Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What do we value most?

A friend just sent me this link to a blog posting about a church and a whole community that got the boot in Germany to allow strip mining. What this says about the state of the world is really distressing. He suggests some interesting things about the connections between technology and individualism too.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Silence of God

I've been thinking about this a lot lately:

The experience of God's silence changes all such hopes and casts apologetics into a new framework. What it forces on modernity is a recognition that although Christendom may have died politically in almost every modern Western nation, it continues culturally. The silence of God is not to be equated with his absence by either Christians or their cultural despisers; if God were truly dead, one could not speak of or rage against his silence - there would be no silent one to designate. In the modern West, even anti-Christian rhetoric is forced to build its new edifices with or within the collapsed remnants of cathedrals. God is remembered in the remains of the Christian day, sometimes clearly enunciated in acts and institutions, sometimes barely recalled, always present in words, but silent to the times. The purpose of his body, the Church, remains evident in the post-1984 world, defended by some and rejected by others; its meaning, however, increasingly cannot be grasped.

from Peter Erb's Murder, Manners, Mystery: Reflections on Faith in Contemporary Detective Fiction

Friday, October 26, 2007

Review of Dawkins

A friend just sent me this review from the London Review of Books and I thought it was brilliant:

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching
Terry Eagleton
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Praise Bands in Worship

I think I've read this before somewhere but I just read it again on the "Praise Bands Annoy God" group wall on Facebook. Thanks to Sean for posting it. It and some other funnies can be found here.

The Contemporary Worship Song vs. The Traditional Hymn

An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church.
He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well", said the farmer, "It
was good. They did something different, however. They sung praise choruses
instead of hymns".

"Praise choruses?", asked the wife. "What are those?"

"Oh they're okay. They're sort of like hymns, only different", said the

"Well, what's the difference?", asked the wife.

The farmer said "Well it¹s like this if I were to say to you "Martha, the
cows are in the corn" well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I
were to say to you,

Martha, Martha, Martha,
Oh Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA!!!!
The cows, the big cows, the brown cows,
The black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows
The Cows, the COWS, the COWS are in the corn
Are in the corn
Are in the corn

Then if I was to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would
be a praise chorus"!"

As luck would have it, the exact same Sunday a young, new Christian from the
city church attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked
him how it was.

"Well", said the young man, "It was good. They did something different,
however. They sung hymns instead of regular songs".

"Hymns?", asked the wife. "What are those?"

"Oh they're okay. They're sort of like regular songs, only different", said
the farmer.

"Well, what's the difference?", asked the wife.

The Young man said "Well, it¹s like this if I were to say to you "Martha,
the cows are in the corn", well that would be a regular song. If, on the
other hand, I were to say to you,

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their head is no shadow of sense
Hearkenest they in Gods sun or His rain
Unless from the mild tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broken free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn chewed.

So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth and reborn
Where no vicious animal makes me soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.

Then if I were to do only verses one, three and four and change keys on the
last verse, well that would be a hymn.!"

It could have gone either way

Eucharistic theology
created with
You scored as Orthodox

You are Orthodox, worshiping the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the great liturgy whereby Jesus is present through the Spirit in a real yet mysterious way, a meal that is also a sacrifice.













Eucharistic theology
created with
You scored as Catholic

You are a Catholic. You believe that the bread and wine are transformed by the priest and become the Body and Blood of Christ. Though the accidents, or appearance, of bread and wine remain, the substance has been changed. The Eucharist remains the Body and Blood of Christ after the celebration, and is reserved in the Tabernacle; Eucharistic devotions are proper. As the whole Christ is present under either species, you partake fully of the Eucharist even if you receive only one.













Monday, October 22, 2007

My mother will be so jealous

Because of a misunderstanding my friends in the counseling area thought tomorrow was my birthday. It isn't. I'm a summer baby. But what a delight to have a little surprise party this morning complete with muffins from the Round St. Cafe!

Some people celebrate birth days, some birth weeks, some even birth months, but I celebrate birth quarters!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dumbledore is gay

From the CBC website:

J.K. Rowling reveals Dumbledore is gay
Last Updated: Saturday, October 20, 2007 | 11:04 AM ET CBC News

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has revealed that she conceived of one of the major characters, Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore, as gay. She drew a round of applause from a packed house in New York's Carnegie Hall on Friday after making the revelation in response to an audience question.

Read the rest here.

More on the Tree of Life

Check out this review of Chava Rosenfarb's Tree of Life trilogy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Writing, procrastination, and movies

So I'm working away today on an article that has to be in absolutely, with no more extensions next Friday. But nothing has changed since I was an undergrad, I want to research forever and write in a night leaving me no time to edit.

I should have stayed home to write last night but instead, since it was the only evening this week when I didn't have a commitment I went to the movies with friends. We went and saw Elizabeth 2 and enjoyed it immensely. I guess it hasn't had very good reviews but I thought it was really well done. I've been a huge admirer of the first Queen Elizabeth since watching the mini series Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson as a kid. Everything I've ever read about her since has convinced me that she was a truly remarkable woman. And she was an Anglican!

My favourite part of the movie? when it becomes clear that God really does like the English Protestants best! (big grin here in case you want to take offense - and bear in mind that I consider myself a catholic, not a protestant).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Unchurch Week 5

Tonight our theme for Unchurch was the Tree of Life. It was a great evening. Sleeping Monday night is always a challenge! I've had a passion for the image of the Tree of Life for years. I've painted, drawn and created umpteen versions in all sorts of different media. So I was very excited to talk about it with them.

We looked at the passages in Genesis, Proverbs and Revelation concerning the Tree of Life and then some of the other 'tree' passages. In the Middle Ages the cross was interpreted as the tree of life (picking up on some of the Acts, Galatians, and 1 Peter passages that talk about Jesus dying on a tree). Legends developed about how Seth put a seed from the Tree of Life in the Adam's mouth as he lay dying. From Adam another tree grew and the wood from it eventually was used for the cross. A further legend said that the wood of the cross burst into leaves and flowers when Jesus was nailed to it. Now I understand why there are crucifixions in which the cross looks like it is made of branches or actually looks like a tree. Another variation on the tree image in the middle ages were Jesse trees. Based on the Isaiah passage about a shoot coming forth from the stump of Jesse, a Jesse tree is a picture of a dead or reclining Jesse with a tree growing out of him. At the crown of the tree is Mary holding an infant Jesus.

I love the way the images run through the Bible playing off each other like themes in a symphony. It is so neat watching the ways in which an image like the tree of life keeps generating new insights, new representations, new appreciations for the generous vitality of the life God gives us.

I ended my meditation by asking what difference it makes that so many of the central images of God and our relationship with Him are organic. We ended up talking about the devastation of the forests in BC by beetle infestation, Eugene Peterson's take on the poetry of T.S. Eliot, our experiences gardening, the possibilities of new life in the worst of devastations physical, emotional and spiritual, and a sermon by my friend Andrew on the Isaiah passage about the stump of Jesse. Afterwards we sang "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" twice because we knew two different tunes for it.

I'm loving the ways in which people are sharing insights, praying, singing, providing food.... Our liturgy is evolving slowly into something pretty loose. We sing, read scripture, preach, talk while we eat, sing, and pray. I love it!

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit, and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I’m wary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blessing of the Animals

Today was the blessing of the animals at Ascension - Fr. Michael officiated and I helped bless. What fun. Robbie loves church. It is one of his favourite places in the world. He's attended most of the Anglican churches in the south end of the diocese and listens very carefully to the sermon. So this blog is becoming all about Robbie. He is doing really well health wise and is a really happy playful dog these days. He has a new little friend in Rosie and about once a week we've been going over to visit her. It has really rejuvenated him. She hauls on him and drags him around by his bandanna and he loves it...mostly. Now he plays with his own toys more and is just plain goofy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rosie loves Robbie

She discovered he had a handle and his life was over.

Lewis on love

I'm getting ready for a wedding on Saturday and came across this in my wedding file:

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
~C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie Returns

Tonight was the second episode of this season's Little Mosque on the Prairie and I think after two shows it is fair to say that it is much better than last year. The writing is not so over the top, the premises are more believable and the characters are less caricatures. I hope the rest of the season is as good.

BTW, I think this season of Boston Legal continues to show promise although I'm missing some of last year's characters. I've watched four episodes of season three again and am loving it even more. Denny Crane.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Robbie and Rosie

Thanksgiving watching dogs play - what fun!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What am I thankful for?

Not in any particular order
  • That I have a good vet to keep Robbie healthy and found a good doctor to keep me healthy
  • that we hired three great students to be student chaplains this year
  • that I got to spend a week with my goddaughter this summer
  • that I got to go on holidays to Saskatchewan and Winnipeg
  • that I've discovered the joys of playing scrabble on facebook
  • that I got to serve Ascension for another year
  • that I got to celebrate another birthday with friends
  • that I have a new office at the college and a new espresso machine at the university
  • that I finally bought a denim jacket
  • that I discovered Prismacolor pens
  • that I get to watch Boston Legal Season 3 with friends this weekend
  • that I got to spend last weekend playing scrabble with friends
  • for East Indian food, especially the green chicken at the Royal India in Calgary
  • for Bonny and the Round St. Cafe
  • for Unchurch
  • for my best friend and my Ya Yas
  • for the kids in my life
  • for B who mows my lawn and J who cleans my house and for all the ways they make me laugh and delight at how they are growing up
  • for the ECM board and the golf tournament committee and all the volunteers who make the chaplaincy work
  • for jig saw puzzles and cards and lazy evenings
  • for lattes
  • for adopted family, for meals spent with them, for finding home in Lethbridge
  • for friends and family, for home and hearth, for dogs and cats, for faith and grace, for books and music, for films and plays, for food and drink, for work and rest, for love and tenderness, for joy and surprise
  • for the opportunity to plant vineyards and eat its fruit

Friday, October 5, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Darby and Joan Club

Just got home from hearing the Darby and Joan Club play at the Slice. It was great! I love live music and I really like their British pop sound. They debuted a new song tonight that was really good. I went with a friend who's my age and I figured we'd raise the age of the crowd considerably but there was actually a table of 50+ year olds who did more than us to change the demographics. The Slice is a neat bar - pretty mellow crowd and good live music. Check it out!

Volf on Memory

Our theology reading group met last night for our second session on Miroslav Volf's book The End of Memory and it was a really good evening. We had two new students show up and the discussion was lively. There were some interesting connections with what we had discussed the night before at Unchurch about the dangers of knowledge too.

Volf has some very interesting things to say about the connection of memory to personal identity both in terms of how we are shaped by memory and of how we shape our memory. We ended up getting into a long discussion of the ways in which formative memory may be both personal memory and collective memory.

We also talked about the problem memory poses for us now when we have the technology to record so much of what is happening and yet seem to lack the cultural tools to interpret and remember events. The example one of the students gave was of parties where everyone is taking lots and lots of pictures so that they can run home and post them on facebook rather than actually participating in the party. Experience becomes a form of commodity.

Volf says this:

Currently added to this dangerous moral ambiguity of memories is a powerful sense of their importance. There is today something of a memory boom, a widespread desire to memorialize events -- at times almost an obsession with remembering. This memory boom has, I surmise, two principal causes (plus many subsidiary ones). Almost paradoxically, the first is the fast-paced, novelty-obsessed, entertainment-saturated culture in which we live. On the one hand, it makes most of us quick to forget -- forget even those things that once meant a great deal to us. As the media nail us to a narrow strip of the extended present, and as the new replaces the old with breathtaking speed, the past seems like a landscape viewed from a fast-moving train -- a blur that quickly fades to black. On the other hand, as we lean forward in time we extol memory and memorialize experiences to counter the slipping of the past into oblivion, to prevent our memories from faltering "like old veterans parading," as E.L.Doctorow puts it in City of God.

Witness the readiness in the U.S. to erect memorials to events that have only just happened. Debate about the appropriate monument for the victims of "9/11" was running full speed only a few weeks after the terrorist attack, when we could not possibly have had enough time to absorb the impact of the disaster and reflect on its meaning! We demand immediate memorials as outward symbols because the hold of memory on our inner lives is so tenuous. And then, because we have tangible, observable memorials, we feel absolved of the obligation to remember on our own; we feel free, in good conscience, to immerse ourselves in the blur of the present. Thus does the memory boom try to compensate for an actual memory bust.

The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006, pp. 39-40.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Unchurch Week 4

Tonight was Becky's turn to preach and she spoke on the story of Adam and Eve, Genesis 2-3. Beginning with Walter Brueggemann's interpretation of the story as essentially about the problem of knowledge Becky preached a very interesting sermon on the centrality of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She's said she will send it to me so that I can post it.

The thing I love best about Unchurch is the conversation after the sermon. Tonight we started to get into all the other interpretations of Adam and Eve but Becky drew us back to the issue of knowledge and we got into a very interesting conversation about the difference between knowledge and understanding or wisdom. We talked about the way in which knowledge can change us, particularly the knowledge of evil. And we talked a lot about the relationship between intimacy and knowledge.

We are becoming a little community too. People are sharing more and seem more and more comfortable together. At the same time a friend of mine came for the first time tonight and seemed comfortable sharing despite being new. He was also included in the conversation which I thought was really neat.

I'm loving this!

Walking the talk

It is good to write about community and communication. It is even better to practice it. Two of my closest friends and I went to Calgary for the weekend to play scrabble. They are both celebrating big birthdays so I told them we had to go to Calgary so I could take them out for a birthday dinner. Any excuse for a weekend with them I say.

We got ourselves a suite and the Holiday Inn staff kindly found us a table and extra chairs for our board. We took some breaks for meals and some shopping but managed to play 15 games. We each won 5 and one husband told us that was very socialist of us. The games were fun and we had a lot of time to talk and listen to music and just enjoy hanging out together.

We also enjoyed Indian, Thai and Greek food. Yum. What a weekend.