Monday, 31 January 2011

living or walking?

Compare these verses:
When Jared had lived 162 years,
he became the father of Enoch.
After he became the father of Enoch,
Jared lived 800 years and had other sons & daughters.
Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years,
and then he died.

(Genesis 5:18-20)

with these ones:
When Enoch had lived 65 years,
he became the father of Methuselah.
After he became the father of Methuselah,
Enoch walked* with God 300 years and had other sons & daughters.
Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.
Enoch walked* with God;
then he was no more, because God took him away
(Genesis 5:21-24)

Jared is typical of all those mentioned in the genealogy in Genesis 5. They live and they die.

Enoch is different. He doesn't just live. He walks with God and then, he doesn't die!

When I am gone, I would like people be to be able to say,
"She walked with God. She walks with God".
What about you?

* The new version of the NIV adds "faithfully" at these points (as you will see if you follow the linked reference). I have quoted from the 1984 version of the NIV. I think using the word "walked" says implicitly what they have made explicit in the new version and that is the point of the contrast between the words "walk" and "live". "Walked" creates a mind-picture of togetherness. It is sort of shorthand for "lived faithfully". I like that subtlety.

Friday, 28 January 2011


Simultaneously the saddest and happiest times here in Australia are catching up with special friends. We love to see them and are going to miss them very much.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

fungi again

Do you remember this enormous toadstool?

That was last year. This year, this is what I found in the same spot:

They are so enormous. I keep expecting to find Alice perched on top nibbling a chunk.

There are quite a few growing around the base of a Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera). I think there must be a symbiotic relationship going on. Apparently a lot of Australian trees grow in relationship with fungi. I've just never seen in like this before.

To recognise how large these fungal fruiting bodies are, check out the 20c piece in the photos below:

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A day out with Matthew

Recently, Matthew and Glen went to the Zig Zag Railway for a Day Out With Thomas.

The Zig Zag Railway was always so much fun when I was a child, but this clever idea to turn an engine into Thomas the Tank Engine makes this steam-train ride a four-year-old boy's dream come true.

Thomas took them from Clarence to Bottom Points Station. At Bottom Points, there is an old workshop set up with all sorts of activities: model trains, jumping castle, face-painting, a ball pit, a model ride-on railway (like Wascoe Siding) and small pedal-powered (or parent-powered) Thomas engines for small ones to ride on. After lots of fun in the shed (and lots of coal dust on the feet) Thomas pulled them back up to the top again.

See some photographs or a little movie.

Read this article for a short history of the Zig Zag.

It was a great day out, and reasonably priced. We recommend it for your young, and not-so-young, children.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Its seems like our return to Vanuatu is going to be delayed a little.

pheasants in Faulconbridge?

This is a photo (albeit a very bad one) of a Ring-necked (or common) pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). We think.

They were introduced into Australia in 1864 as a game bird. Efforts to establish it have been largely unsuccessful and it is restricted to Tasmania, King Island (in Bass Strait) and Rottnest Island (WA). It's natural range is Russia but it is naturalised in Europe.

The interesting thing about this is that the photo was taken at my sister's house in Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains, NSW. My sister first saw it just before Christmas and I saw it again yesterday (assuming it is the same individual).

What is it doing there?

Friday, 21 January 2011


I saw Tangled the other day. It was your usual Disney girl (Rapunzel) meets boy (Flynn) movie with a couple of funny animals thrown in to make the children laugh. We enjoyed it. It was fun and full of action, but I won't bore you with the plot details. You can read plenty of reviews online. Here and here are some pretty thorough ones that discuss issues parents of young children may need to be aware of, like scary scenes and brief violence. I thought the issues raised in such reviews turned out to be fairly minor.

I did think there are some other issues worth being aware of (in order of significance).

1. Mother-Daughter relationship. This was by far the most significant issue for me. In this version of the story, the wicked old women who imprisons Rapunzel pretends to be her mother. Rapunzel believes this and is sure she is loved very much. In fact the real reason she is 'cared' for is much more sinister. She is not shackled by chains but by emotional manipulation. She is told that "mother knows best". Now, we know that the right thing for Rapnzel to do is to escape and return to her real parents. But she knows nothing of her real parents and such escape would be in blatant contradiction to her 'mother's' command. When Rapunzel is struck by remorse for her disobedience in leaving the tower, Flynn tells her that rebellion is part of growing up and she will just have to "break her [mother's] heart and crush her soul". A turning point in the story is when Rapunzel says, "no!" to her 'mother' and refuses to do what she is told. While all of this is consistent and necessary in the plot (set up the way it is), it is a confusing model of a this important relationship for young children.

2. Life-Purpose. "Princess" movies are all about finding the prince. While this movie differed in that she was finding her parents, the plot spent a lot of time developing their (Rapunzel and Flynn's) relationship: falling in love and eventually getting married. Now I have a high view of marriage and I like that my girls would like to get married. But at this young age I would like their purpose in life to revolve around something other than finding a husband. There are other things to do and more helpful dreams to dream.

3. Body-Shape. As you can see in this picture, the bloke has arms like tree trunks while hers are like matchsticks. This (admittedly typical) stereotyping infuriates me by the way it presents completely unrealistic body images and ridiculous relative sizes between the man and woman. Whether we like it or not, these images form our expectations of what our bodies ought to look like. They are not helpful.

If you take your daughter to see the movie, I recommend discussing the first issue. The others are ones you'll be fighting all the time; they're not particular to Tangled.

family photo 2011

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

another hitch

In another interesting development in the process of getting our residency permits for Vanuatu, documents sent to the Vanuatu Department of Immigration were returned to us yesterday.

They had mistakenly been sent to Vietnam.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

back to square one

We began the process of renewing our Vanuatu residency permits back in October. Progress has been slow but earlier this week we were hopeful that it would be sorted out quickly.

But for various reasons, yesterday morning, we went back to square one. We had to begin the whole thing all over again.

With only four weeks to go until we want to be back (and five until lessons begin), let's pray it will be finished in time!