Friday, February 26, 2010

My Hats

Periodically, even frequently I'm asked by people in their effort to pigeon hole me and/or make connections; "Who are you?", What are you?" and "What do you do?".

We are often defined by and measured against the the various things we do or the roles we hold. I guess for some of us we are so busy being busy and doing whatever our roles require that they become the defining things. What about the real me or the real you? Are those entities different to the one defined by a specific role?

Vocationally I have three hats. By day I work as a mobile tutor for a polytechnic, which some readers my better understand as a community college. Having spent a number of years as a primary/elementary school teacher and principal, I made a change and moved into adult education.

Now in my 5th year I visit locations in a 10,000 sq km region with laptop computers and a trailer equipped with a satellite dish for internet access, and deliver online computing programs or day workshops to help people in rural and remote places have access to technology and the opportunity to upskill. I built a site dedicated to this work to show where when and how we are making a difference in the rural heartland of New Zealand.

My wife and I own a motel near the world famous Waitomo Glow Worm Caves and when I am not on the road I'm at home wearing my motellier hat trying to keep the motel in good order and repair.

My third hat is probably my greatest passion at the present time. I run another business entity called Waitomo IT Solutions. It earns me the least amount of money but gives me the greatest amount of satisfaction. For a number of years, I was the person friends and neighbours called on to fix their computers. Ususally all I got was a word of thanks but now days I am less inclined to do things because a friend of a friend said that I could and would. My chargeout rate is cheaper than the technicians in town but my time is valuable and nothing is free.

The area of this business that I am developing though, is the web development and hosting side of things. I have a number of clients in 3 different countries and the sites range from the simple brochure advert to full content management systems. Artwork was always an area that I wasn't so confident with. Recently, however, I have begun working in partnership with Raven Muse to provide quality original artwork, headers and logos for my clients.

While sometimes it seems that I am all about work, there are other roles and interests that contribute to the definition of who I am. I am the father of four, 2 girls 18 and 16, and 2 boys 14 and 12. They are good kids. I'm proud of each of them (No recent photo though I'm afraid).

Over the years I have been involved in numerous community activities and groups. In the past I have held leadership roles in churches and trade union branch committees. I am currently the secretary of the Waitomo Axe and Gun Club and Otorohanga Axeman's Association. I am the vice President of the Otorohanga County Fair Association, but that committee is in recess at the present time. I'm also on the Waitomo Caves Sports Day committee. Last year I managed the provicincial representative rugby team that my son was selected for.

It is a bit of a struggle to say "No" sometimes. That can, on ocassion, cause a bit of conflict when those at home think they should take precedence over the here and now of the group or activity I'm involved in. While involvement in these activities does meet a social need for me, the clay bird shooting, chopping and rugby are also the interests and sporting activities of my son. So for the most part, my current continued involvement is primarily to give him opportunities and support that he might otherwise not have.

I guess one could say that I'm given to serving others. I do try and hopefully with the right motivation and for the right reasons. One of the greatest joys and rewarding experiences I think one can have is knowing you have helped someone and made a difference.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Bit Of Philosophy

Wow, a month has gone by so quickly. I thought I would get back to this a whole lot sooner.

Looking back at the last post, I think maybe I want to get the religious issues out of the the way...

Having referred to my time in Bible School, I could elaborate somewhat about some of my views. I'll just put it out there so it is in the open. I do think that faith is a highway that is travelled not a destination one arrives at. So things change along the way and what I have here is merely a snapshot of where i am in that journey today.

I did for many years subscribe to what I refer to as a conservative evangelical theology. To some extent I still do. However, over time I found there can be a tendancy for those who subscribe to that worldview to become somewhat legalistic and bound to a set of rules that may not, in fact, be very biblical at all. Some of those folks tend to not have a lot of tolerance for those of different pathways and followings. They tend to impose their own values on and judge actions of people by their own exacting standard and make no allowance for the fact that not eveyone has the same framework of spiritual or moral belief. Many have become like that Pharisees of Jesus day, who judged but didn't live very well themselves the tenants of their faith. Jesus summed up the 10 commandments in 2 positive statements; Love God & Love your neighbour... Pharisaical types simply interpret them with one negative word; "DON'T". It can be very safe to live within a set of rules, but it can also be very stifling. Needless to say, if one is within a church of folks who think tht way, and if one fails to conform... there is a tendancy to be criticised and judged, even persecuted. When your family gets victimised, it is time to get out.

I'm not one of those who embraces an "all paths lead to God" view, and since i'm not God, I'm not in a position to judge those whose viewpoint differs from my own. So what is it that i believe?

Most simply put; my view is still a monotheistic one. I do believe there is a supreme creator God.
I think ultimately we will be called to account for the way we live or have lived our lives. I believe that humans are spiritual beings. I am a creationist. I believe the biblical account of the historical Jesus to be true, that He was God incarnate, that after his crucifixion, He rose from death and ascended into heaven. The Apostles Creed is a good doctrinal summary.

Having for a number of years taught what i believed to be biblical truth, I have been challenged in recent years to consider how much was actually "biblical" and how much was "church tradition". Now church tradition is not always a bad thing, but if it is elevated to the authority of "the word of God" then teachers can be guilty of indoctrinating the innocent when accept without question what is delivered from the pulpit.

I spoke some time ago to a catholic woman whe was full of "Father said this" and "Father said that" as if "Father" (her priest) spoke the very words of the Almighty. There was no way she would entertain the possibility of an alternate point of view.(note for clarification, I've never been a catholic)

I taught in a "Christian" School for a year at the turn of the millenium, and while some of the staff, board and parents were nice, well intentioned and well meaning people, they were locked into a world view that inhibited them from seeing things that were written in their own bibles. The children were indoctrinated and their capacity to reason impaired.

You can perhaps see that I might become frustrated in such environments.

I have to admit to being in what some have referred to as a "post evangelical wilderness" at the present time. I haven't rejected, the former evangelical theology. The fundamental teachings still underpin my framework of belief. I am in a state of limbo, not having a "church" and like minded folks to "fellowship" with. (see i still use the jargon).

One thing I struggle with at the presnt time is the notion of a personal intimate relationship with the creator. Is that something that one has or not?
The Old Testament accounts of God interacting with His people were usually in the context of a collective; ie the whole nation of Israel. Generally speaking, evangelical interpretation of the New Testament is that what applied to the nation in the Old Testament applies to individuals in the New. I'm not entirely convinced. I can accept that what applied to the nation in the Old can be extended to all nations and races in the New, but is it on an individual personal and intimate level or the collective "church" level. When I refer to the church in this context I mean those who subscribe to the belief in Christ as the saviour of humankind. I don't mean the various denominational groups and movements that comprise the political and power systems of organised religion.

Well it has been hours in its composition; there is no way to condense 30 years of journey simply into a single blog entry. I think I covered most of the bases to present the snapshot. It is not meant to be a contentious treatise or discussion paper, nor and authoratative statement, merely setting the scene... a self disclosure, and probably more for myself than others. If you have taken the time and been interested enough to read it then Thank you.