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.