Sunday, October 31, 2010

An update on my knee...

Many of my friends would be aware that I injured my knee on Saturday, but others would not know all the details so I thought I would post a short update to let you know how things are going...

Saturday 30th October was the annual Gala Day at the School for Officer Training. A big part of this day is the annual Touch Football competition. I was playing for Miranda Mixed team and during the semi-final I attempted to side-step. My foot planted firmly and my lower leg followed but my upper leg shifted. I felt me knee joint move out and back into place. This was accompanied by an almighty "crack" which I'm assured could be heard by many others on the field and sideline. Of course, this ended the game for me. Fortunately, the team won and went through to the final.

I went to St George Emergency and was assessed there. After a few hours wait, and some Panadeine Forte, I was feeling a lot better. I was seen by a Nurse Practitioner who tried to move my knee in all sorts of directions. Remarkably, by this time I was not in much pain at all and the knee seemed to be very firm in the joint. It seemed that there was no major ligament damage, which was a great relief. It will take time to fully confirm that and so I'll have to be reassessed in a few days. Because of the "crack" we just wanted to make sure there wasn't a fracture and so I had a x-ray to confirm this. It came back clear and so it was just a matter now of treating it conservatively. It seems at this stage that it's just a bad sprain, but this can't be confirmed at this stage.

I'm in a bit of pain now, and it's difficult to walk, but my knee feels firm in the joint and not like it's going to give way. 

I'm very grateful to those who helped on the day, particularly Michele White and David Wiseman. It's very handy to have a couple of off-duty paramedics there on scene immediately. Of course, thanks to my wife who patiently waited by my side for a few hours in the Emergency department. Also to mum who came back to look after the kids and get them into bed. Also, to everyone who carried my off the field, or into the car, I do appreciate your help and support. And to everyone who offered prayers and encouragement, it is greatly appreciated. 

I'm confident it's not as bad as immediately thought. Having seen my mum's long journey with a knee injury I know some of what's involved in the recovery and know I don't want it to be that bad.

Finally, we decided to stay home this morning to rest, rather than attempt to go off to Church. In place, we had "Songs of Praise" church together as a family. One of the hymns on this morning was a great reminder of God's presence with us in the midst of pain, and I was really encouraged by it today.

Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He, faithful, will remain.
Be still, my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Every blessing

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gregory Of Nyssa: The Stages Of Holiness

Ok, so the voice is really bizarre... even bordering on creepy... but the content of this short clip actually outliens one of Gregory's best paradoxes, "luminous darkness", quite well.


N.T. Wright: It's the most explosive thing it could be

This is definitely worth a look. Also it's interesting to see Wright's new title in print.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Too much of a good thing?

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? For Gregory of Nyssa the answer is clearly "yes". Here's what he has to say:
 Virtue is discerned in the mean [meaning 'average' or 'centre' here]. Accordingly, all evil naturally operates in a deficiency or an excess of virtue. In the case of courage, cowardice is the lack of virtue, and rashness is its excess. What is pure of each of these is seen to lie between these corresponding evils and is virtue. Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses, Trans. Abraham J. Malherbe and Everett Ferguson (New York: Harper One, 1978), 121.

Here we begin to see some of how Gregory would describe apatheia. Often this is understood as "passionlessness", but for Gregory it is slightly nuanced. That is, apatheia is the "proper use of passions" (what we might understand better today as our desires); in this case it's not being excessive in what we are passionate about it, or at the opposite extreme completely dispassionate about anything. Rather, the "middle ground" is the ideal for Gregory.

Gregory turns to what we might consider an a obscure verse of Scripture for support here in Matthew 10:16; "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.". This is not an uncommon approach for him (and others), given his penchance for allegory, and its accompanying underlying assumption that if there is not a clear "surface" meaning in the text then the "spiritual" meaning should be pursued more vigorously (hence he heads for books like Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes quickly). For Gregory this verse from Matthew demonstrates perfectly the balance that he is advocating for. It's not shrewdness on its own; as in the case of people who treat others like door mats to achieve their own purposes. Neither is it innocence on its own; as in the case of the ones who allow themselves to become door mats in the name of humility! "Rather, it is the disposition which closely unites these two by the mean that is virtue... The disposition observed in the mean between these two is moderation." (ibid, 120)

This understanding of the Christian life is very applicable today. I hear a lot about "passion". People say they are "passionate" about a whole variety of things; their favourite football team, their family, their work. It's also used in terms of Christian ministry; people are passionate about issues of social justice, evangelism, worship or similar. We can learn  the lesson of moderation from Gregory lest our passions control us and not us our passions. These things listed above as examples are all good things, but if any one of them consumes our energies to the detriment of the rest of our responsibilities in life then we run into the danger that was highlighted at the beginning of this post - "evil naturally operates in a deficiency or an excess of virtue." Moderation is the key; that is apatheia - self-control evident in every area of our life, not just negatively speaking over those things that we easily label sin, but also positively with regard to those interests that we are in fact the most passionate about.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Introducing Gregory of Nyssa

It has been some time since I last posted. I am sorry about that, but life has been very busy lately. I have now commenced research in the dissertation stage of my MA and my personality type is such that I tend to dive headlong into a single thought or idea and it's very difficult for me to concentrate on other things.... My wife says I go off with the "study pixies" because I even become difficult to communicate with at home...

All this is to say that I will from time to time just share a few thoughts as I travel along the way to completing this dissertation. I hope that this may help me express my thoughts, but then also give you an insight into a man of God that I am completely fascinated with.... Gregory of Nyssa. Even though there are some 1600 years between our lives I find myself very drawn to the contemporary significance of his writings. I hope that the snippets that I post here from time to time will be helpful to you. I know that have been a source of inspiration for me.... Here's just one example from The Life of Moses.

"This is true perfection: not to avoid a wicked life because, like slaves, we servilely fear punishment, nor to do good because we hope for rewards, as if cashing in on the virtuous life by some businesslike and contractual arrangement. On the contrary, disregarding all those things for which we hope and which have been reserved by promise, we regard falling from God's friendship as the only thing dreadful, and we consider becoming God's friend the only thing worthy of honour and desire. This, as I have said, is the perfection of life."

Sermon: Matthew 13:1

I love questions. Many here would be aware that I’m working on a PhD in theology. I’ve also been a teacher of theology, worship, and critica...