Reflections of a Broken Man

On Headspace by StephenMac
October 13, 2010, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Reflections

**Currently at breakfast, so I guess my currently listening to is “the chatter at the surrounding tables” though I’m not actually listening to what they are saying…*

One thing that has been dominating my thoughts recently is the idea of headspace – the ability to multitask, handle and process all the different things (read: crises) in my head. Last week, my head was just so filled with first an essay, then with camp admin/talk, that I just couldn’t actually think of anything else. I didn’t have the headspace for it.

Or so I kept telling myself. There was one issue that I needed to deal with, but had kept putting it off for the sake of “headspace”.

**Back in room, just before dinner. Currently listening to “Coming down is calming down” – Underoath in preparation for their new album ∅ Disambiguation**

headspace has been my excuse for not dealing with things. I just can’t (read: won’t) process things that need to be processed. this week is the time to process things that need to be processed, and technically, there’s nothing else stopping me from dealing with it. And yet, I haven’t.

What I find most irritating is the fact that I think about it, dwell upon it, whatever, I just can’t bring myself to do something about it. It consumes my thoughts, its all I think about when I have that spare moment. I think it’s probably unfair to her, but there is that bizarre half-way-house of not dealing with things that keeps them at arms length, without facing the consequences.

Here’s the resolution: tonight, something gets done *cough*



On …wow… by StephenMac
September 14, 2010, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Reflections

**Currently listening to Broken Bones – Birds of Prey. Bought the Chemical Brothers – Brotherhood yesterday, and my brother is currently praying for my soul by giving me rock to listen to**

Sometimes, God surprises you.

So here I am, running around Azeroth, killing defenceless little creatures for experience and gold, (if none of this makes sense to you, it’s ok, you have a life) and I help another player. They say thanks, and a conversation starts…

One thing leads to another, and we establish that I’m a Christian. In her words, I’m one of the few people who still cares for others in this world. She says that 90% of people she knows are jerks. The conversation continues…

Many of us have been asked the question, “Imagine you’re on a bus/train/plane/whatever, and someone asks you about what you believe. Answer this question in 30s or less.” I hated that question, but we still kind of prep for it. But even though I talk about it, I haven’t ever thought seriously about what to say if I’m asked online. Despite the bad rep it has, there is a definite place for online evangelism, which has it’s own unique set of challenges and limitations.

We continue to chat. She’s has issues. Serious issues. At 16, she’s had one really crap life. And things don’t look like getting much better. I ask her where’s her hope. She says its in a really supportive boyfriend. I ask her if she’s ever heard about the most sure and certain hope possible, found only in Jesus…

Where do you begin in telling people online about Jesus? Conversations are usually filled with the distractions of the other things happening – in game, on FB, the vid being watched, whatever the person is doing at the same time as chatting to you. As such, you need to make sure that you’re points are short, punchy, and clear. Most of all clear. And relevant. It’s so easy to let it slide when your attention is elsewhere.

I tell her my story. She says, “wow”. I think that sums her overall response to the Gospel. She’s seems amazed by the person of Jesus, someone she’s never really heard of. I tell her of the love of Jesus, who will never abandon her, who will care for her always :: “wow”. This is strangely unexpected. I’m at a loss as to where to go now… Like the JWs in Black Books, you never expect someone to actually want to know more, who are so thirsty for the hope you are holding out that they keep at you, longing to hear about Jesus and what he offers. I mumble incoherently for the next little bit…

Sadly, we sometimes take the words of 1 Peter 3:15 quite blithely. How ready are we with an answer for the hope we have? More specifically, sure, we can explain the Gospel in 30s, but what happens when as a result of your 30s presentation, they say that they’re skip their stop to hear more? Where do you go? What do you say? My mumbling just highlighted the need for not just the 30s answer, but the 3 minute answer, the 30min answer, the second step.

Realising I’m losing the vibe, and possibly confusing her more, I go back to basics. Short, simple, passionate statements. I tell her about how Jesus is the only one who can wash away our mistakes to enable us to be friends with God. I ask her if this is what she wants. I ask her if she’s willing to allow Jesus to change her life. She wants in…

I don’t think it’s possible to pray the prayer online. Maybe. There are some serious limitations here. But we can at least try. It’s a bit weird. hmm…

I ask her to think about what we talked about, and to ask Jesus to help her trust him, and to wash away the mistakes of her life. I don’t know how else to put it, especially online. She thanks me for chatting with her. It’s almost surreal. Well, this is World of Warcraft… I can’t give her a bible, so I give her a website of a friend who talks about Jesus a lot to young punks, and suggest that she read some of the posts about who Jesus is. We log off, and I pray…

Despite the bad rep, there is a place of evangelism online, particularly gaming online like WoW, which has space for extended chatting. But I think some of the principles can be extended to any form of online evangelism. I think the first and foremost thing I need to do is to have a page on this blog that I can link people to with a clear explanation of the Gospel, and references/links for further reading. What other things do we need for effective online evangelism?

Please pray for Stephanie. To have someone tell you about Jesus online is weird enough, but a lot of the things she heard were mindblowing. She, like so many people (even people who play games online), needs to hear about Jesus, and so pray that somehow, God will raise up people near her to tell her about Himself.


On Counting… by StephenMac
July 28, 2010, 1:14 am
Filed under: Reflections

**Currently listening to Innocent Bystanders United – Norma Jean… Off the album Meridional. Some really good songs, still unsure about the lyrics though. Musically awesome however**

This is the second attempt at writing this post. My first attempt was too esoteric, this is moving towards whining…

Quite simply, I can’t express the jumble of stuff thats going on in my head, all of it minuscule and childish, but still affecting my mood. More often than not, it feels like a complaint, but when it settles, and the tantrum fades, it’s just saddened disappointment. Frustration implies that a right has been taken away. Disappointment is truer: a hoped-for gift not given.

It’s been three weeks and five days… not that I’m counting or anything.

I hate myself for it, but I could barely make out the “hi” in response to her “hey! haven’t seen you in ages!” I couldn’t bring myself to chat, not without disappointment turning into frustration (which was unjustified and petty). I have no rights in this that have been denied, nothing taken away unfairly, no justifiable complaint, nothing that I could say I deserved… I moved to the other side of the room and failed in not looking in her direction…

Here’s the discord in our society: we believe that I am entitled to everything, and that what we lack is a violation of my rights. Here is the discord in my life: I know this, yet still stamp my foot, jump up and down, whinge and complain. How do I move from the known to the experience? How can I know how petty my attitude is, yet still feel trapped by it?

Its midnight. I just had coffee with a neighbour, and the vibe is markedly different. Maybe the problem is genuine, but my answer wrong. Sure, I don’t have a “her” in my life, but I have a “neighbour”, “brother”, “sister”, who will never be a “her”, but do a pretty damn good job of filling that place. I wish it was different, but maybe that’s the effect of living in a room that’s 5×5 and is shut off from the world around me.

We’ll see,


On Your Book by StephenMac
July 20, 2010, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Reflections

**Currently listening to a random playlist – Diary of Jane :: Breaking Benjamin – Quite a cool find… **

Psalm 139:16

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

It’s been two weeks and three days since I had any contact with her, and while that’s not really much to go by, I think that reality is finally beginning to sink in that possibly, I don’t even make it onto her radar…

It’s been five days since my plans for post college were shattered (again), and I’m back to square one (again)…

I know I complain way too much, and that it comes from not being thankful about the things I have, and just quite simply being way too selfish, and yet, sometimes, I think, “If I had the chance to write the script of my life, this wouldn’t be it”. This is not the kind of story I like, or want to be in, this isn’t the place I want to be, this isn’t the person I want to be, this isn’t the way things should be… If I had the chance to write the story of my life, this wouldn’t be it.

And yet… there’s no real justification for it. Sure, things don’t go according to my plan… but that’s actually a good thing. I don’t like it, but it’s what’s best. The fact that God is writing the script is actually a comfort, even if at points it’s not at all pleasant. The simple fact is, should I write my own script, the ending will be very messy. More than that, it’s not that God’s script is the lesser of two evils, it’s actually a good script. It’s in my best interest that God writes the script – he delights in writing the story of my life, because I live in his protective grasp, and bring glory to him.

I was asked by one of my youth group on Sunday night, “But can’t we change the story, to turn the bad stuff into good stuff?” And while in some sense yes, we may want to, I think God’s plan which includes bad stuff is probably good. It doesn’t stop the hurt now, but it gives me hope that better stuff is planned. Even if I am floundering now, swirling in chaos, no direction, no sight of land, God knows, God’s in control, and that’s all I can hold onto.


On Just War: Part III – Components (b) by StephenMac
June 2, 2010, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Reflections

**Currently listening to XOXOXO – Secret and Whisper**

Today’s class on political philosophy reminded me that I had neglected this series. You can find them herehereherehere, and here

As mentioned in that last post,

My argument has been so far that just war theory is a tragic necessity, tragic as it permits in certain circumstances the killing of humans, necessary in that we live in a sinful world, and that killing of humans is in defence of others. I argue that it is a moral framework for the ethical practice of war, that it holds the necessary middle ground between political realism (realpolitik) and pacifism, and that it must remain a moral theory rather than a legal one. Now, I want to describe the three components of just war theory, namely jus ad bellum (justice in going to war), jus in bello (justice in fighting war), and jus post bellum (justice in the post-war aftermath).

Jus in bello – The conduct of war.

It’s one thing to have the right intention in going to war, it’s another thing completely to fight it justly. One’s conduct in war is immensely important. Jus in bello is about the way that war is fought. It is a principle that aims to limit the conduct of war by ensuring that it remains proportionate and that it is discriminate: i.e., that the measures that are used are the minimum necessary to achieve its objectives, and that those measures discriminate between those who are targets, and those who are immune. The importance of jus in bello stems from the 16th century, when jus ad bellum had its foundations shaken when it moved away from a theological basis to a legal one. When jus ad bellum becomes hard to define objectively, jus in bello becomes incredibly important for the justness of a war.

Jus in bello has two main parts: discrimination and proportionality. Discrimination requires that soldiers in a conflict make realistic attempts to distinguish between those who are legitimate targets and those who are not. Central to this criterion is the concept of non-combatant immunity. As early as the 11th century, it was recognised that certain people should never be targeted in war: clerics, pilgrims, women and children, etc. By the 20th Century, this was known as non-combatant immunity, where only those who were active participants in a war were legitimate targets, and everyone else was immune. Violation of this became a war crime (“International Humanitarian Law ‐ Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention”,

Aquinas writes:

Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. Now moral acts take their species according to what is intended, not from what is beside the intention, since this is accidental…And yet, though preceding from good intention, an act may be rendered unlawful, if it be out of proportion to the end.

In thinking about discrimination, Aquinas reminds us that our actions will often have two aspects to it: the intended consequence, and an unintended one. We should attempt to maintain the intended consequence while minimising the proportion of the unintended. This highlights the second aspect of jus in bello: proportionality. Proportionality demands that the tactics and methods of the war be in proportion to the ends sought. This criterion asks whether the tactics and military goals of the conflict are required or necessary to achieve the ends of the conflict as a whole. It weighs the consequences of the actions against the aims of that action.

As Walzer points out, “…soldiers could probably not fight at all, except in the desert and at sea, without endangering nearby civilians”. War involves civilian casualties, and so discrimination and proportionality demand that war makers make the utmost effort to be discriminatory, and to minimise the civilian casualties. There must be “double intention”: “…first, that the “good” be achieved; second that the foreseeable evil be reduced as far as possible… The intention of the actor is good, that is, he aims narrowly at the acceptable effect; the evil is not one of his ends, and, aware of the evil involved, he seeks to minimise it, accepting costs to himself” (Walzer, M., 2000: 155).

In short, jus in bello demands that the soldier restrict his conduct: he must make the utmost effort to discriminate between combatant and non-combatant, and that when failing to do so, minimise the harm to the non-combatant as much as possible. This will be explored further next post.


On Intentions and Actions (Or Why I Hate Speculation) by StephenMac
May 28, 2010, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Reflections

**Copeland’s You Are My Sunshine (cheesy name, good music) is really cool – loving On the Safest Ledge and You Should Return (despite the lame intro to that song)…**

To my peers: please do not draw intentions from actions. Speculation of this sort isn’t helpful.

If I have lunch, or dinner, or coffee, or speak or wave or look at a girl, this does not necessarily mean that I have a crush on her, or are dating her, or am in the middle of a proposal.

Let me ask you this: whether or not this affects me, I don’t care. My thoughts are for her, who has to suffer the whisperings and speculations which are now thrust upon her. Do you think that’s fair? Here’s a thought: instead of assuming that boy-girl relationships are because “he likes her” or vice versa, let’s assume that they are brother and sister, and work from there. You have no idea how hurt some people are by you holding the former and not the later, and I am honestly not just speaking of myself. I have a close friend who prefers the friendships of women, and so is constantly subject to such whisperings and speculations. You have no idea how cut he is because of it.

Please, for the sake of the single-person’s godliness, please please please don’t speculate. I beg you and plead with you. Don’t.

End of rant.

So my question now is: what can I do to protect her from this sort of speculation? Whether I like her or not, what can I do to prevent this sort of unhelpful thing happening in the future? I guess from my position, learning to treat all women as sisters, and knowing how to do that in a godly and edifying way.


On Wine by StephenMac
May 24, 2010, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Reflections

**Bought Copeland’s You Are My Sunshine on the weekend – very similar to Anchor and Braille, which is to be expected because of the Aaron Marsh influence. Safest Ledge is really cool**

You can drink wine not long after it’s made, but the best wines take time to mature.

I hate being impatient…

Oh, and yes, this is a metaphor, and no, not saying for what.