Friday, August 22, 2008


…I was singing some random 80's tune and Lukas interrupted me and said, "Dad, stop singing! You suck at singing!"

"I do not!" I chirped back.

"Yes you do!" he said picking up on the chance to needle his dad.

"Well," I said feeling a trump card coming on, "I sang good enough to make a CD."

Pause. He wasn't quite sure where to go with that one. "No you did not!" he said.

"Yup, I did!"

"Well then prove it!"

So I went rummaging around in the CD closet to see if I could locate a copy of the "More Than a Song" CD. I found one. Removed the cellophane wrapping and proceeded to show my son the evidence on the liner notes that I was actually a part of the project. And I also subjected him to listen to the disc. I'm really not sure if he was impressed at all but I had at least emerged victorious from his challenge.

The memories came flooding back for me and I lost myself in those scenes flashing through my mind. The 2 am hours at the studio mastering. The song selection process. The venue where we recorded the songs live. The overdubs. It all came flooding back to me.

I remember driving home from the studio directly to Ryan's house to check out the recently mastered copy. We made 500 copies of that thing for crying out loud.

And that is it. I vacillate between pride and bewilderment when I think of that project. It was a pretty cool project for group of hacks to put together an album of songs. We had some awesome help with the project and in truth there are still places on some of the tracks where I think it sounds pretty dang good.

But like Ryan said – there are a lot of places where the lyrics of the songs we sang are pathetically self centered and even in some cases untrue. But more than that there is a personal twinge that tugs at me every time I think of that project. I think about how the process of making it really became a sore spot between Char and me. I think about how to her it seemed like I was placing this project as a higher priority over her. I think about how I defended the 'sacrifices' I made to get it all done. And to my greatest embarrassment – how I pinned some pretty unrealistic hopes of grandeur on this CD thing panning out. I feel like a fool in that way.

I would never give up the years I had playing with those friends of mine. It was grand. But it wasn't more than it was. It was shortly after producing this CD that a stark revelation radically changed my perspective on life. One day I remember waking up and thinking that the greatest accomplishment I could ever achieve would be my success as a father. That put all of my egotistical nightmares in the place where they belonged.

So when my son comes up to me and tells me I can't sing and wants to start a good natured tête-à-tête with me – it makes me feel really good. Cause I am his dad. And you there is always the meteoric rise to fame that my "confession videos" will bring me. Oh yeah – Check that out!!!

Here's the little tag piece that somehow got onto the back end of the CD as hidden track. I thought it was appropriate!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some Olympic Sports

…just make me scratch my head and wonder what the Halifax is going on. I watched wrestling and tae kwon do and wondered why anyone no matter how talented would step into a ring make one or two moves or bounce on their toes and hope that the judges see the moves that you make. 6 minutes and your day is done but then so is your whole trip to Beijing. It just seemed pointless.

On the other hand – total event time that Usain Bolt spent on the track winning both of his world record breaking medals likely did not even add up to 6 minutes. There is something about that race that has stuck with me.

He was alone in a class all his own. And it's his birthday as well.

So he pees into the cup and presuming he's clean it'll all be good. What can I say I am a sceptic! It makes me wonder about how sport affects people. In a few brief moments of lucidity I watched myself entranced by this Jamaican sprinter. I also yelled at the television as Simon Whitfield closed in on his silver medal. Why do I do that – it seems really silly actually. My response seems far too instinctual and that worries me. It makes me wonder from where and to what benefit such a basic response might serve the human condition other than as a perfectly useless distraction from the everyday. And then to think that these athletes devote their entire existence to the pursuit of these accolades. And in most cases the result is loss. All that effort and seemingly no pay off.

But there it is my emotional impulses overtaking most of my rational processes in favour of a ridiculously extravagant expression. Somehow most rational evaluations of this phenomenon seem hollow. An instinctual response to highly developed mating rituals that are meant to demonstrate the finest characteristics of the species? Okay, but somehow it doesn't sound all that convincing. Or some design characteristic that is intended to draw us toward the Divine ideal of perfection? Again, fine but somehow that seems to read too much into it. I am stumped.

There have been a several of these moments in these last two weeks and I have enjoyed them immensely.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I really don't know what to make of this. Here's the story…

Last week I went up to camp evergreen to talk to kids from the front of the building. Anyways, I was up late Tuesday night with several of the staff discussing issues around the evolution/materialist debate. It was a good conversation with people who, to my surprise, had intelligent thoughtful questions and perspectives on topic. After being chased to bed for being too loud I promptly drained my bladder and crawled into the wonderfully hard double bed the camp provides for its speakers. I wiggled my ear buds down into the aural canal and proceeded to release my body in preparation for sleep. At that moment, a random thought entered my brain. "What if there was a fire?" I thought, "Do I know the escape route from my room on the second floor or this deteriorating lodge?" What was weird was that after reassuring myself that I could quite easily slip out my wind and down the roof to the ground, the thought about fire kept pricking my increasingly deteriorating consciousness. "What if there was a fire at home I thought?" Yikes – that perked me up! After thinking about what might cause a fire in my house and coming up blank I did something completely out of the ordinary. I prayed, "Please God protect my family from fire."

The entire next day brought no reminders of my late night inferno considerations. Even my post supper conversation with my wife did not spark any recollection of the 'fire' prayer from the night before.

It wasn't until the next day, in a conversation with my second oldest son that it came back.

"Dad, we had a fire in our dishwasher."


"Yeah, on Tuesday night mom put the dishwasher on before she went to bed around ten. In the morning when I woke up I smelled smoke and told mom about it when we got home."

"That is really weird Jesse cause on Tuesday night (and it would have been close to the end of the dishwashing cycle) I prayed that God would keep you safe from fire."

"Wow Dad God's a pretty good firefighter eh?"

I'm a pretty sceptical person who does not put much stock in what seems like circumstantial occurrences like these. But I can't avoid the way this particular event haunts me. There you go!

Dubious Honour of…

…being the inspiration for another line of "Jesus Junk". Apparently, the words I wrote here gave impetus to the people over at EMPTYTOMBGEAR to start this line of merchandize. Check it out. (I kinda like the skull cap shown here)

Monday, August 18, 2008



  1. Weirdish spiritual analogy that far too many Christians mouthpieces have used this summer to illustrate the far too complex concept of forgiveness (or grace, or mercy).
  2. A vague-ish Olympic sounding word created to allow Canadian athletes to feel better about their perennial fourth place finishes.
  3. The new 'it' phrase. Intoned in substitutive manner as a curse or as an even more annoying form of the ever popular, "…my bad!"
  4. A trial heat, especially in rowing, allowing competitors who have already lost a heat another chance to qualify for the semifinals. (thankfully our rowing team did not need the repechage to capture some long awaited medals)

I think it would be great if you could use repechage in more pedestrian ways – just trucking through life…

"You know I've had better hamburgers but I would definitely come back for the repechage on this meal."

"I really did not care for that first attempt on cleaning your room – but I think you qualified for the repechage!"

"Sorry there is no repechage for people who don't make the auditions for the worship team."

"I did not really care for the bowling last night, or the way you tried to slip your arm around me in the car afterward but I suppose it was good enough for a repechage."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Six Random Things

So I got tagged by Ryan on this 'random' meme so here you go…

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).
  3. Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
  4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
  5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Here it is…

  1. I have what is known technically as a herniated oesophagus. Essentially my gullet has stretched at the point where it meets the top sphincter of my stomach to create what operates in effect like an extra stomach. This allows me the pleasurable – and I assure you it is so – experience of enjoying my already masticated food morsels through a simple act of regurgitation which I might add is mostly involuntary. Great at parties!
  2. I have a 23 inch inseam.
  3. I have had over three hundred stitches in my face after putting it through the windshield of my car in one of the 14 accidents I had between the time I was 16 and 20.
  4. I have officiated 15 weddings – all of which are still together.
  5. I sell pies at a farmers market and I love it!
  6. I have progressive lenses and reading glasses.

I tag Natasha, Trevor, Jen, Michael, Kendra, and Jason.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I have a confession to make…

This past weekend was the first time that I have opened and read the Bible, to satisfy my own interest, in a very long time. I have had little appetite to read the Scriptures for a while. That does not mean that they have become less meaningful for me. I also need to clarify that I have read the Bible for exploratory reasons. But I honestly can't remember the last time I read the Bible to satisfy my own curiosity. I have become accustomed to reading the text with an analytical eye so that I can apply what I read to material I would like to present. So in fairness for the legalists out there that might be reading this – I have been reading the Bible - Just not so much for my own interest.

My idea of what the Bible is, has changed over the last few years and so approaching the Bible, as I did this past weekend was awkward and clumsy. I had in truth forgotten to bring along any other meaningful reading material. (I had also forgotten to bring many other essentials but that's a long and embarrassing story.) So I tell you that I was rather sheepish when it dawned on me at 7 in the morning that the Bible was the only thing available to me to read. Of course I felt an all too familiar guilt at my last resort approach to reading the scriptures but I snuck into my RAM 50 and wiggled the book out so as not to wake the rest of the Friesen Hutterite clan.

I flipped through the pages wondering where I might land my gaze and start my reading. The perfectness of the morning nearly distracted me from my quest but my eagerness to read something anything dragged me headlong into the 119th psalm. I read I a little and I sipped my coffee. I read some more and within a dozen words the read was effortless. One thing I noticed though – what read felt too predictable. Of course I had read this passage before so I was familiar with the text. But I was trying to read this through a different lens – a more capricious –even careless- way. I was trying to read as I WAS NOT someone who had built a healthy career using the pages of this book as my MAIN resource. But the words were tumbling together and finding no footing as I bounced along the first few verses of the text. He was saying,

"I will keep your statutes, I will follow your ways, I will meditate on your precepts, I will walk in your ways". It sounded like he was very pious. He knew God's principles were the best and he knew should follow them and it sounded like he was very devout. And at first that was all I could hear. Then it seemed like the voice repeating so often somehow changed from a confession of devotion to a distinct desperation. Almost like when my son repeats the excuse over and over again more and more loudly trying to convince me that he should not be held responsible. Yikes! That felt new. I guess I felt like there was a connection between me and the writer of this poem. He was more real than I gave him credit for. Something genuine came through.

And then the word that made me take note – ALIEN. In verse nineteen the writer says, "I am only a foreigner in the land. Don't hide your commands from me!" What did feeling like an alien/foreigner/sojourner have in connection to God's laws and principles?

I have seen the idea of alien used to capture a theme for a conference or something. Usually when it is used – it has always borne a ill feeling for me. The connection to aliens is usually somehow tied to the idea that we are not really a part of this world (WE ARE JUST A PASSIN' THRU). The idea seems co-opted to reveal an escapist perspective on our lives here as followers of Christ. Rotten! But this seemed different!

It seemed like the writer here in the context of his repeated affirmations of the goodness of God's laws confessed his strained and even bewildered relationship to the world in which he was being asked to apply God's principles. He was saying, "Hey, I know your ways are good/cool/fine/right/perfect/important but there are many times when I am really confused about how they should apply to life on this earth." Its like, "I need to learn a new language that I desperately want to speak fluently but still can only buy bread and milk at the corner store."

And not unlike the awkwardness that happened a few hours later that morning. A gaggle of Hutterite boys had made their way to the campground to play in the river. Why not? Stripped down to their boxers they would hike through the campground up the river to jump in and float down to the beach. They chose to walk right past our campsite. Many times. On one occasion while I was prepping food for supper, I looked up as I heard them coming. I couldn't help smiling at the boys – some in their early teens – as they chirped to each other in their Germanic dialect. At one point they stopped and for several long moments I was deadlocked in a gaze with half a dozen of them. They looked at me – confounded no doubt at why a fat dude like me would be making food with my shirt off. I smiled at them thinking how out of place they seemed. We were all wondering about how the other lived. They were living and doing the same thing everyone else in the camp was doing – floating down the river – but they were clearly distinct. And though they kept to themselves – could help but wonder how they must have felt as they watched us go about our lives.

Well that got me to thinking about foreigners again and this passage. And it all seemed to strangely give me hope. I saw hope in the real desperation of someone trying to follow God's principles with varying degrees of success. I saw myself in the repeated chant like insistence of the writer that God's laws were good. And I could see myself as a foreigner trying to fit what I knew to be true into the world I was living in. I think that is what God asks of us after all.

My mom told me a story about the first few weeks in Nicaragua. I was three and veritable chatterbox. I went out to play with the neighbour kids and I came back crying. "The kids don't' understand me mom!" I cried. A few weeks later my mom said that I walked into the house beaming, "Mom they understand me now!" Of course their language hadn't changed – mine had!

Friday, August 1, 2008


If you haven't seen this as you scroll through the featured section of Youtube you might be interested in this provocative piece on body image and relationship to the arts...