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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Drugs


I drive a taxi in Newcastle, NSW approximately 2 hours north of Sydney. In recent month the local council have imposed a curfew so that all patrons need to be in the pub/club of their choice by 1am or else they are locked out. The pubs/clubs then stay open till 3am but no more patrons are allowed in after 1am.

This measure was supposed to be a response to fighting and other loutish behavior on the streets on Friday and Saturday nights. I suppose it has had some effect although it seems to be more about noise minimization for people who have bought trendy apartments near to the main clubbing areas of the city.

As I drive around many people ask about my own personal safety and about the different episodes that occur across the town. 2 weeks ago I was in my taxi at a rank and witnessed a brawl involving a dozen or more young men. There have been other incidents mostly involving young men in their 20s and early 30s.

The general consensus is that alcohol is not the main factor. The unknown factor is illicit drug use. I took 3 people home last night who were more than drunk and one of the passengers told me that he had quite a few pills on him. It is this addition of chemicals to the usual weekend ritual of letting off steam that, I believe, is causing the greatest difficulties.

I guess my next question is what part I can play if any in trying to arrest this decline of the values of the young people in our societies? I am not sure of my role outside that of making a living to support my family. I would like to do more than just ferry people from point A to point B but I am not sure what I can do. Any thoughts?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

40


On Thursday June 12th I turned 40. I have the most wonderful few days with family and friends celebrating and reflecting on all of the good that is in my life.

Today, Sunday, we held a party at my house which my wonderful wife spent a long, long time preparing with the help of her sister. The last few months have been fraught with difficulties but my wife has stood by me with admirable faithfulness and trust which I do not take lightly.

I reflected this evening on the people that attended the party and I am so fortunate to have friends who are not "pew sitters" or casual spiritual travelers but people who are serious about their faith and the need for it to be a lived faith. I am not sure how well I would have made the past weeks and months without some very, very supportive friends.

All of this has bought home to me the need for us to get serious about Christian community. The word "community" should not be a convenient buzzword for Church strategy meetings but it should be a mindset that churches adopt that fans out into the community.

Sadly, from our recent experience, we have encountered people that espoused community rhetoric but opted for judgment and gracelessness when the chips were down. This is not the example that Jesus presented to His Church.

If you are reading this then you are also a part of my network and for that I am also grateful. I grow as I learn from others and I appreciate all of my associations and the polishing that they bring to this rough gemstone.

I am confident that God has great things in store for me and my family in the years to come. God has shown His faithfulness to me and I am going to tell the world.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hope

I am off work now for a couple of days so as well as spending time with Tanya and the boys and finishing my paper on narrative criticism I will fit in some blogging in the form of my latest reflections from the drivers seat of my taxi.

Today is a public holiday in most of Australia and the day off work on Monday prompted a lot of people to descend on the city for a night of drinking.

Coming, as I do, from a family who have and still do get drunk I am well aware of the dynamics of drinking and do not stand in judgment over the people who come into my cab. It is too easy to sit on the sidelines tut-tutting and pontificating from our pulpits without actually seeking to understand what leads people to binge drink.

The issue of binge drinking is a hot topic in Australia at the moment with various methods employed to try and stem the violence that often accompanies large crowds of drunken young people. What strikes me though is that the percentage of people who cause trouble is very, very small and there are a lot of people who are looking to enjoy themselves. It is this issue that I want to consider briefly.

Again, it is too easy to make simplistic comments from within our Christian enclaves regarding the fact that people work all week, drink on the weekends and save for the summer vacation and this constitutes the basic dynamics for most people. The truth is much more complex as I am finding out as people begin to open up on their taxi journey. The people I meet are, generally speaking, decent people who lack a deeper sense of hope that can lift their sights from the limitations of the 21st century western world.

I recall an old hymn that says "Because He lives I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone. Because He lives I can face the future. Life is worth the living just because He lives."

In 1 Cor 15:14 Paul wrote " And if Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless."

The Christian hope rests firmly on the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. It is this fundamental belief that keeps me striving to help those who have not heard this good news. The people around us are not evil (or, to use the Christian euphemism, "worldly") but simply people who do not have a deep seated hope to even taken them through the working week sometimes so alcohol provides a suitable avenue for relieving tension, relaxing people and opening up conversation but, unfortunately, it is also addictive and insidiously saps any hope that is there.

In summary the Christian hope is vitally important to the Church and something that needs to be taken outside the doors of the church and into a community that, although they do not say in so many words, need and want to hear that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Time

My plan was/is to blog at least every couple of days but I seem to be in a battle for time. I had a very successful week, financially, with the taxi driving but I worked 55 hours to do it. My wife is happy with me driving and we are able to pay our bills and actually start saving some money for once.

I am still not attending a church and still working through what this means for the future. I am constantly challenged by the mistrust of Church amongst the broader community.

Today I am going to attempt to complete a big block of my paper on narrative criticism. Trying to get my head around study after a 55 hour week as well as attending to my wife and children is a big ask but I am determined to give time to the Masters degree.

If anyone knows of any good apologetic resources please can you let me know. I want to be able to begin to challenge some of the responses I am getting as far as basic questions about God are concerned. I think what troubles me the most is that there are many people in their late teens and early 20s who don't seem to understand love. In order to evangelize we speak about God's love for people and so these people are a step back even further in the process. I will pray that God uses me to demonstrate His love.