Sunday, April 30, 2006


I almost missed this story this weekend. IT should have been plastered on every front page and led every TV/radio broadcast. And been accompanied by words like shameful amd saddening:

The United Nations plans to cut individual food rations to six million people sheltering from violence in Sudan by half, saying it cannot afford to give them all a proper daily ration.

ANd yet we still do nothing. Darfur is a blot upon the West's humanitarianism, while we have been preoccupied with the President's foray into regime change/re-creation in Iraq and firefights in Afghanistan people have been being slaughtered and starved. Maybe if they launched a terror campaign (or made a credible threat to do so) against the West they would get attention?

Friday, April 28, 2006

What Do WE Need to do?

One of the current realities of being the church in the United Church of Canada is that there is a very high probability that a congregation, particularly a small, or rural, or isolated congregation, will spend some time vacant between pastorates. THis is both due to problems attracting people (who may be scarce) and because of the Needs Assessment and Search process that is in place.

So if we can look at this reality and name it, then what is our responsibility as a denomination? Shouldn't we be encouraging congregations to be preparing for that possibility? Don't we need, as a part of our oversight function, to get them to talk about what they ned to do while they do have a regular minister to prepare for the day when that may not be the case? Those preparations may include training worship leaders, developing visiting teams, getting a sense of administrative work, establishing a strong relationship with Presbytery, all around strengthening of lay leadership. (As it happens doing all of those things would not pnly prepare for vacancy but strengthen the life of the church at any time).

Are we doing that? Or do we let each other go blindly into vacancy and then try to help them struggle through it? WHat would you want your congregation to have done if they suddenly became vacant?

THis doesn't quite add UP

Eldest went to the Dr. for a 3-year check up today (a month early but we could get one now and we suspect May might be a little busy). Dr. was concerned at height which was only the 5th percentile. Said to come back in 6 months for a height check.

BUt here's the thing. HEr weight was about the 35-40th percentile. And that doesn't seem to add up because the child is not remotely heavy, not even pudgy really. When we got home we remeasured and the height is actually (by our chart) about the 10th %ile. BUt still, it seems to me that a child who is on par for weight and below average height should appear pudgy. Readers who know us, would you call her pudgy? Maybe the grids are out of line? (to be the same point in height she is for weight she would need to be an inch taller).

Let's be honest, she has lots of short genes. Many women on my side are less than tall, I am 5'8", mom is 5'1". She will never be a skyscraper. BUt still the comparable points on the grid just don't make sense to me.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I Always Look Forward... the last Sunday in April.

THat is the Sunday which the United Church semi-officially designates as Camping Sunday (semi-officially because nobody is bound to listen to any designation of any Sunday within the United Church structure). As a person who strongly believes that camp ministry is one of the greatest outreach ministries we have, and as a person serving a congregation which has a strong strong history of church camping (they used to run their own program each summer), I always recognize this ministry in worship. Besides, it gives me a chance to run a more relaxed service and get away with it.

This SUnday we are going to sing songs on overhead, to guitar accompaniment. WE are going to sing songs which work at camp--no traditional hymns this week. We are going to clap and do actions. People have been invited to dress for camp, not in their "church clothes". aNd I will share some of what we do at camp each year. As it happens, I should get forms for the camp program we share with other churches in our district on Saturday so not only will this be a chance to celebrate camp ministry but also a time to promote this summer's experience.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ah what the heck...

AS seen many many places (most recently at Inner Dorothy's), the Alphabet meme.
  • Accent: SInce we all have and accent I have to say yes. I speak Canadian. ANd am proud of it. I used to do a barely passable English at times, and something that is a mixture of Scots-Irish.
  • Booze: Rarely. BUt I do like a nice draft beer. Or a glass of white wine from time to time. Have been known to overdo it on rum or vodka in my younger days.
  • Chore I hate: Oh so many. Tidying and straitening -- I am ruler of the "it's in that pile somewhere" organizing system.
  • Dog or cat: Dogs.
  • Essential electronics: computer, CD player.
  • Favorite cologne(s): DOn't wear them. Occasionally wear a scented aftershave, but only when I use a blade razor.
  • Gold or silver: Silver or White Gold.
  • Hometown: WHat does home town mean? City of BRidges where I was born or Suburb of City of Champions where I "grew up" or Small-former mining-town where I have started my family?
  • Insomnia: NOt really, only some moments of difficulty shutting off the brain to go to or go back to sleep. Oh and then there is the fact that everyone else in the house snores. Loudly.
  • Job title: Rabble-rouser. FLoor-sweeper. Preacher. PAstor.
  • Kids: Two at present, in 5 weeks from today it will be three (that mean 2 and 8/9's?)
  • Living arrangements: A manse with "the smallest manse washroom in Cambrian Presbytery" (so described by the Presbytery Secretary)
  • Most admirable trait: Devotion to causes, and people.
  • Number of sexual partners: more than zero, less than ten
  • Overnight hospital stays: Apart from when I was born (and got jaundiced) never.
  • Phobias: SOmewhat claustrophobic, that's about it--other than my recurring fear everyone will find out I don't have a clue (sort of an Emperor's New Clothes fear)
  • Quote: from Pogo "We have met the enemy and he is us"
  • Religion: Protestant. Christian. Liberal.
  • Siblings: One sister, younger. Oh then all those who are part of that "family of GOd, children of GOd" thing.
  • Time I wake up: Generally 30 minutes before the alarm, then can't get to sleep, then just before the alarm sounds (7:00) fall back to sleep --unless the girls are already awake
  • Unusual talent or skill: Ummmmmmmmm, no idea.
  • Vegetable I refuse to eat: So many to choose from, really not a fan of the veggies.
  • Worst habit: Terrible procrastinator (and doing things at the last minute).
  • X-rays: Just my teeth. Correction: I had a chest X-Ray after a positive TB skin test.
  • Yummy foods I make: SPaghetti sauce, homemade buns, cookies, pseudo chicken cordon bleu. Partner insists anything I cook is yummy, I have my doubts.
  • Zodiac sign: Pisces.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Looking to the future

Last week I blogged about a public meeting here in town. I mentioned that I was a little skeptical of what would be accomplished at said meeting. But in the end I did go (sat near the door so I could quietly slip out if I wanted but ended up staying for the whole hour).

Actually, in the end I was impressed. THere were a variety of ideas in a variety of industries being put forward as possibilities. True, some of them were resource-extraction based but not all. Some were tourism, some were information technological. It seems that some of them are garnering support too. So there is a chance.

But here is the rub. For some, if not all, of them to succeed may require townspeople not only supporting but also being willing to change. That is always the sticking point isn't it. Don't tell us to change, just make things better. Too bad it doesn't work that way.

THe one thing that disappointed me was that there were little what I would call truly innovative ideas. Governments these days may be really willing to fund projects that lead to ways to live out things like the Kyoto protocol (although the Federal governmetn seems to be backing away). In a sort-of remote place lke this much research could be done, testing new ideas without pre-existing pollutants to throw off the results. I think there is money to be had there. We just need the ideas.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

THese Guys Have WAY Too Much Fun

One of the patterns in this house is that on SUnday evenings we sit down to watch Mythbusters. First time I turned it on I thought some normal debunking of urban legends type of show. Was I wrong. THese guys have way too much fun. If the myth doesn't work they tweak it to see what mayhem they can create. ANd if an explosion is involved----it will be big.

I hear the commercial ending, time to go watch them try to float on a helium filled raft, or test to see if cell phones can make a plane crash.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

RGBP Friday Five

Yes I know it isn't Friday anymore. BUt we were out of town from Thurday noon until today at 1:30. SO here we go...

On this particular day, these are my favorites:
  1. fruit -- apple, mind you favourite fruit is a hard one for me since I rarely eat the stuff
  2. song -- "All Through the Night", singing it repeatedly finally got eldest daughte to sleep last night
  3. beverage -- chocolate milk
  4. shoes -- sandals, can't wait for sandal weather
  5. flower -- tulips, ours are just forming buds, maybe flowers next week

Happy Earth Day

April 22, Earth Day, a chance to reflect on the nature of the environment and how we use/abuse it.

Every year I take the Sunday closest to Earth Day to raise up environmental issues in the worship time. In preparation for tomorrow I re-read some proposals I made last summer. Some of them are doable, some may not be. All would be politically unpopular, some may even say untenable. But then some issues require true leadership, leadership which pushes us to do what is right, rather than what is popular.

IT is challenging to stand up in a part of the world that relies on forestry and mining and electricity production and challenge assumptions about susatainable affordable use of the earth. It is challenging in a time of rising gas prices ($1.109 per liter when I filled up this morning) to say that we ned to pay more for our energy. BUt if enough of us start to do it maybe, just maybe, people will start to think differently.

In the Spirit of the day, try out the Ecological Footprint quiz. Here are my results (a little sobering):

FOOD -------------------------------3.3
MOBILITY --------------------------0.5
SHELTER ---------------------------0.9
GOODS/SERVICES ------------------1.4
TOTAL FOOTPRINT ----------------6.1


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Public Meeting tonight

To hear the report of the consultants hired to help alleviate the loss of the Generating station. Frankly, I am skeptical of what we will hear (almost skeptical enough to not go to the meeting).
Atikokan residents will have a chance Wednesday night to review the recommendations contained in an economic and strategic community development report ... Mayor Dennis Brown says he would like to see a number of positive recommendations, including the creation of a Laminated Lumber facility. Brown says he also wants the report to recognize mining opportunities in the area.
If indeed that is what the report has it will be a disappointment. It means that nobody is truly trying to think outside the little box labeled "Resource-based community". I think that box is too limiting, and that the box will soon implode anyway. Hopefully there are some recommendations for moving in new directions. Hopefully there is a recognition that many small employers can be as much or more helpful (and a far more likely possibility) than one big one. Hopefully, but realistically not expected...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Living in the InBetween

The comment I most appreciate after yesterday's sermon was "the whole town should have heard that one".

The sermons was about the problem of moving beyond the fear into the resurrection, using Mark 16:1-8 as the launching point. As a part of it I named the uncertainty/anxiety/worry of the time between Friday and Sunday. I named that many of us live in that place much of the time. Then I named the fact that this town has been living in that place for 25 years, ever since the mines closed. They have never been able to move into resurrection, always wanting to go back to where they were. But of course resurrection does not mean resuscitation; resurrection is new life, not a return to the old.

I also named that you have to move through the fear and anxiety to get to the new life that lies beyond. When we try to avoid that uncomfortable place we never get on the road to the new life. You have to go through Friday to get to Sunday (one person commented that they had never heard it expressed that way before). My hope is that if we in town can start naming these realities then maybe there will be a way that we can see the hope for something new. In that light I also named that resurrection doesn't always happen (maybe even rarely happens) the way we want/expect it to. It comes as a surprise.

Afterward a member of the congregation who is also on town council made the comment I quoted above. I think I got something right. Well, the Spirit got something right in my voice anyway.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Christ is Risen!

He's alive again, oh the stone's been rolled away;
He's alive again, he's no longer where he lay;
He's alive again, you can hear the angels say;
Let all the Earth rejoice, he's alive

HAppy Resurrrection Day to All!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Productive Day?

I generally don't write sermons. I think them through, do some reading during the week and take time on Saturday to plan out where I will go.

TOday I :
  • finished digging last fall's leaves into the garden
  • finished watering in trees for the sap to start running
  • lost an hour at lunch time (seems I slept)
  • took a nice long walk with the dog
  • washed outside windows and all the screens (that Windex stuff you attach to the hose makes the job nice and fast)
  • planted some perennial roots
  • pruned some shrubs at the house and the church

All in all a fairly productive day. And I got sermon planned out while doing that and while soaking my aching back in the tub. Only one may actually be a Holy Saturday sermon instead of Easter Sunday. It may end up being more about living in the in-between time rather than being resurrection people, about the struggle to find the new life that lies beyond the fear. I think it is an important message, but...

Time will tell I guess.

THese THings are Addictive

In case you need amother way to procrastinate (how is tomorrow's sermon coming anyway?) check out Marble Drop. But be warned, it seems to be a little addictive. There are some other good games in the list on the side.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Is the Cross Important?

Tonight we will have our Good Friday Service. If there are 20 people there it will be bigger than the last 2 years (before that it had been some time since a GF service was held here).

It is my experience that many Good Friday services are sparsely attended -- of course this is why Palm Sunday has moved more and more to become Palm/Passion Sunday. SO it brings to mind the question Is the Cross important?

Of course it is you say. Without cross there is no tomb. Without death no resurrection. Without Friday the story makes no sense. But there is more. When we deny the cross, when we move from palms to empty tomb, we deny ourselves the chance to name the truth that injustice is still alive in the world. WE lose the chance to affirm that the powers and principalities are still actve. When we don't name the power of fear then we miss out on the full glory fo Resurrection.

Tonight I will talk about the crosses in the world today. where are people being crucified this day, whose hands are being washed of blood today?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Take a Look Here

A fellow in BC has a bald eagle nest close to his house. HE started makng videos of the nest for his own enjoyment last year. This year it is available as live streaming video. Check out the Eagle Eye Cam

According to what I read in the forum link, the eggs are due to hatch April 26-30.

UPDATE: ELdest child loves this site, always wants to see the birdie when daddy is working. She now knows that it is a bald eagle, and says that very clearly. Mind you, it seems a little distressing to her that the birdie doesn't ("can't") fly. Explaining about sitting on the eggs is an ongoing process.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Knowing When to Speak Out

Palm Sunday's Sermon followed along the lines of these opening notes:
Normally we think of the Palm Sunday story as a triumphant parade but maybe there is something else there. This year as I sat down to prepare for Palm Sunday I had a vision of a protest march. [snip]
The reality is that we are called to protest, called to the streets, not violently but non-violently. This Palm Sunday we are still called to shout "Save Us!" (Hosanna) and to announce the coming of a new way of being in the world.
This morning I had a visitor come to talk about thoughts the sermon had stirred up. (I know, people actually listen to these things--scary isn't it) He mentioned that he sees the need for voices to talk about a new way of being, a new way of existing here in town. But he finds himself "self-censoring" because of a sense that people will not like what gets said.

I can identify with this very well. I have stopped counting the number of times I have almost written a letter to the editor and then stopped myself over the last few months. BUt I think the basic question is vital for those of us who have a prophetic word to share. How do you know when to speak out and when to remain silent? WHen do we speak up and hope that someone else will join the chorus, even though we feel like a voice in the wilderness?

In this instance we know that we are not the only ones in town ready for the discussion. THe two of us talked about thinking of ways to begin the discussion, bring it out in the open. ANd in November we have municipal elections, a chance to talk about vision for the town. Strange thing is, I think it ties in perfectly well with where my Easter sermon is going.

It Must Be Spring!

LAst Thursday Girl #1 pointed out to me (with great glee) "Look Daddy! Flowers!" Sure enough the first crocuses (croci?) were blooming.

This afternoon, as the temperature reached 23C we spent time outside. Daddy finished cleaning the lawn of the winter's surprises and then wandered around checking on perennials. THe chives are nicely started, rhubarb leaves are starting, silver mound shows green beneath last summer's growth, daylilies and tulips poking up through the fall leaves.

Yes indeed, it must be spring.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sermon Posted!

A couple weeks back I talked about a sermon I was wondering about.

Well I taped it and today was able to transcribe it (a task from last week that sort of got delayed -- now I can continue on with this week's work). If you want you can read it here.

And while I am at it. I got the church's blog set to do the "under the fold" thing. But how do I keep the "Full!" showing up on every post rather than just on the ones that are continued?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Where do they get their Info?

Earlier today I was looking at the Google Map link I put on the church blog (under the reasoning that it isn't enough to tell people about yourselves, you need to tell them where you are). And I realized something.

THe map is inaccurate. It includes streets that were once planned but never built. One got so far as to be a gravel path but never a street (the right of way is blocked by posts at either end. And north of that there is a whole subdivision that never existed except on a planning map somewhere.

Makes you wonder about the accuracy of sources.

Friday, April 07, 2006

To Keep From Getting Bored

I have committted myself to another project. Read about it here.

Friday Five: Arts Alive

Whether it was on Broadway or at your neighborhood elementary school, name five experiences of the performing arts that have touched or tickled you. (From RGBP)
  1. Seeing Les Miserables when I was in London. Yes I was sitting higher than the top of the porscenium arch but it was great (and cheap -- about $15 Cdn after exchange)
  2. Appearing in the Edmonton FRINGE festival in Two Gentleman of Verona (a musical adaptation, not the Shakespeare original, I was Cupid)
  3. My first appearance on stage, as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, when I was in 5th Grade
  4. Watching friends of mine in professional theatre in Edmonton, something that has happened a few times.
  5. Seeing The Huron Carole. This is a travelling. Christmas program with a variety of musicians that raises money for local Food Banks.
  6. Seeing Gordon Lightfoot in concert.

Outsourcing Reaches New High

THis just arrived in my e-mail. Original Source is unknown.

Congress today announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to India as of December 30th, 2005.

The move is being made to save the President's $400,000 yearly salary, and also a record $521 billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead the office has incurred during the last 5 years.

"We believe this is a wise move financially. The cost savings should be significant," stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-WA). Reynolds, with the aid of the Government Accounting Office, has studied outsourcing of American jobs extensively. "We cannot expect to remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay,"Reynolds noted.

Mr. Bush was informed by email this morning of his termination.

Preparations for the job move have been underway for sometime. Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India will be assuming the Office of President as of December 30th. Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, thus making him eligible for the position.

He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month but with no health coverage or other benefits. It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his Job responsibilities without a support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night, when few offices of the US Government will be open.

"Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the American Express call center" stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview. "I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President someday."

A Congressional Spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem because Mr. Bush was not familiar with the issues either. Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics of concern. Using these canned responses, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issues at all.

"We know these scripting tools work," stated the spokesperson. "President Bush has used them successfully for years." Mr. Singh may have problems with the Texas drawl, but lately Bush has abandoned the "down home" persona in his effort to appear intelligent and on top of the Katrina situation.

Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two week waiting period, he will be eligible for $240 a week unemployment for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid, as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit.

Mr. Bush has been provided the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to limited practical work experience. A Greeter position at Wal-Mart was suggested due to Bush's extensive experience shaking hands and phony smile.

Another possibility is Bush's re-enlistment in the Texas Air National Guard. His prior records are conspicuously vague but should he choose this option, he would likely be stationed in Waco, TX for a month, before being sent to Iraq, a country he has visited.

"I've been there, I know all about Iraq," stated Mr. Bush, who gained invaluable knowledge of the country in a visit to the Baghdad Airport's terminal and gift shop.

Sources in Baghdad and Falluja say Mr. Bush would receive a warm reception from local Iraqis. They have asked to be provided with details of his arrival so that they might arrange an appropriate welcome.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

And Where do you Stand?

On the Global Rich List that is.

With base salary I am in the top 10.14%. At my pensionable earnings (which adds in housing equivalency) I am in the top 4.84%.

In this place where so many people insist it is a hardship to live the average family income in the last census was $50 000. That is in the top 3.75%.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Crucifixion a Hoax?

THis afternoon a gentleman called asking if I had seen the latest issue of Macleans magazine as there was an article he wanted to show me. As I hadn't, he said he would drop it off later.

I wasn't home when he dropped it off so didn't get to talk to him but I suspect this is the story he wanted me to read:

Did Jesus really die on the cross?
In a new book, Michael Baigent, the dean of alternative-Jesus historians, known best for suing Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, calls the Crucifixion an elaborate hoax

Now I have not yet read the article but one of the sidebar quotes I noted while flipping through it claims that Pilate really didn't want Jesus to be killed and so helped in the crucifixion hoax. Oh, I see, so we take the Gospel portrayal of Pilate literally but consider the rest of the story a hoax? Talk about picking and choosing.

The politics of Empire (any empire) would suggest that Pilate would have little concern about executing a troublemaker--in fact those politics suggest that Pilate would almost be required to do so. And really, who is served by creating a crucifixion hoax? The crucifixion appears to have been more than a little bit scandalous and troublesome for the early church (see Paul in the opening of 1 Corinthians). Surely a Messiah who didn't get executed would have been an easier sell.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

OH I Like this one!

(found here)

CONCERNED ABOUT TOO MANY CARBS IN YOUR DIET? For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.
1 The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine! and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
CONCLUSION Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Some of Us Don't Fit the Mold

Sometimes it is hard to get your settings right. We don't change time here, we stay on Eastern Standard Time all year round. But do you think I can get Blogger to admit that? No. Choosing the EST time setting means that it assumes I am now on EDT. Changing to CDT would re-timestamp all the entries in the blog. So for half the year I will either post at the wrong time or have to remember to change the time whenever I post.

Sometimes living outside the box has its challenges (at least Windows allows you to choose whether or not to adjust for Daylight Savings--although you can't actually save daylight, the Earth turns at the same rate no matter how we set our clocks--Time).

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools

In honour of April Fools Day I bring you a couple of links. One is a collection of CBC bits over the last few decades. And here is a piece posted on a discussion forum I read regularly (The author of this piece does something for April 1 every year).

I have never really been in on April Fools Day pranks. Actually, while I have helped on several practical jokes in my time, I just don't seem to have the mind to think up one.

PS> Is it terrible of me to think that it was entirely appropriate that we had a Presbytery Executive meeting on the morning of April Fools Day? :)