Friday, November 30, 2007

Reminder to self

Lessons from my time in France to be re-remembered/afin de les reapprendre

- Treat people as equals (even if they struggle with my language)
- A smile is not enough. What they want is my time and friendship not just my friendliness.
- Kindness and genuine friendship go a long long way. I am still strongly affected by the impact of kindness a few french (and non-french) people demonstrated towards me last year when I was a foreigner, relatively powerless and pretty lonely.

En bref - I should be taking my lead from Him

Thursday, November 29, 2007

trop vite!

Life's moving too fast right now! I keep starting blog entries and not finishing them and suddenly they're out of date or no longer applicable! Although I missed my hectic lifestyle when I was in France, I can't help but envy the french sometimes and their laid-back attitude to time. Yesterday a few of us from the CU ran ceilidh dancing classes for internationals, (I ended up having to call the dances and be the "backing music" to Auld Lang Syne, which was amusing to say the least!) Anyhoo a french friend turned up an hour and a half late, whilst we were in midst Orcadian StriptheWillow. He was really surprised when I told him this was the last dance. In his own words he thought it would run until at least half 10 or 11, and that he "ad to eat at 8 (as every frenchman does), and euuh it takes 'alf an 'our for me to prepare the food you know euh..." Bear in mind that the class started at half 7.

Aaah I do love the french :)

In other news:
- my camera is dying hence my lack of camerage.
- After 2 weeks of reading ridiculous amounts and getting more and more confused, I have finally decided on a direction for my 4000 word "critical review" in psychology... phew!

Life just keeps on going and the Christmas season is calling! woop woop!

Monday, November 19, 2007

a little hyperbole

Just back from the cinema to see Stardust. I loved it... my pragmatic flatmate (of the emerald isle variety) on the other hand wasn't so convinced by the romanticglowingstarloveconqueringall nonsense. "Too much hyperbole" were her exact words. Personally I like a little hyperbole from time to time, though I'm glad real life isn't like that. Those witches were scary!
We did however enter into the spirit of adventure, rushing down the tallest cinema in the world to catch the last underground and then rushing back up again, rooting under chairs to the soundtrack of the cancan in search of pragmatist's gloves, until we realised that she hadn't actually brought them with her in the first place. So we legged it back down again and made it in time (just) to catch the last underground... Ah we do know how to spice up the mundane antics of normal life! And who needs to put the heating on in the flat when a little exercise is all one needs to keep warm!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


A very dear friend gave me a bit o paper in ze uni library today with this written on it:

- "I ask him to satisfy my longings and fill my hollow places with his unfailing lavish love, this frees me from craving the approval of others or requiring them to fill my 'cup'. Then if someone does demonstrate love to me that's overflow! I am free to appreciate and enjoy it, but I didn't emotionally require it." Beth Moore

words of clarity on a frenchopsychologised/psychofrenchified/francopsycho day

I don't know what reading that makes you think of but I found myself drawn to the concept of how being filled with God's utterly satisfying love doesn't just stop there with us and Him. We are left free to appreciate and enjoy other people and the rest of his creation in all its fullness. It is for freedom that Christ set us free.
This period on the university calender should be labelled with a health warning "This is the time of the year when you will start feeling innudated and may well succomb to stress". What with all the essays, exams, lab reports, presentations, generally keeping mein head above the workload. I don't seem to overly stress about these things. When I stress it's more likely to be about my motives behind what I do, whether other people are taking a precedence over my love for God, about what's happening in my mind because I feel as though I can't control it half the time to name a few... But it was for freedom that Christ set us free! Why should I stress about these things? He leads me by still waters, He restores my soul, He fills my cup.
He acted, I accept what He has done and continues to do, I overflow.
Maaaan I wish the formula would be tha simple when trying to put it into reality! And it's not Him that is lacking, it's my unwillingness to accept that's the problem. What is it that can possibly hold me back from handing over the controls of my life to God, towhom nothing is impossible, who knows what's best and truly cares?! Think I might take the advice of Beth Moore there.

I'm just grateful that we have Jesus constantly interceding (overuling our stupidity) and that He fully understands :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

to foveate or not to foveate?

"Humans do not stare at scenes. They foveate. Their eyes dart about the scene at locations of interest during the analysis of the scene. Except for special cases, humans tend to focus on corners and edges of important objects of the scene." Jason Kinser, Institute for BioScience, Bionformatics, Biotechnology

We don't process everything we see. And that's not surprising really since we wouldn't get anywhere or do anything if we were constantly processing everything that's round about us. However that can sometimes result in confusion and/or misinterpretation. I did a presentation on how this kind of misintepretation manifests itself in language illusions on Friday. Let me demonstrate.

How many did each kind of animal did Moses put on the ark?

Did you get it? Did you say two? Or did you see the anomaly? If so, nice work because most people don't and this is known as the Moses Illusion and it's an example of "shallow processing" (what linguists call foveation). So why am I waffling about this other than to fulfil my geeky inclinations? Well today I was thinking about how much of a conscious foveator I am. How I so often only critically evaluate what I find relatively easy to understand because I am scared of the stuff I find more difficult to understand. How I so often see what I want to see and not what I'd prefer not to see. And that applies to everything, from bits of the bible I can't get my head around and would prefer to avoid, to things going on in another part of the world or even part of my city I prefer to remain blissfully unware of. But I specifically want to talk about the way in which I read the bible.
In order to avoid misinterpretation surely we need the full picture. So many mistakes have been made in the past, and we are still unclear on things because we are unware of the full context of a statement within the bible and in the era it was written in. Shouldn't we need to at least be aware of all these things so that we might understand the bible more fully?

But where does the balance lie between, one the one hand, questioning things, finding reason and understanding behind what we believe and on the other hand, knowing that God is God, that His wisdom is far above and beyond us and that we won't have all the answers in this lifetime? It's one of those "to what extent" questions that seem to crop all the time. I think it's easy to lean either too much to one side or the other. I definitely lean in the foveating direction i.e "I don't have all the answers so why bother too much about it?" but it isn't enough. Especially when I get interrogatively questioned about my faith.
I've leaned the other way in the past too; trying to process too much at once and as a result getting tied up and confused with trivial issues. To the point where it has gotten in the way of my ability to see and do and think straight in other areas of life. I think experiences like that may have scared me off deeply questioning things... but then maybe I've been questioning in the wrong way before.
I've been reading this passage over and over again the last few days, and something is starting to click in my head. We have God's Spirit in us, He gives us understanding, He gives us knowledge and the Spirit is key to that. But what kind of knowledge is that? I do know He enables to know Jesus and that He enables to understand God's plan for salvation so we can accept it and communicate it to others. I do know that He helps us grapple with the kind of knowledge that results in us having everything we need for life and godliness and that knowledge for the sake of knowledge is futile. But is that knowledge and understanding of the more difficult concepts, having a grip on prophecies that scholars have studied for years? Or is it just a grasp on concepts such as grace (not that those are especially simple)? Does the Spirit help us gain academic knowledge; the kind of apologetics that go way over my head or knowledge as in knowing God as a father, lord and friend? Should we as Christians know the bible inside out from cover to cover, or is it ok to skim the bits that we "may never understand" like certain prophecies or parts of Revelation?

That's a lot of questions and this probably makes for muddy reading. But if you do get through this I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on the matter. I'm kinda unsure...

Apologies for lack of bullet points in this post

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bon degustation

There are times when I get odd urges to do something random, whether be running down a hill with my arms pretending to be a plane or hugging a friend for no apparent reason. Last Saturday morning (or rather afternoon. Staying up late the night before was for a valid and valuable cause!) I woke up and decided I wanted to make some kind of chocolate mess.
Well I expected it to come out as chocolate mess. Actually it turned out to be a beautifully delicious and perfectly formed chocolate pudding :) This made me and my flatmates and all others that entered our flat walls this weekend very happy

We do know how to do "bon degustation" in our flat that's for sure