Backyardmissionary is a Driscoll Free Zone

I don’t know Mark Driscoll and have never had anything to do with him, but lately my Facebook news feed has been buzzing with people’s assessments of his failures in ministry and the possible out-workings of it all.

I confess I have read many of these out of curiosity, but honestly I feel pretty dirty afterwards. I think the feeling is a reminder that I have nothing to contribute other than my voyeurism and while it may be entertaining and somewhat smugly satisfying to watch a high profile, heavy hitter take a fall, it is hardly worthy of the time that is currently being spent analysing and critiquing. It could even be wrong…

So while I understand (and support) the arguments for transparency and accountability and how in the absence of social media Driscoll may never have been ‘outed’ and challenged, I am not seeing a campaign to ‘stop the hurt’ and ‘get Driscoll help’, but rather just a whole heap of angry tirades that aren’t helping anyone.

So – you won’t read anything here. Not because I don’t think its a juicy, salacious issue and the demise of a celebrity pastor isn’t interesting to speculate about, but just because it has been making me ill. And I don’t mean the issue so much as the way it has lured so many into unhelpful and destructive criticism.

And I should probably stop there.

Mything the Mark And Hitting it Dead Centre

mythOn Wednesday evening Sam and I went to to see the Mythbusters ‘Behind the Myths’ gig. I introduced Sam to Mythbusters a few years back and it has been his favourite ever since, checking the TV guide each night to see if its on – and if its not then watching recorded episodes. There are many worse things a kid could be into and those guys are a lot of fun!

Sam is a dedicated fan and science nut, so when I heard they were coming to Perth it was virtually a case of ‘cost is no object’…We were going… And Sam was excited…. Very excited.

So Wednesday evening we headed into the Arena to be part of the event with 6500 other people. And while we had been anticipating this for months the actual event itself was probably a 6/10. If you like Mythbusters you probably like them for the way they blow stuff up and do crazy, zany experiments that mum would never let you try at home… and nor will Perth Arena… and therein lay the problem.

If you were a fan then perhaps just seeing the faces of Adam and Jamie was enough, but if you were curious as to how they might put on a show then you were likely going to be disappointed. They announced at the start that they weren’t allowed to blow anything up, but they were going to ‘blow our minds’, which is a big call and one they ultimately didn’t follow through on.

The rest of the evening consisted of a blend of practical science lesson and talk show with the odd moment of adrenalin pulsing. They showed some of their big explosions on the screen, but it felt a bit second rate when I think many had hoped they would do some ‘magic’ in person.

I thought maybe it was just me until I spoke with a mate who also found it a little underpowered. A review I read elsewhere said they sounded ‘like a talented band talking about how much they enjoyed performing music’, and it definitely did have that vibe to it. There was a bit too much talk time and story telling from people who have made a reputation for action. I guess if you went seeking that then it is all ok, but I’m guessing plenty didn’t.

When I asked Sam for the highlight he said it was ‘the humour’ and in that I thought he was spot on. Adam and Jamie are a good combination and Adam can spit our some pretty good one liners off the cuff. The Q & A was probably the low point for me, listening to some fairly inane questions and other people asking if they ‘could have a selfie?’ just seemed kind of a waste of time (and to his credit Adam called it that!)

As we left I felt that if they returned I might be prepared to spend $30-40 to attend another performance, (but I’d just as soon stay home) rather than $140, but Sam was beaming and ecstatic. He spoke about it all the way home – and I mean ALL the way to Yanchep… It was like he’d been to heaven and back and in that it was worth every cent – a bullseye.

So while the show itself didn’t raise my pulse, for Sam it was an evening to remember and those things are priceless hey?…

Its My Business

At no point in my life did I consider that one day I might be running a small business, let alone a business of the blue collar variety.


But here I am… a tradie as well as a pastor… Its an odd combo but one that sits well with me and that I enjoy.

But keeping the focus has been challenging and resisting the temptation to ‘grow’ (because its what businesses do) had at times felt quite odd. In fact my goal has been to compact the business into a tighter region and with a more local base of customers. It means knocking back work or passing on work that is further away than I want to travel and trusting that the work I want will pop up when I need it.


So far so good. Last year 25% of my work was in Yanchep and Two Rocks, local people who had told local people about the ‘retic bloke in Yanchep’ and that’s the kind of work I enjoy.

In the last 12 months the goal has been to slow down and do less, but enjoy it more. I always feel happier when I get to spend time with the people I work for, when I’m not rushing and when I can get home by 3.00pm. Ironically in the ‘slow down’ year we made a greater profit than in our busiest year. Not sure how that works, but I’ll take it…

Recently I increased my prices as I realised I was on the cheaper end of things, but every time someone asked me my hourly rate I felt embarrassed. In my head I was thinking ‘That’s a ridiculous amount… For retic?… You’ve got to be kidding…’ I realised I didn’t believe in what I was charging, so I put the prices back to what they were. I’m happy enough with what I am earning, but I could probably earn 20% more without losing any customers. If the aim of business is make $$ then it feels odd not to charge to the limit, but perhaps that ought not be the goal of business?

hackney screeding

I did an anonymous ring around last week to see what others are charging and discovered we are now among the cheapest retic blokes in the city. One guy I spoke to charges $90 call out (just to turn up) and then charges $95/hr + GST and parts. I was dumbfounded… Do people actually pay someone $200/hr to fix sprinklers? This isn’t rocket science folks… But he seems to be getting work and he advised me to book in before September to avoid the price rise… Seriously?!…

That said I can do retic in my sleep now. I can diagnose quickly and finish jobs fast. Its got kinda boring… I’m a bit over it. So the challenge is to try and inject some spark back into it – to find a new angle.


Right now I’m looking at buying a mini bobcat/dingo as my current bobcat driver has got some regular work meaning he isn’t as available, and as a result his prices have gone up. I’ve often considered having a crack at this side of things, but have never really had the time. I don’t ‘really’ have the time now, but I’m ready to try something new so maybe this will be it.

It makes best sense financially to buy the equipment and get someone else to drive it / operate it because I can make more $$ doing what I am good at, but it does sound like fun to learn something new again and driving a bobcat might just give me the spark I need to keep going for a bit longer. I get the feeling its time to have fun again…

We’ll see…  $20-60K will do the job depending on what I buy and then that might stave off boredom for another 12 months!

A Novel History

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Having just returned from a trip to Ireland my interest in Irish history was kindled yet again. Here in Oz its hard to grasp just how sectarian the whole scenario is, but when you step back into it, you can’t help but be confronted with the ever present reality.

Admittedly we did go back in July just before what they call ‘marching season’, the time of year when the Protestants take a day to stomp the streets in uniforms and regalia, while playing flutes and beating the daylights out of monster lambeg drums. Its a remembrance of a battle way back in 1690 when William of Orange defeated the Catholics and took control of Ireland. To some its just a festive event, but there is no denying its place in perpetuating the priority of the protestant way in that country.

Having attended the 12th day marches early in our stay I began to fossick through Amazon for some novels depicting Irish history and finished up with 3 novels and one autobiography all centred on the divisions within this country. While novels may not be actual history, I find them an enjoyable way to enter the story of a country, moreso than just reading a text book.

I began with Return to Killybegs, a novel based on the true story of an IRA informant who returns to his home town late in life after confessing his activities as a spy. He goes back to his childhood home, long since abandoned and sits morbidly in squalor waiting for the inevitable to happen. He didn’t set out to become a spy. It wasn’t in his nature, but an unfortunate event in his teen years was used against him and left him with no choice.

Written by a French author, its a good story depicting the complexity of a person’s life once they get involved in paramilitary organisations. It is based on the actual story of Denis Donaldson, a senior IRA turned spy who was murdered in the small town of Glenties in 2006 after revealing his activities.

Belfast Peacelines

From there I moved on to Burning Your Own, a novel about primary school aged boys set in 1969 around bonfire time, and just as the troubles were kicking off. I really enjoyed this one as it recaptured very well the world that I grew up in. The language and the culture was as I remember it and very believable. The story depicts the early days of the ‘troubles’, the fertilisation of fear and the way communities so easily believe the worst of those they don’t know. Based in a working class protestant neighbourhood, it explores the development of sectarian violence in nearby areas and the gradual expulsion of the catholics from that community despite many years of being a peaceful neighbourhood. It focuses on one young boy in particular, (Mal) who is a protestant and his relationship with the red headed Catholic, Francy, who marches to the beat of his own drum, but can’t stop the tide of prejudice and fear.

I went from there to Into the Dark – 30 Years in the RUC, a pretty dark autobiographical account of the police career of Johnson Brown who discovered very early in the day that police work didn’t just involve locking up baddies. Sometimes the police were the ‘baddies’ and collaborated with other ‘baddies’. Its an interesting but somewhat arduous recollection of his time as a detective and the constant undermining he suffered from the untouchable Special Branch. He portrays himself as a model policeman doing the right thing at all times, but the depiction of the thuggery and ‘looking away’ that he suggested happened in the name of the ‘greater good’ is disturbing if only some of it is true. He particularly highlights the colllusion between senior police officers and various paramilitary groups in Ulster and makes it clear that for some it was war on Catholics and it didn’t matter who got the result.

The final novel is entitled The Boys of Derry (Sunday Bloody Sunday) and while I haven’t yet finished this one I can see where its headed. It tells the story of oppression and mistreatment from a catholic/bogside perspective and is interesting because it follows the lives of the central characters from boyhood to manhood,  as the Irish civil rights movement kicks off and the violence begins in the volatile city of Derry before escalating into all out war.

Every story tells a sad tale of a country that has lost its way and is stuck in such a rut it may never get out. On my final day in Belfast I took some time on my own to wander the city, to ‘sniff’ and get a sense of what it is like there now. I happened upon an exhibition in a small shop by a group called Healing Through Remembering, an organisation trying to help people move on from the troubles by various peaceful, reflective means. Their exhibition was focused on displaying ordinary household items that got transformed in the troubles (eg a dustbin lid).

In conversation with the curator we discussed the future for Ireland and he mentioned a stat that suggests for every one year of conflict there needs to be thirty of healing. That means that assuming no more major violence breaks out, Ireland is just a milennia away from erasing this tragic period from its collective memory…

That said, things are much much better than they were 40 years ago and there is a peace process in place. You can’t help but feel it wouldn’t take much to reignite old hatreds in all of their fury, but even a fragile peace is better than none at all.