Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What in the name of America was I just watching?

I just sat through the Barack Obama Show. Made for tv. Schtick politics. Kitsch for Americans. If Hallmark had made one of their made-for- tv movies and had just one voice half shouting over mellow dramatic music, they would have been derided in the post broadcast summary. This was so blatantly feel-good, so heart string tugging, so well, bad, that I could hardly believe that a sophisticated party like the Democrats would allow this to go out over the air! What in the world could they have hoped to gain from this? One thing I have been trying to do with this blog is to assume that the people reading are intelligent. I just watched the Democratic Party tell the voting public that they think they don’t think they can see through cheesy music and feel good sound-bites and photo-op pictures. And I wanted this to be good.

See, I’m kind of cheering for Obama, as a Canadian. I want to vote conservative here, but I want to watch carefully and see what voting liberal might do at such a perilous time.
I also want America to have graduated to being the kind of place where he can win. There have been enough clips of Republican supporters showing their ignorance and bigotry regarding just his name to make me want Obama to win.

I just don’t get what they had to gain by airing this stuff tonight. There have been no polls I have seen or heard that made it likely he would not win. Now I’d vote against him just because he treated me so ignorantly.

I don’t know what to think. We just watched the Canadian election go through smear ads and sadly they seem to have worked. I just don’t know how some publicity people can sleep at night seeing what they have done, manipulated the public for their own good. When will substance win again? Has it ever? Can someone remind me?

Now come on Rays! Redeem the tv night!

The Clown in the Belfrey, Part 2

One of the stories that Buechner tells in The Clown in the Belfrey goes something like this. One Sunday, while taking communion, Buechner could hear the priest saying “The body of Christ, the bread of heaven” as he approached him. As each person was approached this same phrase repeated, “The body of Christ, the bread of heaven, the body of Christ, the bread of heaven.” As the priest came to Buechner, the priest added, “the body of Christ, Freddy, the bread of heaven”.

Buechner says that for the first time, the words of Christ, “this is my body which is broken for you” came to life for him. He wasn’t even called Frederick, Mr Buechner, even Fred, no, he was Freddy, his own most personal name. The “you” part of Christ’s words took on reality.

Can you hear him? Christ wants to meet with you. As we worship Him, take great joy in knowing that He wants to meet with you!

Genesis 3 tells us the most powerful thought that even after we had sinned and destroyed our relationship with Him, He came and looked for Adam and Eve. He didn’t say, “you broke it, you fix it.”

Matthew 1:23 says Jesus is “Immanuel, God with us.”

Revelation 21 says that Jesus current occupation of preparing a place for us will be completed, soon the relationship will be fully restored. Let’s rejoice that He wants “me” here. This personal relationship is wanted by our Father in heaven. It is not about me then, it is about His desire to have us with Him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I've been reading more Frederick Buechner lately. I must say, that in spite of his crassness, sometimes even because of it, I really enjoy reading his stuff. Lately its been the Book of Bebb... now there is a character for the ages! Most recently its a little collection of his shorter stuff called "The Clown in the Belfry" which is basically about faith and fiction.

One paragraph in particular really struck me with the idea of 'story'. He suggests that the reasons the parables of Jesus are so poignant is that they are our stories too. At any given reading we can relate to any of the characters within those stories. Sometimes we're the prodigal, sometimes, the father, sometimes the older brother, sometimes even the pigs. He thinks we over annalyze them and tear the beauty out by ignoring that sometimes Jesus just told the story and let it speak for itself.

I know this is not about The Shack, but its where I'm at today, what I'm thinking about.

He also says, "if today is the first day of the rest of our life, we are also at the end of the last stage of our life". What must I put away in order to move on with the rest of my life?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Shack, Part 3

As far as I can tell, The Shack is a book intending to help people answer the most common complaint God "has" to face. If He is good and loving, why does He allow evil?

Basically, the book revolves around the main character trying to come to grips with a family tragedy and God comes near to him, invites him on a real spiritual retreat. God proceeds to tear down all his preconceived ideas about who He is and the way things are to be.

Does the author do a good job of this goal, to defend God? I think he does. Whether God wanted defending, I don't know. That isn't really the question I suppose. God does come out as the good "guy" in the end. All the way through, God moves closer to what we would like Him to be.

That is the problem some have with the novel though, at times it was for me too. Is God becoming who we want Him to be, or does He just exist, outside our ideals? I'm not suggesting that the writer wanted to "dumb God down" for us. I don't think he has an inferior god to the one of the Bible. I think he truly wants us to see a part of God that many in the church may see as over-played already (Is it possible to over-play a part so beautiful?), His love. The writer is searching out the alienated, the fatherless and downtrodden, to point out that God is not a cosmic kill-joy. He really does love.

Is part of His character down-played in the book? Yes. Is there a danger in taking this book as a commentary on Scripture or the nature of God? Yes. Let us not forget that this is a novel and treat it as we would any other work of fiction. Use what is good for our own enjoyment and even betterment, and leave the rest as poetic licence.

God, of course, was there before us, and will remain, unchanged, after we've moved on.

Young ends up with a god who is deeply human. This is not God as Jesus either. This is God the Father. He talks like us, even less like some of us who try so hard to be pharasaical, er, um pious I mean. This was likely my most troubling point. Can God be this human? I think that as far as the Trinity is concerned, we know that He did. Jesus came here, God with human skin. The many appearances of God in the Old Testament are usually explained as being pre-incarnation (before birth) appearances of Jesus. I wonder about Moses in the crack in the rock. Was that Jesus? It doesn't appear to be so. How do we explain that? This may mean that God does make physical appearances, but it raises still another issue. Why doesn't the main character fall down in reverence in His presence? That side of God is missing, though the author is not really aiming at disclosing that side of Him. We'd give that kind of freedom to a theologian writing about the justice or love of God. Perhaps there is room for that freedom in a novel as well.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

When you've got to play tag...

My wife tagged me in her blog to repost this...

How exactly do you say "no"???

1. Where is your cell phone? pursed
2. Your significant other? terrifiyummywonderfuliscious
3. Your hair? Going
4. Your mother? loves
5. Your father? example
6. Your favorite thing? numerous
7. Your dream last night? forgotten
8. Your favorite drink? coffee
9. Your dream/goal? "Well-done"
10. The room you're in? orange-carpeted
11. Your fear? lupuslipophobia
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
13. Where were you last night? Here
14. What you're not? complete
15. Muffins? carrot
16. One of your wish list items? HolyGhostBuilding
17. Where you grew up? Bancroft
19. What are you wearing? j's
20. Your TV? humming
21. Your pet? peeves
22. Your computer? ubiquitous
23. Your life? lively
24. Your mood? pensive
25. Missing someone? Bronwyn
26. Your car? rolled
27. Something you're not wearing? halo
28. Favorite Store? Chapters
29. Your summer? anticipated
30. Your favorite color? seven
31. When is the last time you laughed? ce soir
32. Last time you cried? ... hmmmmm,
33. Who will/would re-post this? you
34. Four places I go over and over? crazy, Kleinburg, Timmy's, Hillside
35. Four people you email over and over? Sabrina, myself, principal, DAmessagboard
36. Four of my favorite foods? breakfast, lunch, supper, snacks
37. Four places I would rather be right now? Bed, Cuba, upstairs, Heaven

Someone else edited out the ones missing, not me...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Shack, Part 2

Here there be dragons.
In His presence is fulness of joy.

Maybe this song doesn't obviously draw out the book, if you haven't read it.
If you have read and you don't know the song, well, be blessed!

If you know both the song and the book, all the better!

If you know the song, the book and the Author of the story, you're already blessed, this is just a reminder!!

The Author of the Story
from the album "Mr Buechner's Dream"
Music by Daniel Amos,
Words by T.S. Taylor
©2001 Zoom Daddy/BMI

She had one foot on the ground
And one foot in the air
(it seemed) the world held her cold hand
While the angels brushed her hair

"But that's how it has to end
On this side of glory,
Some wounds will never mend,"
Says the author of the story

I held one hand in the fire
And lifted one hand towards the sky
But the busy world still turned
And the angels passed me by

Sometimes there seems to be
No author of the story
These thoughts occur to me
On this side of glory

And I kissed the Lamb of God
And my fingers found the wounds
And the angels moved the stone
And I searched the vacant room

That's how it all begins
On this side of glory
"and you'll see her shine again,"
Said the author of the story

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Shack by William P. Young, Part 1

Let me start by saying that likely everything that there is to be said about this book has been said. Just click here and look at the number of hits you get! I haven't seen too much that is both sympathetic and cautious. I'm going to try to go for that. This can not be done in one post. Bear with me. Please. Or don't. Come back later. But do come back.

First off, as a story, this is a good one. It stands as good literature. Plot-wise, it kind of fits in with a "The Five People you Meet in Heaven" genre of books, though definitely more Christian. I don't remember reading much backlash about that book though, after all the positive press that Mitch Albom got with "Tuesday's With Morrie" and the "heretical" stuff in "Five People". Maybe the point there was that that book wasn't published as a "Christian" book...whatever that means.

For some of the early pages of the encounters with God, there is a sense of pushing the envelope, pushing to feel something pushing back. I know the feeling, I feel like doing it sometimes when I type here. Sometimes we just want to see if anyone is there, if anyone cares whether we are right or wrong. Sometimes we just put out a thought or an opinion to see if we can raise a rash. A modern poet has said,

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
Trent Reznor

I’ve been thinking more and more about blogging and why people do it. I’m sure some of it is pride and some of it is to try to feel. A famous writer once said, “You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.”

If we send things out, do they bounce back, like sonar? Is there an echo out there? If there is, then somewhere out there in the darkness is something solid, something to tell me there is more than "me."

Are we alone?
Are the things we feel normal?
Am I normal?
Does anyone care?
Why do I hurt?

I think that this helps me understand William Young and also leads to why he wrote this book in the first place.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Overheard in the schoolyard...part 3

In the world of extremely funny, yet unimportant, yet infinitely telling stories I bring you this...

Apparently Tina Turner


Aretha Franklin

are in a tiff...

Apparently, and I have to take the published media's word for this, Tina Turner was called "The Queen" when introduced by Beyonce at the Grammys. Aretha, the so-called "Queen of Soul", released a statement the day after the Grammys in which she said, "I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyoncé, however, I dismissed it as a cheap shot for controversy."

Now, we have to assume that since Franklin released this, she meant it to sound the way it does. We have to assume she wanted to sound like this label was an afront to her own "title". We also have to assume that she didn't mind if that meant people would look at her as childish and intimidated by a gushing fellow entertainer.

If that was the end of the story, there would be no post, but in light of last week's political posts and "the rest of the story" that has since arisen, I just couldn't resist!

Ms Turner did not have a pithy comeback at the time, but I guess, having a while to consider what to say, she came up with a real zinger! She told USA Today, "Aretha has always been like that. We've always accepted that from her. She's the queen of soul, and I'm the queen of rock 'n' roll. There were so many kings and queens there that night. Her ego must be so big to think she was the only one. That's how queens are!"

And as all good arguments go, or royal wranglings, (I half expect Henry VIII to pop up and put us out of our misery here) there is still more. Ms Franklin now has put out her rebuttal to the rebuttal. Again, this is intentionally being published. Someone told her this was a good idea to publish this. "I have always appreciated what Tina Turner has to offer and had quietly cheered her on after Ike and her subsequent success. However, with respect to her statement concerning my ego ...("that's how queens are") clearly she was talking about herself as she described herself as the 'Queen of Rock' and saying 'that's what Queens do' — particularly since she does not have a clue as to who I am in view of the fact that we have never met.

"I never figured her to resort to tacky press just to sell a few tickets. I understand and I know that the concert market is down where ticket sales are concerned. I really had put her in a different class — higher than that.
Finally, no one has been more gracious or complimentary to their peers than I have and I am confident and secure enough to do so, unlike some others. I wish Ms. Turner all the best, as I always have. Perhaps one day we will meet."

I could comment, but... do I really need to?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let me take a minute here...

I just want to praise my wife.

She does it all.

She needs to take it easy.

Have a great weekend, my love.

See you Sunday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Overheard in the schoolyard... part 2

Okay, I wrote this post yesterday, (as most of my posts are not spontaneous, but tend to exist in some form or another on the old laptop for a few days before they ever appear here)but perhaps now it is put into a new light. I guess there was far more pressure on Stephane than just as it pertained to his party.

Obviously bad timing for Stephane Dion. He's obviously still sore from the ATV interview just a couple of days ago. The feeling is understandable.

How does this public reaction stand him in good standing with the public? He has had hours to prepare himself for that walk. He's got handlers, people who are there to help him put his best foot forward. Instead of walking out and saying, "Candians have spoken they've chosen Conservative, but they've asked us to be the Opposition, to make them accountable. We accept." He says, "Stay away from me. Do you know why I'm pouting?"

Once bitten twice shy is understandable, but this is still a man who wants to be Prime Minister.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So, what have we learned?

In the soon to become immortal words of the CIA directors from "Burn After Reading..."

"What have we learned from all this?"

" I don't know, sir. Not to do it again. Whatever we did."

Good-bye election. Hello status-quo. We've re-arranged the furniture. Does it make the place look less cluttered? Or are those deck chairs we're shuffling and this is the Titanic?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Overheard in the schoolyard...

“You don’t have a plan.”
“No, you don’t have a plan…”

Oh, no wait, that was Stephen and Stéphane.

I just couldn’t resist… its so juicy… don’t these people get it, we’re not idiots? This is not 1917 anymore? People actually get to hear from them and the things they say have to have some merit? This is not a partisan post, I think someone who can have a plan and not knock the others so pointlessly could start a revolution… wait, didn’t I blog about this in my last posting?

Hands up if you're tired of negative advertising. Hands up if you don't really know if people know what they are going to do, let alone what their opponents are up to. Hands up if schoolyard politics are out of date, out of style and out of class.

Hands up if you want to see someone who stands for something, not against something. John Tory tried that last time, in Ontario. It didn't work. Let's give someone a chance who tries that tactic.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

I hope you all had a tremendous weekend. We sure did. It was great to see those of you that we did. For the rest of you... sorry for our loss.
Back tomorrow...if the river don't rise.

Friday, October 10, 2008

We Need a Saviour

I saw that our local Christian station is going to be playing the "classic" MW Smith song "We Need a Saviour" in their upcoming retro show. Now, normally that wouldn't make me pause, though its one of the few MWS songs I'm familiar enough with to like.

What it made me think of though was that we have this world that really needs a saviour. Sadly, Revelation tells us that its a saviour from peace on earth. Right about now, the media is trying to play things calmly, yet the quotes from "experts" (the old saying goes that if you stretch all the economists end to end, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion) seem to be saying that the co-ordinated effort of the world banks to lower interest rates simultanteously was a great thing. People like to think that everyone else is just as helpless as they feel. They also want to know that there is a higher power, unified in doing us all good. From that, you can see that if one person stepped forward to rescue us from financial uncertainty that we would follow almost unconditionally.

Sadly, like the ancient Jews, we are looking in the wrong direction. Our Saviour still hangs on a cross, dying to be noticed. Meanwhile we stare at the stock market

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Political Ideals

Let me begin with a wee thought. This post is one sided. That is because I've lived my whole thinking life on the other side. This post in no way assumes a new way of anything. Just a few questions. And, as Mr Robert Zimmerman has said... the only way to answer these questions is to ask them in the first place.

Who should I vote for?

Why did Christ ask the church to care for the fatherless and widows? Was it because it is our job or because he wants us to make sure they get taken care of? If the church can’t or won’t do the job, should I now support those who can and will? In our society, that is the government. Should I now support those who support the needy?

All my life, I’ve believed that big government is bad government. All my life I’ve believed that I know what to do with my money better than a government could. Have I been wrong? Is it possible that aiding the government to better meet the needs of the needy is what I should really be doing?

Why does the political party that most consciously supports the needy also have the least desirable social standings on other moral issues? Is there a middle ground? Can we have it both ways?

Oh, Robert Zimmerman is Bob Dylan, in case you might have wondered why I'm quoting him. Some are likely still wondering why.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Many of you have likely heard of this movie. Its a new "Documentary" in a post-modern sort of way. As the title implies, it ridicules religion. Now, Monty Python did a great job of that in "The Life of Brian" and everyone knows that our relligiosity deserves a good dressing down from time to time, so don't get me wrong. I used to really like Bill Maher, meaning I used to watch his talk show a few years ago. With that in mind it was disappointing to hear that this was his choice of ways to depict his ideas.

This post is not about the movie.

This post is a reminder to us as believers.

This post is a reminder that giving press, however limited is only stirring up what Maher and his like are wanting. Ignore it and it will go away. Sadly it will likely harm a few people. Most of those will already agree with him in the first place. That is God's problem, not mine. I'm sure that I can do more good by living out my "religiosity" in a loving, relelvent, honest, gracious way than I can by lambasting "Religulous".

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Plastic, Part 5 (and final)

Well, we sat through The Graduate last Friday night, and though I had an immediate idea of where this was going to head, its taken me all this week to formulate this post.

This is a movie that leaves you with little doubt at the end that this was a well crafted, well made, highly effective movie. The sound, the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack, the camera angles, cuts and moments of visual impact are truly terrific, reason enough to make it into the top 100.

Notice that I still haven’t said that I enjoyed it. “Terrific” is the route word of terror, if not the other way around is it not? “Highly effective” are positive terms when the message is positive. When the message is pessimistic, hopeless, even, highly effective means it tugs you violently in those directions also. It also leaves you with more than a little doubt that what was just fed to you was a piece of post-modernism, at its earliest stages. From the cross symbolism, to the calloused view of marriage, to the fairly realistic view of our own superficial times, this movie opens up a fairly nauseating can of worms.

The dialogue itself is quite telling. In one note-worthy moment, the protagonist, Ben, tells his father, “I’m worried about my future.” “About what?” his father replies. “I want my life to be…” but he’s cut off by his mother who comes in the room and a whole new conversation begins. The father never does go back to the original conversation and a life that could have been given some direction is lost. Even an affirming word that it was a noble intention to make his life worth something to society, to humanity, would likely have spared the son from the empty existence he soon adopts. Instead, swept up in the party for their son which is about to begin, the moment is lost and so is he. In their selfish interest to show off their award-winning athletic son, they ignore his needs.

Another quietly telling moment occurs when the young man stands back to hold a hotel door open for a progression of older, well-dressed, obviously rich and successful people. These people all ignore him, none even looking him in the eye, and they certainly do not acknowledge that he’s holding the door for them. He stands back with a quiet smile on his face and carries on as though that is always the way it is in his life. The older people have no time or place for him.

As Ben faces an uncertain future, he becomes less and less focused as the summer rolls along. His father approaches him one day as he floats lazily in the pool. “What are you doing?” his father asks. “I’m drifting,” he responds. Rather than noticing the obvious double meaning, his father ignores the anchorless existence of his son. When nothing is given to him of worth, the only thing he can do is drift. He lives in a loveless, religion-less, charity-less, world of self-absorbed, task-driven people.

Eventually, the son’s choices lead to a life of detachment, and though attempts are made to re-connect to people, they all fail. Unable to talk, unable to listen, unable to love, only to feel and to react, his life becomes empty and sad. The only advice he is given in the whole movie, that I can recall, is when a friend at his party pulls him aside and confidently, yet strikingly tells him that he has “one word” for him…pregnant pause for dramatic effect for both the young man and the audience… the one word is uttered… “Plastics. There’s a great future in plastics.”

Plastic surgery ( click here to see how you can even have plastic surgery and pay with plastic! ) is a good place to jump to. If we don’t like or don’t have the real thing, we turn it into plastic. Have you seen those fake neon palm trees lately? We have plastic fruit, plastic flowers, plastic toy sharks to make up for real ones, plastic Christmas trees, and even plastic caskets to bury ourselves in should we crash that plastic car. (Doesn't plastic casket sound like a good name for a band?)

The word implies to many people "fake". Fake is usually a bad thing. Faking income has led to bank collapse. Faking injury has led to higher insurance claims. Faking offense has led to more guilt. Faking qualifications has led to people doing jobs they are not qualified for. Faking our assignments have led to inflated opinions and over-qualifying. Faking knowledge has led to us having some of our pollitical leaders we have. Faking life must be the worst faking of all. Chasing after false importance. Pursuing fame. Finding our own glory in our children. Pushing our children toward false, over-valued things. We seem to want a plastic world for ourselves, one in which we end up with nothing really mattering to us, nothing can dent us, nothing can bend us, nothing can help us to really feel, to really love, to really desire forgiveness and restitution, we simply pretend that everything is fine. In this I see a parallel with Edward Scissorhands and this movie. I also see a supreme work that is needed, might I say a Supreme work. We can have real life, abundant life Jesus called it, but we must put away what the world is selling us as important. This is true for all of us. Not just those who are un-believers, but for true believers too. The world and its system is so wrapped up in who we are that we may even miss out that it has us (see The Matrix as a movie example of this, and my life as a practical example).
Anyway, it seems I could go on, but this post must be getting long by now! I leave you with one word, are you listening??????


Plastic, Part 4

The Sound of Silence
Simon and Garfunkel

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of
A neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

Fools said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the signs said, the words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.
And whisperd in the sounds of silence.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Plastic, Part 3

Snow in a Can
The Swirling Eddies

vegetables in a bottle, fruit in a gum
liquid cheese in dispensers, janitor in a drum
better health in a packet, spring in a soap
the world in a box and a t.v. remote

candles for romance, canned music for mood
sex in a pill, and tan in a tube
for winter a heater, for summer a fan
instant coffee and cameras, sea-monkeys and tang

is just some of the stuff which i think is grand
alternative crab meat makes me one happy man
santa ana’s at christmas won’t ruin my plans
i got a video fireplace and snow in a can

abracadabra, alakazam
flip a switch and it’s snowin’ at disneyland
they got apples in shampoo
like pearls in a clam
they got pigs in a blanket
and snow in a can

sounds of nature on tape such as rivers and rain
paint by numbers and duraflame
pre-fab houses and astro yards
collagen lips and credit cards
complimentary peanuts, friendly skies,
comfort foods
happy meals, smart marts and
sensible shoes
honest work, hope chests
the lay of the land
fantasy baseball and denny’s grand slam

is just some of the stuff which i think is grand
alternative crab meat makes me one happy man
santa ana’s at Christmas won’t ruin my plans
I got a video fireplace and snow in a can

abracadabra and alakazam
flip a switch and it’s snowin’ at disneyland
they got apples in shampoo
like pearls in a clam
they got pigs in a blanket
and snow in a can

snow in a can snow in a can
apples in shampoo and snow in a can
just some of the stuff which i think is grand
pigs in a blanket and snow in a can