Changing of the Guards

One of Bob Dylan’s most enigmatic songs is ‘Changing of the Guards’.  It has a driving beat, backing singers and images that defy clear explanation. It comes from his Street Legal album of 1978 and is included in the two album The Essential Bob Dylan collection of 2001.  Having read a number of attempts to understand or at least make comment on the song, let me offer my thoughts. (more…)

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April 9, 2018 at 12:22 pm Leave a comment

Misunderstanding

I am teaching a course on hermeneutics which is about understanding and interpretation, especially of written texts.  Friedrich Schleiermacher, a leading nineteenth century German theologian, is regarded as the father of modern hermeneutics.  He said that rather than understanding being the norm, it was misunderstanding that was the norm.  Hermeneutics has to do with clearing away blockages to understanding so that we can grasp what is said or written rather than misunderstand what is intended. Understanding is not simple and there are methods to use to assist with grasping the thought or ideas. (more…)

March 4, 2018 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

What is Success?

I have been to a men’s lunch with men from my church.  As well as the lunch we have a conversation led by one person.  This time we were asked to reflect on our working lives.  The question of what amounts to success was raised.  People shared about the different work situations they have been involved in.  In terms of success, it was hard to know how to evaluate this.  Most work situations have guidelines that are expected.  If people carry them out they are considered as doing a good job.  If not, they are likely to be asked to leave.  Within those guidelines people said they sought to be helpful to the people they were serving.  Even in a difficult situation one person did this and was appreciated for how he conducted himself.  So, what is real success? (more…)

February 3, 2018 at 9:28 am Leave a comment

New Year, new approaches

New Year’s eve was celebrated around the world with people excitedly counting down the end of 2017 and ushering in 2018. Fireworks exploded and people experienced a new year dawning. While in one sense it is just another turn of the world from one day to the next; in another sense, a new year represents a new start. It may be just another day but as our calendar shows, it means the end of one period of time and the commencement of a new one. It has the meaning of closing one year and beginning a new one; putting 2017 behind us and starting again. Cynics might not hold out any new hope but most people do hope for a better year both personally and in relation to the world. (more…)

January 5, 2018 at 8:20 am Leave a comment

Christmas without Jesus?

We are into the lead up to Christmas with the shops all hoping people will spend up big to help their bottom line.  The television commercials are all about presents, having a good time and Santa Claus.  Radio commentators I have heard say they love Christmas because it is a season of people getting together, enjoying meals, and sharing as family and friends.  Jesus for the most part is overlooked.  It is like a Bruegel painting, or rather copy, that I have which is called “The Fall of Icarus.”  The scene has farmers working, ships in the harbour, and the land and seascape.  Only if you look very closely do you see the legs of Icarus as he has fallen from the sky into the water at one small point in the painting.  Yet that is what the painting is really about.  Our Australian culture likes Christmas but wants to have it without considering Jesus.  They want him not at the centre but at the edge of Christmas.  In our secular, multicultural and multi-religious Australian society we want the Christmas holidays but it is politically incorrect now to speak about Jesus.  (more…)

December 1, 2017 at 11:44 am Leave a comment

The Nature of Current Debate

I am concerned by the way in which much debate is at present being conducted.  Social media has not helped when people post brief opinions on Twitter without argument.  The most glaring example is President Donald Trump who constantly asserts his opinions on Twitter.  Yet even when he addressed the United Nations he was anything but diplomatic.  He used the occasion to call the North Korean leader ‘rocket man’ and subsequently threatened to destroy North Korea if they attacked the USA in any way.  There was no attempt to offer reasoned argument as to why North Korea and indeed other nations should pull back from developing nuclear weapons.  Donald Trump has also made famous such expressions as ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news.’  It is worrying that this has been done for the more he asserts it, the more people accept it. Ironically his style of presidency has led to an increase in newspaper readership.  Unfortunately, media reports can be very inaccurate as the ABC program Media Watch points out.  There has been a reduction in the number of journalists and investigative journalists.  News outlets often rely on second-hand reports which are not necessarily accurate.  Popular news media are on the look-out for the unusual and extreme to entertain people more than provide in-depth analysis of what is happening around the world.  (more…)

October 30, 2017 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

Commending the Faith

I have been teaching a course on “Commending the Faith in Australia Today.”  Recommending the Christian faith to others is a task that is given to all Christians.  The risen Jesus commissioned us to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20).  Peter says “Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15-16). Commending the faith involves people sharing their faith as well as public proclamation of Jesus and his message of the reign of God. (more…)

October 9, 2017 at 3:05 pm Leave a comment

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