thoughts w/ josiahhallett: on “empathy”

First, a little poem
(50% stolen from a Switchfoot lyric – “Selling the News” off the album Vice Verses)

When feelings reign sovereign
Nought can be sacred
When nothing is sacred
All is consumed

Second, a news article

Judge Rules With Empathy – Sets Troubling Precedent

Westwood judge John Candid has tried 46 year old murderer Steve Goodchild as a minor after listening with great tolerance and empathy to his retelling of the events leading up to the murder of his 43 year old wife.

“The way she treated me made me feel like a child, and after all those years married to her, I began to believe it,” said Mr. Goodchild, explaining that he simply cannot be held responsible for his actions as if he were an adult. “If I don’t feel like I’m an adult, how can you possibly expect me to behave like one?”

This is the first ruling of its kind, a step further removed from medical or mental concessions in court rulings all the way into the realm of feelings-based dictation of right and wrong.

In an unsurprising turn, Mr. Goodchild is now appealing his sentence to 4 years juvenile prison, mounting his appeal upon the precedent set by Mr. Candid in the ruling passed down in his own case. Mr. Goodchild said “I was feeling very angry at my wife, and in the same way that my feeling like a child excuses me from having to take responsibility for my actions as an adult, my feelings of anger should excuse me from being expected to have acted as someone who was not angry.”

– Josiah Hallett

thoughts w/ josiahhallett: on cynics

On Cynics

If you are bent toward the cynical you are not alone. Constantly having the thought: “I’m not too sure about that….” Constantly seeing the flaws. Constantly questioning motive and merit. Constantly finding reasons that make it hard to believe in what you’re doing.

The problem with we cynics: if we lack the wherewithal and ambition to make the things we see as imperfect better, we are simply contrarian wet blankets soaked in self-righteousness. And as soon as we consider the mere making of loud noise and trumpeting our point to be “positive action,” we are at once deluding ourselves into progress, cementing ourselves in our self-righteous ways, and distracting from collaborative forward movement. You cannot go on and on about how right you are and expect things to change. No one cares how right you are. They care about what’s best. And they consider “best” to be whatever they believe “best” is. Get in there and redefine “best”, if that’s what’s important to you. But do it in such a way that you avoid being a judgmental fool with a Messiah complex.

Harness your cynicism. Not for trumpeting, but for bettering.

Be a positive cynic. Not a stodgy and loud one.

– Josiah Hallett

Vagrant in the King’s Court

“Vagrant in the King’s Court” written and performed by Josiah Hallett.

I’ve got this all backward
This cannot be right
Holding back nothing
You gave up Your life

I’m the fumbling recipient
I’m the undeserving friend
I’m the vagrant in the king’s court
Trapped in awe and wonderment

How could I stay silent?
Why would I choose to die?
Holding back nothing
I’ll give up my life

I’m the fumbling recipient
I’m the undeserving friend
Though I’ve come bearing nothing
I have come with all I need
I’m the vagrant in the king’s court
Trapped in awe and wonderment
Though I’ve come bearing nothing
I have come with all I need

Weakness Begets Strength

Jerry had been sick for six weeks. When he’d first come down with it he kept saying he had more gollies than worries and he was intent on spitting them at me. Thankfully his threat was in jest and he never spat anywhere but in the kitchen sink, tilting his head back and making a delightful hocking uproar that always elicited a shriek from mum: “we wash our dishes in that sink you grub! Don’t spit in it!” Then he’d flick his head forward, providing bonus impetus to the forthcoming wad of phlegm. Then he’d tell mum to come have a look – it was his biggest one yet!

Now he had not the energy for such adventurous phlegm removal. I imagined a dam of phlegm and bile holding back a torrent of further phlegm and bile. A congestion of grossness within him.

I saw then the confusion. It was in his countenance, one of interminable bewilderment but with a twitch that bespoke furious determination.

His confusion was this: how can this body fail me so when all that is me within it fights so desperately for true things? Vital things. Things seen only when a man dares lift his gaze slightly above that which absorbs us and envisions there something of weight and worth. What torture is this?

But even those grandiose thoughts were hampered by the grossness within him. His unrelenting infirmity saw his geniality and wit worn down into a sarcastic aggression towards his caretakers (mum taking the brunt) and he came to realise he was not merely congested with grossness in the physical. That served to add an apoplectic edge to his bewilderment. All of me that is within me fights desperately for true things and yet all of me that is within me spews forth a torrent of ungrateful vitriol. Weakness begets weakness.

His rage turned to desolation and then he was at the end of himself. “Here I am, down at the end of myself. Again. There’s something of freedom about, down here. I think I’ll stay.”

And he was a free man. Suddenly Jerry’s confusion was gone and soon I realised what I’d mistook for resignation was in fact a resolve to rise above it. He continued to despise his weakness but he did this by way of embracing it. A trick of the mind? Yes and no. Perspective dictates. The mind makes the man. But who makes the mind? The One who you can see, if you dare look. Right there slightly above that which absorbs us.

It was a debilitating illness that taught Jerry to dare so. His resolve fuelled my resolve to dare also. Weakness begets weakness?


Weakness begets strength.

–   Josiah Hallett

The Presence of God

Ever wondered about “the presence of God”?

[freedom of] utterance

After community breakfast yesterday I visited the home of a friend, clambered over belongings 60cm deep and took in his joy at his painting on the wall.

The Presence of GodEarlier he had arrived late for breakfast but we unpacked again so we could chat while he munched on a large bowl of cereal.

We prayed for his parents and he told me that Mary backwards stands for both

You’re Really A Mess
You Really Are Magical

because life isn’t static but we are always coming out of tough times, recovering; or doing better, enjoying life.

I said it reminded me that we are made in the image of God (magical) but fallen and broken and frail (mess) and that Jesus gave his life to forgive and heal our mess and to restore and discover our magical.

My friend thought this was a reasonable interpretation of Mary backwards.

And I still count it…

View original post 255 more words

Excuses, forgiveness and salt on my tongue

[freedom of] utterance

CS Lewis writes of our generous ability to find excuses for our own bad behaviour but our stubborn inability to accept those excuses in another.

(Presupposing you accept the existence  of something so old fashioned as the idea of bad behaviour…)

He continues that even if there is reasonable excuse for a harmful or hurtful action or attitude, even if 99 per cent of the situation might be excused, it is the forgiving of what remains that counts.

If we only seek to excuse what we or another has done wrong (another old-fashioned idea) then nothing changes in us or them. But we become better at excuses – and entire industries are spawned.

God is willing to forgive the inexcusable in us which is why he makes this conditional on us forgiving the inexcusable in others. Even the niggling one per cent. Even after ’70 times 7′ occasions.

I find…

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I want to be with you. Just to be.

I get so heady when I’m in one of those moods that appears as a beautiful child of tired and alert. It’s the mood where I simply do not care what people think of me (and I mean in the wholesome, honest way, not the belligerent, contrarian way). I get heady because I am honestly delighted to be free of the defensiveness, the covering of my bases, the explanation. I can say a thing and do a thing with honesty, and I am free of even the slightest torment of concern as to what others may or may not perceive. I am free to allow my yes to be yes and my no to be no.

It’s like carrying the silence of companions who sit together unaffected and content into everything of life. Those lovers who spend all their time unconstrained by any vestige of pretence. Who spend all their time together, being. Being.

It’s the punctuation of joy. It’s the vanguard of secure identity. It’s the freedom of self-forgetfulness. Being. Honestly, being.

I want to be with you. Just to be.

–   Josiah Hallett