price and history

When you reading about history, and someone mentions a particular amount of money, how can you understand what that amount means?

Mark Bernstein writes about Price and History, suggesting that an amount of money in one historical period can’t just be scaled by inflation to make sense of it in another era – there are other considerations. He proposes that this would be a great project for someone to turn into a website.

I encountered this trouble when reading a commentary on Revelation written in 1904; the author had converted the amount of money that the city of Sardis had taken from the Romans in the first century – to rebuild the entire city after an earthquake – into 1904 pounds sterling. How do I begin to understand how much money that is? How much would it cost to rebuild a city in the era of Roman slavery, compared to the relative advances in rebuilding that we have, but higher labour costs? It boggles the mind.

Vann’s Café, Cremorne Point

Danes coffee. A little on the pricey side, as is typical for the northern suburbs, but the large coffee at $4 is truly a large coffee… More so than you would get in North Sydney.

The café is open plan, has some street frontage, and an interior that’s as friendly as any lounge room you might visit.

Coffee is made fast, freshly ground, and is tasty and a good temperature.

Movie: Catch a Fire

Movie: Catch a Fire

Tim Robbins is the drawcard for this bio-pic of a South African freedom fighter. The main problem I saw with it was that it didn’t make apartheid seem like such a bad thing: more of a rallying point for the African people than a system of oppresion.

Sure, at the start of the film we see the kind of suffering that apartheid brought to black South Africans, at the resolution of the film, we’ve fast-forwarded to the present, where Apartheid has ended, but the blame is narrowly focussed against the Tim Robbins character, not against the whole government.

The film is a bit slow overall, and although I have no doubt that the story is worth telling, it felt like it was more a film to brag to others that you’ve seen than one that stands on its own merits.

Odd that the ad before the film was for South African travel: perhaps wanting to underscore the message that things have changed – but the ending of the film leaves no doubt there.

Seeing the way that various characters in the film were living made me better appreciate how much I have living in Sydney: the sheer wealth of hot-and-cold running water, of multiple rooms. The film’s message against a war on terror was also put through with the right mix of emotion and cold presentation of facts: are there interrogation techniques that must be ruled out? The Tim Robbins character doesn’t seem to think so, and yet has his own family that he takes care of, and even integrates into his work.

exams over

Two exams down, and I’ve finished college for the year. It’s been a worthwhile experience over all. I don’t think it’s for everyone: the sheer academia of it would be a turn-off to some people: not everyone wants to study at all, let alone study something that has very little chance of increasing your ability to earn money.

Unusually for bible college, I spent the whole year just looking at the bible: not church history, not theology, not ancient languages, but just the sweep of the old and new testaments. There were a few books that even after a year of part-time study that we didn’t get to (eg 1 and 2 Chronicles, Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, 2 Peter, Jude) for time reasons, but even they were alluded to in some ways, and I know the history and geography of bible times much better than I ever have before.

Has it helped my faith? This is an interesting question: as I looked into the bible a bit more deeply (reading commentaries, learning about the history of how people have understood the bible, looking at the different understandings from one denomination to the next), it’s been a bit of a journey.

Some of the time, all the extra information is wonderfully reassuring. At other times, though, reading all of the theories of those theologians who ended up giving up on Christianity – most notably Albert Schweitzer – made me ask some tough questions of what I’ve believed for so long now. After a period of questioning, I feel that I’ve arrived on the other side of it with a stronger understanding of my faith, but to have any sense of doubt mid-way through studying at college is quite disconcerting, to say the least!

Overall, I would recommend trying college to anyone who is curious enough about it to have not ruled it out as something that is "not for them". In a few months, I’ll be studying Ancient Greek – I’m looking forward to that more than anything else I’ve contemplated studying.

2 Park Espresso – Citigroup Building, Sydney

Espresso di manfredi coffee. 2 Park St, Sydney. Fast, efficient, and looking like they go through a lot of milk; there are comfortable armchairs for drinking coffee, and a small range of breakfast and lunch options.

Coffee is good; hot, yet drinkable, thick, but not too thick. A pleasant surprise, and well worth dropping by.

Bacio, QVB, Sydney

Bacio Coffee. The Queen Victoria Building is bound by George, Market, York and Druitt Streets. At QVB prices, you would expect table service, but this café is order-and-pay-at-counter. Somehow, we convince the waitress to take our order, but the regular customers seem to have accepted this rule.

Good range of breakfast choices, seating is in the middle of the QVB ground floor walkway, so there’s lots of space, and plenty to look at.

Hot coffee, a bit too thick on the froth, but easy drinking. Not a heart-starter, more a mellow afternoon coffee.