Attention Grammar Police!

If you should find offenses to the English language in any of my articles please leave a comment and let me know so that I can obliterate it forever! Thanks!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pimp My Hundred Bucks - Part Five


Ok, so last week as your eyes drove away from my blog to more important things like real life, you left me like a kid who had been dropped off at the wrong kid’s birthday party. I’ve been eating their food and using their bathroom and have only just figured out that I don’t have a clue who any of these people are… and still no one else has noticed.

I have been the first to admit that I find myself in completely unfamiliar territory when it comes to business. The dreaded “B” word – “bu – is – ness”… it passes very uncomfortably through my lips.

Years ago I went through a boiling surge of musical creativity; I wrote songs about love, life and about being a loser. Every poor soul with ears who came within a guitar pic’s throw of me and my six stringed torture-tool was forced to endure my latest hit, which came as a deluge of passionate wailing and trademark angst; and yet to my very great surprise (now, not then) I was often asked for an encore.

People would say to me, “Why don’t you do gigs? Why don’t you get a manager? Why don’t you marry me?”

The excuses I gave never came close to the truth – apart from being too scared to really take the plunge, I wasn’t mentally equipped to deal with the “business” of pushing my music to the finishing line of success.

More recently having published on my blog site little nursery rhymes I have written for my children the questions above come back to bother me (well, except for the marriage one, children’s writers don’t attract that sort of attention…) and the truth is, apart from being a great big girl’s blouse about it, I don’t feel up to the “business” of marketing my “product”…

And yet here I am, slap in the middle of an enterprise that has become, in its own tiny little way an actual business and I have no idea how to manage it beyond what I am already doing. I’m like a blindfolded man trying to sell forks in a busy crowd, not only do I not understand the best way to sell people forks without stabbing them, I can’t do my accounting either.

I know this all sounds very negative. I just want to be completely honest about where my head is at, as well as my heart. Emotionally I feel like a bit of sentient drift wood on the sea shore, thrilled to bits every time I catch a wave but then feeling the drag of the outgoing tide – I make a great sale here, I feel the sting of listing fees there… I make another great sale, I upset a customer for posting it late…

I have always been the artist, good at creating the clever thing but never really being clever about what to do with it.

Well, this is my school with a student base of mostly one, at least I don’t have to worry about other students pulling down my grade and I don’t have to feel embarrassed about passing wind in the School Assembly because I’m the only person there who’ll notice…

Regardless, it has been a thriller of a week and I have more money to satisfy the hungry bank account with!

I have also figured out why my figures were all wrong last week too – I was tricked by imaginary money, having forgotten that some of my customers from the previous week had already paid me, so when I added up my total for the week, I added what I had already been paid twice! Once again a lesson in not paying attention!

So this week, I won’t make that mistake again!

Between last Monday and today I was victorious in the selling of nine books:

NIV Study Bible - $20
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray - $5
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle - $3
Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden - $3
James Clavell’s Whirlwind - $4
James Clavell’s Tai-Pan - $4
The Seventh Scroll by Wilbur Smith - $3
The Stand by Stephen King - $6

Giving me a Total of $54 to add to my efforts!

Normally I would replace these nine titles with 18 “new” titles but I decided to replace them with 61 titles instead, just to be a little different…

Actually I took my wife and kids to the Star of the Sea School Gala in the Auckland suburb of Botany, and of course, ignoring the bouncy castles, candy floss and various other temptations, I went straight for the books and, well, what a treat! Maybe it had something to do with it being a private school and maybe most of these books came from well-to-do homes that probably had bookshelves made of real wood, but the selection at this fair was incredible!

The weird thing was that when I entered the classroom turned sea of books, I found myself breaking into a sweat, my heart started to beat like the heart of an ancient mammoth hunter, I could smell the blood of the books beating through their papery arteries, I could sense their fear at being bought by the wrong person, each page crying out to me to catch them in my plastic shopping bags… either that or I had just had a really strong coffee that morning!

At first I plucked out books by authors like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and even good old Spike Milligan. I had about 12 books in my clutches and was prepared to spend $22 on them, when suddenly my ears pricked and I heard the girl of the stall say to another customer something about a bag of books for $2! I quickly raced to her side and asked if I heard her correctly and she said, “If you stick around another five minutes that’s what we’re doing…”

Needless to say, I stuck around. I seized the paperback game in four plastic bags for only $11 and the result was my car boot bursting at the hinges with 61 books to add to my stock!

Just to avoid confusion, the first three bags cost me $6 and then, when the operators of the stall realized how much money they were going to make, they increased the price to $5 a bag… either way, I would have gladly spent $15 for the lot! Heck, each book cost me less than 19 cents each!

But back to the present and the issue of numbers, after accounting for listing fees, success fees and the purchase of fresh books I now have, and I can safely say this figure is correct this time - $142.35.

Only $357.65 to go until I can roll around in 500 $1 notes!

I also have approximately 181 books in stock with 130 of those currently listed on Trademe!

So until next week, please “like” this blog and share it around, it really makes my day when you do! Please leaves some encouraging comments too, that way I’ll know that real people are reading these…

Don't forget:


Click Here to read Part Six of this series!

Click Here if you would like to follow my progress on Facebook!

Click Here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to read my awesome last series, Pimp My Twenty Bucks

Click Here to view my Trademe Listings


Come find me on YouTube!



















                           









                            

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pimp My Hundred Bucks - Part Four

As brilliant as the past seven days have been, I am still not yet the master of the wobbly boat.

First of all there’s Felix, my evil cat who I mentioned in my last series…

Well, Felix has a “brother” called Fernando who was in every way the opposite of everything that made Felix a pain. Fernando was the perfect male cat until he got pregnant. This week I discovered his tummy was getting bigger and so were his kitty nipples… after further investigation I discovered he was missing something unique to all male cats, making him a female.

Now I have to consider gender reassignment as a possible expenditure when all of this is over, that is if I want “him” to keep the name Fernando. At least my kids will enjoy having some kittens for a while, at least until for as long as it takes me to find them new homes!

Anyone want a kitten?

While this is a good example of the price of procrastination, it also demonstrates what not paying close attention will cost you!

I’ve procrastinated on a few things with regards to this monetary adventure. In the past week I was unable to list all the new stock of 20 books which I had purchased for $12.

I still haven’t made the trip to ANZ Bank to invest my $20 into Bonus Bonds.

I still haven’t got a proper grasp of what exactly I am doing.

Now that’s not to say this isn’t working. On the contrary it’s working very well… but a little too well…

Allow me to show you…

In the past seven days I sold the following books:



The Haj by Leon Uris -$3
What Einstein told his barber by R.L. Wolke -$3
Black House by Stephen King -$4
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham -$3
A Sparrow Falls by Wilbur Smith -$3
Stark by Ben Elton -$3
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay -$6
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot -$5
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck -$3
Inside the Spaceships by George Adamski -$6



Giving me a total of $39, less than last week but still significantly more than I was making when I was trying to turn $20 into $100!

Having sold ten books I intend to replace them with another 20 (if I can actually find the time to list them all!) So I will set aside $12 for that mission...

I’ve also relisted all the books from the last seven days that did not sell. Actually most of my listings are out of sync now, due to my only being able to list them as the time allows me to. In the past I tended to wait until the end of a seven day period to relist all the books that closed during the week but I have decided to try and keep the river flowing by relisting everything as it ends.

As of the publication of this blog, I currently have 107 titles listed with more to come throughout the week!

So here’s where it gets kind of tricky. Ok, really tricky.

I’m not an accountant, obviously. In fact right now I feel like I’m in a Nightmare on Elm St Scenario, where I’ve fallen asleep and am being chased by Freddie the Accountant who has ball point pens instead of fingers and a calculator for a face! An 80’s calculator no less!

I’ve crunched the numbers for this week and I can’t figure out why I have MORE money than I should!

I’ve mentioned before that I have a special account called the Dog Ears account that only I use. No money goes in or out other than what my customers feed into it and what I withdraw for expenses…

Right now there is $68 in Dog Ears, $39 going in from this week’s sales and $25 in my Trademe account.

So after taking into account listing fees, success fees and the $12 I’ve set aside for new stock I am left with $120!

$20 more than the $100 I started out with!

Not that I want to complain about breaking beyond my beginnings, or about having only $380 to go until I’ve reached my goal of $500, I just want to figure out how last week’s figure of $74 plus $39 culminate into $120 (minus the $12)?

That's just not good arithmetic!

I feel like I’m riding a bigger horse than I’m used to, worse than that, the horse is being frightened by a crazed mathematician. Man I hope there are no Math genius’ reading this! The horse is running with me.

I’ve checked the bank statements, I’ve checked everything, and all I can conclude is that last week’s figures must have been wrong somehow, though I can’t figure out how.

So I really must apologize, but I am the guy who mistook his favourite cat for a dude for the past ten months!

Nevertheless, the show must go on. I have decided to accept my good, albeit miscalculated fortune and press forward.

But as the old proverb says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” Thankfully nothing I do is right in my own eyes, I’d have to be cross-eyed for that… but I’m standing in the wobbly boat wondering how I’m going to keep it from tipping. If anyone has any advice, feel free to throw it at me like one of those life saver things.

Thanks Dan, one of my esteemed readers for pointing out that I should be looking out for first editions! Unfortunately I sold “Inside the Spaceships” by George Adamski for only $6 I had no idea the book was rare! Probably not unique enough to retire this series early, but I have a strong feeling the guy who bought it from me would have gladly paid more!

Yet another mistake I have been forced to learn from. But like I said before, you must pay for your education and that was a lesson well spent.

Until next time, here are some links I hope you will play with, because they’re lonely and need to be clicked!

Click Here to read Part Five in this series!

Click Here if you would like to follow my progress on Facebook!

Click Here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to read my awesome last series, Pimp My Twenty Bucks

Click Here to view my Trademe Listings

Genesis Chapter One - A Poem

In the beginning God created
The heavens and the earth
The world submerged in waters deep
And all was dark before it's birth

The planet hung in silent space
A formless silhouette
But glory graced it's cold dark face
As upon the deep hovered his Spirit

And then the Holy Elohim
Commanded that the night
Step aside and bow down to
His words, "Let there be light!"

And upon the earth the new light shone
It's youthful radiance
All because the great God spoke
His word of influence

And by that word he kept apart
The darkness from the light
And declared the light be called the "Day"
And the dark he designated "Night"

And evening fled
Morning came fast
The first of all the days had passed.

And then the Great I Am proclaimed,
"Let there be an expanse!"
And the waters separated quick
To facilitate the skies advance

And by the Lord's supreme decree
The firmament was so
Distinguishing the atmosphere
From the ocean far below

From horizon to horizon
The Holy One ordained
That the bright blue sky above
Bear "Heaven" as it's name.

And evening fled
Morning came fast
The second of all days had passed

And then the one called Beautiful
Spoke of the single deep
To congregate and to release
The dry land from it's keep

And so the waters thrashed in place
By the grand command
And so it came about that God
Created the earth's seas and land

And for the briefest time that passed
The One who understood
Looked upon his work so far
And saw that it was truly good

And then the Everlasting One
Gave garments to the land
Plants with seed and wondrous trees
Appearing as the Master planned

And so it was the earth was dressed
In floral brown and green
According to their kinds the plants
And trees that fruit with seed.

And for only a moment He
Looked upon the woods
And saw with satisfaction
That what he made was good

And evening fled
Morning came fast
The third of all the days had passed

And Wisdom spoke that lights appear
Beyond the new world's sky
To separate the night from day
And illumine from on high

"And let them be for signs" He said
"For Seasons, days and years."
and by his word it happened that
The hosts of heaven did appear

Two lights the Greatest Light did make
The sun to rule the day
And the lesser moon the night
With the stars soft rays

And beholding the great counterparts
Of heaven's neighborhood
He who made the galaxies
Declared that it was good

And evening fled
Morning came fast
The fourth of all the days had passed

And then the One who holds the earth
Commanded that the seas
Would swarm with diverse living things
And flourish abundantly

And by divine vernacular
He ordered that the sky
Would teem with creatures on the wing
According to their kinds

Again he saw that it was good
And quickly ratified
that all the creatures he had made
Increase and multiply

And evening fled
Morning came fast
The fifth of all the days had passed

Then the Author of all life
Uttered his sovereign speech
That upon the earth be creeping things
Livestock and all beasts

And as he spoke it became so
According to design
All creatures in abundance
According to their kinds

And Heaven's Holy Engineer
Beheld and understood
The Life now living on the land
Was wonderful and good

Then God said, "Let us make man,
In image just like us."
And so the man came into being
In the Creator's likeness!

And then the Father did decree
That man should have command
Over the sky, over the sea
And over all of the dry land

And so the Ancient of all Days
Who formed the man from clay
Blessed him with dominion
Over all that he had made

And to the man and to the beasts
He gave the plants for food
He told the beasts to fill the earth
And mankind to increase too

And the Highest King of Heaven
Revealed his fatherhood
By looking at the Man and beasts
And saying that they were very good

And evening fled
Morning came fast
The sixth of all the days had passed

And thus the end of God's great work
Had at long last come
So on the seventh of all days
He rested from the work he'd done

And thus the seventh of all days
The God of Heaven blessed
Making it a holy day,
A day of blessed holy rest

And evening fled
Morning came fast
Creation was complete at last

By Kerin Gedge
Copyright 22nd October 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jaws - A Review

There are certain movies that, in the course of your life, you will come back to. For me those movies are dominated by two directors, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

In my formative years these magicians of film were at the top of their game and produced some of the most memorable movie moments that, like handprints in wet cement, left their mark permanently in my developing brain.

But this Review is thanks to Spielberg, so move over George.

I was three when I first saw E.T. at the local cinema with my older cousin who was babysitting me that day. I still remember how both awe-struck and devastated I was when E.T. finally went home; his mother ship leaving its rainbow trail in the night sky.

The days of VHS came along and the bright among us discovered that if you had two VCRs you could easily “dub” video rentals. Of course this was illegal, but this was the 80’s when most of the population’s hair cuts should have been illegal. We had an uncle who had amassed for himself a monumental private library of some of the best films of the day. Thanks to his criminal ingenuity my brother’s and I must have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark and Close Encounters of the Third Kind at least a hundred times throughout our respective childhoods!

The result was I spent much of my younger days dreaming about either being abducted by Aliens (stupid, I know) or unearthing lost Biblical Relics, and let’s not forget – outsmarting Nazis. Clearly, my imagination was like a Lego set and Spielberg was one of the masterminds behind putting its pieces together.

In some ways, these movies for me have become psychological landmarks. Every few years when I watch them again I am able to somehow, almost mystically, reconcile myself now with who I was then. I don’t mean that in some Hippie New Agey way, just that if my life was like a road map, these movies would be like the occasional pit stop circled in red, I take a break from the journey and find “relief” in these films that wind my mind back to the child who saw them, and then, in a way, I bring that child back with me and feel like I can go on the next leg of the journey with a new sense of vitality and wonder.

Or perhaps things really were better then, before mobile phones and Xboxes and poor old E.T. had to make his intergalactic telecommunications device out of transistor radios and Simon Says components. The movies remind me of a time when I had never heard about “left” wing politics, “Socialism” and the various “agendas” that have swept across the vista of my adult life. Vietnam was ancient history, the golf war was ages away (for a kid at least) and if you said the words “Culture wars” I would have thought you were from a non-English speaking country. I like going back to those days, even if just for a couple of hours, to escape the insanity of super-modern living.

The strange thing is however, I can probably remember more about these stories of Spielberg’s than I can about my own actual childhood! I remember the first time I saw Goonies, the first time I saw Hook, E.T. and Jurassic Park… but strangely enough, I have absolutely no recollection of when I first saw Jaws. Its first screening seems blurred in the murky waters of reminiscence – because it was too darn scary to remember!

I know this because when I saw Jaws 2 I was about 7. I lived by the seaside as a young lad where swimming was as natural as pouring a bowl of cornflakes to most of my classmates and I. After I saw Jaws 2 I was so scared I couldn’t even walk on the thick carpet of our living room for fear that a shark was going to come out of the woolen floor and devour me, and that wasn’t even a Spielberg film! So I can comprehend what an impact the first movie must have had on me… even though I have a vague feeling I was much older when I finally saw it…

Anyway, my apologies for the long introduction, my point was and is that Jaws is one of those movies that I come back to every five years or so to refill my “Wow” tanks. I saw Jaws last night on Bluray and my “Wow” tanks are overflowing.

Jaws, based on the novel by Peter Benchley, is the inspiring tale of a Great White Shark who has staked his territorial claim on the waters surrounding Amity Island, where the townsfolk depend on the Summer tourist trade for their dollars. The season has arrived and the tourists are coming but the Shark has already claimed its first victim, in the first five minutes of the film, a drunken skinny dipping hippie chick.

Roy Scheider plays Martin Brody, the former New York cop become Sheriff who hates boats and has no idea what he is up against. The girl’s remains wash up on the beach, an arm sticking out of the sand amidst a small mound of human hungry crabs and Brody is quick to close the beach to prevent more carnage.

But the good sheriff’s best efforts are thwarted at every turn by the stupidity and stubbornness of the local authorities who are only concerned with the money the town will lose if word gets out that there “may” be killer shark on the loose. For a while there you don’t know which is scarier, the Shark or the small island’s bureaucracy!

It takes almost four victims before the Mayor admits they have a real problem on their hands, and so Brody, an Oceanographer named Hooper (Richard Dreyfus) and Quint, the mysterious sea Captain played by the late Robert Shaw, set out on a journey into a watery hell to catch the dreaded hungry Jaws of the deep….

When writing a film review there is one thing you must never do – never simply say, “I loved this movie, it was great.” Well, stuff it, I loved this movie, it was great!

CGI has spoiled anyone unfortunate to be born after the 80’s. Plot, character development and dialogue have all, on most occasions, been sacrificed on the altar of great visual effects. Just look at AVATAR, heck just look at the new Star Wars Trilogy!

Ok, obviously this is not always true, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy has proved that you can still tell a good story even though some of the characters aren’t really there, but back in the olden days, before a computer program could make anything from nothing, a good film relied on its director and its actors to convince their audience that the animatronic shark was real!

Spielberg does this by painstakingly ensuring that you don’t see the whole shark for most of the film, and when you do it’s blurred by enough water to hide the fact that under the boat was 25 feet of prosthetics.

The way the actors interact with the fake animal is also important, the shark’s first course in the beginning of the movie, the nude hippie, is so convincingly eaten by nothing that you’re convinced she was killed by something!

Again when Richard Dreyfus puts on his diving suit in the middle of the night to get a closer look at a partially submerged boat manages to scream like a little girl under water when a mutilated corpse floats out of the bite hole under the boat; all the while you’re begging him to GET OUT OF THE WATER! Again, there’s no shark in this scene, just the idea of one.

But even more terrifying is the yellow lilo scene where a great day at the beach is interrupted by the sudden appearance of fins behind a boy on a lilo. Next thing you know, there’s no boy, but there sure is a lot of blood and scores of children splashing to safety. Suddenly silence as everyone looks back at the now empty water and the mother of the eaten boy moves to the front calling his name; the only answer to her plea being a deflated shredded yellow lilo lapping at the shore. Bone chilling stuff… still, there’s hardly any shark in this scene, mainly the idea of one.

I mentioned earlier about coming back to films from your past, well, this time round I watched the film as a father and the horror of it all was completely new to me, from the boy lost in the previous paragraph to the Sheriff’s son’s brief brush with the shark. Suddenly the film feels less like the slasher-like movie I once thought it was to having more in common with Liam Neeson’s Taken, where a Dad will stop at nothing to save his kids.

In the end it is the desperate boat fearing Father who saves the day.

Finally I simply loved the fact that at the end of it all this was just a great story. There were no hidden analogies, no political agendas, no political correctness, no environmentalist propaganda; just a darn hungry shark. Heck, the shark didn’t even need a reason to be hungry, he didn’t have to be genetically engineered and he wasn’t punishing Amity for not paying their carbon tax either, he was just a scum-bag of a shark who needed a swift bullet to an oxygen tank in his mouth! I loved that.

I give this film a 9 out of 10 because I’m going to watch it again and again and again at five year intervals throughout the rest of my life, and each time I see that shark get what’s coming to him I’ll get that sense of satisfaction a man is supposed to have when a desperate Sherriff says, “Were going to need a bigger boat!”

Love Movies? Check out this cool Blog Carnival at apotpourriofvestiges.com!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pimp My Hundred Bucks - Part Three


We’ve all seen this in the movies, a guy in a row-boat in the middle of a lake stands up only to have the dinghy wobble frantically about, threatening to tip him overboard until he finally finds his balance, standing very still in the centre of the boat in a sort of spider-man pose while he figures out what to do next…

That’s me, metaphorically speaking...

Last week my “boat” was wobbling. If you saw my blog you might have read between the lines; that I was doing the wobbly boat dance, wondering who let me take their boat out in the first place!

This week I’m doing the spider-man balancing pose, gradually finding my sea-legs while I ponder what to do next…

From the day I started Pimp My Twenty Bucks until Now I have not had a week like this one, in which I have sold so many titles, breaking all my previous personal records!

But enough chit-chat, let’s get straight into it!

This week I sold:


James Clavell’s Whirlwind -$3
James Clavell’s Noble House -$3
James Clavell’s Tai-pan -$3
The Fellowship of the Ring -$3
The Clan of the Cave Bear -$3
The Bridges of Madison County -$3
If only they could talk, J Herriot -$3
Overload, Arthur Hailey -$3
Snouts in the Trough, A Fraser -$3
King James Bible -$25

Leaving me with a nice total of $52!

Understandably I’m shocked, especially after months of pulling in dribs and drabs, $5 here and $9 there, like a kid catching sprats with oat meal until suddenly out jumps a $52 stingray!

That particular Bible that I sold cost me less than 20 cents! It was actually one of the titles I picked up in the “Bag of books for $2” deal at the School Gala from a couple of weeks ago. The Good Book scored nine bids with about 11 Trademe users “watching” it. I felt so bad about selling a second hand Bible for that much money that I actually waived the postage fee! I always knew the Bible was the World’s Number One Best Seller of all time, but this week I experienced it firsthand!

I’ll be looking out for old Bibles when I do my op-shopping from now on!

Actually that wasn’t the only surprise this week. From the beginning I have played it safer than safe, only buying books by authors I recognized and titles I knew. But having bought those bags of books I ended up with a lot of “randoms” like, “If only they could talk” by James Herriot and “Overload” by Arthur Hailey, books and authors that made me say things like, “Arthur Who?” This has really challenged my thinking on sticking solely to what I know, maybe I need to intentionally buy the odd “unknown” and try my luck?

Another stimulating eventuality is that now that my friends and family have caught on to what I’m doing I seem to be getting the odd freebie thrown my way, and again they tend to be books from the realm of obscure authors. But after selling “Snouts in the Trough” by Andrew Fraser for $3, that’s a 100% profit on that one, I don’t think I’ll be saying no to people wanting to offload their “junk” books on me in the future! (There’s a hint buried in this paragraph for anyone who missed it).

Anyway, back to the numbers…

This week I’m saying, “To heck with it!” I’m going to resume my usual practice of replacing every book I sell with two more. I’ve purchased 20 books for $12, and one of them happens to be a Bible! Here’s hoping for a similar success this week!

This week I’ve relisted all the listings that ended today as well as some of the ones that closed during the week, bringing my current total of books listed to 102 titles! (That’s without the 20 new titles; it’ll take me all week to list these…)

After subtracting success fees, listing fees and the purchasing of new merchandise I now have $74 and only $426 to go until I’ve reached my goal for this series of $500.

But alas, a week of success such as this one has not come without its pitfalls. My laptop passed away this week due to a freak technological illness known in the IT world as - Itscompletelystuffed. I like to think that a cyborg was sent back from the distant future to prevent me from becoming an internet billionaire by destroying my computer, but my psychologist tells me that this isn’t true, even though I know my psychologist is the cyborg who did it...

But back to “reality”, although I do 90% of my internetage on the old iPhone and iPad, this does mean that I won’t be able to put the usual links at the end of my Blogs, except for what I can cut and paste from old blogs that is, until I can figure out how to get a new laptop! This also means I won’t be publishing my eBook “Pimp My Twenty Bucks” in the near future. Blasted futuristic cyborgs!

So now I leave you to wallow in expectant eagerness for my next installment… until then, here’s some dots…

Click Here to read Part Four of this series

Click Here if you would like to follow my progress on Facebook!

Click Here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to read my awesome last series, Pimp My Twenty Bucks

Click Here to view my Trademe Listings

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How Distillation Works - A Poem

When a liquid is heated
its molecules react,
In fact they start to move around
and violently interact
Crashing into molecules
Which are not yet in motion
until they gain such insane speeds
they break free of their boiling potion

And so they make their great escape
in the form of vapor
Until they meet with something cold
and their adventure starts to taper
Losing kinetic energy
they start to coalesce
and become little liquid drops
upon the newfound cold surface

The process itself is not unlike
A kettle boiling fast
The steam escapes the angry jug
and collects in droplets on the glass
It also happens naturally
when the suns hot rays
makes water to evaporate
and thus creates clouds full of rain

In chemical technology
the procedure is done
with distilling apparatus
or a big distilling column
Its purpose is to separate
liquids that can steam
from ones that can’t evaporate
or turn to gas so easily

The portion which evaporates
When heat is applied
condenses as the distillate
then comes out of the other side
And the fluid left behind
the useless liquid goo
has the honour of being named
The distillation residue…

By Kerin Gedge
Copyright 2012

(Inspired by How Things Work: The Universal Encyclopedia of Machines Volume 1 1974 Paladin edition)

Come and check out my Poetical Dictionary @ The Vocabuverse!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pimp My Hundred Bucks - Part Two

For the past three to four months I have been indistinguishable from Julie Andrews in the opening credits of “The Sound of Music”. As I leapt from week to week, from one small success to another, it was as though I was the young head-strong nun dancing in the hills, crushing the daisies under my careless feet, singing, “The Hills are alive, with the smell of money…. La lah ah ah…”

Then I reached the top of the hill having made the Hundred Bucks for which I had been climbing.

In my elation, and perhaps pride, propelled by stronger ambitions I threw myself at the next hill before me, on top of which rests, hopefully, a greater figure of $500.

But as the song says, what are we going to do about Maria? Because this Maria is not wearing the right shoes, has no climbing experience, and didn’t notice at the outset just how rocky and jagged this new hill would quickly become!

Last week I set forth my various intentions regarding how I was going to transform my new found hundred into $500 and here’s the mess I have got myself into…

I spent $30 of that hundred at a local school fear (Freudian slip, I meant “fair”) and purchased something in the vicinity of 40 books (I still haven’t counted them!) I spent another $10 purchasing second hand books from a local op shop and added them to the dusty piles…

I then undertook the harrowing task of actually listing the books, a feat yet to be completed! The best I could manage was between 10-20 listings a day starting last Monday, meaning that by yesterday I had 107 books listed on Trademe.

Throughout the week certain realities began to sink in. I started experiencing entrepreneurial vertigo. The grim realization of “overhead” reared its ugly head and the potential flaw in my plans became apparent - newly imposed listing fees.

I “knew” that this was coming of course. But there is a difference between abstract knowledge and actually experiencing it. The difference being that experience actually hurts.

In a nut shell, once a Trademe user goes over 50 listings, the Trademe site considers the trader to be a “heavy user” and so automatically charges a 10 cent listing fee for every item over and above the first 50, which for me meant that out of the 107 books I listed last week, I spent $5.70 on listing fees.

This is completely new to me. I felt the pain of money evaporating as if I was a vampire caught naked in the sunshine. All my hopes of making it to $500 in the near future farted like an untied balloon released in the wind.

So what? $5.70 doesn’t seem that bad, you may say. Well, to begin with no, but all week I’ve been dreading the consequence of losing ten cents every time a book doesn’t sell. Put in another light, today I relisted the almost 50 books which did not sell from last Monday’s listings, costing me close to another $5. And those are just the listing fees; I also have to take into consideration success fees and promotional fees. So you can see that if I don’t sell enough books to cover these fees on a weekly basis, the business model I used in my last series, to turn $20 into $100, is not going to work this time around.

Insert sad face punctuations here - :(

But the small spark of hope in the freezer of my despair is trying to ignite my optimism by squeaking various possibilities into my ear…

Between last Monday and today I only successfully sold three books. We’ll look closer at those soon. You might remember from the last chapter of Pimp My Twenty Bucks that New Zealand is now in the middle of the School Holidays. Over the past few months my experience has taught me that Holidays always hibernate my sales. In fact in the week leading up to the holiday I seem to do better than normal until bang, dead calm.

Although this can’t be proven I have this theory that people prepare for the holidays by buying a book and then during the holiday itself they are too busy reading it to bother with buying any more…

I told you it was a spark of optimism.

I cannot keep myself from telling you that I have felt like that Icarus fellow from Greek Mythology, who made wings with wax but in his pride flew too close to the sun, causing the wax to melt, resulting in his splat-worthy demise. I got my hundred and went to town, swept up as many books as I could and propelled myself into handling a “business” the size of which I was not ready to handle. When I was trying to turn $20 into a hundred, my stock grew slowly, and the experience was like my favourite teacher in primary school, who incidentally was named, Mrs. Money!

But now “Mrs. Money” has been replaced with the nameless nasty teacher from my childhood, the one who took my lunch off me because it was too unhealthy, the one who called me a “disgusting little boy” in front of the whole school assembly because my sinus troubles offended her ears, the one who made us do yoga! I’ve often wanted to go back in time and give her a piece of my adult mind, perhaps this enterprise is my chance?

So anyway between last Monday and today I sold:

Harmonic 695 The UFO and Anti-gravity for $6
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley for $4
Phineas Fin by Anthony Trollope for $3

Giving me a total of $13.

I still have the $20 I set aside for “investing” in Bonus Bonds, it seems obtaining them online is rather difficult if you don’t have a printer, but that’s a boring tale of procrastination I won’t bore you with.

I have $15.86 left in my Trademe account.

So all up I have $48.86 to show for this week’s efforts.

Normally my tactic would be to replace the books I sold this week with twice the amount I sold, but because I still have books left over from my stock binge last week which have yet to be listed, I’m not going to cloud my efforts with any new stock. I want to focus on trying to get the rest of my stock listed before next Monday.

Another thing, which should relieve the stress of listing fees for at least this week, of the 107 books I’ve listed over last week I will only be relisting the ones that closed this morning, that’s about 50 or so books. The reason is that I just wanted to get all the new books “into the system” so that I can relist them all at once next Monday, so as to avoid overlaps and possible migraines.

I’ve thought extensively about where to go from here. I could drop my listings down to 50 books and continue to reap the benefits of not paying listing fees. But the road to $500 will be a slow one.

A devious option would be to use my wife’s Trademe account as well as my own and abuse the system, but I will not do that. If I’m going to succeed it will be through honesty. I’m operating on the principal that in life you reap what you sow and I’m not prepared to reap the wages of cheating.

I could keep 50 items listed on Trademe and open up an account on seller.co.nz, or fishpond.co.nz or even eBay, spread out my stock across multiple platforms? This could very well be a possibility in the near future.

But in fact, what I am going to do is intentionally keep going as I am, even if it means losing what remains of my hundred. This might seem like a stupid thing to do but I see it as “purchasing experience.”

I need to thoroughly learn where the pitfalls in this enterprise are, and that is something I’m willing to pay for. After all, Mr. Failure and Mrs. Mistake are the parents of Success; Success is the child who will not repeat his parent’s follies.

I hope that people are going to be cheap enough to start Christmas Shopping for Second Hand Books!

In any case, if I do, “lose” what remains of my hundred this does not mean the end of my goal to turn $100 into $500. The blog will go on. After all, I still have my stock, and one way or another it will continue to sell.

So will I have more than $48 next week or less? The bets are on…

Oh yeah, one other thing – my last intention.

In addition to investing $20 of my hundred and continuing to list books on Trademe, I hope to have compiled my last series, “Pimp My Twenty Bucks”, into an eBook by November. So please, write that down on your list of possible presents for people who like this sort of thing. Just thought I had better get some advertising in…

Don’t forget to click on the “like” button below as part of a social experiment to see how many people will do so because I’ve asked them ever so nicely to, pretty please?

Click Here if you would like to follow my progress on Facebook!

Click Here to read this series from the beginning!

Click Here to read my awesome last series, Pimp My Twenty Bucks

Click Here to view my Trademe Listings

Click Here to read Part Three in this series

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Five Year Engagement - A Review

Have you ever watched Saw? You know the one about the psycho who puts people in a situation where they have one of two choices – either to die a horrible death or survive by committing a gruesome act?

Well, I chose to survive by committing a gruesome act. I watched The Five Year Engagement starring Jason Segal and Emily Blunt.

I have endured various methods of torture throughout this year. I have seen the dentist tray’s tools of extreme hurt take the shape of films like The Vow or The Lucky One. Heck, I’ve even offered a molar to the drug free root canal like pain of The Note Book, but this comedic chick flick (if it can be called comedic) was like rubbing the sleep out of my eyes with an electric sander.

This movie steals all the best bad descriptions I can think of. I experienced Arcane Boredom. It was Intensely Inane. A prescription of morphine might have made it less painful, but I doubt it.

Just look at the poster of the movie and you will see Jason and Emily’s characters sitting on a hotel bed looking like a pair of zombies watching sheep herding on the telly while eating cake. The poster depicts what you will look like while watching this film!

The story, in a nut shell, is about Tom and Violet, two lovebirds who decide to get married. Tom has a great job in San Francisco as a chef until Violet is offered a position at a University in Michigan. They decide to prolong their engagement so she can take up this fantastic opportunity, but alas in their new home Tom can’t find a career job, their roles are reversed and Tom spends the next five years making sacrifice after sacrifice for his beloved while waiting for a wedding that never comes.

Boring!

However it wasn’t just the story that made me semi-conscious, the pace of the movie was slow. Jason Segal played his role like a teenager who just got out of bed at 1 pm just so he could go to the bathroom. Emily Blunt was ok but her character was non-committal and frustrating. If she had of been my fiancĂ© I would have dropped the ball after three years, not five, thus making Tom a very unbelievable character in my book.

I know you think that I am a typical guy slagging out a chick flick, you’re grimly mistaken. Ten minutes into the film I looked at my wife and I could tell by the boredom lines on her face, and by the fact that her expression resembled Emily Blunt’s listless gape in the poster, that she was enjoying it as little as I was. She even said as much. But we endured because we had nothing better to do, even though scrubbing the toilet would have been better I suppose. On the other hand I knew I was going to enjoy telling you all how much I loathed this pitiful puke of a “comedy”.

A lot of the Humor was uncomfortable. Tom had a friend, Alex, played by Chris Pratt, who frankly was a pratt. He was the kind of character who kept saying the wrong thing, usually disgusting, in the wrong social setting. He was meant to be funny. But he was actually sad. I know guys like him, they’re sad too. You don’t put them in movies.

Perhaps if you replaced Jason Segal with Steven Seagal the movie would have at least had the benefit of having someone kicked in the face, but otherwise the only deaths in the film were those of grandparents dying of natural causes!

My film reviews are usually longer than this but I’m not sure I can kill any more brain cells trying to recall the trauma induced by watching this movie.

I give it a 3 out of 10 because it turned my brain into porridge. Had I half my wits remaining, I would possibly consider giving it less….

Click Here to read more of my film reviews!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Letter to a Great Agnostic

This article would best be read AFTER reading my blog entitled, “Does God Really Need Our Prayers?” Particularly the comments section.

A long comment deserves a long response and I always secretly desire to enlist the help of my other readers who may be more knowledgeable than me about such things, not to mention more articulate!

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “The more the words the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (Ecclesiastes 6:11) I fear that I am guilty of ignoring that proverb!

But it’s my hope that should I fail miserably at this apologetic that anyone reading, and not just my agnostic friend, that they would ignore everything that I have said here and go straight to the laboratory – by bending on their knee and actually trying to talk to God for a month, by praying the Lord’s Prayer, just to see what happens. I said it below and I will say it again, I believe that talking to God in this way, would be far more beneficial than reading one of my blogs!

Either way, here is my letter to one great and honest agnostic.

Hi PJ

Thanks for reading my blog; I’m relieved that you enjoyed it!

I’m sorry to hear that life has thrown you some tough experiences but it is good to hear that they have not lead you down a path of self-destruction and that you can still entertain a smile. Sincerely, well done.

Thank you also for allowing me to make this letter public. Not only will my readers (if I have any) find it interesting but you have given me something to write about, something an aspiring writer like me can never be ungreatful for!

As far as this response is concerned please regard this as a discussion, not as an argument. I have enjoyed reading your comments and can appreciate your views on an abstract level and expect no less from you. On the other hand, as a Christian, my faith compels me to proselytize and to win souls, so if my response seems preachy at times, please accept this is natural to my Christian disposition and can’t be helped. I hope you understand.

I’ve put the Gospel of Thomas in my “List of things to read” which is a very long list I’m afraid, but I will get there eventually, provided December 2012 really isn’t the Apocalypse! I mentioned before that I wasn’t sure, from a scholarly understanding, why it was not included in the canon of Scripture, but from what you’ve already told me I can see at least one point worth mentioning…

In Luke 9:54 there is an account of a Samaritan town that rejected Jesus and his disciples James and John asked Jesus if he wanted them to call down fire from Heaven but Jesus rebukes them for suggesting such a thing. I only mention this because the idea of the other disciples wanting to stone Thomas seems quite against what Jesus had taught them. Even when the crowd came to Gethsemane to take Jesus away, he rebukes Peter for cutting off the ear of the servant of the High Priest…

Also, on another note, you will never find in the New Testament an example of Christians stoning anyone; in fact it was usually the Christians getting stoned. So I can see, at least in that case, that the gospel wouldn’t be consistent with the rest of the New Testament Canon or with historical accounts of the way early Christians treated one another…

A question I would raise regarding the text would be, how does it hold up against Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah? What I mean is the Old Testament has more than 300 references to the coming Christ which find their fulfillment in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I’m not sure, but I imagine the early church fathers were aware of this, which probably gave those gospels more credibility than the Gnostic texts perhaps?

As an introductory example of an Old Testament reference to Christ my favourite is Genesis Chapter Five, which at first glance looks like a boring genealogy of Adam to Noah. For years I read this Scripture and thought, “Whatever!” Until someone pointed out that the meanings of the names gave the text a completely new significance:

Adam = Man
Seth = Appointed
Enosh = Mortal
Kenan = Sorrow
Mahalalel = Blessed God
Jared = Shall Come Down
Enoch = Teaching
Methuselah = His Death Shall Bring
Lamech = Despairing
Noah = Rest

String those meanings together and you have a pretty cool (well, cool if you’re a Christian) statement:

Man was appointed Mortal Sorrow but the Blessed God Shall Come Down Teaching that His Death Shall Bring the Despairing Rest.

If that does absolutely nothing for you, then that’s fine, but keep in mind it is one of hundreds. I would be very interested to know if the Gospel of Thomas holds up against, well I guess you could call it prophetic analysis?

However, I promise to read the Gnostic Gospels one day and maybe I’ll have something else to write about…

With regards to my idea of God having a paternal nature, I meant it really as a way of understanding why God wants our worship and adoration. I don’t mean for a second that the instinct is exactly the same as ours given our inferior range of emotions, but to understand why God would want our love and devotion can, in my mind be compared to my own desire for my little ones to love and look up to me…

Now I know this next bit is going to sound incredibly arrogant, but I have to say it. Before I had children, I loved my friends and family very much, in the same way that you do now. But please believe me when I say that when I had kids, “Love” was completely redefined for me. Before then it was very easy to read the Bible and think of the Christian God as being this great big grumpy rule maker who doesn’t want us to have any fun, but when I became a dad it was like a penny dropped inside my brain and I had an “Aw, so that’s what it means!” moment every time I read that God was our Father in Heaven. He doesn’t seem so mean anymore.

I guess I’m just trying to say that this is an experiential understanding on my part of the nature of God, I don’t expect you to agree, but maybe, just maybe, when you have children of your own you will find yourself asking different questions about the nature of God? Then again, perhaps not…

As for the brain chemistry thing, I agree that some kinds of love can be explained chemically, especially the love the Ancient Greeks referred to as “Eros”. But it can’t explain “Agape” love – which is another Greek word that refers to unconditional love. This is a type of love that has nothing to do with human emotion at all. With unconditional love you are able to forgive people for their wrongs against you. With unconditional love you are able to stay married to the same spouse years after the sexual attraction has evaporated.

The Bible teaches that “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5) This is the kind of love Jesus showed when dying on the cross; he was able to say, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

For some great reading there is an old book called Foxes Christian Martyrs which is a collection of traditions and true accounts of Christian Martyrs from the days of Ancient Rome to the 16th Century. The book contains many examples of Christians who suffered martyrdom for their faith and yet were still able to show love to their persecutors. One story even tells of a guy who, when the soldiers came to his house to take him away, he offered to bake them all bread because they looked famished from their journey.

I don’t believe that sort of love can be explained away by chemical processes. Loving those who hate you makes absolutely no sense.

But to be completely honest, as a parent, I don’t want to explain my love for my kids away as some kind of chemical process. There’s also a flip side to this, and that is the plethora of examples of bad parents who really don’t love their kids at all. In my Country, New Zealand, we have a disgustingly high rate of child abuse… if Love can be relegated simply to a few chemicals then we have a lot of people in the world with a serious chemical imbalance. Actually, that’s neither here nor there, just thought I would mention it.

But there must be a love that motivates us to Honour, duty, accepting responsibility, kindness in the face of adversity, and respect for people you disagree with. In fact, I can say that I love you in the context of this discussion, by hopefully treating you with respect, but I don’t think I’m having a chemical reaction toward you right now. Insert winking emoticon here - ;)

As a Christian, when I look at my kids and catch myself thinking that I would gladly suffer any agony that they would face in life if it would mean that they did not have to, I can really appreciate what it meant for Jesus to say, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” John 3:16.

Then there’s evolution. Well, I can’t really talk about it scientifically, but I think philosophically I have found the foundation for our different approaches to the question of God.

If your worldview starts with us being the accidental conclusion of random molecular incidences then of course you’re going to approach God from the premise that you are not that important to a perfect supreme being, therefore he is not worth pursuing because knowledge of him would be completely beyond our reach.

Whereas I’m coming from the angle that we are not random accidents and that the perfect God made a perfect world which included a perfect human being who was corrupted through original sin.

You seem to think, based on your evolutionary presuppositions, that God is unattainable because of where we are on the evolutionary scale; I think that God is unattainable because of our fallen state – however this does not exclude the fact (as I see it) that I am made in the image of God and that his paternal desire for me to be in a relationship with him is therefore valid, if you start from my philosophical premise that is.

Not sure if that makes sense. But for me if God is perfect or worth my time then he must not have used billions of years of decay and chance and accidents to bring about everything that I know and perceive today, including myself. A god who wound us up his clockwork just to set it adrift without his occasional providence is not a perfect god, (nor is he a good dad), that kind of god has more in common with my idea of the devil than with the God of the Bible.

Incidentally I have actually read Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and have seen some of the acclaimed TV series, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, but the arguments for the processes of evolutionary Science have never “compelled” me. I have read better arguments against the theory than for it by Authors like Dr. Jonathon David Safarti in his book “Refuting Evolution” to name one.

But to prevent us from going off on THAT tangent, permit me to point out that I have no desire to argue Science with you because I am not an ultracrepidarian. I like poetry and literature and Dr Who, I can’t in good conscience enter into a debate about an area of study I don’t care much about. I’ve only mentioned the Creation/Evolution debate to say I’ve looked into it and I’m comfortable with not believing in it and also to illustrate that God could not, in my thinking, be perfect if he was the sort of God who needed to use billions of years of torment and chance to create anything. The God of the Bible would beat that god in a celebrity death match any day.

Finally, with regards to a perfect god setting everything in motion and leaving it be… the creation is not perfect. If he is perfect and left us here to suffer against his complacency then that god is not perfect. He is evil and malignant and I certainly hope neither of us ever meets him. The Christian answer to suffering is simple. He came and suffered with us and promises to return and set everything straight. I hope you can understand my preference between gods here?

I appreciate and commend your intention to continue the search. Jesus did after all say, “Seek and you shall find.” But I hope you would reconsider my challenge in my previous blog about praying, because what could be more compelling than applying the scientific method to prayer?

What I mean is, I’ve been praying for 27 years and when I meet someone like you who questions the validity of prayer it doesn’t compute against my 27 years of accumulated experience. I’m asking you to do it for a month. Begin with your hypothesis that prayer is a waste of time or that God is not interested in us mere humans and put it under scientific scrutiny by praying the Lord’s Prayer every day for a month and see if your hypothesis is correct. What have you got to lose? Not your scientific integrity; that can only be lost by not conducting the experiment, surely?

I believe with all my heart that praying will do more for you intellectually than reading my blogs!

Now to some of your closing comments I would like to say I disagree with the angle you’ve taken to prayer as opposed to doing good toward others. There are times when someone else needs help and you can’t help them; recently I watched my Dad die of cancer. I couldn’t help him, I could only pray.

Other times I have prayed and, I believe, God has placed certain people on my heart during the act of prayer to bring their needs to my awareness. I would argue that if you really want to help other people then praying for them sharpens your intent toward helping them in a practical way.

As for, “We can do things to help other people, instead of wasting our time in church” – here is where we, sort of at least, agree! If you ever read the book of Acts in the New Testament you will see a very different version of the church than what exists in the West today. The early church had more to do with providing community and aide for the poor, orphans and widows than the Jesus Fan Club you get in most churches today.

I hate to say this, and saying this will probably lose me readers, but I look at the majority of Churches in the West and see the sort of Church Christ describes in Revelation 3:15 where he says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked…”

The Church is meant to be helping people and doing the good that you talk about, and I am sorry that most of us are not. But don’t use this against us; Jesus taught that before his return, this is exactly what it would be like… (Matthew 24)

Note to my Christian readers who did not like the above paragraphs -

I am not anti-church, but I ask that you consider whether your church is feeding the hungry and thirsty, inviting in the strangers, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick and visiting those who are in prison, if it is not then why are you going to that church? If Church to you is no more than a rock concert and a guy in a suit saying things that make you feel good about yourself then I have a sad newsflash for you – you are not in a church, you are in a club. If your church is putting more money into its building fund than helping the people in your community who are in need, then get out while you still can. People like my agnostic friend see churches like the ones you go to and have been completely misled about what Church actually is. See Romans 2:17-24 and 2 Timothy 4:3)

Back to my agnostic friend…

With regards to whether God has emotions this is another example of our different philosophical platforms. If God is impersonal and created everything using evolutionary processes and set us adrift as you purport then yes indeed, that kind of god would be impossible to relate to, but because I believe that God made us in his image and that creation was a very personal act between him and his creation then, although my feelings would still be inferior to his (especially in my fallen state), they would still be like his in that he created us to be like him.

You mention again that rather than praying and worshipping him, he would have us actually do things for each other, but I don’t think praying and helping people are mutually exclusive. As mentioned above praying helps me to help people better. This has been my experience at least.

It’s interesting that when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the Law was he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” But then he said, “AND THE SECOND IS LIKE IT – Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:34-40) So even the Bible teaches that Serving and worshipping God as well as loving and helping others are synonymous, and I think that is beautiful. In fact, you could say that helping the poor and needy is an ACT of worship.

I like what John says in his epistle, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar…” (1 John 4:20)

And that’s it; I’ve reached the end of your comments. Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts with me! I have enjoyed being given the opportunity to ramble!

If there is a merit badge for getting through 3,179 words of homily, then you’ve earned it!

In closing I would like to say this, if anything I’ve said is unsatisfactory or unconvincing, as I grow in knowledge over the next few years I hope that future me will be far better equipped and adroit at answering complicated questions. I trust you will visit me here again in five years or so and find someone with better skill for the surgery of the soul than I currently possess.

I hope you continue searching.

God Bless.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Does God Really Need Our Prayers?


UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!


Another Youtube chap came out of the wood work today with another point about prayer, once again inspired by my video from the Sermon on the Mount.

He wrote:

And in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says that prayer leads to condemnation. This text has intrigued me as an agnostic philosopher and I’ve been trying to interpret it in a logical way. In my view, if God exists, then he must be perfect and asking him to change his will, through prayer, because of human desires or emotions is insulting. If a perfect God does exist, he has no use for petty things such as worship or prayer and just wants us to live good lives, regardless of religious beliefs.

Thank you my philosophical friend for your interesting input!

I’m not an historian first and foremost so cannot offer a textual analysis or critique of the Gospel of Thomas. It is not part of the canon of Scripture so I have never read it… however I am willing to give it a shot, maybe then I’ll have some idea as to why the Church Father’s in Nicaea rejected it… but for the time being I ask that you forgive my ignorance on the subject…

Neither am I the best at praying. I actually find it the hardest thing to do as a Christian. I’m a parent of two toddlers and do shift work so when I do get a chance to pray I find myself falling asleep. Not because I’m bored, but because the bliss of finally being still and quiet tempts me to micro-sleeps. I also get distracted easily… with things like YouTube comments. On a logical note, if the Devil does exist, then the last thing he would want me to do is pray, so I wonder if this is why it is also the hardest spiritual discipline?

I only mention the above because I am not an expert on the topic of prayer! Many theologians have written far greater works than my measly paragraphs on the subject, I would encourage you to look up writers like Derek Prince, Watchman Nee, E.M. Bounds for a better meal on the subject...

The interesting thing about your comment is that you seem to think that the Christian’s idea of the purpose of prayer is to change God’s will! This is not actually accurate, even though many Christians are guilty of perpetuating this myth, one need only to see Jesus bleeding sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane that each prayer consisted of him SUBMITTING to God’s will…

In Fact, the very prayer in Matthew Chapter 6 which Jesus teaches his disciples begins with, “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy Kingdom come, THY WILL BE DONE on earth as it is in Heaven…”

It seems to me that prayer has more to do with God’s will than with ours.

I came up with two analogies that I hope will better explain this idea of prayer:

First I think of prayer as if my will and God’s Will were two gladiators pitted against each other in an arena. They struggle against each other but God’s will wins every time. My gladiator though, rather than being defeated, leaves the arena having learned something new about God’s character, while gaining strength of character himself.

On the other hand, prayer is like a man who wanted to move a mountain. Every day he pushed against that mountain for about an hour, but it simply wouldn’t budge. He did this every day for years and years until one day it dawned on him that he could not change the mountain, but realized instead that the mountain had changed him, for he had become a totally ripped and muscular man who no one could mess with… and so, he never stopped pushing the mountain.

Maybe they sound like fluffy New Age parables of the Chicken Soup for the Soul variety but I really just wanted to illustrate that while the Bible does teach us to “bring our cares” before the Lord it is balanced in its teaching that God is more concerned with our character than with us getting every little thing we ask for.

The last thing I wanted to address is this part of your comment:

“If a perfect God does exist, he has no use for petty things such as worship or prayer and just wants us to live good lives, regardless of religious beliefs.”

May I please ask if you are a parent? Because as a parent I can tell you that I do need my children’s love, I long for their adoration. It has been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my entire life and I cant describe what it is like to come home after work and have my kids cry out, “DADDY!!!” and then throw themselves at me like cuddling was a type of pillow fight, well, its just awesome.

If God is perfect then he is also the perfect Father. Why should a perfect Father expect less from his children?

As far as the last part of your comment goes however, yes I do want my children to live good lives, but I don’t want them living those good lives without me.

Today I caught a scene in a movie where a boy loses his Dad in the first five minutes of the film! I actually caught myself crying a little and realized it was because the thought of my girls growing up without me cut me deep. Of course they could go on and live good lives but it would be without the relationship they would have had with me.

The worst case scenario for me as a Dad would be if through some freak series of circumstances my children grew up under another man’s roof and for some reason I was able to see them from a distance but they could not contact me. I cannot describe the hurt I would feel were I to watch my children go through life under someone else’s guidance, especially if their surrogate Father did not have the best of intentions toward them. My paternal instinct makes me want to guide them, protect them, provide for them and see them through to adulthood with the greatest possible chance of survival.

Why should God not be allowed to have a paternal instinct? I would imagine that if a perfect God does exist (which I believe he does) then I would expect him to have a paternal instinct towards his children – I would not venture to call this a “petty” thing.

The Bible teaches that God made us in his image. If part of that image reflects my experience of Fatherhood then I am not surprised that he expects our adoration.

Finally I would like to lay down a challenge to all my atheist/agnostic friends...

Wait for it...

Simply try praying.

Specifically, the Lord's Prayer, every day for a month. The only rule is that you entertain, for that month, the notion that there is actually a God and so approach him with the appropriate reverence.

I for one am curious to see what will happen if you do. Either nothing or maybe, just maybe, you might end up line the guy who tried to push the mountain?

Thanks for reading and please keep searching!

God Bless

UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!

Did Jesus Really Forbid Praying in Public?

A few moments ago a friendly critic left a comment on one of my YouTube videos which I felt was worthy of a proper response… well, at least as proper as I can muster.

The video was of me reciting Chapter Six of Matthew which just happens to be the second part of the Sermon on the Mount.

My atheist friend (I hope I can call him “friend”) has stated:

“The sermon states that prayer in public (including church) is hypocrisy. This sounds like a problem”

But does it really? I have to disagree.

The verses he is referring to go thus:

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners TO BE SEEN BY MEN. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen, then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-7)

I wrote in caps the bit that I think is crucial to my argument – TO BE SEEN BY MEN. Why were the hypocrites praying in public? Was it because they were extra godlier or holier than anyone else? No, according to Jesus it was TO BE SEEN BY MEN.

In fact Jesus points this out later in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 23:5) when he says of the Pharisees that, “Everything they do is done for men to see.” He tells his disciples not to be like them.

I think the point here is that it is the INTENTION or MOTIVATION behind the prayer that is important to God. If you seek reward from people and pray merely to look the part of being a Christian then indeed you are being a hypocrite.

That is why, I think, Jesus says to go into your room and close your door, because at the end of the day this will at least guarantee that you have proper motives for praying.

However this does not forbid you from praying in public as long as your intention is not self glorifying.

Finally, if this passage did really mean you were not to pray in public then can I please ask my atheist or skeptical commentators to consider that this does not make Jesus the bad guy – it’s just that his followers are fallen Human Beings, as the Bible teaches, and as fallen Human Beings we can’t get it right one hundred percent of the time.

For example why do we call Catholic Priests “Father” when Jesus clearly told his disciples not to call anyone on earth “Father” because we have one Father and he is in Heaven? (Matthew 23:9) This is a question I have often pondered when thinking about my fellow believers.

But again, this is what happens when a faith is made up of imperfect people. But thank God then that Salvation does not require us to be perfect, it only needed Christ to be. The best we can do is to aspire to be like Christ in the hope that in eternity he will make that aspiration into a reality.

As for my commentator, thank-you for your time and your thoughtful and insightful comment, I hope that you will perhaps consider reading the Bible in an effort to actually understand it rather than for ammunition against people like me; it’s just not a cool thing to do. I mean that with the utmost respect of course, as I am sure you were being honest and sincere.

For my part I am sorry that some of us Christians are hypocrites. Jesus himself taught in Matthew 13:24-30 that indeed there would be "weeds among the wheat". I hope you meet some "wheat" some time so you can taste the difference.

God Bless.