Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in REview Meme

Y'all have seen it before. THe first sentence of the first post from each month of 2008:
  • January: The Recipe For Frodo

    3 parts Courage
    2 parts Panache
    1 part Happiness

    Splash of Tease

    Finish off with an olive
  • February: I am mulling over the idea of purchasing a multi-media projector later this year.
  • MArch: This story hit the news this week:
  • April: LAst night Beloved and I went to a concert. THere were three performers.
  • May: Next Sunday is Pentecost, also called the "Birthday of the church".
  • June: Just got back from the opening Worship for Worship MAtters.
  • July: From RGBP:
  • August:
    The RGBP Friday 5.
    Songbird writes:
  • September: For the last 2 weeks there has been non-stop speculation in Canada about whether or not PRime Minister Stephen HArper will ignore his commitment to fixed election dates and ask the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament, thus starting the official election campaign.
  • October: Next weekend is Thanksgiving up here north of the border.
  • November: GO and read this! A reflection on questions that were not (but should have been) asked during the US and Canadaian election campaigns.
  • December: Or at least people who are willing to act in an adult manner. IS that too much to ask from our elected representatives???

A Generation Passes

Just got news that my sole remaining grandparent died this morning. He would have been 90 in mid-February and had been declining quickly over the last 6 weeks or so.

So yes it was hardly unexpected. But still...
LAst time we saw him was when Monkey was a baby (so at least he got to meet all the girls, I would say all his great-grandchildren but my cousin had a baby earlier this fall/winter and I am not sure he ever saw that child) it was hoped to have a family gathering this summer as a belated birthday party.

As a generation passes so does some of the history, stories that were told but never recorded. Although I haven't seen him much in the last decade, although I didn't talk to him nearly as often as I should have, I will miss him.

Rest in God's Peace Grandpa

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I WOnder....

Several years ago the General Council instituted a policy to ensure minimum salaries kept up with inflation. The policy means that each year minimum salaries increase by the same rate as inflation two year prior . (eg. the increase for 2009 is based on the inflation rate as of Dec 31, 2007). IT may seem fairly basic to build in a cost-of-living-adjustment to salaries but this was a fairly big change.

HOwever, what happens if we have a deflationary year? If the year ends with prices having gone down over the last 12 months what then? Will minimum salaries go down???? I wonder if the powers that be even conceived of such a possibility?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

CLergy Tartan

I got this scarf for Christmas. The tartan is called "Clergy Ancient". Did you know there was a clergy tartan?????

This is what the tag has to say about it:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sermon Opener and NOtes For Dec 21, 2008

Songs of Justice

I think I should let you all know that you have just done something that has been banned. Oh not here in Atikokan. But it has been banned by somebody at one time or another. Of course that in and of itself is not unusual. In our lives we all do a variety of things that have been banned by someone somewhere. This may mean dancing, or drinking alcoholic beverages, or eating ham, or celebrating Christmas. But what is notable is what this banned activity is and why it was banned.

We have just read a banned piece of poetry. Again not unusual. Many pieces of writing have been banned over the years. We have just read something that was banned because it was seen as breeding sedition. And that was? The piece of Scripture commonly called the Song of Mary or the Magnificat.

Yes. You heard correctly. A piece of the Christmas story was declared seditious and banned from being read aloud. It was in Guatemala in the 1980's (and I believe the government in question was an ally of the United States). And do you want to know the really surprising thing? They were right! Mary's song is in fact seditious, or at least revolutionary. The words in it call for a total upturning of the world, a “new world order” to borrow a phrase. Like most of Scripture Mary's song is an indictment of the world as it is and a promise of the world as it could be. It is a song of God's justice.

  • Look at what the words actually say. What do they call for? Where is the “peace, order and good government”, the “peaceably and in good order”?
  • Scripture as counter to the domination and imperial systems of the world – from Moses on.
  • God's passion is justice. Justice that sees the world totally differently than the powers and principalities.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends inexorably toward justice.
  • Medical Mission Sisters On a dark day deep in the present, grinding the loneliness and plight of the poor. Only the clean of heart dare to remember, the poor were his Gospel and their hope is sure.
  • Liberation theology Preferential option for the poor
  • Bruce Harding In every age through time unfolding your constant love abounded; for through your great subversive power the proud they are confounded...The mighty ones they lose their privilege, you sanctify the lowly. You cry that all need food abundant for every child is holy.
  • Jesus as revolutionary, Jesus' passion is God's passion, Jesus' passion for King-dom of God
  • Luke reads back his experience of Jesus, Luke the gospel of social justice.
  • Christmas as start of the revolution. Christmas as sign of God's justice breaking into the world.
  • Christmas revolution calls for more than charity. Revolution calls for real change, calls for challenges to structures, calls for real actions not just to feed the hungry but to ask why they are hungry.
  • Dom Helder Camara When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.
  • Play My Soul Sings by the Hardings
  • Read from my 2002 column:
On Christmas day we celebrate the birth of the child that sparked Mary 's song. As an adult this child would proclaim his ministry with words that echoed his mother's cry for justice (Luke 4:18-19). If we follow the path he followed, then we need to join in the struggle to fill the hungry with good things, to lift up the lowly, and to free those who are oppressed. On Christmas we mark the beginning of the revolution that will bring on the age of peace, the age where lion lies down with lamb and all have that which they need to live.

Christian faith is not mainly about individuals feeling good about themselves. It is not mainly about life beyond this one. Christian faith is mainly about how we live together in this life, it is about community. The path laid out by the Christ child is one of justice in this world. At Christmas we are flooded with requests for charity. But to truly celebrate Christmas we need to do more than write the cheques and donate the food.

The true Christmas gift is to make changes in society so that people don't need our donations to make it through the cold winter. What will our gift be this year?

This year, as we prepare once again to sing about angels and shepherds, I urge us once more to hear Mary's song of revolution. This year let us join in the revolution of faith - a faith that calls for a world renewed, a people restored, and a hope fulfilled.
  • Where will the Christmas revolution take root in our lives?

THe THeological Problem with Santa

Every year there are debates around the land about Santa.

Does the Santa story take away from the true meaning of Christmas? Does the cycle of believing in Santa (and Santa's cohorts for Easter and Teeth, not to mention the Great Pumpkin or the Holiday Armadillo) and then learning the truth breed cynics who won't believe in anything? Does it lead children not to believe in God (or Jesus depending who is launching the argument)?

I find these questions to be pointless. And really the answers depend on the children. My girls are big on Santa but also know the Christmas story. Because we have chosen to make sure of that. And I know few, if any, people who were scarred by the mythic creations of childhood. If we teach our children well they can easily handle the difference between truth and fact and parental "lies" like this. And if the Santa cycle is all it takes to undo your child's faith then I would suggest that the teaching of said faith has not had a lot of depth.

But I do have a theological problem with Santa. Santa, as used to control children's behaviour, lacks grace. Santa, we are told, knows who's naughty and nice, and only gives gifts to well-behaved children.

Where's the grace of God? Where's the graciousness of Christmas, of God-with-us? The Santa story denies the concept of unconditional love. And in this world anything that challenges unconditional love needs to be addressed.

So I am all for Santa, but drop the Orwellian list of naughty/nice and watching us sleep etc. Santa is an agent of God-made-manifest. And as such Santa's gifting is unconditional.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas ALready!! SOON!

Songbird kindly reminds us that:

It's true.

There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.

  1. School Christmas Concert this afternoon, PRincess is in the choir and in her class presentation. Scalliwag will be in her class presentation.
  2. Set-up and decorate the tree. The plan is for Beloved and I to set it up and put the lights on after the girls go to bed tonight and then all of us put decorations on tomorrow. (It is just so much easier to be moving a tree around without 3 small "helpers")
  3. Sermon for Sunday, talking about Justice as God's passion and the subversive message of MAry's song--and of Christmas itself.
  4. Sermonette for Dec 24 service. I have written the two other readings and sent them to the volunteers (although the male reader told me he had been "voluntold"). THoughts about fear and change, and keep it brief.
  5. Buy some more stocking gifts because sometimes Santa needs help after all.
ETA: Forgot to mention that Chirstmas cards are yet to be done. Guess they will be Epiphany Cards (or on time for those who follow the Julian calendar) this year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good Luck!

Back in the fall of 1996 I was looking for a job. AS often with job searches I sent out resumes to a variety of places. I ended up being hired at Kids Kottage (a crisis nursery in Edmonton), and worked there for almost 3 years before going to complete my MDiv.

The Kottage exists largely through the gifts of others. Every year they have a Radiothon and to day is the day of their 15th Radiothon. May they be blessed with the genrosity of the community today!

Here is a video about their ministry (because that really is what it is after all):

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I HAve ALways Believed This...

Sugar does not make children hyperactive!
Parents were so convinced about the myth that when they think their children have been given a drink containing sugar (when it is actually sugar-free) they rated their children's behaviour as more hyperactive.
I have had this arguement many times in my working life. Both in camp settings and when working in a crisis nursery. And my observations were that it made little or no difference if kids had a sugary snack/drink at night or a non-sugary one. Many of my co-workers did not agree...

ANd the book looks like something worth buying when it comes out!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let the Christmas Revolution Begin

This came in my work e-mail Saturday--and I wrote it! It is a column I wrote for the paper in 2002 and no longer have on my computer (since I changed computers in 2004). IT came back at a timely point since it ties in nicely with my planned sermon for Sunday.

A young woman, pregnant when she shouldn't be, in a world where the penalty for such a pregnancy could well be death. She is scared. She is not sure what to do. Thus begins the story we tell every year at this time. Most people in this situation would share Mary's confusion, her fear, her powerlessness. But Mary does not stop there. Mary is not the gentle, meek and mild handmaiden of carols and storybooks. She is indeed a strong, rebellious woman; ready to face the challenge of this unexpected child. In the face of her disgrace Mary seeks the support of her cousin. Then Mary sings a song that is nothing less than revolutionary. In Luke 1:47-55 Mary sings about the promise of God to overturn the tables of the powerful. Mary calls for the world to be reordered, for justice to be done, for the Reign of God to begin. This is the truth of Christmas.

On Christmas day we celebrate the birth of the child that sparked Mary 's song. As an adult this child would proclaim his ministry with words that echoed his mother's cry for justice (Luke 4:18-19). If we follow the path he followed, then we need to join in the struggle to fill the hungry with good things, to lift up the lowly, and to free those who are oppressed. On Christmas we mark the beginning of the revolution that will bring on the age of peace, the age where lion lies down with lamb and all have that which they need to live.

Christian faith is not mainly about individuals feeling good about themselves. It is not mainly about life beyond this one. Christian faith is mainly about how we live together in this life, it is about community. The path laid out by the Christ child is one of justice in this world. At Christmas we are flooded with requests for charity. But to truly celebrate Christmas we need to do more than write the cheques and donate the food.

The true Christmas gift is to make changes in society so that people don't need our donations to make it through the cold winter. What will our gift be this year?

This year, as we prepare once again to sing about angels and shepherds, I urge us once more to hear Mary's song of revolution. This year let us join in the revolution of faith - a faith that calls for a world renewed, a people restored, and a hope fulfilled.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

But I really Can't Dance!

You Are Dancer

Carefree and fun, you always find reasons to do a happy dance.

Why You're Naughty: That dark stint you had as Santa's private dancer.

Why You're Nice: You're friendly. Very friendly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Eyes Have It!

The RGBP Friday Five

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family? Mine are not beautiful but they are blue. AS are my father's. Also as are my Beloved's and all 3 girls.

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them? I really have never considered changing eye colour, or hair colour, or so on. BUt having eyes of 2 different colours seems an interesting thought...

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em? Glasses. HAd them since I was 21. Now on my 4th pair. Put up with them would be the best description of my attitude.

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results? Never had, never plan to have. The idea of anything touching my eyes just gives me shivers (which is why I will never get contacts). During my theatre days as a teen getting eye make up done was often an ordeal. Then again if laser eye surgery gave me the ability to shoot laser beams from my eyes.....

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy? Definitively more eye-shy.

For Church Geeks Only!

OR at least that would be my guess.

THe General COuncil Office now has a link to a variety of Church DOcuments. THis includes minutes of GCE and letters from the MOderator and other stuff (with more to be added I assume.

You can find it here

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas MEssages

(cross posted from Riverview Rolls On)

We in the United Church of Canada are blessed with a wonderfully wise moderator, the Right Reverend David Giuliano. Here are some seasonal messages from him:

David has written a prayer for peace in Bethlehem. Read some background about this here

Or you could read the Observer piece Our Place in the Pageant

ANd then there is David's video message from the United Church YouTube channel Watch it below:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Promises of Christmas--Newspaper Column

Christmas promises Hope.
Every day the news is full of rather depressing stories. There is so much that suggests everything is falling apart. But Christmas shares a vision of a world that gets better. The birth of any child is a sign of hope. The birth of the Christmas Child is hope for the world, a promise that change is coming.

Christmas promises Peace.
“Peace upon earth is the prayer we offer. Peace was the promise when Jesus was born.” This is the beginning of a song on my favourite Christmas tape. Back during the First World War there is a story of German and Canadian troops leaving their trenches to celebrate the holiday together. Christmas promises a peace that breaks down all “official” opposition. Christmas promises a peace based not in “might makes right” or “winner take all” but in justice and abundance for all.

Christmas promises Joy.
“Joy to the World, the Lord is come” Christmas joy is not happiness. It is something deeper. Christmas promises a joy that comes from deep within. Christmas joy is a sense of contentment, of knowing that we are not alone, of knowing that God is active in the world. We are promised a joy that shines through the troubles of our lives.

Christmas promises Love.
At Christmas gifts are given. Most of them are tokens of love. Christmas reminds us of God's love made real and concrete in God's activity among us. Christmas promises us that love can still win. Christmas pushes us to open our hearts to all our neighbours. Christmas love pushes us to love all our neighbours as we love ourselves.

Christmas promises Light.
The world is a dark place. Shadows lengthen with each passing day. But in the midst of the darkness of a Northern winter Christmas shines out brightly. The light of Christmas reveals the wonder that is around us all the time. “Our God becomes Incarnate in every human birth” In the light of Christmas we can see God's face in everyone we meet. And when we can do that clearly then we will know that daylight has come. And then hope, peace, joy and love will be truly real in our lives.

May the promises of Christmas fill your lives this year!

Friday, December 05, 2008


YEs I know the chorus is from the Easter section of the oratorio. But most people associate it with the Christmas season for some reason.

They Will be Missed

Tonigth was the final episode of the Royal Canadian Air Farce (sort of, they do have a New Year's Eve Special planned). Air Farce has long (35 years) been a -or even the- gem of political comedy in Canada.

I first became a fan in my teens and often made sure to listen to them on Saturday mornings while still on radio. Once they made the move to TV the show became a constant of my Friday evenings (such an exciting life I lead/led).

Now that they are wrapping it up they will be missed. Truth be known, they haven't been quite as good the last few years (I really miss John Morgan). ANd probably it is about time to go down gracefully. Still, political comedy is something this country has done really well. ANd in my memory the Farce is always going to hold the crown.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Adults Wanted

Or at least people who are willing to act in an adult manner. IS that too much to ask from our elected representatives???

Canadian politics are in a state of uproar, some are calling it a Constitutional crisis. See the story (and a list of links that further explore it) here.

Everything that is being suggested (no-confidence motion, a new election or the Governor-General asking the opposition to form a government, proroguing the house to avoid a vote) is legal and allowable under a PArliamentary system. ANd the PRime Minister should really remember that when you have a minority government you HAVE to work with the rest of the parties, not openly antagonize them.

But still, is the middle of a worldwide recession the time to play games? OR is it maybe a chance for everyone involved to grow up and try to find a way through?

I admit, I did not want the election 6 weeks ago to end as it did. But we got what we got. Now stop playing politics and start governing already!

PS> would someon please explain to me why so many Canadian adults, including some elected Members of Parliament, seem to have such an incredibly poor grasp of how the Parliamentary system of government works??

Saturday, November 29, 2008

OK, Let's get some perspective here...

It is only stuff. They have lots of it to sell.

That is the most polite and reasonable response I can give to any story that starts with this paragraph:
A Wal-Mart worker has died after being trampled by a throng of shoppers shortly after a store opened Friday on Long Island in New York State, police said.
This is insane! No sale is that good! Nothing is that important to buy! REally people, get a life!

ANd why on earth do stores need to open at 5am (or earlier, one ad we saw was for 4am) anyway! Don't get me started on 24 hour shopping...

ETA (Dec 2): A story I saw today suggests that part of the problem was that the worker was placed at the door because he looked imposing but had no training in security/crowd control (I wonder how many retail workers have crowd control training?). But this misses the point. HE shouldn't have needed such training. Even with 2000 people lined up is it unrealistic to expect that they could act in a civilized manner?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Good Laugh

This came in my e-mail this morning. And I laughed so much I had to share it. The original source (and some other pieces in a similar vein) is here

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy;
Stunning Break with Last Eight Years!

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect
Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established
over the past eight years through his controversial use
of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance
on CBS' "Sixty Minutes" on Sunday witnessed the
President-elect's unorthodox verbal tic, which had Mr. Obama
employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every
time he opened his mouth. But Mr. Obama's decision to use
complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries
with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many
Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of
the University of Minnesota, some Americans might
find it "alienating to have a President who speaks English
as if it were his first language. "Every time Obama opens
his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says
Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk
of sounding like an elitist."

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using
complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find
itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate; subject, predicate;
we get it, stop showing off."

The President-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete
sentences attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics,
Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. "Talking with compete sentences
there and also too talking in a way ordinary Americans like
Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I
think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans
are needing also," she said.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How do We Celebrate?

Hat tip to Sue

Food Prep 5

Songbird provides us with this week's Friday Five. She writes:

In a minor domestic crisis, my food processor, or more precisely the part you use for almost everything for which I use a food processor, picked the eve of the festive season of the year to give up the ghost. A crack in the lid expanded such that a batch of squash soup had to be liberated via that column shaped thing that sticks up on top.

Can you tell this is not my area of strength?

Next week, I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I need your help. Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it? We included a processor on our wedding registry. And we use it relatively regularly (especially compared to some of the other wedding gifts we got...)

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).) Ours doesn't really have any fanciness to it. The one thing it does have that we have never used is a dough blade.

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?
(And isn't that color delightfully retro?) We have a hand-held mixer. Last time I used a counter top model was my mother's, how do I say this, "well-aged (and well used)" mixer.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much? We have a hand blender that we used to mix formula when the girls were that age. Beloved would like a blender.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most? Ummmm, I guess I would have to say my hands. I love kneading bread dough, rolling out cookie dough, etc.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it? We didn't pull them out last year but we have a set of Christmas dishes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Well Worth a REad

I just finished this book.

It is an interesting study of the Trinity in relationship terms, of the nature of human relationship with God (and vice versa), of healing from tragedy and guilt. There are parts of the theology that I would agree with. There are parts that I would argue with. But that is the nature of a good book isn't it?

I would love to read and discuss this book in a group setting. Maybe I will suggest it as a study here. Maybe it would be a good book for the RGBP to discuss????

At the end there is mention that some want to make this into a movie. I sure hope they don't. The beauty of this book is that it allows you to see it for yourself. A movie will merely literalize it. Mind you a big part of me honestly wishes they never made Lord of the Rings into a movie. Good books deserve a better fate than to be movie-ized (no matter how well done the movie). I also wonder what the Star Wars epic would have been like had it been a book first...

Or maybe I am just old-fashioned and biased towards the movie my mind makes while reading a good book :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Intentions

But a flawed action.

Ontario is introducing new regulations regarding young drivers. Note that I said young drivers not new drivers. Therein lies one of the biggest flaws of the regulations.

Now I understand that new drivers (who are generally young) tend to have higher accident rates. That is why I wholeheartedly support schemes such as Graduated licensing. And yes younger people (and some older ones) tend to focus more than they should on loud music or visiting with friends than the road at times. But these regulations appear overly onerous and I am not sure they meet the spirit of equal rights legislation. I doubt a Charter challenge would work because driving itself is not a right, but the regulations do single out an identifiable group for special treatment under the law, which seems to go against the intention of the Charter.

Among the regulations:
  • Anyone under 21 must have a zero blood alcohol reading. -- I can support this one in principle but why onloy for one age group. Either drinking is legal or it isn't. Either a certain level is allowable (and I am all in favor of lowering that level from .o8) or it isn't. AGe is not relevant. SO a 2o year old goes for a drink after work or has a glass of wine with supper and then has to wait around for an hour until going home???????
  • Young drivers caught speeding (at any speed over the limit) get a 30 day suspension for a first offence. THen 90 days for a second. Then a revocation of license (and start again in the graduated licensing system) for a third. -- Again, why just young drivers? I support stronger penalties for speeding. But this seems a little over-the-top for any age.
  • New drivers under 21 can only have one other teenager in the car with them. -- and in a rural area with no other transport available?
Needless to say there has already been some backlash. Like this for example And I have to think that the complaints are partially well-founded.

YEs there have been tragic accidents invovling young people and speed and lots of people in the car. Same with older people. But these regulation (IMO) go too far. And I am not sure they really teach what is meant to be taught...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

That Was Fun! --------NOT!

About 30 minutes ago Beloved and I are sitting in the living room and suddenly hear a loud CRASH from the bathroom.

Princess had decided she wanted to look in the mirror and so had climbed up onto the diaper pail. Said pail either then spilt down the side and fell or fell and split open. Water all over the closet called a bathroom (6 ft by 6 ft, tub included). Water running out onto the hardwood hall floor (another good reason not to have carpeting :) ).

WE throw some towels down to stop the water running everywhere and get it all sopped up. THen take them down and start the washing machine and then wash the floor. Luckily there were few diapers in the pail and no really poopy ones! And as it happens the floor was desperately in need of washing.

Friday, November 14, 2008



1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day? Nope. To tel the truth I have no recollection of being in a congregational setting where All Saints/All SOul's ws made a big deal. SOmetimes it is mentioned in conjunction with Halloween but never truly celebrated. However I remember a very powerful All Saints worship while at seminary (not actully what was said or done, just that it was very well done).

2. How about Veterans' Day? It was discussed with the children and they did poppy discussion and crafts in Sunday School. THen a mention in prayers.

3. Did you and your family have a holiday for Veterans' Day/Remembrance Day? If so, how did you take advantage of the break? Not a holiday for us. Kids were in school and I was taking part in worship, Legion visiting (including free beer!) before doing my regular Tuesday afternoon stuff. Oh and I spent Monday morning going to the schools with the Legion as well.

4. Is there a veteran in your life, living or dead, whose dedication you remember and celebrate? Or perhaps a loved one presently serving in the armed forces? Not particularly.

5. Do you have any personal rituals which help you remember and connect with loved ones who have passed on? None really. The remembrances and connections seem to come naturally and randomly....

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Nomination I Can Certainly Agree With...

Wht would you do with a toy that can be a tent pole, or a sword, or a rifle, or a cane, or a magic wand, or a sceptre, or a divining rod, or a fishing rod, or a slingshot, or...?

WEll a toy that adaptive has to be in the toy hall of fame of course!

Even if it is really just a stick

As someone who laments the lack of toys that require/facilitate imagination I applaud the choice.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Five -- See you in the funny papers!

After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!

1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child? Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes (teenager when it was out), For Better and For Worse, Doonesbury--yes I was one of the geeky kids who always enjoyed Doonesbury.

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone? For Better or For Worse is the best in our local paper, I continue to get my Doonesbury fix online every day ETA: I can't believe I forgot to include Dilbert in this list!!!!

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you? Combine Linus and Charlie Brown and you get me!

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you? In some instances yes. Others are simply mindless inanity.

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples? Comfort of the familiar is my explanation. But really some of them need to be put to rest.

Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print? No contest, no thought needed on this one. Calvin and Hobbes. OTOH, some-even ones I like-ran out their course years ago....

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hope and Peace

Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
Revolution, Evolution, Masturbation, Flagellation, Regulation,
Integrations, mediations, United Nations, congratulations
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
(©1969 John Lennon)

This week people across the country will gather in halls and at memorials and cenotaphs and pause in solemn silence to remember. We remember battlefields far away in time and in space. We remember millions of war dead on all sides. But as we remember we need to look forward too.

We need to look at the present and the future and ask what now. We need to ask what it takes to “give peace a chance”. In a world where there is always conflict somewhere, where we regularly hear about starvation here or genocidal mobs there, where some are living high on the hog while others face homelessness and poverty, what will really give peace a chance?

The first thing that will give peace a really chance is hope. Without hope we have trouble seeing the future. Without hope there is little drive to work for a better day. But hope can be hard to come by. Where do we find hope in a world of bad news? The media seems to delight in the horrible stories while the good news ones are set aside as “human interest” and left as a space filler when needed. Where do we find hope?

For people of faith hope's greatest source is not found in any newspaper or on any screen. Hope's greatest source is God our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. We find hope where we find God. We find hope when we read about God's hope and vision for a peaceful realm where all are fed, where all are loved, and where the wolf will lie down with the lamb. We find hope when we sense that God is at work in the world, when we see people taking up the opportunity to work for change. We find hope when we are reminded that there is more to the world than what can be seen and measured.

Once we have hope. Once we can trust that things can change, that peace is a (however remote it may seem) real possibility. Then we can move to the other prime requirement for giving peace a chance. That is us. Peace will never have a chance unless we, the people of the world, change our actions and priorities and thought patterns.

For peace to come we need to become people of true peace. True peace will be based not on what benefits one segment of the world or one ideology but on abundant life for all. True peace is based not in the absence of violence but in the presence of justice. This is the peace that God envisions, that God hopes for. This is the peace that we need to re-dedicate ourselves to as we gather to remember.

All we are saying, is give peace a chance.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I DOn't Get It...

I was just checking teh election results over at Reflectionary and I am confused.

Earlier there were states marked as won by Obama that had barely closed polls and had no precincts reporting. NOw there are states marke as won by Obama (at least I assume that is what the big green checkmark and colouring the state blue means) with very few precincts reporting and McCain in the lead so far:
EG: as of 9:45 EST-- NEw Mexico shows 3% of precincts reporting, Obama at 42% and McCain at 57% yet it is called for Obama
THis makes no sense. Didn't we learn in 2000 that calling states on the basis of exit polls was rather risky? And how on earth can you call the state for a person who is trailing in the actual counted votes? (Not to mention that you really should wait for at lest a quarter of the ballots to be counted unless the difference is over 20 percentage points)

ANd people wonder why US election coverage seems to breed rivalry and discord.

UnAsked Questions

GO and read this!

A reflection on questions that were not (but should have been) asked during the US and Canadaian election campaigns.

Friday, October 31, 2008

HAppy Halloween--2!

Here are the Girls in costume:

Monkey proudly dressed as Barney

THe three of them home from Trick or Treating (Scalliwag as dinosaur, Princess as unicorn, and Monkey as Barney)

Scalliwag wore this flower pot costume to school today

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Ways of Being Church

The United Church of Canada may have closed its studio. We may no longer have a weekly TV show. But we now have a YouTube channel.

Check it out here!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Advent Thoughts

It is that time of year again, time to think about how to celebrate Advent/Christmas.

I am thinking that the overarching theme this year will be Be Not Afraid. Here is what I have thus far:

Nov 30 -- Be Not Afraid, a new world is coming
  • Isaiah 65:17-23
  • Revelation 21:1-4 (Responsive Reading)
  • Mark 13:24-37
Dec 7 -- Be Not Afraid, Prophetic Peace be with you
  • Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Psalm 72 (VU p.790)
  • Luke 3:7-18
Dec 14 -- Be Not Afraid, sing for joy
  • Pageant Sunday
Dec 21 -- Be Not Afraid Justice shall be done
  • Luke 1:47-55 (VU p.898)
  • Luke 1:68-79 (VU p.900)
  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Dec 24 -- Be Not Afraid, the Baby means change
  • Isaiah 9:2-7
  • Luke 1:26-38
  • Luke 2:1-14
At least that is a start. I may try to do more work on it and find that it is undoable. But that is why you start these thoughts early...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One of these things is just like the other....

About 10 days ago Beloved and I were looking at pictures of a church. Suddenly there was a picture of the chancel area and I had to look twice.

IT was identical to the chancel area of the church where I did my internship. Not similar. Identical. I could look at the picture and describe what was just outside the frame. Then I looked carefully at the exterior shot and got out a history of my internship congregation. Basic structure of the building also the same.

But when you looked more carefully this was less surprising. Both are century(ish) buildings. Both were Presbyterian congregations in small farming communities. They both even had the same name. It stands to reason that there were a few buildings with common plans built in the same era.

Still it was uncanny.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Living Places

Singing Owl writes at RGBP:
...tell us about the five favorite places you have lived in your lifetime. What did you like? What kind of place was it? Anything special happen there?
In no particular order here are my 5:
  1. This house: 7.5 years I arrived here fresh out of school, single and childless. And now? Well it has been a full 7.5 years.
  2. The One with the Pink Fixtures: This was a bachelor apartment I lived in while working at a crisis nursery program. It was the first real striking out on my own as an employed, earning my own way adult. The name comes from the fact that the sink, toilet and tub were a dusty rose colour.
  3. The Home of My Childhood: We moved into the house where my parents still live in 1974. IT is where I lived from kindergarten through the end of my undergrad degree (and beyond). To a certain degree going there will always be going home.
  4. The One With BIG Windows: This is the one-bedroom I lived in during my final year of seminary. It was a bit farther from the school than I had planned but still walking distance. And easy access to the river valley, to the local pub, to everything I needed. And it had double sized windows in the main room and the bedroom.
  5. The House Just Off Campus: 2nd year of seminary another student and I rented a house 3 blocks off campus. My one and only experience of a roommate other than family.
Bonus #1: It may only have been summer housing (5 summers at that) but the staff lodge at the Church Camp I worked at. Not so much for the building but for the setting.
Bonus #2: Without question the WORST place I ever lived was in my 1st year of seminary. I was in a basement suite where I shared bathroom/kitchen with the other suite in the basement. Dark coloured walls and floor with a teeny tiny window that got no sun as it was. Not fun -- as the year went on I found myself doing more reading and studying at the college instead of at home.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Things We Take for Granted

You know like a working furnace!!!

Sometime at the beginning of every heating season the furnace in htis house stops working. THere is a sensor that needs to be cleaned on an annual basis and when it gets too much build up on it the furnace won't cut in.

On the weekend it became apparent that we were at that point already this year. But it was still sort of working and we weren't going to be around home the last couple days so I hadn't phoned the furnace guy yet. But this morning we got up to a temperature inside of 62F. All the tricks I usually use to coax the furnace on only got it to run long enough to get to 64F.

So I called. And this afternoon he came. But this year the cleaning the sensor didn't work. So now it needs to be replaced--ordered in. So no furnace for a couple more days. But on the good side, at least it is October with nights just above freezing as opposed to January with nights at -30...

CHurch Newsletter Musings

THe congregational newsletter was just released. Rather than cross-posting my piece I will let you all know that you can find it at this link

Friday, October 17, 2008

Heads or Tails?

Songbird writes at RGBP:

Well, Gals and Pals, this weekend we'll be rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and that has me thinking about coinage.

1) When was the last time you flipped a coin or even saw one flipped in person? Several times a week I flip for coffee. With a set of rules that almost defies description. We even have the girls trained in how the game works. (What, shouldn't we teach the girls how to gamble???)

2) Do you have any foreign coins in your house? If so, where are they from? It is likely that there is a USan coin or two around somewhere. At one point I had an English pound but I can't remember where it is now.

3) A penny saved is a penny earned, they say. But let's get serious. Is there a special place in heaven for pennies, or do you think they'll find a special place in, well, the other place? I would have no problem with the penny being discontinued. But the Monkey loves them.

4) How much did you get from the tooth fairy when you were a child? and if you have children of your own, do they get coins, or paper money? (I hear there may be some inflation.) Honestly I don't remember what the going rate was. I am thinking a dime, with maybe a quarter on a good day. Princess has been getting a loonie a tooth.

5) Did anyone in your household collect the state quarters? And did anyone in your household manage to sustain the interest required to stick with it? Certainly not the state quarters, not being USan and all. However the Canadian mint has put out a few different series of special coins (quarters at times, loonies at times) and I have sometimes started trying to set them aside. But I always forget that I am doing so...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why ALL of it?????

One of the actions that national governments are taking (and being pressured to take) in reaction to the Global Credit Crunch/Economic Disorder is to insure the full balances of all bank accounts.


I can understand insuring a certain amount, a base that safeguards all people. But why 100%?

If you have bank accounts of half a million pounds (as one story from Britain I saw talked about) why does it ALL need to be guaranteed? I see the role of these insurances to ensure people have enough to live on, not to protect their wealth.

By all means insure some. By all means we can debate what the threshold should be. But those who have many times more than the threshold can afford to take a risk. And let us be honest, most people's bank accounts are well below even a modest threshold.

Or maybe my socialist tendencies are showing?

ETA: Currently in Canada the CDIC insures up to $100 000 That seems like more than enough of a cushion.

Monday, October 13, 2008

As We Vote...

Tomorrow is voting day in Canada. Let us pray...

God of community, you call us to live in peace with each other,
on this eve of an election we hold our brothers and sisters in prayer.
As we head into the voting booth may we all be blessed with wisdom.

Grant us the wisdom to consider carefully the future path of our country,
to choose the party and the candidate who we feel most clearly shares our vision of that future,
and, when the counting is done, to offer support to those who are elected -- even when we don't agree with their positions or their choices.

We pray for those who have let their name stand.
May they be gracious both in victory and in defeat.
May they move past the voting day committed to making this country a better place, a fairer place, a place where more people can live in abundance and justice.

Gracious God, on October 15 may we look back on the results in acceptance,
may we look forward to the future with hope,
may we share the knowledge that Your vision for the world lives not in any political philosophy but in the vision and hearts of the faithful.
Help us to always work towards that day when the words Your kin-dom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven are more than just lines we mumble in prayer.
May they become a reality in the world.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Travelling FIve

...for today's Friday Five, you're invited to share your experiences with the exciting, challenging world of business travel....

1. Does your job ever call for travel? Is this a joy or a burden? Frequently. 2x a year we travel to Presbytery meetings, once a year to the annual Conference meeting (whole family goes to those, the Beloved is a church court junkie too). Then there are various other meetings to attend, and sometimes even a con-ed event to attend. It is both enjoyable and a burden at the same time.

2. How about that of your spouse or partner? Beloved joins in as above, and also on some con-ed travelling. However her job is child-care for our three (Princess, Scalliwag, and Monkey) So little out of town travel called for there.

3. What was the best business trip you ever took? This is a tie. One would be a meeting that took me to Toronto 4 years ago. A couple of nights in downtown TO with the national church footing the bill. The other would be a con-ed event in Halifax the next spring. Beloved and I both went and made a trip out of it.

4. ...and the worst, of course? When I first joined a conference committee plane flights were not helpfully scheduled. So to save the church the cost of a hotel room and to get myself back sooner I decided to take an overnight bus to Big City, attend the day-long meeting, and then overnight bus back. I did that twice before deciding it was a really bad idea. Luckily plane schedules changed to make it possible to fly there and back the same day as the meeting (then I left the committee and took on a different role anyway).

5. What would make your next business trip perfect? What makes any trip perfect? I don't know. Relaxing travel and a smooth meeting? Anyway the next trip happens to be next week...


Blogrolling has disappeared....

Not only does the blogroll not come up, I can't get to the site (

How can I keep up on blog reading without remembering the URLs????

ANyone else having this problem or is it just me?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Dayeinu For Thanksgiving Sunday

As promised on Saturday. Here is my re-write of the Jewish Passover song for Canadian Thanksgiving. What do you think?

Da-da-yeinu, da-da-yeinu
Da-da-yeinu, Dayeinu dayeinu
Da-da-yeinu, da-da-yeinu
Da-da-yeinu, Dayeinu dayeinu

1) If our God had merely made us
Formed us, blew life's breath into us
Simply gave us our existence

2) If our God had only fed us
Gave us food and drink to nourish
Fruits of earth for us to cherish

3) Or if God had brought us freedom
Freed us from sin and oppression
Merely made us free for service

4) If our God gave us companions
Family and friends for comfort
So that we would not be lonely

5) Or if God gave us vocations
Tasks to do that give life meaning
Helped us feel that we had purpose

6) But our God provides more blessings
Gives us life in great abundance
And so daily we say thank-you

Sunday, October 05, 2008

6 Unremarkable things about me

Apparently almost everyone has done this already. I saw it most recently at Inner Dorothy. And theoretically it should be easy since here is little remarkable about me...

  1. I have a tendency to put myself either first or last, rarely in the middle.
  2. My eyes are blue
  3. I have never been called athletic
  4. I always thought I walked slowly until I realized my comparator just walked really fast
  5. I watch far too much TV
  6. As a child I was always fascinated by watching campfires -- and I continue to be fascinated by campfires

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Next weekend is Thanksgiving up here north of the border. My sermon title for next Sunday is Dayeinu and my plan is to write verses for the song as a part of the sermon.

SO what would be enough? What is enough? AS we stop to say thanks, what would have been enough for God to have done?

What would you write a verse about?

PS>I'll post whatever I come up with (assuming I come up with something)...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What to say...

The local library has a series they call "Fireside Lectures". LAst year I gave one on nature and spirituality.

THis fall I have been invited to do a talk on inter-faith issues. THus far I have a title: That All May Be One? with the subtitle Living in a Multi-Faith World.

But that is about it. I have some general ideas that largely involve talking against the sentiment in the title. And I will talk about issues such as the Lord's Prayer in school/government settings. And I will certainly point out that true multi-faith means allowing the presence of many, not denying the presence of any.

Any ideas???

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Applish Friday Five

I REad over at RGBP that yesterday was Johnny Appleseed Day And here is the Friday Five in his honour...

1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.) Not really a big fan of cooked apples, I'd rather just eat a slice or two of apple.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about? WE have planted a number of bushes and trees here. MAinly because the yard needed some breaking up. Of course the house isn't ours so we are also doing it to benefit those who come after us. As for special trees, none for me but a couple of weddings I have done have included the planting of a tree as a symbol of the union.

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not? Not really. AT heart I am a bit of a homebody.

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours? I suppose some might find it incorrect politically or but I'd have to say that scripture stories often fall into this category for me. Other than that Johnny Appleseed himself would be one (although I never see his story the same since the Simpsons did their version if it)

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he traveled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do? THere are a variety of songs that come to mind. SOme camp songs, some hymn-ish things, some other sources. I will often find myself humming or singing under my breath, or at least running it through my head.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Damage Control

That is how I would describe everything that has flowed from the White House in response to the meltdown in the US financial sector. Staunch the wound and hope that the body doesn't bleed out before it clots.

$700 BILLION as a bailout. From an incredibly conservative, get government out of the way of private business, administration. Who could have predicted it? And now President Bush is forced to use up what (little, very little) political capital he has left to get it through a reluctant Congress as they prepare to face their constituents. Not that Congress has much choice -- some action is obivously needed.

But what really made me think of damage control was this story:

The FBI is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration, the Associated Press has learned.

Two law enforcement officials said Tuesday the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurer American International Group Inc. Additionally, a senior law enforcement official said Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. also is under investigation.

Ah but of course. If the cause of the meltdown was fraud/malfeasance/illegal activity of some kind then the system doesn't have to be changed. Maybe some more oversight but not a major overhaul. So nothing really changes. And the rich get richer while the gap between them and the poor keeps growing.

PS> at coffee earlier this week someone pointed out that after 8 years of Reaganomics there was the S&L fiasco. Now after 8 years of Bush/Cheney and their "do your patriotic duty, get out there and spend" approach to war we have the greatest threat to the US economy since 1929. I am sure there is no implied correlation...

Fall Colours

Sure Signs of Fall...
THis maple is in our backyard. Usually (as it is this year) it is the first tree to change.

This year's crop of potatoes. Not a good one by any means. Onions and carrots were better though.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

25 000

Yesterday at just after 10 in the morning visitor #25 000 clicked in. Congratulations whoever you are! (Not that there is a prize--there isn't). Mind you there is a bit of shock on this end to have had that many visitors to read these random nothings...

A reminder of who we are...

We sang this song by a United Church of Christ colleague at the baptism service of youngest daughter. Eldest asked me to find this video again. It has a good reminder in it...

Friday, September 19, 2008

A CHallenge

Earlier today I was reviewing some paperwork. ANd on a form I last had to fill out 7.5 years ago I came upon this question:
Part H: Narrative Section
Attach a description of your understanding of your ministry-its present leadership style, skills and strengths, future plans for ministry.
And this is not a form that wants an essay length attachment. How does one succinctly write out one's understanding of ministry?

Equinox Friday five

Songbird writes over at RGBP:

It's that time of year, at least north of the equator. The windows are still open, but the darned furnace comes on early in the morning. My husband went out for a walk after an early supper and came home in full darkness.

And yes, where we live, leaves are beginning to turn.

As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

1) A fragrance: A scent of damp leaves while still fresh, before they really get musty.

2) A color: Bright red leaves. We have a maple in the back that is turned already into a lovely red. Some of the leaves on our cotoneaster are going red too, as is our very small burning bush.

3) An item of clothing: I take a fairly pragmatic approach to clothing so have few favourites. For fall though I would guess my old polar fleece jacket from camp.

4) An activity: walking through fallen leaves. I enjoy raking them too, for a while at least :)

5) A special day: I will change this to a special memory. When I was in high school and university we often went out to the lake for Thanksgiving and walked among the leaves and trees...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ch ch ch changes

THis week I (once again) find myself reflecting on changes.

THey say the only thing that is consistent in life is change. ANd unfortunately we often have limited control over that change. At both a personal and a communal level change is unsettling at best. Whether it is seen as positive or negative, change is unsettling.

Maybe that is why we so often find ourselves (as individuals and as communities) facing the "back-to-Egypt" mindset. In response to the uncertainty of the transition, no matter how good the endpoint might seem, we want to go back to the familiar--even if that means returning to the chains of what enslaved us.

THis comes to mind in terms of sermons over the next couple of weeks (essentially one sermon to be given twice). AS churches, as a township we face changes yet to come. ANd as the changes start we find ourselves in the wilderness wondering whether it is worth it to proceed. What will we choose? Will we go back to Egypt?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back to School Friday Five

It's time for a Back-To-School Friday Five!

1. Is anyone going back to school, as a student or teacher, at your house? How's it going so far? Eldest started Senior Kindergarten on Wednesday. ANd was terribly excited to be going. Middle child starts Junior Kindergarten on Monday and claims to be excited, although we think she may get jealous because then youngest get mom to herself every morning.

2. Were you glad or sad when back-to-school time came as a kid? As far as I remember I was generally glad. I was often ambivalent about school -- liked learning new things but did little to no work (and heard about that) and my classmates were not always friends.

3. Did your family of origin have any rituals to mark this time of year? How about now? NOT so much apart from the annual pre-schol shopping. In later years (high school) we did go camping on Labour Day weekend as a last hurrah. Oh and of course the annual "1st day of school picture". THe latter is one we continue here and now.

4. Favorite memories of back-to-school outfits, lunchboxes, etc? Back to school usually meant new clothing. But no strong memories of favourite outfits.

5. What was your best year of school? What does best mean? best performance would be Grade 12. Best experience would be a tie between grade 12 and my final year of seminary.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Nature of Humanity...

Long ago William Shakespeare wrote:
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals!
In my last year of seminary I referred to that quote in a paper dealing with Calvin and the doctrine of humanity/nature of humanity. In that paper I essentially took Calvin to task for his thoughts which developed into "worm theology".

So what is our basice nature? Are we naturally inclined to good or to evil? Is it a question of original sin or original blessing?

This column appears in the latest issue of the United Church Observer. I took Church History before Sandra got to St. Andrew's and so never took part in the exercise she describes but I have to say that it sounds like a great exercise. Do you stand more with Augustine and the inability to do anything but sin (which leads quite directly to Calvin and total depravity) or with Pelagius and the ability to choose to do what is good? And why?

IF I were to do it I would be on the Pelagian side of the line. But as I thought about it while reading the column I realized that I might be closer to the center than previously. Observation of human activity and structures does in fact speak eloquently about an original sin/total depravity possibility.

But then I remember a question John Crossan asks in God and Empire in regards to civilization and violence. Does normalcy mean inevitability? Just because there is a tendency to happen does it automatically have to happen?

So yeah, I still lean towards Pelagius (and some suggest that Celtic Christianity as a whole leaned toward Pelagianism before it was taken over/folded into Roman Catholicism). I see thaat God declared all creation, humanity included, as inherently good. That means there is the possibility that we can choose not to sin. But the evidence makes that hard to believe at times....

So if we were all in Sandra's class together where would your name be on the chalkboard?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Test the NAtion, Eh

The latest edition of the Test the Nation set of tv quizzes was televised to night. IT was Canadian trivia, titled Canada Eh?

In the end I got 43 out of 50. Some of them involved terms I had never heard of.

The test is online right now. How might you do?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Just Do it Already!

For the last 2 weeks there has been non-stop speculation in Canada about whether or not PRime Minister Stephen HArper will ignore his commitment to fixed election dates and ask the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament, thus starting the official election campaign. (the unofficial campaign has already started as you can hardly watch TV without seeing a campaing ad for the governing party)

Now let's get one thing straight. Even though Harper brought in an act setting election dates to be every 4 years the COnstitution of Canada gives the Govrnor-General the authority and power to dissolve Parliament at any time, generally only at the request of the PM or after a vote of non-confidence in the government.

But really Mr. Harper, if you want to call an election get off the pot and do it. Stop acting like a spoiled child and complaining that the opposition won't work with you (oh and "Parliament is not giving me my way" does not mean "PArliament is dysfunctional", I'm just saying). Everyone knows you want to go to the polls, everyone believes you will do it. SO just do it and lets move on.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Holiday Reading -- 7

I have been waiting for this to come out in paperback since I read the first book in the Templar Trilogy last winter.

My previous reading on Whyte had been his Dream of Eagles series (although it appears there have been more books than I have read) which recounted Britain between the withdrawl of the Legions and Arthur.

THis series begins in the First Crusade when a group of knights from a secret brotherhood forms a group that will become the Knights Templar. ANd then they dig beneath the Temple Mount to find, not the Holy Grail, but a vast treasure left behind by their ancestors, who were members of the "true" Jesus movement (as opposed to the Church which they see as a Pauline misreading of Jesus). A nice mix of history and fiction. This book is the time of Richard Lionheart and the Third Crusade and it seems the third volume will be set at the time of the squashing of the Templars.

Holiday Reading -- 6

This was an impulse buy since the book I was looking for (and subsequently found elsewhere, may finish it tonight) wasn't there.

Set on Malta during the siege by the armies of Suleiman in the 1500's it is more than a little violent in parts (and gory). But not overly so, it would be unrealistic to set a novel in the midst of a fight to the death and not have violence and gore.

Mixed in with the fighting is a love story, some lessons on true honour, a search for a long lost child, and friendships. Not to mention the presence of the Inquisition and the main character who can (and does) operate freely in both Christian and Muslim camps.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Newspaper Column -- Questions Anyone?

Any parent knows the feeling. For the last 15 minutes the kids have been asking question after question after question and finally the exasperated parents call out “Stop asking questions and be quiet!”

But of course we want our children to ask questions. We want them to learn, to think critically, to explore. We don't want them to take things for granted, to accept only one side of a story or concept, to have blind faith in what others tell them. Questions are a big part of how we learn and grow in the world.

Think back to your school memories. How many times did the teacher ask if there were any questions? Teachers know that students who ask questions are engaged and involved in learning. Asking questions helps information get integrated and processed.

Questions are important throughout our lives. When we read news stories or listen to the news on radio or TV questions should arise in our minds. When we watch movies or TV shows, when we read books or magazines, when we listen to the stories of life around us questions should arise in our minds.

The same thing goes in our faith. In my first year theology class I remember the professor saying that questions, not answers but questions, were the more important part of doing theology. In order for our faith to grow we need to feel free to ask questions, we need to feel free to challenge our preconceptions, our traditions, the “way we've always believed”. Many people have felt that to question the principles of their faith is to reveal doubt. But as a Canadian musician Linnea Good sings (in a song called Doubters) “it takes a lot of doubing for our faith to grow”.

The other thing about questions is that they don't always have answers. (Maybe that is partly why my professor said the questions were more important than the answers.) 15 years ago I was in a Bible Study group whose members were experts at asking questions. And quite frequently we came to the conclusion that “that one will have to go in the pile to be answered in the life to come”. But we loved the freedom to ask and explore, to grow in our wonderings.

There is always a part of us that wants certainty in life. We would love all of our questions to have a clear concise answer. But most of life is not like that. Certainly questions of meaning and existence and ethics and morality are rarely like that. But we need to keep asking them. As we ask our questions, as we explore the possible answers together we learn more about life and faith and everything. As we learn we grow to fuller maturity. And really isn't that the whole point anyway, to grow and learn throughout our lives?

So lets keep asking the questions, just like the unquenchable questions asked by the child at the top of this column – the one who drives his parents to distraction.

Holiday Reading -- 5

IT has been a while since I read a Greeley book. FAther Blackie of the last ones I read is now the Archbishop coadjutor of Chicago, with Cardinal Archbishop Cronin still around. I always like them.

Now that I have read this one I may have to find some more. Greeley creates wonderful characters, and that is what drives his books.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Five on Dates

Here are five things to ponder about dates. I hope you'll play!

1) Datebooks--how do you keep track of your appointments? Electronically? On paper? Month at a glance? Week at a glance? I do it the old fashioned on paper way. A week at a glance is my preference. THen there are the time I rely on memory because I forget to write the thing down...

2) When was the last time you forgot an important date? What makes a date important? I forget family birthdays fairly regularly. Oh and last May was my sister's 10th wedding anniversary and I totally forgot. If you are reading this sis, happy 10th!

3) When was the last time you went OUT on a date? This one is easy. In June when Beloved and I went to the Prairie Gateway city for a COnEd event the whole trip was pretty much a great big date. And it included a supper out for an early anniversary celebration.

4) Name one accessory or item of clothing you love even though it is dated. My whole wardrobe is dated. I really should buy clothes one of these years...

5) Dates--the fruit--can't live with 'em? Or can't live without 'em? Eat them when I am given date squares (AKA matrimonial cake) but don't go out searching for them by any means.

ETA: Lest anyone think I made up Matrimonial Cake, here is a recipe for it

Monday, August 18, 2008

Holiday Reading -- 4 (well sort of)

This is the 4th book I finished on holidays but I had started it a while back.

A collection of sermons and papers by Bruggemann that touches on a variety of issues facing the church today. It is a call to be counter-cultural, to offer a different way of seeing the world.

And it is well worth the read.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Holiday Reading -- 3

Finished this today. Mind you it will likely take a second read, or partial read, to fully appreciate it.

White has some good ideas about what leadership might mean in the church today. Unfortunately the examples he gives are of situation of overwork, thereby suggesting that leadership and workaholism are equivalent.

The last chapter where he lists some of the qualities of healthy leadership is good. But really in the end this is a book that cries out for group reading and discussion and exploration.

Holiday Reading -- 2

We saw this one at the local bookstore a month ago and commented how it might be a nice one to have for when we ever move from here.

So this week we bought it (they didn't have the novel I was looking for anyway). Holmes is a little fixated on permits, but he has some good advice about what to look for. ANd it confirmed some of my suspicions about what looked wrong around this (50 year old) house.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leadership in the Church

Currently I am reading Seismic Shifts: Leading in time of Change by UCCan clergyperson Christopher White.

One of the statements that caught my eye early in the book is that seminary education in our denomination does not actually grow leaders. ANd that is my experience. LEadership is seen as problematic, instead we should be enablers and facilitators and empowerers. But to take on a role as a leader is portrayed as being to authoritarian, non-communal.

But you need leadership. And good leadership includes all those other things. But you need the leaders in a congregation (both ordered and lay) to lead, to be visionaries/vision-keepers, to state the realities, to lay challenges before the people.

As I think about what we need to look at here (both in congregation and in the town) I keep coming back to the question of leadership. WHat does it really mean?

Holiday Reading -- 1

I decided to start holidays with a light read (albeit a 900+ pages light read).

This little one caught my eye at the local bookstore. It is a Dracula story, with a twist.

ALthough I have never been much for vampire stories or movies this was a great read. It really wasn't about Dracula per se. Rather it was about people researching/hunting for Dracula. Add in a love story (a very muted, 1950's style love story -- actual love growing not just a sex romp) and some very interesting family dynamics and it is a wonderful journey through the Balkans and Turkey and academia.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fun at the Fair

Every Year there is a fair/exhibition in City by the Lake. This year we went. While Beloved had been there many times in the past, it was a first for me and the girls. Here are some pictures of the fun...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Off again....

HOlidays started Monday. NOw we are off to the City on the LAke for a week or so.

Catch ya' on the flip side.