Sunday, January 28, 2007

Former Groupie Confessional: "Casual Sex is a Con"

There's a sad, gripping, honest, and hopeful article in the UK TimesOnline by Dawn Eden. She has just written a book called The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. Here are a couple of powerful excerpts from the article.

Her introduction...

The Sixties generation thought everything should be free. But only a few decades later the hippies were selling water at rock festivals for $5 a bottle. But for me the price of “free love” was even higher.

I sacrificed what should have been the best years of my life for the black lie of free love. All the sex I ever had — and I had more than my fair share — far from bringing me the lasting relationship I sought, only made marriage a more distant prospect.

A poignant and painful recollection...

But in all that casual sex, there was one moment I learnt to dread more than any other. I dreaded it not out of fear that the sex would be bad, but out of fear that it would be good. If the sex was good, then, even if I knew in my heart that the relationship wouldn’t work, I would still feel as though the act had bonded me with my sex partner in a deeper way than we had been bonded before. It’s in the nature of sex to awaken deep emotions within us, emotions that are unwelcome when one is trying to keep it light.

On such nights the worst moment was when it was all over. Suddenly I was jarred back to earth. Then I’d lie back and feel bereft. He would still be there, and if I was really lucky, he’d lie down next to me. Yet, I couldn’t help feeling like the spell had been broken. We could nuzzle or giggle or we could fall asleep in each other’s arms but I knew it was play acting and so did he. We weren’t really intimate — it had just been a game. The circus had left town.

On the current 'promoters' of casual sex...

Our culture — both in the media via programmes such as Sex and the City and in everyday interactions — relentlessly puts forth the idea that lust is a way station on the road to love. It isn’t. It left me with a brittle facade incapable of real intimacy. Occasionally a man would tell me I appeared hard, which surprised me as I thought I was so vulnerable. In truth, underneath my attempts to appear bubbly, I was hard — it was the only way I could cope with what I was doing to my self and my body.

The misguided, hedonistic philosophy which urges young women into this kind of behaviour harms both men and women; but it is particularly damaging to women, as it pressures them to subvert their deepest emotional desires. The champions of the sexual revolution are cynical. They know in their tin hearts that casual sex doesn’t make women happy. That’s why they feel the need continually to promote it.

This is a powerful argument against the idea that casual sex is good for everyone. In fact, it's good for no one. If there is anything I disagree with that she's written it's that casual sex is particularly damaging to women.

I think it's damaging to everyone involved.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Questions Young People Ask...

I am the Deacon of Youth Ministry at my church (listed in the sidebar links). A deacon is just a leader who is assigned to a specific service task. Elders are the other kind of leaders in churches and they are usually tasked with a focus on prayer and teaching the Bible.

Recently, we helped hosted a Gulf-wide youth conference at the church. Over 250 12 to 20 year olds attended from many different nationalities. During the conference I led a 75 minute seminar called "Defending the Faith". The purpose was to equip them to deal with tough questions they might face about their Christian faith. This is traditionally called apologetics. Almost half of the students came through the seminar during the weekend. And best of all, we had a blast!

I led the sessions with both teaching and discussion. And boy was it gloriously messy! People asking questions which spurred secondary questions, which spurred some to answer the first ones... and on and on. And lots of interruptions like "yeah but what about...!" I loved it.

At one point during the sessions I had them tell me what THEIR questions were; not the questions that they were being asked. If you know students, you know that many of them are trying to figure out their faith just as much as trying to answer questions posed to them - if they're being asked questions at all. In fact, many of them at this conference are not likely to have not made personal commitments to follow Jesus as Lord. So, answering their personal questions is perhaps even more important than answers to questions they may face.

Most of all I want them to put their faith in Jesus.

Over the next couple of weeks I'd like to share some of their questions with you. And I'll share my answers as well.

Here is a small sampling of the questions:

"Why us..."
Why were we created?
Why would God create us if he knew we would sin and rebel against him?

"What about the Bible..."
How was the Bible put together? What is it's history?
Why are there different versions of the Bible?
Hasn't the Bible been corrupted over the years?

"Why evil..."
If God is good why doesn't he just stop all the evil in the world?
Why did God create hell?

"What about the nature of God..."
How can I understand the trinity?
How can God be loving and full of wrath?

And my personal favorite:
How can I know that God loves me?

There were lots more and I'll mention them here if any readers want to know more. In the meantime we'll work on some of these.

Honestly, the first question in the list; "why did God create us?" really surprised me for some reason. Someone in each of the three sessions asked about this.

And the last question really touched me. A young man asked it with such authenticity that I stopped and answered him immediately for fear we wouldn't get back to it.

Do you have other questions? Ask them in the comments section and we'll try to get to them.

Martin Luther on the Prophets

I read the book of Micah from the Old Testament over the last two days. I hadn't read in the prophets in a while and it was both refreshing and challenging.

If you haven't read any of the prophets you should try. But you need to learn a little of the cultural context to even begin to piece together what they are trying to say. Once you do it's a really 'rich' message.

After I finished reading it I thought, "I understood some but what did that or that or that mean?". So I picked up my Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series and read the introduction to the commentary on Micah. In it, Martin Luther was quoted as saying...

(The prophets) have a queer way of talking, like people who, instead of proceeding in an orderly manner, ramble off from one thing to the next, so that you cannot make head or tail of them or see what they are getting at."

Now this sounds like a guy I could get along with! I really like his honest appraisal.

Regardless of how it can be difficult to understand them, here are a few great verses from Micah. Maybe it will draw you in.

4:1 In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house
will be the highest of all—
the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills,
and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
2 People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the L
to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.”
For the L
ord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
his word will go out from Jerusalem.


6:8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.

And lastly,

7:18 Where is another God like you,
who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
because you delight in showing unfailing love.
19 Once again you will have compassion on us.
You will trample our sins under your feet
and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

This last verse is where this Audio Adrenaline song comes from... here
Read the lyrics... here

New Sidebar Items

Blogger has recently upgraded their service and as a result I can add and modify my blog more easily and with greater variety.

The first new item to note in the sidebar are a list of labels. Each new post that I put up will have labels associated with it and then you (and I) can search for posts on my blog with certain labels. For instance, if you wanted to see all the blog posts associated with "bible" then you could click on the bible label on the sidebar and they would all be shown. I hope to go back and label all the past posts for easy searching.

Also, I've put up a feed from's verse of the day.

There is other fun stuff on the way as well. Look for it soon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

100 Floors and Climbing...

Here's a fascinating GulfNews graphic on the progress of the Burj Dubai under construction in Dubai now. It is slated to be the tallest building in the world when finished. I can see the construction from the rooftop of my villa even now. The whole article is here. And here's the summary:

Dubai: World’s tallest tower Burj Dubai reached 100 floors on Tuesday, becoming the sixth to reach the milestone scaling 347.3 metres and utilising 242,000 tonnes of reinforced concrete and 46,000 steel rebars to date.

Sears Tower in Chicago (110 floors), Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea (105), Empire State Building, New York (102), Taipei 101 (101) and John Hancock Centre, Chicago (100) are the only other structures in the world that are currently at 100 storeys or more.

At 347.3 metres, Burj Dubai is one of only 38 structures in the world that are 300 metres or more high.

It is now higher than three other super-tall structures in the region — the Burj Al Arab (321 metres), Emirates Towers Hotel (309 metres) and Kingdom Centre, Saudi Arabia (302 metres).

Superbowl Contender - Sports Figures with Character

As much as I love football (soccer) played the world around I still love American Football too. There are only 4 teams left in the championship, named the Superbowl, that will take place in the U.S. in two weeks.

I am a fan of the Indianapolis Colts as their quarterback and star player went to the same University I did. But it's their owner, Jim Irsay (pictured left), whose comments I noticed this week. Read what he said about winning and losing:

"To me, there's a lesson there. It's who can lose and share in grace? Who can lose and congratulate the other owner and feel joy for him? I mean, that's harder than winning. And it's not about nice guys finishing last or that kind of thing. It's about what do you tell your children when you don't win? How do you conduct yourself? How do you treat people? How do you congratulate other people and the other man?

"That's where life is for me. I want to win the Super Bowl as much as anyone, but I'm always prepared if things don't go well. Because anyone can demonstrate what they're about when things go well. It's when they don't go well that you have a chance to show what sort of individual you are."

(And later...)

I just have the belief that if you do the right things, prepare and work hard, good things will happen. To me, it's not something you stress about. Yes, people have their legacies defined at a higher level when they win championships, but I've never seen a hearse hauling a U-Haul, you know what I mean? You ain't taking the trophy with you wherever you're going.

I don't know much about his spiritual beliefs but this sounds like a man who is thinking about eternity. He's 'never seen a hearse hauling a U-Haul". Let me explain for those not familiar with the idiomatic phrase. A hearse is the large car that typically takes a persons dead body to the cemetery for burial. And a U-Haul is a type of trailer you can rent to pull things in behind a car. In other words, when you die, it will not matter what you have accumulated on earth. Character will matter. I believe that. Do you? (Go Colts :)

UPDATE: The Colts won! Greatest 'comeback' in division championship history!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dubai Sunsets: Back to Blogging!

Well, It's time to get back to blogging. I had a busy Christmas season with parents visiting but we're back to "normal life" now here in the Parks' household. I'm brimming with blog ideas and excited about the new Blogger features that will allow for tagging.

But let's start with some 'easy to digest' Dubai eyecandy first... spectacular sunset pictures on the beach. These were taken the first week of January with a Canon 5 megapixel camera.

The striking silhouette of the Burj Al Arab stand out on the horizon. The crescent above it is a kitesurfer's kite. The structures to the right of the Burj are apartment buildings being constructed on the Palm Island.

Beautiful oranges and reds here. The lights on the horizon just over the car are from the Atlantis Hotel under construction on the Palm Island

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