Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Campolo and the Clear Mug goes to....

Hey, interested in what Tony Campolo had to say on Comedy Central's the Colbert Report then check out this link. (You'll have to check it out soon cause they usually delete a bunch of old stuff after a week or so) In fact the whole comedy show was on religion and the state. Fun stuff.

The Colbert Report airs Monday to Thursday Night 12:30 am on CTV right after the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (host of the academy awards)

And on a totally random note...
Gil this cup is for you!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Just a few comments about sport
It is amazing to me how attached to my countries performance I always am. Its probably pathetic but hey I know people who are worse than me. So in the spirit of comparative justification...
Mennonites in the olympics...
genetically speaking the ethnic tendencies toward large hipp-edness seems to pay off on the ice track. something caught my attention as I watched CBC interview Cindy and her family. The announcer said...
"If asked, and only if asked, they (the Klassens) will tell you that their faith makes all the difference."
Thank you Cindy for not turning your faith into some kind of secret-superhero-like- power that helped you win all these medals for Jesus.
Her brother commented that it ws her faith that helped Cindy to realize that winning a medal wasn't nearly the most important thing in life. That helped to relieve the pressure.
That is so smart is smacks me in the rear. How much focus do i still carry about my own glory and acheivement?
I know finding spiritual truth on the CBC - that's messed - I guess.

The Swedish Hockey Gold Medal
where are the big teams? USA, Czech Rep., Russia, Canada. In the sewer - that where! I watched the gold medal game and yeah it was really pitiful hockey. In fact I would say that all the olympic hockey that I watched really wasn't that good. This kinda surprized me. Last winter olympics I really liked the game on the big ice with a focus on skill...
This time I would say that the past year's NHL has been far more entertaining - far better hockey than what i watched this past week. So congrats Sweden!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

reading what you eat

Eat This Book
Peterson's Latest
I love his suggestion that meditation is more like a dog worrying a bone than our common idea of quiet reflection. Reading scripture that involves your soul?! I am looking forward to this one.

Friday, February 24, 2006

cartoons and pastries...

this is the last one i promise...
but this has gone too far!
fine if you want to burn a KFC
okay if a few flags get burned
cool to see a few Danish embassies burning
but this is just over the top!
Associated Press Story: CaricatureFlap
and come on it wasn't even original
after all "our" side renamed french fries to freedom fries first.
So back off leave me alone with my coffee and danish.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

U.S. foreign policy?

I recieved this recently in an email... (maybe you did too)
Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan... what weneed now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message.
Robin Williams' plan...(Hard to argue with this logic!)
I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a planfor peace. So, here's one plan:
1) The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in theiraffairs, past & present. We will promise never to "interfere" again.
2) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting withGermany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there. Wewould station troops at our borders. No more sneaking through holes inthe fence.
3) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together andleave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainderwill be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or wherethey are. France would welcome them.
4) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 dayvisits unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nationwould be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself,don't hide here. Asylum would not ever be available to anyone. We don'tneed any more cab drivers.
5) No "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If theydon't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home, baby.
6) The US will make a strong effort to become self sufficient energywise. This will include developing non polluting sources of energy butwill require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. Thecaribou will have to cope for a while.
7) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel fortheir oil. If they don't like it, we go someplace else.
8) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, wewill not "interfere". They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds,rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides, most of what we give themgets "lost" or is taken by their army. The people who need it most getvery little, anyway.
9) Ship the UN Headquarters to an island some place. We don't need thespies and fair weather friends here. Besides, it would make a goodhomeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
9b) Use the buildings as replacement for the twin towers.
10) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no onecan call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. Now, ain't that a winner of aplan. "The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your poor, yourtired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling,'You want a piece of me?"

Turns out that attributing this to Robin is completely unsubstantiated.
Seems to me, this "plan" was intended to demonstrate how an abdication of the U.S.'s foreign responsibilites would be very unfavorable for the world. And it is convenient to use a comedian to help couch this plan in humor. Interestingly enough there just happens to be some debate over whether a UAE based company should own parts of US ports currently owned by a British company. Story Link
Anyway, I guess we have to put up with the crappy foreign policy for while yet - it is kinda interesting that people try to use humor to cover up what is a disturbing idea of the world.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

this old guitar...

This old guitar ain't mine to keep
Just taking care of it now
It's been around for years and years
Just waiting in its old case
It's been up and down the country roads
It's brought a tear and a smile
It's seen its share of dreams and hopes
And never went out of style
The more I play it, the better it sounds
It cries when I leave it alone
Silently it waits for me
Or someone else I suppose
This old guitar
This old guitar has caught some breaks
But it never searched for gold
It can't be blamed for my mistakes
It only does what it's told
It's been a messenger in times of trouble
In times of hope and fear
When I get drunk and seeing double
It jumps behind the wheel and steers
This old guitar ain't mine to keep
It's mine to play for a while.
-Neil Young (with Emmylou Harris)




Monday, February 20, 2006

way to go Dad!

this is what i have to live up to...
thanks for making it easy Dad
he's gonna have birthday soon...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

peace, rwanda, and more...

Jessica Morgun recently posted a very encouraging bit on her work as a teacher introducing the Rwandan genocide to her grade 11 students... check it out

(Jessica is Paul Morgun's wife - read their blog and imagine how supper time conversations go in their house...)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Janzen and some meat to chew on...

I had an interesting conversation, this past Sunday on the idea of pacifism – especially from a Mennonite perspective. We were outside in the balmy S. Alberta afternoon barbequing some pork loin and chicken – I hope those beasts died peacefully.
We talked about peace and activism; whether the two ideas were complimentary at all. So Rob said something like this, “I think peace and evangelism (the gospel) are very closely tied together!”
I think being a peacemaker and being a pacifist are two different things. Being a peacemaker in my view is essential an activist role – often stepping in to bring conflicting parties to and understanding of peace. I think that to be a peacemaker you may require the use of force (and maybe that is a just a semantically obtuse way of saying violence). A pacifist – at least as I commonly understand the teaching as passed down from our Anabaptist roots is essentially not activist. This position would hold that efforts are made to avoid conflict at almost every cost in order to maintain peace. It honors the understanding of how we are to sacrifice our very lives and all we hold dear to the cause of Christ. Is it possible to be both peacemaker and pacifist?
When the commanding officer implicates all of humanity for the genocide in Rwanda due to our apathy over the situation, does a pacifist perspective allow us to justify our inaction? Or on the other hand can I legitimately ask my youth group to raise money to free the child slaves in South East Asia, knowing the methods used to free them are certainly not free from force. Can pacifism accurately hold us accountable for our global responsibilities? Can peacemaking really be anything more than glorified self-interest?

i never lie awake at night
hearing the whistle and whine
i never wake up sweating
from the dream of guns and screams
i never check who is following me
who is checking up on me
i never hold a white tea towel
at the end of a stick
just to cross the street
just to go outside
bullet holes on tin roofs
shells and casing – keepsakes of misses
i never have to give up my clean white bed sheets
to make a crimson flag
and so maybe it never

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Listening to the man who SHOOK the Devil's hand...

I’ll do my best to recapture what was for me a moving experience. Roméo Dallaire, now Canadian senator and retired Canadian Military General – Commander of the UN peace keeping mission in Rwanda, came to speak at Kate Andrews High School. He spoke for about 30 minutes and then opened the floor for questions for the next half hour. It was stunning. As we were sitting there waiting in the gymnasium, I kept telling kids that this was going to change their lives. Many of the students I talked to later said it was the best assembly they had attended. I’ll try to capture some of the many high points for posterity. (Probably many of you regular readers are tired already of my copious writing)
Dallaire began by giving us a frame work of what he said had changed from a Canadian role to a responsibility to the world and more specifically, as it was to high school students that he was addressing, to adolescents around the world in developing countries.
Dallaire said that education was a core issue. He had attended a Summit of the Americas youth conference in Montreal where he was honored to receive the recommendations of the over 400 youth in attendance. The number one recommendation was to place priority on broad based education. He commented that sectarian efforts were mildly effective but he clearly said – there is too much evangelist education and not enough broad based (likely meaning ‘secular’) education.
He then outlined how Canadian values marked us as an extraordinary leader on the world stage.
Human rights, hard work ethic, dignity of life, and fairness were the four values that he said marked Canadians as distinct from other nations. As an example he told a story from Rwanda.
A 30 person platoon had come upon a village where everyone had been slaughtered. Mowed down in their homes. The platoon worked their way through the village searching for survivors. At the end of the town they encountered a large culvert. In it were numerous bodies, mutilated, raped – but some were still alive.
Dallaire said he queried the 26 different nations who had a military presence with the UN forces and asked them what they would expect their lieutenant to order their troops to do in that situation, knowing that at least half of the people in that village were infected with HIV/AIDS. Any assistance would expose their troops to being infected as soldiers were not outfitted with all the protective equipment for situations like those. Dallaire said 23 of the 26 nations said they would order their troops to leave the situation citing the risk of infection as being too great and the fact that like these people would die anyway. Canada was one of the three other nations.
So, Dallaire said, the platoon in the situation happened to be Canadian. And the lieutenant in charged was faced with this dilemma. But the officer was never able to give an order of any kind because before he could give any direction the platoon had jumped into the ditch and were pulling out bodies.
That story sent shivers down my spine…
I remember the stories about the war my family escaped so many years ago. And I was gripped with a great sadness. Sadness I remember living with for many years after we left Nicaragua.
Dallaire went on to take questions from the audience who had been told to watch a documentary on the Rwandan situation before attending the assembly. To my delight the students by in large asked intelligent questions. On the rare occasion that a student asked Dallaire about whether he was still friends with the hotel owner in the movie Hotel Rwanda. Dallaire suffered the child by acknowledging craftily working the answer into a poignant commentary about how we are to view all media with a jaundiced eye.
In one question he was asked about former president Clinton’s ‘apology’ speech to Rwandans recently “I don’t like Bill Clinton!” Dallaire said. After the auditorium applause died down, he said the presidents policy of only acting in countries where there was some sort of ‘self interest’ meant that even though information about the genocide was being relayed to Washington it never reached the president due to the policy he himself had put in place. Therefore, when in 1998 he claimed that he did not know how bad it really was; Dallaire said that was Clinton’s own fault. Then Dallaire said, “and this fall when we are together at (unnamed) conference I am going to tell him that – though I suspect he already knows how I feel.”
Dallaire also commented on how the situation in the Darfur had received little to no media attention. He said how ironic it was that the tsunami had over shadowed a catastrophe of far greater magnitude. And that in the one year anniversary of the tsunami how much reporting had taken place on retrospectives of the natural disaster which was largely uncontrollable. Ironically, almost no reporting was done on the unnatural disaster that took place during the same time period in Darfur – far more preventable it would seem.
The presentation was moving. I have yet to feel as patriotic as when that man spoke of our identity as Canadians. I have rarely felt more Christian than when I realized that those values were precisely the ones Jesus was talking about in Matthew 25.
I was admonished as well. One student said, “Mr. Dallaire it would seem you and your soldiers went through hell out in Rwanda – would you do it again?”
“Instantaneously!” he said and paused. “I would do it again not because I want to go to hell again but because it is my responsibility to help – and if I could have saved one more person or changed one more thing to bring about success I would do it.”
“You have to remember,” he said, “my mission in Rwanda was a failure. We were supposed to prevent the genocide from happening.” That statement spoke deeply. Here is a man we respect because in the face of failure and utter despair chose to do as best he knew how in the situation. Then I look at Jesus and see that by all accounts people would have written off his ‘mission’ as a failure – yet he persevered through it all. Then I look at how success oriented my own ‘mission’ in life is and I am ashamed.
Dallaire was also asked if he had lost faith in the international community. “My son,” he said, “optimism is spark of life. Cynicism is much easier but far more destructive. There are many problems with the international community but it is all we have.”
I tend to be a cynic. This was a good admonition for me. I probably could have inserted church for international community. It is important to remember that unchecked cynicism is destructive…
One more thing…
In a post assemble conversation with a friend of mine. We talked about the speech. We reflected on how many of the same themes came out in Dallaire’s speech as were in Bono’s presidential breakfast address. The comment was made that it was amazing how rock stars and former generals were sounding more like Jesus did than many of our evangelical preacher often do. What a cynical thing to say…
Or is it?

Senator Romeo Dallaire speaks to Mennonite students
Senator Romeo Dallaire spoke recently to high school students at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute (MBCI) in Winnipeg. Dallaire was the Force Commander of the UN mission to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide there; he recounted his harrowing experience in the prize-winning book Shake Hands with the Devil. MBCI teacher Paul Doerksen commented, "What struck me immediately was Dallaire's open declaration of the Christian framework from within which he understands things and seeks to live his life." When pressed about the role of the Christian faith in his own life, and in complex scenarios such as the Rwandan genocide, Dallaire stated that he firmly believes in the existence of the devil, whose hand he shook in the form of leaders of the Hutu extremists. "I know the devil exists, and therefore I know there is a God," he told students. -- Mennonite Brethren Herald

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Hot Seat apologetics...

"We don't form our personal spiritual lives out of a random assemblage of favourite texts in combination with individual circumstances; we are formed by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the text of Holy Scripture. God does not put us in charge of forming our personal spiritualities." - Eugene Peterson EAT THIS BOOK
Reading this brought to mind my recent involvement in a “Hot Seat” Panel that was formed at our recent junior high retreat. The idea was that a bunch of us leader types would form a panel of experts who would be asked to comment on anonymous questions posed by the campers. In an odd way I felt uncomfortable taking my position ‘up there’. Two reasons: one was that I was the only panellist without a well worn Bible in my hand and two was my recent struggle with the spiritual hierarchy that we have created around spiritual knowledge. But hey it was junior high’s and a guy like me might just have something to say that might help them so there I was.
What surprised me most were the questions themselves. These were tricky complicated questions with multiple implications. Questions about the nature of sin, evidence and the nature of heaven, and the like. It’s always interesting to hear people’s spiritual questions because invariably behind each question is a story that motivates the asking. It is often more interesting to explore why someone is asking a questions than the original question itself. But of course in this case it was hard to do cause the questions were asked anonymously (presumably using anonymity to embolden student’s asking).
I held my own! I’m proud to say! I didn’t dominate the discussion. But I put in a few good jabs.
Then it came. “How do you know God is real?” Now there might be a thousand ways to answer this question. But this is what happened. No sooner had the question been asked then 5 Bibles slid open. Not the usual flipping around guessing where a certain verse might be but confidently busting open to specific places. So after Romans had been read and Hebrews and Psalms. I said something like, “There is no way to know that God is real – no hard core proof anyway. You can pick out any verse you want from the Bible to say that God is there but you first have to believe in the Bible. But“, I said, “If you are willing to take some time to get to know God – he’s out there for the knowing. And knowing that he’s real will mean reading about him in the Bible, seeing him in creation, and feeling him change your heart.”
Then I apologized to the panellists for sounding contradictory. And to be honest I really hope I did not screw things up for anybody. But I kinda felt like we were setting these kids up to construct a faith based on what Peterson calls, “a random assemblage of favourite texts.” I’m probably out to lunch on this…


check this out:
city and colour - "sometimes"

never ending white lights - "Vol. 1"

gordie sampson - "sunburn"

Other stuff: Broken Social Scene // Todd Hannigan // The Kaiser Chiefs // Andy Stochansky

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Breakfast with Bono - almost

check out Jesse Nikkel's take on the President's prayer breakfast and the attached link to Bono speech at same breakfast (quite possibly the most sensible thing I've read in a while)

more on cartoons (no pun intended)

This sort of a follow up to Gil's posting on the whole Danish cartoon controversy. I heard today that an Iranian newspaper is holding a cartoon contest on the Holocaust as a way of testing the West's resolve to honor the freedom of speech they are claiming in defense of the original cartoons.
This obviously a deeply disturbing situation. And this latest development only confirms my resolve on my position in this matter:
I believe in Freedom of Speech - not as a moral right but as an honorable virtue amoung respectable human beings. We should allow other people to voice their opinions as freely as they wish - knowing that truth is it's own defense. We need not prop God up with protests or retaliation. A lack of tolerance toward our fellow person deny's them the gift of free will so central to the identitiy of humanity. Free will is also central to the essence of gospel - which holds the beauty of redemption in the individual's ability to choose God.
I trust it is obviously clear that for humanity to function well it must at times deny the ability to exercise free will to the benefit of the greater society. But for us to expect or demand people to deny their free will (what they often have come to see as a right) is ludicrous.
This retaliatory foray is disturbing and will no doubt reduce the credibility of Islamic people all over the globe even further. Let us pray that someone will choose the strength of denying themselves in this situation...

Thursday, February 2, 2006

what will be parked on my front lawn this winter...

they've got a strong team going to torino this year. Their coffee team alone could bring home some gold (notice I did not say medals - it might for that matter be... ...teeth). Obviously, you may wonder how a country locked in by the very warm breezes of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico could ever field a WINTER olympics team. Well this bugger of a little tropical country has gone innovative and used the affects of global warming to it's benefit. A couple years ago when hurricanes turned their eastern slopes into giant mud slides the governments athletic association realized that the techniques used by the survivors to escape the land slides could prove valuable in sports such as luge, skiing around them red flags, and speed skating...
After renting about a thousand copies of the movie about the Jamaican bobsled team through their cartel buddy in Wachingtonne Dt.C., they planned a giant movie night along side their regular Friday Night AK 47 Firing-Into-The-Air-Party and voila-the Nicaraguan Winter Olympic Team.
so since that is my homeland you know where my allegiance will lie during these enigmatic days showcasing human achievement...
Soy puro pinolero Nicaraguense por gracia de Dios!

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Adversary or Ally

This topic has produced a good deal of tension for me: What is the nature of the believer’s relationship with the world? Is it more adversarial or more of an allied relationship? Scripture presents both sides as acceptable and normative for Jesus’ followers. Our temptation is to place these two concepts on a continuum and place an “X” where we believe that we and for that matter all other believers should live. Of course from a purely rational perspective we are left with no other choice than to place our “X” on the line somewhere and declare that based on our rational conclusions we can justify our position. Certainly many would argue that the tendency of the evangelical church has been more toward the adversarial side. Whether or not I agree that that is the case or that it should be the case, I am left with the distinct impression that there must exist some other “control” that informs how/why/when we would choose to advocate one side of this line or the other. But honestly, I am wallowing in a type of perplexity. I see people for whom this question is settled and more often than not I am bothered by their response to the world. The one’s who advocate and adversarial approach seem to callously disregard the fact that they too at one point were ‘lost’ or that they can really sequester themselves away from the world enough to preserve the faith they consider so dear. The one’s who advocate an alliance with the world seem all too often to compromise morality to gain ‘access’ to the world. So I feel stuck…