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.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Breaking Free

IT started this spring when I started playing around with OpenOffice, mainly because I wanted a program that would also convert files to PDF. Now I do much of my writing in it rather than MSOffice (as much as possible anyway).

THen on the weekend I was having trouble opening blogs. True the fault lay with SIteMEter not IE but still it prompted me to download FireFox and once looking at it I changed it to my default browser.

Then I decided to go all the way and change my e-mail client to Thunderbird.

Now I am not about to change to a Linux operating system. But at least I am moving away from total reliance on the products of Bill GAtes et al.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Half-Blood Coming

Ever wonder what the orphanage Dumbledore visits to "recruit" the young Tom Riddle looked like?

Well you can find out here while you watch the trailer for HArry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Movie comes out in November, I likely won't see it until mid 2009

Friday, August 01, 2008

Locked Up/Out/In...

The RGBP Friday 5.
Songbird writes:
For some reason, Blogger declared this blog possible SPAM and locked us down yesterday. This morning, we're free to post again, but there was a fair amount of excitement last night among our contributors, who found a dire notice on their Blogger dashboards threatening that this blog might be deleted in 20 days!
We requested a blog review, and I posted a request at the Blogger Help group, where I found we were not alone. Many other perfectly nourishing and cromulent blogs got the same notice last night.
This turned out to be a very small barricade in our blogging community life, but it seemed appropriate to explore locks and blocks and other barriers this week. Also, I liked the picture of the security team above! Could they be Blogger's Spam Prevention Robots, working overtime?

In honor of their efforts, I bring you the "Lock Me Out, Lock Me In" Friday Five.
1) How do you amuse yourself when road construction blocks your travel?
If it is going to be a long stop turn off the car. Why waste that gas? Mind you in hot weather we sometimes have to start it once in a while to run the air conditioner. And then we have long discussion (repetitive ones too) answering question about why we are stopped, what are they doing, when can we go...

2) Have you ever locked yourself out of your house? (And do you keep an extra key somewhere, just in case?)
Less than a month after I arrived here I locked myself out. A new lock had just been installed and it locked much easier than I realized. It was at that point I learned just how easy it is to break in to this house. There is an extra key in the church office--mind you chances are the church keys would be locked inside the house should the occasion arise.

3) Have you ever cleared a hurdle? (And if you haven't flown over a material hurdle, feel free to take this one metaphorically.)
Metaphorical hurdles yep. Literal ones? Not on your life (phys ed was never my strong point on school). The biggest metaphorical one would have been issues around self-concept, esteem and injuries based in a history of being bullied. And it only took 15 years or so! (OK, it may well have taken a good portion of that time to actually start the work...)

4) What's your approach to a mental block?
Sit and stew generally. Surprisingly that doesn't help much :) So then I try and leave it alone for a while, let my unconscious deal with it. That tends to work much better.

5) Suggest a caption for the picture above; there will be a prize for the funniest answer!
After the budget cuts the Department of Transportation was forced to use more inventive methods of staffing.