Compound Coffee, The Interlace, Depot Road, Singapore

Compound Coffee (facebook. 180 Depot Road, #01-08, The Interlace) is impossible to patronise unless you’re an insider – that is, if you are a resident of The Interlace.

Compound Coffee, The Interlace, Depot Road, Singapore Compound Coffee, The Interlace, Depot Road, Singapore

Walking into the compact space, you were alerted at once that the coffee here was the main star. A roaster in a corner, a Slayer espresso machine flanked by two Mahlkonig EK43 (probs?) grinders, and a Marco Uber boiler in another corner showed they really meant business.

Compound Coffee, The Interlace, Depot Road, SingaporeAnd exclusively single origin espressos? Well then!

Neiver Samboni‘s Columbian was in the hopper that day. Beautifully done in milk (flat white = S$7 (£3.50)), it was honey in a cup. Clean. Short finish (probably due to fully washed beans?). We wondered if another shot or a higher espresso:milk ratio would have pushed this to perfection.

Compound Coffee, The Interlace, Depot Road, Singapore

Would love to return, and hopefully, at these prices, on the company tab again!

The Plain Jane Cafe and the Word in Psalm 119

I love coffee.

When I used to sell the stuff, I’d passionately defend the Ethiopians against all aunties who wrinkled their noses and puckered their lips and complained,”Aiyoh, why so sour?”

“Auntie, not bad sour – is a citrus taste. Like lemon!”

“Oh yah hor. Hmm. Actually, not bad lah. Let me try again.”

The Plain Jane Cafe, Blk 211 Serangoon Avenue 4, SingaporeBecause I love coffee, I want more people to have access to the good stuff; to enjoy the richness and breadth and depth of the coffee world. So I was pleased to hear that The Plain Jane (Blk 211 Serangoon Avenue 4, Singapore. facebook) had opened at the properly heartland Serangoon Avenue 4.

The Plain Jane Cafe, Blk 211 Serangoon Avenue 4, SingaporeIt had some of the accoutrements of a hipster cafe of course – this decorative table with bits of nostalgia, and bunting overhead,

The Plain Jane Cafe, Blk 211 Serangoon Avenue 4, Singapore
and a bevy of hanging naked lightbulbs. The rest of the cafe was wood laminate and whitewash, with a display case full of Swiss rolls in tantalising flavours.

We chose the Thai milk tea version. Deliciously full-flavoured.

The coffee was made from Gentlemen’s Coffee Company‘s Handlebar Espresso blend. The lady at the espresso machine was quite apologetic about not knowing what a flat white was, saying that she was still learning. Not a problem, I said. Practice makes perfect. Also, I’d be happy to return and marvel at any improvement in her barista skills.
Thai milk tea swiss roll. The Plain Jane Cafe, Blk 211 Serangoon Avenue 4, SingaporeAnother thing I love is the gospel, and similarly, I want people from all walks of life to get access to good Bible-teaching so that they can taste how absolutely wondering and refreshing and life-giving God’s word is.

The problem is that, locally there hasn’t been that much improvement in that regard for the last decade or so. There’s been a lot of noise about the advent of proper Bible teaching, and certainly there is the intentional push towards it – but in a sense, that’s always been what Christians have been on about since Singapore’s independence 50 years ago: the large number of Bible colleges, the immense number from every denomination attending Bible Study Fellowship, overwhelming number of campus ministries (Navigators, Campus Crusade, Varsity Christian Fellowship etc), Precept Ministries with their OIA (observation, interpretation, application), the Baptist churches getting inspiration from Reformed Americans (and John Piper’s arcing method) etc etc.

And different churches import faithful speakers – the Sydney/FOCUS/Unichurch camp get Phillip Jensen, Paul Barker, and Joshua Ng; the UK/St. Helen’s Bishopsgate/Cornhill gang get their usual fare; the Baptist churches, their modern-day Puritans…

The Plain Jane Cafe, Blk 211 Serangoon Avenue 4, SingaporeSomeone was just lamenting today how these foreign speakers’ schedules are so highly regulated by their sponsors that groups with little money or clout are unable to get access to them. Further, the public talks are sometimes more dear than fence-sitters would pay (about S$40 – S$60. in purchasing power parity terms, £40-£60).

I didn’t really think this was much of a problem. What, after all, is the aim of breathing the same air as these faithful speakers? We certainly aren’t the celebrity-chasers that Kevin DeYoung claims the Americans are. And arguably, the ultimate goal isn’t learning to handle the Word correctly.

What does the Psalmist say in Psalm 119? Erm, ok, we haven’t gotten quite far in yet but just from the first few alphabetic acrostic chunks, knowing God’s commandments and statutes enable us to seek God and not sin against him, to keep our way blameless so that we will not be put to shame.

How can we do so? Not by imported preachers however charismatic and faithful; not by insufferable goody-two-shoes-ness. Rather, it is God who must open our eyes so that we can understand the wondrous things in his law. We are all literate, but it is God who must import the meaning of his commandments into our fallen-yet-somewhat-renewed minds.

Therefore, let us pray more earnestly that it is his good pleasure to do so. (Also, be thankful for the blessing of the internets!)

CreatureS Cafe and the Book of Revelation

Laksa, CreatureS Cafe, Asian Fusion, Desker Road, Little India, Singapore

Noon on a Saturday after a crazy work week, my empty stomach and I were in search of a good feed, physically and otherwise.

CreatureS Cafe, Asian Fusion, Desker Road, Little India, Singapore

CreatureS Cafe (facebook) on Desker Road (red light at night, but not when it’s bright) looked promising. Ensconced in a corner, I made fair progress through a big tasty bowl of laksa, a slice of durian cake, and the Book of Revelation.

Durian cake, CreatureS Cafe, Asian Fusion, Desker Road, Little India, Singapore
It’s a bit of a tall order describing the Platonic ideal of a bowl of laksa or a slice of durian cake to one with no experience of such matters – “rice vermicelli in spicy coconut gravy” and “pungent fruit in sponge cake” just doesn’t quite capture the lip-smacking lemak lusciousness of the stuff.

In the same way, John seems to be almost hitting the limits of human language with the apocalyptic genre in which he wrote Revelation. But while someone in Outer Mongolia isn’t really going to need to know the taste of Singaporean delicacies, Revelation is applicable to every one alive today and every one who will be born and will live in the future – Mongolian herders, American rednecks, Zimbabwean farmers, Thai hawkers, English chefs, Australian CEOs, the first person on Mars…

Working on the Book of Revelation

In blockbuster movie terms, it is the disaster movie to end all disaster movies. Uncontrollable natural disasters? Got them all. Monsters and beasts? Far more terrifying and powerful than anything ever shown. Something that concerns not just one nation but the whole planet and all of humanity? Yup.

Worse, all this is wrought by the most powerful person in the universe – God. No hope of a deus ex machina turning up and saving people at the end, because God (being really God) decides exactly what happens, and it, well, happens.

Here, in full-colour and Dolby surround sound, we are shown the last days of this universe, and then the end of the world.

If this had been the ravings of a mad man, or a product of the fertile mind of some Left Behind-inspired writers, it would be all somewhat amusing. But it is the message from the God of the universe, told to Jesus, mediated through an angel, and given to John (Revelation 1) for everyone who has lived since the first century.

CreatureS Cafe, Asian Fusion, Desker Road, Little India, SingaporeSo now in current reality, as we go about eating and drinking and working and getting married etc, Jesus isn’t just sitting far off in heaven; he knows exactly what is happening in the churches, his churches. This is a warning to those churches who have been deceived and have wandered from the truth, and a comfort to those suffering because they hold on to the truth (Revelation 2-3).

We’ve also just had Romans 1:18- Romans 3 at Sunday sermons for the last month. God’s judgement on the world isn’t the temperamental whim of a capricious deity, but the completely just sentence of a righteous judge who must, because he is just, punish those who commit the ultimate evil – refusing to worship God as God, and in fact, suppressing the truth about him.

Menu, CreatureS Cafe, Asian Fusion, Desker Road, Little India, SingaporeIn Revelation, we’re taken first through 6 seals – “normal” disasters of war and civil unrest, famine, breakdown of civilisation, then more cosmic destruction (Revelation 6), before the 7th seal opens into 6 trumpets – the escalation of terrible judgement on the earth (Revelation 8:2-9:21), until the 7th trumpet heralds the 7 bowls of final judgement (Revelation 11:15-18, Revelation 15-18) when Satan and all who side with him are utterly cast into an eternity of absolute horror.

Through all this, people are given time to repent and acknowledge God as God. But instead they curse him.

The interludes (Revelation 7, Revelation 10 – 11:14, Revelation 14) assure us though that those who keep holding on to the truth that God is God during the last days will not be subject to God’s judgement in this way (but they will certainly suffer persecution and hardship from, and be killed by, those who disdain God). They endure and conquer not by their own strength, as if there were something great about them, but by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of Jesus.

To them, an entirely peaceful and intimate relationship with God awaits for eternity (Revelation 21 – 22:5). People sometimes pooh-pooh this as harps on clouds forever, but this shows a lack of imagination. They forget that not only is this when everything will at last be right in the world and in our very beings, this is also a wondrous future with the best person ever, who loves us far more than anyone could ever do.

2016: Another Year to Serve. BRIL.

New Year resolutions. Pithy inspirational quotes. A sudden boost in planning for the year ahead.

The Coffee Academics, Scotts Square, SingaporeThe Coffee Academics, Scotts Square

Plagued by chronic pessimism, figuring it’d be a waste of time joining the lemming rush, I was content to sit by the wayside (in a coffee shop) and think about the components of ministry and how one could get better at it. After all, the work of the Lord is far from pointless.

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:56-58)

The turkey-and-gammon-stuffed brain threw up an old gem from MY, fount of all pithily-packaged wisdom, though certainly not of the Hallmark variety.

The Coffee Academics, Scotts Square, Singapore

What makes properly fruitful Christian ministry?

B R I O

Bible, Relationship with God, Individuals, Oomph!.

(Or “BRIL” = Bible, Relationship with God, Individuals, Leadership.)

First, the Bible.

  • importance of the Bible

The gospel is not about we have done, but what God has done for us. This is what distinguishes Christianity from every other religion in the world. But if the gospel is what God has done, then we need to know what he has done, is doing, will be doing. How can we know this? Through revelation, in God’s word – the Bible. Christian faith and maturity come from understanding what he has said in Scripture.

  • therefore, necessary primacy of the Bible in ministry

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:28-29)

 

Ministry is about telling people what God has said, so that people can be hearing and responding to what God has said. The job of the minister is to proclaim Jesus from his word.

The Bible therefore is absolutely fundamental to ministry.

But there is the temptation to move away from the Word. Why? Because there may not be any evident success in keeping with the Word. God works slowly – and what he does is not always spectacular; we may not see results soon. But only God’s work done God’s way will last. If we are not God-centred, we will be man-centred.

  • therefore, necessary familiarity with all God has said in the Bible

16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:17-18)

We need to be familiar with all that God has said in the Bible. The Bible is a compilation of books, but it is not a random collection of truth. It is a narrative – how God is saving a people to be with him in eternity. So we need to know how all the pieces fit together to contribute to that storyline.

26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26-27)

We need to know what God has said with regard to some of the issues that we face. For example, the Bible has a lot to say about suffering. We must understand all of what God says about it – we can’t just select some bits, but must have some idea of the whole. So we can’t just say that suffering is normal now, without pointing to the new creation where suffering and death will be no more. Otherwise, there will be despair. Neither can we merely say that suffering will cease in the new creation, but neglect to mention that it is normal now.

To begin to get a good grasp of the Bible, we should get familiar with some of the key books of the Bible. We need to know a Gospel well. Romans is one of the best summaries of the gospel. Colossians and 1 Corinthians – are very important, and contain important truths. Starting with a few books begins to help us to get to know the Bible better. Over the years, we can then build up a portfolio of books that we can get to know. And over time, we can get to know the whole Bible. How very exciting! What alot there is to know.

Knowing the Bible is a lifetime’s occupation.

The Coffee Academics, Scotts Square, SingaporeTherefore, learn to handle the Bible correctly for yourself

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Timothy has been Paul’s right hand man for many years. Still, Paul lists some key things necessary in being a good worker for God. Why is rightly handling the Word so important? See above.

How do we get to know the Bible better and better? By handling the Bible better and better. How do we do so? By working at the text ourselves, and not going to commentaries.

There are so many commentaries around – how do you know which one is right? Also, if we use commentaries, our understanding is always going to be secondhand – we won’t be able to check what is being said. And we won’t have the freshness of God speaking to us; it will be stale. We will be bored because we will always just be relying on someone else’s insight. We will not be excited by the word.

Why do so many people start off with good intentions in teaching the word then give up? Because they have no sense of freshness, of seeing for themselves and saying “oh gosh!”, no extra depth.

The Coffee Academics, Scotts Square, Singapore
Therefore, learn how to teach the Bible to others

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

If you understand the Bible but you can’t teach it, it will be of no value to anyone else.

Teaching the Bible isn’t something you can learn from a book or talk. You learn by just doing it – trial and error. Just like learning to play a sport, to fish, or to ride a bicycle.

It takes a lot of time, and we might think that no one seems to notice. But cumulatively, over the years, this is what will most grow God’s kingdom. It may not seem glamorous or successful, but we must trust that this is the way God wants to do it since he says so in his Word.

———————

The Coffee Academics Singapore (facebook)
Scotts Square
Singapore

TCA at Scotts Square is the Singapore outpost of the much-recommended TCA in Hong Kong. But like the long slow process of training necessary for Bible teachers, it seemed it was still early days for their baristas when we visited.

The Coffee Academics, Scotts Square, Singapore

JWF Blend, ice-drip (S$14 (£7))

Described as a blend of rare Kenyan caracoli beans, the unanimous opinion around the table was that it was extremely citrusy (or sour, depending on how pained you were at having wasted good money). Not quite the “delicate fruity flavours” advertised. Perhaps it was underextracted and needed a higher bean:water ratio.

flat white. The Coffee Academics, Scotts Square, Singaporeflat white, TCA blend (Panama geisha, Columbia caturra, Ethiopian heirloom) (S$6.50 (£3.25))

Now any of these beans, by themselves, would have been excellent, so it was baffling why anyone would have decided to blend them. With the FW price index in Singapore hovering about the S$5 mark, the premium price seemed attributable to the brand-name beans rather than any corresponding increase in caffeine bliss.

Five by Five Cafe and Bar, Thomson V One, Sin Ming Road and Gwee Li Sui’s “Myth of the Stone”

Five by FIve Cafe and Bar, Thomson V One, 9 Sin Ming Road, Singapore“Where you want to go?” asked the security guard at Thomson V Two as he emerged from a room probably full of surveillance screens, having interrupted his lunch to deal with this loiterer. No he hadn’t heard of “5 by 5”. Massage place? (Nooo…how…?) Chicken shop? (That’s probably Chicken Clinic, where chickens are cured of the disease of…er…life.) French food? (Nope, that’s The Black Sheep Cafe.) Bakery? (Nope, #1 Baker Street.)

Five by Five Cafe & Bar (facebook. #01-03, Thomson V One, 9 Sin Ming Road) was eventually discovered without assistance on the canal / lokang side of the building. A clean space decked with white tiles, equipped with a brew bar. There was a Synesso for shots and Cafe de Tiamo coffee drippers for brews.

Five by FIve Cafe and Bar, Thomson V One, 9 Sin Ming Road, Singapore

Five by FIve Cafe and Bar, Thomson V One, 9 Sin Ming Road, SingaporeCafe de Tiamo stainless steel coffee drippers

Five by FIve Cafe and Bar, Thomson V One, 9 Sin Ming Road, Singaporecake!

Five by FIve Cafe and Bar, Thomson V One, 9 Sin Ming Road, SingaporeThis flat white was courtesy of, I think, Common Man Roasters’ 22 Martin blend – Brazilian and Indian. Good mouthfeel, thorough incorporation of milk. Chocolate with a hint of cinnamon. Given my preference for strong bold flavours, I wished I’d persuaded the barista to have given me a double ristretto instead. (She’d explained that a single shot was best for the blend. I forgot to counter that I was quite abnormal, and would never have made as good a barista so far be it for me to tell you how to do your job, but pretty please could I have it more gao.)

Five by Five Flat White x Gwee Li Sui's Myth of the StoneStill, it was an enjoyable cup to accompany the reading of Gwee Li Sui’s Myth of the Stone (facebook) – “Singapore’s first graphic novel”. This appeared to be a bildungsromans of sorts with Li-Hsu, our protagonist, learning that decisions come with consequences and the necessity of making responsible choices. Like the hodge-podge cast of international mythical characters that populated the book, the decision-making plotline was one of many that criss-crossed the comic. Working through this piece of re-worked juvenilia, you followed the author on a journey of catharsis, picking his way through the accumulation of tropes and motifs of fantasy narratives, biblical allegories, deus ex machina interventions, etc, reaching some sort of denouement. Perhaps the journey was picking the author instead.

The amateur artwork, I thought, was terribly appropriate for this atmosphere of juvenile dissatisfaction and confusion.

Five by FIve Cafe and Bar, Thomson V One, 9 Sin Ming Road, SingaporeMJ and I had been continuing our way through Genesis that morning, seeing how, in Genesis 12-17, God promised to start to deal with the problem of sin (and therefore, man’s broken relationship with God) and the consequences of sin (man’s broken relationship with the world). If Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman epic is meta, then the Bible’s one story of mankind is much more magnificently so.

The Past Weekend – Genesis Cliffhanger, Daniel’s Non-Nightmare, Psalm 119 – word!, Fat Boy’s Burger Bar, 3D Latte Art

Where did the weekend go?, you wonder tritely as you arrive rudely at Monday with a raccoon nest on your head, last Thursday’s dust still on your shoulders.

Let’s see:

Friday was spent reading the first bit of Genesis (Genesis 1-11) with M. In Genesis 1-2, the world is perfect and Adam and Eve live in perfect relationship with God and each other and the rest of the world. Far too quickly, they rebel against God and suffer the consequences of their sin (Genesis 3) – broken relationship with God and each other and the rest of the world, and death. In the next few chapters (Genesis 4-5), the wonderful proliferation of mankind in the world (their creational mandate) unfortunately means the proliferation of sin: violence and more rebellion against God.

Ah Genesis 6:1 – 9:17. Erroneously famous for the animals lining up in pairs to get into Noah’s ark. If any one ever thought this world’s multitude of problems could be solved by destroying it all, and leaving one righteous man (en familia) to start it all again, well, they have another think coming. Noah the righteous man was given a clean world to do his best, but before anyone could say “fermented grape juice”, sin entered again (Genesis 9:18-29).

More humans populated the world from Noah’s progeny, but t’was the same old story – mass rebellion against God culminating in the building of the Tower of Babel to usurp God (Genesis 10-11).

What a cliffhanger…what would God do now? Wipe out the whole of humankind after giving one chance too many?

————-

Shovelled down a bit of lunch before legging it to a thankless Thanksgiving Service which started badly when the speaker declined a Bible, and proceeded to speak for the next hour about how God had blessed and disciplined him, rather than focusing on the glories of God himself.

————-

Arrived late for the Friday Bible Study, where Daniel 9 was the passage being discussed. Both Nebuchadnezzar (king of Babylon and most of the known world then) and Daniel had had dreams before about the rising and falling of nations, and the persecution of God’s people, but ending with God’s king ruling over God’s everlasting kingdom. Daniel had always gotten an adverse reaction to his night visions, but seemed much less agitated with Gab’s message this time. Not because God’s people were now going to be saved from suffering, but perhaps because there was the promise that would be a finishing of transgression, an end to sin, an atonement for inquity (Daniel 9:24). But how would this happen?

A continuing cliffhanger…if one did not sneak a look at the Gospels…

Got home past midnight.

Psalm 119 at Artease, Serangoon CentralWoke up with some semblance of the sun on my face on Saturday, with half an hour to spare before meeting S at Artease Serangoon (facebook. Blk 261 Serangoon Central. Salted caramel ) to start a read-through of Psalm 119. How does this fit into the book context of Psalms, I wanted to know. Why all the rich vocabulary for God’s word (precepts, laws, decrees, commandments etc), S wanted to know.

Then hurried a few roads away for a study on Revelation 12-14 that was not to be because one person had taken ill at home and another was stuck in a planning meeting for Christmas. G and I had a good chat about present struggles and found comfort depending on God in prayer.

Fat Boys Burger, Far East Plaza, Singapo re Fat Boys Burger, Far East Plaza, Singapore

Fat Boys Burger, Far East Plaza, Singapore Fat Boys Burger, Far East Plaza, Singapore

Full of joy for the day well-spent but relieved to get a little alone time at Fat Boy’s The Burger Bar (facebook. Far East Plaza). A fantastic gobstopper. The fresh buns were buttered and grilled – so tasty on their own. I usually like my patties with a little more bite, but could not fault this well-seasoned charred-edge wagyu-beef-texture tender meat piece. And the whole handful of happiness (with pickles and cheese and bacon) worked together – well-assembled so you wouldn’t be distracted from your meal by being made far too aware of the individual parts of each bite.

————–

Stumbled into church on Sunday, chatted some, and stayed on for prayer meet. This month, we were praying for Wycliffe Bible translators’ precious work in getting God’s word into the hands of different language groups all around the world.

Your Prayers Help People Get the Bible from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

Does correlation always mean causation, asked a group member. Indeed not, but we pray knowing that we will be heard by a good and loving God, and also knowing that the solely sovereign God does whatever he wants.

More chatting into the afternoon, then a light dinner with the usual dinner gang at Changi Village food centre without the morose brother we’d asked to join us.

Latte Foam Art, Chock Full of Beans, Changi Village
Latte Foam Art, Chock Full of Beans, Changi Village
Latte Foam Art, Chock Full of Beans, Changi VillageOh, what childish joy was wrought by this simple 3D latte art (sculpture?) creation at Chock Full of Beans (facebook. Blk 4 Changi Village Road). A nice end to the weekend.

The Sharing Economy, Collaborative Economy, “Gig” Employment

Paddy Hills, 38 South Buona Vista Road
Cafe-hopping, I was told, by various people and oft, when I arrived in Singapore, was totally the thing right now. It leveraged on synergies:

  • people wanting some content for Instagram
  • cafes ensuring their food was instagrammable, but at a cost
  • people banding together and pooling resources to ensure a much lower overhead cost for each enviable instagram-shot

The sharing economy or collaborative economy goes further than the mere cobbling together of resources. And the companies that have made the greatest gains don’t even start with much:

Uber – the world’s largest taxi company, yet owns no vehicles

Airbnb – the world’s largest accommodation-provider, yet owns no property

Alibaba – the world’s most valuable retailer, yet owns no inventory

Facebook – the world’s most popular media owner, yet creates no content

These sharing platforms have been hailed by many as representative of the new dawn of socialism. The idea isn’t new of course – Napster was nabbed for that a few years ago. And before that, the people in Acts “held everything in common”.

So this is libraries and hitchhikers, on steroids, built on the necessary foundation of “the internets”.

flat white coffee, Paddy Hills, 38 South Buona Vista RoadWhat are the benefits of such peer-to-peer transactions?

  • transparent utility
  • transparent allocation of benefits
  • lowers inefficiencies in the market – through capital-sharing (Airbnb, Relayrides, Zilok), labour-matchmaking (Uber, Lyft, DogVacay, Taskrabbit,) person-to-person marketplace platforms (Alibaba)
  • better for community? more emphasis on social capital – the return to pre-industrial relationship (albeit in a very artificial superficial way) and the creation of trust relationships
  • more personal interest in behaving well, providing good service?
  • participation x choice x social justice? because the cost of use falls
  • if “sharing is the new buying“, there will be less demand for new products, and less strain on the world’s resources (as the environmentalist spiel goes)

Paddy Hills, 38 South Buona Vista Road
What are some concerns?

  • easy for these large corporates to flout laws much like the traditional big companies of old, except this time, they bypass the usual democratic process by appealing to their consumer-following to pressurise regulators into capitulating on laws, effectively nullifying the electoral/legislative process.
  • making business out of not being responsible – the companies running these platforms don’t bother with legislation meant to protect employees (from overwork, from discrimination, from exploitation, to ensure they are properly insured, etc); they don’t bother with consumer rights;
  • while marketing solidarity and saving liberal consumers a few pennies, what allegedly happens is that the rich get richer by shirking taxes (that are a mechanism, amongst other things, for the re-distribution of wealth).

Paddy Hills, 38 South Buona Vista RoadIt is with some amusement that one realises how similar the dangers of a (neo)liberals’ dream economy is to criticisms of liberalism in the political arena. This fetishised dream of freedom from “burdensome” laws! and “oppressive” authorities! and “overbearing” commitments! forgets that laws and authorities are meant to protect the weak, and commitments ensure job security (hence the protests against zero-hours contracts).

And if so for human laws and authorities which are inevitably flawed on many levels, what about God’s laws and the lordship of Christ?

Paddy Hills, 38 South Buona Vista RoadBut…I myself work for a gig employment type company that enables me to earn some bread to feed myself, while also part-time unpaid full-time ministry. It distinguishes itself by actually employing people and then seconding them, and it accords them with the usual benefits of healthcare and insurance.

This is a mere thought-in-gestation…I wonder about the efficacy of a collaborative economy or gig employment for Bible teachers. In a city where there are many churches and few good teachers of the Word, would it be possible to have some sort of platform for desperate churches or parachurch organisations to get the services of (be served by) someone well-trained but, as is usual in any monopoly, hasn’t been given the opportunity to make use of that training (because, eg. the pastors-in-power are wary of their better skills in bible-handling, because they don’t show enough loyalty to the pastor to be given a higher profile)? Most preaching/teaching gigs happen now along the lines of old boys’ networks, strengthening existing monopolies, widening inefficiencies that could be used better for the kingdom.

Of course, sovereignty of God…to which one says, ah but human responsibility.

Still, this might be useful in a limited sense: one-off talks or a short training season; it can’t quite replace a long-term pastor/teacher who is committed to loving and caring for his flock, and who is responsible under God for them.

Paddy Hills, 38 South Buona Vista Road

*the cafe in this post is Paddy Hills (38 South Buona Vista Road). They use Tiong Hoe coffee. This flat white was very dark – it tasted like ash on the roof of my mouth. Perhaps an off-day? The berry hotcakes idea was decent (crispy on the edges, fluffy inside), though the original Kettle Black one in Melbourne had the advantage of cream, which, everyone knows, makes everything better.

**update: see also Robert J. Shiller’s article, Faith in an Unregulated Free Market? Don’t Fall For It.

Avocado Toast, the Members of the Body, and How Avocado is Not Bacon

JST had been nagging me to stop being such a fruitist and to give the avocado another chance. As a child, I’d detested the texture of the thing – tasteless, fatty, mashable. When compared with the exciting crisp sweet tartness of the apples that I adored or the rich umami sunshine of the tomatoes I ate by the basketful, the avo was a dud.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) - avocado and Meredith feta mash, with mint and lemon on rye toast, with a poached eggMy first taste of the thing again in adulthood was in Melbourne just last month, where avocado toast was a hipster cafe menu staple. At the Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda, Melbourne) with HM, I tried their rendition – an avocado and Meredith feta mash, with mint and lemon on rye toast, with a poached egg. Delicious.

avocado toast with bacon
Regent's CanalThen in London, LH kindly had me round for breakfast, and there, gloriously, was avocado toast with crisp bacon. Arguably, anything tastes better with bacon, but this demonstrated an important fact of life that fools like me keep forgetting: we measure everyone by some arbitrary standard (eg. must have tartness) and dismiss those who don’t conform as failures. But it would be silly of us not to consider how to use the unique characteristics of different things to fulfil other purposes (eg. avocado as foil to dry toast, as a neutral base for other flavours).

avocado toast with cherry tomatoes and prosciuttoI guess that’s very useful wisdom for all of life: when managing colleagues at work, when bringing up the children, when comparing ourselves to others, etc.

Of course, in last decade, the world has tried to correct this by damning any sort of standard as hegemonic and as causing the victimisation of anyone who doesn’t/can’t conform. But the worldview that undergirds this is fundamentally rusty – a sort of postmodernism that insists (when convenient) that every view is right, every trait is good, and that the self-affirmative happiness of the individual is paramount.

avocado toast with salamiIn many evangelical circles, perhaps in a wholesale stand against postmodernity, the opposite is the norm. Not only do we concern ourselves with a ranking of churches with good doctrine and teachers with good Bible handling skills, we categorise the rest of the congregation too so that on the top-most layer are the people we consider “sorted”, or “blokes/birds worth watching”.

Certain Standard, Erroneous Observation/Communication

Certainly godliness and Christ-likeness is the standard we must, as God’s saved people and adopted children, all conform to. But we will all fail at this time and again, either publicly or in the privacy of our hearts.

Further, how godliness is expressed in the minutiae in everyday life might differ. In this fallen world, there is probably wisdom in allowing for the misinterpretation of the speech and actions because of our own fallenness and/or the inadvertent miscommunication by others.

Erroneous Standard/Attribution

Evangelical circles also highly prize those with teaching and preaching gifts. Those gifts are certainly very important for the life of the church and individual Christians, because we grow by feeding on the word of God  teaching.

Perhaps our first error is to conflate godliness with good Bible-handling skills. Ability to teach is merely one of the many characteristics required of an overseer in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and is not expected of all Christians.

Perhaps our second error is to assume that only one sort of gift is valuable. What about the almost enviable gifts of encouragement or administration?

And perhaps our third error is to esteem the gift and the gifted, rather than the gifter.

And perhaps our fourth error is to forget that the gift is not for the individual (and his/her ego) but for the good of the church.

1 Corinthians 12:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”, nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honourable we bestow the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way. (and on to 1 Corinthians 13…)

Loads of wisdom needed. One thing is sure: avocado is not bacon.

Royal York Crescent, Clifton, Bristol

Anyway, just a mind-dump before heading out into the Bristol sunshine. JB suspects my week of working inside on Proverbs at his dining table (while the beautiful symmetry of the Royal York Crescent beckoned outside) means I don’t like Bristol much!

Street Art or Graffiti? Somewhere in Melbourne

Lively street art or illegal graffiti?

Rankins Lane
Graffiti, Melbourne

Graffiti, Rankins Lane, Melbourne
Rose Street

Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Car park, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Carpark, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

Probably not-approved work-in-progress off Rose Street:
Street art or graffiti, Off Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

Whereas Grace Cafe (facebook, 76 Rose Street) had someone come in to paint the divine *poke*:
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

And round the back, a re-purposed shipping container:
Grace Cafe, Street art or graffiti, Rose Street, Brunswick, Melbourne

And just across Brunswick Street:
Graffiti, Melbourne

Meanwhile, on Hosier Lane, someone is covering virgin territory:
Graffiti, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne. "Real Australians Say Welcome"
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Graffiti, Melbourne
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.
Street art or graffiti? Hosier Lane, Melbourne.And even the laneways have not been spared:
Graffiti, Melbourne laneway
Graffiti, Melbourne

Some Nibbles and Meals in Melbourne

After hanging out at Rose Street Market for a bit, we headed over to Hammer & Tong 412 (facebook, rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy) Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, MelbourneThere was a slight industrial-scavanged look going on, with old irons holding up the menus in the shopwindow, pepper and salt in lab beakers, and the occasional mis-matched furniture.

We were there for the soft-shell crab dog, with black sesame dog slaw, coriander and sriracha sauce mayo, but could not resist trying the miso corny ice-cream dessert (miso and sweetcorn ice-cream with toasted sesame). The ingredients in both worked very well together. A good little pick-me-up before dinner.

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne - soft-shell crab dog, with black sesame dog slaw, coriander and sriracha sauce mayo

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Feast of Merit (facebook, 117 Swan Street, Richmond) was in the next suburb. What it had going for it was an even more industrial-distressed look – bare brick walls and rafters and naked hanging bulbs, and a very good conscience – a social enterprise YGAP restaurant.

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne

 Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne“What would you recommend?” I’d asked two people who’d been there for a birthday celebration. “Anything’s good! Everything’s good!” they’d replied,”But remember to book, and remember there’s a second seating…”

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne - ox tongue (grilled ox tongue, res el hanout, sour milk, baby radish)

We decided it was a good time as any to have ox tongue (grilled ox tongue, res el hanout, sour milk, baby radish) to start – delicious tender, flavourful pieces of meat. A good sign.

We continued with the eggplant (roasted eggplant, smoked yogurt, harissa oil, pinenuts, parsley), carrots (heirloom/ common carrots, honeyed tahini, soft egg, dukkah spices), and a beef shank on celeriac mash: Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne - eggplant (roasted eggplant, smoked yogurt, harissa oil, pinenuts, parsley), carrots (heirloom/ common carrots, honeyed tahini, soft egg, dukkah spices), and a beef stewAll absolutely delicious – good flavours and textures. Thus fortified, we headed back out into the windy winter night.

Hot chocolate was on the agenda another cold winter afternoon. One of our party refused to cross Collins Street to the Koko Black salon because of an apparent suicide she’d experienced the day before along that very street (it turned out the man survived). So we ended up at Lindt Chocolate Cafe (271 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD):

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne - signature drink - chocolate and espresso

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne - hot chocolate The hot chocolate was a little too sweet – I’d have preferred more cocoa content, but the signature drink of espresso and chocolate was terrific – a good complex taste.