Thursday, 26 February 2015

On Faith #2

One of the comments that inspired me to talk about faith here was in reference to Christ's instruction to "love your neighbour as you love yourself" 

Snow said "others seemed TO believe, yet they made no discernible effort to live up to Christ’s standard. So, how do YOU do it? You pay $30 for a cellphone, but even that small expenditure COULD be used to buy shoes for some kid in Tibet. I’m not putting YOU down; I’m putting the standard down." 

One of my greatest disappointments with the Christians I know (and I do get a bit judgy about it) is that as consumers they are not discernibly different to the majority of people, in fact sometimes i think they are worse.

I see so little awareness of ethical consumption, whether we are looking at sustainable agricultural practice, sustainable energy use, healthy eating (surely a mark of respect for the body God created for us) or the bonded labour used to produce all of our gorgeous, unsustainable, ego boosting gadgets. 

**the first of what i am sure will be many disclaimers**
I know that there are Christians who care about this stuff but in my neck of the woods i don't see them.

So, how do I love others with respect to buying shoes for Nepalese kids versus luxuries for myself?
Inherent in my faith is the idea that I was placed where I am, in the time that I am living, with all of the details of my life (gifts and talents, connections, interests, resources etc) to be used in this time and place. If I accept that I was born in the 1970s to a white, middle class, Australian family, unless I am knowingly and deliberately acting outside of what I know of Gods plan, then my privileged station in life is what was planned for me. 

That is not to say that I can be self gratifying but it is to say that a cell phone is pretty much essential to function in the society I have been placed in and it is essential for the work I do. The way I think about it is that God probably expects me to have a cell phone but he probably expects me to have a basic one and then put the several hundred dollars I save on a phone towards something like shoes for kids in Tibet. Or new glasses for my friend who broke hers or slipping a shopping voucher to a friend who cant afford to give her kid a birthday cake.

Ultimately it is all a juggling act in my own conscience. Sometimes when I have something that I think is decadent or luxurious or special I think about what  good I might have done with the money and when those thoughts pass my mind I take it as a nudge that maybe my focus is drifting. At times when I am considering a large purchase I might pray for guidance so for example if I was considering a holiday but I was having difficulty making bookings I might take that as a sign to shift the plans. Interestingly enough, I might still take the holiday but it might be in a different place or at a lower price or the timing may change and when that happens I have to think that there must be a reason. I try to keep in mind the idea that if something has to be forced it is probably not right or the timing is out, so a change of direction is needed.

The way I see it, a Christian life has to lived, as much as our understanding allows,in close relationship to God so that our own conscience will tell us when our habits need tweaking. I know this sounds like a cop out and I am sure people use it as a cop out, a la "i feel ok about it so it must be ok" but i hope not to be that way.

I try to live so that principles dont make me grindingly poor and uncomfortable because that kind of life uses so much energy that I would have nothing left to give anybody. I tithe first, then cover basic needs with just a small amount of fat in the system and I feel that once those things are covered I have a responsibility to give what I can where ever I see a need. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On Faith #1

It has been suggested to me that maybe I should write about my faith. Being asked to write about  my faith seems to me to be like trying to describe who I am or explain what the sky looks like. It is an endless topic and one I am completely unsure of writing about.

Today I will just outline why I usually don't say too much about my Christianity:
  • I know that I am imperfect and I know that Christians are well scrutinised for any hint of nastiness or hypocrisy. If anyone were to criticise me I wouldn't like it but assuming the criticism to be correct I would have to accept it. If, on the other hand, my bad behaviour or even perceived bad behaviour reflected badly on my faith I really would not like that. There are enough badly behaved Christians out there, I don't want to be added to the ranks. And I don't want to let the team down.
  • I think that many times Christians are viewed as weird or bible bashing or generally unsavoury and I never wanted my religion to define me before I was known and defined by my character. I didn't want to lose credibility for myself or my interpretation of Christianity before I was even known.
  • The majority of my (dwindling number of) readers are openly atheist and  i don't have any desire to alienate people by talking about things they find irrelevant at best.
  • My religious education is far from scholarly and religion rarely makes any kind of rational sense so I know that it will take all of about five seconds before I am faced with some unanswerable question and while I am prepared to live with uncertainty, i know that it is not a good look for someone who claims to believe in something. 
Ask questions if you like, i give no guarantees about the answers, but ask :)

Friday, 13 February 2015

spending nights in a strangers bedroom

on this night i have a booking to burp, settle and change new twins in a bid to help the mum & dad eke out a few precious minutes of extra sleep. last night i was up late so i know my reserves are not great. an afternoon nap is in order so in the mid afternoon i head to bed. i lay there wide awake and knowing that this might cost me later, i am on the edge of getting up again but i must drift off because soon i wake to the sound of someone walking quickly along the hallway.
soon after i wake again to the sound of a car, it has come up the street and for some reason the driver has decided to accelerate noisily away. and so i lay there a little longer but sleep eludes me and i get up.
my favourite computer is suffering a terrifyingly bad virus so i spend a little while googling for solutions but the problem with "virus solutions" is that quite a few appear to be viruses. having already created this disaster i am reluctant to make it worse so, in defeat, i turn away from it. there will be another day and besides, it is time to get dinner.
cooking, eating and cleaning up are done and the clock is creeping toward my 10pm start time. i watch a little tv and shower to wash away the stickiness of a humid february day. then hugs goodbye.

i crank up the car air conditioning so that i arrive feeling fresh. the drive through quietening streets is easy and soon i am pulling up at the security garage. i forget to press the button with the key symbol and the gate wont open. maybe there is a time delay after failed attempts because it takes me three more tries before the little LED screen invites me to "go in"

my clients have some of their belongings in the parking space so i  pull sharply to one side so i can avoid moving the things. the garage is echo-ey and lonely, i am just locking the car when someone bangs through the heavy door to put rubbish in the garbage room. my tummy rumbles a little and i wish i had stashed a chocolate in my bag.

I reach the top of the stairs and open the door. after the heat of the garage it is a relief to feel the cool night air. i can see my client drawing the curtains as i walk toward their apartment.

i know this family, the grandma greets me with great warmth and says goodnight to the dad, who is just turning in. grandma and i talk about an illness that seems to be passing through the household, the changing routine of the twins and the first brave little excursions of the newly expanded family. we chat about motherhood and travel. i wish i was friends with this lady and remind myself that i am hired help.

after about a half hour i can hear a baby stirring and so my work begins. i catch up with mum while she feeds bub and then i burp and change him. if his brother doesnt wake i might be able to get a little shut eye.

after a little while i hear crying so i creep toward the bedroom door but i realise that it is the sick toddler who is disturbed. his nan will take care of him. the crying stops and starts, with the special tone that only a sick child has.

after a while i wake again. the second twin is awake and the first is stirring. more than an hour passes as i pat tiny backs, change nappies and replace vomit wet clothes. the exquisite softness and sweet smell of the newborns are a fringe benefit of the job and some primal instinct tempts me to kiss fuzzy little heads but i settle for putting my cheek to their heads as they rest on my shoulder.

there are short intervals when i am waiting for a baby to finish feeding, sometimes i fetch a glass of water or re-stock the nappy box but most times i perch uneasily on the edge of another couple's bed, chatting to the mum. the light is dim and the air conditioner seems to be roaring. it is always an oddly intimate experience.

sometime after three am both babies are settled again, i leave at five so i doze some more and then it's time to go. the apartment is in deep silence and i surely wont be needed so i leave a promotional fridge magnet on the kitchen bench and slip out of the door.

the city is just beginning to wake as i drive home in pre-dawn light. when i get there i am not interested in anything but falling asleep. i will be passed out when, in less than an hour my household starts to hum with the new day.