Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I did it!

Believe it or not, I did it! At nine o'clock this morning, local time, I finished writing my NaNoWriMo creation, weighing in at 50457 words, and all written in less than two weeks. Woohoo!

Of course the story is dreadful, the writing is awful and the characterisation downright contradictory, but that's not the point. I did it, I achieved something!

Ok, although I finished the story, there are still a few remaining questions. Should I go back and try to tidy up the worst of the contradictions, the places where I've used completely the wrong word, the bits which make me cringe most? Can I even be bothered to read through it again myself? And, will I ever let anyone else read it?

But those questions are for tomorrow. For one day I aim to bask in my triumph. For once in my life, I am a winner; I set myself a goal and I achieved it.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


I was inspired by this link to take part in this year's National Novel Writing Month. If the idea of writing a whole fifty-thousand word novel in a month sounds stupid, that's because it is. Given that I only started on the 17th, it's very stupid. Still, I love a challenge! Follow my progress here. Look, I'm nearly half way there! Will I make it by the end of the month? Doubtful, especially since I'm going away for the weekend with no PC. But that won't stop me trying.

What will the end product be like? Pure, unexpurgated rubbish, of course! But that's not the point. Will you be able to read it? No way! I wouldn't inflict that on anyone ;) So why do it? Because it's there. It's a challenge.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

No other gods?

This is going to start with a bit of a ramble, so if you want to the meat, skip the first couple of paragraphs.

One of the guys in the office here is a muslim. He's just finished Ramadan, and that got me thinking about things they're not supposed to eat and therefore what I'm not supposed to eat. I think meat sacrificed to idols is about the only thing in the New Testament.

As my former room-mate used to say: "'Canape, mister Bowie?' 'No thanks.' 'Canape, mister Barker?' 'No, sorry, I don't eat food offered to idols.'"

This line reminded me that God really does take idols and false gods very seriously. We are to have nothing to do with them, including not eating food sacrificed to them.

In the Old Testament in particular, the seriousness of dabbling with false religeons is made clear. In the book of Joshua, God orders genocide against the inhabitants of the promised land, illustrating the attitude we are to take towards other religeons. (Incidentally, I don't believe God demands or condones genocide in that area or elsewhere now).

Now I live in a reasonably multicultural society, so this does have ramifications. God is one, and all other gods are false. However close other religions' understandings of God might be to the real thing, if they don't recognize Jesus as God and Saviour then they are still no different from idol worshippers. While it's really important for Christians to be in contact with these people in order to show them the Real Thing - Jesus, that closeness will have limits which prevent us being involved in any of their forms of religeous devotion. Does that mean no to visiting mosques or attending Sikh weddings, for example? I don't know where to draw the line.

Most of my peers are atheistic or agnostic materialists. The gods they worship are money, family, sex, drink, self, celebrity, and posessions. These are not (all) bad things in themselves, in context. But the big question is: to what extent in my relationships with them am I guilty in "eating" the "meat" they sacrifice to their idols?

Friday, November 05, 2004

Four more years?!? My God, My God, have you forsaken us all?

The way things are going, I don't know if the world will last for four more years.

Seriously though, the thing which upset me most about the US election result was that it seems that a lot of the people who voted for Bush were Christians. Not just liberal or nominal Christians either; devout people with living faith.

I am a devout Christian, and I voted for Kerry. I didn't think he was a great candidate (I like Howard Dean, actually), but at least he wasn't Bush. Am I starting to wonder now whether I should instead have voted with so many of my fellow Christians? Absolutely not!

I believe that in this election and any election, Jesus is looking for the candidate who will stand up for the weak, the poor, the infirm. When he quotes Isaiah in saying "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, ..." This isn't just a turn of phrase or metaphor. He means he has come particularly to bring hope to people with no money, people the world has forsaken. These are not the people who benefit from a Bush presidency, tax cuts for the wealthy; these are not the people who can be incentivised to stimulate the economy. These are the unemployed, the homeless, the underpaid, those scraping out a living on minimum wage.

I also believe that Jesus is appalled by the doctrine of preemption. Remember his words: "if your enemy hits you on one cheek, turn to him the other also." How could he support a government which believes that "if you think your enemy might try to hit you on one cheek, bomb his house and kill the ******". Personally I can't imagine him supporting any war - how can you love your enemy by shooting at him? But he certainly wouldn't support going to war over oil and money.

Of course, these aren't the issues which have prompted so many of my fellow Christians to vote for Bush. They're concerned about abortion, gay marriage, etc. I believe in the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of human life (including, incidentally, the sanctity of the lives of doctors who perform abortions - but that's another discussion). To what extent can I enforce my beliefs in these areas on others, in a country which guarantees freedom of religion in its constitution? I don't know. But I believe that the issues of the poor, of economics, of taxes, and particularly of war, are every bit as much ethical issues of these.

For years, right-wing politicians have cynically exploited Christian views on topics which don't cost the wealthy money, while pretending that poverty (for example) is not an ethical issue. Rubbish! Jesus was one of the most radical, dangerous, left-wing and anti-establishment figures in history. That's why Pilate put him to death.

No matter what my fellow believers do, I will never be ashamed to be a Christian or to count them as my brothers and sisters. But I do feel very sad for them, that their genuine faith has been twisted and abused to support such un-Christlike policies and politicians.

What would Jesus do? Well, whatever he'd have done, it wouldn't have involved tax cuts for the rich, colonial wars, and giving billions of tax dollars to his friends.