Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Psychology of Christianity: Part 1, The Bigger Tent

Just this week I (along with my co-author Andrea Haugen) submitted a chapter for a coming APA handbook on psychology and spirituality. My chapter was to present an overview of the Christian faith, noting its theological distinctives while simultaneously reviewing the empirical literature related to Christian belief and practice. (Others are writing chapters on the other world religions.)

This was an interesting job as it involved trying to view the entire Christian faith through the lens of psychology. My first task in this chapter was to specify the Christian faith. Who are Christians? And what do they believe?

Current estimates indicate that 32-33% of the world population is Christian, around 1.9 to 2.1 billion souls. Most of these are in Europe (531 million), followed by Latin America (511 million), Africa (389 million), and North America (381 million).

As far as the shape of the Christian communion is concerned, the four major branches of Christianity are Catholic (1.1 billion adherents, or 52.4% of Christians), Protestant (375 million, or 17.9%), Orthodox (219 million, or 10.4%), and Anglican (79 million, or 3.8%).

What do these Christians believe? Answering this question was the first task of the chapter, deciding how to specify the Christian faith, theologically speaking. I made a predictable decision and decided to use either the Apostles' or Nicene Creed:
The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.
Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.
Which creed should I pick? If I was to go with the creed that is considered to be the guiding doctrinal statement of the faith I should go with the Nicene Creed, as it is considered the gold standard of orthodoxy. The reason for this, as many of you know, is that the lack of specificity in the Apostles' Creed makes it prone to heresy (then and now). The Apostles' Creed, in various forms, was the earlier of the two creeds, and was used primarily as a baptismal confession. Thus it begins with the individualized "I believe." But this simple baptismal confession proved to lack the theological specificity needed to stamp out the various heresies that were beginning to plague the early church. A more theologically rich and specific creed was needed that would unite the Christian communion, thus the Nicene refrain "We believe."

You can see the fingerprints of heresy all over the surface of the Nicene Creed. For example, at the time of the Nicene councils the Marcion heresy contended that there were two gods. One god, the god of the Old Testament, created this sorry world, and a second nicer god, the one proclaimed by Jesus Christ, who was seeking to rescue us from this world (and its reigning deity). Motivated by theodicy concerns Marcionism has some psychological appeal (just crack God in half leaving his good parts on one side and his bad parts on the other side). In contrast to this God-cracking, the Nicene Creed makes a bolder and more difficult (from a theodicy stance) theological move:
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
Basically, no God cracking allowed. There is one God and God, as unfortunate as this seems at times, created everything. And, as you can see, these additional theological details (e.g., moving from "I believe in God" to "I believe in one God") makes the Nicene Creed longer and theologically more complex than the Apostles' Creed.

This trend continues and intensifies in the second, Christological sections of the creeds. In the Apostles' Creed Jesus is simply called things like "son," Lord," and "judge." This gave followers of Arius some wiggle room to deny the full divinity and preexistence of Jesus, believing instead that God "adopted" the man Jesus and made him divine. In response to this Christological wiggle room the Nicene Creed goes to great lengths to secure the preexistent divinity of Jesus:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
And the theological fun continues in the third sections of the creeds where we consider the third person of the Christian Trinity, the Holy Spirit. For example, consider the filioque controversy. The Apostles' Creed simply has "I believe in the Holy Spirit." The Nicene Creed, as always, goes into a lot more detail:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
The filioque controversy was a part of the rift between Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy. Filioque is Latin for "and from the Son." The original text of the Nicene Creed did not include filioque. The difference with and without the filioque:
Original Text:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.

Filioque Text (emphasis added):
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
The filioque began to be added a few hundred years after the Nicene consensus. Eventually, the filioque was adopted by Rome in 1014, causing a rift between the Western and Eastern churches. The tensions involved in this controversy were both theological and political/national in nature. People still debate the issue.

The point in all this is that the Nicene Creed, while theologically authoritative relative to the Apostles' Creed, is a lot more complex, metaphysically speaking. All this made me hesitant to use the Nicene Creed in my chapter. Conversely, the terseness and generality of the Apostles' Creed made it attractive given my purposes. Namely, the lack of metaphysical specificity within the Apostles' Creed makes it a more general statement of faith. Crudely put, both heretics and the orthodox can subscribe to the Apostles' Creed. Which makes it, theologically speaking, a bigger tent. Given my task of surveying "Christianity," in all its heterogeneity, a bigger tent was preferred.

So I went with the Apostles' Creed, opting for its terse simplicity and lack of metaphysical specificity. In short, the very aspects of the Apostles' Creed that made it such a headache during the Nicene deliberations made it ideal for my chapter on Christianity. I needed the biggest tent I could find, to group as many people as possible under the label "Christian." Admittedly, this still leaves out a lot of the people. For example, there are people who would self-identify as "Christian" but who, while being followers of Jesus, might be agnostics or atheists. However, I had a chapter to write that was to be built around Christian belief. One has to start somewhere...

DIY - Cut off spring boots

Have been looking for lovely spring boots, but am having real trouble finding ones that are the right height, have the right heel etc etc. In a dream world I would have a pair of the Isabel Marant boots that Kate Bosworth never takes off (seen here). Buttt unfortunately thats not going to happen any time soon, so I was very interested to see these cut off boots on Wide Awake Thoughts, not sure if she has done them herself or they came like this. Definitely possible to cut off a pair of boots to create the perfect spring boot. Going to have to get thrifting...
I would probably cut them a bit shorter if I was going to do my own - perhaps right on or below the ankle. And I would do a very slight V at the front and back of the top of the boot - so that they look a bit western and like the ones here. It may then be smart to glue the edges lightly and if you like, apply some textile paint (or acrylic) over the edges in a colour matching the leather if you want a more polished look.
Images: Wide Awake Thoughts / Ascot Friday /Free People

DIY - Fringed Body

Love the fringed arms on this bodysuit, I know they were for sale at topshop - but in the spirit of DIY, I think I will make one myself. I am going to get a long sleeved black top and a piece of black jersey (an old top you are going to throw out will work nicely), cut the fabric into 1 cm thick strips, leaving a section of uncut fabric along the top, and then glue this section along the undersides of the arms. Fantastic fringed wings!

DIY - Mens shirt into a skirt

There are sooo many ways to refashion a men's shirt (refer to my shirt dress post here) and this one, turning a shirt into a skirt, is a pretty easy DIY. All you need to do is cut the shirt, then add some elastic to create a paper bag waist (you could even do a little hand sewing job of the waistline if you dont have a sewing machine - doubling it over and hand stitching and threading through some elastic). I always find lovely mens shirts in thrift shops that are too big to wear so this is a great way to use them. Monoxious also has a great DIY on this aswell, where she leaves on the sleeves to create waisted ties for the skirt.
Image: The Glamourai DIY

DIY - Cut out shoulder tutorial

Forever 21's Blog has a great DIY section with a whole heap of great DIYs, especially love this cardigan one, as have been doing this to all my would be thrown out cardigans....


Images: F21 Blog

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scorpion Tattoo Designs

If your birth date falls between 23rd October and 21st November then according to the western astrology your sun sign is Scorpion Tattoo. One of the common traits among the lots of scorpion is they like tattoos and will spend any amount of time as well as money to get their desired tattoo.

Scorpion Tattoo DesignsFor scorpion tattoo design that matches their personality is the symbol of Scorpio itself. Out of twelve zodiac signs the most complex sign is of Scorpio. Most of zodiac sign has one symbol associated with them. Like Aries the ram, Sagittarius the archer etc. But Scorpio has more than one symbol. Scorpion, Phoenix and Eagle are the symbols of Scorpio sign.

Scorpion Tattoo DesignsThere are great scopes to design the scorpion tattoo as artists are not struck up with only one symbol. With three symbols there are lots of permutation and combination.

Scorpion Tattoo DesignsFinding the different types of scorpion designs is not difficult if you have access to internet. There are lots of free tattoo design sites that hosts many Scorpio tattoo designs. But I have found that the sketches in these free sites are mostly repeats. So, if you want something unique then the best approach if budget permit is to hire a good tattoo artist and tell him about your idea of scorpion tattoo.

Scorpion Tattoo DesignsFrom your ideas, tattoo artist will often come up with some fantastic design which is not only unique but looks quite amazing. If you are not satisfied with the first rough sketches of your artist then don't hesitate to tell him. Tell him what you like and what you don't in particular drawing. This way your artist will get the fairly good idea of what exactly you want. It is quite possible that you have to ask for 3-4 revisions before you get your desire scorpion tattoo.

Cross Dragon Tattoo Pictures

Cross Dragon Tattoo Pictures
Cross Dragon Tattoo Pictures
Cross Dragon Tattoo Pictures
Cross Dragon Tattoo PicturesCross Dragon Tattoo Design

DIY - Shirt Dress

Shirt dresses are so easy to wear - with a pair of shorts and suede wedges. I have made quite a few in my time, I usually make them out of thrifted oversized mens silk shirts. Its important to make sure that the shirt has a nice rounded hem line so the bottom of your dress looks nice - like the hem in this picture. What I usually do is cut off the sleeves to the shoulders, and then take the dress in at the sides to make smaller armholes and a more flattering dress. Throw on with a skinny vintage belt for shape and away you go!
Image: The Satorialist / Whistles as ASOS

DIY - Cut off trench coat

Love the length of this trench coat - and a very easy DIY! Buy an old trench coat from a thrift store (where else?) and cut off. Sew the bottom hem line just below the waist - or leave it unhemmed for a more rough look.
Image: Vanessa Jackman

DIY - Cut out Shoulders

More lovely cut out shoulder DIY's. The angle of the cuts running down the shoulder is perfect and very flattering. I am going to do this to one of my rarely worn silk long sleeved tops - and sew silver chains along the edges of the cut outs instead of beading.
Image: Vanessa Jackman

DIY - Tote Bag

Lets be honest, some blogs are good and some blogs are crap (hope mine isnt part of the latter!). Going to DIY a few tote bags of my own - 'your blog is rubbish' and 'i dont care what you wore today'. obviously not applying to the huge number of blogs I check on a daily basis...

Images: Outsapop Trashion

Monday, June 28, 2010

On Angels

I'm reading Rowan Williams' book Tokens of Trust. Given my skeptical stance toward metaphysics I've tended to ignore the biblical accounts of angels, but this passage by Williams in Tokens gave me much to think about:
God has made what we can see and manage and what we can't see and can never manage, a universe some of which we can get a grasp of and some of which we can't. This isn't a recommendation not to try to understand, but simply a reminder that not everything is going to be made sense of from our point of view. We don't get to the end of being baffled and amazed. I sometimes think that this is the importance of talking about angels in Christian teaching. Odd as it may sound, thinking about these mysterious agents of God's purpose, who belong to a different order of being, can be a least a powerful symbol for all those dimensions of the universe about which we have no real idea. Round the corner of our vision things are going on in the universe, glorious and wonderful things, of which we know nothing. We're so used to sentimentalizing and trivializing angels--they are often reduced to Christian decorations, fairy godmothers almost (as in most of the extraordinary flood of books about angels in recent years). But in the Bible angels are often rather terrifying beings occasionally sweeping across the field of our vision; they do God strange services that we don't fully see; they provide a steady backdrop in the universe of praise and worship. They are great 'beasts,' 'living creatures,' flying serpents burning with flames, carrying the chariot of God, filling the Temple in Jerusalem with bellows of adoration, echoing to one another like whales in the ocean. Those are the angels of Isaiah and Ezekiel--anything but Christmas card material. And sometimes a human form appears to give a message from God and something in the event tells the people involved that this is a moment of terror and truth, and they recognize that they have met an angel in disguise.

Now whether or not you feel inclined to believe literally in angels--and a lot of modern Christians have a few problems with them--it's worth thinking of them as at the very least a sort of shorthand description of everything that's 'round the corner' of our perception and understanding in the universe--including the universal song of praise that surrounds us always. If we try and rationalize all this away, we miss out on something vital to do with the exuberance and extravagance of the work of God, who has made this universe not just as a theatre for you and me to develop our agenda, but as an overwhelming abundance of variety and strangeness.
"Round the corner of our vision things are going on in the universe, glorious and wonderful things..."

"...the universal song of praise that surrounds us always."

"...this universe...as an overwhelming abundance of variety and strangeness."

More and more, it seems, I'm being drawn into the language of the angelic and the demonic for the reasons Williams describes. These words, for me at least, are helping me pick out aspects of my life with great precision and clarity. They seem to name something for me that had no name before.

For example, in teaching my bible class on Sunday I compared a worship service to an exorcism. I said, basically, that for a moment in that service it seemed like the demonic forces of dehumanization so in control of our world--social, political, and economic forces--suddenly seemed to evaporate; that it was like an exorcism had taken place and with the retreat of the demonic there was a glimpse of the Kingdom Coming, that heaven came close to earth and the sunlight of God's grace broke through the clouds. God's will in heaven was being done on earth.

To be honest, I really don't know what is happening to me. I've never talked like this. But more and more I'm using this language to describe my life.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

George MacDonald: Justice, Hell and Atonement

As I've written before in these posts about George MacDonald, reading MacDonald is what convinced me to become a universalist. And no sermon in Unspoken Sermons has had a more decisive impact upon me in this regard than the sermon Justice. This sermon, in my opinion, is MacDonald's theological magnum opus.

MacDonald begins the sermon by asking us to think about the nature of justice and punishment. Are justice and punishment the same thing? This is an important question because when Christians speak of hell as "just" they are implicitly drawing an equivalence between the "punishment" of sin and God's "justice." But MacDonald wants to push back on that notion, to suggest that justice is a far richer concept than punishment. And if this is so, no amount of punishment in hell gets God closer to achieving justice. To illustrate this MacDonald has us consider someone stealing our watch:
Suppose my watch has been taken from my pocket; I lay hold of the thief; he is dragged before the magistrate, proved guilty, and sentenced to a just imprisonment: must I walk home satisfied with the result? Have I had justice done me? The thief may have had justice done him—but where is my watch?
The point here, obviously, is that a "just" result can't be found through punishment alone. No doubt punishment is a part of the picture. But, as any victim knows, "justice" isn't reducible to punishing the perpetrators. Crimes (and sin) create relational and psychological wounds that punishment cannot heal.

So what is needed for justice to be done? MacDonald suggests that justice involves the reconciliation of the victim and the perpetrator. Justice involves peacemaking and restitution:
[My watch] is gone, and I remain a man wronged. Who has done me the wrong? The thief. Who can set right the wrong? The thief, and only the thief; nobody but the man that did the wrong. God may be able to move the man to right the wrong, but God himself cannot right it without the man. Suppose my watch is found and restored, is the account settled between me and the thief? I may forgive him, but is the wrong removed? By no means. But suppose the thief to bethink himself, to repent. He has, we shall say, put it out of his power to return the watch, but he comes to me and says he is sorry he stole it, and begs me to accept for the present what little he is able to bring, as a beginning of atonement: how should I then regard the matter? Should I not feel that he had gone far to make atonement—done more to make up for the injury he had inflicted upon me, than the mere restoration of the watch, even by himself, could reach to? Would there not lie, in the thief's confession and submission and initial restoration, an appeal to the divinest in me—to the eternal brotherhood? Would it not indeed amount to a sufficing atonement as between man and man? If he offered to bear what I chose to lay upon him, should I feel it necessary, for the sake of justice, to inflict some certain suffering as demanded by righteousness? I should still have a claim upon him for my watch, but should I not be apt to forget it? He who commits the offence can make up for it—and he alone.

One thing must surely be plain—that the punishment of the wrong-doer makes no atonement for the wrong done. How could it make up to me for the stealing of my watch that the man was punished? The wrong would be there all the same. I am not saying the man ought not to be punished—far from it; I am only saying that the punishment nowise makes up to the man wronged. Suppose the man, with the watch in his pocket, were to inflict the severest flagellation on himself: would that lessen my sense of injury? Would it set anything right? Would it anyway atone? Would it give him a right to the watch? Punishment may do good to the man who does the wrong, but that is a thing as different as important.
Critical to this process of atonement is the full engagement of the one who did the crime. This is an important move for MacDonald: God cannot bring justice without our participation. As MacDonald notes, "God may be able to move the man to right the wrong, but God himself cannot right it without the man...He who commits the offence can make up for it—and he alone."

This twofold notion of justice--an act of reconciliation requiring the participation of victims and perpetrators--is at the heart of MacDonald's notion of God's justice and atonement. This is the notion that sits behind his "universalism." That is, God just can't ship people off to hell to earn the label "just." Neither could we view hell as a manifestation of God's justice. Because hell doesn't heal the wounds of sin. Hell doesn't mend. Hell doesn't bring peace. Hell doesn't atone. As MacDonald writes:
Punishment of the guilty may be involved in justice, but it does not constitute the justice of God one atom more than it would constitute the justice of a man.
After distinguishing between justice and punishment MacDonald then goes on to his second important theological move, the identification of justice with mercy. Too often in discussions about hell and God's justice it is argued that God's justice (manifested in sending you to hell) is in tension with God's mercy and forgiveness. That is, God will either punish you or forgive you. It's a binary, an either/or. Heaven or hell. Justice or mercy. Punishment or forgiveness.

MacDonald rejects all these as false dichotomies. Justice is mercy. Punishment is forgiveness. MacDonald walks through this identification of justice and mercy in an imaginary dialogue with a skeptical conversation partner:
Two rights cannot possibly be opposed to each other. If God punish sin, it must be merciful to punish sin; and if God forgive sin, it must be just to forgive sin. We are required to forgive, with the argument that our father forgives. It must, I say, be right to forgive. Every attribute of God must be infinite as himself. He cannot be sometimes merciful, and not always merciful. He cannot be just, and not always just. Mercy belongs to him, and needs no contrivance of theologic chicanery to justify it.

"Then you mean that it is wrong to punish sin, therefore God does not punish sin?"

"By no means; God does punish sin, but there is no opposition between punishment and forgiveness. The one may be essential to the possibility of the other."
How can this be? Forgiveness is punishment?! That's crazy talk, right?

It's only crazy talk if you've become confused about the nature of sin and salvation. As mentioned in my earlier posts on MacDonald, the great confusion is mistaking the consequences of sin for sin itself. Jesus came to save us from sin, not from hell. The confusion comes when people think that Jesus is saving us from hell, the consequence (the "just punishment") of sin. But the problem with this idea, as noted above, is that no amount of punishment gets us a just result. Nor does it address the sin still sitting in our hearts.

This really is a simple idea if you ponder it. If you have a child who is disrespectful or mean or dishonest do you really think they need forgiveness without punishment? The old "either/or" binary of heaven or hell? That the child needs mercy without justice? Of course not! These things are of a piece. You punish to save, love, and have mercy on the child. Salvation is hell in this case. And as any parent knows, the salvation of the child involves his participation. If you break Mrs. Jones' window you have to mow her grass and make it up to her. And, ultimately, even this punishment fails to save the child unless he becomes truly sorry and contrite. For only in that moment is the child truly "saved." Punishment alone doesn't bring either "justice" or "salvation." Punishment is only ever a tool toward these ends.

Here is MacDonald pulling these threads together at the end of the first half of the sermon:
Justice then requires that sin should be put an end to; and not that only, but that it should be atoned for; and where punishment can do anything to this end, where it can help the sinner to know what he has been guilty of, where it can soften his heart to see his pride and wrong and cruelty, justice requires that punishment shall not be spared. And the more we believe in God, the surer we shall be that he will spare nothing that suffering can do to deliver his child from death.
Punishment and suffering, in this view, is trying to get us to confront our own sinfulness, to create in us a contrite and broken heart. To get us to loathe the sin in our lives:
The one deepest, highest, truest, fittest, most wholesome suffering must be generated in the wicked by a vision, a true sight, more or less adequate, of the hideousness of their lives, of the horror of the wrongs they have done. Physical suffering may be a factor in rousing this mental pain; but 'I would I had never been born!' must be the cry of Judas, not because of the hell-fire around him, but because he loathes the man that betrayed his friend, the world's friend. When a man loathes himself, he has begun to be saved. Punishment tends to this result. Not for its own sake, not as a make-up for sin, not for divine revenge—horrible word, not for any satisfaction to justice, can punishment exist. Punishment is for the sake of amendment and atonement. God is bound by his love to punish sin in order to deliver his creature; he is bound by his justice to destroy sin in his creation. Love is justice—is the fulfilling of the law, for God as well as for his children. This is the reason of punishment; this is why justice requires that the wicked shall not go unpunished—that they, through the eye-opening power of pain, may come to see and do justice, may be brought to desire and make all possible amends, and so become just...

For Justice, that is God, is bound in himself to see
justice done by his children—not in the mere outward act, but in their very being. He is bound in himself to make up for wrong done by his children, and he can do nothing to make up for wrong done but by bringing about the repentance of the wrongdoer. When the man says, 'I did wrong; I hate myself and my deed; I cannot endure to think that I did it!' then, I say, is atonement begun. Without that, all that the Lord did would be lost. He would have made no atonement. Repentance, restitution, confession, prayer for forgiveness, righteous dealing thereafter, is the sole possible, the only true make-up for sin. For nothing less than this did Christ die.
At this point in the sermon MacDonald turns to Christ and the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. Because, it might be asked, if all sinners are, in the end, making up for their own sins (think of that watch thief at the start of the sermon coming to you to make atonement) then where is the work of the Christ on Calvary in all this? If I, personally, am atoning for my sins, then how does Christ function as an atoning sacrifice for my sins?

MacDonald's response to these questions take up the second half of the Justice sermon. And his response to the doctrine of subsitutionary atonement is diverse and multifaceted.

His first response deals with the psychological appeal of substitutionary atonement. The doctrine of substitutionary atonement feels right to us because, as victims, we want wrong-doers to be punished. It's emotionally satisfying. We want people to go to hell:

The notion of suffering as an offset for sin, the foolish idea that a man by suffering borne may get out from under the hostile claim to which his wrong-doing has subjected him, comes first of all, I think, from the satisfaction we feel when wrong comes to grief. Why do we feel this satisfaction? Because we hate wrong, but, not being righteous ourselves, more or less hate the wronger as well as his wrong, hence are not only righteously pleased to behold the law's disapproval proclaimed in his punishment, but unrighteously pleased with his suffering, because of the impact upon us of his wrong. In this way the inborn justice of our nature passes over to evil.
In short, the appeal and logic at work behind subsituionary atonement is really just a symptom of an evil impulse within our own hearts. But this evil impulse doesn't describe God's justice. God only punishes as a means, not as an end in itself:
It is no pleasure to God, as it so often is to us, to see the wicked suffer. To regard any suffering with satisfaction, save it be sympathetically with its curative quality, comes of evil, is inhuman because undivine, is a thing God is incapable of. His nature is always to forgive, and just because he forgives, he punishes.
A further problem with the allure of substitutionary atonement--to have Jesus suffer the consequences of my sin rather than me getting into the hard work of repentance and reconciliation--is that it is selfish, a theological product of my sin. Substitutionary atonement is an attempt to cling to my sin ever more tightly! Let Christ suffer the consequences of my sin so I don't have to make amends and restitution. I'm off the hook as it were.

But you can't get off the hook. You can't shift the punishment of your sin onto Jesus. Why? Because God loves you! This is what parents do for their children:
Justice demands your punishment, because justice demands, and will have, the destruction of sin. Justice demands your punishment because it demands that your father should do his best for you. God, being the God of justice, that is of fair-play, and having made us what we are, apt to fall and capable of being raised again, is in himself bound to punish in order to deliver us—else is his relation to us poor beside that of an earthly father.
In short, there can be no "imputed righteousness." Rather, Christ stands beside you as you work through the process of repentance and atonement. And the attempt to try to avoid this outcome, as we noted above, is just an indirect way of embracing the sin in your heart, a way of not letting it go. And God will have none of that:
The notion that the salvation of Jesus is a salvation from the consequences of our sins, is a false, mean, low notion. The salvation of Christ is salvation from the smallest tendency or leaning to sin. It is a deliverance into the pure air of God's ways of thinking and feeling. It is a salvation that makes the heart pure, with the will and choice of the heart to be pure. To such a heart, sin is disgusting. It sees a thing as it is,—that is, as God sees it, for God sees everything as it is. The soul thus saved would rather sink into the flames of hell than steal into heaven and skulk there under the shadow of an imputed righteousness. No soul is saved that would not prefer hell to sin. Jesus did not die to save us from punishment; he was called Jesus because he should save his people from their sins.
So what of the teaching of substitutionary atonement? Where is the work of Christ in MacDonald's view of salvation? As a beginning, MacDonald suggests that there can be no meeting of minds on this topic if we approach the issue from a textual/theoretical angle. For MacDonald the issues aren't biblical or theological at all. He really could care less about our "theory of atonement." It's irrelevant. All MacDonald cares about is having the mind of Christ, particularly in relation to our own sinfulness. For MacDonald the issue is pretty simple: Do you hate your sin? Do you hate your selfishness, meanness, pettiness, and falseness? Do you, in short, want to live like Jesus? If you do then MacDonald has a simple question: If going to hell would help you be a better person then would you go? The answer, according to MacDonald, is that if you have the mind of Christ then of course you'd go. Because the issue isn't about avoiding the wrath of God or the punishment of sin. The issue is our desperate desire to conform to the image of Jesus. And if that is what I really want and need then why would a theory of substitution hold any appeal to me? Or even make any sense? If I hate the sin in my heart how is substitutionary atonement good news? It's only good news for people who love their sin but want off the hook.

In short, for MacDonald the issue boils down to obedience, not exegesis or theology:
A man who has not the mind of Christ—and no man has the mind of Christ except him who makes it his business to obey him—cannot have correct opinions concerning him; neither, if he could, would they be of any value to him: he would be nothing the better, he would be the worse for having them. Our business is not to think correctly, but to live truly; then first will there be a possibility of our thinking correctly. One chief cause of the amount of unbelief in the world is, that those who have seen something of the glory of Christ, set themselves to theorize concerning him rather than to obey him. In teaching men, they have not taught them Christ, but taught them about Christ. More eager after credible theory than after doing the truth, they have speculated in a condition of heart in which it was impossible they should understand; they have presumed to explain a Christ whom years and years of obedience could alone have made them able to comprehend. Their teaching of him, therefore, has been repugnant to the common sense of many who had not half their privileges, but in whom, as in Nathanael, there was no guile. Such, naturally, press their theories, in general derived from them of old time, upon others, insisting on their thinking about Christ as they think, instead of urging them to go to Christ to be taught by him whatever he chooses to teach them. They do their unintentional worst to stop all growth, all life.
This lack of obedience has created a kind of faithless timidity about the true nature of salvation which has resulted in creating a system of salvation that preserved pagan notions of appeasement and sacrificial satisfaction. It's the only way we humans can get our minds around justice. Grace, real grace, is just too big to get our heads around:
Truth is indeed too good for men to believe; they must dilute it before they can take it; they must dilute it before they dare give it. They must make it less true before they can believe it enough to get any good of it...Unable to believe in the forgivingness of their father in heaven, they invented a way to be forgiven that should not demand of him so much; which might make it right for him to forgive; which should save them from having to believe downright in the tenderness of his fatherheart, for that they found impossible. They thought him bound to punish for the sake of punishing, as an offset to their sin; they could not believe in clear forgiveness; that did not seem divine; it needed itself to be justified; so they invented for its justification a horrible injustice, involving all that was bad in sacrifice, even human sacrifice. They invented a satisfaction for sin which was an insult to God. He sought no satisfaction, but an obedient return to the Father. What satisfaction was needed he made himself in what he did to cause them to turn from evil and go back to him. The thing was too simple for complicated unbelief and the arguing spirit.
For MacDonald these pagan notions and the legal subterfuge involved in subsitionary atonement make it a system unworthy of God:
The device [of substitutionary atonement] is an absurdity—a grotesquely deformed absurdity. To represent the living God as a party to such a style of action, is to veil with a mask of cruelty and hypocrisy the face whose glory can be seen only in the face of Jesus; to put a tirade of vulgar Roman legality into the mouth of the Lord God merciful and gracious, who will by no means clear the guilty. Rather than believe such ugly folly of him whose very name is enough to make those that know him heave the breath of the hart panting for the waterbrooks; rather than think of him what in a man would make me avoid him at the risk of my life, I would say, 'There is no God; let us neither eat nor drink, that we may die! For lo, this is not our God! This is not he for whom we have waited!' But I have seen his face and heard his voice in the face and the voice of Jesus Christ; and I say this is our God, the very one whose being the Creator makes it an infinite gladness to be the created. I will not have the God of the scribes and the pharisees whether Jewish or Christian, protestant, Roman, or Greek, but thy father, O Christ! He is my God. If you say, 'That is our God, not yours!' I answer, 'Your portrait of your God is an evil caricature of the face of Christ.'
MacDonald then summarizes all this, making a clear contrast between his view of salvation and substitutionary atonement:
To believe in a vicarious sacrifice, is to think to take refuge with the Son from the righteousness of the Father; to take refuge with his work instead of with the Son himself; to take refuge with a theory of that work instead of the work itself; to shelter behind a false quirk of law instead of nestling in the eternal heart of the unchangeable and righteous Father, who is merciful in that he renders to every man according to his work, and compels their obedience, nor admits judicial quibble or subterfuge. God will never let a man off with any fault. He must have him clean.
I'd also like to note that, in all of this discussion about substitutionary atonement, MacDonald offers the greatest verdict I've ever read about substitution theory and those who subscribe to it:
To believe it is your punishment for being able to believe it; you may call it your reward, if you will.
Nice. To believe in substituionary atonement is your punishment for being able to believe it!

But the question is still out there, how does MacDonald see Christ as our atonement? Toward the end of the sermon he offers his positive view:
I believe in Jesus Christ. Nowhere am I requested to believe in any thing, or in any statement, but everywhere to believe in God and in Jesus Christ...

Jesus, our propitiation, our atonement. He is the head and leader, the prince of the atonement. He could not do it without us, but he leads us up to the Father's knee: he makes us make atonement. Learning Christ, we are not only sorry for what we have done wrong, we not only turn from it and hate it, but we become able to serve both God and man with an infinitely high and true service, a soulservice. We are able to offer our whole being to God to whom by deepest right it belongs. Have I injured anyone? With him to aid my justice, new risen with him from the dead, shall I not make good amends? Have I failed in love to my neighbour? Shall I not now love him with an infinitely better love than was possible to me before? That I will and can make atonement, thanks be to him who is my atonement, making me at one with God and my fellows! He is my life, my joy, my lord, my owner, the perfecter of my being by the perfection of his own. I dare not say with Paul that I am the slave of Christ; but my highest aspiration and desire is to be the slave of Christ.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chris Andersen Gets Free Bird Neck Tattoo

Yo T..I was going to do Terez Owens but it was too many letters..

The Denver Nuggets Chris Andersen is a fan favorite..His nickname is the Birdman, plays with incredible energy and flat out loves ink..Chris had two spot that were still stained free..his face and neck..say goodbye to the neck..The Birdman has tattooed his neck with letters spelling out Free Bird..an homage to the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic tune or a reference to his own nickname?..I was thinking he was more into Cypress Hill…looks can be deceiving. -TO

Conversation and the Christian University

Is there a difference between a "conversation" and a "discussion"?

This is a question I've been kicking around lately, particularly as it relates to my work at a Christian university.

I've wrestled with this question in the wake of the SoulForce visit to ACU. (SoulForce is a LGBT advocacy group.) After the SoulForce visit I gathered with some students, faculty and administrators to discuss reactions to the visit. During that discussion some students expressed some frustration with how the various "conversations" with SoulForce were handled.

My contribution on this subject was an attempt to make a distinction between "conversations" and "discussions." My point was that our campus tends to overplay the "conversation" frame. Everything is framed as a "conversation" on our campus. For instance, we said we invited SoulForce onto campus to have a "conversation" with them and that we remain keen to keep these "conversations" going on campus in the wake of their visit. Because these "conversations" are important. And so on.

My argument was that the word "conversation" has thicker connotations than simply "good mannered people talking." And it's these connotations that are causing trust problems and hard feelings between the students and the university.

Specifically, when we use the frame "conversation" we suggest that we go into the exchange with some degree of openness to change. Conversations have the potential for persuasion. Conversation entails risk. The Latin root of the word conversation is conversatio and it is the same root in the word conversion. The Latin conversatio literally means "to turn around/about." That is, when we enter a conversation we have some expectation that a "conversion" might take place. You might convert me, or I might convert you. That's the dynamic of a conversation.

The point is, when we deploy the frame "conversation" we activate an expectation in the minds of the students that the dialogue we are about to engage in has the potential for conversion. That both parties are placing some things at risk and are expressing an openness to change.

The trouble is, on some issues the University simply isn't willing or able to change. At least not at this time. So when we invite students to talk with us about these issues are we really, then, "having a conversation"? We're certainly talking to each other and listening respectfully. But are we "in conversation"?

My argument was, no, we're not. And this is the source of the hurt feelings between the students and the university. By deploying the frame "conversation" we create the impression of risk, potential for change, for conversion. We're saying to the students that you might change our minds on this topic. But when the "conversation" occurs the students face a brick wall. They quickly find out that the university isn't going to budge on this particular issue. So the students feel cheated and lied to. They thought they were getting one thing--a conversation--and instead got something very different, a pseudoconversation where students were listened to while they vented, but where nothing was really ever at risk. So the students walk away feeling psychologically managed and manipulated ("They just let us complain and vent so we'll feel listened to and then go away.").

Now let me be clear. All institutions have to have some non-negotiables that define its core identity and commitments. This is perfectly healthy and legitimate. So the problem isn't with these non-negotiables. The problem comes when we suggest we can have "conversations" about these non-negotiables. Because some things you just can't have conversations about. Yes, you can discuss or talk or vent or explain around these non-negotiables, but you can't really have a true conversation about them. To do so would be to put the non-negotiables on the table and make them open for negotiation, placing them at risk. In short, at any given time in the life of an institution there will be both non-negotiables and negotibles. Things we can have a conversation about and things that we can only discuss (where I explain more than I change). The trouble with overusing the frame "conversation" is that we blur this distinction in the minds of students. We make it seem that certain things are up for negotiation when they really aren't. And when students realize this in the midst of these "conversations" they feel lied to and cheated. They thought they were getting one thing and got something very different.

I know why we use the frame "conversation" so much. It conjures up notions of sharing, civility, listening, perspective taking, and hospitality. Beyond notions of "conversion" the Latin roots of conversation also mean "to live with." Which is a perfect word for what happens on a college campus: We live with each other. So this is a very good word for most of what we do at the university. But living with each other implies a kind of egalitarianism that suggests that we might also change each other. Or at least be open to that change. And it's at that point where the ideal of the university--scholars living together in free discourse--runs up against the institutional reality of the university, where some things, like it or not, aren't really open for conversation.

And that's okay, we just need to be clear about that up front and be alerted to the hopes we dash when our "conversations" turn out to be something very different.

Various ramblings

25 Jun '10
Feather headpiece - a gift, originally from Diva
Dress - thrifted
Crinoline (unseen) - vintage, thrifted
Belt - thrifted
Cardigan - vintage, thrifted
Bag - vintage, birthday gift to self!
Tights - who knows?
Shoes - Trade Me

I sent off the first five chapters to my agent this morning - eek! And now I wait and chew my nails off.

I know you're probably completely sick of this cardigan-bag combination, but I'm slightly addicted. And you probably recognise this dress, too - I shortened it a bit. Even though I loved its original length, I simply didn't wear it enough because it always felt too long for me. Now that it's knee-length, I'm wearing it all the time.

I'm heading out to afternoon tea with my mother- and sister-in-law today, and then going to see Bill Bailey live tonight. I can't wait. I absolutely LOVE Bill Bailey - his stand-up and his film work, and particularly his role in Black Books (my favourite comedy series of all time - I can recite all the episodes verbatim). Now if I can only get tickets to Dylan Moran, I can tick two things off my to-do-before-I-die list!

Comment of the day

"Ah, yes, it looks much better!! More fabulous even! Love Bill Bailey! Love Dylan Moran more! LOVE Black Books!! Enjoy Bill, I hope you get to snog him!" -

Tribal Butterfly Tattoo Design

Tribal tattoo is usually done in deep blue or black. The tribal butterfly tattoo can also be done in green or have other colors intermingled in the design. It is commonly found in the traditions of Hawaii, Polynesia and New Zealand. The butterfly is a positive symbol of change.

The tribal butterfly tattoo has a long history. This implies it is steeped in meaning and ritual. It is thought the tribal butterfly image is the same as the one that is carved into the totem poles of various clans and tribes. Originally, a tattoo of a butterfly would have included the shape of the butterfly within a patterned design.

However, in the modern world more and more women are opting for a tribal butterfly tattoo. They want an image that is more realistic and easily recognizable as a butterfly. Women choose a butterfly that is tribal because they are very pretty, fragile and can be colorful. This definitely suits the psyche of women as opposed to those who prefer a much darker expression in their tattoos.

This tattoo is perfect for placement on your upper shoulder or arm. Many people do have this tattoo placed on their ankle or wrist. Butterfly tattoo designs are also being placed more frequently on the back of the neck. Women are particularly fond of this. When they wear their hair down the tattoo is hidden. When they wear their hair up the tattoo is revealed.

In most cultures the butterfly is a creature of mystery. A rather ugly caterpillar changes into a beautiful butterfly. The tattoo can be a symbol of positive change. Individuals who are free spirited very often opt for this universal symbol of freedom. The butterfly is also admired for its great beauty and so it is a symbol that is chosen by women.

The tattoo can be as intricate or as simple as you want it to be. Men who use this tattoo usually opt for one that has a single tone. However, these tattoo designs can have as many colors as your tattooist feels is possible. When this tattoo is worn by a man it has a completely different look to the one worn by a woman. Tribal art can take on the appearance of strength or fragility.

It is thought women also love this tattoo because in real life a butterfly is so hard to catch. Its great beauty makes us want to catch it but it always seems to be just out of reach. The symbolism of this creature is captured with this tattoo. Tattooists also enjoy this design because it allows them to use many tones if you want them to.

The tribal butterfly tattoo is a symbol that is understood by all cultures. It can also be one of the designs small enough to be kept personal. There are a surprising number of people who have a personal tattoo. A tribal butterfly tattoo is so attractive it appeals to a wide number of people.

Rose Tattoo Design

Rose tattoos are between probably the most adaptable and favored designs of system artwork picked these days.The attractiveness of those styles transcend gender, and is really well-liked by each males and females. It could be of any dimension and could be positioned anyplace close to the system, based about the creativeness with the person putting on Rose tattoos.

Rose Tattoo DesignArm Rose Tattoo

Just since the rose arrive from a lot more than 100 types and hues, Rose tattoos could be styled in various shades and designs to imply many different meanings. Due towards the timelessness with the rose, these styles make them 1 of probably the most eternal and searched for following of tattoo styles.

Rose Tattoo Design
Foot Rose Tattoo

You will find lots of style combinations that may be integrated in to Rose tattoos. Very frequently, numerous individuals match the conventional bloom together with some extra symbols for example: skulls, butterflies, hearts, crosses, and ribbons. Frequently, numerous symbols are partnered along the names of loved ones.

Rose Tattoo Design
Rib Rose Tattoo

You will find also occasions when people choose Rose tattoos matched with bold, vivid tribal components.These styles generally display each beauty and strength. An instance will be that with the rose intertwined with snakes and reapers. These styles, when proven alone, could appear formidable and daunting occasionally but matched using the rose, they turn out softer and a lot more fascinating.

The Church at Gass's Tavern

I just started reading the book Crashing the Idols: The Vocation of Will D. Campbell (and any other Christian for that matter) by Richard Goode and Will Campbell.

Richard was my faculty mentor at Lipscomb University my first year of teaching. I left Lipscomb after only a year, and I still lament leaving the orbit and friendship of Richard Goode. So it's been good to get into this book and to experience what Richard has been up to in his work with Will Campbell.

Will Campbell is a revelation to me. His life, work and theology are simply astonishing. No doubt I'll have much more to say about Campbell in the weeks and months to come, but for today a thought-provoking quote from Campbell on leaving the location of the church unnamed and unspecified, if only to protect it from being co-opted and "institutionalized":
I think it ["the Church"] does exist, but I'm afraid to look for it, because if I find it and name it, I'm going to run it, if I can. That's the evil of institutions. But Jesus said he would build his church in the world, and exactly where it is at any moment, I don't know. I don't think [one knows when she is in it]. I don't know when I'm in it. Take Gass's Tavern [in Mt. Juliet, TN], for example. For many years it was just a little country beer joint. I've done a wedding for just about everybody there. I've buried numerous patrons who have died. I visit the ones who are in jail. Sometimes I get up on stage and pray for the sick. Now, I could make the case that that's my church, but I won't, because if I did, the next thing you know, we'd have a bulletin, or drink only Pabst. And I'd expect to be rewarded for all the things I did there. So I don't say that's my church, but that is the Church at work in my life...If I believe that all institutions are inherently evil by definition, then I certainly can't assume that I can create a better one. I might have a good organization for a while, but, before long, any organization is going to become hardened and rigid. I think people do come together, like we do down at Gass's Tavern. It's when we institutionalize it--when we do it the same way every Sunday--that it becomes perfunctory and losses any meaning. I say this in spite of the fact that I like ritual, liturgy, and so on.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Battle of the Andreas

I'm planning to send some chapters of Current Book to my agent tomorrow - I'm still a couple of weeks off finishing this draft, but it will be the final draft that I write on my own before receiving feedback. Even though I haven't got a completr draft, I want to send some of it off into the world. Possibly just to convince myself that it exists somewhere other than inside my head. Scrapbooking the revisions worked really well - I tried to switch off the logical part of my brain and rearrange the scenes by instinct, doing whatever felt natural. Sometimes I can get too bogged down in detail and organisation (surprise, surprise) and need to trust my instincts. Those two parts of my brain are permanently at war, as I think they are in any writer's mind, and both are important. It's just a matter of knowing which one needs to be in charge when, which sounds easier than it is. I imagine one wearing horn-rimmed spectacles and a librarian cardigan and the other one in a tie-dyed caftan.

The other two parts of me that seem to be at war at the moment are the hoarding, collecting part that craves security and anchoring, and the part that wants to purge and get rid of things and be free. I have always been a weird mixture of a homebody and a jetsetter, and I want both with equal intensity. I suppose it has come to the surface more now that we're moving and editing down our possessions. In some ways, I really enjoy this process: I like getting rid of things. I like moving house. I like new experiences and new people and adventure. But I also like being at home, nesting, feeling secure and surrounding myself with the things I love. This makes for a rather interesting mental state, as I simultaneously clear out the house and accumulate more sentimental bits and pieces. Oh well! I have six whole weeks to get used to the idea.

Comment of the day

"I'm comforted to know I'm not the only split personality type. My halves never co-exist in harmony - one week I'll be feverishly trying to minimalise my life, quite convinced this is exactly how it should be, and suddenly I'll obsessively need to surround myself with "stuff" and "things" and wondering why one earth I ever wanted it any other way. Oh for some balance!" - Ella

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh hi there

I just wanted to say a quick hello to anyone who has reached me through listening to Ele Ludemann's segment on Radio New Zealand. I noticed people were coming here via the Radio NZ website and followed the links back - the wonders of the Internet! Hansel and Gretel's crumbs have nothing on us. Ele had such lovely things to say, and it was such a delightful way to end my day. So if you have made it here, and you want to learn a bit more about any of the things I talk about, I've put together a wee list of some things you may find interesting.

A sample of my writing - the short story How to Kill a Dead Man

About me

The story behind A Cat of Impossible Colour

Everything I know about thrifting (op-shopping!): Parts I, II, III, IV and V.

Check the sidebar for more past posts! Nice to (virtually) meet you.

Comment of the day

"I was so excited hearing about your blog on the radio I stopped the car on the side of the road to write down the address! I'm currently part way through reading your thrifting guide (most excellent). Your blog is so lovely, a new favourite I intend to visit regularly from now on. Hurrah!" - Ella

Lower Back Tattoo Designs

Lower back tattoos are situated little from the back again or on best from the buttocks. Getting the kinds of tattoos that ladies put on on their back again, it's really simple to recognize what kind of tattoos ladies are putting on, which when males appear in the ladies backs, they get turned on. That's how ladies obtain the kind of men they want; they lure them by their feminine charm. Males obtain the 'sensual' kind of experiencing once they appear at girl's backs and their tattoos, which assists females.

Lower Back Tattoo DesignsLower back tattoos really is simple to realize why they're so well-liked nowadays. You will find only several locations on the women's system which are sensual and appealing and ladies attempt to expose them as a lot as feasible. Some from the most sensual and most appealing locations on the women's system would be the neck, reduce back again. A single from the primary factors why lower back tattoos have gained this kind of recognition is because of the truth that how very easily you are able to disguise them and how simple you are able to expose them. lower back tattoos really creates it truly simple on the women's system to disguise and expose.

Lower Back Tattoo Designs
Disguise your lower back tattoos by putting on some thing lengthy or expose it through the cowgirl design. Even though tattoos are good and all, you ought to be really cautious that in case you function, most function locations frown upon getting a tattoo on any component of one's system and in case you do get hired and possess a lower back tattoos, do your greatest to disguise the tattoo which means you do not get fired!

Lower Back Tattoo Designs
Allow me write about just a little little bit of statistics with you. Almost 25% of ladies within the United States among the ages of 18 and 50 have tattoo's and of individuals 25%, 20% of individuals ladies have lower back tattoos, that truly tells you how severe some of those ladies get lower back tattoos. The hunger for intercourse is really a large point nowadays that lures men into performing with girl's, tattoo plays a big part in this too.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lists and bows and airports

21 Jun '10
Beret - Dotti
Trench - vintage, thrifted
Boots - thrifted
I promise there are more clothes underneath, but there's not much point in listing them! I'm not Christchurch's latest flasher.

Inspiration: being rained on.

I dropped LOML off at the airport this afternoon, and am feeling very sad. It's hard to say goodbye to him for five weeks - even though I am excited for him! It's going to be a difficult time, but I'm determined to make the most of it. And we'll talk a lot, anyway. Thank goodness we live in an age where we can hear the voices and see the faces of the people we love every day, no matter where they are. Imagine living in a time where letters from the New World would take months to reach you - or perhaps would never reach you at all! Anyway. I deal with this sort of melancholy in four ways:

1) By working like a demon.

I want to get this draft absolutely perfect before we leave, ready to send to my agent.

2) By eating chocolate and drinking white wine.

Check, and check! I also bought the second season of Mad Men on DVD today and have a pot of chicken soup - perfect therapy.

3) By joking about it and making light of the situation.

Covered. Always.

4) By snapping into full-blown Project Mode. Spring into action!

This is the absolute best way I have found to deal with anything and everything. I have all sorts of things I want to achieve while LOML's away, and before we leave.

Getting my full licence!

I'm going to book the test this week. Gah, so scary. But I'm looking forward to having it over and done with.

Cleaning out the house

Although we're taking most of our things, there is an awful lot of flotsam and jetsam we have accumulated over the years that we don't particularly want to transport to the other side of the world. I'm going to get rid of all of this, one way or another, and get things organised for the move.

Selling off my wardrobe

Not all of it, obviously, but I do want to continue editing it down. I usually sell on Trade Me, a New Zealand-only site, but I'm considering selling on Etsy. What do you think? Is it worth it?

Getting my own personal machine (my body, that is) up to scratch

I'm planning a healthy-eating-and-exercise regime for the next few weeks - I try to stay healthy anyway, but I'm afraid winter makes me a bit lazy and apt to eat large amounts of chocolate.

Preparing for the move

I want to learn as much as I can about Texas and the South in general before we move there. I bought some books today - including the words of Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor - in an attempt to get a sense of the history and atmosphere!

On a style-related note, I wanted to show you this trench I thrifted the other day - it has an attached tartan scarf that ties into a bow at the neck, which I love. All right, off to drown my sorrows in chicken soup. Thank you so much for all the birthday wishes, everyone - I'm glad I have you to keep me company while LOML's away!

Comment of the day

"Hi Andrea,
Not sure if I've commented before, but I'm a daily reader, thank you.
I'm down to my last two days of being away from my partner for five weeks, in fact our situation is very similar to yours. The time has flown by!
Much like you I prepared a list of things to do to keep me from missing him, but aside from the necessities I haven't done anything on the list! Between catching up with friends & family & general organising of my life I just haven't had time! I almost wish I had another week!
We posted each other little packages of goodies along with a very brief note. Nothing extravagant, just little bits & bobs that we already had with us, or reminded us of each other. It was by far the best thing to keep us from wailing how much we missed each other. Gosh I missed him like crazy though & almost stuffed my head in the post satchel to see if I could pick up his smell. I also stared at his handwriting on the parcel far longer than any normal person would.
Both receiving & sending a parcel put a grin on my face for days just knowing that despite all the fun he was having, he was thinking of me.

I thought of the wives & girlfriends of our deployed Defence Force members too (I'm in Australia), and actually felt quite selfish at times. I was sooking over five weeks of us both being safe & able to talk to each other, they go months of unpredictable contact in a warzone! Couldn't do it.

I wish you & LOML all the best, I hope the time goes fast & you get none of the non-essential items on your list done!!" - RuthieB

Happy birthday to me!

20 Jun '10
Beret - vintage, thrifted
Dress - vintage, a gift from my sister-in-law's mum
Cardigan - vintage, thrifted
Bag - birthday present to self, vintage
Gold fly pin (on collar) - another birthday gift to self
Socks which are actually grey but which look blue here - can't remember
Boots - thrifted
Belt - thrifted

Inspiration - beading and embellishment

It has been a fantastic weekend, and I have been spoiled rotten. "Rightly so!" I hear you chorus. No? Is that just in my head? Well, anyway, it was great. LOML and I went out to breakfast yesterday and to dinner last night with friends, and we spent today with family.



Excuse the weird hair - it all went a bit wrong. But after a vodka mudslide I didn't care.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend - thank you for all the birthday wishes! It is a bittersweet sort of day, because LOML is leaving for Austin tomorrow and I won't see him for five weeks. Exciting, but I'll miss him lots.

Comment of the day

"You picked out some fabulous birthday gifts!!!! Happy birthday sunshine! Your outfit is amazing, and you look so beautiful with your beau!! We will keep you company for five weeks :)" - Megan at Transmission Me

Aw, thanks, Megan! I know you will.
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