Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Separating thoughts from feelings

A while back my dad introduced me to the blog of Lynne Baab: a Presbyterian minister who, until recently, has been lecturing in pastoral theology at the University of Otago.  She's recently been running a series that I've found really, really helpful.

In it she shares how she's come to realise that negative thoughts she struggles with are often presentations of strong emotions she wasn't really aware she was feeling.  In the first post she describes what a difference learning to recognise and more appropriately respond to those emotions has made in her life.  She argues that doing so is
a Christian spiritual practice because it helps me bring my feelings into God’s presence, as modeled in the Psalms. It helps me love and serve God more fully because I am less distracted by negative thoughts and feelings.
I realised that I, too, often struggle with negative and disturbing thoughts (most commonly in the form of an emphatic conviction that I'm a bad person who deserves to have bad things happen to me), and that these, too, often arise out of feelings of fear, pain, resentment etc.  Would her discoveries help me, too, to love and serve God more fully?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

We could all sleep in one bathroom

I've recently read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.  It's a true story following the lives of a number of people in Mumbai, India, who live in a slum near the international airport.  The title comes from the billboard at one edge of their slum, which promises 'Beautiful Forevers' to those passing through the airport.  There was much that was challenging in the book, but the thing that really got me was the size of the dwellings.

The main family we follow in the book live in a hut so small that several family members sleep outside every night.  There is simply not enough space on the floor for the whole family to lie down flat.

If you removed the bath from just one of our bathrooms, there would be plenty of space for all three people who live in my house to lie flat.  And that's just considering one of our bathrooms - we have a separate toilet, another bathroom, three double bedrooms, a separate kitchen and a large lounge/dining area as well!  No one in our house is going to be sleeping on the bathroom floor any time soon; let alone under the stars.

When brought up short by realities like this, I sometimes wonder if we should just give everything away.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Zero Carbon Act

I've recently been looking at the Zero Carbon Act prepared by Generation Zero, and I'm pretty excited by it.  They've drafted an Act of Parliament that, if adopted, would set in place plans to enable NZ to get to carbon neutrality by 2050.

I'm really pleased that someone is doing this work :-)  We see climate change as one of the biggest near-term threats to the flourishing of our global neighbours, so it's really exciting to see people doing solid work to try and prevent it.

They've basically taken an existing UK act of parliament (from 2008, no less!) and altered it a bit to take into consideration New Zealand's unusual carbon emissions profile.  Whilst for most countries the majority of greenhouse gas emissions are carbon dioxide itself, around half of ours come from the methane and nitrous oxide produced by the agricultural sector.  The different kinds of gases last in the atmosphere for differing lengths of time, so they propose a 'two baskets' approach where the long-lived ones have to be down to zero by 2050 but there is a bit more leeway on the short-lived ones.

The act would require the government to not only set legally binding greenhouse gas emission targets but to set 5-year 'pathways' for how to get there, plus there'd be a Commission to oversee the process.  It also requires the government to identify the challenges a changing climate will bring to New Zealand and figure out ways to adapt to them, and requires them to help our Pacific neighbours to do the same.

If you think that all sounds like a good idea, please 'sign' Generation Zero's petition here.  Your signature will enable Generation Zero to demonstrate that these ideas have popular support.  The petition will be presented to the new parliament after September's general election.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sustainable agriculture: eating the 'Third Plate'

Martin recently came across a fantastic interview about sustainable agriculture.  In it, chef Dan Barber talked about what he's come to call 'Third Plate' eating.  He thinks of what Americans have been eating since colonisation as the 'First Plate' - basically a large piece of meat with a few other things on the side.  More recently, he's seen the rise of the 'Second Plate' - the development, inspired by sustainability concerns, of swapping locally sourced and/or organic meats and vegetables for the conventionally grown ones.

Dan Barber was essentially serving 'Second Plate' food at his New York restaurant when a visit to the organic farm that grew his wheat radically changed his outlook.  He visited in the off-season and was startled to see the entire farm covered in unfamiliar crops: no wheat in sight.  What he was seeing were the cover crops, without which the land would be unable to produce wheat later in the year.  They were also mostly human-edible, but were all either sold for animal feed or ploughed under.  No one could be found to buy them as human food.

That eventually turned him into an ardent advocate for a much more sustainable 'Third Plate'.  On this new plate, instead of finding the same foods simply grown differently, you find food that is served in the kind of ratios you need to grow it in order to sustain productive land.  In his region, that means eating a lot of legumes and buckwheat in place of much of the more familiar meat and bread.  Listen to him expanding these ideas here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some surprising visitors

This afternoon I heard a bird fly past my window - it was loud and looked, from the corner of my eye, to be large.  I assumed it was a kereru that had been feasting on our guavas. and eagerly craned for a better look. To my surprise, I saw this on the neighbour's porch:

A pukeko!!  A pukeko had flown past my window!  We get them on the lawn sometimes, as we live near Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek, but a flying one is something new!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Moth orchid excitement!

Last October, I was given a moth orchid.  It was a gorgeous plant and I was delighted - but also a little daunted.  Orchids have a reputation for being fussy plants and I felt pretty sure I would kill it.  I had to keep reminding myself I was under no responsibility to keep it alive - I should just enjoy it for as long as I had it and leave it at that.

Moth orchid at the left - it's a truly stunning plant

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Your yoke is easy and your burden is light

As I mentioned earlier, it feels like there's a lot of big stuff going on around me right now.  I've just been doing my Lent reflection and I felt God guiding me into His truth as I prayed.  I'm writing down the chain of thoughts I had - as much to remind myself of them as anything.