Friday, December 22, 2006
We are going to be heading out for a mother long road trip.
Saturday we leave for Caronport to hook up with my brother and then on to Steinbach to take in my other brother's Christmas eve service. Then back to Mom and Dads for a late night Christmas in Winkler. We will hang out there for a few days and take in the Friesen gathering (first time in eons) and then boot off to Red Deer (with a stop in Regina - tourism capital of the bald prairies). We will stay there till we leave for Fairmont over the first week of '07 - do some skiing, and chill.
Hope the ASTRO makes it - always fingers crossed on the long trips...
Couple things to take care of this year yet on this blog:
A big shout out to Garry Siebert. Garry is good friend and volunteer in youth minsitry here since before I began here at Coaldale. I am going to miss doing ministry with this gifted and kind brother when all is said and done here. Garry is a man of strong convictions - but those convictions are alwasy tempered by a deep desire to hold steady open relationships without conflict. His grace to people in this is a huge example to me. It always amazes me to see how kids who used to be in the youth group comment and ask about Garry. I think it is plain and obvious how much he pours his heart into the people he surrounds. Garry is the manager of Boss Lubricants in Lethbridge - a position that he deserves and that fills me with pride. Thank - you Garry for being faithful all these years. Thanks for being a friend.
Another big shout out to Mark. Mark chose to identify me as a mentor in his life. It hardly seems right since I have learned so much from him over the years. Mark and Bonnie were in town these last few days and it was like we never skipped a beat. I will shed many tears over not being able to do ministry with my friend. But someday we will reunite in ministry together again. I was a part of discernment meeting that Mark called related to one of his courses. This has to be one of the toughest things for someone to do. You open yourself up to being very vulnerable. Mark I am so proud of you. I stand amazed at the picture of Jesus that I see in you. You have no idea how much I miss you when you are gone.
I am going to miss seeing other friends at Christmas as well. Gil and Shelley, Ryan and Naomi, Eddy and Petra, you have a treasured place in my heart.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
“A lot of people are just sort of primed to see each new mass cultural phenomenon as a threat. Any time it’s new, there will be a period of people asking, "What is this doing to us’ Is this the end of the world’" As it becomes part of the landscape, people build up an intuitive sense that real life goes on as it was going to; it isn’t changing much. Then the alarmists cease to have the same effect.”
Basically, I guess Jones’ argument looks at the progressive acceptance of cultural phenomenon which are initially generally held suspect.
There was a day when elders from our church patrolled outside the movie theatre to ‘catch’ anyone who might even darken the door of such a disreputable establishment. Today, Christians will flock to see the Nativity in these same theatres.
We’ve seen a lot of research that points to how video game violence, first-person-shooter games, and sexual representation affect children toward mimicking behavior. My oldest son rented NFL Street last week and on Monday I rented crutches for my second oldest son after a game of football where my oldest son tackled him. I see a connection between the two especially because my oldest son does not generally have a strong interest in football. I think it is silly for us to think that what we ‘consume’ will not affect us – which we can somehow stay completely detached to what we see.
But we are no more attached to negative or evil influences than we are to positive ones (or seemingly so). It’s weird how this works. If we hear a ‘worship’ song that tells us that God solves all our problems – we don’t make too much of it. On the other hand if we hear the f-bomb in a song we get all sorts of bothered. We think well at least the first one is a ‘worship’ song it can’t actually be that bad. But the other song is by some woman in a skimpy dress so there can be nothing in that song that holds any truth. And sure lets admit that if we keep listening to songs with the f-word in them we will be affected by that one way or another. But I listened to a testimony recently that claimed that he had come to realize how God want to solve all the problems in his life – if he would just give them to him. Where did he get that theological perspective? Hmmm.
ACDC used to be the messengers of the Devil (Hells Bells) KISS were known as Kids In Satan’s Service. Back-masking was the big deal. These bands were on the sidelines (fringes) of society (certainly in Christian circles). But today there songs are thought of with a strange fondness. You know: “These are the songs that we were banned from listening to when we were kids.”
So I am left with some questions: Should some things always and forever stay wrong? Will we eventually accept everything as acceptable behavior? Is it healthy for us to constantly be ring the alarm bell over every new cultural phenomenon? How do we help youth make wise decisions about what they consume?
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
again. Time to let you know what I am
A Few Suggestions to Help You Observe Christmas To It's Fullest
No need to worry about how much
or you ingest before you climb behind the because
won't be organizing too many (full story)
Finally some last minute gift suggestions for all those tough people on your list...
and you may as well throw in a sleeve of...
how about for the retirees on your list who are looking for that special 'inspired' get-away. The Pickle is proud to present:
of course there is always that one person on your list that seems to have everything. Well we even have a suggestion for that person(s)...
Don't worry too much Christmas is still pretty
On a more serious
I've been wondering about
Jesus' birthday to another day of the year.
It's not that I think that Jesus is embarrassed about his age.
I just wonder how disturbed the God incarnate would be about how, the gathering around the
with all its excesses has become central to our celebration of his
Senior Gentleman (SG): You know I was born near Russia. (Many of our seniors emmigrated from there)
Me: Oh yeah, tell which part?
SG: Estevan, Saskatchewan
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
So I’m wondering if things get dumbed down, bastardized, injected with artificiality first of all when pragmatism or profits become values we cherish more than quality, truth, craftsmanship, investment of time and on and on. Then, I wonder, if the fake stuff begins to become the norm when one person grows up having never tasted the real thing. Fake is normal.
and then shaun goes on to say...
And studying the history of the Christian religion for the last couple years has convinced me the faith of my fathers is not the faith my father shared with me. WHich isn’t his fault. It evolved long before he was born, and still is, in both wonderful and disastrous ways. He grew up thinking it was the original recipe. But as I’ve had tastes of authentic Christianity I’ve become less and less thrilled with the more profitable and pragmatic brand manufactured for mass consumption. read more...
This got me to thinking about Christmas. I have been very disturbed by Christmas generally, this year. My impression is that XMAS is pretty far from Christian. Of course the Christian pretense is there. Austensibly we are celebrating the birthday of the central figure of history - let alone God in the flesh. There just seems to be so little about the holiday - its traditions, celebrations, observances - whatever - that seems to actually honor the person we seem to be honoring. And honoring this person would seem to be an important thing to get right.
Just like the guacamole that Shaun talks about I wonder if the central ingredients in this day (XMAS) are lost to all the preservatives that make/keep the holiday more feasible.
clasp the knocker without invitation
it is not a revolving
door–welcome mat suggests you wipe your feet on
and you open the other side
leave me out in the winter cold
standing on the corner
begging to go down into somebody’s need
to feed my need
for the delightful sigh of the lover who
opens the other side
who walks along the highway to distraction
an aside: (you gave me an orienteering course – you growled at me when I got it wrong – I lost my bearings)
who doesn’t have to pretend that the beaten path is too conforming
deforming the façade that plays out in the
fix the destination or
fix the compass
and you open the other side
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I have heard rumours that in the future the Conservatives plan on devoting every Thursday in the House of Commons to more votes on minority rights.
So far they have planned motions debating whether the Chinese should be allowed to drive, whether women should be allowed to vote and whether turbans should be allowed in... (read more)
Monday, December 11, 2006
The coffee is wonderful. Big chocolaty tones and some wonderful upfront caramels right away – no hunting and pecking through your taste buds to find it. And of course the coffee is smooth – Al is so gentle with this roasts making sure they do not wander across the forbidden boundaries of the Starbucks burn zone. But then the coffee is also outstanding because it bears a mighty redemption behind it. Oh yes as you will have already seen if you went to the site. This coffee fights for women – those who are being taken advantage of, abused, used, and reduced to property. A dollar from every pound sold roasted goes to support the various agencies that this cooperative has selected for global affect. Not only that the coffee is grown and processed by Peruvian women and sold to companies who meet strict standards (Al said he even had to have a woman sign for delivery of the product when it arrived to prove that he had women working for him.) So anyone interested in a pound?
Friday, December 8, 2006
-Following the Star (a daily online advent devotional guide)
In the confusion of the time that is ahead I want to learn to wait.
Everytime I think about the future (post June) I am filled with questions. And
I'll admit that I am addicted to the answers. I think of the impending chaos
that I will throw my family into in the next few months. That's right I did this
- it was/is my decision. Shoot I know you had a hand in this but in the end,
after all is said and done - I decided this. And I'm scared...
...honestly, love is such a fragile thing that people share. My
instincts are to protect it - to clear the coming chaos for my boys, my wife,
our family, our marriage. I apologize for how I have pushed you aside. I also
want you to know that I find it difficult to know how to trust you. I am greedy
I want to learn to wait - confidently wait!
Follow me on this one:
I am pulling inspiration from here: LA Times article on Brad Stine (you might need to register to read it but it’s free)
And of course here: Nacho Kung-Fu
Actually I gotta say Shaun Groves really planted the seed here:
To work up to my big finale. I am going to set up a wrestling ring on stage and wrestle a bunch of junior high boys and once I have them pinned I will take on any lily-livered girly men in the audience who have not already left (either voluntarily or by ambulance). After which I will take an effigy of the Devil and set fire to it. ‘Cause just like the song says I am growing a pair. http://www.godmen.org/godmen%20images.html
Shoot there are some killer quote in that LA Times article that I laughed at while I wait or Joel to show up to take me out for coffee.
But on a more serious side…
…what a freaking circus. I hope this is not what Matt Redman meant when he said he was going to become, “even more undignified than this…”
Anyways, maybe you can help me think of good name for my wrestling persona.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
Dale: Not bad. We missed you. I got your email though
Diego: Okay so clear this up for me.
Dale: I’ll do my best. First of all we need to recognize that Yoga itself is a spiritual pathway most closely associated with the Hindu religion (although it has some strong connections to Buddhism as well). Yoga’s main philosophical principal goes sorta like this: God is inside of you because you are God and concentrating on yourself puts you in touch with the God in you.
Diego: Whoa – that is a pretty bold claim…
Dale: Well sure it is and really you have to know that I am way over simplifying the practice of Yoga but…
Diego: Okay so that would definitely go against the Christian belief that we are all sinners – rotten to the core.
Dale: Yup pretty much. But here is the other thing. Most of the yoga exercise programs that are out there are quite different from the actual Yoga practiced within the Hindu traditions. In fact many of the gurus of Yoga would be embarrassed with the way Yoga has been cheapened in our North American culture.
Diego: Kinda like we are embarrassed by some of the people who call themselves Christians on TV and stuff…
Dale: Exactly. So we have to careful that we don’t assume one is the other.
Diego: But isn’t it kinda like drugs. You know you start with pot and it leads to acid and then to crack and then to Meth? You know…
Dale: Well, that is one of the main arguments that Christians have used over the years, to convince themselves that doing yoga is wrong. The idea is that you start innocently enough in the exercise form of yoga and then drift in to the deeper ‘stuff’ of the actual yoga teachings. And to be sure this is something we need to be careful about. I can’t stress this enough: If you are going to allow yourself to be ignorant about all this stuff or even just let your curiosity get out of control, it might be easy to get sucked into all kinds of stuff you don’t intend to. I mean just look at how materialistic everyone is these days. We start out at Christmas with the idea that we need to show love to people by giving them gifts and we end up with people being trampled trying to get the best deal at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. You gotta know that some kind of progressive crap is going there…
Diego: So are you saying to stay away from Yoga in any form because it will lead you to investigate the deeper forms?
Dale: Well, no. I’m just saying that we can’t underestimate the power of suggestion that some of these things tend to have. So a lot of it has to be an analysis of your own personal boundaries on this stuff.
Diego: Okay point taken. But I am still not clear on this…
Dale: Uh, maybe this can help. Mark Oestreicher posted a pretty good response to some critics who accused Youth Specialties of getting to cozy with Yoga. Anyways read the whole response here but check this out: “Sure, yoga, I suppose, could focus on Hindi or Buddhist gods or something – but it can also focus on Christ. We received a couple stomping-mad complaints about the yoga at the National Pastors Convention, saying “putting your body in those positions invites Hindi gods to enter your body.” I’m sorry – this just sounds like heresy to me. If we don’t believe Hindi gods actually exist, then why are we concerned about them entering our bodies? And even for those who would say this is about other dark spiritual forces in the world; well, as believers, we have no fear of them. So the whole “don’t put yourself at risk by doing these stretching exercises” argument is just lost on me.”
Diego: That makes some sense to me. If we don’t believe that these gods exist what are we afraid of?
Dale: Exactly. Again this isn’t the whole answer on the topic but it’s a start.
Diego: Just curious have you ever done yoga?
Dale: Me – No! Are you kidding about the only yoga position I could do is the beachball and its just no that popular.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Diego: The other day I was talking to a friend who has just started a workout routine to get in shape. It sounded really good but…
Dale: But you were afraid to mention it to me lest I thought you were pestering me about my weight?
Diego: No – well sorta…actually it was that the workout routine contained yoga exercises as a part of the training. Aren’t we supposed to stay away from yoga cause of it connection to cults and stuff?
Dale: Hmmm! This one is tricky. There are a couple of ways to look at this and a bunch of things to consider.
Diego: Are you saying it might be okay to practice yoga or other meditation practices?
Dale: Back the cart up. Let me suggest a few things to consider and then we can keep talking about this…
First, here’s a quiz. Ready?
Dale: How do you usually pray? I mean what position is your body in when you pray – usually?
Diego: I don’t know. I stand, sit, kneel, slouch – whatever. Usually I close my eyes. But if I am alone I usually like to sit cross-legged on my bed and hold my hands open in my lap or holding my Bible.
Dale: How do you think your physical posture affects your prayer?
Diego: Well I find if I allow my body to move with what I am saying or feeling at the time there seems to be a greater connection for me to God. I know it weird but…
Dale: Does closing your eyes make your prayer more effective?
Diego: No, I don’t think God listens to my prayer more when my eyes are closed. But I do feel like I can concentrate on my inner thoughts and lose the distractions if my eyes are closed.
Dale: Good point! Let me tell you a little story: I grew up in
Diego: Sometimes I wonder if it would be better if we got a little more excited when we prayed.
Dale: Sure. But I would say my ideas as a child were off the mark. I would say that there is no position that makes us more or less likely to pray well. Now I know that Yoga is way more than just a position of prayer, but I think we need to start by just saying upfront that as a physical body position it really is no better or worse for me spiritually than standing sitting or anything else.
Diego: I get that. Sometimes I pray while I’m driving to school and listening to the morning show on Fliesch 92 fm. Regardless of what music is playing I still feel pretty close to God. So it’s all good?
Dale: Well it would be premature to stop it there but we should pick this up again tomorrow at lunch.
Diego: Pizza Hut with Jodi, Kayla, and Avery?
Here's the basic gist of the thing. From what I know this website takes the emotional pulse of the blogging world and fits it into a pretty powerful database. I'm just startingto explore this thing but apparently you can search specific locations and see what the emotional barometer is reading. You can also develop an emotional forecast of sorts. the iterface is funky too becuase it is set up (and intended as an art project of sorts)
anyhow I'll keep playing around on it over lunch here (actually lunch happens after one oclock for me since I am usually at the schools till then) and let you know what I find...
Here's a quote from the websites mission:
Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human
feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches
the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel"
and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence,
up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g.
sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard
ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be
extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions
at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.
result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 -
20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings
can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering
responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than
Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how
we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in
their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on
Valentine's Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so
Monday, December 4, 2006
The rules are:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest!
Alright I am surrounded by books on my cluttered desk at work here so I had to actual get very specific about this one.
I recently had a copy of A New Kind of Christian returned to me by someone who wanted to ‘evaluate’ Brian McLaren’s theology. So here goes:
“What are short-term mission trips but modern examples of the missionary journeys of Paul and his entourage, or of Celtic monks’ adventures? In a way, they are also like pilgrimages – journeys undertaken for a spiritual purpose.
What are small groups and one-to-one mentoring relationships but echoes of ancient training methods, before we slipped into the modern misconception that the best education takes place via theoretical monologue in sterile classrooms? Small groups and mentoring-filling with give-and-take, personal as well as intellectual interaction, formation as well as information – recall the old images of the apprentice training with his master or the disciples following Jesus throughout the land.”
Interesting little quote actually given some of the discussions that I have been following (like this one)
So now its your turn…
Dale: Diego, you’re right there are huge similarities between what other religions teach and what Christians teach. This Irish play writer dude (George Bernard Shaw) said something once that kinda says the same thing that you are saying, "There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it."
Personally, I think you’re wondering about stuff that basically scares a lot of Christians off. They don’t really want to think about how similar things might be. So a lot of them put up some pretty huge walls against other religious perspectives. Its too bad really cause I think that too often that approach leaves us looking pretty naïve.
I have heard a lot of Christians talk about how evil the Koran is for instance and that it encourages young men to sacrifice their lives for their faith. And I’ve heard lots of Christian people making fun of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons because of some of their seemingly weird rituals and practices (and to be perfectly honest some of that stuff tends to freak me out).
But let’s stop and think about how our own religious ideas and practices look to other people. For instance, let’s take communion. Most Christian churches celebrate a form of the Lord’s Supper. But when you look at it isn’t the idea of eating bread and drink wine or grape juice that represents Christ’s body and blood pretty much a cannibalistic sort of ceremony. We think it is pretty normal though. But I’ve heard that when Christians start teaching about Jesus in some of these tribes in South America, Africa, and South East Asia that have struggled with cannibalism – the communion ceremony presents a problem for them. So my point is that there are many ways that Christians criticize other religious positions while our own practices might actually present big problems for other people.
Diego: Yeah but aren’t there a lot of place where the virtues that are taught in the different religions are almost identical?
Dale: Yes. For instance, Mormons practice generosity and service to those in need in ways that often put us to shame. There that Buddhist thing you mentioned that believes in suffering and personal sacrifice being the road to nirvana or enlightenment. The Hindu ideas about contentment match those of the beatitudes that Jesus preached about.
Diego: So doesn’t that make you think that maybe we can just pick and choose the ideas and practices we want to follow? Don’t we all eventually end up with the same result even if we call that result something else?
Dale: Sure it makes me wonder that. I think anyone who looks carefully at how the various religious/philosophical perspectives are structured will see fabulous similarities to many Christian ideas.
But for me the fact that so many of the other religious paths share so much in common with Christianity is a very reassuring thing in confirming that the Christian perspective is accurate. Some people say well other religions are just stealing concepts from Christianity. That seems like a pretty ignorant and arrogant statement to make. In fact there is lots of evidence that Christians have often stolen ideas and practices from other religions and adopted them as their own. And even if somehow you could prove that all the other religions were just copycatting Christian that wouldn’t be a very solid argument to stand on. But if so many of the practices lead us to very similar results there must be a reason for this similarity.
The Bible describes a longing that everyone has for God –even though people may not recognize it we all have this sense that we have lost some important part of ourselves. I think that the Christian ideas have an answer for the problem of loss that all of humanity struggles with. I would suggest and I think this fits what the Bible teaches: We have lost a relationship with the Divine and we desperately want to get it back. We’ll do anything almost to recover what we’ve lost. The only problem is that if we think we really aught to behave better than we normally do - - we have to admit that something extraordinary needs to happen before we can realize our deep desires. In the Christian way of thinking this extraordinary thing is that God chose to become one of us. So instead of us having to work our selves up to God – he comes down to us.
Basically, it boils to something like this. Many of the other religious viewpoints try to change the human behaviour problem that exists because we have lost contact with the Divine but Christianity is unique in actually offering a relationship with God that addresses that core issue of loss. So the similarities between religious practice confirms the idea that we have lost touch with the Divine. Really that is why the Christian idea of heaven is such an exciting concept to me. We get to be complete with God again. But I digress.
Diego: So tell me what should do with all these other rituals and religious practices that seem to bring us the same results as the Christian ones? Should we write them off and dismiss them or what?
Dale: That will have to be for another time. I will call you about the hockey game.
MADONNA: I am a Kabbalist. There is definitely a Kabbalistic approach to life orSo it takes Madonna to speak out loud what is commonly in western society. It’s true our culture is comfortable embracing the idea that all religious perspectives are equally valid. This is where we run into a problem because Christianity traditionally maintained that its path is the only one that leads to God. John 14:6 (of course there are many more that are quoted from both the old and new testament) is the typically quoted verse that most Christians use to defend the idea that their set of beliefs and religious practices provide exclusive access to the Divine. For Christian this position – that they are the only one’s who are right – puts them in a very interesting place in society. Either they are the big bad bully on the block or they are considered the half-witted fool in the corner. In both cases a less than attractive position for us to be in as the light of the world.
a Kabbalistic point of view, but it's not different than a lot of other
teachings. I study Hinduism; I study Buddhism; Taoism.
KING: You believe in
a supreme being?
MADONNA: Absolutely. But I also believe that all paths lead
Recently, I have had some interesting discussion with several people about the affect of pluralism. What I’ve done is synthesize these into an email/msn type discussion that I want to share with you. Please feel free to respond and provide correction to my position or ideas or to even suggest other veins of discussion in this whole topic. So join in the conversations.