Friday, 8 July 2016

Pilgrim Artists Festival 2016

We put on an arts festival last weekend! 

My husband was so flat-out setting up the exhibition that he asked me to make some welcoming remarks to the guests at our opening night event. (All events were held in the Lucaston Apple Shed, and you can see what a richly atmospheric venue it was.) So here are some quotes from my speech, interspersed with some lovely photos of that event, from one of our exhibiting photographers, Jordan de Hoog: 

Pilgrim Artists is part of the ministry of Pilgrim Hill. It exists to encourage and promote Christian artists. To encourage them to glorify God through their artwork and to assist in promoting that artwork to the general public. 

Art has always been part of the long term vision of Pilgrim Hill, and we felt there was an opening culturally right now for promoting a Christ-centred, outward-reaching approach to art in Tasmania.
Perhaps at this stage you are asking “why?” 
I’ll give you two reasons. One, we believe with the Westminster Confession that man’s chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Like Bach, we see the best art as being primarily aimed at glorifying the original artist, our creator God. It’s also excellent practise at doing what we’ll do for eternity: enjoying God, as we do when we explore the artistic possibilities he’s made inherent in His creation and offer up the results to Him. And this is something we can all do as we enjoy art, even those of us who like to call ourselves “uncreative” (I’ll argue with you on that later!).  

Two, we believe that good art in God’s service “adorns the gospel” (as the Westminster Confession puts it about our good works) and is a powerful apologetic for the Christian faith. "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven.” As secular society gets uglier, true Christ-lit beauty becomes even more powerful.

We were very happy with the feedback we got from artists and visitors alike. Now we are full of ideas for how to build on what worked (and what didn't!) this year and do even better next year, God willing.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Humans of Pilgrim Dinners: Luca, Italy

"I came in Tasmania because I knew this place was so be just inside the nature and to think a lot about my future. I think that I just found all what I needed. I think about a lot of things. I found really a new world with incredible people, starting with my farmer. The first day I came [to Tasmania] was December 3rd. It was a Thursday so I came directly to Pilgrim Dinners. So I was impressed! What you are doing is amazing. In this place - this little place - the people know the worth of the small things. That is the most beautiful thing that I can tell about this place. I saw this here, with my eyes.  First I was completely not thinking about my Christian background. Week by week I keep thinking about every topic. I think that I grow a lot in this place. I am always writing in a diary so I can remember. Thanks for this -- but it is not enough, because what you did is too much for me. I didn't expect to arrive here and find something like this."

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Humans of Pilgrim Dinners: Tung from Germany

"I've been working almost 4 months in Tasmania, working at a farm with blueberries, cherries, apples... I've met a lot of good people, good friends.

The scientist who came and talked - that was really nice. It was a different point of view that he gave us. That was really, really good. Even science can't explain how we are created. I want to know how this is possible - how we can be so different from monkeys with only 2% DNA difference.

Most of the people are afraid of letting the Christianity get into their lives. Ok, I'm not so different -- because it's a little bit weird."

Friday, 25 March 2016

Humans of Pilgrim Dinners: Gianluca from Italy

"I heard Tasmania was one of the few places in Australia that was still wild. I thought, I have to do farm work anyway, so I'll go somewhere nice. It seems like an island no one cares about. I don't like [farm work], but I'm happy that I'm doing it. I am a personal trainer and I've been traveling more than 3 years already. Travelling to Australia to work as a personal trainer was my dream.
[I come because] I like to learn. Learn is my mission, my life mission. If I see any occasion that gives me a chance to learn I'm going to grab it. I like to meet new people, see new faces, to get to an environment that seems peaceful and where I feel welcomed."

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Humans of Pilgrim Dinners: Caroline from France

I came to Tasmania in November to do my farm job to extend my visa. Tassie is wonderful. The landscape and the people... I did a lot of hitchhiking and 80% of the people [who picked me up] were Tasmanians. I saw a man do a u-turn just to pick me up. In Hobart when I was lost, I didn't ask for anything and a lady came up and asked me if I needed help.
[About Pilgrim Dinners:] At the beginning I was worried because I thought it would be a bit religious, but it's really open. I ask myself more questions about spiritual things. I was living with a family in Geelong and they did a Bible study every week. I come from the Catholic religion but I want to ask questions and believe for myself and not because of my family.
If I can stay in Tassie I want to stay. I'm looking for a sponsor to extend my visa.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Humans of Pilgrim Dinners: Inez from England

Inez from England. Photo by Jon Jarvela.
"I wanted to travel and see the world and life's too short to hang around in my small town and stay in a pointless job. I love to travel and this was the next big country I could disappear into. I've been here 3 months, mostly in Tassie. I've been working at Lucaston Park Orchards and they've been so good to us. They are such a great family. [I attend Pilgrim Dinners] because it's a good opportunity to socialise with people. I was really interested the other week by that video of the woman who converted. I can't imagine doing that. I would have to turn my back on everything in my life. I appreciate that we can discuss things respectfully here and have those probings to think about things we often don't think about. Because what's the point of sitting around and never thinking about anything?"

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Humans of Pilgrim Dinners: Alex from the Netherlands

Photo by Jon Jarvela

"Two years ago I was backpacking in Mexico and I thought, I've got to do something bigger. I found out about the opportunity in Australia and I left my house and job. I found a Facebook request of someone asking for help with a job in Tasmania, and I came over.

The untamed wilderness, that's the thing about Tasmania. The main reason [I come to Pilgrim Dinners] is to socialise with people. It's a nice way to get out of my share house. We had this morality discussion. It made me me think about where my values come from. My job is quite boring, especially because I have had the same playlist for months, so I think about things all week."

Sunday, 28 February 2016

The night I took my life in my hands

Paul at the Aeropagus

It was a good night for everyone but me. The food was delicious and highly appreciated by the guests. Attendance was up. The travellers were very attentive to Peirce's talk on "New Life".

But for me it was a different kind of evening. It started so well. I was excited to snag a seat at a table with a young Frenchwoman who professed faith in Jesus last week, and a French couple who are very engaged and engaging. Also at the table were two new German guys and a lad from Yorkshire.

As soon as the talk was over the young German guys monopolised my attention, and I never got back to my amiable French friends. 

They started out by "politely" correcting me thus - it is inappropriate, they said, to refer to religious/spiritual claims as "facts". Perhaps it was a language problem, and my husband did not mean to make this embarrassing mistake of speaking of "facts".

A conversation followed in which every relativistic, naturalistic fallacy you can think of showed up in a sort of ghastly, unstoppable parade. There was barely any kind of recognisable train of thought to hold the fallacies together, and if I managed to reasonably confront one of them, they just tag-teamed on to the next one. It was like Cliff's Notes on the last 200 years of German philosophy. 

"Do you know," one of them demanded gravely, "that it has been absolutely scientifically proven that God didn't create the world like the Bible says?" Actually, that was probably my favourite part of the conversation because it gave me a good, honest laugh. Neither of them could tell me how it had been scientifically proven, though they did seem concerned that after hearing this information my faith might instantly crumble, reducing me to quivering mess.

I could give you a blow-by-blow and tell you about the couple of moments that I think I might have actually lodged a tiny doubt in their minds. But that's not the point.

At the end of the evening, while I had not been actually rude or unfriendly to them, I knew that in my heart I had not been really acting out of love for these young men. I let their arrogance and condescension irk me. I wanted to WIN the debate -- for Jesus, yes, but also because I wanted to hang their rotten worldview out to dry. 

While I was busy shadow-boxing a whole education system, I missed the thing. What was the thing? All the truly soul-destroying things they claimed to believe -- it was a smokescreen. The screen dropped for a moment and here's what was said in that moment:

"I don't want it to be that way [i.e I don’t want there to be objective truth]. I want to make my own way. I don't want God to give me a purpose. I will make my own purpose."

And that, my friends, is the reason. Not all that guff about religion being violent, and morality being a social construct, and love being made up of nothing but chemicals. I want to be in charge. I'll give up on love, meaning, and rationality -- I'll give up everything -- if only I can be in charge.

"They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator" Romans 1:25

If you find yourself in a maddening debate with someone - whether it's because you are in over your head philosophically or because your opponent won't face facts - be patient. The Holy Spirit can show you what the real thing is. Not the smokescreen reasons for rejecting God, but the real heart reasons. If you are attentive, they will eventually show up.

Francis Schaeffer, himself a very skilful debunker of rotten worldviews, said that "love is the final apologetic." And any Christian, even if he doesn't know much about German philosophy, should know a good bit about love.

Getting home that night, feeling restless and dissatisfied, I picked up a book from my bedside table and was surprised and comforted by this from C.S. Lewis:

"I have found that nothing is more dangerous to one's own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that Faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate. For a moment, you see, it has seemed to rest on oneself: as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than that weak pillar. That is why we apologists take our lives in our own hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments...from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself."

So my friends, I give you the story of the night I took my life in my own hands, and escaped to Christ.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Humans of Pilgrim Dinners: Nathan

We're starting a new series here, with a nod towards the hugely influential blog, Humans of New York. We'll be featuring photos and stories of people who attend our free dinners, with their permission (of course!).

First up is Nathan, from Yorkshire, England. Nathan has been sharing Thursday dinner with us since before Christmas.

Photo by Jordan de Hoog.
"I just come here to keep my mind interested. I'm thinking a lot about God, science, philosophy. I've been writing about what I've been thinking. I think I've been thinking more than ever before. I've never been happier, really. I've had a lot of support coming out here [to Australia] -- not financial support but prayer support. Which I guess I appreciate. My brother is an evangelical. When he reads something in the Bible he doesn't like, he has to agree with it anyway. He'd be really happy that I'm coming here."