Humble beginnings…

I just got word from Wim Harwig:

“That young guy you saw at the M5 recumbent-shop in Middelburg is now in a team of young students trying to break the world record. I think you took a photo of him when he was working on his wooden low-racer in the shop. Probably you inspired him as a world record holder too ;-) His name is David Wielemaker.”

Good stuff! That young guy is the guy in the photos below (taken on July 26th 2007).

M5 recumbents workshop in Middleburg, The Netherlands

M5 engineer and Wim discuss the finer points of the plywood recumbent in Middleburg, The Netherlands M5 recumbents engineer shows off his plywood recumbent at the M5 showroom in Middleburg, The Netherlands

Here is the video that Wim linked to in his message:

BOOK REVIEW: Cycling Home From Siberia

Long distance human powered adventurer Rob Lilwall’s first book about his 30,000mile cycle journey is an absolute thriller. Each turn of the page left me shaking my head in disbelief at the fortunes and misfortunes of this rather unlikely epic adventurer. Some people just slide into the part of the ‘epic adventurer’ as if it was the easiest thing in the world. Not so for this English geography teacher. This is a story about a true learning adventure, with twists at every turn.

Have you ever been reading a book so compelling, fast-moving, and exciting, that you notice, after reaching the end of a particularly riveting chapter, that you’ve actually been holding your breath for almost the entire chapter?

That was my experience as I got to the end of chapter 63 of Rob Lilwall’s excellent book Cycling Home From Siberia. Chapters 61 to 65 see Rob recounting his frantic and risky 600 mile cycle through northern Afghanistan in late 2007. I finished the last chapter of that section and I found myself gasping for breath; they are an extremely tense few chapters.

Cycling Home From Siberia

I read the whole book in about a week of small sittings, absolutely loving the short chapters. And by short, I really do mean short. A long chapter might be five pages long. “Just one more chapter before turning out the light,” I would tell myself, and that one chapter would easily end up being another five or so. This helped to keep the sense of momentumn up and really gave me the sense of pedalling along with Lilwall on his epic 30,000 mile adventure by bicycle from Siberia to Australia to England. The short chapters, I think, would really appeal to people, like me, who read a lot of blogs, and enjoy getting good concetrated juicy shots of action rather than long, slow moving, drawn-out passages of text.

I bought the hot-off-the-press book (published only a month or so ago) because I had heard from Alistair Humphries that he had a “friend who travelled by bike for 3 years, and has also studied theology.” That friend was Rob Lilwall, and I was keen to read some insights from another hardcore human-powered traveller who may have also wrestled with the implications of his Christian faith. I also wanted to see how on earth someone would compact three years of travelling into one single 300 page book. Perhaps I could learn something, and even be inspired to put a book together myself?

After finishing the book yesterday, I am still amazed at how Lilwall has crammed so much of his experiences – in such colour and vibrancy – into the book. His use of short sentences makes it an extremely easy read, but he manages not to skimp on depth of meaning. You can tell, however, that buried beneath the characters and stories he does choose to tell, there are scores of details still yearning to be uncovered. I’m sure if Lilwall had attempted to unearth all of those juicy out-takes, the book would have been much longer than 300 pages. As it is, Lilwall has left much up to the imagination of the reader, but what a rich picture-in-the-mind his writing does facilitate!

I appreciated his spatterings of spiritual reflection throughout the book too. The depiction of his faith-journey was honest and frank; it was great to hear how he engaged honestly with other world religions (Lilwall is a keen Christian who has spent time studying theology). The open road is no place for the closed-minded, and Lilwall articulated well his interesting encounters with other travellers and locals.

I ordered the book as well as a DVD of the journey directly from his website here:

The DVD is due to be released at the end of the year, so I am waiting with bated breath for that to arrive; should be a great watch.

So do another hard-working adventurer a favour and buy a copy of his book. I highly recommend it.

Rob Lilwall | Cycling Home from Siberia

(click image for a closer look)


I had dream last night
In it was the woman I love
For months we had been forced apart
For months I had longed to be with her

At last we reunited
At last she was there before me
At last we were together

But in my dream she would not let me near
In my dream as I approached she withdrew
“I am no longer beautiful” she cried

All I wanted was to be with her
All I wanted was to hold her
Not because I pitied her for her scarred face
Not because I wanted to comfort her pain of disfigurement

But because I wanted to celebrate
I wanted to celebrate the coming together again of two persons
Two lives, two beautifully crafted souls
And bodies and features that the Creator uses for his glory

However old and whatever shape and however marred by dysfunction
Shining his glory

How wonderful it would be
To not be bound by the fickleness of sight
To not be bound to judge by looks the worth of God’s creation
To not be bound to love and be loved, based on a time-limited outer

In my dream I remembered the words of a blind artist woman
Met on a long journey:

“The biggest handicap humanity has to endure, is the ability to see. I count myself lucky,” she said, “and I wish that people could see what I see. I wish that people could see that they are bound by the curse of sight; they are burdened by a confidence in the beauty that this world defines; a beauty that fades. If only they could see what I see. If only they could see the beauty that I see.”

As I wrote this poem, I was reminded of a thought I had recently. Isn’t it amazing how as a society we have come to place value on a certain body shape? We have been conditioned from the time we can capture images in our minds, and throughout our lives. We have been told that that is a beautiful body and it is to be adored. We have been told that that is not a beautiful body and is to be avoided.

The reality is that this tendency to assign value to a certain body shape is entirely subjective and is based on man-made values. Yes, that body is beautiful, but so is that body, and that body…we so often believe what we are told, without taking the time to appreciate the truth that beauty comes in all forms.

Just look at some ancient paintings of naked ladies and you’ll see that not only were people’s values back then very specific when it came to beauty, but their specificity was directed to a much different body shape than specificity is directed towards today.

My blind friend in Switzerland said that she does not consider her lack of sight as being a handicap, but rather a blessing. She said that people who can see spend so much time judging by what society tells them they should judge by, that they miss out on what is really important.

Something to think about and make changes in my thinking for, I think.

And just as an aside, my blind friend in Switzerland had the plant below growing in her garden. “My friend came around one day and asked if he could plant something in my garden,” she said. “I said yes go ahead, but what is it? He said it was weed. I didn’t have a problem with it, because if the police came around and asked me about it, I could just say I didn’t know it was growing there!”

Growing freely in a garden in Fribourg, Switzerland

Talk About Pedal Power!

I am subscribed to quite a few blogs on Google Reader, and today and article about the ‘Pedouin’ family caught my eye. The famliy of five (Mum, Dad, and three small children) are setting out on a 7,000 mile cycle journey across the US from Kentucky to Alaska on a ‘quint’ bike – the whole family on one bike!

Now this is a trip worth watching…


Photo by the Pedouins (


This post is probably going to be heavy going for many readers. Not quite the ‘check out this awesome high pass that I just cycled across’ post that is so easy to skim over, just checking out the photos. No, this post is another existential, metaphysical pondering post. And to be honest, if you make it to the end of this post, you’re a legend. It is more for my records than anything esle.

Continue if you dare…
The more I spend here back home in New Zealand, the more I am able to reflect on the way I view the world. I am still to a very large extent finding each day rather surreal. Feeling quite detatched from my surroundings. I do not feel as though I have returned home. Rather, I have returned to the country where my family lives, and where many of my friends live. My parents house is not my home. It is where my parents live. I still feel like I am ‘in-between’. Still a ‘stranger’ in this environment (not only my parents’ home, but this city, the social groups etc).

I’m not at all concerned with this fact.

This is part of reverse culture shock.

When I think about it, it is actually great fun.

Being unsettled is unnerving, but at the same time I feel invigorated by the opportunity to explore my mind.

The only thing that bothers me, is the fact that most ‘normal’ people probably find me altogether mad and rather frustrating.

I do apologise, and I hope you will understand.

In any case, Wim Harwig, an great man I met and had the honour of staying with in The Netherlands ( recently shared a link with me. It was a link to an interview of Counselling Psychologist Jill Mytton by Richard Dawkins. Mytton made the majority of her remarks about religion based on her experiences with the religious sect (cult?) that is the Exclusive Bretheren. Therefore I had to take the remarks with a grain of salt, considering the extreme cult-like attributes of this very exclusive religion. However, I found the interview to be thoroughly fascinating, with much of what was said resonating with me. It gave me much to consider and explore as I face a year of biblical theology training at Laidlaw College.

These days, whenever I am reading an interesting book or watching a poignat interview, I will type out quotes that resonate with me or so something to make me ponder. I did this with the interview with Jill Mytton, and here’s what I found to be particularly poignat…

Now before we begin, I realise that I am stepping out on a limb here. It may be that in a year’s time I will look back on these things that I felt moved to type out, and think, “What was I thinking?!”. But that’s probably just the religious Rob being cautious. The Rob who cycled and skateboarded around the world feels justified (as all humans should) to ask questions of this world he lives in. Hopefully God won’t mind.

Click on the image below to watch the interview in its entirety. My comments on various parts of the discussion are below in italics

Interview of Jill Mytton by Richard Dawkins

At 28:22
Mytton: My research again showed that if people were attending church regularly, they were actually experiencing less mental stress than people that weren’t. So there was a protective function to it. It didn’t depend on whether they believed it or not, it depended on their actualy attendance, which suggests it is the social group that is important; the network, the structure that it provides.

Rob: This is something that I have wondered ever since getting back to New Zealand and attending church services. How much of church culture is actually just something to give us identity, whether we actually resonate with the central message of Christ or not?

At 28:55
Dawkins: You mentioned earlier that religion can be healthy. Can you explain that?
Mytton: Religion can provide an explanation for people and provide an interpretive framework about why the world exists, where it came from, all the kind of existential questions that people ask.
Dawkins: From a psychological point of view, does it matter if that’s true, the explanation that they get?
Mytton: No. So long as the person is satisfied with it. If they believe in it, and a lot of people don’t even need evidence. They can have this faith in something, and it provides them with something with a structure, with a way of life, and with a belief system, that they are OK with, as long as they don’t start asking questions. And of course once they start doing that, then the whole edifice can crumble. It can also provide other things, I mean, the whole ritual of a religion provides a means by which you can express emotion for example. It helps you get through critical events in life like death, and in that sense it can offer hope, because most religions offer the idea of an after-life, or reincarnation for example. The whole process of prayer, I believe, has a lot of similarities to therapy. When you are praying, you are talking to somebody. That “person” is listening, or you believe he is listening. And it is a he. Ad the whole process of talking through something helps us to cognitively process whatever it is that is troubling us. So you’re having a relationship with some supernatural being. And it does actually help you work through some of your things that are troubling you.

At 31:07 about prayer
Mytton: As long as you believe. I mean, the point about God is, about the supernatural being, is that the people believe he does exist. So when they are talking to him in prayer, or even when walking down the street…they can ask for advice, they can ask him to help them make choices and decisions about life, and there’s somebody listening. And that’s what I do as a therapist; I listen. And that is the most valuable thing you can do for a human being is to listen. Of course I don’t only listen, I’m actually answering as well, or I am talking with them.

Rob: I found this section about prayer very interesting indeed. Just the other day I was mulling this out aloud with a cousin, wondering about what, if any, psychological research there was into the reasons people pray. I mean, for those who don’t believe in God, there surely must be an explanation for why people would spend so much time praying. This is an interesting take on it. I wondered to myself, “Can I name a specific time when I can categorically claim that a prayer was answered? That is, was there a time where there was no doubt that had God not intervened, that something would or would not have happened?” The answer for me is of course no. At no time in my life can I say categorically that “God did for absolute certain answer my prayers”.

At 31:50
Mytton: (Religion is) consoling, it can be comforting. The problem is of course, is when you have all that, it’s very easy to get sucked into something that is more pathogenic. A bit more further down towards the other end of the continum. And that’s the danger.

At 32:58
Mytton: (Being ‘born again’) is a strange phenomena.

At 33:32
Dawkins: It’s notorious, for the first week of a freshman’s arriving at university, they are descended upon by the Christian this and the Christian that and the Christian the other, and they don’t leave them alone.
Mytton: …(the students) are vulnerable, and it’s perhaps the first time they have been away from home, so they haven’t got that structure behind them anymore.
Dawkins: And they’re offered friendship…
Mytton: Love-bombing, as it is called, offered a lot of things they have perhaps been deprived of in the past.

At 34:05
Dawkins: And coming back to the people doing the lovebombing, do you think they really believe in what they are promoting?
Mytton: That’s a good question. It’s the million-dollar question, really. I think a lot of them do really believe in it….and it does make it all the more dangerous. I think maybe the people at the top, some of them don’t believe in it. They’ve built this kind of empire almost, and they are the earthly god sitting at the top, and they are the only ones that are in touch with the supernatural god sometimes. You know, everything is a conduit through them; the man of god.

Rob: While this might be the case in many cults, it is not so in the faithful-to-the-text message of Christ (and how do you actually determine that – read the Bible yourself); that is the priesthood of all believers. Mind you, I did see this in a certain extent at the church in Hita City (Japan); the pastor being the top of the pile; the ultimate teacher who had to oversee everything.

At 34:41
Mytton: The whole euphoria that comes with born-again Christians, I mean we know about the, that the brain produces its own natural opiates, the endorphines, and I think that there is a physiological background to all of this as well. I mean rituals, there is a link between rituals and prayer and meditation and intense religious experiences and the production of endorphines…all the church singing is improving the people’s sense of well-being.

Rob: I saw this often in church, and I believe that I was caught up in this at one stage, and now wonder about my emotional reaction to hearing ‘praise and worship’ songs. Am I feeling emotion because of a true understanding of the ‘Person of God’ or just because I have associations in the past that connect Christian ‘praise and worship’ songs with an emotional sense of wellbeing simply because of the melody etc? Since I have not read the entire Bible for myself yet, I am sure that I do not understand fully the nature of the God that I claim to believe in. So perhaps it is the latter…

At 36:20
On the downside to religion (as opposed to the health benefits previously stated)…
Mytton: What I would call the more unhealthy type of religion for a start tends to diminish the self, diminish the identity of the person. So instead of the person being valued for their strengths and their potential, they’re seen as wicked, sinners, shapen in iniquity as I said earlier, and even when they do do good works, it’s not really them who is doing it; it is God working through them. So there’s this sense of helplessness really; there’s nothing that I can do to save myself. And sin is not seen as something that is inevitible, which perhaps is a more positive way of looking at it, but sin is seen as something that is to be judged, and that forgiveness is extremely difficult and shame and guilt and fear, everything is controlled by those three emotions. So if you transgress you feel shame, you feel guilt, you feel fear because of the consequences of that. There is a tendency for unhealthy religions to have a very absoluteist way of thinking about things. So everything is seen as either or. Either you’re a sinner or you’re saved. They think it’s either truth or it’s not truth. There’s absolutely no room for ambiguity or uncertainty in the middle, and life isn’t actually like that. Life is not in all or nothing. There is this huge area in the middle, where most of us live.

Rob: There is something about this statement that really rings true. I’m not sure what to think of it all.

At 43:30
Mytton: Unhealthy religion would not encourage children to ask questions.

Rob: Mytton discussed the need for children to be able to develop their own path. Children in most Christian families, when they ask ‘How did the world come about?’ will still be told ‘God made it’. Why are they not told that nobody knows for absolute certainty. We can only make preliminary conclusions based on scientific evidence, so even that is not an absolute certainty. The bible tells us that God had a lot to do with it. But does God exist? Well I think so. Why do I think so? Because something must have started it all.

Mytton talks about the need for people to think for themselves. I agree. We learn from our mistakes. But on the other hand, when one looks at human history as a whole, it appears that actually, you know what, we don’t. We don’t learn from our mistakes. There is a dysfunction that it seems we have not been able to shake, despite more than 5,000 years of humanity. There are still wars. There is more slavery today than every before. There is something wrong with us. We do need to ask why this is, and how can we cure it?
At 44:16
Mytton: Billy Graham said one thing once; “why do you all you’re gonna understand God? God is such of a higher being; why should you possibly even think you could understand him. You’re just have to accept and have faith.” And I thought ah yes, that’s the answer. And for a while, my spirit was quieted for a while, but it didn’t last for very long. I think the problem with many of these religions, is that they don’t allow children to ask questions; that naturally inquiring mind of a child is suppressed. And that is very detrimental because they never see any other prespective, they never see any other perspective. They don’t learn to criticise, they don’t learn to evaluate what they are hearing. They just have to blindly accept it, really. And that kind of religion is unhealthy.

At 45:32
Mytton: Religion is absolute…it tends to say this is the truth, and there is no other truth; this is it.

At 45:43
Mytton: If you don’t believe what they are saying to you, then somehow that is a shortcoming in you; it’s turned around. It’s you who has lost your faith. It’s not religion that’s wrong, it’s not the truth that’s wrong, or something is wrong with what they’re saying to you, it’s you. Somehow it’s a shortcoming in yourself. And again, you’re made to feel guilty for not believing in it totally.

Rob: Oh so true. Cultural understanding is based on questions. On observing, on accepting…

At 46:35
Speaking about Exclusive Brethren…
Mytton: Anything that is outside is evil and wicked and it mustn’t be heard and it mustn’t be listened to. And so discussion with the outside world is discouraged. Information coming in is very much controlled.

Rob: While this was said regarding Exclusive Bretheren, I can’t help but feel that honest questioning and consideration of truth outside of the Bible is somewhat suppressed in much of Western Evangelical Christian culture. That’s why I liked reading Donald Miller’s books so much. He is honest about his questions and worries about Christian culture. Honesty and transparency, and permission to voice what one is thinking or struggling with has to be present in all cultures, ways of life.

The Problem With My Journey

A big apology for the lack of access to this website over the last two weeks. I am at a loss as to why access numbers should be so high now that I have finished the exciting part of the trip!
The problem with my journey is that is has given me this idea that whatever I put my mind to, I can achieve. It’s not so much a feeling of invincibility, but a feeling of self-confidence. An awareness of a truth that exists in every human being (not just those who cycle and skateboard around the world); that we are capable, we are naturally empowered with amazing talent and abilities.

With this awareness comes the challenge of choice. And it gets all very confusing. I have so many percolating ideas in my head at the moment. And they were quite quickly starting to do my head in…

  • Broadway musical singer
  • Outdoor ed instructor
  • Simultaneous interpreter
  • Primary school teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Professional adventurer
  • Solver of Japanese society issues
  • Book writer

What brought me some semblance of sanity, was one hour of lying in bed in the morning three or four days ago. I woke up early, light not yet showing at the edges of the curtains. Like an unwelcome acquaintance arriving unnounced and never motioning to leave, my swirling thoughts quickly started their never ending circular rounds of the inside of my skull.

I always cherish sleep. But never as much as when I have something bothering me. Sleep brings a reprieve from the madness in my head at such times. The moment of clear consicousness between immediately after waking up and before the thoughts begin is like heaven.Perhaps it was because I had been praying the preceeding umpteen nights before for God to reveal direction to me, or perhaps it was just because of chance (it’s not like people who don’t pray to God never gain a sense of direction), but on that morning lying in bed, my circular thoughts started to unravel themselves, and straighten themselves into a clear line of thought.What am I doing, thinking of enrolling in a creative writing course?! One whole year devoted to writing a manuscript, when I 1) have no idea what I want to write about 2) have read about 2 travel books in my whole entire life and 3) feel nothing but a sinking feeling in my stomach every time I think about writing a book at this stage about my journey.

What am I truely passionate about?

So far, since arriving back to Christchurch, after completing the journey, life feels like a puzzle. The problem is that I’m trying to put the puzzle together in outer space. Bits of puzzle floating away from me. I can’t even keep the bits of the puzzle in the box while I try in vain to try to force unmatched pieces together with my clumpsy, space-suit gloved hands. I grab at pieces as they float around and above my head, trying to make sense of it all. And no sooner do I find a couple of pieces that fit nicely together, than they start floating away as I rummage around in the box for another matching piece, sending pieces flying again.

You get the picture?

So basically, even though there is still a clump of puzzle pieces all nicely fit together that show the image of a book, floating around in my outer-space of a head, I’ve let that lot go for now. I wasn’t finding other pieces of the puzzle that would fit at this stage, so I have decided to let that idea float for now, and move on to something that might help bring the whole situation down to earth to make better sense of what and where the puzzle pieces are.

So here’s the deal. This year I will be studying towards a Graduate Diploma in Theology at Laidlaw College. This decision was fuelled by the following considerations:

  • This two and a half year period of human powered travel has been a turning point and a catalyst for radical personal and spiritual growth for me. My faith in the Christian religion (all the rules and regulations and doctrines) was thoroughly deconstructed and demolished, and what remained was an insatiable drive to learn how my unmovable confidence in the Jesus message would fit into my now drastically expanded global perspective. I had an extremely narrow and judgemental world view before my journey. I find myself now back home still with a strong confidence in the potential of the Gospels to transform the human psyche (Jesus’s message of love, reconciliation and redemption seems to me to be a solid solution to much of the brokenness and ‘dysfunction of the human psyche – Ekhart Tolle’ that so many philosophers allude to in their musings), but a little uncertain of how that all fits in now with my radically expanded global perspective on humanity and the earth.
  • I’m not too keen to jump into anything blatantly ‘vocational’ at this stage, such as teaching or outdoor ed. “It is so easy to live a life that has been scripted for you by others, to fall into the mire of conformity by following a path that society has laid before you, rather than heeding your own unique calling. Comfort, complacency, routine, the path of least resistance, the easy road – these things are the bane of humankind. It is a disquieting moment when you awaken to realise the trappings of conventiality have created a life for you that is entirely different from the one you wish to live.” This is a quote from Dean Karnazes’s book 50 Marathons in 50 Days. It resonates within me as a sort of warning not to rush into things too quickly at the stage I’m at right now.
  • When a friend of mine mentioned that she would be doing the same course (before I ever considered it as a possibility), I was extremely excited by how the course would challenge and shape and expand her understanding and view of the world. Experiences that force us to think outside our own bubble of comfort and understanding are what contribute to a wider, global awareness of the humanity and wonder of this rock we inhabit, and that wider awareness is what contributes to the big picture of love, tolerance, peace, and understanding. I had my awareness of things outside my bubble of knowledge and experience expanded to a huge extent during my journey. To spend a year this year in structured, directed thinking and discussion therefore seems an appropriate step in order to fully debrief my experiences.
  • I’m excited by how I might be able to incorporate my personal and spiritual journey into a book about my travels. If I wrote the book now, it would just be ‘another travel book’. But there was obviously something deeper going on, something sub-consicous, during my journey, that I need to fully explore and be able to articulate well in the book.

Obviously there is a considerable opportunity cost involved in doing this year of study. I could potentially head back to Japan this year and earn around NZ$50,000 quite easily. Plus there is the fact that I still have an outstanding NZ$10,000 student loan waiting to be paid off. Another NZ$4,000 for a course that has no obvious application in terms of vocation is a risky investment.

I hope that this year will be a worthwhile opportunity for equipping me with skills and knowledge. A very luxurious opportunity, I admit, but here’s to the future and all the mysteries it holds…

Day 883 – NEW ZEALAND: It’s not about me

An interesting talk by best selling author Rick Warren (click the link and a new window will display the video). Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life was a massive best seller.

“Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, reflects on his own crisis of purpose in the wake of his book’s wild success. He explains his belief that God’s intention is for each of us to use our talents and influence to do good.”

From the TED website (lots of interesting talks on there).

Day 880 – NEW ZEALAND: Ground Beef

Who’d have thought that a blog about a cycle journey from Japan to England would end up saturated with a fella’s musings about his struggle with God.

If you came for the cycling and deserts and frozen beards, and are getting annoyed with my inward searching at present, I apologise. But it’s all part of the journey baby, and that was my intention from the start…to record and share my journey.

So, some revelations of sorts today…

I came to some of these revelations while I scrubbed shower stalls and toilets at work at Dreamland Hostel, and some while I walked in the hills with a gun-toting hare-shooting Kim Peters (Pastor at Lincoln Baptist Church).
God is a fair and just God. If someone chooses to live a life that works towards the truth (truth meaning all those good things; honesty, integrity, humbleness, generosity etc etc…), that strives for the truth, then surely God will not reject them, even if they haven’t ‘prayed that special prayer’ that you have to pray to “become a Christian”.

The idea that one must ‘accept Jesus into their heart’ via a predetermined reciting of a particular line of words in order to be saved from damnation (either in the ‘you go to hell after you die’ sense or ‘your life and relationships on earth are bad and will be crap forever until you die’ sense) is absurd. Absolutely absurd.

So does this mean that some good people (who aren’t ‘followers of Jesus’ in the ‘I am a Christian and go to church and have prayed the ‘salvation’ prayer’ sense) may go to heaven after all?

I remember clearly a Christian tract that went around when I was part of a Christian group on campus when I was at Uni. It clearly stated ‘Why Some Good People Won’t Go To Heaven’. The basic gist of it was that you either ‘accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour’ or you will go to hell. To accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, just pray this prayer. Right now, here in your heart….

In other words, if you pray the prayer, you’re part of the club. You’re in. Skip past jail and go straight to Go. You’re on the inside now, and all those other poor people that are on the outside…well…our heart grieves and we’ll pray for them to see the errors of their ways.

If this is the God I have to believe in in order to be a Christian, then count me out. It just doesn’t make sense.

But, what also doesn’t make sense is the idea that perhaps us humans, through eventual collective awakening, will one day reach a point where there is peace on earth and everything is ‘restored’ to the original design (relationally, environmentally). I just don’t think it is possible for us humans to get to a point where every single one of us is practicing pure self-sacrificial love for one another and the earth. We could conceivably get to a point where most people are awake to the fact that there is more to life than what we see in the mass media. Where we awake to the fact that fear is a tool used to manipulate us by the powers that be. Where we awake to the fact that the Afghani taxi driver murdered in Christchurch the other day is just as much human as the guy that killed him. We could conceivably get to a point where most people on earth realise this.

But we’d never get to a point where everyone reaslied that. It’s just not possible. Why? Because we have the power to choose between things that aid others and ourselves to become the best version of them/our-selves they can be, and things that do the opposite. And so often, choosing things that do not aid others and ourselves to become the best versions of our/them-selves possible, is the path of least resistance (in the moment).

There will always be some element of ‘missing the point of life’.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that this where Jesus, God, and that Holy Spirit thingee comes in.

There are dots out there, and they are slowly being connected.

I have a sneaking suspicion also that the dots can and will be connected by way of what is written in the Bible. There is way too much good stuff in the Bible for it not to all make sense in it’s entirety.

I am also open to the idea that I may be wrong. That perhaps after all my searching I will come to the conclusion that actually, the Bible is indeed just another way. A way. Rather than The Way.

Either way, things are looking up.

In other news I did an Enneagram Personality evening last night with my Mum and Nana. Nana is a bit of a legend with this Enneagram Personality thing. Baiscally it allocates a personality type to a person based on statements that you either agree with or disagree with. The results were incredible. I ended up a Type 3 and it describes me to a T!

Type 3 Description (from Wikipedia)
The Three’s attention goes to setting goals and hitting their targets, to success and creating the “right” image in the eyes of others, and to doing rather than being. Type Three is the prototype of being identified with a persona. Thus, they often mistakenly believe that they are their façade. Although all the types do this to some degree, Type Three’s character is formed around this mistaken identification with a desired image. The defensive coping strategy driving the Three is based on an early experience of being valued for what they did, not who they were. They perform and achieve in order to earn the approval and respect of others. Being preoccupied with doing, Threes can often be unaware of the fact that they numb themselves to their own emotions, because feelings can get in the way of doing and achieving. Strengths: Threes can be industrious, energetic, and attractive. Challenges: They can be workaholics, unaware of their real feelings, and unable to slow down and simply be. Major traits include an excessive focus on work and tasks, concern with image and the approval of others, and a competitive striving for status and recognition.

Ego fixation: vanity
Holy idea: hope
Passion/Vice: deceit
Virtue: truthfulness

Another really short version:

Outer Image: Competent, accomplished, sure
Inner Feelings: Frightened, have feelings of inadequacy

This describes me so well it’s funny. Indeed I did laugh. Out loud.

How many times have I tried so hard to go along with other’s wishes and requests and ideas in an attempt to be a certain person for them. And then of course burning myself out because I realise that that’s not actually the way I want to go, or am unsure whether that’s the way I really want to go.

How often I have felt totally inadequate beside people that I am closest to.

This also explains my amazement at how easily I detatch from people. Completely detatch, that is. No emails, no phone calls. I spoke to my parents on the phone maybe twice or three times during the entire 2.5 years I was on my journey. I was singulary focussed on the task at hand. And how this tendancy is disturbing when contemplating close relationships, especially girlfriend/boyfriend relationships. I have in the past totally freaked out at the idea of becoming emotionally involved with a woman. “What if I get an urge to focus on something else? What if I end up hurting her because I am suddenly all focussed on the next adventure or job or task? How can I support a relationship and study/work/play at the same time?! Whatever I am focussed on is what consumes me!” These are real fears that I had\have when contemplating an emotional attachment, or the pervieved emotional attachment of someone to me.

This also explains my utter and complete inability to just do nothing for a week after my arrival back to my parent’s home in Christchurch. The very next day I was at it…searching for something to focus on next. I haven’t taken a complete day off since I arrived home. Madness.

This is all stuff that I realised about myself about 6 years ago. I was at the end of my third year at university when I got depressed. Like, I am lying in bed in the morning physically paralysed by fear, indecision, and anxiety. I break out in tears with no apparent reason. I was on anti-depressants for 6 months. I called them Barney pills. Barney is a large, extremely happy dinosaur that sings silly songs and makes children laugh. Barney is purple. My Barney pills were purple. You get the idea.

During that time, I went to counselling. It was a huge wake-up call. I discovered more or less the stuff that is written above in the Type Three description.

So, where do I go from here? It appears that while I did learn something from my previous bout in the ring with depression, I still haven’t conquered some unhelpful parts of my personality.

I have another Enneagram appointment with Nana some time next week to see if I can sus some strategies out.