Dion's random ramblings

Friday, October 26, 2007

Celebrating theological diversity, with respect. It is the way of Christ's Kingdom.

A fellow blogger, Stephen Murray, whose posts and insights I have enjoyed a great deal blogged the following challenging thought today:

I?ve been reading a lot of blogs of late where my guess would be that the authors wouldn?t classify themselves as ?evangelical?. I read them because I appreciate the way these folk wrestle with so many pressing issues and how they integrate multiple academic disciplines with such skill trying to probe into important topics facing the broader Christian movement. Yet as I read these folk I often wonder what they think of us.

Let?s say that by chance they drop by ?daylight and browse around, reading some of the posts. I wonder what they think about 4 young evangelicals who believe the Bible is God?s authoritative, infallible word for life and salvation, that salvation comes only through repentance and faith in Christ because of his work of substitutionary atonement and that hell is a real and coming judgment for those who reject Christ? Do they think we?re simpletons? Naive in our faith? Closed minded and narrow? Anti-intellectual? Misguided? What do they think?

Here's my response to him:

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for sharing this honest, and challenging, post. I have wanted to respond to it all day long but have not yet had the time. So, here goes....

I have also often wondered what others think of my particular approach to Christ... It is important on some level since my hope is that we (those who love Jesus and the people whom Jesus loves) will find one another now so that eternity won't be quite so difficult! Ha ha!

Seriously though, my realization in the last number of years has been that there are very few 'complex' and 'simple' expressions of faith. Rather there are simple and complex labels for approaches to faith. Each approach, I believe, is filled with complexity, depth, and a measure of conviction that makes it both precious to the person who holds it, and precious for God in relation to whom they hold it. It is much the same as me relating to my two children, I do not love or appreciate either of them more (even though one is older, more articulate and has a richer life experience because of her age). It does not make her experience of life, or of my love, more valuable or worthwhile. The fact that both of them live, and love me, is all that I long for. The rest is just unique (and sometimes just odd!) It doesn't impress me that my older child can do bonds of 18 while the younger child cannot yet crawl, since both are appropriate expressions of who and where they are. As I say, what impresses me is that they love me.

With regard to judgement however, I know that people often make the opposite assumptions to the ones you mention above about me i.e., that I am too open minded, that I am too intellectual, that I have lost my naive and simple devotion to Christ and that somehow I have lost sight of what truly matters in the Christian faith. Sometimes that hurts... However, I know that God is not impressed with my degrees, or titles, or anything else - these are simply thing that are more or less appropriate for someone who has had the education, opportunities, and experiences I have had. My quantum theories, and neuroscience, intricate readings of the Greek text, and all the things that I think are quite smart, must seem like 8 year old Maths to God - appropriate for who I am, but not important in the big scheme of things!

The people who judge me are probably correct, to some extent, about some of those assumptions, but they are also quite wrong in many others.

One of the things I have particularly tried to foster, at great cost, within our denomination (the Methodist church) here in South Africa is a love for my sisters and brothers that recognizes that diversity does not mean separation, neither does disagreement mean a lack of respect. I have sought to encounter people, rather than ideas, and to find what God loves about them first, before saying what I find objectionable about their words, thoughts or actions.

It is important that we are brave enough to leave our 'corners of conviction' in order to allow God to speak to us about new things, through strange prophets. That, I think, is the way of the Gospel.

There are of course some ideas and approaches to Christ, and Christ's Kingdom that I find incompatible with the Gospel (such as judging people by their race, which was a huge issue for us in the previous decades. In such instances I would encounter people with such views in love, and where they were not willing to change or repent I had to be honest, but loving, about how wrong they were). However, I know that I am often as wrong as those that I am quick to judge - so as time has passed I have sought to understanding first, then to make up my mind about people and their ideas. It takes discipline to do that, and I am still learning!

Know that even if I should find some aspect of your approach to the Christian faith different from mine, and I have not yet found such difference but the possibility does exist, I respect and admire your love for Christ.

Together with you in Him,

Thanks Stephen, you have challenged me, and reminded me that God's standard is both gracious and supreme.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pictures of the funniest blog 'bumper stickers' for your blog!

This has to be one of the coolest things to stick on your blog, a blog bumper sticker! Here are a few that I thought were funny!

Never has a truer word been spoken!


Indeed, one must not allow one's friends to play with Giant Squid!

For all those myspace users... Here's a good one! Come on, admit it, how many of you ONLY have Tom as your myspace friend!?

Here's one for those, who like me, often read the offbeat posts on digg.com!

One for Pete, Wessel and I - the Mac guys!


Monday, October 15, 2007

Rankings in religion! Number 1... I say we start a little cult?

So, it has happened at last! Dion's Random Ramblings is number one in religion (on www.amatomu.com at least).

What do you say? Should we start a little cult? I know I'm strange enough to keep it going... And let me not say too much about a few others who subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog....

Vrystaat! We could all wear Orange in this strange cult, sing songs about trains, bribe waitresses not to give toys to our kids, try to win people from the 'emerging movement' to orthodoxy, live in Malaysia and be friends with Brian Mclaren, look for prophetic inspiration between sermons, live to be 'gruntled', or go to Duke to learn just how African we truly are, and learn to wear carpenters shoes, or become a dassie bouncing, sky pilot with a 'bell butt'!

If you're really looking for a worthwhile read, please follow the links to the blogs on the right of this post.... They're much better than mine. Truly!

Regardless, thanks for reading the posts on this blog! I have no idea why you do it, but I'm grateful that you check in from time to time!!

I am a little snowed under today, I hope to post something more meaningful and serious tonight.

Rich blessing to all! And particularly a huge thanks to all those who asked for copies of the little prayer guide book for Zimababwe! I am overwhelmed by the response! It goes to a good cause.


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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thanks everyone! We're number 3 in 'Religion'

No, this is not some cryptic Church growth methodology! Neither is it some kind of weird inter-religious competition!

Rather, it is simply a quick post to say thanks to everyone who is checking in on my daily posts! Your efforts have made this site the 3rd most popular blog in the Mail and Guardian's blog Rankings! How about that?

What I love about www.amatomu.com is their 'truly South African' way of ranking blogs, simply click on the schmaak this button to say that you enjoy it! For those who are not South African, 'schmaak' is slang for 'love it', or 'cool', or something like that...

Schmaak this blog!

Thanks everyone! Keep the love coming!!

Jenny, thanks for pointing me to amatomu.

How would you feel about reading posts from some other, more enlightened, and faithful, Christians? If I were to approach and sign up a few contributors would you enjoy reading thoughts, ideas, rants, ramblings, and insights, from others? Drop me a line and let me know!


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Friday, October 05, 2007

Getting more traffic to your blog!

I have had quite a few folks asking how I get so much traffic to my blog.

Well, there is a very simple answer for most bloggers.... Are you ready for it?

Update your blog!!! Post, post regularly, and post sensible and useful stuff (not that my posts fit into either of these categories)!

However, there are a few more meaningful tips that you can follow to increase traffic to your blog. I have used this guide below quite a bit and found that it has helped to get traffic to my site. Of course I don't advertise or have clickthrough's... My only reason for wanting traffic on this blog is to share some thoughts and ideas (and to generate some discussion). Anyway, here is the REAL guide on how to get more traffic on your blog:

Many first time bloggers automatically assume that once their blog is setup and they put a few posts on it, they will get some hits and regular readers. This is quite untrue. You won't get any traffic if no one knows about your website. In this article I hope to tackle these problems and discuss some of the common ways bloggers and webmasters drive more traffic to their site by understanding the user. I have received many emails from aspiring bloggers asking me what they can do to get more traffic, so hopefully this will help out at least those people. Don't forget to checkout the prequel, How To: Start Blogging, that covers the technical side of setting up a blog.

Blog Usability

Before I get into getting your name out there, your blog has to have some style. Most web users are instantly turned off by tacky site designs or extreme neon colors. I know I won?t stay at a website too long if the layout or navigation annoys me. The goal is to have a unique blog, different than all the other weblogs on the net. The one thing I really stress to others is making it easy for your readers to contact you. It shouldn?t take a reader more than a click, if any, to find your email address or a contact form. This makes the reader feel like someone actually runs and cares about the website. An about page is also a great asset to have on a personal site or blog. The more a reader knows about you, the more they trust your content. I highly recommend reading this weblog usability article by usability guru Jakob Nielsen.


Your blog's usability goes hand in hand with its content. You can specialize in a niche subject as long as you have an idea of how many people might be interested in that subject. If you do well with your niche subject matter, you could get some crazy traffic for being the only decent blog online with that type of content. On the other hand you could have widely used content, such as some aspect of technology, but add your own twist with your opinion or comparing / contrasting from other tech analysts. People won?t go to your site to read something they could have read on CNet or Tom's Hardware, they want a unique take on it. If you learn anything from this article, I hope its that reblogging is a very bad thing. The one thing to kill your traffic is having identical content to another several hundred blogs. I suggest taking a glance at Mr. Veloso's Evils of Constant Reblogging to get a better idea. Finding out what your content should be is a key element of your blog's identity and the type of image your blog will ultimately emit.

Technorati is Your Best Friend

Technorati is one of the best traffic providers for bloggers. It makes your blog much easier to find when people search by technorati tags. Technorati is also a large blog ranking engine. Based on the number of links to your blog from various websites, your blog is given a rank. The higher your rank the easier your blog is to find when people search for things. A higher rank gives your blog greater credibility in technorati. If you don?t already have a technorati account, get one. After you have setup the main settings, such as your profile, you need to claim your blog. Go to Account and then down the page to Your Blogs. Enter the URL of your blog in the URL field and then hit "Claim this weblog." Once you?ve done that go to "Configure this Blog" and fill in what you can. Click the checkbox to select "Include this blog in Technorati's Blog Finder" and fill out as many tags or keywords that accurately represent the content in your blog. When you?ve done that, click "Save Changes" and then grab your claim code. There are two types of codes that you may put somewhere in your blog for technorati to verify that your blog exists and keep track of it. If you have a blog that is Blogger powered or some other blog host that does not give you direct control of your blog files you will want to use the "Link Code" and post it somewhere on your blog. If you are using a more versatile blog publishing system, such as a custom WordPress or Movable Type installation you should copy the "Embed Code." You can edit your sidebar, header, or footer file and put it wherever you like. You also have the option of posting a Technorati search box or various links on your blog without altering the code you just pasted. Select the options you like and click "Save Changes." Everything is done automatically by Technorati. One last thing you might consider is adding the Technorati ping link to your weblog. Doing this will let Technorati know when you have updated your blog. Find out how to do that on Technorati?s Ping Configuration page.

Technorati Profile

I hope that helps! Let me know if your traffic increases as a result of these tips, and if you have any other tips to post please let me know. Of course there are the 'sneeky' ways of driving traffice to your site, by including words like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, sex, porn, google, skype, serials, cracks, free software, unlock, crack, hack, blog, weight loss, diet, health, Jason Calacanis, Leo Laporte, Patric Norton, Bill Gates, Microsoft, Steve Jobs, iPhone, iPod, John C Dvorak, John Chow, Mahalo

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A challenge from Ray Chung's blog - high idealism, low follow through.

This evening Ray commented on the previous thread in this blog. Thanks Ray! He also sent me a link to his blog. I went and took a look and found this incredible quote from Glenn Packiam - it challenged me!

"We're obsessed with beginnings - the start of a new project, a new relationship, a new book. Everybody wants to start a revolution; but nobody wants to fight to the last man standing. We long to be extraordinary, to be remembered long after we're gone, to be part of something greater than ourselves, to leave a legacy; yet we don't want to go to work on Monday morning."

What do you think? I tend to agree. Idealism in the contemporary Church is high, but follow through and the commitment to make the ideal (i.e., God's Kingdom of grace, justice, mercy and equity) a reality, is not quite so high.

Thanks Ray!

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