Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Christmas Challenge

Every year parents are encouraged to spend lots on presents for their children. But I also want my children to learn that we give out of our abundance. THerefore I am making a commitment.

Whatever we spend on presents for the girls I will make a donation to charity (haven't decided which one yet, likely not general offering at the church) equivalent to at least 50% of that value. This may well become an annual part of our Christmas. ANd someday I will explain it to the girls (they are a bit young yet to get the concept of charity).

ANd now I challenge others to do the same with whatever percentage they choose to use.

Canada on Jon Stewart

It doesn't happen often but Canadian news made it to the Daily Show. In fact it led last night's episode! Watch the video HOSED. Includes some very stereotypical portrayals of US-an "knowledge" about Canada.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A CHristmas Song ReWritten

I revised the words to "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" for our Advent 3 service with the sermon "Do I LIke Christmas?" Comments on their singability are welcomed and sought...

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Here at Riverview
Look at the Advent wreath so bright, shining with candle light.
They're flames of hope and peace for me and you.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Sales at all the stores.
Perhaps soon on a starlit night, carolers with faces bright
Will be at your doors.

Soon the angels will sing and the hilltops will ring
With the news that a baby is born
Shepherds will run to the child and his mom
As the light breaks on that blessed morn.
Can we hear the story while the wrapping paper is torn?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
All around the town
There’s a tree up at Sunset Square, lights glimmering everywhere.
Gentle silence as the snow is sifting down

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Soon the bells will start
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.
(Original Text ©1951 Plymouth Music Co. Revised text 2005 Gord Waldie)

Monday, November 28, 2005

2 Holidays

In response to all those people put there complaining about "Holiday Trees" or "Happy Holidays" and how the secular world is "stealing Christmas" I put forward my 2 holiday theory.

Every year at this time the Western world gets ready to celebrate two holidays, one Christian and one secular. (Of course there are others from other faith traditions but this theory deals explicity with the events of and around Dec 25.) This is confusing because we call them by the same name and there is some similarity in symbols and practices associated with them. For the sake of clarity I will call them Christmas and Xmas.

Christmas is the Christian holiday. Symbols of Christmas include candles, shepherds, angels, and a baby in a manger. Practices include: reading the stories around Jesus' birth, singing carols about that story, talking about transformed lives, looking for signs of God-with-us, exchanging tokens of love and affection, and gathering with friends and family.

Xmas is partly an outgrowth of Christmas. It is also a response to the seemingly innate desire of humans for a mid-winter/solstice festival. Symbols of Xmas include Santa, snowmen, decorated trees, and bright (terribly wasteful) displays of electric lights on lawns. Practices include: an orgy of gift-buying, an incredible amount of overeating/drinking/spending, singing songs about reindeer and red-suited elves and snow, and gathering with friends and family.

Now lets be honest. Many of us celebrate both of these holidays, although many of us also favour one over the other--and how we choose to celebrate shows which one we favour. But they are not the same. Xmas is secular, it is marked by "Happy Holidays" and is best celebrated in the world at large. Christmas belongs to a faith tradition and in a pluralistic world (where not everyone shares that faith tradition) is best celebrated in more private settings. SO it is non-sensical to complain when the non-religious world celebrates Xmas. So stop complaining about the holiday tree, or asking stores to put up a manger scene, or about people who would rather go partying on Dec 24 than attend worship service. AS Scrooge said "You keep Christmas in your way and let me keep it in mine".

I don't believe that people are stealing Christmas. I do believe that Christians lose sight of their place in the world. Christmas is special to us. Let's show that, not by insisting everyone agree but by being true to the meaning of the season. And if others choose to favour Xmas, and we choose to join in some of that season, then so be it.

There's Something About Mary...

And no, I don't mean the movie (although I certainly enjoyed it).

This Sunday the service is about Mary. I have this deep-seated belief that we don't spend enough time on Mary in the Protestant tradition. She is, more or less, a prop; something we need for the Christmas story to happen but not all that important otherwise. But whenever I read Luke chapter 1 I am struck by the strength that underlies her words.

Sometimes I wonder, what would have happened if Mary had said "No thanks" instead of "let it be with me according to your word". What grace, what strength to say "Ok, I will be pregnant when I shouldn't be. I will carry the child, despite the hazards."

Then we come to her visit with Elizabeth (who also shows signs of great strength but this week it is all about Mary). To begin with, as Luke writes his Gospel Mary is in Nazareth and Elizabeth is in the hill country of Judea--not a small trip! And then, when she could be forgiven for being ashamed and afraid, Mary sings her song. And what a song! Luke may not call Mary a prophet but this passage shows her as a truth-teller, as hope-filled, as Spirit-filled. She is a prophet.

It is easy to look at Mary as this meek, obedient servant of God. She takes on the task thrust upon her and then, on the evening of the child's birth, sits and ponders all that has happened. But there is so much more there. There is definitely something about Mary...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

To Worship or not to worship

On December 25th that is. Being a Sunday, do we have our regular Sunday service or not?

Here the Board decided to cancel, figuring that there would not be anyone there (and thinking that it would give me the morning with the girls). I was ready to plan a service of carol singing and storytelling, but also was not about to argue strenuously either way--it wasn't my decision to make. In another place on the web I have recently taken part in a discussion about this issue. There a colleague essentially called those of us who are not pushing our congregation to have a service spineless cultural collaborators. Now, even though such language is uncalled for, there is a point about why we choose to have or not to have worship (and different answers are best/right in different places). I think that the decision here was the right one. I think that the church needs to stand up for ways we can encourage families to spend time together. But I could also make a coherent argument for the need to have a service on Dec 25.

What are people out there doing? What, if any, discussions have been held in your faith communities about that Sunday? Here I am making use of a resource Richard has graciously made available. It is some resources for families to use at home.

PS> the Board here also chose to cancel on January 1. This one I disagree with (but again it is not my decision to make). But since I will be on holidays they would have needed to find someone to take the service--likely a challenge. IF I were going to be here I might have pushed harder not to cancel, and it likely would have been less of an issue anyway.

WE Wish You a Merry Christmas??


Cheerful demonstrators opposed to the commercialization of Christmas managed to sing six anti-consumer carols at a Winnipeg mall before security evicted them.
About a dozen members of a group promoting a "Buy Nothing Christmas" set up near Santa's house in Polo Park Mall on Saturday and sang their versions of the old Christmas favourites.

NOthing like some good old fashioned rabble rousing to celebrate the seasons. WELL DONE! It brings a whole new look at how to bring Christmas, and its true meaning, to the stores.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hey Look! A Parade!!!

Today was the local Christmas Parade. Each year the church puts in a float. And for the third year in a row we won "Best Religious" (religious as in organization, not as in float content--as you can tell) Then again, a theology of Winnie-the-Pooh is worth exploring...

And here are the girls in their costumes (after a little cropping on the picture to take out other children)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Great Picture Gallery

the old bill has a gallery of images of Jesus he has collected over the years. Quite an eclectic collection and well worth a look.

Due to the size of the collection it may take a while to load. He says that he also has them subdivided. The list of categories is in this post

In a related vien. Some years ago the Provincial Museum in Edmonton had an exhibit called Anno Domini. It was a look at different ways Jesus has been portrayed in art through the centuries. There is a companion website here (since the exhibit has long since been taken down).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Light in the Darkness

“In the beginning was the Word…what has come into being in him was life and the life was the light of all people” (John 1:1-4)

Strings of coloured lights draped around trees, icicles of lights on eaves, lighted plastic figurines on the lawn, candles flickering in wreaths or on mantles; light is definitely a part of our Christmas celebrations. In fact, light is one of the central themes of Christmas. Light coming into the darkness. Light that drives away the shadow. Light that makes plain those things that were hidden.

One of the most common fears in childhood is to be afraid of the dark. And with good reason. In the dark ordinary things can seem monstrous. One never knows for certain what might be lying in the shadows. The dark is scary.

The world is a dark place. And at times it only seems to get darker. This is not new. The world has always been a dark place, there have always been shadows looming. But throughout all the darkness, even in the darkest of times, people have found hope. Strange thing about that, even when they have every reason to despair, people find hope. People find hope as God is once again revealed to be Emmanuel, God-With-Us.

That is what Christmas is all about. In fact it is a large part of what Christianity is all about, that recognition that God is with us, even if it is in surprising and unexpected ways and places. To a people suffering under the oppression of Roman Legions God came as a peasant child to a no-name family. In a world where mighty armies were the way to go God spoke out in the voice of a single man, calling people to a new way of living together. And after his execution people came to know that even death could not contain this man. No matter how hard they tried, people could not extinguish the light he brought to the world.

Today it is very easy to count the shadows looming at the door. It is very easy to give in to the fear of those shadows. In fact the world may well get darker yet. It may be that we have to go deeper into the shadows of uncertainty before we find a new path, the path God wants us to find, that will once again be brightly lit. But take heart. No matter how dark it may seem at any one time, there is always light. There is always light.

The ancients celebrated the winter solstice by praying that the sun would return. On the shortest day, the darkest time of year, they celebrated the coming back of heat and light. We continue to hold that celebration. At Christmas we celebrate the coming, again and again, in surprising ways, of Light. The light that can not be put out. As John says: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5). And the darkness never will overcome it. Thanks be to God for light in our darkness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gospel Birthday Meme

Courtesy Quotidian Grace

It goes like this: take the month and year of your birthday and look up the corresponding chapter and verse in each Gospel. So for March 10 we get: (using NRSV )
  • Matthew -- Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
  • Mark -- for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.
  • Luke -- And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’
  • John -- Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

Now this is a gift worth waiting for...

Last spring my parents offered to fly us out West for New Year's and that they were going to book rooms in Jasper for that weekend. This is their way of having a family gathering over the Christmas season [somehow I don't get Christmas Eve off :) ]. OF course we said GREAT!. SO after all the hustle of Advent/Christmas we get to bundle two kids onto a plane for a day (once you include airport time (and layovers) it is about 6 hours from takeoff to final landing). But at the end we get to meet new nephew and we get to spend 3 nights at a beautiful spot in the mountains. Life is good. Christmas has hope. ANd a rest sounds wonderful. (only 35 days until we board the plane)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

HOpe SPrings Again

Just got home for lunch to be greeted with the news that my brother-in-law had called. I am an uncle again! First boy in this generation of this branch of W's.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Looking For a Cliche

If at first you don't succeed try try again. No that isn't right
Third time lucky! STill not quite it.
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready... Um don't think so.

Well I am stumped. What is the right saying for when you have two wonderful creations (children for example) and are now waiting on a third, say around the beginning of June. Other than Help, they'll outnumber us! of course. (More testosterone in the house would be a nice outcome though :) )

I Have a Confession to Make

I am not really sure I like Christmas. I enjoy it, yes, well to a degree. But I am not really sure I like it.

I came to that conclusion as I was trying to get some enthusiasm for worship planning this afternoon. Or maybe it isn't Christ-mass I dislike as much as Christmas You know Christmas and all that it entails. Many years I look around and wonder what is the point? What is spiritually edifying about all this stuff going on in December. Where is what I want to talk about? It isn't about arguing over a Virgin birth, or how many shepherd there were, or what the angel did or didn't say. It isn't about how cute the pageant is, or what carols we have to sing on Christmas Eve. It isn't even really about the story for me. Christmas is in the primal stuff. Life beginning, light in the darkness, hope in the face of nothingness. God breaking into our lives in new and unexpected ways. But so seldom do we get to talk about that.

Then again, it could just be that I am so terribly tired...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sisterly Love

Yesterday afternoon we took Devyn for her 18 month check-up and shots. We were convinced to get flu shots for her and Sarah as well. Sarah goes first. She sits calmly watching the needle going in and doesn't even flinch. Then Devyn. As soon as she is poked she starts to howl (and she was getting two needles, this was just the first one). But here is the best part...

Sarah, who sat so stoicly for her shot, hears Devyn's cries and buries her face in mommy's arm. She is now crying and saying "Devyn owie!" through her sobs. Still wouldn't give Devyn a hug afterward though.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Houston, We have a plan.

Well the beginnings of a plan anyway. Every year I look at Advent and wonder what to do. How best to prepare for the in-breaking of God into the world? This is where I am at thus far

  • Advent 1 (Nov 27): Darkness and Light
  • Advent 2 (Dec 4): Mary, Meek and Mild and Revolutionary
  • Advent 3 (Dec 11): Children's Pageant and White Gift Sunday
  • Advent 4 (Dec 18): The Christmas Story revisited (a critical look at what the story means in 2005--the sermon I never preach on Dec 24)
  • Christmas Eve: ???????
  • Dec 25 and Jan 1: Service cancelled
  • Jan 8: John the Baptist

Now the challenge is what to do on Dec 24. Every year I give the meditation in a first person style, alternating between ancient and modern characters -- I just don't find that a standard (or boring) sermon is appropriate for a service with all those anxious, excited children present. One year was the shepherd's story, then the story of the man and the birds seeking shelter, last year was the angel's story. This year is modern and I have no idea what character to use to build a monologue (suggestions welcome). But hey, I am farther along than I was before I went out for coffee!

The Friday Five

  1. Earliest book you remember (read to you or by you) I am thinking The Cat in the Hat or something else Dr. Seuss-ish. Curious George was a favourite though. I was given a copy of that one at my ordination by a former babysitter who remembered reading it over and over (although it is entirely possible she was exaggerating).
  2. Picture Book you would like to climb into Ooooooooh, so many choices. Where the Wild Things Are jumps to mind.
  3. Favorite series of books (then or now) Well duh, Hobbit & Lord of the Rings with close second to the Narnia Chronicles and Harry Potter is a new entry.
  4. Character you would most like to meet As a teen I had a recurring dream about finding myself in a giant Armageddon-type battle where all the heroes of Middle-Earth from the First Age through to the War of the Rings were present.
  5. Last childhood book you re-read (for yourself or to someone) The Cat-in-the-Hat, read it to the girls at bedtime last night.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Could Do Worse...

Menno Simmons
You are Menno Simmons, anabaptist leader and
spiritual forefather of Amish and Mennonite
Christians. The one thing Catholics, Lutherans
and Calvinists could agree on was that your
party was wrong.

Which 16th century theologian are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

And to be honest there are some Anabaptist ideas that appeal to me. (But at heart I am more Methodist and Arminian than almost anything else.)

This feels sort of right...


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Still, a hobbit would be nice too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

WEll I'm Back

TO state the obvious that is (after all this is the third post today). Had to go to a meeting out of town on Monday and then spent a day at my mother-in-law's. Meant an enforced day off, which was nice. Well sort of nice.

If I were a more committed minister I would have gone over to the hospital to visit people from here who have been transferred in there (bad minister, bad bad minister). OTOH, by the time I got the van back from the shop (warranty work) and did some necessary shopping (figured my 20+ year old winter boots needed replacing) the day was 2/3 gone anyway. And since my 6 hour meeting had necessitated getting up at 4:30 to catch a plane and returning to bed at 1:00 the next morning I do think I had earned it. Right? Ah well, guilt is a wonderful thing.

I do have a complaint with whoever is responsible for the weather though. Sunday driving in was windy with fresh snow. Monday and Tuesday fine fall days. Get up this morning to drive back? A couple inches of snow on the ground with more coming. And another high wind to boot! Actually neither day was bad for driving (could have done without the wind gusts pushing me towards the ditch though) but it really doesn't seem fair.

NOw back to meditating on sheep and goats...

This is your life....

Hat Tip to Sue

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Christmas Preparations

THe malls are in full swing. Decorations are up, the carols are either playing or will be soon. And so I submit a column I wrote a year ago about a Buy Nothing Christmas

The time has come, Christmas is just around the corner. Ahh, Christmas. The flurry of shopping, the hours spent deciding what the “perfect” gift for mom would be. If I listen carefully, I think I can hear carollers. There they are! It sounds like they are singing “Silver Bells”. But wait the words are all wrong. Where did they get lines like “Maxing credit, running debits/buying things we don’t need”, or “Cash tills ring/must we spend Christmas this way?”???

Those words come from one of the “Twisted Christmas Carols” found on They are providing a voice to help remind people to think about the true meaning of Christmas. The idea of a Buy Nothing Christmas is based on the concept that our society has an illness, an illness I call consumeritis. Consumeritis pushes us to keep buying more and more, even when we really don’t need what the ads tell us we absolutely must have. How deeply affected our society is by this disease is shown when, in 2001, President Bush told people to do their part in the war on terror by getting out there and shopping.

Christmas is a bad season for consumeritis since we all want to get the “right gift” (or maybe it is the right gifts) for each person on our list. But it really doesn’t have to be. Christmas can be celebrated in ways that are wasteful of money and resources. It can also be celebrated in ways that are more resource and environmentally friendly. This means starting to break out of the habit of over-consumption.

There is nothing wrong with Christmas presents but we don’t need to overspend to give them. One of the ideas within Buy Nothing Christmas is to look at alternative gifts. The idea of giving gifts is to show love and appreciation for each other but can’t this be done better with one well-chosen gift than with 5 things we don’t really need? Gift-giving can be a way we build up our community so the Buy Nothing folks also encourage people to shop at local stores and/or support local artists in their gift-buying.

By now you may be saying “this sounds like a neat idea, what is there to help me discuss it with my family and friends?” Well there are lots of ways. (See the website for more ideas and information.)
  1. What are some possible ways to give gifts without taking part in the shopping frenzy? Take time to talk about alternative gifts.
  2. Want to take part in acts of consciousness raising? There are posters you can download with slogans like “Santa Came/Jesus Wept” (my personal favourite was the icon of Jesus with the caption “Where did I say that you should buy so much stuff to celebrate my birthday?”).
  3. Do you love carols? Well they have some “twisted” carols that help spread the idea of a Buy Nothing Christmas (the poetic among you may feel moved to write your own).

Buy Nothing Christmas, an idea which merits some extra thinking or a pipe dream? It is up to all of us to decide for ourselves.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Almost Done...

The terribly busy week that is. Last Sunday I looked at the "to be done" list and groaned. This is what it looked like:
  1. prepare bulletin for Nov 13 (done Sunday afternoon)
  2. prepare bulletin for Nov 20 (done Monday Afternoon)
  3. prepare sermon for Nov 13 (in progress--to be optimistic)
  4. prepare prayers for memorial service at Extended Care Wing
  5. prepare and lead Bible Study on Christmas stories (this week we looked at pronouncement stories)
  6. attend service in #4 (Thursday afternoon)
  7. prepare sermon for Remembrance Day
  8. preach said sermon (also ended up doing memorial prayers -- thanks to Monastic Mumblings that was easily prepared)
  9. attend Presbytery Exec Teleconference this morning
  10. prepare worship for meeting on Monday in Big City (done during teleconference--a wonderful way to multi-task)
  11. write pieces for church newsletter (done just after lunch)
  12. lead worship (that whole "do your job" thing)
  13. go to Big City for meeting (via Not So Big City) -- an all day process for a 6 hour meeting

And then of course there were those other things that come up in the course of a week. Well everything except the last two are completed--oh right there is that matter of what I will preach tomorrow. Title is "The Day of the Lord", a concept I find hard to deal with at the best of times (especially with the Zephaniah reading we are using this week).

Friday, November 11, 2005

On Remembering

I was born in 1969, 24 years after the end of WW2, 16 years after Korea. It is my grandfather's generation who last went to war in Canada. Many people my age have no idea what Canada's contribution was. (I assume that I have more background than many simply because I have always been something of a history nut and so have read more.)

So what does it mean to people my age and younger to pause for a moment once a year? Do we truly understand any more? Somewhere in a box in my parent's basement I have (had?) some clippings from the campus newspaper when I was in 1st year university. The clippings are letters to the editor debating whether or not November 11 should be commemorated, the anti argument seeing it as a celebration of war.

It saddens me to think that we may be forgetting, that November 11 may be becoming just another ritual with little meaning to many. If we choose not to remember, if we choose not to tell people why we are remembering, then we not only dishonour those who sacrificed. We also forget how important it is to work towards "Never Again".

Whenever I preach on this day I use a story (self-written). I have two on file. One is the story of a veteran of Korea whose brother was killed on the beaches of Dieppe. That story tells of his journey through those conflicts and his work for the Legion helping children remember. It tells of his journey from simple remembering to working for peace, and of his own way of honouring his fallen friends. This year's story starts with a returned peacekeeper waking from a nightmare. Then we move to a discussion between her son and her grandfather, himself a veteran of WW2. The young boy tries to understand what this is all about, why his mom keeps waking up screaming. I find that the story mode helps these things be more real to all ages. The story conveys more than a "traditional"sermon ever can.

We do not celebrate this day. If we ever celebrate warfare than we have missed the point. Today is a commemoration, a day to honour the fallen and broken, a day to renew our commitment to a new way. This morning we read from Isaiah. "The wolf shall lie down with the a little child shall lead them...they shall not hurt or destroy on my holy mountain." May it be so, may it be so. Amen

Note, I am willing to share the two stories mentioned above with anyone who wants them. Just e-mail me at gUNDERSCOREwaldieATshawDOTca

Thursday, November 10, 2005

CHristmas Favourites

Rebel Without a Pew has a posting encouraging folks to name their least favourite CHristmas songs. Take a look, the list is growing and the comments about the list are often hilarious.

Just in the name of being fair and balanced. What are some your favourite Christmas things in any or all of these categories:
  1. Religious Music
  2. Secular Music
  3. movie
  4. food
  5. tradition

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lest We Forget

Friday is Remembrance DAy (aka Armistice Day or Veterans Day). I am preaching at the service this year. In the midst of my thinking about the story I will tell I got an e-mail with these links. They are well worth a look. But be warned, as Sarah and I were watching the video (she sitting on my laps wrappped up in a big hug) my eyes were strangely moist and my throat had a lump...

This site has the story behind the song

And here is the video (about 6MB) "A Pittance of Time"

"They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old,
Age shall not weary, nor the years condemn.
But at the going down of the sun, and in the morning;
We will remember them."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Phantom Scribbler has posted about bullies at her child's school. Reading it this morning has got me thinking about my own experience with the topic.

I was a bullied child. Bullied unmercilessly I might add. While the worst years were Grade 7-9 the beginnings can be found in Kindergarten. My bullying started mainly as physical intimidation and teasing. In my teens there was a strong element of sexual harassment to it as well.

What do we do about bullying? 20 years ago things like "don't let it bother you" and "stick and stones can break my bones..." were common advice from adults. Option A is, of course, unrealistic. Option B is a pile of manure. SO what response works?

I am of the belief that the so-called "zero tolerance" approach many schols now claim to have is not the answer. First of all, it is almost impossible to define -- what i call normal behaviour another may call bullying and vice versa. Secondly, bullies aren't idiots, well not all the time. Any bully worth his or her salt can bully only when no adults are around/looking. TEachers can not and do not see everything that happens in a school (especially as you deal with older children and teens). Then it quickly becomes a case of my word against yours. Thirdly, what good does it do to kick the offender out of school for a couple of days? WHen I was in counselling in my 20's my counsellor kept encouraging me to get mad at the school "Where the hell were the adults?". But really, there is only so much that could be done--and once you pass a certain age the concept of "telling" is most definitively self-defeating.

ACtually I think that the answer is to start young with a couple of basic concepts: the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment. Make that three, the third being "one for all and all for one" (we know peer pressure is incredibly powerful--lets use it). The answer to bullying is not in enforcement, it is in attitudes.

I have to be honest. I was a good target, an exceptionally good target. Especially by my teens I was a great target, there was nothing left of my self-esteem to give me a defense (one of the most damaging effects of sustained bullying). I have to be honest, my social skills were lacking, thus making me more of a target. Not that this is self-blame (I think I am over that part of it) but it is reality. But again the answer was attitude. The answer would have been intentional, concentrated worlk with me to help me see what/who I was and could be. If you can't stop the bullies (many of whom were, in hindsight, terribly troubled, some of whom were just plain followers) then you work with the bullied.

Bullying is a terrible blight on a child's life. It can and does make people miserable for years. But I am not sure simply stepping up enforcement is the answer. I think it is much more attitudinal than that. Strict enforcement in my case made things worse--there were months when I was sure I would get "jumped" on my way home from school (often after a detention but that is another story dealing with laziness and homework). But I never felt that many people took my pain seriously and dealt with that. If they had done so, then maybe I would have been able to learn new tools to deal with the bullies--but I was too busy trying to hold it all together.

And one of the cruel ironies? Now that we understand how important it is to interrupt this "rite of passage" (as it was once called) it is harder to do. We no longer have this sense tht the neighbourhood kids are our responsibility, that we have the authority to call them on their behaviour. Now it is not "proper" to correct a child other than your own, it is seen as overstepping your bounds. How the heck do we raise healthy children if they think that the only authority they have to listen to is their parent? (This is not to say that we tell our children to do whatever an adult tells them, it is to say that we teach them that others can remind them what is right and wrong)

Monday, November 07, 2005

"5 Things Meme"

Got tagged by the old bill. Apparently I outdid him on the Bible quiz and this is my "reward".

10 years ago: Recovering from my failed internship. WOrking in a restaurant and saving to go to Great Britain (a 2 month trip in March/April of 1996)
5 years ago: Recovering from my successful internship. Doing my final year at seminary
1 year ago: Pretty much the same as this year. Ramping up for the Advent/Christmas frenzy, enjoying the time with my daughters.

5 yummy things
  1. Bittersweet Chocolate cake with custard sauce (this was served at a restaurant where I once worked)
  2. Baked Ham
  3. Corn Chowder
  4. Fresh baked buns
  5. Most anything chocolate

5 songs I know by heart (All of these are ones we sang at Camp)

  1. Lord of the Dance
  2. Stand By Me
  3. FLicker
  4. PAss It On
  5. The Wedding Banquet (I Cannot Come)
5 things I would do with a lot of money

  1. Pay off my student loan
  2. Buy out the lease on the van
  3. Give a bunch away (to various places)
  4. Top up the girl's RESP
  5. Buy a second vehicle
5 things I would never wear

  1. clerical collar
  2. hairpiece (except for theatrical purposes)
  3. grass skirt (just ask Patty)
  4. a piercing of any sort
  5. contact lenses

5 favourite tv shows

  1. Jon Stewart
  2. Commander-in-Chief
  3. West Wing
  4. 2 and a Half Men
  5. CSI: Miami

5 things I enjoy doing

  1. Walking with the dog
  2. Bedtime stories with the girls
  3. Reading
  4. Coffeeing
  5. Church Suppers

5 people I want to inflict this on

Can't think of 5. So I will just tag all the RevGAls who haven't done this one yet. (Yes I know that is cheating but oh well.)

Bible Quiz

(hat tip to Beth Quick)

SOmething to pass the time. A Biblical Literacy quiz (surprised myself and got 85%). I took the 2004 test.

Topic-------------------------Questions --Right--Wrong --% Right
ACTS AND PAULINE LETTERS --15 ----------11 -------4 ---------73%
GOSPELS -------------------------18----------17--------1----------94%
HISTORICAL BOOKS-------------13----------12--------1----------92%
PROPHETS-----------------------17--------- 15--------2----------88%
PSALMS AND WISDOM LITERATURE--10---6--------4----------60%
REST OF NEW TESTAMENT-----10----------9---------1----------90%

Sunday, November 06, 2005

WAter Meters--their time has come

OTTAWA — Meters that charge the true cost of providing water should be attached to more Canadian homes, says an internal report for the federal Finance Department.Canadians are among the world’s most wasteful citizens when it comes to water — and meters would make them think twice about using so much, says the draft study

A number of times over the last 3 years I have made this arguement here (sometimes in letters to the editor, sometimes in private conversations. For a variety of reasons (all technical and design oriented) we have a water system that can't seem to keep up with demand. ANd people here find it incredibly offensive to be told to limit water use, or to be put on a water restriction (which only affects external water use), or to end up on a boil water advisory. Apparently the $600 they pay each year for water and sewer entitles them to use as much as they wish whenever they wish. This shows up in letters to the editor every summer.

But water is not free. Waste is waste whether it is gasoline or food or water. I have no desire to commodify water, which charging by the liter does seem to do, but I know of no better way to get people to take seriously calls to limit water use. It isn't to save the township money (the cost to install water meters will off-set any savings for a while) it is to make us better stewards of our resources. And that is a good thing.

It's All About Trust

Is it just me or is there less trust around these days? Seriously, how likely are we to trust someone as our first impulse?

As I look around I think that trust is made noticeable by its scarcity these days. ANd this is our loss. Trust is an important part of how we are able to work together. Trust is a lubricant in human relationships. Without it the gears get stuck, the progress stops, and things get hotter and hotter.

So what to do? How do we rebuild the network of trust? First we remember that trust is a two way street. It is both given and earned (in what is, hopefully, an ever-increasing spiral). Second, it is easier to build trust than to rebuild it once damaged (there is truth to "once bitten, twice shy"). Third, we have to take ownership of our part in the equation--it is not enough to say "trust me" nor is it enough to say "I will only trust you when you prove you can be trusted".

To trust someone is an act of faith. It is risky. ANd we are always told to minimize our risks, to be careful, to protect ourselves. SOund advice, but there are limits. If we never take the risk then trust is never built. If we assume that nobody else worries about our interests then we never learn to really work together. And if that happens then much of our social network breaks down (I suspect much of our economic system would follow shortly). And we all lose.

Take a chance, trust someone just a little bit. It may open a door to a whole new way of seeing each otehr. It may make the world a better place.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What the h...?

IS he really that myopic?

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators this week to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terrorism suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session.

Setting aside for now the fact that torture just increase the anger towards the nation. And setting aside the fact that information gleaned from torture can be suspect (how many people in the Tower of London said exactly what the interrogator wanted to hear so that the pain might stop). And setting aside for now the fact that there is something of an international consensus on the matter. But doesn't this concept go against what we have been taught are the ideals of democracy, ideals the US claims to be uphoilding around the world?

Or are those ideals (minor little things like innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair and expecitious trial) only for those that are deemed "worthy"? More and more I find the acts and attitudes of this Administration troubling.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Well that was, um, different

Normally when I do a funeral it is 30-45 minutes. Length depends largely on how many people give words of remembrance. Then there was todays.

The deceased was a pioneer of this community. Heavily involved in politics for the NDP for his entire 60 years here. HE touched many lives. Not only did he speak about the need to care for others, he actively lived it out.

5 eulogists. 2 of whom are politicians (one is the provincial party leader). Service started just after 1:00. Opening prayer, hymn, then Words of Remembrance. By the time I get up to read Scripture (used Amos5:21-24 and Matthew 25:31-40 to honour the social justice commitment) it was already 2:00. Each of the 5 eulogies were well done, but 4 of the 5 were long. And they stole most of my sermon points while they were at it! Actually that worked out well. I did some editing on the fly (still used most of what I had) and used the sermon to tie together what had been said and the Scripture. Very serendipitous in fact.

But keep this in mind. When people are giving eulogies are politicians--they will be longwinded (to be fair, the same could be said for preachers). Plan timelines accordingly. AS it was we just had time to get the comittal service done and leave the cemetery so that the staf could seal the grave with relatively little need for overtime.

Check this out

Just got turned on to a blog called Getting There.

The writer calls himself e-mystic and the photos with comments are wonderful.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not Sure What I Think of This...

(found the story on

Alberta's justice minister says he will be introducing legislation allowing children injured in car accidents while still in the womb to sue their mothers.

The premise sounds good. If your insurance company won't pay for the medical care needed you should be able to sue them. BUt I think that (as is common with this government) they haven't thought through all the ramifacations. This could easily be a precedent that opens the door for all kinds of stuff.

The case that sparked this proposal involves a couple who are married and working together, but what if the couple was separated/divorced and this type of lawsuit became a ploy in a custody battle?

WHat about the FAS/FAE child? Or the child born drug addicted? What other reasons might people come up with for suing their mother for pre-natal injury/abuse?

And then, in the end, there is the matter of "passing the buck". Is the government really just trying to save itself money? Maybe the health care system should be absorbing some of these costs--but if we can make the insurance company pay then it isn't our problem.

I empathize with the theory. But to me this could well be a slippery slope--or adding oil to an already slippery slope.

Ignore the "Born to Clean" Part

You are dishcloth cotton.
You are Dishcloth Cotton.
You are a very hard worker, most at home when you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain Jane, but you are too practical to notice.

What kind of yarn are you?
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Earlier this week the secretary and I were talking about the questions I had used in our Stewardship Celebration service a few weeks ago. The questions were:
  1. What makes this church special?
  2. How has coming to Riverview made a difference in the life of you and/or your family?
  3. In what ways in Atikokan better because Riverview has been here?
THe comment was how difficult the questions were to answer. And they are actually. For H the questions pushed her to think about why she still is active in the church. AS a younger person she went because that is how she grew up. But why continue?

AS I was planning the service and the using of the discussion time the image I had was of getting people started giving testimony. I think it is crucial for congregations to encourage the "why are we here?" discussions (both why is the congregation here and why am I as an individual here). Then we are better equipped to tell others. THen we are better prepared to make being a part of the congregation mean something more than a Sunday morning social time (although there is value in that as well). But there is a barrier.

Actually I think there are 2 barriers. One is that many churches have not done well with encouraging those discussions. Many of us have never really taken time to explore "why do I come here?" because we haven't been pushed to do so. The other is that the idea of giving testimonyis foreign and terrifying to many of us, perhaps including many preachers. But it is vital that we learn to climb both of these barriers if we are to move forward. My hope is to have a discussion group in the New Year to deal with the first. But what about the second? How do we reclaim testimony from those televangelists and remember that there are many ways of giving it? How do we start people telling their own story about the church to those who have yet to hear it, to those who are not yet a part of the circle? That I am having a harder time with.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In Case I wasn't far enough behind.

I have now spent 1.5 complete days in the office with almost nothing to show. Last Thursday I had a nice list of people to go and visit in the afternoon (Thurs mornings are set office hours, had some phone calls to make). Instead I got to sit around the church while internet was installed--the company will only let techs work while a customer is present and the secretary only works 2 morning a week. It didn't help the the outer wall of the church is brick faced onto poured concrete. It took an hour just to find a way in (widening the hole where the phone cord entered the building), would have been twice that long to have had to drill a new hole. So much for those visits...

Then we had to change operating systems. Computer still had W95 on it, software we want to use needs W98. No problem, got a W98 CD, just install it right? Wrong. New version, not an upgrade. Had to reformat the hard drive and then start installing stuff (yes we remembered to back up all our data first). Then there were driver issues. Luckily the cable tech was not busy and is a friend so gave him a call. 2.5 hours later we finally have the network card recognized and the monitor operating properly (had to try many times to get the right driver combo for the video card). ENd result? My 1 hour job this morning ate up the whole morning and neither the secretary nor I got much accomplished.

Oh well, at least I still got my afternoon trip to the seniors centre (a weekly thing) in. But that was with no time for lunch on a day I forgot to eat breakfast. By 3:30 my temper was a little short. (Note to self Remember to eat something!)