Friday, November 27, 2015

NaBloPoMo -- Names

Here is the RGBP prompt for today:
NaBloPoMo Day 27: Explain the name of your blog or regular writing venue.
10 years ago I started this blog. At that time there were lots of blogs with clever names out there, partly because many bloggers were sort of kind of pseudo-anonymous,  And so I needed to choose a name.

As readers of other posts this month may have noticed, my favourite book by a country mile is The Lord of the Rings. At the same time I have long thought that the image of a quest works well (not perfectly but well) as a metaphor for life.  And thus arose Following Frodo.

In fact at one time I tried to change the html for the comment line to say how many "Fellow Questers" there were rather than how many comments there were.  Almost got it to work too.

As it happens, when I did a paper on Christology in LOTR I noted that Frodo is one of the Christological characters (along with Aragorn and Gandalf) in the maybe Following Frodo has a subconscious meaning as well?

Other blogs I have started have had much more mundane names.  I started one for the church in Atikokan (Riverview United) and called it "Riverview Rolls On".  After all, as the web-presence for the congregation it needed to be linked to the congregation.  Then about 7 years ago I started a blog to post worship resources I had written and called it simply "Worship Offerings". And then 5 years ago when I moved here I created a new blog, because I had gotten into the habit of blogging stuff specifically for ministry, like early sermon thoughts, and called it "Ministerial Mutterings" because that is what it is (and Mutterings sounded better than Mumblings).

NaBloPoMo -- Christmas

Every year there is a challenge for the worship leader (or at least this worship leader).

What do you do with a story that had been told so often? How do you keep it fresh when everyone knows it? WHat is the thing that people need to hear about Christmas this year?

ANd here we are, 4 weeks away and I have yet to find my hook for the year.

Which troubles me. Because I would like to feel more planned than that.

BUt I think I might have it.

What would happen if we heard the angel today?  What would Christmas look like if it happened in 2015?

This Sunday, to talk about hope, I am going to ask what the causes of our despair are.  What do we need the angel song of hope to conquer?  What does the birth of Jesus bring to this struggling, warring, broken world today?

YEars ago the an angel visited the congregation of Riverview United to share his account of witnessing the Christmas story.  He may have to come back, only this time not only to witness to a birth 2000 years ago, but also to bring a word of hope and promise to the present.

For unto you is born this day in the City of David.....glory to God in the highest, and on earth -- peace.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NABloPoMo --- Advent

The world grows dark
Despair fills the news
What leads us forward
What keeps us trying
We light a candle and pray for --

Or at least the Prince thereof
We look for it in vain.
Racism, injustice, whose lives matter?
A second flame flickers into life
We look for the Kingdom
We await the Kingdom, and pray for --

A world filled with tears.
Laughter that sounds hollow
We look for something beyond.
Great tidings, for all the people
We sink into trust.
We live by faith, by prayer,
and our eyes reflect the candle light of --

One flame waits to burst forth
One great driver lies penned up in our hearts.
Dare we let it out?
Can we live its richness?
In the face of fear and hatred
One thing stands alone
And so we commit ourselves to --

A young couple
A full inn
An Imperial edict
And a baby
Shepherds and angels
Great news of great Joy.
THe Prince of PEace
The Child of Love
The Source of Home
Born in the midst of fear and suffering

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NaBloPoMo -- Victims of our Own Success

Is that a way to describe humanity?

For much of our history as a species we did not have great lives (by modern standards lives were downright substandard).  Mothers were far more likely to die in childbirth.  Children were lucky to live to 5 years old. Subsistence and survival was the name of the game.

But continually we improved.  We got better at food production, and developed technology, and life got better, easier. We developed medical care.  Sure sometimes the development cycle was hit and miss.  Sometimes there were great leaps and sometimes things just didn't change.  But overall we kept getting "better" at controlling and making use of the world around us.

And today? Today much of the global population enjoys a fantastic average life expectancy. WE can make things grow where nature says they shouldn't.  We can drive the cold of winter away and ease the heat of summer (inside at least). We can turn a key and drive across the country. We can manipulate not only the chemistry of our world but the very DNA in our organisms. And it appears to be killing the planet.

Silent Spring. Love Canal. CFCs. Greenhouse Effect. Acid Rain. Chernobyl. Fukushima.  And that is just a partial list...

Maybe our success will be the cause of our demise?

Now let us be honest, the ideal of living so that we don't impact our environment is a myth.  All organisms change their environment.  Sometimes destructively, sometimes symbiotically.  And most don't have the ability to choose or control what that impact will be.

So we need to make a choice.  And more and more I am convinced that there is no sustainable choice that will allow us the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.

WE are (justly) proud of the things we have accomplished as a species.  ANd those accomplishments may set the stage for us to be even better.  OR we could become the victims of our own success...leaving a chnged planet behind for what ever species comes next.

Monday, November 23, 2015

NaBloBoMo -- Climate and Politics

Yesterday the Provincial Government announced its plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the past governments in this province have been less than active on this point.  In a world where people have, for years, been calling for reduced TOTAL emissions I have heard more than one Alberta government talk about reducing emissions on a per barrel rate.  Which means that total emissions would in fact RISE due to the ongoing and (at the time) rapid growth in the oil industry.

Yesterday's plan is much more aimed at total emissions.

Among the pillars:
  • eliminating coal-fired power generation by 2030.  very ambitious given that a high percentage of power in this province is coal-fired
  • replacing 2/3 of that coal-fired generation with renewable sources
  • a carbon-tax of $20 per tonne in 2017, rising quickly to $30 per tonne.
  • revenue from the carbon tax to be reinvested in anti-pollution measures and to be used to offset the load the carbon tax will place on lower income Albertans
I am still trying to decide the merits of this plan.

Certainly it is better than past "plans".  But there are concerns.

IT is one thing to talk about replacing coal-fired generation.  It is another thing (and often a very expensive thing) to actually do it.  And that may (likely will) lead to higher power costs.

Same with the carbon-tax.  THis plan has it applied to everything--home heating, gasoline/diesel.  Which means it will raise the costs of everything.  NOt just the stuff you buy directly but everything.  Because all those businesses whose costs go up will pass the costs on.

And the reality is that lower income folk not only have less "unassigned" money to spend but they are also more vulnerable to these increases for other reasons.  If you have lower income you can less afford to redo your house to improve the insulation or add solar panels or..... You are more likely to drive an older vehicle. You are less likely to be able to replace your furnace/hot water heater/major appliances with more efficient ones.  And so you pay the cost of using more carbon....

But then again.  I have long believed that if we are honest we have to admit we have not actually been paying the full cost of energy.  Because how do you assign a financial cost to the ecological costs of burning emissions, or of a changed water flow, or of nuclear waste.  There is no such thing as "clean" energy -- just a different form of "dirty".  Maybe a carbon-tax is one way of doing it?

And maybe the best way to encourage people to change is to give them a financial incentive?

There is another piece to this.

One of the handicaps the Alberta oil industry has is that we are landlocked.  Our producers need the goodwill of neighbouring jurisdictions to get their product to market, preferably through pipelines (which are most definitely safer and more efficient than rail or truck).  But because Alberta has a history of preferring economic growth over acting on climate change there is a sense that this gets in the way of that goodwill.  One of the  hopes is that making strong action on the file will not only make a difference in the health of the climate and the health of Albertans but will also help create that goodwill for future discussions on pipeline projects -- because Alberta will still have an economy largely dependent on the oil industry for some time to come, even if this round of diversification talk bears more fruit than ever other round over the last 30+ years.  This is why it was deemed necessary this be announced before the upcoming international climate change summit.

THere have been some of the expected naysayers.  There is a (common) complaint that to make these sorts of changes and announcements when the economy is in decline is "kicking a man when he's down".  On the other hand, experience has shown that there is a distinct lack of drive to do it when things are booming and growth is exploding either.  And again, sometimes we need a driver to push us to change.  Those are more present when times are tougher.

The interesting thing is that the industry appears to be on-side (yes that link IS from an oil company presser, but I can't find a link to the article I read this afternoon).  Not sure what that means....

Saturday, November 21, 2015

NaBloPoMo -- Chores

Today's prompt says:
NaBloPoMo Day 21: Which chore (work or home) gives you the most satisfaction to complete? (Which one do you put off for as long as possible?)

I think the answer to both is the same.....
Cleaning the living room.

It tends to build up and build up and build up till it is hard to find a flat space that is its actual surface.  And so when it is done and the floor/table tops/ furniture is once again visible there is a great feeling of accomplishment.

At the same time, it takes forever to find time to get started on it because it looks like an overwhelming task.

The basement on the other hand....

IT has been waiting for a good cleaning since just after we moved in.

Friday, November 20, 2015

NaBloPoMo -- Friday Five Edition

This week's Friday Five at the RGBP site asks:
For Friday Five this week, let’s keep the light, love and laughter going with a random selection of things to make your heart sing:
  1. Music: a song or orchestral piece that stirs your soul
  2. Indoor Place: have you got an oasis at home that you can hide away in?
  3. Outdoor Space: is it water, hills, woodland? Is it the fresh country air or the bustling city?
  4. Picture: this may be a piece of art, something you created, something someone gave you…
  5. Person: do you have a go to person, for when the world is crowding in?
1. THere are a number of them that but one that often comes first to my mind is Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Miserables.
2.  1200 square foot house, 6 people and a dog.  You do the math.  Luckily (or not so much perhaps) I can zone out into the computer screen if I really need.
3.   Given a choice, the lakeshore at Camp Maskepetoon.  But that choice really is not often available.  Green zones in the city will take its place, particularly river valleys.  But what I have learned (repeatedly since I often forget) is that sometime it is just being outside that is needed, even if it is mainly to shovel snow.
4.  Depends on my mood.  But honestly I am really not much of a picture person.
5.  TO be honest, when the world is crowding in my introversion kicks in and I go interior.  Which may not always be the healthiest thing to do but it is the truth.  I am lucky to have some colleagues that I can go to if need really kicks in.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

NaBloPoMo -- Holy Holidays

As I said in the last post, there were two prompts that inspired me today.  This is the one from the RevGalBlogPals Facebook group:
NaBloPoMo Day 19: Best liturgical holiday.
Now the first question is what does "best" mean?

Does it mean the most important? Well theologically that is not really a question is it. In Christian faith the most important is Easter, hands down.  Now to be honest Easter needs to mean the whole Holy Weekend, Good Friday through Easter Sunday (plus Easter Monday, when heavily involved church folk get to recover from the previous week).  Because if we only include Sunday then we miss so much of the power of the story we tell at Easter.

Or does it mean the most popular?  Again no contest.  Christmas, largely because Christmas mixes religious festivaling with secular festivaling.  But even without the secular trappings Christmas Eve services are still much fuller (in many churches) than Easter Sunday services. Why is that? Is it because the Christmas story (or at least the Pageant version of the story with shepherds and angels and kings--even though the "kings" are really a different liturgical festival [Epiphany] and we tend to slide over the whole jealous Herod part of that story) is easier for folks? is it because Christmas is just a bigger deal in the world around us? As I type this a month and a bit before Christmas I am sitting in a coffee shop with Christmas music (much of it faith-based) playing over the speakers.  I have never sat in a coffee shop and heard Easter music playing....

Or maybe it means favourite?  That is a bit less clear for me. I think a strong contender for me would be Pentecost.  I love the story.  I don't know as I fully understand the story. But for me Pentecost stands clear as the 2nd most important day of the Liturgical year. And the idea of being filled with that level of intensity and hope and mission!  I long for that some days.

NaBloPoMo -- Remembering

Me o my.  I have been following NaBloPoMo prompts from two different sources and while some days neither inspires me, today they both do.  So here is number 1, from BlogHer:
Thursday, November 19
Where would you want to retire if money wasn't an issue?
 And honestly this one is a nice follow up from  Tuesday's post about Travel wishes.  Because my answer is that I would love to travel freely. Set up a home base of some sort but travel.  At least for the first year or two spend half the year (maybe as a total, not necessarily continuous) travelling and visiting, both domestically and internationally.

But where would that home base be?

I think it would still be the Canadian Prairies.  I am really a Prairie boy at heart.  And there is something to be said about the comfort of the familiar.

ALthough really in the end it would depend on family connections....

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NaBLoPoMo -- Travel Wishes

A prompt form BlogHer again today:
What is one place you need to see to feel like your life is complete?
 Oh so many choices....

The list we have of places we want to take the girls would require a lottery win to fulfill.

We want to take them on a train across Canada/  Or to Disney. But for this prompt I would have to look farther afield.

Does Europe count as one place?  Or is it a whole category in and of itself? 

I dearly want to go to the Continent (I also want to go back to Britain and Ireland).  And to do what I want to do there I am thinking that a visit of several months wold be needed.  A Mediterranean cruise would be a nice part.

NExt in line would be CHina and Japan and Thailand.

Or maybe Australia and New Zealand.

Then maybe Peru.

Preferably all with the whole family

SO who wants to fund me?