Mandy's Musings

Monday, July 31, 2006

One book

I was hoping to avoid this for fear of being shown to be an uncultured philistine, but since Tim tagged me, here goes...

1. One book that changed your life:
The Bible.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
The Firm, John Grisham

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Something that would teach me how to survive on a desert island .. how about The Swiss family Robinson by Johann Wyss

4. One book that made you laugh:
Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss

5. One book that made you cry:
Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

6. One book that you wish had been written:
A well argued, comprehensive and sensitive account of a biblical understanding of what it means to be a woman in the image of God, celebrating our distinctiveness without accepting cultural stereotypes.

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
At the risk of being shot down in flames for suggesting it, Lord of the Rings so i don't have to keep defending myself for never having read it.

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Like Father Like Son: the trinity imaged in our humanity, Tom Smail

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
The first of the Harry Potter books - because I just never got around to any of them.

10. Now tag five or six people:
Still can't work out how to do html links, but I'll go the Oak Hill crowd who are currently on summer holidays and should be doing heaps of leisurely reading and have time to tell us about it: Ros, Dawn, Helen, Marc Lloyd, Big Pete and Andrew Towner.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

theological anthropology and gender

This is the current working title of my 15,000 word MTC project. While I was in London I did a fair bit of reading, but not much writing. But the rubber is about to hit the road - I must start writing soon.

I spent some time today re-reading Tom Smail's new book 'Like Father Like Son: The Trinity imaged in our humanity'. I love what he is trying to do, but mainly it just makes me mad - I thought I'd try and share some of my reflections on what he says with you all. In his intorduction he states: 'This book is an attempt to discover what it might mean for our humanity that God is Trinity.' In chater 1 he goes on: 'This book is about what it means for men and women to be made and remade in the image of god, which is, of course, one of the main ways in which Christian theology has tried to understand our humanity in its relationship to God' (pages 1-2).

Smail makes some insightful comparisons between anthropology and christology (57-62) where he distinguishes between humanity in general and Adam in particular as being made 'in' the image of God in contrast to Jesus Christ who is said to 'be' the image of God (Col 1:15). 'Adam reflects God as his creature, his imaging is coincident with his creating; Christ on the other hand, images God as being himself integral to the life and being of the God he images.'

In the next section, Smail critiquest western trinitarianism, from Augustine to Barth, arguing that the western focus on the one-ness of God has obscured the triune nature of God and has, unintentionally, collapsed the Godhead into a self-loving monad. As Mike Ovey would say, he is perpetuating the grand meta-narrative that western trinitarianism took a wrong turn at Augustine and has never really recovered until in he 20th century the west discovered and appreciated the discoveries of the east. On Barth: 'Does not that love that Barth wants to assert require the personal otherness of the lover and the beloved which the strong assertion of God as the one persoal subject in threefold repitition throws into doubt? Are we not, in the end, left wondering whether, despite all the other elements in Barth's exposition that procalim the opposite, this is a God who loves himself and who models for our imaging an ultimate self-love?' (Page 90).

In the end Smail is pushed by Moltmann and eastern thinking to conclude that it is necessary to embrace first the threefold nature of God and then move to the one (which is OK as far as it goes I think). At 93: 'If God is a community of persons, then from our knowledge of him we are able to see that those made in his image are themselves to be understod as persons in community.' Smail seeks to avoid a socail trinity based simply on a union of wills. Whilke the plurality has primacy, the unity is grounded in the sharing of the divine nature (96) and the perichoretic union of father son and spirit (97). While I appreciate these inghts I am not sure I agree with his social trinity and whether he has fairly presented Augustine, Barth and the western tradition.

More thoughts to come ...

Friday, July 21, 2006


I was actually only in Dublin from the evening of Sat 1st to Tuesday 3rd, but had lots of fun while I was there.

On Saturday night after checking ot Kiliney we went to Johnny Foxes - the highest pub in Ireland. It was fairly touristy, but lots of fun as we listened to a traditionial irish band. We met a very strange Irish lady and her stranger son who seemed to want to make friends with us in a big way. It was a good laugh, although Dorothy was a bit worried about what I must think of the Irish.

On Sunday we went along to Irish Bible Mission (IBM) (Dorothy's Church) and Grosvenor Road Presbyterian (where Daire Killian is about to start). It was great to get a taste of what church is like in Ireland. The evangelical church is small, and much prayer is needed that evangelical ministers will continue to preach the gospel, that Christians would persevere in the faith and that the millions of people in Ireland that don't know Jesus would be convicted of their sin and repent.

In the afternoon we headed up to Malahide Castle - I'm still impressed by castles and stately homes - you just don't see anything like them in Australia.

And while it was too cold to go for a proper swim, i didn't want to leave without putting my feet in the Irish Sea, so we drove down to Sandimount and took a picture to prove it!

On Monday I spent the day in Dublin city. I checked out trinity College, some of the parks and wandered around temble bar. I met Susan for lunch, then we headed off to Dublin Casle and looked at their collection of ancient biblical manuscripts. A bit dissappointing that after 3.5 years of greek I still can't read them, but I do appreciate them much more now than before I went to college.

County Wicklow

I was in County Wicklow from Thursday 29 June to Saturday 1st July. I helped out for a few nights on a camp for adults with special needs with my friend Dorothy. it was lots of fun, especially seeing the special campers delight in God's love. On the Friday we went for afternoon tea at Avondale House, which is a lovely stately home.

We stayed in the village of Avoca, which is where Ballykissangel is filmed - some of you might recognise Fitzgerald's pub.

On the way home we had quite an adventure. First a bus side-swiped Dorothy's car and kept driving. Thankfully some Polish people in the car behind the bus had seen what had happened, got Dorothy to jump in the car and chased the bus driver to the next town! He claimed that he didn't realise he had hit us, but took full resonsibility and the bus company has now paid to fix the car. Check out the dent -

We had a lovely time in Castleknock and I was especially impressed to find we were in St Kevin's territory. The scenery was just amazing, especially the twin lakes.

Home sweet home

It's been a while since I have sat down at the computer properly. Over the next few weeks I will try and up-load some more photos of the last few weeks and update you all on my travels - Dublin was great fun and Italy with Zoe, Rod, Sachy and Gelato was just amazing.

I arrived back in Sydney at 5.15am on Saturday morning. While I have left London sweltering in my wake, Sydney is cold and wet. It was about 11 degrees when I arrived, and hasn't got much above 14 since. I've packed all my summer clothes away and dragged out the winter woolies for another season.

I'm settling in well to my new home - living with Michelle at Gladesville. I have far more stuff than I remember - still in the process of sorting it out and finding spaces to put it all. Should get started on that for today really ...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Giants Causeway

Last Wednesday I did a day trip to The Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Old Bushmills Distillery. It was a fantastic day - the scenery was spectacular.

An Irish legend about the creation of the Giants causeway focusses on Finn MacCool. Here's a version of it I gleaned from my trip to the causeway. Finn was reputed to be the leader of the Fianna, the guardians of the King of Ireland. One day, Finn was going about his daily duties on the north coast when a Scottish giant started to shout and ridicule his fighting prowess. Finn was very angry and he lifted a lump of earth and pelted it to Scotland as a challenge to this giant. The Scottish giant retaliated, throwing a rock back to Finn shouting that if he could get his hand on him, he would make sure that Finn would never fight again but adding that unfortunately he could not swim the short distance across the Channel, so Finn would be spared that fate. Finn was so enraged by this he tore large pieces from the cliffs, pushing them into the ocean bed and making a sturdy causeway to Scotland. When he had finished he shouted 'Now you'll had no excuse'. Fearing to lose his own reputation and pride the Scottish giant had no alternative but come over the causeway. As the Scottish giant began to approach, Finn saw how big he was, and was a little afraid, for the Scottish giant was much bigger than he was. He thought quickly and came up with an ingenious plan. He made a large cot disguised himself as a baby and climbed inside...... and waited. The Scottish giant arrived at Finn's house shouting, 'Where is that coward MacCool', and noticed the crib and the baby inside it. His eyes widened with fear as he thought to himself - 'My goodness if this is the size of the baby, how big is the Father?'. The Scottish giant, terrified of meeting the father of this child turned on his heels and ran like he had never ran before, back across the causeway to Scotland destroying it as he went, leaving just the crumbled stone that remains today.


I was in Belfast from Tuesday - Thursday last week. It is an amazing city. I wasn't quite sure what to expect not really knowing very much about 'the troubles' except for what I've seen in movies like 'In the name of the Father'.

First stop was city hall - a very impressive 100 year old building. I even got to sit in the Mayor's seat and pretend to be mayor for 5 minutes, reliving all those political dreams I harboured when I was 13-14.

On Tuesday night my host Ruth (the sister of a friend ...) took me on a tour of the murals that are painted on buildings all around the city. On Tuesday morning I was reading Ephesians chapter 2 and had been reflecting on the way that Christ has brought down the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile, to be confronted with the immense hostility between Loyalist and Republicans. At one stage we were in a republican area trying to get across to the loyalist side, only to be confronted by a bricked in street with barbed wire, for the protection of all concerned. There were also lots of references to Catalonian freedom from Spain and the middle east conflict, with different groups aligning themselves with the stuggles of others. I've never seen anything like it before.

I was also impressed by Queens University, the C.S. Lewis statue and the botanical gardens.