home.’