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According to Wikipedia the Childe Cycle by Dickson was unfinished at his death and left in it an unresolved conflict.  It has been a long time since I read the last two novels The Final Encyclopedia and The Chantry Guild but I want today to speak about the series and especially the last two books.

The series ultimately is a science fiction, future look at the world.  Yet Wikipedia tells me it is also an allegory between Courage, Faith and Philosophy.  I read the early books on when I was at high school or university.  I read the last two while I was in New York City.  The last two have had such an impact on me that they have remained on my bookcase to this day.

The basic take away for me was what difference could one person make?  Wikipedia makes  it clear that the issue is what difference can one integrated person, a person who has faith, courage and philopsophy, make?

Dickson’s story shows that one person can make the difference to the whole universe.  They may be the person who stands against another individual who is evil or preserves that which needs to be preserved.

In the end the book reminded me at a time when I felt alone that one person can make a difference.

As I look down the barrel of 2009 I hope and pray that I and you dear readers may also be an individual who make a difference in the new year.

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Today is Christmas Eve and in that light I thought I’d reflect on one of those books that has impacted me for Christmas.  The book is Barbara Robinson’s the Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a classic piece of American child’s fiction that raises the question what if the worst children “in the entire world” came to church one time when the Christmas pageant was being organised and end up taking it over?

This innocent child’s book raises the issues of where the boundaries of church and world collide, who do we want to have in church and in a Christmas pageant and who would Jesus love?  The Horrible Herdmans are not the safe people we want in church but those who truly need to know the gospel but do not have the gloss on their lives of being brought up in a Christian home.

There are many books that raise the issue of attracting people to church, of spiritual formation of children and doing what Jesus would have us do.  This book, possibly inadvertently, does all this in a simple and wonderful way.  Each Christmas I see it around home and try and have a read of it – it has had that much impact.

I have had an issue on my mind for a while as the missional vs attractional debate rages (see Out of Ur and Reclaiming the Mission for some insights).  The issue is how to express the incredible variety of options in this debate.  While listening to my son’s VeggieTales Incredible Singing Christmas Tree CD I suddenly realised how to express my options – Missional Vs Attractional Caroling.  I hope you enjoy, only some of this is based in my experiences.

Missional: A congregation who knows each other really well goes to the streets and sings carols that mention Christ.

Attractional: The congregation invites people to a building to hear contemporary and traditional carols that mention Christ.

Contemporary: The congregation invites people to a slick presentation including a sermon and carols that mention Christ.

Traditional: The congregation invites people to a service with traditional hymns and a badly performed nativity re-enactment of the birth of Christ.

Activist: Organises a community carols where the drunk unbelieving mayor inadvertently gives an altar call to Christ.

Reflective: Decides that carols are too noisy and a silent retreat is held from December 23 – Jan 1.

Reformed: Invites people to hear the preaching of the word and experience the sacraments rightly administered as backed up by selected very scriptural carols.

Contemporary Pentecostal: Carols are sung in tongues to contemporary music.

Traditional Pentecostal: King James era carols are sung in tongues to traditional music.

Evangelistic: The congregation sings carols and a minister preaches a message requiring people to be born again to really enjoy Christmas.

Social Justice: The pews are filled by the homeless and they don’t really know the words someone tries to get them to sing before they receive a free meal.

Liturgical: The congregation sings traditional hymns, celebrates the mass/communion and believes that everyone else baptised is a Christian and should be at church like them.

Low Church: The congregation sings contemporary Christmas choruses and believes that everyone else should be baptised in a church like them.

Prosperity Gospel: The congregation invites people to a service which includes traditional carols, a sermon and a tithing message on the need to give to support the church over the holiday period.

Hyper-Faith: The congregation has faith that their carol singing will impact the world.

Liberal: The congregation invites people to a service which includes carols with no mention of Christ, has a Rabbi speak on Hanukkah and a sermon based on the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

It appears that many of us have been busy and stopped blogging.

I am pleased to see that Simon Holt is still alive and blogging though other blogs I read or looked at recently seem to have gone the way of the dodo.

I am intending over the next few weeks while I am on holidays to write on the books that have impacted me.

The reason for this is my annual two books of improvement.  This is where I read a book to help me improve in my personal and professional life.  For the professional side I have read on on presentations, Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points.  For the private life though it will spill into the professional life, David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  While it is too early to give reviews of these both they will be blogged about next year.  Instead now I will start to reflect on other books that have impacted my life from such classics as the CSIRO Diet Book 2 and some science-fiction of Gordon Dickson to more serious books like the Bible and works of Lesslie Newbigin.

Our graduation was last Monday.  This is why I have been a bit quiet lately as I needed to work on a few things for the graduation.

Anyway it was a great graduation.  Congratulations to all who have made it through and those who will yet return to do further studies with us at different levels.

So many things made this a great graduation for me.  In no particular order they are:

  • First one at a new institution
  • Getting to read out names of some of the graduands
  • Great sermon for the students
  • Great faculty that I work with
  • Just about everything went off without a hitch
  • Meeting student’s families
  • Avoiding being in any photos
  • Great support from all involved

So I look forward to seeing more people graduate over the next years.