Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Christmas message

Thank-you to all the followers of the Mennonite x youth pastor. This brings to a close my career as a x youth pastor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Warning: Gift Choices

This reminds me of the time I gave Char a barbque and a set of lawn chairs for her birthday. She does not let me forget it...

Try this... for a dollar a day.
check out the rules here

check out a couple of teachers that did it here

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is it possible…

…to drag yourself out of bed this morning when you know what lies ahead? The wounds that regularly train track across your hands sting like they did those first few days on the line. There is no way to know just how many wiring harnesses you have strung together over the years but, today, you know that there won't be many more. How do you wake up to pink slip?

You were never under illusions that the work you did or the skills it took to do your job was more than means to a pay check. You weren't a rocket scientist, a social engineer, a medical researcher. You were number 14 in the line building wiring harnesses for the inner workings of a Ford Fiesta, then a Honda Civic, then a Buick LeSabre, and so on. The harnesses for the Cadillac's were stupid. Number 14. Tim was 13 and Frieda was 15. Last week you sold Tim one of the last of your litter of chocolate Labs and you gave him a deal. You play hockey with Frieda's husband every Tuesday night in the beer league team sponsored by the company. "It's a living" you tell your buddies and they nod.

And now it's not. No severance. No Christmas bonus.

You look down at your hands. Your fingers only know how to make money one way. They look humiliated and weak holding a pen – filling out the EI forms. Days at the plant tick away into mindless oblivion. Deft hands twisting, pulling, placing, and sending away. Rhythm and constant rhythm. Like a well worn sedative against the ghosts you've shut out. And now they've cut you off. The large screen TV mocks you with the latest news. You shrink into the pillowy discomfort of your new Lazyboy – the one she got you last month with your favourite hockey Jersey. You curse your hands.

You plot a scheme to rip out each and every CA-345TF circuit board in every vehicle on the block. You're pretty sure you know where to look. It would only really affect the intermittent windshield wiper systems…

You've spent your whole life building a product that could largely go unnoticed. But everyone needs a car. Right? Needs a car? Or three? Your work sits inside rusting, pollution spewing… Come on! What were you thinking? Can you ever get to the point of thinking that maybe you should lose your job? Maybe it's better that you are out of work? After 26 years? After pouring your life into your hands? Can you just chop them off like that?

Who is going to bail out the soul of western society that has suckled at the breast of capitalistic 'endeavour'? When wants are fed like needs to the greed drunk masses, who will be brave enough to shout over the loud speakers – "DON'T DRINK THE KOOL-AID!"?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Safe or Brave?

"[Governor General Michaelle Jean was not just being asked a constitutional question. In the nation's eyes, she was also being asked a moral question: is it democratic to silence the House of Commons for one-sided political power?

I'm not going to refer to Charles I, as others have. I'm directing the question to Jean: is it moral?

In the worst economic crisis since 1929, as Harper himself said, is it moral for multinationals to lay off hundreds of thousands of humans worldwide?

Was it moral for GM, Chrysler and Ford to willfully disregard "peak oil," a
concept known for decades and continue to churn out gas-guzzlers? Was it moral for unions to fail to prod automakers to look to the future as Japanese carmakers had wisely done?

Is it moral for a prime minister to egg on Canadians to hate each other?

All these things were easy to do. Canadians don't riot. In this country, a
political autobiography would be called The Hope for Audacity.

Auto executives will continue to live well. So will union leaders. Harper
will be fine." - Heather Mallick

See the rest of the editorial here

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Youth-worker Re-Boot Camp

There should be a requisite training component to all youth workers who make it past the 3 year mark in ministry. The organization which pays their salary should set aside the space of 4 months for what I'm gonna call a Re-Boot Camp. I outline the curriculum below:

The youth worker should

  1. Enrol in a first year level course in Sociology or Philosophy taught by the most ardently atheist professor on the campus of the local University.
  2. Secure employment at a minimum of two part time jobs: One should be in the service sector (retail, food service, etc) and the other should be in one of the 'labour' jobs (construction, factory, etc)
  3. Attend the year end student social, party (U of L called it the 'ender bender')
  4. Make arrangements to live in housing along with other post high schoolers with whom there should be no relational connection. This could be tricky if the youth worker is married so even spending a few weekends could be enough.
  5. All the money made at the part time jobs should be spent entirely on 'entertainment' – movies, music, sporting events, parties, eating at restaurants, etc.
  6. The youth worker should be outfitted with the latest technological devices.

This is a method in sociology referred to as participant observation. I think this approach could provide two important learning experiences for the youth worker interested in 'staying in the business'.

  1. Assuming that the youth worker has a spent copious time with adolescents in the high school context (i.e. spent time with kids), this experience could give the youth worker an valuable perspective on the 'world' that youth will enter upon exiting the 'protection' of high school. This insight should naturally lead to adjustments in what the youth pastor could provide in terms of preparatory teaching for youth.
  2. This experience could also serve as a great way to create strategies to address the chronic 'drop out' rates that occurs post high school.

If other youth workers are like I was, the context of middle school and high school adolescence can become all encompassing to the point where youth workers lose sight of the destination that youth ministry is working toward. Of course youth ministry is not about getting kids to become healthy adults. Youth ministry should be about helping youth be healthy adolescents. However, losing the destination of where our kids will end means that the scope of ministry becomes limited and ultimately short sighted. Spending some time in the 'world to come' would give youth workers the ability to keep the destination in view as they sort out youth ministry priorities. Unless youth workers spend some actual time in this zone the characteristics of this culture will be lost in rhetoric that seems to stereotype the world that post high schoolers live in. This experience would, I believe, give youth workers a view into the positive and negative aspects of a culture is critical individual formation.

Yesterday in my last class of the semester, I overheard two girls talking about school.

"This is my last class," said one.

"For the semester?" asked the other.

"No – forever!"


"Not really – they say I have to become an adult now," she joked.

"Don't do it!"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oh Canada?!

Indulge me for a moment to comment of the political shenanigans transpiring in our nation's capital. I am not, as it is likely no surprise, particularly worried or bothered by the prospect of a coalition government. But that has less to do with how my ideological bent informs my political desires than it does with the dilemma presented by this form of government. I am also mystified by how media buffoonery has allowed the political rhetoric to once again reflect the contrived notion of partisanship.

That a coalition might be supported/enabled by the Bloc should not concern us in the ways it has in public discourse thus far. The Bloc is a separatist party whose intention is to see Quebec achieve the status of nation. If we are to follow the information given to us by Ipsos Reid and other polling organizations we would do well to note that voters who have sent Bloc members to Ottawa have done so for a myriad of reasons. It is true that Harper had 28% voter share in Quebec before the French debate and after the debate only 18%. The subsequent shift to the Bloc was due to Harpers position on arts funding, etc. Regardless of why they switched it is clear that the spectre of separatist rhetoric was not a direct cause of the shift but the failure of Harpers policies to convince voters to support him. Voters for the Bloc will identify most strongly with many of the more conservative values that the PC's espouse. The point I am trying to make here is that politics makes strange bedfellows. Let's remember that the PC's as it stands right now cannot pass a single piece of legislation without the complicit 'support' of one of the other parties.

Until now this complicity was not seen as a negative light on the PC's regardless if they needed the NDP's or the Bloc. PC's were not seen as compromising their values by being enabled by separatists or socialists. Rex Murphy is right to lay the blame for this crisis at the feet of Stephen Harper's feet for trying to lop off the fundraising power of his rival parties.

What everyone seems to be missing is the clear opportunity that is presented to address the presence of the Bloc as a political force. How can the Bloc truly consider itself a separatist party when it allows itself to become a central cog in the machinery of Canadian governmental system? Why isn't the media jumping all over the Bloc for it flavour of the week political pandering? I think have a feeling that many Quebecers are embarrassed by the childish isolationism and the fickle ideology of a party who would seek to govern them as a future nation. I have a feeling that there are those who are feeling much the way Albertans felt when the separatist rhetoric of the Canadian Alliance clowned its way through the parliamentary system. Alas it seems everyone is too nervous to speak to the blatant inconsistencies that would have a separatist party become part of the government but isn't that sorta what we have already? I mean regionalism is alive and well. We should not be deluded to think that Canadian provinces are or could be viable on their own.

In the end it seems to me that the things we are not talking about is often more interesting than what we are talking about…