Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How does this happen? And why?

Act of Random Kindness

I love quiet nights at home. They seem far and few between lately but I'm working hard to enjoy them when they're here!

Today was some house cleaning, enjoying homemade soup and herb-cheese bread and then relaxing to watch Evan Almighty. Not exactly an Oscar winning film but thought-provoking none the less. There's a reason that we often teach through story. For all it's fun, Steve Carell filled antics, there were some themes, one in particular that caught my attention.

The premise is that Steve Carell's character, Evan Baxter, Jim Carey's news anchor co-star in Bruce Almighty, has been elected to congress, running on the slogan "We can change the world." His entire platform and election is based on his desire to be a world changer. The night before his first day, while getting ready for bed, his wife suggests that if he were to pray, he should ask for help with the task. "If I were taking on something that big, I could use a little help," she tells him. And so he does. He prays for help. Amidst all the story that goes with...well...with building an ark, one conversation with Morgan Freeman's version of God stands out to me. God asks, "How do you change the world?" and answers the question by saying "one act of random kindness at a time." Which, coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, can be summed up by the acronym ARK. Go figure.

It's true though, isn't it? I want to change the world, to leave it different than I found it, but if I were to try to do something radical that would change it all at once, I wouldn't know where to begin. I can, however, start with one small bit at a time exactly where I'm at. At the grocery store. At the pool where I work. When I drive. In my home. With my friends. Each small act of kindness will change my world and, hopefully, the ripple effects will be far reaching, beyond me and my ambitions. I can build my life into the life of a world changer 'one act of random kindness' at a time. I figure, if I live that way, I might just be surprised by the way I've impacted the world by the time I'm done.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Current Read

Dragondrums, Anne McCaffrey


Season 7 of 24 is coming and I'm getting excited about it. I just finished watching the Redemption episode (if you're a 24 fan and planning on watching Season 7, I recommend you watching this first. Really). Anyway, I was poking around the official website (yes, I am that big of a geek) when I found this:

24 Reasons Jack Bauer Rules...

1. Jack makes carrying a purse masculine.
2. He gets perfect cell phone reception, regardless of his location. 3. He's tough enough to withstand torture, but isn't ashamed to cry. 4. He gave Cheng the silent treatment for 2 years. 5. Jack can fly a plane and a helicopter. 6. Jack doesn't care what other people think of him. 7. Jack Bauer is always right. 8. He got Erin Driscoll to listen to him eventually. 9. He pulled the trigger on Chase. Talk about dedication to his work. 10. Despite suffering from Herion withdrawl, he was able to break Ramon Salazaar out of prison. 11. He broke Ramon out of prison in less than an hour. It took Michael Scofield a whole season to break out of Fox River. 12. Hacksaw. 13. He doesn't always listen to orders, because he knows he's right. 14. Jack hurt that annoying scumbag Joe Prado. 15. He killed the whole Drazen gang by himself. 16. He figured out to look up presumed dead people in order to find Saunders. 17. He can hold his breath forever. 18. His magic hoodie is very impressive. 19. Straight men have crushes on him. 20. He can kill people without using his hands or legs. 21. He asked for forgiveness before killing Chapelle. 22. He's "died" twice and yet seems to be in great health. 23. He trusted George to take the plane down. 24. Despite saving millions of people over and over again, has never asked for a thank you!*

Way to go, Jack!

*If you knew what even half of them are talking about, I'd say you're just as big a geek as I am ;)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Help, I'm Alive

Help, I'm Alive by Metric

This song has been in my head since the show on Friday! It's a brand new song off their upcoming album, the first single to be released to radio. I'm loving it!

Personality Profile

from PersonalDNA

The God Who Is Revealed in Christmas

Christmas is God's answer to human longing, God's response to the centuries of prayers that lay hidden in our groaning, our sighs, our frustrations, and our religious efforts, each of them a plea, mostly silent, for a divine intervention, all of them asking God to come and rid the world of injustice and our hearts of loneliness and heartache.

But God's answer didn't exactly meet our expectations even as it surpassed them. What was born with Jesus' birth and what still lies seemingly helpless in mangers all around the world wasn't exactly what the world expected.

What the world expected was a superstar, someone with the talent, sharpness, and raw muscle-power to out-gun everything that's bad on this planet, someone charismatic enough to make everyone who opposes him slink away in defeat. God's answer to that: A baby lying helpless in the straw!

Why? Why would God choose to be born into the world in this way?

Because you can't argue with a baby! Babies don't try to compete, don't stand up to you, don't try to best you in an argument, and don't try to impress you with their answers. Indeed, they can't speak at all. You, on your part, have to coax everything out of them, be it a smile or a word, and that effort, which demands great patience, usually draws out what's best in you. Moreover, you can't push at a baby too hard, it will begin to cry and the session is over.

And that is the Savior who was born in Bethlehem, and that is too how God is still basically in the world. Like a baby, God does not outgun anyone, out-muscle anyone, threaten anyone, or overpower anyone. The power of God revealed in Christmas is the power of a baby, nothing more, nothing less: innocence, gentleness, helplessness, a vulnerability that can soften hearts, invite in, have us hush our voices, teach us patience, and call forth what's best in us. We watch our language around a baby in the same way as we watch our language in a church, with good reason.

The power of Christmas is like the power of a baby, it underwhelms in such a way so as to eventually overwhelm. There is a greater power than muscle, speed, charism, unstoppable force: If you were to put a baby into a room with the heavy-weight boxing champion of the world, who ultimately would be the stronger? The boxer could kill the baby, but, no doubt, wouldn't, precisely because something inside the baby's powerlessness would overwhelm the boxer. Such is the way of God, the message of Christmas.

But we have always been slow to understand this; we want our messiahs to possess more immediate power. And we are in good company here. The messiah that people longed for during all those centuries leading up to Jesus and Bethlehem was precisely conceived of as a human superhero, someone with the earthly muscle to bang heads together and purge the world of evil by morally superior muscles.

Even John the Baptist expected the messiah to come with that kind of power. His concern was justice, repentance, asceticism. He warned people of an approaching time of reckoning and expected the longed-for messiah to come precisely as a violent fire, a winnowing fan that would separate the bad from the good and burn up the former with a righteousness that came straight from God. When he heard reports of Jesus gently inviting sinners in rather than casting them off, John was scandalized, that kind of a messiah didn't fit his expectations, or his preaching. That's why Jesus, in sending a response to him, invites John not to be scandalized in him. John hadn't wanted a gentle, vulnerable, peace-preaching messiah. He wanted bad people punished, not converted. But, to his credit, once he saw how Jesus' power worked, he understood, accepted a deeper truth, stepped back in self-effacement, and pointed people in Jesus' direction with the words: He must increase and I must decrease. I'm not even worthy to untie his scandal strap!

We too are slow to understand. Like John the Baptist, our impatience for truth and justice makes us want and expect a messiah who comes in earthly terms, all talent and muscle, banging heads together so as to rid the planet of falsehood and evil. We want the kind of messiah we see at the end of every Hollywood thriller, Mother Theresa turned into Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis, beating up the bad guys with a violence they can only envy.

But that's not the Christmas story, nor the power revealed in it. An infant lying in the straw in Bethlehem didn't outgun anyone. He just lay there, waiting for anyone, good or bad, to come to him, see his helplessness, feel a tug at his or her heart strings, and then gently try to coax a smile or a word out of him. That's still how God meets us.

By Ron Rolheiser

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Music Discussion

A friend of mine who teaches English in Europe posed this question to me in an email this week:

What 5 contemporary songs from the last 25 years would YOU suggest for a discussion class?? (Not Christian songs) Here's the scoop, in January I'll be leading a discussion group on music. I am hoping to come up with a list of 15 songs we can listen to and discuss. It would be really great if the song was either a BIG hit (very popular) OR the artist/group is/was very popular. The goal is to have thought provoking conversation about life issues, AND open the door to spiritual conversation.

What would you suggest?

Current Read

Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Rob Bell

Soundtrack to My Life

This is what happens when I can't settle down enough to just go to bed...

1. Open Itunes (or take out your Ipod)
2. Put all your music on shuffle
3. Answer the questions with the song name
4. Click next song
5. DON'T CHEAT!!! I really didn't cheat.


1. What is the song that plays at the main menu?
Lookin’ Out - Mobile

2. What is the song for your opening credits?
The Upper Peninsula – Sufjan Stevens

3. What is the song for your opening scene?
Everybody – Stabilo

4. What song plays at a dramatic scene?
Cheating on You – Franz Ferdinand

5. What song plays at your fight scene?
Martyrs and Thieves – Jennifer Knapp

6. What song plays at your dilemma scene?
Wholly Yours – David Crowder

7. What song plays when you fall in love?
I Miss You Here - Downhere

8. What song will play at your last scene?
We’re Here for Good Time, Not a Long Time – Trooper

9. What song will play at your credits?
Let Your Mercy Rain – Chris Tomlin

10. What is the song that plays at the extra scene after the credits?
Hopes and Fears – Keane

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.

~Dave Barry

Friday, December 05, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Wee Little Poll

Okay, so I want to watch some Christmas movies (or something) to get a little bit more in the Christmas spirit but I'm not sure which ones. Any suggestions?

I’ll admit it. I’m one of those people that loves every aspect of Christmas. I love the songs. I love the lights. I love the food. I love the smells. I love the decorations. I even enjoy shopping for the perfect present for special people…even if the malls are crowded and people don’t seem to be all that joyful. I love time spent with family and friends. I love Christmas.

It’s easy to be distracted by all of that though. I’m thankful that this year at Journey, we’ve dedicated this season to looking at ways to avoiding the Christmas chaos and enjoying, living and celebrating the season for what it truly means – Christ came down to join us in all of our chaos, bringing peace, love, joy and hope to humanity no matter what else life brings. I hope that message will prevail in our hearts and our homes - and in yours too - as we celebrate Christmas this year.

This quote was shared with me recently. "Once a year the Christmas season strikes both the sacred and secular spheres of life with sledgehammer force: suddenly Jesus is everywhere. For approximately one month His presence is inescapable. You may accept Him or reject Him, affirm Him or deny Him, but you cannot ignore Him. Of course He is proclaimed in speech, song and symbol in all the Christian churches. But He also rides every red-nosed reindeer, lurks behind every Christmas toy, and resonates in the most basic "season's greetings". Remotely or proximately, He is toasted in every cup of Christmas cheer. Each sprig of holly is a hint of His holiness, each cluster of mistletoe a sign He is here." Brennan Manning

I pray that this Christmas more than any other, you see Him here all through the Christmas season and that you will be able to be able to enjoy the presents, the carols, the parties, and all the season brings even more because you realize that at the heart of it all is a God who loves you enough to send His son to be the Savior of the world.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"When Christ said: "I was hungry and you fed me," he didn't mean only the hunger for bread and for food; he also meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst his own and his own received him not, and it hurt him then and it has kept on hurting him. The same hunger, the same loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and to be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness; and that is the hardest part, that's real hunger."
Mother Teresa

December has rolled in. I'm not sure how. I'm not sure when. Well, okay, I know when. This morning. Bright and early. The thing is I'm still stuck somewhere back in October. Where did October go? Of course, the unseasonably warm weather probably isn't helping my misconception of time. Not that I'm complaining. Really. It could stay this way all winter long and I'd be happy. In fact, I think it's going to... oh, but I digress. The point is, it is December. That's what my calendar says today, no matter what my brain is saying. And if it's December, that means Christmas is right around the corner. The malls have been decorated for Christmas for weeks. Shoppers are going nuts and store owners are counting on significant bank deposits each night. Wrapping paper, chocolates and candy canes are filling shopping bags. Starbucks has brought out the Christmas drinks.

I love Christmas. I love the sights, the sounds, the celebrating, the time with family....I love it all. I want to try really hard to make sure that my Christmas is full of meaning. I want to make sure that I'm remembering why we celebrate. I want to make sure that there is room in my Christmas for thought and reflection and thankfulness. I want to make room for Christ this Christmas.

Today, I'm thinking about just how significant it is that God came down to earth, put on our broken flesh and lived among us, experiencing all the ages and stages that come with it. Think about the humility of that action. Here is God as an infant, completely dependent on someone else for his every need. Or as a toddler, skinning his knees as he learns to walk. Or as a five year old, running down the street with his friends. Or as a teenager, figuring out his voice as it changes from that of a boy to that of a man. Think of the things he experienced as a man that as God he could have avoided. Think of the things he felt and experienced.

I was trying to convey that with some of the kids at church a while back and the best analogy I could come up with was the princess in Aladdin. She had everything in the palace but chose to leave to experience life and, boy, was it different than she thought. She was not prepared for what she found there. Good thing Aladdin was there to keep her safe until she showed herself to be the princess and was returned to the palace, out of the mess she'd managed to get herself into. Come on, you know the part I'm talking about!

The thing is, Jesus didn't go running back. He didn't rely on his divinity to get himself out of the pain of human existence. He stuck it out. He faced it head on, to death on a cross.

Who would have thought that this baby, this boy, this man was really God?

And so today, I think of a baby who would change everything. Welcome to our world, little one.
When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.

Henri Nouwen

Happy 60th Anniversary

Emil & Josephine Sparshu
November 21, 1948

Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.

Thoma Merton

Less than 1% of North American marriages will celebrate a 60th wedding anniversary and if you would have asked our family five years ago, we probably wouldn't have expected to celebrate my grandparents' 60th either and yet that was the privilege we had last weekend. It was a celebration of them, the life they've lived (so far), the example they've set (and continue to set) and the family that comes behind them.

I can't imagine being a live that long, let alone being married that long and yet they still make it look so easy, even though we know it hasn't always been easy. It is such a joy to see a couple so deeply in love after so much life lived, a blessing to see what happens when a relationship is built on mutual respect, love and care and a beautiful example of what can happen when God is the center of life. I can only hope to follow their example. I am thankful for my dear Grandma and Grandpa.

This is the prayer my Grandma wrote for their anniversary:

Mom and Dad’s Prayer
By Josie Sparshu

Today Dear Lord we’re married sixty years
and there’s so much we haven’t done.
We hope Dear Lord you’ll let us live
until it’s sixty-one.
But then, we won’t have finished all we want to do.
Would you let us stay until it’s sixty-two?
So many places we want to go.
So much we want to see.
Do you think you could manage to make it sixty-three?
The world is changing very fast.
There is so much in store.
We’d like so very much to live to celebrate sixty-four.
And if by then we’re still alive,
we’d like to stay ‘til sixty-five.
More planes will be in the air,
so we’d really like to stick,
and see what happens to the world
when we celebrate sixty-six.

We know Dear Lord it’s much to ask
(and it must be nice in heaven).
But we would love to celebrate number sixty-seven.
We know by then we won’t be fast,
and sometimes we’ll be late.
But it would be pleasant to celebrate number sixty-eight.
We will have seen so many things,
and had a wonderful time
so we’re sure that we’ll be willing
to leave at sixty-nine
Now Lord, we’ve been married seventy years.
Our minds are still sound, we think.
We like it here. We can still get around
Yes, our time is limited, we know
and someday we’ll have to go.
We’re not greedy, or guided by fears
but we want to see what happens
in the next few years
We’re sure you’ve heard this plea before
but our bags will be packed and by the door
by the time we celebrate seventy-four

Current Read

Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Current Read

If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of The Boat, John Ortberg

Our care group has been reading this together and, while I enjoy Ortberg, this is yet another instance where 'it's better together.' We share points that stood out to us for whatever reason, quotes and questions.

Several questions have come been posed in the book that I am pondering:
*What do I enjoy doing for its own sake?
*What do I avoid doing? Why?
*For what do I wish to be remembered?
*How might the offer of money or promotion sidetrack me from my true calling?
* What would my life look like if it turned out well?
*What is my deepest dream?
*How much passion do I experience in my daily life?
*What do I want my epitaph to say?
*How often do I take risks that require a power greater than my own?
*If I had to name the "one true thing" that I believe I was set on earth to do, what would it be?
*How clear is it to me?

I seem to be continually asking some form of these questions of myself and of those around me, not as a way to express dissatisfaction with my current state - at least not most the time - but as a way to continually keep focused on who I am, who I want to be and how the things I do align with that person.

Interestingly enough, sometimes it's in community that we find the answers to these questions. By observing the examples of those around us. By running into ideas and ideals that coincide or contradict who we are. By being challenged and pushed to try new things. By being supported. By having others, with a third party perspective, speak into your life and longings because of what they see.

Who are you becoming? What choices do you make daily to ensure that the person you're becoming is the person you want to become?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hollywood out of step with American morals: poll

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A majority of Americans say Hollywood doesn't share their moral values, according to a poll commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism.

Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said that religious values in America are "under attack," and 59% agreed that "the people who run the TV networks and the major movie studios do not share the religious and moral values of most Americans."

The poll, titled "American Attitudes on Religion, Moral Values and Hollywood," was conducted by the Marttila Communications Group, which surveyed 1,000 adults nationwide. It was released Friday at the ADL's annual meeting in Los Angeles.

"These findings point to the challenges that we face in dealing with issues of religion in society," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director. "The belief that religion is under attack underlies the drive to incorporate more religion into American public life. Disturbingly, 43% of Americans believe there is an organized campaign by Hollywood and the national media to weaken the influence of religious values in this country."

Among the survey's findings:

-- 61% of respondents agree that "religious values are under attack in this country," while 36% disagree with that statement.

-- 43% said that Hollywood and the national media are waging an organized campaign to "weaken the influence of religious values in this country."

-- 63% disagree with the statement that "the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews," while only 22% agree with that point. When ADL conducted its first survey on anti-Semitic attitudes, in 1964, nearly half of the respondents believed that the television and film industries were run by Jews.

-- Nearly 40% support the notion that "dangerous ideas should be banned from public school libraries," and nearly the same number disagree with the statement that "censoring books is an old-fashioned idea."

-- Nearly half of those surveyed -- 49% -- believe that the United States is becoming "too tolerant in its acceptance of different ideas and lifestyles; 47% disagree with that statement.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

And that, my friends, is an article I stumbled on this morning. What do you think? If the pollsters polled you, where would you weigh in?

Monday, November 17, 2008

If you were a science teacher...

...you might get some of these exam answers from your students. Perhaps I just work with kids too much (is that possible!?) but I found them amusing!

Q: Name the four seasons.
A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.

Q: How is dew formed?
A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour? (brilliant, love this!)
A: Keep it in the cow.

Q: What causes the tides in the oceans?
A: The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature hates a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.

Q: What are steroids?
A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.

Q: What happens to your body as you age?
A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.

Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A: He says good-bye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery

Q: Name a major disease associated with cigarettes.
A: Premature death.

Q: How are the main parts of the body categorized? ( e.g., abdomen)
A: The body is consisted into three parts -- the brainier, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain; the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels A, E, I, O, and U.

Q: What is the fibula?
A: A small lie.

Q: What does 'varicose' mean? (I do love this one...)
A: Nearby.

Q: Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarian Section.'
A: The Caesarian Section is a district in Rome

Q: What does the word 'benign' mean?'
A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"This world is to be my home, as much as it is not to be the place that sets the agenda for my life. It is the place that sustains me, but that also needs to be transformed by the grace of God. Thus, while participating in all of life, I need to draw aside to find a place of intimacy with the God who loves and sustains me. And from this reoccurring center-point I can be personally enriched so that I can continue to wash the feet of the world."

Charles Ringma in Dare to Journey With Henry Nouwen

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Post Halloween Chuckle

I didn't take this one but certainly enjoy it! The first time I saw these was on the front lawn of a house on a main street in north Calgary. When I stumbled on this picture, it made me chuckle again so I had to share.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Current Read

I Once Was Lost, Don Everts & Doug Schaupp

"Now the great thing is, Jesus is very intriguing. No need to try to spice him up. He's as spicy as they come. When folks these days see Jesus himself (rather than cliches or stereotypes about him), they tend to sit up and take notice. People are intrigued by how counter cultural Jesus was, how he embraced the poor and marginalized, how he eviscerated religious hypocrites, and how natural and open he was to those who didn't fit in: the homeless, the prostitutes, the ostracized. They are intrigued by how little he beat around the bush and how often he got to the heart of a person.

People are intrigued by his kingdom, by how focused it is on bringing light into the world, defending the defenseless, embracing the poor and hurting..." (pg. 62).

That's the Jesus that I see in the Bible and the Jesus that intrigues me. That's the Jesus that I want to exemplify and the Kingdom I want to see come to earth. That's the Jesus I want the people around me to know and the Jesus I pray the church will teach about. That's the Jesus who is and I hope is the Jesus the people around me see.

Current Read

The Last Templar, Raymond Khoury

Zero 7 - In the Waiting Line

I readily admit that I have a pretty eclectic musical palate (speaking of taste!). I regularly get asked where on earth I find some of the stuff I listen to. Here's one of my secret sources...or perhaps we should call this a confession. Lately I've been enjoying TV show soundtracks. Lots of great stuff has come from Grey's Anatomy, Privileged and House. There you have it. Guilty pleasure or musical research?
Taste is subjective. Taste is democratic. Taste is powerful. Taste – the combination of texture, aroma, temperature, aesthetic and environment – is also a window into someone else’s life or culture. Be confident in your taste, but remain curious and expose yourself to new tastes. Allow your taste to constantly evolve and grow – while keeping and cherishing the memories that taste creates.
-- Marcus Samuelsson
Chef, co-owner of Restaurant Aquavit and author of The Soul of a New Cuisine

...I've decided this isn't just taste in regards to food even though it is from the mouth of a chef. Think about music, hobbies, activities, TV shows, wardrobe. It is true that curiosity certainly is the spice of life!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I used to think that going to the jungle made my life an adventure. However, after years of unusual work in exotic places, I realize that it is not how far off I go, or how deep into the forest I walk that gives my life meaning. I see that living life fully is what makes life – anyone’s life, no matter where they do or do not go – an adventure.

-- Maria Fadiman
Geographer, ethnobotanist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

EDMONTON - Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani each recorded a goal and an assist as the Edmonton Oilers won their fourth in a row to start the season, coming back with three second period goals to defeat the Calgary Flames 3-2 for the second times in as many nights on Saturday.

Andrew Cogliano also scored for Edmonton, off to its best start since going 5-0 in 1985-86."

Yesterday was good. Today's victory is sweet. If I'm not careful, I'm going to get beat up...being and Edmonton fan in Calgary after all.

It's what Mastercard would call 'priceless.'

Just for curiosity sake, I figured it would be fun to find out what else happened in th '85-86 season, back when there were still teams like the Winnipeg Jets, the Hartford Whalers and the Quebec Nordiques and divisions were named things like Smythe and Adam...and don't forget Norris.

Here's a quick run down from Wikipedia (Sidenote: I love Wikipedia. Such a quick easy reference for when my curiosity once again gets the best of me):

The Edmonton Oilers once again regained control of top spot in the NHL and last year's best team, the Philadelphia Flyers slipped to second. The Flyers continued their dominance of the Wales Conference despite the tragic death of their Vezina-winning goaltender, Pelle Lindbergh, in a car accident on November 11. Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky continued his dominance of the NHL by winning his seventh straight Hart Trophy and his sixth straight Art Ross Trophy. This season saw Gretzky score "only" 52 goals, but he set impossible records of 163 assists and 215 points. This was the fourth time in five years that Gretzky reached the 200 point plateau. Gretzky would never again reach the 200 point mark, but neither would any other player. Mario Lemieux, however, came close with 199 points in 1988–89. Edmonton's defenceman Paul Coffey broke legendary Bobby Orr's record for most goals in a season by a defenceman by scoring 48 times.

Ah the '80's. I try to forget a lot else that happened in the '80's - like neon, slouch socks and big hair - but '80's NHL is why I'm an Edmonton Oiler fan, no, a hockey fan today!

Friday, October 17, 2008


All I can say is that this is a headline that any Edmonton fan can be proud of. I know there's a lot of season left to go. For now, I'm taking joy in one game at a time, especially like this! It's a home and home though so we'll see what happens tomorrow night in Edmonton.

All that said, I can't help but be a little bit please for Bertuzzi. Two goals again tonight to make 4 on the season so far. I hope he keeps it up!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My good friend, Katie, posted these reflections on her blog and I am surprised - although I probably shouldn't be - by just how closely they reflect my own thoughts lately:

I have had a lot of good conversations today, but a lot of hard ones too. Some of them debating issues, others walking people through conflict and struggles. All of these conversations left me with the question of what does it mean to really come alongside other people? How do you really show people the love of Christ. It is such a monumental task, and yet simple at the same time. Monumental in the impact that it has, and in the issues that people are dealing with (that all of us are dealing with in one way or another). Simple in our role of loving, of being present, of just "doing life" together. If it IS simple, why is it so difficult? Why do we have such a hard time being present? Why is it so easy to come to conclusions, to try and "fix" whatever problems there are instead of guiding people, of walking with them?

The other part of this question for me is how do I come alongside someone when I myself am so stained? I am shoulder deep in the mire, barely able to keep my head above it! I am so thankful that the Lord uses uses us in the midst of it, that His grace covers it all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sad news...

I've been wondering whether I should write about this for days and finally decided that I need to. It seems like death has been lurking in every corner lately. Unexpected or expected, the result for those of us left behind is the same...sadness. Sadness at all the memories left unmade. Sadness for moments not shared. Sadness for words that should have been spoken. Sadness for what won't be. There is solace when we know that our loved one has gone to be with Jesus. It's a happy time of reunion, of homecoming, of rest for them. It's for those of us left behind that we grieve. I don't even know that sadness is a deep enough word. Sorrow. Something deeper...lingering...

The most recent loss is my friend Steve Rehn. Steve was pursuing a dream, cycling in Africa (you can experience a bit of Africa through his eyes on his blog), when he was hit by a car and killed instantly. Dave, Steve's brother, gives details here. It seems sureal. Like the plot of a movie but not real life.

But it's true.

Steve is with Jesus.

He was met, of this I am sure, with "well done, good and faithful servant" for that is what he was. It is those he leaves that I grieve for. For his wife, whose partner, encourager and friend will not be returning home. For Dave and Ali and their spouses whose brother and brother - in-law will not be around for more crazy adventures or zany antics. For little Cai who will only get to know his Uncle through stories...of which their are many. For his mom and dad who never imagined they would be outliving their son. For those he served in Africa who will no longer feel the love and compassion of their Savior through the life of this man, who will no longer see Jesus through His life or benefit from the skills he was blessed with. For friends around the globe who will always be touched by the memories of Steve's passion for life, huge smile, hospitible nature, unconditional love and grace, crazy sense of humor, faith that seemed like it could move mountains and servant heart that changed every part of the world he entered and who will wait with expectation for the chance to hang out with him again. I'm proud to be one of those friends.

A memorial will be held for Steve this Saturday. I bet the place will be packed. Steve was that kind of guy. People will be there for him...because he was there for us.

He will be missed.

He is missed.
While I expected a conservative minority government to be the result of today's election, I didn't expect the tories to come out as strong as they did. That said, my goal is not to recap the results (if you want that, read CBC's coverage here) but to give a few reflections...

1. It's a little sad to me that all during the election race - far too strong a term for what we saw happen, I think - we still heard more about the American election, candidates and platforms than we did our own. But, then again, it has just as much, if not more, influence on our country than today's election. Sad, really.

2. I was disappointed at how much of the Canadian candidates' campaigns consisted of mudslinging and finger pointing. It wasn't until the week prior to the election that Harper released the conservative platform and the other candidates, while releasing official party platforms earlier, weren't much better. Commercials, debates and interviews all featured party leaders, the apparent educated elite of our country, resorting to insulting, finger pointing and other such playground tactics. Grow up and stand for something. Please. Our country depends on it.

3. Democracy. It seems like an inappropriate word to call what we have in Canada. We don't really pick a leader. We pick a part who has chosen a leader and, if we're lucky enough to live west of Ontario, we don't even really do that. I felt slightly vindicated to be voting in Stephen Harper's riding but it's an unfortunate reality that a large number of voters chose to vote for a party they don't believe will win (but perhaps do stand behind the party's platform) - the Green party, for example - or for an independent candidate they don't believe stands a chance because they are boycotting the process, not believing their vote really counts...and in many cases seem to be right! What is the true essence of democracy? What do we really have here? How can we find some place of consensus in the middle where the people feel like they have a say in what happens and are not merely pawns in a game played by white, upper class, educated males on a power trip? How do we ensure that the best interests of the average Canadian are truly at the heart of the decision making process? While I love this country, I dare say that today's process is not the way.

4. Voter options are slim. It seems that there are no good candidates, only better than the other guy. I don't know that I agreed with any candidate on all, or even most, of their proposed future plans for our country. I do know, however, that there are candidates that seemed better than others. It's hard to be a black and white thinker in a land of lesser evils.

My brother seemed to have a handle on it a few nights ago. "Why vote in this election. I'll vote in the next one six months from now." It seems true and fair. With a minority government, a market in flux, environmental questions to answer and troops deployed, it seems unlikely that much will get done without party lines being drawn. I hope he's wrong. I hope that we see things moving and changing for the good of our country. I wish I could be hopeful.

We'll see.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"As Christians, we believe that we bear the image and likeness of God inside of us and that this is our deepest reality. We are made in God's image. However we tend to picture this in a naive, romantic, and pious way. We imagine that somewhere inside us there is a beautiful icon of God stamped into our souls. That may well be, but God, as scripture assures us, is more than an icon. God is fire - wild, infinite, ineffable, non-containable."

Ron Rolheiser

Brayden Scott Forest
September 26, 2008
8 lbs 4 oz, 21 inches

This is my cousin Crystal's little guy. He's the first of a new generation on that side of the family, the first great-grandbaby for my Grandma and Grandpa. Very exciting!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tina Fey as Governor Palin

Just to clarify, posting this video does not say much about my political viewpoint, just my sense of humor. Take that for what it's worth!

The theme song for the new bond flick, Quantum of Solace...I'm a little more excited about it every day!

Fall for the Farm Girl

While everyone that knows me knows that summer is my season, I do get a wee bit nostalgic during the harvest. No matter how long I live in the city, I'll still always be a farm girl at heart. The sights, smells and colors of fall speak of a season in rural life that doesn't even seem to touch the urban radar. As much as I know that fall is followed by winter (and that makes me sad already!), there's still something about it that feels like home.

Current Read

In the Hand of the Goddess, Tamora Pierce

Monday, September 29, 2008

To follow Jesus is to enter the unknown, to relinquish security, and to exchange certainty for confidence in Him.

~Erwin McManus

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Faith isn't supposed to rob your joy but enhance it. God is love. God is life. You cannot know God's love and not enjoy life. This is where you genuinely become the life of the party. Holiness does not leave you hollow, it makes you a hedonist. No one should enjoy life more than you. Paul tells us, "Do not be drunk with wine, but be drunk with the Holy Spirit." Drink up! Drink up! Enjoy life. Enjoy all the beauty around you. Let each moment be filled with wonder. When God's Spirit comes to us, He awakens the hero within us who finds strength in the joy of God's presence. This hero could be called nothing less than hedonist.

Have you subtly bought in to the belief that holiness is the absence of pleasure, of delight, of desire, of laughter, of joy, of enjoyment? I want you to remember that humanity started in the garden of pleasure with everything leveraged in our direction so we could enjoy God, enjoy each other, and enjoy life. The reason we don't enjoy life is because our souls are damaged and we need God to heal us of our wounds. T come to God is to come to joy. To live in God's presence is to know his pleasure. To live in Jesus is to live in joy.

Erwin McManus
Wide Awake

Palin for VP

This article caught my attention. It's an issue I've long pondered as a woman and as a leader in the church.

The Palin predicament

The pick of Sarah Palin as Republican vice presidential nominee is both a political event and a cultural one. Politically, it energized the Republican convention, solidified the Christian right's support for John McCain and introduced a forceful new personality into American politics. Culturally, it triggered discussions of issues ranging from special-needs children to mothers' roles to teen pregnancy.

I want to focus on the cultural rather than the political here, and turn attention to the potential impact of the Palin pick on the internal life of the conservative Christian community that seems to support her so ardently. I write as a moderate evangelical Christian.

It is an uncomfortable fact that many of the theologically conservative Christians who have endorsed Palin's nomination would not be willing to endorse her or any other woman for service as pastor of their church. Women cannot serve as pastors in groups such as the Churches of Christ, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America, most non-denominational Bible churches, and an influential advocacy group called the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW).

Actually, at the local church level many congregations would not accept Palin or any other woman even as associate pastor, or deacon, or youth minister or Sunday school teacher in a gender-mixed classroom. The most conservative would not consider it appropriate for her to stand behind a pulpit and preach a sermon, or teach from the Bible, or lead a praise chorus, or offer a prayer, unless her audience consisted entirely of women or children.

These same conservative Christians who agree with Palin's political views and are thrilled by the idea of her serving just one heartbeat away from the presidency would argue that it would be inappropriate for her to exercise leadership in her marital relationship at home. Instead, as the CBMW says, she should "grow in willing, joyful submission to (her husband's) leadership." Many of the conservative Christian leaders who have so warmly endorsed the nomination of Palin, mother of five with a grandchild on the way, have spent most of their careers arguing that the primary responsibility of women is to tend to their homes and families.

The CBMW, which includes many of the Christian right's notable figures among its supporters, has for 20 years expressed concern about "widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood (and) vocational homemaking" and about the "increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism."

The groundbreaking nomination presents exceptionally significant opportunities for a rethinking of the role of women in the large conservative evangelical community of which she is a member. The woman who in her acceptance speech said, "This is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity," implicitly challenges the closed doors to church leadership that women encounter in thousands of American churches.

For nearly 40 years, conservative Protestants have displayed considerable hostility to the women's movement. Their leaders have sought to preserve a pre-1960s vision of the relationship between men and women and their respective roles. Citing a range of biblical texts, such as 1 Timothy 2:11-12, which appears to forbid women from teaching or having authority over men in church, and Ephesians 5:22-33, which calls on women to be subject to their husbands, conservative evangelical pastors and scholars have argued for a God-given hierarchy in the roles of men and women.

One standard articulation of this view says God's plan is for men to serve as godly leaders in home and church, and for women to accept a complementary role in voluntary submission to male authority. The man is the head of the household and family, though the woman plays the key role in providing primary care to their children.

As a corollary, only men are supposed to serve as pastors of churches or in other offices of religious authority, though the specifics of prohibitions on women's roles have varied by church and denomination. Some denominations, theologians and pastors have argued that women can serve in certain leadership positions in the church as long as they are under the ultimate authority of a male pastor-leader, while others are more restrictive. Learned theologians debate the details of these limits in books by well-known evangelical leaders such as John Piper and Wayne Grudem. More moderate and progressive evangelicals tend to reject such limits on the role of women, as I do, but this discussion of what women can and cannot be permitted to do in church is an ongoing feature of the internal life of conservative evangelicalism.

Never have conservative evangelicals positioned themselves as staunch advocates for women's leadership in political life — until Sarah Palin.

It seems only fair to ask these evangelical leaders to think a bit about the implications of their support for Palin. And so I ask them these questions:

•Is it now your view that God can call a woman to serve as president of the United States? Are you prepared to renounce publicly any further claim that God's plan is for men rather than women to exercise leadership in society, the workplace and public life? Do you acknowledge having become full-fledged egalitarians in this sphere at least?

•Would Palin be acceptable as vice president because she would still be under the ultimate authority of McCain as president, like the structure of authority that occurs in some of your churches? Have you fully come to grips with the fact that if after his election McCain were to die, Palin would be in authority over every male in the USA as president?

•If you agree that God can call a woman to serve as president, does this have any implications for your views on women's leadership in church life? Would you be willing to vote for a qualified woman to serve as pastor of your church? If not, why not?

•Do you believe that Palin is under the authority of her husband as head of the family? If so, would this authority spill over into her role as vice president?

•Do you believe that women carry primary responsibility for the care of children in the home? If so, does this affect your support for Palin? If not, are you willing to change your position and instead argue for flexibility in the distribution of child care responsibilities according to the needs of the family?

The nomination of Palin offers conservative Christian leaders the chance to rethink an archaic theological vision that wounds millions of devout Christian women and restricts the full exercise of their gifts. This is an unexpected gift from presidential candidate John McCain to evangelical Christianity. May Sarah Palin flourish in her new role, and may she open many new doors for evangelical women in America.

David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Feeling Old!

So I was chatting with some of the other instructors at work today - my coworkers - and realized that one of them, one of the older ones, is a full decade younger than me. A decade. 10 years. 3650 days...plus one month.

At least I'm aging well and they only know things like that if I tell them!

Current Read

Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation, Sarah Raymond Cunningham

Thursday, September 11, 2008

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."
— Chris McCandless

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"You were created to enjoy, but make sure you enjoy what you were created for. Your desires can lead you astray;"because it feels good is not a good compass for life. We should make decisions that enhance our joy for a lifetime rather than sacrificing joy for momentary pleasure.

So what do we do? We create religions to try to stop ourselves from allowing our desires, passions, and longings to lead us on destructive paths. We create laws and rules and rituals and guidelines - not to mention throwing in all the guilt and fear we can muster.

Rules or passions - which option is more attractive to you? Desire or demands? Freedom or legalism? Enjoy or obey? This last one is really important. Do you believe obedience to God is in conflict with enjoyment of life? You'll never live the life of your dreams until you believe that God is the source of all that is good. God made you to enjoy life. He's not trying to stop you from enjoying life; he's trying to help you find the joy for which you were created. Your longing to enjoy life will never go away, because God designed you that way. But we are too often shortsighted and settle for filler rather than wait for fulfillment."

Erwin McManus

Speaking of pleasure, here's a blog worthy one. Very nice! Check out this description (I didn't write it but I wish I did!):

Ghirardelli introduces Toffee Interlude™ with dark chocolate combined with crunchy toffee and caramelized almonds. The luxuriously deep and velvety chocolate delivers a moment of unrivaled chocolate intensity.

Savor a daytime breather and experience a moment of timeless pleasure as the intense chocolate lingers and time stands still.

Flavor Notes: This bar has a seductive, yet soothing aroma and a blend of the perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors. It is sophisticated with a juicy and mouthwatering quality that’s highly addictive.

They have a bunch of other flavors too. I think I'm going to have to do some taste testing...savoring each one luxurious bite at a time.
"God designed us to enjoy life; he created us for pleasure. God created us so he could enjoy us and we could enjoy him and we could enjoy life. God created us in the perfect environment for pleasure, enjoyment, and desire. This is the story of creation. This is our beginning. God created the world for our enjoyment. We took the fun out of it.

In the beginning, God's idea was to put us in a beautiful place filled with delicious fruit and gorgeous surroundings - not to mention that Adam and Eve were naked. For most of us this is a terrifying though, but factor in it was before cellulite went out of control. When we begin to enjoy life, we actually return to God's original intent. God never intended for us to live a life defined by pain, sorrow, loneliness, and disappointment. God created a very different world from the one we're running now. The garden of Eden was beautiful. You could see the sunset, and you couldn't see the atmosphere. There were no zone diets and no holes in the ozone. The world was designed to inspire the human spirit. We would wake up and want to shout at the top of our lungs how good life is. It really was a pleasure to be here.

Imagine waking up to a world like this. While paradise is gone, we can still wake up to a world we enjoy."

Erwin McManus

I like that. I want to live like that. The thing is that as North Americans, we're not very good at doing that in healthy ways. We over indulge which, I might add, begs the question of whether it's really taking pleasure in the good things in life or drowning our sorrows, or, taken to the other extreme, we avoid anything that might bring pleasure, assuming that the only way to success and fulfillment is to live an austere, driven life. Neither extreme brings the joy or rest that we long for.

Religions, Christianity included, have made pleasure something negative, earthly, unholy. To throw off the desires of this world, we decided, is to find enlightenment and freedom. But what if the truth of it is that in pursuing pleasure in healthy, wholesome, godly ways, we are actually closer to enlightenment or freedom or godliness. When, I ask, do you feel most free? When you are denying all things that might bring joy or when you are savoring a breathtaking moment? Engulfed in the pages of good book? Drowning in the sweet sounds of a beautiful piece of music? Savoring the flavors of rich, dark chocolate? Enraptured by a sunset or comforted by the presence of a loved one?

I say this tentatively. I'm not suggesting we throw out hard work for the pursuit of pleasure. Quite conversely, I believe that it's hard work that allows us to take pure joy in the pleasures of life. I daresay that, in the right balance, even our work can be a joy. I write this as one who is searching out a better balance, as one who leans towards the side of too much work and not enough play. And so, as I ponder the truths of Scripture reflected in McManus' writing, I find myself as one who is searching to be a part of seeing God's Kingdom come here on earth, to see Creation restored to it's original intent, to glimpse a bit of paradise here on earth. I want to wake up and find enjoyment in the things that God takes joy in, the things He gave us to take joy in. I want to work hard and play hard but most of all, I want to live well.

Caleb Gregory Charles Chick. 8Lbs, 3 oz born at 6:56 am on September 5, 2008 to proud mommy and daddy, Tyler and Michelle. Welcome, little one!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Did You Know?

On a typical 16th century English warship, a sailor's weekly ration of beer was about eight gallons, or roughly ten pints per day.

No wonder they were known to be a wee bit swarthy!

Current Read

Counts if it's being read to me, right? Via audiobook? I figure it's two birds with one stone. First, it's one of those books that's stirred up some controversy so I wanted to know what's going. Only way to do that is to read it! Second, by audiobook it's one way to make use of all the time I spend in Calgary traffic!

Rest in the Valley





There's a reason that it's recommended for a healthy, sane life. Wandering out to Elbow Valley felt like going home in it's own right. The richness of the color. The strength of the mountains. The smell of the trees. The only analogy to describe it would be to say that it felt like a strong, warm, comforting hug...and if you know me, you know I love hugs. A good day. No, a great day. Just what the doctor ordered...and highly recommended.

"Your faith, your religion or spirituality, is not supposed to serve as a way to get God off your back. It's not supposed to be a way to leverage your bets so that maybe you can get to heaven when you die. It's not supposed to be just about some way to relieve your guilt and shame. Dreaming with your eyes open is about living life to the fullest and enjoying God and having him enjoy you. It's about getting Go into your soul, your heart, and your head, and letting him show you the dreams an plans he has for your life. When an infinite God comes to dwell in a finite being, dangerously beautiful things begin to happen. It is here where you become indomitable. The fire within you becomes an eternal flame that cannot be put out."

Erwin McManus

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"It's great to have a friend who appreciates an earnest discussion of ideas."

Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I feel bad for not being a more consistent blogger...or emailer, phone call returner or coffee date for that matter. It's amazing to me how true the adage "time flies when you're having fun" really is. The truth hurts when one realizes that time flies even when you're NOT having fun.

Earlier today I was asked to describe my summer in one word. I chose "scattered." Before I explain, please let me say this as a precursor: it's not necessarily a bad thing. I like that I get to describe my life as full, abundantly full, a thought which seems like it could be a whole blog post in itself! But I digress...

So why scattered?

I'm working for the City still, lifeguarding and instructing, but, due to the way the system works, have had to work at several pools and some pretty random shifts to get even close to enough hours in. But, like I said, it's not all bad. I'm enjoying the work and enjoying the people I meet. I'm absolutely loving teaching. I hope that lasts. A lot of the instructors I work with roll their eyes and cynically tell me "oh, wait till you've done it for as long as I have" when they hear me say it but I really do think it will last. I just enjoy teaching and enjoy working with the kids. Which, I think, bodes well since I've officially started work at Journey as the Children's Minister and am loving that too. Again, a great team and great challenges. Good stuff, just a lot of juggling. I'm starting to feel a little like a circus clown. Really.

Then, since it's summer, my favorite time of year, I've been trying to spend as much time doing summer things as I possibly can. Canoing. Hiking. BBQing. Photographing. Farmer's markets. Sunning myself at Sikome (aka lazing). Generally enjoying the summer. A tricky yet rewarding task when two days off in a row is a rarity but it can be done.

Then there's trying to keep up with family and friends. I feel a little guilty because I think I've been worse at keeping connected with people than I ever have been before. More than ever, too, I'm missing my family. It could be because there's stuff going on that i wish I could be around for - when isn't there stuff, really - or perhaps I'm just getting older and realized the value of them more all the time, especially when I spend so much time watching other families interact.

People talk about how restful summer is. Vacations. Time away. Time off work. The certainly wasn't how my summer was but I love it none the less. I love the warmth, the sun, the smells, the food, the thunder and lightning storms the heat brings, the activity, the birds, the outdoor activities, the slurpees...I could even love the bugs if they didn't bite me! I've tried to take as much advantage of it as I can. That said, this year, probably for the first time, I find myself looking forward to the fall and to settling into some sort of routine.

Is it weird that I'm looking forward to the fall to slow down the pace of life, a task typically left for the summer?

In the meantime, I'm off to juggle.

Current Read

The Reptile Room, Lemony Snicket

How a Real Athlete Wins...

Phelps is a sore winner - Watch more free videos

Tee hee...I love the pool noodle!

All joking aside, the guy's impressive. Wonder what it would take for Canadian athletes to reach that standard on the world scale?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I haven't caught as much of they Olympics as I would have like but this win makes me smile!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being."

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again."
Abraham Maslow

Friday, August 15, 2008

Something I'm Pondering...

John Lennon, Josh Hamilton, and the postmodern F word
by Peter Menzies July 25, 2008

Journalists and faith have never had a comfortable relationship. Given the skeptical role of media in society, that isn't surprising.

Neither is the awkward news that journalists are not typically very good with ideas. Yes, some are brilliant and most are okay with facts, great with controversial quotes (such as when John Lennon described the Beatles as bigger than Christ), and anything hypocritical. They are even okay when it comes to faith leaders such as the Pope or the Dalai Lama whom they understand to have political roles.

"...if I can turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ's message, then that's what we're here to do."
—John Lennon

But when it comes to ideas—concepts that demand texture, nuance, and precision of thought—most journalists and their editors are lost. Too many have little memory of their social responsibilities, and they are unconscious as to how their suppositions undermine public confidence in the veracity of news and therefore their own credibility. Trust me on this: I have been directly involved in journalism for thirty years. I know. Too few of my colleagues understand that the stories they choose not to tell can be every bit as important as the ones they do tell. And they are.

This explains why stories about the role faith plays in people's lives are commonly dismissed as irrelevant or insignificant. The accepted wisdom for most journalists is that a lot of comments (I'd like to thank God for blessing me with the hands to catch this touchdown pass, for instance) are just vacuous proselytizing. Fair enough, but there are times when this skepticism suppresses great, albeit inconvenient, truths.

At the Juno Awards dinner in Calgary this past April, for instance, the country singer Paul Brandt received the first Alan Waters award for humanitarian activities. Introduced by Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Brandt swept away an overwhelmingly secular room with a deeply moving account of faith, its pain, and its pleasure. The story was not trite, meaningless evangelism. It was honest and intimate and true. Not a word made it into the national broadcasts the next night, although you can, and should, find it on YouTube.

Nor is it common knowledge that U2's beginnings were as a Christian band or that Bono's preoccupation with helping the world's poor is grounded in faith. Eric Clapton's revelation in his autobiography that he prays "on his knees" twice a day "because it works" never made the cut. Perhaps these matters are considered private, although given media's penchant for speculation on the private affairs of public personalities, this seems unlikely. After all, if Clapton's drug and alcohol addictions were legitimate matters for the public domain, surely the source of the triumph over them might be touched upon. Maybe editors and journalists assume such talk makes people uncomfortable. Honesty, though, is supposed to make people uncomfortable or, as George Orwell wrote, "in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Hamilton said God had a plan: "For me not to lose my eye-hand coordination. Not to have brain damage from all the mess I did. Not to be in jail or dead. And be able to come back and be able to perform at this level, he's got a bigger purpose."
—from a July 15, 2008 interview in the News & Observer

The morning I write this, for instance, I am still pondering the performance of Josh Hamilton in the home run derby of Major League Baseball's all-star week. Hamilton lit up Yankee Stadium (not an easy crowd) over and over and over again as ESPN told his story. A first round draft pick, Hamilton blew a multi-million dollar signing bonus on booze, heroin, and cocaine and left the game without getting past AA ball. He finally overcame his addictions through faith, and after three years completely out of baseball didn't just return to the game, he released his God-given talent and made it all the way to the majors, the all-star game, and a stardust evening at Yankee Stadium. To its credit, and as an illustration of how much more comfortable Americans are with faith, ESPN proclaimed that based on the evidence before it, "this is not a good night to be an atheist."

There is no mention of Hamilton's remarkable journey in my (Canadian) morning paper though—confirming the incapacity of writers and editors to understand there are stories much bigger than those that involve hitting balls with sticks. Sports radio ran with the tale later in the day but somehow while expressing excitement over the wonder of the story carefully avoided the postmodern F word: Faith.

But quite possibly the most profound example of a story left untold involves what John Lennon really intended forty years ago when he elevated himself and his music beyond Christ. Few of you will recall, but way back when the world was still in the industrial age and music was available only on vinyl and AM radio, the Beatles were as big as it gets when it comes to cultural impact and influence on youth. Lennon, the most outspoken of the Fab Four, commented on the extent of the mania by boasting that the band was more popular than Jesus Christ. While fire-and-brimstone evangelicals embarrassed themselves and confirmed suspicions of theocratic inclinations by burning Beatles records, the Baby Boom poured itself another round of self indulgence and embarked on a forty-year journey of pretentious rhetoric overwhelmed by excessive self-interest that history, I am convinced, will not judge kindly.

But it turns out (and what a turning point this might have been) that the world did not know Lennon's full views on Christ—at least until earlier this month when a never-before-broadcast interview first recorded in Montreal in 1969 by Ken Seymour of the CBC was played on BBC Radio 4 in Britain, July 13th 2008:

It's just an expression meaning the Beatles seem to me to have more influence over youth than Christ," the Telegraph quotes Lennon as saying in the tapes. "Now I wasn't saying that was a good idea, 'cos I'm one of Christ's biggest fans. And if I can turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ's message, then that's what we're here to do.

If the Beatles get on the side of Christ, which they always were, and let people know that, then maybe the churches won't be full, but there'll be a lot of Christians dancing in the dance halls. Whatever they celebrate, God and Christ, I don't think it matters as long as they're aware of Him and His message.
In the interview, Lennon described a fairly common contempt for the pretentious and meaningless social trappings of religious institutions ("the hat-wearing and the socializing and the tea parties") and being banned from a church at fourteen by a vicar after he and friends succumbed to a fit of "the giggles."

I wasn't convinced of the vicar's sincerity anyway. But I knew it was the house of God. So I went along for that and the atmosphere always made me feel emotional and religious or whatever you call it.
Lennon regrets, according to the tape, that he couldn't marry Yoko Ono in a church "but they (Church of England) wouldn't marry divorcées."

As for heaven, according to the Telegraph, Lennon said:

I haven't got any sort of dream of a physical heaven where there's lots of chocolate and pretty women in nightgowns, playing harps. I believe you can make heaven within your own mind. The kingdom of heaven is within you, Christ said, and I believe that.
Then, in a stroke of wonderfully British understatement, the Telegraph quotes author Paul Du Noyer saying, "These comments would have been a great boost for churches if they had come out at the time."

Gee. Do you think?

I have no idea—only suspicions regarding ingrained predispositions—why this interview with Lennon was cut or simply filed away without airing until now. The reporter may have had "better stuff." He may have included it in his report only to have it edited out by a superior or it may have been simply lost in internal misunderstandings. It might have been consciously or unconsciously intentional. It most certainly was tragic that it never made the news of the day.

How much of a difference it would have made in the formation of the Baby Boom's worldview, I don't know. But it's not hard to imagine. In fact, it's easy if you try.

© Work Research Foundation 2008

Current Read

Wide Awake: The Future is Waiting Within You, Erwin Raphael McManus

Current Read

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket

A quick, fun summer read. One third of the movie but so much better!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Perhaps My New Favorite Video

Admittedly, I'm not a big music video watcher. It's not that I don't enjoy them. It's just that I don't really think about it. This one, however, has caught my attention. I watch it and I feel inspired and saddened at the same time. An unusual combination I know.