Saturday, July 30, 2005
The vast majority of campers I have met at camps (I have worked at three different church camps over the last 16 years, with many many different sets of campers) have little-to-no regular connection with a local congregation. For some the week they spend at camp may be their first time out of a metropolitan area, the first time they are in a place where they can look up and see real stars at night, the first time they can swim in a lake, the first time they can watch the sun set or the moon rise sending beams of light across the surface of a still lake.
Camp is also a time when we can model and practice a different type of community. In a world where fewer and fewer families are able to sit down and eat meals together camp is a place where everyone stops what they are doing to eat at the same time. In a world where video screens of varying types have become ubiquitous camp is a place where, hopefully, days can pass without a TV or a computer screen being watched. In a world where "God Talk" is often either missing or done from a very definite, sometimes scary, perspective camp is a place where we take time to talk about faith, to ask questions, to pray even. In a world obsessed with doing camp can provide children and youth with a place to be (even if the leaders continue to be obsessed with doing to provide that opportunity).
Camp is a whole pile of work (at least an 80 hour week while there plus all the needed prep). Camp is short nights and long days, with less sleep than we might like. Camp is exhausting, much moreso at 36 with two toddlers than it ever was at 19. Camps are expensive to run and maintain (I was on the board of Camp MAskepetoon in Edmonton Presbytery so can attest to that). BUt most of all camp is worth all of these things. Every year I wait with anticipation for the week of camp. Every year I need 24 hours of sleep to recover. And every year, despite whatever problems may arise (and there are always problems big or little) I am somehow refreshed by camp. I need camp, I only hope that camp continues to need me.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Disturb us, Lord,
when we are too well pleased with ourselves;
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little;
when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess
we have lost our thirst for the Waters of Life;
having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity;
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly
-to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery;
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
We ask you push back the horizons of our hopes,
and to push us in the future with strength, courage, hope and love.
The Jesus Creed
The Jesus Creed
This creed was originally shared at the Emergent Convention, Nashville, May 2004.
By Brian McLaren
We have confidence in Jesus
Who healed the sick, the blind, and the paralyzed.
And even raised the dead.
He cast out evil powers and
Confronted corrupt leaders.
He cleansed the temple.He favored the poor.
He turned water into wine,
Walked on water, calmed storms.
He died for the sins of the world,
Rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father,
Sent the Holy Spirit.
We have confidence in Jesus
Who taught in word and example,
Sign and wonder.
He preached parables of the kingdom of GodOn hillsides, from boats, in the temple, in homes,
At banquets and parties, along the road, on beaches, in towns,
By day and by night.
He taught the way of love for God and neighbor,
For stranger and enemy, for outcast and alien.
We have confidence in Jesus,
Who called disciples, led them,
Gave them new names and new purpose
And sent them out to preach good news.
He washed their feet as a servant.
He walked with them, ate with them,
Called them friends,
Rebuked them, encouraged them,
Promised to leave and then return,
And promised to be with them always.
He taught them to pray.
He rose early to pray, stole away to desolate places,
Fasted and faced agonizing temptations,
Wept in a garden,
And prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.”
He rejoiced, he sang, he feasted, he wept.
We have confidence in Jesus,
So we follow him, learn his ways,
Seek to obey his teaching and live by his example.
We walk with him, walk in him, abide in him,
As a branch in a vine.
We have not seen him, but we love him.
His words are to us words of life eternal,
And to know him is to know the true and living God.
We do not see him now, but we have confidence in Jesus.
You scored as Servant Model. Your model of the church is Servant. The mission of the church is to serve others, to challenge unjust structures, and to live the preferential option for the poor. This model could be complemented by other models that focus more on the unique person of Jesus Christ.
What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com
If things had gone according to plan I would still be out at the lake, helping campers prepare to go home this afternoon and starting the final clean before we left tomorrow morning. But obviously things didn't go according to plan.
Things were going very well. So far the only drawback to the week had been that the weather was more like Late August/September than July (a little cool for swimming, much to Sarah's dismay). No real problems with campers, leaders, or programs. We were quite happy. Then things got, well, interesting.
Wednesday night the lifeguard complained he was not feeling well (and looked it too, he was hardly upright). Then at 6:19AM there was a knock on our cabin door "we have to have a meeting, we have 15 sick kids" came the message from one of the leadership team. Turns out the lifeguard was just the first. From 3:00 on the nurse had been getting a steady stream of sick campers. By the time I got to the lodge it was 14, shortly thereafter it was 18 (including 2 of the teen leaders, the lifeguard, one adult leader, the 10 year-old nurses daughter, and the two year-old daughter of another adult leader. Turns out some of the teen leaders had been up since 3 helping kids and cleaning up both vomit and diarhhea. My hat goes off to them--I would have just added my vomit to the pile if I had been doing it.
We turned the craft cabin into the infirmary and moved everyone in there. We were up to 30 at one point I think (and there were just over 100 people on camp). Health unit came to collect some food and water samples and gave us sample containers to send home with the ill in case they expelled more liquids. At first people were worried about food poisoning but in the end we are fairly sure it was a fast acting/spreading bug of some kind. The fellow from the health unit said he wouldn't guess but that it seemed like a staph or a Norwalk-like virus.
The advice we got was that since we had stopped getting new cases about 9:00 we could stay open for the rest of the week but as the planning team we decided it was best to shut down early--mainly because of the fact that we had already lost some leadership to illness (their own or that of their children) and many of the other leaders had gotten little to no sleep-- so all the parents were called, campers collected, and the cleaning done. It was too bad, and a little sad, but also I keep reminding myself that these things happen -- and there is always next year.
More on the Camp experience to follow...
UPDATE: Appears we made the local paper. Not a bad account really. Might have been better to name the fact that most of the ill were feeling better (slightly to much) by the time they left.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
What’s it all about?
Turns out it may not be about getting to heaven after all.
When I was a child I understood Christianity this way. God wanted us to behave in certain ways. God was always watching us and keeping track. If we were “good enough” we went to heaven when we died. Turns out I was missing the main point.
As a young adult I was told that the secret to being a true Christian was to accept all of the above plus to be able to say the “right” words as a statement of faith. And still I was missing the point.
Christian faith is not mainly about what happens after we die. We believe that there is something beyond this life but it is not the main focus. Nor is Christian faith about saying the right words. Being a faithful Christian is all about allowing ourselves to be changed, transformed, by God’s presence in our lives. The life of faith is about restructuring our priorities and our lives so that they are more in line with God’s. And this, it turns out, is harder than doing the right thing and saying the right words.
Allowing ourselves to be transformed means we give up control. It means we let ourselves and our lives be changed without knowing what the end result will be. And which one of us is the first to sign up for something like that? But here is the good news. When we let ourselves go, when we embrace (even to a small degree) the transforming power of the Spirit, our lives improve.
Let’s be honest. No amount of faith or religion will put money in our pocket (although it may well take some out). Faith will not get us a new car or a faster boat. But God’s transformation does hold the promise of better relationships with our selves, our loved ones, with the Source of Being and this leads to more contentment than a car or boat ever will. God’s transformation leads to a changed sense of what is important. God’s transformation leads, almost inevitably, to treating our neighbours better not because we are trying to win brownie points for some heavenly reward but because we know it to be the right thing to do.
Being transformed will undoubtedly challenge us to let go of some things. It will push us to rethink old attitudes and ideas. Being transformed is an ongoing, never ending process. But being transformed is at the heart of becoming a Christ-one. The life of faith is all about how we live today, here, now. Being faithful means making changes in how we treat each other, the world around us, and our selves. God is asking you to be transformed. Will you accept?
Also thanks to Sue and Richard through whom I found Site Meter. Really the counter is just there to assuage my curiosity (and either build up or break down my ego, depending what it shows I guess).
Thursday, July 21, 2005
IT would seem that this should be a deader issue now. It remains to be seen what difference it will make in Canadian social life and how the legislation will be lived out but surely the question itself is solved right? Wrong, if Stephen Harper has his way. The opposition leader vows that, should he become Prime Minister, he will bring in legislation to change the current law, something any government can certainly do. In light of such comments there is an opinion piece on the Globe and Mail web site that suggests Mr. Harper is fighting an irresistable tide.
Now the problem for those of us who concern ourselves with such things is to ask when the tide needs to be fought and when to surf on in. Just because change is happening doesn't always make it right
On the township side planning has been missed as well. There are some ideas floating around (some useful, some more out in left field) but this government announced 2 years ago that they planned to close Ontario's coal-fired generating stations. Why has this thinking of alternatives just started now? Why not two years ago? Instead the everyone in town was convinced that they could change the plan, that AGS would not close. And now we are facing a deadline with little back-up in place. Wouldn't it have made more sense to have the local Economic Development people, who were heavily involved in the "save AGS" campaign, start working on new development and leave the retention of AGS to the township office? Then even if AGS was saved ATikokan would be all that much farther ahead because new money was coming to town, not replacement.
One of the problems of a siege mentality is that it pushes you to focus on averting the threat. But sometimes that blinds you to other alternatives. It is always better to have a back-up plan started well before you need it. Otherwise you get trapped when the main gate comes crashing down.
I however have another proposal should the owners turn this one down. I propose that the NHL do away with a minimum salary. Instead we institute a maximum salary of, let's say $1 million (which is still an obscene amount to chase a little black rubber disk around the ice). Since I am feeling generous I will allow that any player can earn the equivalent of his salary in signing and performance bonuses. For any player earning more than the maximum both the player and the team have to donate 50% of the overage to a local charity. On the owner side, any franchise can only earn a limited profit, say $1 million, from ticket sales (out of generosity I won't suggest touching merchandise and concession sales at this point). If the franchise makes more than this they would be required to refund the overage to their season ticket holders. In addition, any franchise which sells luxury boxes will have to include in each sales contract that for at least 25% of the games the box will be made available to a local children's charity--for the kids, not the staf or donors.
WEll that seems like a good start. Maybe if it catches on we can spread the idea into other pro sports.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
In both stories people are convinced that there is nothing to eat. And in both stories it turns out that there is enough and more.
I am convinced that whatever else they might be these are stewardship stories. It has been suggested (some would say proved) that the manna and the quail were both natural phenomena in the desert. The people just needed to look and see what they had available. A suggested interpretation of the feeding of the multitudes is that one somebody started to share then everybody else pulled out what they had been carrying with them -- sort of an early potluck if you will.
I think that we fall into the category of the Israelites in the desert. We don't see what we expect we should have so we murmur against the leadership. But what is around us waiting to be used? I find this to be true in most church congregations but also in society at large. Scarcity tells us that when a major employer is about to close there needs to be fighting and doom talk and moaning about our sorry lot in life. I wonder what sap deposits are lying around Atikokan just waiting to be utilized.
And behold "Some gathered more and some gathered less, according to their needs, and none was left over".
May it be so.
Monday, July 18, 2005
WHen I first heard that suggestion I thought what a wonderful thing to tell kids ages 8-14. It turns out that although we aren't doing anything around the church anniversary we did keep the title. We will spend one morning looking at "dare to be different" (the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den), one looking at "dare to face your fears" (David and Goliath) and one looking at "dare to speak up" (Jeremiah being called by God as a young boy). But even if all the campers and leaders take away is the idea "dare to be"; dare to be yourself, dare to be what you want to be, dare to take chances I will be happy.
It strikes me that we aren't told this often enough. And all too often we don't really believe it. Somewhere in our childhood we buy into this idea that we have to measure up to some set of ideals. We pick up the concept that we have to fit in, go along with the crowd, conform. Young children don't do that yet. What does it take to allow us to Dare to be...?
And yet being is what life is all about. We are called to be all we can be (to qoute an old recruiting slogan). What I have learned is that God is constantly telling me Dare to BE. God is constantly calling out the courage to be me, not be what others would have me be. But it is still hard to do.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
You are funky, outdoorsy, and down to earth.
While you may not be a total hippie...
You're definitely one of the most free spirited people around.
You are very impulsive - every day is a new adventure.
However, you do put some thought behind all your actions.
Still, you do tend to shock and offend people from time to time!
|You Are Strawberry Ice Cream|
You often find yourself on the outside looking in.
Insightful and pensive, you really understand how the world works.
You are most compatible with chocolate chip ice cream.
Of course there is only one true type of Ice cream and that is something with chocolate in it. (Alright so the above description fits but really...chocolate ROCKS!)
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I have always liked that passage from Deuteronomy. It just seems so real. I am tempted to direct many people around town to read that entry. Will Atikokan choose to fight and live or will Atikokan just sit down, give up and die? Two weeks ago I wasn't really sure. In fact I was hearing words that sounded a lot like the latter. But change is in the air. I sense that more people are ready to choose life, and fight for it. (Mind you I still wait for the realization that fighting for the town and fighting against the closure of AGS are related but not the same.)
God gives us the power to choose. What choice will we make?
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost,
The old that is strong does not wither.
Deep roots are not reached by the frost
From that ashes a fire shall be woken
A light from the shadows shall spring
Renewed shall be blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king.
I find great wisdom in this. (I also find a fairly good Christology but that is another discussion.) This poem has a wisdom that turns generally accepted truths on their head. This wisdom challenges us to look farther, to probe deeper, to search longer. This wisdom helps us find the surprising new, and terrifying, path that lies around the corner. ANd it hopes that we will embrace the stranger who it describes, that we will follow on the journey -- even if we do not know the way.
I have come to realize that much of what I see as gold did not glitter at first. I may well wander but not always because I am lost (even though it may feel like it). And I have faith in things, like my faith in God for example, that are old and well rooted, they may need pruning now and then but the strength is there.
And now I find that more and more I wait for the ashes from the fire, the light from the shadows. I await the rebirth of hope and promise. I welcome the signs of God's inbreaking into the world, signs that promise of the great celebration to come...and so we join with countless others over the years to cry Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
Monday, July 11, 2005
I am writing in regards to the recently announced plan to close the coal-fired generating station in Atikokan. During the last election I was happy to hear you make a commitment to change how this province generates electrical power as we seek for ways to clean our air. I continue to be in support in the move away from coal-fired generation and applaud your continued commitment to this goal.
However, I find that putting the theory into practice has been disturbing. I will be the first to name the fact that making environmental change comes at a cost. In fact I suspect that the reason such change is so slow in coming is because we really don’t want (as government or as governed) to pay the cost required. However it seems to me that the plan to close AGS by 2007 is pushing the town of Atikokan to pay a disproportionate part of the cost.
Surely by now you have heard some of the numbers around this issue (half the municipal tax base, close to 100 well-paying jobs plus the indirect jobs fed by those salaries). This does not seem just. Surely there is a better way to do this. Surely it is better for the Province of Ontario to help the people of Atikokan have a chance to find meaningful, adequately paying, employment than to cause mass social disruption which will cause the decimation of the town and may cause the movement of many families to Employment Insurance and Social Assistance.
There are many voices calling for AGS to stay open indefinitely. I am not one of those (although the proposal to move from coal to peat as a fuel may well be a breakeven option environmentally speaking since the peat is already adding greenhouse gas to the air as it decomposes). What I do ask is for time and effort. It takes time to build an alternative economic base. Please give us that time. It also takes effort, not only from the private sector but from all levels of government. It looks great to set up a committee of 14 ministries to help “mitigate” the consequences of this action but we want more. All too often such mitigation strategies end up being a lot of noise but little concrete action. We want to see the action, we want to see it now, and we want long-term thinking – it does no good to set up a bunch of poorly planned jobs that evaporate in 12-18 months because there is really nothing there.
We are all in favour of a cleaner environment. And we all have to share the price that cleaner environment will demand. But right now Atikokan is being asked to pay more than our share. That is not right. That is not just. And that is not acceptable.
Peace and Blessings,
Rev. Gord Waldie
Sunday, July 10, 2005
I don't hear a lot of hope around town. I hear a lot of anger. I hear a lot of "why us". I hear a lot of pain and fear. But I miss the hope. At a public meeting last Tuesday there was a banner reading "Atikokan: Canoeing Capital of Canada -- Up the creek without a Paddle: Thanks McGuinty!". WHen it was brought in there were great cheers (some of that anger I hear) and then there were little foam tombstones leaned up against it. I understand this. To a degree I share it. But I don't think it is helpful in the long run.
If all we do over the next 2 years is complain about the closing of AGS and whine about the death of the town then Atikokan will surely die. We might as well turn off the lights and put up the "For Sale" signs. That is why we need hope. We need to find the hope that there is a future. We need to move beyond the anger, pain and fear to start really fighting for the town, not just fighting against the closure (and I am sure that there is a difference). I think it will come, but in the mean time I miss the hope.
Brick houses are wonderful to look at but not when they get hot. When I got up this morning it was still 82F on the main floor and likely a good 5 degrees warmer upstairs where we all sleep. I think the only one who had a half-decent nights sleep was the dog.
Thankfully the church here is a basement. It was wonderfully cool in there this morning. And we will have to go out for supper--somewhere air conditioned. Meanwhile I will try to keep from melting (last I looked it was 31 with a humidex of 38C--that is about 88F with a humidex of 100F).
Friday, July 08, 2005
"The challenge… name five things you can do from where you are, right now, that will make a positive difference (however slight it may seem) to this hurting world. ...This is an invitation to people of any and all political stripe, faith understanding, race, continent, etc. Perhaps someone reading will decide to live out one of the shared ideas."
This is a hard one. Let's see...
1) Shop locally whenever possible. This does great things for a small town economy (and is all too often not the default choice of many people in Atikokan). Along with this goes encouraging others to shop locally.
2) Try to walk/bike more around town -- therefore driving less. (as somewhat red-faced he admits that he just got his bike put back together yesterday after meaning to start riding it back in May)
3) Give more to the Mission & Service Fund and continue to promote M&S within my congregation.
4) Preach and pray. Heighten awareness (my own and those around me) of poverty and environmental issues. LEARN
5) Start now to instil good habits in my children. Start now to teach them a different path.
6) Plant a tree.
Can/will I do it? Well even if I am only 50% successful it is a good start.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
All my life I have lived in a cultural sea of scarcity. I was a teen in the 1980's where many frineds had stickers on their lockers say "he who dies with the most toys wins". I grew up in the church, an organization which always talks about what we need to make the budget. I grew up watching TV commercials and looking at Sears Christmas Wish Books. To believe the voices out there, there is not enough and we have to grab what we want now before it runs out. And of course we always "need" more so the game never ends.
But what if we turned our back on the supposed scarcity? What if we started counting the abundances in our lives? What if we lived as if we had more than enough? The first step in this, to me, is to identify the difference between 'need' and 'want'. This is a lesson I remember my parents teaching me on many occasions -- usually to explain why my sister or I were not getting something ("you don't need it, you want it"). Another crucial step is to take account of what we have. WHen we always moan about what we don't have, we often lose sight of what we have. When we stop to add it up we may find that we really do have more than we ever dreamed.
I have come to the conclusion that we who live on the threshold of a new economy, who are being pushed to find new ways of living as the world changes, are only going to suffer if we keep moaning about what we don't have. Tee only way to survive dwindling congregations, plant/mill closures, higher gas and utility prices and all those other things that make us feel under siege is to stop and count up what we have. ANd then we can decide what can be done with what we have. My guess is that we will be much farther ahead if we turn our back on those who tell us we have great scarcities and no abundance (I may have fewer toys than others but I look at my daughters and I know that I have already won).
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Your score on Extraversion is low, indicating you are introverted, reserved, and quiet. You enjoy solitude and solitary activities. Your socializing tends to be restricted to a few close friends. THis is about what I would have self-named. Although I think I may be more excitement seeking at times and am not at all sure I am that assertive.
Your high level of Agreeableness indicates a strong interest in others' needs and well-being. You are pleasant, sympathetic, and cooperative.
Your score on Conscientiousness is low, indicating you like to live for the moment and do what feels good now. Your work tends to be careless and disorganized. Part right. I don't always live for the moment and I take pride in my end product being organized and careful (although the process getting there may not be).
Your score on Neuroticism is high, indicating that you are easily upset, even by what most people consider the normal demands of living. People consider you to be sensitive and emotional. At last it is official. I am neurotic!
OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE.....75
Your score on Openness to Experience is high, indicating you enjoy novelty, variety, and change. You are curious, imaginative, and creative.
THe other was called Political Compass. On this one I showed up as:
Economic Left/Right: -7.63
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.13
This puts me in the same general area as people like Ghandi and Nelson Mandela -- not bad company!
The reality is that in order to keep producing more and more stuff we use up more and more of the world. Either we cut down more trees and dig more rock or we throw more junk into the air, the water, the ground. And this is where we find the problem. For us to continue believing in the myth of sustainable growth is for us to continue to move closer to an unliveable environment.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to move beyond our foundational myths. To stop believing in the growth myth would require a whole rethinking of how our economy and way of life are structured. And that will only come at a great financial and personal cost. It would mean to stop building new plants and mills, possibly even closing existing ones. It would mean that jobs would be lost, maybe before new ones are created. When he first became President, George Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto Accord because he understood the costs of trying to implement it (and few politicians are willing to be the ones who cause an economic downturn – no matter what greater good might lie behind it).
For people of faith dealing with the growth myth is mandatory. In the beginning of our faith story, in one of our foundational myths, we are told that humanity was given sovereignty over the Earth. We are not doing a great job of this right now. About ten years ago the United Church of Canada added a line into its faith statement. The line is “to live with respect in creation”. In this lies the challenge of dealing with the growth myth. To live with respect is to show good stewardship of the Earth, not to assume that sovereignty means it is ours to pillage as we please.
A choice lies before us. We can continue to follow the path we are one or we can seek out a new foundational myth. The new one I suggest is actually very old. It is the story of a God who offers humanity a world to live in and care for, a place where they can “be fruitful and multiply”. It is time for us to speak against unending, unsustainable growth before the world around us becomes irreparably poisoned. God calls us to live with respect in creation. How will we answer?
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Two years ago during the provincial election the Liberals included in their platform a pledge to close all of Ontario's coal-fired generating stations. And I think that is a great idea -- in theory. THe problem is that in this town of 3500 (actually more like 3200 now I suspect) the loss of the generating station will be very much a dagger in the heart. The plant is set to pay 50% of the town tax revenue for 2005. The plant payroll (about 100 staff) is rumoured to be about $7 million. And then there are the spin-off jobs. So when the announcement was made 2 weeks ago that this plant will close in 2007 it was understandable that panic and anger set in very quickly. In fact many around town use words like "deathknell" or "Town for Sale". There is a siege mentality, coupled with a doom and gloom that is downright depressing -- and I have become something of an optimist as I get older.
I find myself in a tough spot. I share the anxiety of such a move and yet I see that the government may well be doing a good thing. Doing it with little forethought and planning perhaps but still doing a good thing. The probable impact on Atikokan is undeniable, but aren't we supposed to think beyond our tribal boudaries as well?