Saturday, March 31, 2007


What is it to you? Is it a distant place that your mind rarely wanders to and when it does - it shudders? We've put hell out of our minds because we have bought the ticket to heaven with a prayer or a raised hand. So why think about it?
Or is it that place - like we've all been told - of perpetual burning that haunts our every action? That thought that wakes us up in the middle of the night and makes us shiver and immediately confess all the sins we did the day before...
Is hell that idea that bolts us into fear whenever doubt and questions surface in our spiritual journey? Is it a place where punishment and eternal torture are the just rewards for a life of evil? Or will it be a place where the hardest most agonizing thing will be separation from God himself?
I am not really interested in a debate about whether or not hell exists - as much fun as that might be. But I wonder if there is one aspect of hell that we all too easily overlook and discount...

Hell on earth.

Honestly I really don't listen to this kind of music but as I was flipping through the stations this morning I heard this song. What stuck out to me was one particular line.
(warning: the material covered in this song is about sexual abuse, drug addiction, gang violence, and other disturbing images)

Runaway Love (Ludacris and Mary J. Blige)

now this is the lyric that sticks out:

(NAME) stuck up in the world on her own
Forced to think that hell is a place called home

Now it is way too easy for a song like this to glamourize and exagerate the condition of life in our society. So we can pretty easily allow our desensitized brians skip over this. But in some weird and twisted way the world of pain is calling out to anyone who will really listen. They are asking for the way out of hell.

"Anybody around here that could show me the way out?"

Friday, March 30, 2007


you never say anything...
I know that there are a number of you that read this blog at least sporadically. (Technorati is cool little tracking program) I know that some of you have just started reading my blog postings in the last little while. Maybe some of you are to nervous to comment on anything. Maybe most of you are in the same boat - if you could just actually figure out what these ramblings are all about you might have an opinion. So let me make a personal invitation to you:
There is much speculating that I do in my posts. I hope you can hear my own admission that I am far from having all the answers to all these things. That is precisely why I post the things I do. I value your input. There's a real good chance that I might be off the mark with things I post. There's also a real good chance that I have said stuff and asked questions in a way that hopefully challenges both you the reader and me the writer in our thinking. If I need to be 'set straight' please feel free to do so. I will try hard to be fair to you.
For me this blog is sort of discipline. You see I really want to the congregational tradition of forming our lives together as we sharpen each other.
So if you're new around here...
Welcome here - this site is always best enjoyed with a large cup of coffee.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mennos in Med School

Seriously you gotta check this out...
parental advisory - mature mennonite content!

there is a funny story tied in here...
Jeff Klassen the Menno in Med School used to be/still is in a hard core band that came and did tiny show in our youth room several years ago. As I was bouncing around the room with the 9 other people in attendance in the room I fractured my ankle jumping off a riser. I was alwasy disapointed that we didn't have more lead time to set up a bigger turnout for this show.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

got an hour and half on your hands like I did saturday night and this might worth a gander...

ht: jc

Now, it should not surprize us that this film exists at the same time that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is surging into popularity. And because environmentalism is such a strong force in popular culture it shouldn't surprize us that this film also elicits a mostly negative response. What should surprize us is that would let AIT to use the word truth in the way that they have. If we were smarter we would all be aghast at the brash retorical use of this word to evoke a political perspective. Saying that LET ME BE CLEAR I am not the one to be making judgements on which scientific perspective is superior and better able to reflect what is actually happening. But the worst thing about both of these films is not that they are doing good or bad science it is in fact they are claiming to unequivocally hold the truth on this issue. (And have used overly emotional rhetoric to accomplish that...)
What I mean is that once a person engages the brain several things become perfectly clear almost instantly...
1. It is stupid to to be wasteful with the resources that we have been given in nature.
2. Our capacity to exploit natures resources (and even its essence) is greater by far than at any other time in history.
3. There are numerous cases of abuse of nature that should not only shock us but move us to ardent redress of these mistakes.
4. Personal actions are political statements. (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)
5. It is important to take precautions to avoid disasters caused by wacky weather.
6. Smog is disgusting.
Of course when we claim to possess the truth so completely as both of these shows do, the temptation is to pick sides. We reject everything about one or the other option. This is a senseless personal position. And it is completely irresponsible on the part of any of these scientist who wish to have an honest discussion about what is actually happening...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Something I found interesting...

What questions come into your head when you see this picture dear reader?
“Why would anyone take a picture of a sign advertising the thing we eagerly avoid?”
“What sort of establishment would use pain as a feature that should attract customers?”
A few of you might be thinking…
“Do they have anything on special this week?”
Well, good questions all but not necessarily well informed ones. You see, I am quite certain that this establishment even though it clearly uses the word pain to describe the nature of its commerce DOES Not in fact have much at all to do with that concept. I have some inside information about this photo that reveals that it was taken in France. Most of you will remember that the French word, “pain” actually means bread.
Phew! That’s right this is a bakery we are looking at here folks.
But that made me think of something interesting. Jesus said. “I am the bread (le pain) of life. He who eats of this bread will never go hungry.” There is a peculiar connection in my mind between the two understandings of the word in each language. Well, I think of the broken body of Christ represented by bread in our communion ritual. In some ways you could call it the pain(ful) bread.
But I also think of something else Jesus said, “Take up your (own) cross and follow me.” I think what is marvellous about Jesus is that he shows us how to BEAR the weight of pain that we all drag around. In fact Jesus says at one point, “If you are tired of dragging your burden around – I’ll help you bear it – if you’ll let me.” For me what is remarkable is that Jesus does not suggest that he remove our pain. It seems to me like what Jesus is suggesting is that we should actually enter into his sort of pain (taking up our cross) and in that experience life in its most fulfilling (Jn 10:10) aspects. Almost like consuming and entering into his pain brings us life. And that’s a little different way of thinking about the BREAD of LIFE.
If you’re interested in more on the issues of evil and suffering and all that check out Ryan’s recent post.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tony takes on George....

and wins
...seems to kinda duck on the Clinton question - a little bit.
I love how he brings it with George...
ht to Tanya for the late night call

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More of what do they hear?

McKnight gives more of his take on this book.
Personally, I identified most strongly with the disciples in this case. But of the things that I have to ask based on Mark Powell's study is why to clergy identify mostly with Jesus? Is it perhaps that we have this subverted Christ complex? hmmm!

Sterling was offering to loan out his shoes

for us to walk in for awhile to better empathize with educators...
After this story
Any takers?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

what do they hear...

This sounds like a fascinating book to read.
Scot McKnight gives us a sneak peak at what looks like it might be very timely piece of work. This topic raises all sorts of questions in my mind. Like:
Should we trust our own individual interpretation of the Scriptures?
Are we to trust our leaders to interpret the Scriptures? Is it appropriate to question that interpretation? How?
If everyone’s reading of scripture is legitimate how do we determine which one is actually accurate?
One thing I am convinced of is the importance to be clear when we communicate from ‘the front’!

I like this little blurb from McKnights post, from the book:

He tells the story of his mom saying she liked one of Mark’s song when he was in high school, listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Mark is an expert on music (and I’ve heard of this group but not listened to them that I know of). She heard “There’s a bathroom on the right!” when they were singing “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” The focus of the 1st chp is on this very thing: People hear things we don’t intend because they absorb what we say into their social location. And, he admits, “We want to be taken out of context — but only when that is a good thing.”

Monday, March 19, 2007

Which way?

So here's your chance to vote.
Seems like my friend Ryan is contemplating a comb-over. Cast your vote in the comments section to help him make up his mind...


who says technology is appl-itical...

May I recommend...

I know, I know, why am i posting something about a quilt shop...
Well Elissa is a kid in my youth group and she has done a great job along with her mom of getting this store off the ground.
I also know that there are ladies out there with the quilting knack and lucky for you - you can buy stuff from this sites online store as well.
So here it is Hopscotch Quilt Shop
Oh yeah and the website was created by Michael Reimer.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

the medica-nation

W5 ran this story
“Marty McKay, a psychologist who has treated and assessed children for over 30 years, believes that "Ninety per cent of children diagnosed as ADHD are misdiagnosed and drugged for no appropriate reason." She points the finger of misdiagnosis at the school system and the psychiatric industry.”

I think the finger of blame needs to extend a little further. I think that parents need to be touched with responsibility here as well. Now I am not so naïve as to think that the issues of hyperactivity and behaviour problems are easily solved. However… I do believe that our culture generally produces detached parents. I mean parents who are not really interacting with their kids meaningfully and thoughtfully. Our culture values self actualization which endorses the focus being on me, my career, my relationships, my world. Add to that a cultural milieu that sees adults generally busier than they have ever been – jobs, clubs, recreation, gym, etc. And kids that are busier than ever before as well – extra curricular stuff like crazy. Is it any wonder that a parent can be convinced by medical professionals and educators to medicate their children? I mean if the problem will go away why not, right? The other thing is the history of this…
The rate of diagnosis for ADHD rose 500% btwn 1990-1997. When I went to school, in the 80’s, this stuff really did not exist. So what has changed? I think there are only two possibilities. 1. something horrible has recently affected the food supply so as to affect children and teenager and not adults. 2. something horrible has gripped our culture to convince us to lose the desire to raise the next generation well.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

try pronouncing this guys name...

quote: "It used to be cheaper to govern a million people that it is to kill a million people but now (post 9-11) its the opposite..."

Friday, March 16, 2007

the alternative to wikipedia

"Conservapedia is an online resource and meeting place where we give full credit to Christianity and America. Conservapedia is student-friendly. You will much prefer using Conservapedia compared to Wikipedia if you want concise, clean answers free of "political correctness"."

Not sure what my reaction is just yet ;) - what about yours...

shout out to Geralis for finding this article on the subject and passing it along...
exerpt from article: "

Conservapedia is doing the same, launching as it condemns Wikipedia, the wildly popular Internet encyclopedia that pretty much anyone can contribute to, for being skewed liberal, and against religion and America.

"Wikipedia has been taken over by liberally biased editors," Schlafly declares. "It's mobocracy."

The result, he says, is that "if anyone tries to put in facts that are friendly to Christianity or American history, those facts are likely to be diluted or censored by the mob."


On my coffee cup yesterday:

"A very bad (and all too common) way to misread a newspaper: To see whatever supports your point of view as fact, and anything that contradicts your point of view as bias."
-Daniel Okrent

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Burton's List

Canadian Versions of Reality TV

Are you smarter than an American?
-answer correctly a series of questions that Americans have failed to answer correctly
The Next Great Self-Depricating Seal Hunter
-try not to get too excited about the size of you gun
The Amazing Avalanche
-ride a series of avalances intentionally set off at various locales in the Rockies. Snowshoe between destinations.
Extreme Micro Brewery Make Over
-duh invent a beer and have your company bought out by a large american conglomerate. and then create TV commercials that claim your distinctive Canadian taste and tradition... see here
Start my Ride
-find a vehicle on the side of the Trans-Canada and get it started in a blinding blizzard
Job or No Job
-pick a job from a high school job fair and spend the rest of your life working 21 different other jobs to see if you really picked the right one.
The Enthusiast: Winnipeg
-get excited about being warm in winter and West Nile free in Summer
The Prime-Minister
-refuse any emotional engagement even though survey after survey reveals your country as the best.

all this was inspired the friendly reparte of this post

Monday, March 12, 2007

About my weight:

It seems that every weekend I gain back some of the weight I lost the week before. So this week I am setting my target at 7lbs.
Some people have asked what I am doing to lose weight. Here it is:
-significantly increased water consumption (target: 4L/day)
-reducing junk food consumption at every chance (sometimes this is sort of unavoidable because of being a youth dude)
-not eating after 7pm (again youth ministry affects this somewhat)
-spending a minimum of 35 minutes on the torture machine.
And last but not least…
-as I spend time on the tread climber there are many moments that I want to quit. So each time I feel that way - - - - I talk to God with a request…
“allow me one more day with my family…”

Let me recommend

CBC Radio’s Ideas: The Best of Ideas Podcast
Available as a download here or through iTunes
A few interesting ideas that are discussed by the three panellists…
-what is the place of charity in tolerance?
-is giving money to someone on the street really a power move that while stemming from what appears to be an act of kindness is possibly more about exerting ones superiority over the person to whom the charitable act is directed?
-in order to tolerate there must be something negative that I must have to tolerate. So instead of the much maligned concept that it is in many evangelical perspectives is tolerance really an act of grace?
-why does it seem that tolerance has come to mean that in order to be tolerant I must deny my own traditions, beliefs and cultural values?
-why does it seem that Christianity has become the area of society that must be tolerant to every other perspective?
I will comment soon on this and more…

Sunday, March 11, 2007

“God, my friends, is with the poor and God is with us if we are with them.” Bono, NAACP acceptance speech
Preach it - Brother!

ht: Tall Skinny Kiwi

Hamburg Song

melancholy - - - beauty

I won...

it's like the coffee minions are having their way with me and laughing behind my back. what a horribly insidious internal conflagration of opposing forces are at work in me!
I bought a Tim Horton's coffee to satisfy my hankering for a winfall.
"It's 8 am," I thought to myself, "and my system would relish some coffee."
And almost simultaneously...
"I could win!" - That might have been my frugal germanic decendancy speaking too loudly...
Unfortunately in my semi-pre-conscious state, I did not think - - "THE TASTE!"
So then I won.
Woe is me. Do I give away the free coffee? or keep what might be the only free thing I've won in years?

PS: You will notice the ladder in the background which is evidence of Char's tireless vendetta against the horrible wall treatments that existed in our house...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Are catastrophes God’s judgement?

After reading Scot McKnight’s posting here and here. I was drawn to couple of wonderings…
Is it appropriate to say that catastrophic events are God’s judgement? At first glance, I would have to say, “NO!” If the great tsunami of South East Asia, or the hurricane that buckled New Orleans, or even the 9-11 incident are attributed to God’s judgement on people it calls into question my notion of God’s grace. Of course I scoffed at Jerry Falwell and others who claimed that 9-11 was God’s judgment on homosexuality in America.
But might that position actually be sort of handcuffing God to a preconceived notion of grace? Is it possible for us to suggest that God set up some natural consequences for our behaviour?
Kinda like this…
Re: Tsunami – If humanity is going to exploit the natural beauty this landscape and refuse to take the precautions to ensure their safety – they will be judged for their decadence and ignorance. So then God’s judgement isn’t so much about the fact these are ‘godless’ countries who promote cults as it is about the natural consequences of our behaviour.
Re: New Orleans – Again a lack of forethought seems to be what is judged here. That lack of forethought might be directly related how preoccupied the people of that city had with their ‘activities’. But what is being judged there is not so much the iniquity of the town but the way people can get preoccupied with activities that distract them from natural consequences.
Re: 9-11 – Here is seems for more clear that the U.S. foreign policy and materialist culture was a direct contribution to the attack on these buildings that represented those dynamics. God’s judgement looks something like: if you are going to tick people off with unjust policy and exploitation they will get mad and try to make you pay for it. The accusation that 9-11 is a judgement from God about homosexuality is really ridiculous.
One of the concepts that McKnight talks about is the idea of focus that we tend to have in this issue of judgement. Lots of time we wonder if God is judging the individuals or if He is judging the community or humanity in general. Of course, this is far from a settled matter in my mind – I mean is God actually judging people or are these events to be understood to be completely random and meaningless…

Monday, March 5, 2007

Teddy Bare

I have always distrusted teddy bears. They are suspicious little creatures – always happy, unsleeping yet apparently lifeless replicas of some of nature’s most ferocious beasts. Rascals, I tell you.
Let’s just say that tonight my suspicions were confirmed:
From time to time a great diversion in our junior high youth meetings has been to take some of our ‘regular’ games and use stuffed animals to replace wherever we normally would use a ball or other prop (Frisbee, pillow, etc.). Tonight we decided to play steal the bacon and substituted teddy bears. As you can imagine, the toy animals get thrashed in the process. As the game went on our first ‘bear’ began to lose its composure. Bits of the bear began falling all over the gymnasium as the kids wrestled the toy over to their respective side of the gym.
Then it happened
A purple thong landed unceremoniously (although I am not quite sure what the proper ceremony would be for said undergarment) on the floor of the gym – just above the home team three point line (top of the key).
At first my wondered which pesky grade 8 boy was responsible for pulling a stunt like this. In the cotton bating mêlée I was completely at a loss to know which of the 8-10 rascals I should blame for.
The loud moth kid yells out – “Who lost their gonch man?”
Then the revelation from one of my keen eyed staff-“No, man that came straight out of the bear!”
So I picked up the bear in question and frisked it from the inside out. By now the throng had gathered to watch. Even though I have ranked the stuffed animals in the same degenerative category as cats, it still felt wrong to pull the guts out of the thing. Low and behold another even more scant pair (and I really am baffled as to why they call those blasted things a pair) appeared out of the creatures right leg.
The creep out effect slowly dawned on everyone as we all realized somewhat at once that the underwear was well used.
I guess that’s why the “DO NOT REMOVE” tag on the stuffed toy said wash on delicate.
Minimalist underwear physically present in a group of early pubescent teens is a recipe for all sorts of nasty, awkward, and dumb.

avoidance behavior

Seems like now and again adolescent rebellion against the ‘parental’ authority rears its head musically,
It was true in the 80’s with Twisted Sister’s
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Then along comes Billy Talent with Red Flag

(this song is fun to work out to)
Like a fire,
Don't need water,
Like a jury,
Needs a liar,
Like a riot,
Don't need order,
Like a madman,
Needs a martyr.

We don't need them.

Cast off the crutch that kills the pain,
The red flag wavin’ never meant the same,
The kids of tomorrow don't need today,
When they live in the Sins of Yesterday.

This video is making some interesting statements about how our materialistic culture is the breeding slough for the next season of cultural mosquitoes. I’m always amazed at the perpetual hand-wringing and bemoaning of adults toward youth culture - especially when they refuse to acknowledge their own culpability in the matter. I’m not suggesting a victimization theory of youth culture. I’m asking all of us to own our lack of responsibility for our own folly. Maybe this perpetual ‘not-learning-from-our-mistakes’ is sorta what Moses was talking about in Exodus 34:6-7

Saturday, March 3, 2007

on being fat...

I’m not one to make a big deal about my over-weighted-ness. Actually, most of you will know that I feel quite comfortable with my rotunded-ness. It may come as a surprise to some of you that I would want to comment about this topic then…
Recently, I have noticed an extraordinary amount of attention being paid to obesity. The news media all seem to keep the topic in ‘the starting line up’ of their national news casts In much the same way that anti-smoking ‘stories’ dominated the news in the late 90’s (smoking still gets some airplay). It’s not just the frequency of the topic that is similar to the anti-smoking phenomenon: the style and content of the stories are very similar.
If you pay attention to these stories they typically show blubbery bodies waddling down some downtown scene-scape while scrolling statistics about the increase in obesity, fast food consumption and related health concerns due to obesity. The message of these stories is quite clear. Take the story of the 200+ lb 8 year old in England. (What reporter would get away with writing a piece like this about hiv/aids?) Here’s a case where the media has latched onto an extreme case of obesity for its inherent shock value and then use it to reinforce the message of the piece which typically includes a thinly veiled chastisement of poor eating habits or sedentary lifestyle. Basically in one fell swoop the message is that these lazy #$%^#$% should get off their couches and out from behind their computer screens and do something.
I think it is admirable that public opinion is seemingly concerned about the well-being of overweight people. I mean wouldn’t it be great if we could all stop being fat just like all have stopped smoking?
The problem is that obesity is a categorically different problem than smoking is.
My ideal body weight is somewhere around 175 lbs. I am well over that. There was a time in my adult life when I was close to that weight. I maintained a weight of about 185lbs for three years by following this formula: Strenuous physical work (concrete) 12 hours daily + only one meal a day. You think I’m joking but it’s true. When I look around at my friends, and I compare what and how much food I eat I quickly come to a few conclusions. I typically eat a lot less (quantity) than my thinner friends. I eat relatively the same or better quality of food – mostly thanks to my wife – than my thinner friends.
I have dealt with personal guilt because I thought that perhaps my weight problem was directly a result of my lack of self control. Now I am not going to claim that I am a very self controlled person when it comes to food but it is clear that I am no less controlled than some of my thinner friends - no names.
I have seen how powerful the weight issues have been for some people – affecting so many part of their identity.
I know people have many varied reasons for losing weight. Conforming to some socially acceptable body shape is in may mind one of the worst reasons. Giving your body a better physical condition is in my mind really about the only one that holds legitimacy.
I think that if health would be the real public ‘concern’ we would be talking about this topic in other ways than the ones that are prominent now. Instead of inducing guilt for inactivity and herding people off to the price gouging fitness boutiques why not talk about reducing the sedentary nature of our very culture. And why don’t we have investigative reporting on how my buddy down the street can live on nothing but junk food and still come out with a better cholesterol level than I do?
It’s stupid to call it a conspiracy but… follow the money. $35 billion + in the USA alone tells me that there might be a significant economic impact if we all were suddenly to be content with our shape and fitness level.
As of day I am 5lbs lighter than last week at this time. I hope it stays off…