Finding faith in unexpected places

A sculpture made of silver ferns in Wellington, New Zealand // Flickr, Creative Commons “None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.” – Paulo Coelho

Earlier this week, I experienced something new for the first time. I watched more than five minutes of a game of cricket, and I enjoyed it.

Up until that moment, I had always thought of cricket as The Most Boring Sport In The World. I have memories of childhood Sundays spent with Dad while he cradled a portable radio to his ear and listened to cricket commentary with near religious fervour. My sister and I would be forced to play quietly in hushed tones as he engaged in a heated one-way conversation with the commentators.

I remember one afternoon when I must have been about ten, the cricket was on the telly and Dad taught me the difference between scoring a 4 and a 6. That remains the extent of my knowledge of the sport today.

On Tuesday 24 March 2015, something changed. New Zealand played South Africa in a Cricket World Cup Semi-Final. I sat down to watch ten minutes out of a vague sense of patriotic duty, only to find myself glued to the screen for the next three hours.

I was mesmerised. My heart was racing with anticipation. I desperately wanted the Black Caps to win. I spent the final few overs peeping at the screen behind my hands, scared to watch in case New Zealand committed a final, irreversible error.

What was happening to me?

We’re all in this together

Big sporting events bring people together in a way that is both beautiful and also slightly odd. In what other situation do people experience similar (positive) emotions on such a large scale? There’s something delightful about feeling as though the entire country has stopped to watch the same thing.

In the back of my mind, a small voice wonders why sport has the power to engage people in a way other big issues fail to do so? Why do I get so emotionally invested in a game of cricket when there are ‘more important’ things happening in the world?

But I push that thought to the back of my mind, because – for the most part – I can’t find fault in something that encourages people to come together for a common cause.

Gotta have faith

Watching Tuesday’s game of cricket provided me with another unexpected comfort. It reminded me that it feels good to believe in something, no matter how small or trivial.

I realised it is the act of placing your faith in something, not what you place your faith in, that is most important.

Faith is such a big word with so many underlying connotations. It sparks different feelings for different people.

But for me, faith is simply choosing to believe in something – be it of momentous proportions, like an afterlife, or of seemingly irrelevant insignificance, like believing your local sports team is the best.

Faith has no rules. It doesn’t have to be tangible, it doesn’t have to be justifiable, it doesn’t have to be approved by someone else. It is yours to place where you wish.

And when placing your faith in something, you are saying to yourself and the world: “I believe. I have hope.”

Go the Black Caps!

On that note, I’m looking forward to feeling the faith of New Zealand as the Black Caps go into the final against Australia this afternoon. Yes, I have well and truly jumped on that bandwagon!

Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum wrote an open letter to fans, published in the Sunday Herald this morning. I particularly liked this part:

“Make no mistake, we’ve felt your belief. We’ve heard the chants, the cheers and the roars. We’ve seen the emotion in the faces of the children, in the faces of the mums and dads, and the grandfathers and grandmothers. We’ve seen grown men in tears; we’ve seen strangers hugging and we’ve seen the elderly dancing. I’m not how to say this but we’ve never felt quite so ‘New Zealand’ in all our lives.”

It’s a weird and wonderful world we live in, don’t you think?

Love learning? Here are five free podcasts you need in your life

Photo credit: Giulia due Puntozero Do you ever feel like there is so much to learn and not enough hours in the day? Most people I talk to wish they could read more books, watch more movies and better understand current affairs, but struggle to find the time to fit it all in.

I feel your pain. Reading is one of my favourite pastimes, but I often go days without picking up a book, let alone following the news. It’s amazing how fast the working weeks fly by.

Fortunately, I recently discovered the humble podcast. Now I can listen to concise and interesting radio shows on the way to work, when I’m out exercising, or even as I cook or do household chores.

There are podcasts available on just about every subject under the sun – whether you are into fashion, gaming, music, cooking or movies, I’m sure you will be able to find a podcast you love. And the best part? Most podcasts are FREE.

I love podcasts that help me learn new things about the world, especially global current affairs (which unfortunately lack decent coverage in mainstream NZ media).

So without further ado, here are my five favourite free podcasts for people who love learning – enjoy!

BBC Radio 4 Documentary of the Week

Every Friday the team at BBC Radio 4 select their favourite documentary from the week been and publish it as a podcast. Ranging from 30 minutes to an hour in length, these podcasts explore a particular topic from all angles through interviews and analysis. My favourite episode to-date explores the rising slow journalism movement against a backdrop of constantly breaking news and instantaneous media.

Website: Top pick: Good News is No News 

BBC History Extra

By far my favourite podcast, BBC History Extra is a must-listen if you are a history geek. Recorded by the team at BBC History Magazine, each episode is about an hour long and covers two topics. The podcasts are recorded as interviews with leading historians and authors. The topics tend to be quite UK-centric, but as a Tudor enthusiast this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Besides, the entire archive is published online, so you can select from over one hundred different episodes.

Website: Top pick: Kamikaze pilots and Captain John Smith

The Good Fight

An American podcast produced by Ben Wikler, The Good Fight focuses on positive political movements happening throughout the United States. From Black Civil Rights to progressive economic policy, The Good Fight gives a voice to groups of people who are out there trying to make good things happen. I find it an incredible window into US politics – Ben Wikler provides context to every topic he covers and explains complex scenarios in an approachable, easy-to-understand manner. Plus, he also uses awesome music for dramatic effect.

Website: Top pick: Fed up with the economy?

TED Talks (audio)

You really can’t go wrong with a TED Talk. If you haven’t discovered TED yet, you are seriously missing out. Described as a “platform for ideas worth spreading,” TED provides people from all walks of life with an opportunity to share their innovations with the world. The videos are hugely popular but the audio podcasts are just as good.

Website: Top pick: Matthieu Ricard: How to let altruism be your guide

BBC World Service Global News

News websites often overwhelm me; there are so many articles, where to start? The BBC World Service Global News podcast pulls together “the best stories, interviews and on the spot reporting from around the world.” It always includes an update on the major global stories, but also throws in a special interest story. The podcast is published twice a day and runs for about 30 minutes.


Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favourites? I’d love to hear your recommendations – please comment below. In the meantime, happy listening!