Friday, November 30, 2007

The Feast of St. Andrew

Today is the feast of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland and Tim has a wonderful posting over at Tale Spin. Please check it out here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winter is Here

The Shape of University Education

Patrick Deneen has a very interesting post on the university education over at What I Saw in America:

Today's article only further attests to the staggering absurdity of our current college admissions game: students are now "branding" themselves - a term we used to use for differentiating cattle herds and is now used to describe slick and often superficial ways that advertisers and marketers distinguish nearly identical products. This same term is now embraced by both institutions of higher learning and their potential students in the effort to differentiate themselves - and may have just as much substance as the marketing techniques to which they refer.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sad Day

Okay, I thought I was conflicted about the Grey Cup. And I was. I started cheering for Saskatchewan and half way through realized that I really wanted Milt Stegall to get his ring and for Troy Westwood to be able to cut off that rat's tail of a pony tail. So I decided that since Saskatchewan voted in the Saskatchewan party they didn't deserve the Grey Cup and started to cheer for Winnipeg wholeheartedly. Sigh...Saskatchewan won...and I could have basked in the reflected glory except I committed an act of apostasy at halftime.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Favourite Stories

It has been interesting reading the comments on my last post. It reminded me of the evening my roommates and I were sitting around talking about what four books of the Bible we'd take on a desert island with us (Psalms, Luke, Genesis, Corinthians [1st and 2nd - I'm cheating]). The phone rang and it was our landlady who was Jewish. We asked her what four books she'd take and she said she could live without Leviticus. Obviously if the first five books of the Bible are the most important to you then choosing four is less of a problem.

But Aaron's question remains: what stories of Jesus are your favourites?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Personal Canon

I had a prof who said we all had our own personal canon of Bible stories that we loved and that we rooted ourselves in. He had a theory about what gospels groups preferred too: liberals he said preferred Luke, Catholics Matthew, evangelicals John, Lutherans Paul, and fundamentalists Revelation.

Aaron, over at Aaron's Head, makes an interesting observation about the way in which people's favourite story of Jesus says something about who they are. My favourite stories are the prodigal parables from Luke's gospel. Part of the reason they resonate so deeply with me is that these were the stories my grandma told me over and over again when I was little. Part of it is because the story of the lost sheep came alive for me in my conversion when I was seventeen. Part of it is because I had a confessor who read me the story of the prodigal daughter once. I have known what it is like to be lost. I have known what it is to have been found. I have known what it is like to wait hopefully for the lost to return. I have known what it is like to go searching for the lost. And I've known what it is to be the resentful older brother. If I had only this chapter and the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus I think I'd have the heart of the gospel.

I know that it is important to teach people to read Scripture critically (in the proper sense of that word and not the negative sense), but I like what Aaron asked his study because I don't know if we encourage people to read with love enough in mainline churches. I think I'm going to ask the folks in our bible study the same question to see what they say.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Cost of Food

Patrick Deneen has another really good post, this time on the impact of the rising cost of oil on the cost of food. It is really worth reading here.

A friend of mine who farms nearby talks about the costs of eating iceberg lettuce off season. He factors in the cost of the pesticides, the fertilizers, the water, and then the oil to truck it here in refrigerator trucks. He concludes that it is extremely expensive to eat something that doesn't even have nutritional value. Here is good reason to eat frozen and canned local produce.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What is a Girl to Do?

Saskatchewan vs Winnipeg in the Grey Cup! It will take the wisdom of Solomon to decide who to cheer for. I was born in Saskatoon and raised cheering for the green roughies. But we moved to Winnipeg when I was eight and my first live game was the Bombers. I love both teams. All I know for sure is that next Sunday, whoever wins, I'm going to be a happy, happy camper! Too bad the game is being played in Toronto...oh well, I guess there can't be perfection this side of the Jordan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Michael Clayton

If you watch Roseanne reruns you get to see George Clooney back in the days before he emerged as one of the best actors in the business. If you want to see him at the top of his form go see Michael Clayton. Clooney plays a lawyer whose main task is to clean up other people's messes - he says at one point he says he's a janitor, at another point he's a bagman. When another lawyer loses it in a deposition Clayton is sent in to clean up the mess. But things are not what they seem and Clayton gets drawn into trying to sort out what is really going on.

There are some really tense moments but this isn't a car chase kind of movie - instead the tension comes from the emotional turmoil of Clayton's character as he's torn between his own demons and claims of friendship with the other lawyer (who is wonderfully played by Tom Wilkinson). Great movie!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Biblical Translations

At Unchurch last week we were looking at the covenant between God and Abraham. We were talking about the promise of children made to Abraham which reminded me of one of those funny moments in church.

We use the Good News Bible in our church. I often don't like the translation and the 18th chapter of Genesis is a good example. One Sunday, when the first reading was Gen. 18, one of the women, a middle-aged woman, got up to read. The Good News bible reads this way:

Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah had stopped having her monthly periods. So Sarah laughed to herself and said, "Now that I am old and worn out, can I still enjoy sex? And besides, my husband is old too."

As she was returning to her pew she looked at me and rolled her eyes. I had a hard time containing my laughter. But there was more. After the service she opened the door into the hall, forgetting that all the Sunday School kids would be there, and says loudly, "I'm sorry, but you are never too old to enjoy sex!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More from What I Saw in America

There is another great post today on What I Saw in America on friendship in the age of Facebook. I guess it is obvious that I really like this blog a lot. This post, like his one on Charles Taylor, has me thinking about a lot of things but I need to prepare for a discussion of Volf right now. Unchurch was also incredible last night and I want to write a little more on that. But for now...go read Patrick Deneen's blog!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Charles Taylor - A Secular Age

Over at What I Saw in America Patrick Deneen has a very interesting post on Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. This book is sitting on my bookshelf but Taylor is not easy reading and it is over 800 pages so I confess I've been scared of starting it. But I think I'm going to have to.

In response to Taylor Deneen says:

I grow increasingly convinced that our more just society is based not upon a deeper commitment to justice per se, but our increasing liberation from having to care about the fate and condition of other people.

He goes on to point to signs of this in both pop culture (Seinfeld) and in the dissolving social safety net.

The horn of the dilemma for me is suggested in what he says about the old more communal ways of relating:

As Tocqueville predicted, it would be the ascent of individualism itself that would give rise to the felt need for a "tutelary State" to compensate for what had once been provided - albeit unevenly, informally, unequally - within the thicker webs of familial and local life.

The problem is that these goods are provided unevenly and unequally because they are so often informal. So much may be decided by class, race, gender, kinship ties that it is hard not to see the problems with it. George Grant wrote something to that effect in one of his books. The problem with criticizing liberalism, which he did, was that it has brought benefits we don't want to give up. And yet, I agree that we are paying a huge price for this loss of social ties.

Now I'm off to church to live out my communal ties.