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past six days

The past six days for me:

  • Friday 25th Jan – Elephant TV posts the finished ‘evolution‘ episode, which I got to take part in.
  • Saturday 26th Jan – The band I’m in (Great North) plays at Parachute – even after our bass player received 6 stitches for (as you do) having a wine-bottle-ish chandelier fall on her head.
  • Sunday 27th JanGreat North plays a 3pc set at the Auckland Folk Festival, and is awarded a Tui (New Zealand Music Award) for Best Folk Album of 2012 for ‘Halves.
  • Monday 28th Jan – Auckland Anniversary Day.  Casual lovely day with Di & Tom at a park, a beach (with friends) and home.  Tom got stung, we think, by a little jelly fish several times on his legs.
  • Tuesday 29th Jan – I – after much psychological hesitation – published my personal photography FB page, which is sure to rise to the hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’.
  • Wednesday 30th Jan – is my birthday (34th)!  I received ‘special birthday toast’, a Blues Harp (harmonica), a special morning tea at work (Northcote Baptist), and am looking forward to a nice meal at ‘Mexico’ tonight in Takapuna with Frank Ritchie and his family.

third hymn EP

Released today.

Good Old Church Songs III.

fruitful wordle

my blog – run through ‘wordle’

evolution discussion on rhema

I was pleased to be asked along with Dr. Graeme Finlay (Senior Lecturer in the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre & Molecular Medicine & Pathology in the School of Medical Sciences at Auckland University) to take part in a talk-back show on Evolution and Christianity today.  I had to laugh when Graeme and the host Pat called me a theologian; last I checked, a lowly undergraduate degree in theology doth not maketh one a theologian :) The audio is here for any interested in our conversation.

Breakfast

With Damian of damian.peterson.net.nz and Ian of authorofconfusion.wordpress.com

:)

good old church songs

My little summer project (“Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to record a dozen of your favourite hymns?”) is done, and can be downloaded for free (or donation) here:

http://dalecampbell.bandcamp.com/

band album

I can be spotted sometimes playing piano, guitar and singing backing vocals at local Auckland pubs.  This is because I’m in an “alt-country folk” band called Great North.  We have a new album out soon, and an up-coming ‘mass’-three-destination tour.  We have a fancy website. We have a free download our our single ‘whales’ on our ‘bandcamp‘ page.  Enjoy if you dare.

phantom parabolas

Saw this morning on TV1 Breakfast – not much (anything? maybe this??) about it on the net yet…

But according to TVNZ, “maths teacher Philip Lloyd, an Auckland man who has made a maths-changing discovery to do with parabolas.” (though the date of the above forum post is 2003, and the name is TJ Evert!!??  hmmm…)

Anyway, the discovery is cool – whether by TJ Evert in 2003 or by Philipo Lloyd more recently.  Apparently (if I’m wording this right – it’s been a while since algebra class!) equations with an ‘imaginary’ solutions for ‘x’ 1 do not intersect the x axis.

The news is that a ‘phantom parabola’ can be plotted, which does intersect an imaginary x-’plane’ (we always had to imagine the x & y axis’ did we not?).

The ‘ooh that’s a cool parallel with spirituality’ thought that I initially had may well be not much more than a play on the word ‘imaginary’, but hey…  Like the Flatland analogy (used by C.S. Lewis [unknowingly? i cannot remember] and Rob Bell), this would be another case of adding another dimension.  After all, we imagine real things all the time, don’t we?

So there it is.  I’ve sent TVNZ an email with the link above.  Will see if it’s relevant :)

  1. [Dale refuses the philosophical tangent - no pun intended] []

burdens

Humans are the most vulnerable and needy at the beginning and end of their lives.

Prof John Wyatt describes (mp3PDF) the feeling of caring for his mother, stricken with dementia:

Even when my mother was tragically affected by dementia she was still on the journey. Close to the end of her life I visited her in the nursing home where she was receiving 24 hour nursing care. It was meal time and I was trying to feed her from a yoghurt pot with a teaspoon. “Open you mouth, here it comes…”. And I suddenly had a flashback – this was exactly what she used to do with me when I was an infant. And now the tables were turned.

We don’t like to be vulnerable and needy.  We are culture-trained to be secure and sufficient – on our own. Wyatt talks about the common phrase reflecting the fear we have of growing old, and thus vulnerable and needy.  “I just don’t want to be a burden to anybody.” (Or stronger, such as: “I simply will not become a burden to anyone!”)

But ‘being a burden’ to one another is one of the things that unites the human family together.  Our precious son, Thomas, was quite a ‘burden’ on the Special Care Birth Unit that looked after him as his lungs developed (having been born 7 week early); and he continues to be a ‘burden’ to us (nappies, feeding, lugging his gear around, etc., etc.)!

It is a cultural myth and a tragic assumption that human worth is only in ability to ‘contribute to society’.  But even given this false notion, those more ‘burdensome’ humans (babies, those with various kind of disability, the elderly, comatose, terminally ill, etc.), actually do contribute to society: they teach and mature the rest of us. I become a better human being having to ‘put up with’ others.  Wyatt continues about feeding his mother:

But in a strange sense this was not an evil, terrible thing. It was part of the narrative of a human life. She was learning more of what it meant to be a parent and I was learning more of what it meant to be a son. She was still my mother although tragically impaired and deformed. My duty was to treat her with love, respect and care.

Abortion and euthanasia are hotly divisive topics, and there are real people with real circumstances involved.  Most agree that the passive examples of ‘letting nature take its course’1 such as saving the mother ahead of the baby and the removal of life-support in some cases are ethical.  But both are, in my view, justified far too often simply because a burden is being avoided.2  As we’ve seen, bearing burdens mature and grow us.  We hugely miss out by avoiding them.

Paul, in giving one of his various summaries of the essence of being a Christian, says: “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the Law of Christ.”

  1. A teleologically-loaded, and thus other-than-scientific, statement! []
  2. Take the common scenario of a sexually active teen girl having a pregnancy she (nor her sexual partner) were not planning on.  Could it be that having to face the responsibility of child birth and child-rearing may be just the thing that could help them not only avoid post-abortion depression, but also help them to mature and grow into responsible adult-hood? []

this blog

I’m often conflicted about the whole apologetics thing.

As long as people have honest questions1 about belief, then it remains a logically legitimate enterprise, but it can be taken too far easily.

For me, I’m interested in taking away needless barriers to faith2.  Increasingly for me, it’s been exciting to see just how complimentary an evolutionary understanding of nature is with Christianity.  And as long as there are a) Christians who see evolution as a threat to faith and b) people for whom evolution has been a key point on their departure from faith, I think it’s hugely valuable to show and explore just how harmonious they are.

It occurs to me that believers and unbelievers3 both participate in the apologetic endeavour.  At their worst, both belief and unbelief ‘need’ a ‘defense’4 for why they are justified in being what they are.  Insert any usual topic (evolution, abortion, morality, cosmogenesis, abiogenesis, sexual ethics, religious violence, etc.): the believer defends belief, and the unbeliever defends unbelief.

The believer (often) needs to feel justified in their belief – “Belief in God is reasonable and logical!” (or the psychological translation: “I’m a totally reasonable and logical person for maintaining my faith!”)

The unbeliever (often) needs to feel justified in their unbelief – “Belief in God is silly and superstitious!” (or the psychological translation: “I totally made the right decision in giving up my faith!”)

I’m aware of this need to feel justified, so I try (as best I can) to be genuinely open-minded.

I genuinely think various theistic arguments (like the First Cause argument) work.  And that’s really cool for me, because I’m a Christian!  But I also think it’s important to recognise that (as Rob Bell has said) ‘What you look for, you will find.’

I hope believers can evaluate their beliefs and challenge them.  I think faith is of the good kind when it is open to being challenged.  Believers that recoil from questions and insulate themselves from challenges to their belief have a kind of faith that I can’t help but see as (perhaps ironically) ‘faith in faith’ – and not faith in the God of all Truth.  My experience is that my beliefs get sharper the more I expose them to criticism.  I’ve changed my views about several things – and long may that continue.  I’ve also maintained and deepened a lot of my beliefs as well – and long may that continue.

I also hope unbelievers can be sceptical of even their own scepticism.  If belief is sharpened by criticism, then this should be true for unbelief as well?  However, for me, this should logically lead atheists to become more and more agnostic – or even ‘fall’ from unbelief altogether?  Or at least go from being a Richard Dawkins style atheist to a Michael Ruse type one…

At any rate, I’ll probably always ‘do’ (with varying degrees of passion) the apologetics thing, but I’m feeling less and less like it’s something that I need to do for my own justification, but rather something that I simply enjoy doing and find worthwhile.  That’s all for now :)

  1. as opposed to dishonest questions; the kind that merely serve to insulate people from having to believe []
  2. And I anticipate the charge that I have “faith in faith”… []
  3. I’m inclined to believe that we all ‘believe’ something, however – which makes ‘unbeliever’ a questionable term. []
  4. Gk. ‘apologia’. []