Archive for the Religion Category

What A Messed Up World – part 1

Posted in Parenting, Personal Thoughts, Politics, Religion, The World with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2017 by Neal

Who hasn’t heard of sponsoring a child? You’ve probably walked past sprukers in shopping centres or seen donation tins at the counters of stores. There are a wide range of NGO’s that help children in less developed countries with food, clothing and schooling. All stuff we take for granted. These organisations help improve the lives of children, their families and their communities with stuff we take for granted. After all everyone in the world should be able to buy fast food and throw away most of it because it isn’t what you really wanted to eat, able to leave the tap running into the drain while arguing over which celebrity wore a particular dress better, complain that there isn’t a single thing to wear despite having several wardrobes full to the brim and not to forget that school is so dull and why do I need a job when I can get a government hand out? 

The sad part is some people actually behave and think like this. We are supposed to be the more developed countries yet we act like children most of the time because we have access to everything and more than we need. The real catalyst for my ramblings is a radio add I heard this morning for child sponsoring. It wasn’t for Somalia, India, Rhowanda or any of the normal countries in dire need of assistance. No it was for a country that I had never figured would need child sponsorship, Australia. 

This got me thinking which is always a bad idea. In particular I was stunned that poverty levels in my own backyard were so bad. I’m not deaf or dumb to the way things really are. The media goes on about statistics and figures which seem to just smoke screen a lot of the real issues. Governments can spend millions on a royal enquiry for this or that but can’t support community shelters. Hundred of thousands can be spent on exclusive state dinners but funding the school breakfast programs is too much of a burden for tax payers. There are thousands of children that are being miss treated by their peers simply because money is now the biggest factor in their lives. Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke was derided for his pledge that “no child will live in poverty by 1990”. Yet after 30 years, assorted governments and global situations there is an increasing number of children every day being affected by poverty, something they have no control over and should never have to worry about in the first place.

I know that there are a wide range of problems, causes and solutions but when did the lucky country become so desensitised to the common person (would use common man but that starts a whole arguement of sexism) and their plight? When did the have nots outnumber the have lots by a billion to one? The sad part is that there is no easy solution to this problem. To tackle things on such a large scale would require a lot of time, planning, money and compassion for others. 

That being said I am guilty of allowing our finances influence my children. The stress of juggling bills and income tends to bleed out from my control and affects my kids. I remember telling myself when I was younger that I wouldn’t allow money matters to trouble me or my family like it troubled my parents. Don’t get me wrong we never lacked anything but the stress of running a small business and family at the same time took more of a toll on my parents than I ever could know. 

What I want to stress is that children should not be troubled by the burdens of poverty in a country with as many opportunities as Australia. They should be allowed to be children and not grow up to think like an adult before they’re old enough. The same for developing countries, children should be happy and not wondering if they will eat at all today. If you can help someone please do so. It doesn’t have to be financial, sometimes a random act of kindness can help remove the cloud of doubt that hovers over us for a while. If you have loose change then give to charities or if possible sponsor a child. 

Remember: you can’t move a mountain intact, but you can chip away at it one rock at a time. Change the lives of others with one deed at a time.

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Anxiety 1000 : Me 1

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Family, Mental Health, Religion, Self Doubt on February 3, 2017 by Neal

Last Sunday I took a leap out of my comfort zone and did something out of the ordinary for myself. I’m on the board of the church we attend as a family and the pastor was going to be away for 2 weeks holiday. In November we discussed who might do a sermon on the days he was away and in a spur of the moment spark of insanity I said I’d do one of the days.

Yeah I know I must be crazy, after all someone with anxiety doing public speaking is probably not the wisest of ideas. However the die was cast and I had to roll with it. I felt the topic I had chosen would be meaningful to everyone and I was trying to put my thoughts into words when things started to get a bit shakey. 

First there came the over analysing. Did I have enough content? What if I put this here and then that there but wait it could go this way… What images can I use? Do these bible verses match what I’m talking about?  While all of this was going on, up crept the doubt cat and pounced on all my thoughts. It’s not good enough. Totally disjointed and will make no sense unless people can see inside my head.  I’m going to stutter and stammer through this aren’t I?

While the mental war in my head raged on I did spend the 5 days before the Sunday moving house with the family. Note to self – plan better packing and moving routine next time. So combine exhaustion, both physical and mental, with all the joys anxiety and depression like to bring to a party and I should have been a bit of a mess. So one quick finish off of my slides for the display and scribbling of notes the evening before and I was all ready…I hoped.

Reasonable length sermon short, the feed back I got from my talk was positive. People appreciated my views and perspective, which also sparked some conversations of positive debate amongst some of the other parishioners. I had kept to the point, some of my jokes were a little out of the ordinary due to generational knowledge, I spoke with confidence and knowledge. I was a little stunned by this but perhaps the biggest bit of feedback was the most noticeable and obvious as I recognised it while I was speaking.

“Never apologise or bring attention to any mistakes you make during a speech” During my sermon I apologised several times for my disjointed and perhaps convoluted way of explaining things. My mind has a habit of getting side tracked as it latches onto new thoughts that shoot through the memory exchange of thoughts. By bringing attention to these inconsequential things, I shifted the focus away from what I was talking about for no reason. It’s like telling people about a stain on your shirt that they never noticed because it wasn’t obvious, it soon becomes all they can focus on. 

I’ve been considering putting it into a more coherent form to post on here but at the moment it’s on the back burner while I focus on getting life at our new home tidy. However I have learned a new skill and realise that I can tame the anxiety beast more than I figured I could. So at the moment we have a win in the positive column against anxiety which is by far the best outcome I could have hoped for.

Same Sh1t, Different Year

Posted in Personal Thoughts, Politics, Religion, The World on January 2, 2017 by Neal

Well 2016 has proven itself to be a very trying year. We lost a lot of celebrities, some a complete shock at their passing. Various terror groups continued their relentless attacks against a world they wish to control, seeing hundreds of innocent civilians fall to the meaningless attacks. The death tolls from natural disasters added to the damage around the world. The United States got a surprise with the election of Donald Trump as president, while the Brexit result stunned the world. A lot of people seemed to think the world was about to explode with all the troubles it was facing. 

Then 2017 rocks up and everyone is celebrating. A new year and with that a total change in how things work. People won’t die, we’ll all be nice to each other, the four horsemen will settle down and play poker over a few beers, the world will know complete peace as of midnight January 1st.

But wait it seems people didn’t get the memo from 2017. A mass shooting at a New Years party is not how 2017 should start. It is easy to come up with idealistic views for a new year but the reality is a lot harder than we can imagine. However I am not suggesting we simply throw away our intentions of a better year in favour of the same old routines. As a species we tend to give in to the mediocrity of life. While many species find ways to deal with adverse changes we tend to find it difficult. 

I’m not saying all people are like this. There are a large number of people who will go out into 2017 and make monumental changes to the world, preferably in a good way. Some will have a negative impact while a greater number will have a minor impact. No matter the impact we have to realise that 2017 will be different despite all the negative things thrown at us. We can’t get caught in a case of SSDY – Same Shit, Different Year. “But nothing will change so what’s the point?” People will exclaim. True some things will always be a constant in the course of a year. People will die, wars will be fought, disasters will strike and taxes will be paid. 

Now I have a shocking secret to tell you so listen closely, 2017 isn’t a double headed coin. It’s a normal coin and like a normal coin there are two different sides. While we tend to look at all the negatives in a year it will be far from the same as last year. Babies of all species will be born, friendships will be made, lovers will meet, discoveries that change our lives will be made and in short life will move forward despite the evil machinations of others. 

Let’s try a new approach this year. How about we focus on Different Year, New Possibilities. Not as catchy a phrase I know but we can’t make changes if we only focus on what has been and not what can be. 

Have an amazing 2017  

Religious Freedom For All…..Except

Posted in Personal Thoughts, Politics, Religion, The World on December 24, 2016 by Neal

The following is a personal attempt to understand how things in the world are at the moment. To clarify I am a Christian but not a Theologist so my knowledge of various aspects of religion are limited. I am always open for discussion on topics so my views can change over time. 

2016 has proven to be a year of social and moral extremes. The increased threats of terrorism in the name of religion have created great divides in our world. With the proliferation of social media in our lives, the spread of discent and disinformation is just a great as the spread of truth. The most noticeable is the increased distrust of Islam thanks to extremists. 

Now I’m not labelling all Islamists as dangerous. That would be very hypocritical of me. History is full of moments when religion has been the catalyst for wars or massive changes in the world. To say one religion is worse than another makes as much sense as playing Russian roulette with a loaded Uzi.

What I have noticed is that while as a whole society preaches religious acceptance, there is an equally large part that ridicules religion. Social media platforms allow people to post all sorts of stuff with the knowledge that most people can claim ignorance of the source. After all who bothers to check facts these days? 

Now as a Christian I see posts and memes and wonder, “what have I done to offend?”  It seems that just being of faith these days offends some people. I will admit I used to be the sort of person that probably would join in on the ridicule, but after a series of events I had a reconsidering of my faith. Now that being said I’m not a born again evangelist who stands on street corners shouting at people to repent. I’m just as likely to make a wise crack about hell as I am heaven. Some may consider my views too relaxed but I feel that I am always true to the one core belief that I have had since I was young enough to remember. Treat others as I want to be treated. Yes I know very cliche and I’ve not always been good at leading by example. 

But I’ll talk about myself another time and back to the world we live in. It seems that people are quick to have a go at religions because of either misinformation by the media, political opinions, lack of understanding or past negative experiences. Now I’m not nieve and know that politics and media are a major factor in the world’s views on things. After all when you hear 15 times in 30 minutes about some extremist blowing himself and others up it’s no surprise opinions are formed so quickly. It is strange when people go on about how religion should not interfere or criticise their lack of beliefs, yet they themselves attack those of various faiths. 

So what am I blathering about you are probably wondering? As a whole the world is diverse and has a wide range of faiths and beliefs. Even if everyone all followed the same set of rules there are many ways to interpret those rules. I have a simple request for 2017 that some may find odd. I would like everyone to respect each other’s views and rather than ridicule or fight over them, let’s discuss things openly. Don’t let media and political speech tell you what is truth. Not everyone one of faith is an extremist. Not every unbeliever is a heathen. We are human. We are imperfect but it is those imperfections that make humanity what it is, yet it’s is those differences that we need to have a better understanding of in order to prosper.