Thankful for Government

Photo by David Jakab on Pexels.com

As I went through my normal routine of checking my RSS feeds, I read this article by Tim Challies and I realised that I am thankful for the same things.

It has struck me that the New Testament’s posture toward civil leaders is generally positive. It seems to nudge us toward the assumption that governments are acting wisely, not foolishly; that our opinion toward their actions should generally be favorable, not skeptical; that our words about them should be supportive, not rebellious; and that our response to their decrees should generally be submissive, not resistant. Romans 13:1-7 is not about the limits of governmental authority, but about the goodness and necessity of Christian obedience.

Tim Challies

There was a time when I would have identified as a libertarian (in the American sense of the word). Over time, and especially since leaving the US, I have noticed a shift in my feelings toward the government that my younger self would declare anathema. I often disagree with how the government runs things but I no longer consider the whole enterprise to be a waste.

When life is complicated and we struggle to understand why things are happening the way they are, we crave simple solutions. The problem is that there are no simple solutions at this scale.

a huge LEGO exhibition

Yesterday, we decided that it was worth braving the cold and the rain to make the bus journey to the PGE Narodowy. It’s Poland’s national stadium and for the last couple of months, it has been home to a huge LEGO exhibition. 

A record-setting model of Notre Dame

Some of the events that we’ve tried to go to here in Warsaw have been… well, let’s just say that they were talked  up a bit more than they could really make happen. This event, however, was crazy. I mostly took little videos of the event, but my wife took a bunch of photos.

7m high model of the World Trade Center

This was one of the few things that had something for everyone in our family. My wife is a new convert to the wonders of LEGO while the kids and I have always been obsessed.

St Mark’s Square
The Lion King

a lesson learned from pulling back

I’ve been in the process of pulling back from the public social internet over the last couple of years because, to be completely honest, I’ve found it to be almost universally useless. This isn’t simply something along the lines of what Cal Newport talks about, it’s actually as a result of spending time with people who have no use for it.

During our time in Liverpool, we were living and working in one of the most economically deprived parts of the U.K. and that extends to levels of computer literacy. It’s not uncommon to meet people there who don’t have a computer in their home. The only reason why they would have needed one was to check applications with the Job Centre. A good friend of mine doesn’t even have a mobile phone. He has a landline and an answering machine. If he’s not home, you can’t get ahold of him.

We see so much importance placed on things that are said on the social internet that we confuse it with a public forum. So when people complain about their posts being banned on Facebook or getting kicked off Twitter, they cry about their right to free speech being infringed upon. You see this mostly from a particular side of the political divide. What I think they have forgotten, though, is that Twitter isn’t yours. Facebook isn’t yours. When you sign up for your accounts, you grant them the right to remove your content or your profile for whatever reason they see fit.

And it is perfectly within the rights of the organisation to do that because it’s theirs, not yours. You don’t get to say whatever you want when you visit someone’s house. Facebook and Twitter are other people’s houses. Free speech doesn’t really apply when it isn’t the public domain.

The Tools I Use

While listening to the Unmade Podcast, Brady opened with the idea of a podcast about the tools that people use in their work. This isn’t everything that I use, but it’s the bulk of it. I think…

Organising

One of the biggest changes to my way of working is that I finally found a system for keeping an external brain that has stuck. In the past, I tried Evernote and Microsoft OneNote but found both of them lacking a certain… something. It’s possible that it was purely an aesthetic issue before, but enjoying how something looks goes a long way toward helping a person stick with it. To that end, I’ve been using an enjoying Notion (affiliate link) for the last couple of months.

My family has a lot of travel that will be coming up this year and it’s the best way for me to have all of the necessary information organised outside of my brain so that I don’t go completely crazy. If you use my affiliate link, you’ll get $10 credit toward it and I get $5.

Journaling & Art

I’ve been trying to maintain a Bullet Journal practice, mostly because I’ve stopped enjoying apps like Todoist and Reminders.app. I’ve also been trying to use up the notebooks and sketchbooks that I’ve been hoarding.

At the moment, I’m using a Seawhite Artists Travel Journal as both a sketchbook and journal. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s filling up fast. I started it on New Years Day 2020 and I’ve already filled 85 of the 128 pages.

In about a week or two, I’ll be moving back into a Traveler’s Notebook.

For writing, I use a variety of wood-cased pencils, mechanical pencils and clutch pencils as well as a Kaweco AL Sport (that I won in a giveaway!) and a Lamy Safari. For painting and sketching, I use the aforementioned variety of pencils, a Pentel Brush Pen and The Sketching Tin loaded with the Earthy watercolour set plus the Van Dyke Brown and French Grey from the Neutral set.

Music

Part of my work as a missionary is leading musical worship for the church we are working with in Warsaw. I use a now-10-year-old Crafter acoustic that I’ve forgotten the name of loaded with D’Addario EJ16 strings. I switch between a Kyser capo and a Shubb capo. My guitar picks are probably the most… fancy part of my setup. Scaling for how much most people pay for equipment, they’re also kind of the most expensive part of my setup. I use Purple Plectrums picks, two primary and then a few that they sent me for free with an order. Due to RSI from jobs working in warehouses, factories and kitchens, I have trouble playing for long with a traditional pick. These are a lot more ergonomic and they have the added benefit of being able to say (in a really posh voice), “I only use handcrafted guitar picks.”

I have some recording equipment built specifically for recording on iOS and I kind of wish I had opted to make it more universal.

Reading

There are three kinds of reading that I do.

  1. Entertainment reading
  2. Work reading
  3. Bible reading

The entertainment reading is normally done on my Kindle Paperwhite. Were it not for that device, I would probably barely ever read. I also try to make use of the local library wherever I am living.

Work reading happens on paper because theology books and commentaries feel better on paper. At the moment, my main work reading book is Calvin’s Institutes (the Banner of Truth edition which is more concise than the Battles translation). These books are the ones that make it hardest to move around.

Bible reading happens in three different Bibles. I have a small 2011 NIV that I got while I was in Liverpool. This is where I do my regular reading plan. Bible study happens in the ESV Single-Column Journaling Bible that my wife bought me for our anniversary. Extended reading time (and possibly reading through the whole thing over Lent) happens in my ESV Readers Bible. It’s the single-volume version because, again, big heavy books makes it difficult to move.