Ice Fishing for Killer Whale Tip Top

Emily from sent out a link today to the classic ‘ice fishing’ video clip. Unfortunately it was a muted and shortened version of the original. This spot starts with an inuit (eskimo) fisherman on the ice reeling in a fish, with a voiceover…

“To top up your family’s Omega 3 DHA,
you could lead the life of the Inuit Eskimo.
Their Omega 3 rich diet has contributed
towards their healthy lives.”

Inuit fisher in TipTop whale tv ad

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Ten Gates to the Cross

I’ve been working with a few groups recently, exploring the heart of the good news of Jesus as a basis for exploring evangelism.

The classic explanation of the Christian gospel is found in the Four Spiritual Laws, developed by Bill Bright for Campus Crusade for Christ.

  1. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
  2. Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.
  3. Jesus Christ is God’s ONLY provision for Man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
  4. We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.

The presentation ends with the the sinner’s prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I
open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for
forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my
life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

This is the explanation with which I was encouraged to ‘make a decision’ for Christ, as a fifteen year old teenager. It’s based on the substitutionary atonement model put forward by Paul in the Letter to the Romans. I responded with a resounding yes to God.

However, the four spiritual laws framework doesn’t fit so well now. I could rephrase the language to make it more inclusive gender wise. But over time I’ve come to experience the life, death and resurrection in many more ways than these ‘four spiritual laws’ can explain.

Understanding The Atonement by John DriverOne approach I’ve found helpful is the ‘Ten Gates to the Cross”, developed by John Driver in his book, “Understanding the Atonement for the Mission of the Church”, Herald Press, 1986. (buy it through The Ten Gates approach was picked up and popularised in New Zealand by Gordon Miller, of World Vision, in his Leadership Letter.

The image I find helpful is the cross surrounded by a wall in which there are ten gates. A person first sees the cross through one of those gates. Over time that person has the opportunity to walk around and see the cross from different perspectives. What Driver gives us is the reminder that there are at least nine other approaches to the cross besides the classic ‘guilt/forgiveness’ gate.

  1. The Deliverance Gate speaks of Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness.
  2. The Suffering Gate focuses on Christ’s suffering for us.
  3. The Leadership Gate holds Jesus out to us as a representative person, pioneer, forerunner and firstborn.
  4. The Martyrdom Gate reminds us of how Jesus laid down his life for us.
  5. 5. The Transformation Gate traces our new vibrant Christian life back to Jesus’ sacrificial death.
  6. The Cleansing Gate gathers up all the richness of the Old Testament mercy seat picture.
  7. The Service Gate captures the life of service we owe to the One who purchased us from the slave-market of sin.
  8. The Peace Gate reminds us of how God turns his enemies into friends.
  9. The Forgiveness Gate speaks of the marvellous new relationship we have with God when we accept the death of Christ for our sin.
  10. The Family Gate focuses on the wonderful family privileges we now enjoy through the death of Christ.

Ten Gates to the CrossResponses I’ve had when preaching through this have been varied. Some people have been greatly relieved to find their understanding of the cross was aligned with a New Testament approach. Others are annoyed that I’d made things far too complicated. They liked it when they could put the basic contract with God in a few sentences. How would we know if someone was a real Christian now? Some of the same people thought this sounded like pluralism, ‘New Age’ and liberalism. Gordon’s response, when I talked it through with him, was keep preaching it from the New Testament so it’s clear it’s not just ‘New Age’.

What I’m now working on is what would it look like if someone responded to God through the other nine gates? What are the alternatives to the classic sinner’s prayer?


Understanding the Atonement for the Mission of the Church has been republished by Wipf and Stock and is available at

Halo 2 Xbox LAN Party

My 17 year-old son is on his first day of school holidays today. And to mark the occasion, he’s invited 30 people round for an XBox LAN party. This is the third one we’ve had here. They keep getting bigger. We’ve got two data projectors set up in different rooms. Two TVs in the lounge/living room. Each can have four people playing. There’s potential for another three televisions if people turn up with them. They’re all linked up via a router and a switch.

Halo 2

Microsoft’s Halo 2 is all about carnage. Aliens (an alliance known as the Covenant) have invaded Earth and threaten to wipe out the human race. These are the aliens that were encountered in outer space in Halo: Combat Evolved. The team’s challenge is to defend the Earth and then pursue the aliens through space to ensure that they don’t return. That’s the campaign version of the game. What’s happening today is the more competitive version in which individuals or teams take each other in a variety of environments with a variety of arsenals. Rocket launchers, sniper rifles, shotguns and machine guns (and more) are supplemented by the weapons of the Covenant, beam rifle, energy sword, plasma rifle and needler (and more).

So what about the ethics of playing shoot and kills games?

I remember a movement in the 1980s to keep toy guns out of the hands of kids. Parents (mostly mothers) supported one another to keep ‘cowboys and indians’ and ‘cops and robbers’ out of the backyard. That movement’s still strong in parts of the United States and is moving toward making the sale of toy guns illegal.

What we’ve got here on screen is basically cowboys and indians with a much higher level of sophistication. At least it’s not as graphic as some other games that feature blood and decapitation.

I’ve played a few games with the guys. It’s exciting. It demands high levels of awareness and skill. But occasionally I’m off playing. Like after watching a documentary on the Columbine School shootings.

Believe it or not, some people have worked on a Christian platform for playing Halo 2. Like Dare 2 Share’s E Team Revolution. Lane Palmer, Director of Equipping, has written a brief for Christians looking to make a connection between their on-screen fighting and sharing their faith. He suggests three angles. One – make the connection between the plot (saving the Earth) and the Christian story. Two – talk about what happens when you die. Three – share the gospel with other players online.

There’s an online Halo 2 clan called “Warriaz of Christ”. Fifty people who put Lane Palmer’s principles into action.

OK I can see some possibilities there. But at the same time there’s a challenge that goes right to the heart of the conflict between ‘just war’ and ‘pacifist at all costs’ approaches. As one online writer cynically comments, “Hallelujah, Ian, many people don’t know that Jesus actually entered Jerusalem carrying a needler rifle.”

I wrote an article a couple of years ago on a laser skirmish game run at a Christian youth event. I was one of the professional soldiers – there to be taken out by teams of young people. The article’s online at here. I said there that we can easily buy into the ‘us and them’ approach, focusing all our fear and mistrust onto one group of people.

Playstation BoyThere’s a useful web site helping parents work out what their kids are engaging with in video games. Mediawise has a public service announcement (psa) tv advert with a boy describing his participation in dismemberment, decapitation and killing of innocent people. It’s a vivid reminder of the effect of such video games on the minds of young and impressionable kids. The video’s a flash animation (198 kb) but it’s also available in quicktime format (3 MB)at Hungry Man, under the portfolio of the director, Scott Vincent.

Landmines on the soccer field

The UN’s Mine Action Service is getting people talking with “Kick Off”, a television commercial set on an American soccer field. A game of girls soccer (football) kicks off. Parents watch from the sidelines, cheering when their daughter scores a goal. In the middle of the euphoria, a bomb goes off in the middle of the field. The explosion appears to kill and injure some girls, sparking panic and chaos among parents and other children. Shrieks of horror are heard through much of the spot, and a father is shown cradling his daughter’s lifeless body, moments after celebrating a goal she had scored. A mother screams from the sidelines, her friends holding her back with fear of further land mine explosions.

Banner from UN Landmines site

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High School Chaplaincy

Went out to coffee with a colleague this morning. He mentioned that this afternoon he was heading off to the Helensvale State High School Local Chaplaincy Committee (LCC). And that he was not going to accept nomination as chairperson. So… what did I do? I turned up myself and got voted on as the new chairperson.

Basically the role involves chairing monthly meetings of the LCC on Wednesday afternoons. It involves providing pastoral support for the chaplains at Helensvale State High School, Pacific Pines State High School and Upper Coomera State High School. And in the event of losing one of those people, finding a replacement. Graeme Eastwell, from Helensvale Presbyterian, has just finished six years in the position.

Long Bradley high school chaplain Long Bradley has been employed as chaplain at Helensvale State High School since 2000 and works three days a week. His web page is included in the school web site. He provides pastoral care for students, especially in times of grief and loss. He also connects students with appropriate support groups and agencies. As well as this, he attends excursions, camps and other events, runs a lunchtime games-based program, coordinates the Religious Education program, and provides a link between the school, community and churches.

The chaplaincy in schools is coordinated by Scripture Union in Queensland.

One of the big challenges of the year will be getting new churches on board in the new housing areas of Pacific Pines and Coomera. The churches there are all in their fledgling stages and are not in a strong position to contribute financially. But the need is great. Pacific Pines High School had a chaplain last year and are in the process of appointing someone new for a day a week. Upper Coomera State College are in the process of appointing a voluntary chaplain.

Helensvale State High opened just over twenty years ago and is known as one of the biggest high schools in Queensland. Pacific Pines State High started in 2000. Upper Coomera State College has opened in the last year.

Hugh Mackay on Stressed Baby Boomers

Generations by Hugh MackayHugh Mackay’s central audience in “Generations” is the Baby Boom generation. These are the generation most aware of their identity as a cohort, the most likely to buy and read his book.

Mackay in 1997 describes the life of the cohort born in the late 1940s and early 1950s as
a dream start, full of the promise of an endless prosperity, followed by turbulence and hardship in their middle years.

The baby boom is connected with the marriage boom and the economic boom in Australia: responses to postwar optimism. Construction and manufacturing were growing as the older ‘Lucky Generation’ expected permament economic growth.

At the same time, Baby Boomers were growing up in a world polarised by a cold war between two competing ideologies: communism and capitalism.

Mackay points to a fascinating tension between optimism and idealism on the one side and the belief that the world could end in catastrophic nuclear war.

This is the generation who were brought up with a quest for personal happiness, expectation of material comfort and the ideal of egalitarianism. In mid life Baby Boomers have discovered that these expectations come with prices: high divorce rates, two-income households, and STRESS.

‘Elastic Adolescence’

Mackay puzzles over the nostalgia of Boomers who ‘refuse to grow up’.

“They have become the generation who are still determined to stuff themselves into blue jeans in their late forties (partly to pretend they are not as old as they are, partly to remind themselves of how they looked in their teens, and partly to symbolise their determination to ‘stay close’ to their own children). They are still playing the music of their youth and young adulthood…”

This approach strikes me as an example of generational misunderstanding. This generation who will never grow into copies of their parents. It is a generation defined by the development of an alternative culture which was mistakenly assumed to be youth culture only. I see this in churches that expect people in their thirties and forties to suddenly tune in to traditional forms of worship. Or churches that say that their focus on work with the ‘Lucky Generation’ will pay dividends as the baby boomers start retiring. The bad news is that the retiring baby boomers are not likely to switch cultures.

The irony is that the Lucky Generation have the same approach but are not so aware of it. Ask them what they were listening to between the ages of seventeen and twenty five and they’ll break into community singing. The tastes they developed back then haven’t gone away. Likewise their approaches to short hair and formal clothing.

Wanted: Tampons With Beepers

What a heading! It certainly captures the sense of the fast pace of the Boomer generation. Stress for many is ‘inextricably linked in their minds with the idea of busyness’. It’s not just managing their own hectic lives, but also organising the lives of their children.

Shifting Sands: Marriage and Work

Mackay tells us that “Boomers envy their parents for having lived at a time when things seemed more ‘cut and dried’ and when even personal morality seemed more straightforward than it does in the kaleidoscope of relativity and postmodernism.”

I imagine that this envy might surface at times of mid life crisis of early Boomers. Perhaps this is an example of the nostalgia Mackay refers to earlier. But it is superseded by the change of values relating to marriage and family.

It’s the Baby Boomers who started talking about the quality of relationships: the quality of intimacy, quality time. And perhaps because of those very expectations, Boomers surpassed their parents in the rate of marriage breakdown. It could be argued that marriages had broken down just as much before, but had not been allowed to be dissolved. But now, with the relaxing of expectations regarding gender roles, and the increased financial independence of women, divorces could be considered openly. Mackay remarks that the majority of divorces are now being intiated by women.

Boomers left school with a choice of well paid careers before them. Now, in mid life and beyond, many have experienced redundancy or retrenchment. Men and women have learned to adjust to two-income families. Men, in particular, have had to rethink their sense of identity with something other than work.

It all seems so serious

Boomers in Mackay’s focus groups are discovering that ‘life is harder than they expected it to be…. that their beloved freedom has given way to a feeling of being enclosed by responsibilities, pressures and anxieties.’

I’m wondering how much of the distinct values of this generation are coming through here. By taking a group of people facing mid life crisis it would be expected that issues are related to life stage more than to generational values.

Mackay considers the contrast between the exuberance of the anti-Vietnam protests and the heavy-going middle years. He comments that these Boomers are taking the task of parenting more seriously than their parents did.

I agree with Mackay where he says that the Boomers are consistent really. Their whole lives, from young adulthood to middle years are marked by intensity. He writes, “The Lucky Generation are bemused by their Boomer offspring’s solemn commitment to navel-gazing, to self analysis and to the relentless pursuit of personal gratification.”

Yes. This generation are into self analysis. Which is why they are the one generation most open to considering and acting on generational theory.

Men have had to grapple with the effects of the feminist movement. Men who grew up with Dad as the ‘head of the house’ and breadwinner have faced a revolution, a loss of control. At the same time, the emerging ‘rules of engagement’ have not been clear for men. Should they explore their ‘feminine side’? Or rediscover the masculine in new ways? It’s not clear. But in the process of gender redefinition, men have learned how to be more actively involved with their children.

Women have had the opportunity to set their own agenda, taking on choices that are more stimulating and interesting than those perceived to be experienced by the Lucky Generation women. A fascinating insight: the realisation in hindsight that equal rights does not mean that all of those rights have to be exercised at once. The tensions between career aspirations and maternal aspirations are explored in depth by Mackay.

Saying ‘No’ to Religion

“The Boomers might turn out to have been the last generation of Australians to attend Christian Sunday Schools in large numbers.” I’ve met a few from the Lucky Generation who struggle to accept this. However it is clear that the Baby Boomers as adults have stayed away from conventional religion and are not likely to return to it in droves. They’re hooked by materialism.

Mackay describes the belief that solid values came from stable family life, supported by a steady income from a reliable supply of work. Add to this belief the perspectives of Freud and Einstein and we end up with the belief that all answers to our questions are within us, and that everything is relative.

Baby Boomer Gods

Mackay sums up his section on Baby Boomer sexual attitudes with the stunning sentence:
“Impatient to pair off at an early age, they have been obsessed with pairing off (either in fact or in fantasy) ever since.

Boomers travel the world discovering themselves in cross-cultural experience.

This generation are proud of their exposure to a huge range of ethnic foods. Coffee is named as ‘heavily symbolic’. And not just any coffee. Expresso coffee in its many forms.

“They consume information as voraciously as they have previously consumed Thai food, experiential holidays, sexual partners or cars”.

Personal Growth
This movement in the 1970s provided a psychological culture of ‘do your own thing’, leaving a legacy of self-centredness. Newly ‘aware’ Boomers leave their spouses to ‘discover themselves’. Mackay admits that many found help in personal-growth courses but remains scathing.

Emotional Hazards of Over-Parenting
Mackay concludes his section on the Stress Generation by exploring their parenting of the next generation.

It’s hard to say if Mackay’s Boomer focus groups were more self-critical than the others, or if Mackay is allowing his generational bias to seep through. The other possibility is that Boomers present different issues when talking to an older researcher. It would be fascinating to conduct some testing on the impact of a researcher’s age on any focus group.

Either way, it is clear that Mackay’s chapter on the Boomers is not kind. He has these people pining for the lost values of their parents but revelling in their materialist lifestyle.