Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The three of Me

So many people have tagged me on this on facebook I figured I'd respond just so I don't keep getting asked!

Three names I go by:
1. Peter
2. Pete
3. (sorry to be so boring)

Three Jobs I have had in my life
1. Warehouse Packer
2. Agricultural Insurance Underwriter
3. Special Needs Learning Assistant

Three Places I have lived
1. Bratislava, Slovakia
2. Solihull, U.K.
3. Lubbock, Texas

Three Favorite drinks
1. Hot Tea with milk and sugar
2. Dr. Pepper
3. Margaritas

Three TV Shows that I watch
1. Mad Men
2. Brothers and Sisters
3. Dr. Who (and all the spin offs)

Three places I have been
1. Ankor Watt, Cambodia
2. Antigua, Guatamala
3. Boppard, Germany

People who text me regularly

1. Steve
2. Paul
3. Cason (usually to ask where we are eating lunch!)

Three of my favorite foods
1. Sausage Casserole
2. Pasta
3. Curry

Three friends who I think will respond
1. I"m not going to 'guilt' anyone into responding :P

Three Things I am looking forward to
1. Going to the U.K. in October - 2 1/2 years to not see family is too long!
2. Board Game Conventions
3. Good conversations

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Improvisation on a theme by Mark Bittman!

I was contemplating dinner today, and a request for steak salad had been received. I was trying to decide what sort of salad to serve it with whilst I was perusing a list that was recently published in the New York Times. 101 Simple Salads for the Season by that demigod of food Mark Bittman.

The description of no. 46 caught my eye, 'feels like steakhouse side-dish salad', and so, with Mark Bittman's salad for a guide I created the following. What follows is more of a improvisation than a recipe - you'll notice I've not included much in the way of precise measuring. I've typed it up here in the hope that I can recreate this sometime. Everyone should experiment in the kitchen, if the worse happens you can always call for pizza.

Peter's Cheap Steak Improv - serves 2 (or 1 if really hungry)

Steak - I used 'Beef round sirloin tip steak cap off'.

I must make a confession here, I don't understand cuts of beef. I don't know what 'beef round sirloin tip steak cap off' means - it's all gobbledygook to me. I was looking for Flank Steak but couldn't see any. This was about the same thickness (i.e just under 1/2 inch thick) and didn't appear to have any bones, so I grabbed it and was on my way.

Mushrooms - 10 oz baby bella, sliced thinly

I may not know beef, but I know mushrooms. I wanted something with a great flavor and those basic white button mushrooms, although they are o.k. when in something just weren't going to cut it when I wanted the mushrooms to be a featured performer.

I bag of freshly washed spinach

Blue Cheese crumbles

Oh I also used a few things I had in my pantry,

Ancho chili powder

Lime Pepper (lemon pepper or normal black pepper would do too)



Lemon Juice



If I'd have been thinking I would have purchased a shallot and cooked it along with the mushrooms, but I forgot.

Mix together the ancho chili powder, lime pepper, cumin and paprika and then rub it onto both sides of the steak. I normally put a diamond cut into both sides of the meat to help the seasoning penetrate, but the meat is so thin I'm guessing it doesn't really matter.

Saute the mushrooms in some olive oil until they brown - don't crowd the pan!

With just a slight addition of olive oil if required, cook the steak. Place it in the pan and don't touch it for 5 minutes. Then turn it over and don't touch it for 5 minutes more!

Take it out and let it rest for 10 minutes.

See all that yummy burnt stuff on the bottom of your skillet? Know it where it gets really fun! Add some cream to the pan and scrape until it all comes off into the cream. Slowly bring it to the boil. Mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with a little cold water and then pour this into the cream in the skillet and stir very rapidly. The sauce will quickly thicken! Season with salt/pepper to taste and then put in a bowl to one side and clean out the skillet.

Chop up the spinach so it is quite small. Put the spinach and the mushrooms back in the skillet (with a little olive oil) just long enough for the spinach to wilt. (It always amazes me how much spinach reduces by when it is wilted!) Put into a serving bowl, toss in some blue cheese sprinkles and then spritz with lemon juice.

Slice the steak diagonally against the grain into thin strips.

Serve the mushroom spinach cheese salad with some strips of steak that have been lovingly caressed by the cream sauce.


Spinning the Wheel

'We run and run in our squirrel cage, thinking the constant squeaking of the wheel of our achievements is a verification of our reality and worth.' ~ James Finley

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Power of a Solitary Space.

I've just started reading a new book on the writings of the Desert Fathers, those mysterious men and women who went out into the Egyptian wilderness to encounter God. One of the key places of encounter for them was their 'cell'. The simple room where they spent most of their days.

'The Desert Fathers taught "sit in your cell and it will teach you everything." The point was that unless a man could find God here, in this one place, his cell, he would not find him by going somewhere else. But they had no illusions about what it meant to stay in the cell: it meant to stay there in mind as well as body. To stay there in body, but to think about the outside world, was already to have left it.'

That paragraph stayed with me today. It followed me into the car, and into the office. It sat in my mind in the grocery store and in the movie theater. In each venue the simple question was 'How can I find God here?'

I know God is Omnipotent - everywhere, filling time and space, closer than the air I breathe, but certain places seem 'fuller' than others. The headland above the beach in Swanage, Dorset. The stillness of the Jesus Chapel in Norwich Cathedral for example. These are places of 'encounter' for me. Places of my past where I felt a special connection to the Divine...

...but that connection does not give me the authority to label some places as Holy and others as not. The Atheist wrote 'God is nowhere' but given a single space it becomes 'God is now here'. The desert fathers teach me the importance of that solitary space.

I do not have the luxury of sitting in a solitary space waiting to encounter God - there is work to be done, boardgames to play, recipes to try, friends to contact. But the Divine Mystery is that I carry that solitary space within me, I am a dwelling place of the Divine. God is wherever I am.

I give my theological assent to that statement, but it is not my lived experience.

I wonder if it could be?

May we all find our solitary space this week.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Prisoner - Remade

When I was a child I watched reruns of this incredibly strange show called The Prisoner. Here are the incredibly awesome and strange opening credits.

I just found out it has been remade/reimagined and will be airing on AMC this Fall. Here's a 9 minute clip!

Gravity, Depravity and the Theology of Rock Climbing

(A piece I wrote many years ago before I ever blogged, that came to mind last night)

What does God say when He looks at You?

I’ve been asking this question to a lot of people recently and getting a good variety of answers, everything from “D- could do better!” to “Nothing at all; He just laughs!”. Many people who have a grasp of theology respond with “I am accepted, forgiven and loved”. The problem is theology has a curious habit of getting stuck in our brain cells and refusing to filter down to our hearts where we need it the most. This means although we believe that God accepts us totally as we are we still run around like eager young puppies desperately trying to please our Master.

Some years ago I made a trip to New Mexico and stayed at a camp that boasted many great features such as a ropes course, rappelling tower, and horse riding. Late on the Saturday night I was attempting one of the most devilish devices known to man and woman kind- an indoor climbing wall about 20 ft high. Basically the wall had various rocks sticking out of it all placed at distances slightly wider than I could reach and slightly sharper than I could grasp. The chosen victim straps themselves into a tight safety harness and then attempts to climb this miniature Mount Everest secure in the knowledge that the rope and harness will catch them if (or in my case when) they fall.

Well on my first attempt I didn’t quite make it to the top rock which you have to touch to show you are successful, but I must confess there was a certain amount of macabre fun in the act of hauling my body upwards. Watching everyone else ascend the wall with the speed of a cheetah and the grace of a gecko had a rather bruising affect on my ego however. By my fifth attempt any semblance of pleasure in the climb was totally lost in the frustration of trying to hit that ******* top rock.

At each attempt I got angrier, especially as gravity seemed to be getting stronger because the distance of my ascent lessened each time. By the seventh attempt my hands were sore; my forearms ached and I had scratched my thigh on one of the rocks. After my eighth and final failure I wandered off disconsolably into the night and it was then that God started speaking and I started listening. The conversation went something like this:

So Peter are you satisfied now that you’ve hurt and exhausted yourself?

I was only trying to hit that top rock God.

Yes, you’ve been trying to reach that rock for the last two months now.

I only got here yesterday, are you getting me confused with somebody else?

I’m God, I don’t get confused!


Christianity is about living life to the full, does that describe your last two months?...............Well does it?

Not really.

Well what’s gone wrong?

I’ve just been trying to sort out a number of problems in my life, there’s nothing wrong with that is there?

No, but you’re obsessed with all your problems that you can’t deal with, sorting them out has become your ‘Top Rock’.

I don’t understand, what do you mean?

Look up, what do you see?

Lots of bright stars.

Why don’t you say lots of darkness? There’s far more night up there than stars.

Yes, but my eyes are naturally drawn to the light.

Learn to look at yourself in the same way, see the ‘light’ that is within you rather than on focusing on all the darkness. The first time you scaled the wall the fun was in the climb, hitting the top rock didn’t really matter at all.

Yes, but after a while I didn’t care about climbing, it was ‘top rock’ or nothing.
It’s stupid really because it doesn’t really matter whether I hit that rock or not just as long as I’m having fun.

Exactly! And in the same way you can’t sort your own problems out so quit worrying about them as I’ll deal with those issues when the time is right.

P.S. ******* stands for ‘blasted’

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Guide to Inner Peace

If you can start the day without caffeine

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment

If you can conquer tension without medical help

If you can relax without liquor

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs

...Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!

Noctilucent Clouds!

This is my friend Tim who is a Meteorologist up in Great Falls, Montana!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rick Nirvana?!

Rick Astley combined with Nirvana - very impressive.

Visual Recipe - Refrigerator Chocolate Cake

This recipe was adapted from Al Fresco by Louise Pickford. I got it thanks to my friend Kenneth who learnt how to make it at the Tante Marie Cooking School in San Francisco (as did my friend Don). Thanks for posting the recipe guys!
14oz Bittersweet or Dark chocolate - chopped [see note below]
1/2 Cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cup graham crackers, crushed coarsely
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup nuts, coarsely chopped (pecans, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts - whatever appeals)
1 Cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Don't go cheap on the chocolate guys, it needs to be good quality!

Butter a 9"x3" pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Mix the chocolate and the butter together in a double boiler - if you don't have one then use a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Spoon into the prepared pan. Press firmly into the bottom and sides and smooth out the top. Cover and chill.

When ready to serve, unmold on cutting board and shave into thin fingers.As simple as that!

[If you make it with bittersweet chocolate it will have a very very intense rich chocolate taste that is not that sweet. Try pairing it with coffee, or even whipped cream and strawberries. Of course you could always use dark or even semi-sweet chocolate. Experiment!]

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Life according to Sondheim (again!)

I've already done a similar Meme to this before - you can find that one here.
Because some of the questions are different I thought I'd try it again using the same artist and without repeating any answers!!! So here they are, with the shows they come from listed too.

Using only song titles from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 10 people you like and include me (presuming I'm someone you like). You can't use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It's a lot harder than you think! Repost as "my life according to (band name)"

Pick your Artist
Stephen Sondheim (again)

Are you a male or female:
That Dirty Old Man
(from 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum')

Describe yourself:
(from 'Bounce')

How do you feel:
Unworthy of Your Love
(from 'Assassins')

Describe where you currently live:
I Love This Town
(from 'Bounce')

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
No Place Like London
(from 'Sweeney Todd')

Your favorite form of transportation:
Merrily We Roll Along
(from 'Merrily We Roll Along')

Your best friend?
I"m still Here
(from 'Follies')

You and your best friends are:
Old Friends
(from 'Merrily We Roll Along')

What's the weather like?
(from 'Into the Woods')

Favorite time of day:
(from 'A Little Night Music')

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:
The Glamorous Life
(from 'A Little Night Music')

Your relationship:
The Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me
(From 'Bounce')

What is life to you:
Opening Doors
(from 'Merrily We Roll Along')

Your fear:
The Hills of Tomorrow
(from 'Merrily We Roll Along')

What is the best advice you have to give:
No One Is Alone
(from 'Into the Woods')

Thought for the Day:
Live, Laugh, Love
(from 'Follies')

How I would like to die:
(from 'A Little Night Music')

My soul's present condition:
Perpetual Anticipation
(from 'A Little Night Music')

My motto:
With So Little To Be Sure Of
(from 'Anyone Can Whistle')

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Story of 2nd Clarinet

All was not harmonious in the orchestra rehearsal. The velvet voice of the 2nd clarinet was complaining again.

“Look at this part! I play for 10 measures and then I have 50 measures rest! And look! Look! Over the page, more sections where I have absolutely nothing to play. Just sitting around doing nothing.”

The composer raised his baton and began conducting the piece.

“…and another thing”

said the 2nd clarinet after he had played his opening notes.

“Look at the violins! Scraping away sounding like feral cats in the moonlight – when do they have to rest? Do they have pages of nothing to do but counting so they don’t get lost? Oh no! Not the violins they just play their little strings out all….”

The 2nd clarinet stopped, played a few notes and then continued without missing a beat.

“…all the time. Everyone gets to play more than me, my music is just page after page after page of waiting! Well I’m tired waiting”

He quickly turned over three pages of music to his next entrance and began to play the notes loudly.

The music ground to a lurching halt.

“O.k,” said the Composer. “I think someone in the wind section may have accidentally turned over too many pages. Let’s pick up the piece at letter C”

“Very smart” hissed a flute between notes.

“Now we all have to play this difficult bit again because somebody wanted a solo. You just sit there and count and play nothing!”

“ But it’s not fair, I don’t want to wait any longer.”

An unexpected voice spoke up. “What’s the problem little reedy one” said the bassoon. “Why the squeaky complaining?”

“I’m tired of waiting that’s all. When I joined the orchestra I dreamed of long high notes, intricate solos and heart-rending melodies. The reality is I just sit here counting out measures of silence waiting to play my three notes, and one of them usually comes out wrong because I’m no longer warmed up. How do you manage it Bassoon, you play even fewer notes than I do?”

“Do you really want to know? You might not like my answer.” Said the bassoon in his dark nasally voice.

“Yes I do. At least it will be an answer.”

“Well hear this then clarinet. You are not the most important instrument in this orchestra. It’s not about your playing, or the timpani or the violins. It’s not even about the trumpets – although they seem to act like it is. It’s not about any of us at all.

It’s about the music.

You see your part and complain about the waiting. But the music is going on all around you. O.k. the Composer has decided that this section of the music doesn’t need your special voice. But think about the incredible contrast when you do play again. Your voice at the right time adds to the music in a way that no one else can. Your measures of silence; your choosing to not play, adds as much to the music as when you do play.

You are a part of something so much bigger than yourself little clarinet. And if you decide to sing your part without listening to the others, then the music suffers. The composer has a part only you can play. Your voice is unique and so is the silence that you create when you wait.

Listen to the music all around you. Yes you have to wait for the right time for you to play, but as you wait and count, listen to the music.”

So 2nd clarinet waited and counted and listened to the symphony around him. And at just the right time he added his voice into the beauty.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Being 'PC' - part 1

I've put part 1 in the hope that I'll write a second part later - we'll see.

I've been thinking about Personal Computer Operating Systems recently - yeah kinda geeky I know. My current home computer runs Windows Vista, a system that many people have issues with, but I haven't had any problems so far. I've never even seen the 'blue screen of death' yet, but like all operating systems it does have its occasional quirks.

I'm not a computer person, I've never really tried to alter the operating system in anyway. I know people do it, and I know whenever Microsoft puts out a new version of windows people do upgrade, I've just never been one of those people. I know that my computer is not it's 'Operating System', but I wouldn't know how to work right inside. The operating system is all I know.

I think that's true for most of us as people too. We all have operating systems, or frameworks of behavior. Most of the time we are fairly oblivious to them so long as they are running smoothly. It's when something happens that draws attention to it that we take notice.

Culture Shock is one such tool for seeing inside yourself. Suddenly your way of thinking and being in the world is no longer 'the norm'.

Grief is another tool. Emotions run riot, methods of containment no longer work and you begin to get a bigger picture that who you are isn't all there is.

Changing our internal operating system is a lot harder than just putting in new disks and typing in a very long key and then watching the bars inch their way across the screen. Like my reluctance to change the operating system on my computer in case something goes wrong many of us are reluctant to change internally. And that would be o.k. but there is one problem.

I think all of our operating systems have bugs and flaws.

Paul talks about this in Romans 7 - I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

I am unable to change my own operating system. I cannot 'lift myself up by my own bootstraps'. No matter how hard I pull on them I cannot leave the ground.

So what does help?

The Sunday school answer is 'God', but, like Algebra, if I cannot connect the answer to the question and show the logical steps, then the answer is not helpful. Knowing the answer is not enough. I may know the start and end places for a journey, but without knowing the route and the direction that knowledge cannot help me.

I do know a few things that help me see where my program is running incorrectly however.

1) Other people - again that seems simplistic, but how many of us really have close friends who will lovingly call us on our ways of behavior and thought processes?

2) Regular Maintenance, taking time to 'defrag and debug' - computers need to do this occasionally, how much more do I? Life gets hectic, parts of me get spread all over the place. I don't like to admit it, but I need regular time to re-collect myself. My 'spirit' needs time to catch up with my life. Meditation, Reflection, Stillness are all tools that allow myself to do that.

3) Checking the warning signs - my computer will warn me when it might have come infected. My car will warn me when the tire pressure might be low or the oil need changing. My body will warn me too, if I let it. 'Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired' are all warnings for me, signs that I'm not respecting myself and am in danger of crashing. Whenever I have 'surges' of emotions, I need to stop and see what is behind them - the problem is, when the surge comes it almost causes a system shut down, I don't want to look at what's behind it, I have enough trouble containing it.

One other thing I have learned is that I can get way too attached to my Operating System, bugs and all. God may be trying to 'reprogram' me, but I resist because it's not what I'm used too, it feels 'wrong'. God may want to 'upgrade me from XP to Vista', or even shock horror switch me over to Mac, but I resist.

Just simply typing this, giving voice to my inside reflections is good for me, it's another way I re-collect myself. I think that's one of the reasons I blog. I used to Journal, but I knew that it didn't really matter if what I wrote was coherent because I was the only person who ever read it. Blogging requires me to be coherent on the off chance that someone might actually read all of this... if you've made it to here, thank you...

...knowing you're out there helps me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How to make decisions!

Need to decide who does something? Here's the perfect method.

I'd heard about this, but never seen the origins before.

Simply awesome!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ice cream and Christianity

When I first moved to the U.S. one of the things I came to love was the wide variety of Ice cream flavors. For a while I was seduced by Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, a variety that at that time had not crossed over to the U.K. market. My current frozen "drug of choice" is Mint Moose Tracks.

There are ice creams I do not like, I am not fond of fruit in my ice cream, so Cherry Garcia doesn't do it for me. I'm also not a fan of coffee in general so any ice cream featuring mocha or cappuccino passes me by.

One thing I'm sure of though, just because I do not like the ice cream does not mean that I claim that it "Isn't real ice cream". Even some of the rather strange Japanese flavors like Fish Ice Cream or Fried Eggplant Ice cream, although they may turn my stomach, are still ice creams.

What is an ice cream? The FDA says the following "Ice cream is defined as a frozen food made from a mixture of dairy products, containing at least 10% milkfat."

I think Christians could learn a lot from ice cream.

There are many different denominations of Christians in the world, I may not agree with what some of them believe, but that doesn't mean they are not "christian", just that they are not my flavor of Christianity.

No matter what flavorings they place in the ice cream - even the scary ones like Squid Ink, so long as the ice cream is frozen dairy product with at least 10% milkfat, they are still Ice Cream.

So what is the bottom line for Christians? The word actually covers a wide range of practices and beliefs. The word's literal meaning is 'Christ Follower'. What are the non-negotiables that if you step outside of them you are no longer a Christian? Who decides what those non-negotiables are?

I grew up with people who claimed that Catholics were not Christian, then I met some catholic Christians and were introduced to some of the great catholic christian writers.

I was taught that to be a Christian meant belief in a 6 day creation and a literal interpretation of scripture...then I met people who didn't believe that, who's spirituality and connection to Jesus put me to shame.

I was taught that to be a Christian you couldn't be a 'practicing homosexual' - then I met some who have only made it through prejudice and rejection because of their deep abiding faith.

Slowly I began to see that my learned interpretation of the bible was not the only interpretation of the bible.

I'm not sure what my 'frozen dairy product and 10% milkfat' of Christianity is any my worldview widens so does my definition.

But I do know this, God's grace is big enough to cover over the gaps.

"In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes!

Don't turn off the baby monitor

Last weekend I stayed with friends who have a 1 year old son. We had a great time. Some stuff that happened got me thinking. There is something about staying with them that makes me reflective. Last time I stayed with them for a weekend I wrote this.

Not having children of my own, I'd forgotten how much young children cry. It is their primary method of communication. It amazes me how the mother has learned to distinguish the different cries and interpret what they mean - hungry, tired etc. they all sound the same to me!

Night times were especially interesting. We would put Baby down and turn the monitor on and sit in the other room. If he started crying we would generally wait 10 minutes or so and see if it was a 'I'm tired but I don't want to go to sleep really' cry, or if something else was wrong. The parent's had learned that 10 minutes was a good judge for that. If after that time he was still crying someone would go in and see what was wrong.

Of course for that 10 minutes we had to listen to amplified wails coming through the baby monitor...

... we could have created peace and quiet in the house by turning the monitor off, but it would be a false peace. The baby would still be crying, we would just be deaf to that sound. Far better to deal with the 'Problem' of the crying child than the 'Symptom' of the crying.

I think all of us have an 'inner infant' who cries sometimes. We all carry a certain amount of pain from our childhoods that hasn't been resolved, and when something happens that triggers that pain we start to 'cry'. Part of growing up is learning to listen to the cries and interpret them like a mother interprets a child.

Some people live much of their lives blissfully unaware of the crying baby, they've found a way to turn off their baby monitor so they don't have to hear it. Addicts use their addiction of choice, but even non addicts have strategies of avoidance. Alcohol, Sex, Drugs, T.V. Books, Work etc can all be avenues for silencing the crying. And once you start listening, the crying can seem overwhelming at times.

Many of the Christian Mystics (and Mystics from other traditions too) write of the need for us to 'Wake Up'. To become aware of our own inner life. Anthony DeMello writes in 'Awareness' "You only change what you understand. What you do not understand and are not aware of, you repress. You don't change. But when you understand it, it changes."

Waking up can really ruin your sleep. I've heard addicts say that 'Alcoholics Anonymous really ruined my drinking'. What they mean is they now have awareness about what is going on with their behavior around alcohol they can't participate in that behavior with the same ignorance anymore, it has been ruined for them. Once you begin to 'wake up' you have to grieve the loss of 'sleep'. Those activities that once worked for you are no longer solutions. Once you know that the baby is crying, turning off the monitor doesn't bring relief, because a part of you is aware of the tears even if you can't hear them.

All of us are on a journey of learning to interpret the crying. It's tiring, exhilarating, exhausting, fulfilling....and I think it's the only way for us to 'grow up'. Sometimes the hardest thing when I'm crying is to be still, listen to my pain, and see what it has to teach me...

But that is the path of healing.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Friday, July 03, 2009

Peter Griffin and Reflections on Prayer

I start this with a warning, this clip may be offensive to some. I don't recommend watching it in front of children. It's from the show Family Guy, so if you don't like the show or think it is something 'Christians' shouldn't watch, then don't watch the clip.

Having given myself a very large 'out', here it is, I found it thought provoking.

I debated for a while about whether to post this, but some thoughts came up for me after seeing it that I wanted to share.

1. Peter Griffin really functions in the show as a kind of 'bumbling everyman' - he is us without the filters of good taste in place. I like the fact that he is able to be himself around Jesus, he doesn't self censor, he asks for what he wants (even when inappropriate). Many of us when we go to church 'put on our Sunday best', it's our way of showing respect. But with the pristine perfect clothes we put on our pristine perfect exterior.

"Everything is right with the world. I don't have problems."

We behave 'holy' around our church friends, and 'normal' around everyone else -I use the word normal loosely as I think everyone is 'normal' until you get to know them :)

As my good friend Sean once wrote in a drama sketch, church is like a group of people with skunks around their necks all spraying perfume and fannning themselves insisting they don't stink.

It's also in some cases the reverse - a competition to show who is the biggest 'sinner' and who has the lowest opinion of themselves, as if somehow the more you hate yourself, the more you love God.

Peter Griffin, with all his crudity and stupidity does not try to be anything other than himself around Jesus, we could learn from him.

2. I do not believe that God is like a 'cosmic coke machine' - we put the coin in, select the beverage of our choice and out it falls. Just because we raise a prayer to heaven does not mean that that prayer is going to be answered how we want it to be. Peter's request is shallow and reveals a lot about him. I do wonder what some of my prayer requests when looked at with the advantage of distance or hindsight say about me?

3. Even though Peter's request is fatuous, he shares it with Jesus. He tells tales of drunken stupidity, he is totally who he is. And what is Jesus response? No judgment. No disparaging. No dismissing. I want the kind of God I can say anything too. For years I carried around a large amount of anger towards God that I was afraid to voice. It ate up my insides. It was a slow process realizing that it was safe for me to be angry at God and to voice my displeasure. this clip reminds me that Jesus listens and loves me even if I am bumbling away inanely or raising my voice in rage.

It's the kind of relationship where you can truly say what is on your heart and mind and still know that you are loved. I want that in my human relationships and in my heavenly relationships too.

Thank you Peter Griffin for the reminder!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Weight Update and Boardgaming News

It's the first of the month and halfway through the year (well not quite as the second 6 months have more days than the first, but whose counting!)

My goal has been to lose 5lbs a month, so by now I should be down 30lbs.....

...I'm only down 28lbs, and I feel good about that.

June was a tough month, my body seemed to plateau, no matter what I did the weight would not drop. I would exercise and not lose weight, I would starve myself and not lose weight, I would eat small healthy meals and not lose weight.

By the end of last week I was getting desperate and I found my attitude to my body changing. I was beginning to get angry with my body and dislike it because of it 'maliciously derailing my weight loss plans'. Thoughts of punishing it arose in my mind - maybe grounding it or taking away its car keys!

I had a change of heart last Friday. I didn't like how I was viewing myself, so I decided that I needed to love my body again and if doing that meant I didn't make my goal then that was ok.

I stopped fretting and abusing myself and had a nice gentle weekend. I allowed myself 2 cupcakes from Crave, I cooked healthy, but I did allow myself some celebratory Mexican food when one of my fave restaurants finally reopened.

So, I'm 2 lbs short of where I wanted to be right now. I'm gonna keep losing weight anyhow, and 2lbs isn't worth the detriment of my mental health. I've learnt over the years that the Engine of Change does not run on Hate. You cannot despise yourself into being a better person - no matter what messages I heard from the Pulpit in my youth.

Anyway onto the games!

Only 29 games played this month - that's 2 down from May.

I managed 20 different games, and the number one play is:

Snow Tails -We've only begun to scratch the surface of this game. Dog sled racing through the frozen wastelands. I can't wait to play again and add in the trees!

As for the other games, here are selected highlights!

Werewolf - 3 plays of this in June. Mostly moderating again, but it's still fun, esp when you play outside under a full moon!

Because it was my birthday this month I got to pick all the games one Thursday night!

Evo - A competition to see who can evolve their dinosaur species the most before the meteor hits and wipes them off the planet!

Medina - a brain burning abstract game where you are building an ancient city. The game has all wood pieces and looks nice on the table

Ingenious - a fine abstract strategy game from the master Reiner Knizia

It's now 6 months into the year, and the game with the most plays is Dominion. It just won the coveted Spiel de Jahres award, and the expansion has just been released, so I anticipate this game staying up in the top slot for a while!