Friday, 26 March 2010

shelves for our tree-house

When we were children, Mum and Dad built us a tree-house. We really loved it. We loved pretending we were lost in a jungle and living in a tree-house we'd made from branches lashed together. We'd rig up all sorts of tables, chairs and shelves from things we found in the jungle. At least, in what was left of the bush in our back-yard. Well, usually we'd have to stretch things a little to allow for empty ice-cream containers and other sorts of useful stuff because, it was difficult to make do with what we could find in the bush.

Well, brothers and sister... twenty-five years later... I've done it.

Look at this.





A set of shelves made completely from things growing in the bush. Woven with pandanas leaves and re-inforced with bamboo.

Now, I did have to use a knife. I didn't find that lying around in the bush!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

my children are on the internet!!

Sophie and Bethany have been using the internet a little with school this year. They've been using an educational site that their school registered them for. It's quite a lot of fun: www.smartkiddies.com.au.. Their teacher sets certain exercises for them to do which re-inforce what they are learning in their lessons. There are also other drill-like activites for them to do. All in all it's been fun, educational and innocent.

But it meant that when Sophie came across a web address at the end of a book she was reading, she recognised it as a web address, and asked is she could look at the site.

I was thankful for these things:
  1. that she asked first!
  2. that it was this: www.flowerfairies.com
But at the same time I feel like a door has been opened into a world in which there are incredible dangers.

I'm also thankful that at the moment Glen is responsible for the network at Talua and that it has strong filtering at that level.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

God of Gaps

The other day I was browsing through an old New Scientist magazine (March 2009) and came across an interview with Stephen Hawking and his daughter, Lucy Hawking. Together they have been writing children's books to introduce children to such scientific questions as
  • What happened at the Big Bang?
  • What happens inside a Black Hole?, and
  • Is any body out there?
In the interview, prompted by a comment about bible-reading being part of Hawking (senior)'s childhood, the interviewer says,
"One thought I had on religion as I read George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt is that the big questions of physics seem to be supplanting the big religious questions."
And the response is,
"Science is increasingly answering questions that used to be the province of religion. The one remaining area that religion can still lay a claim to is the origin of the universe, but even here science is making progress, and should soon provide a definitive answer to how the universe began."
The view of God expressed here is "the God of gaps". Very simply that means that God explains the otherwise unexplainable. God fills up the gaps in our knowledge. We don't know how lightning occurs: God does it. We don't know how the world was made: God must've done it. We don't understand how a baby is formed in the womb: God is responsible. We don't know how it is that a bee finds flowers: God must direct it.

With this way of thinking about God, as soon as we have another explanation for these phenomena, God gets a little bit smaller. And so now we know about the electric potential that causes lightning to strike, and so God gets a little bit smaller. We know how a baby grows in the womb; and God decreases a little bit more. We know how a bee finds flowers (that is, entymologists might, but I don't) so again God grows little bit smaller and a more insignficant. And when our physicists will finally be able to explain how the universe began, God will vanish entirely.

Right? No!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote;
"...how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don't know."*
'We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don't know.' This is helpful, I think, on two points.

First of all, our discoveries about how things work don't have eliminate God from the equation but help us to know and understand the creator better. As a student of science at University I found this to be the case over and over again. My study of the world around me and particularly the microscopic world continually caused me to praise his magnificance, not doubt his existence. Just because I know which molecules join together in which order to form a growing protein doesn't mean that God's mind is not behind it and his hand is not upon it.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
Second of all, and more importantly we know God because he has made himself known to us. He has revealed himself to us;
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Really, it doesn't matter how far back the frontiers of science go, we know about God through his word and the word, his Son, Jesus Christ, who perfectly reveals the father to us.

Lastly, the questions that religion deals with are far greater and significant that the questions that science is fit to consider. What is the purpose of man in the world? How can he know God? What can be done about evil? How can man get on with his neighbour? The belief that science does away with religion is often nothing else that attempt to silence the voice of God in his world.

See other articles about 'God of the Gaps' here and here.
* Bonhoeffer quote cited here.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

I love gardening

I love gardening.

I love getting outside and filling my lungs with fresh air. I love looking up to the skies rather than my mouldy ceiling. I even love getting sweaty, the feeling of having worked hard, and the protests afterwards from my hands and legs.

I love the promise of fresh and healthy food for my family.

I love watching things grow; new shoots, spreading leaves, uncurling blossom, budding fruit.

Most of all I love the parables brought to mind with each different task.

I tend to the beans. While we were away, they had become entangled with another vine, a weed. I wanted to pull out that vine and disentangle my beans from it. But I had not gone far before I realised that if I did that, I would also pull out the beans. So to protect the beans, I will have to wait until after harvest before I destroy the vine.



I have recently just planted some cucumber seedlings. The scorching sun beat down upon them and as they had not been able to put down roots, they withered. The next day, a fowl came into the garden and scratched right out of the ground those that I had managed to revive, snatching them from the soil, so to speak. Often I must pull weeds to protect them from being smothered. But when the soil is good: deep, and nourishing, and when protected from fowl and weeds, not to mention little orange beetles which love to eat cucumber and zucchini leaves, my little seedlings thrive and flourish and will produce a wonderful crop.



To my surprise, some of the capsicum plants survived quite well while we were away. One group, spread with mulch, looked very healthy and are still producing decent-sized capsicums. The other group, without mulch, look spindly, leafless and are not producing much fruit. I decided to prune them back, cutting off branches so that the roots didn't have to supply water and nutrients to quite so much of the plant. But how to decide which branches to cut off? Well, it was simple. If it had fruit, it survived. If it didn't, it was cut off!

Monday, 1 March 2010

workers

Sophie and Bethany have just finished a unit on workers in which they looked at ways people in the community help us and also encouraged them to think about how they can help others.

One of the last activities was a dress-up and act-out time. They had lots of fun.

You can see some photos here.

We made a little paper hat for Bethany's chef costume. She was so delighted her eyes sparkled. I haven't seen her that excited in a very long time.

Sophie dressed up as a artist. She still wants to be an artist when she grows up. As well as a baker, a doctor, a research scientist and a missionary. She seems to have finally let go of her dream to be a toilet-paper maker.

soooo Vanuatu

On Saturday we sat down to a simple meal of pancakes. Glen cooked and he is great at cooking pancakes. As Bethany will tell you, I always manage to burn them.

There was a knock at the door, and our pancakes had an usual accompaniment.



This is so typical of life in Vanuatu. We love it.

hello

It's been quiet around here for a while. We've been having a new network installed and tested. There were a few glitches over the first week but it looks like it's working well now.

Hopefully there'll be some more from me in the next little while.