16.12.03

All my finals are over!!! They were over yesterday, and the last two went well.

Today I get to go back home to Calgary!!

Yes, if any of you were wondering, I am very glad this semester is over. Good to be on a break, see my family, later in the holidays I get to see Chapter, and so on :)

I am still going to attempt to blog, at least from Calgary, but we will see how much of that actually happens.

It finally feels like Christmas season, now that I am done finals and all. So, Merry Christmas Everyone!!

14.12.03

I would comment on the capture of Sadaam, except that I have nothing to say. In some ways it was almost inevitable, in others it was almost impossible; I guess we know which one it was now. Inevitable after the fact is meaningless though. Thank's to PinkMoose for blogging about it, otherwise who knows when I would have found out about this historic and momentous occasion?
So instead of extended comments on that, here is a song I like, and I like the lyrics to:


A New Desert Life
By Further Seems Forever

This is where the water becomes shallow.
And nothing here is quite as deep
As you hoped it would be.

You wish the lines were drawn a little clearer.
The tides have turned
This drought will burn
And everything is falling out of place.

And drying in the sun
Shriveling and shrinking
The hides are turning brown
Wrinkling and stinging.

As you bury yourself

Deep in the dust
Of the sandiest grave you can find
It's a new desert life.

To be reborn again
Out of glass and of sand
And you're shimmering and you are clear.

This is where
The water is shallow and nothing is as deep
As you hoped it would be.

And this drought will burn
And everything's falling, everything's falling, everything's falling
Out of place.

Everything's falling, everything's falling, everythings falling,
out of place (x2)

And you're glimmering and you are clear.


And here is a good quote from "The Incredulity of Fathe Brown" by G.K. Chesterton.
"I hope it's not against your principles to vist a modern sort of emperor like Merton" (Captian Wain, speaking to Father Brown, a priest and amateur detective who is the main character, speaking of Mr. Merton who is an very American with incredible amounts of power.)
"Not at all," said Father Brown, quietly. "It is my duty to visit prisoners and all miserable men in captivity."

11.12.03

So, my last two exams. Two left. One tommorow one monday. My exam on tuesday went very well, better than I had hoped. My exam today was as I expected, I think I did fine, but I know I didn't do great.

9.12.03

Ok, I don't know about you guys, but something about this makes me incredibly nervous. No, actually, the right word is nauseous. You can read a good article about it here.

I will now, with great effort, prevent a rant from coming out. Rants are not conducive to studying and follow right along with tendency of exam stress to focus your brain on anything but exams.

8.12.03

"Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked how men expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet he restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth."
--- Final paragraph from G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy

Chesterton's picture of orthodoxy, his explanation of why he believes, is inspiring. He follows a convaluted path to it, but gives good explanation of it. He believes for the same reasons that most people don't believe; for all the little things that just keep adding up, keep pointing in the same direction. He believes becuase he finds it to be reasonable exactly to the end the of reason; that is, it is not less than reasonable, but it is more than it. It is unreasonable exactly where being unreasonable is Good. Chesterton points out that if there is any virtue in hope, it becomes such when we hope right at the point where it would be reasonable to give in to despair. If there is any virtue in love, it is in loving those that we have no reason to. And so on, finding at each junction where reason fails the same figure: Jesus, standing stronger than ever.

Last night Pastor CS, my young adults pastor, said something I found very interesting. "I know God is not possible, I have accepted that. But I am sure glad that he is there anyway." A lot of us want to know if God exists, but the arguement never ends. Its like it only depends on who is the smarter one in the room at any given moment. Maybe it doesn't work like that. CS gave the analogy that maybe asking for proof before you try anything or start really searching is like asking to see a girl naked before your first date.

4.12.03

A Confession of a Moment

Walking to school yesterday, I was awakened by a sound. It was the sound of creaking. I looked around, and realized that the sound was from a distant gate, across a field, swinging in the wind. It suddenly seemed very quiet. There were no people around, no cars, no bikes. I looked up, and right above me was the line separating the clouds from the clear blue sky. Yet only a long and deep stare penetrated to see that line, somehow the light and those gray clouds interacted to make the blue sky look gray to. It wasn't cold, but it wasn't warm either. It was that midwinter, below zero, average temperature, which feels so normal once you adjust to the cold. It was windy, but the wind did not bite or cut. It was more like being hit with a fan than a sword. Just enough to whitewash all the normal background noise of the city; the traffic on the main roads and the construction at the university.

And all those things that I normally thought of as real, that made up the image of my walk to school, were gone. It was as if everything that made it real in memory was gone in reality, dull and blunted, and all of those things I never notice suddenly stood out, like a splash of orange pain on a blue jazz concert.

I noticed the sidewalk; how some people had chipped away the layer of ice and snow to reveal the actual ground, and others had not, leaving a dirty brown and white, bumpy, icy covering. The winter road. I noticed the bushes, like little brown spears pitifully defying anyone to pass, as they swayed with the slightest breeze. I noticed the signs and mailboxes, how almost every one of them had some kind of graffiti on it. It reminded me of a graffiti on the back of a sign that I had seen a year or so ago, of two stick figures. One kneeling and asking the other to marry, but the other saying no. I don't know if it is still there, I had already passed it if it was.

And amidst all of these things that I never notice, that I take for granted, the most shocking realization came when I found God among them. I felt as if I were to look up from the brown spears and winter roads, I would see Him walking down the street towards me.

I slowly and hesitantly looked up...

And the spell broke. My walk to school became normal again. The gray clouds enclosed the blue-gray sky, until there were just clouds. I joined the nameless mass, which gathers as you get closer to the university. And I was almost comfortable, almost able to once again be part of the dull, blunted background. There was one problem, I was now awake. And though He didn’t leap out in the same way he had, God didn’t fade away. I was almost comfortable. Almost.

3.12.03

First final done. It went well, but my hand hurts. Writing for two and half hours is not something I am accustomed to, especially since I am used to typing my notes.
My first final is tonight. My Religion and Literature final. I am not sure how ready I feel because I am not sure what the test is goign to be like.. its just 4 general short answers and one general essay question, supposedly general enough that we can refer to any work we want to from the class, and we can even bring those works into class. Thats what actually makes me nervous... Yep, you can bring your text books to class; you can almost hear the teacher chuckle under her breath at that point. It doesn't help that she says it as if she were handing a man a sheet as he was about to jump off a cliff. It'll be good though

After tonight, my next final is the tuesday, the 9th. Then the 11th, 12th, and 15th. Then I am done. Needless to say, I probably won't be writing lots in the next two weeks.

Then its Christmas holidays! Sweet.

30.11.03

The last day and a half or so have been amazing.

On Friday night I left immediately after Shine, and spent a good part of the evening talking with Chapter. So good. After that, I got into a long conversation with three friends about Crusade. That was also good.

Saturday my parents came up to visit, which was good since I don't get to see them nearly as much as I would like to. In all fairness, thats probably my fault. In any case, it was fun :) We went to the olive garden for lunch, my first time there. It was good. I also tried Sangria for the first time that lunch, and I liked it to. Then we watched "The Emporers New Groove", which is one of my favorite movies. Hilarious.

Last night was the Campus for Christ Christmas Banquet for our campus. Such fun. At my table we largely just acted like big kids all night; the fact that we were all in suits and dresses (or equivalent levels of la-de-da dressiness) only adding to the hilarity. We managed to hit the two story roof of the gym we were in with chocolate kisses launched from spoons, we butchered a few Christmas songs with the never get old joke of singing incredibly off key, and I really enjoyed singing the much deeper Christmas songs (which we didn't butcher) such "O Come O Come Emmanuel". A good speaker (Homiebear), some good skits, and good company. After the party everyone helped clean up and some of us went to "The Four Rooms", which is a jazz club in downtown Edmonton. Excellent Jazz club, solidified the plan to take Chapter to one some day, hopefully sooner than later, and hopefully one as good or better. I tried Jet Fuel (read: Scotch) for the first time, and though I enjoyed it, I have to say I will take Rum or Whiskey over that any day. Lastly, a friend and I finished the night off with the long time UofA Crusade tradition of a latenight McDonalds run. Except neither of us were sure where the appropriate McDonalds was, so after some driving, we found a 24 hr one, not the usual one, but still. Instead of parking behind the superstar (which I still have no clue where it is), we parked behind some warehouse or something.

Evenings like that are so good. It was a full evening of relaxing and fellowship, complete with a turkey dinner and grease in a bag. I won a mug and some gift certificates, but I forgot the mug at the gym... hopefully someone picked it up.

It was an evening where many of us felt perfectly comfortable to sit, quietly, enjoy ourselves with nothing on our minds, a quiet mood that didn't have to turn introspective, and others felt comfortable just being ridiculous.

I hope and pray that many of your holiday moments, and your regular moments, can be filled with such times, whatever such times would look like for you. Times when the natural human desire to be right way up can be satisfied, when Joy becomes bigger than you can comprehend and sadness becomes something small and special, times when you are confident that though we are surrounded by a silent starry abyss, it is only silent because the laughter of heaven is too loud for us to hear.

28.11.03

Tensions: The Pain of Honesty and the Gentleness of Love

This is at least partially me venting :)

Sometimes we have this idea, that we should never cause any pain with our words. As Christians we back this idea up with appeals to various verses, usually exhorting us to tell the truth in love. We interpret that to mean that we say the most we can without causing pain... of course, there really is a lot of pain involved with honesty, and so we usually end up being half honest, sacrificing the Chrisitan value of truth for what we call teh Christian value of love or gentleness. Kierkegaard draws an analogy of a man who wants to be a millionaire, he is workign towards it, but as of yet he has 2 dollars. Do we do him any favors by calling him a millionaire? If he calls himself a millionare would be correct in telling him he is at least over confident, if not outright delusional? It is certainly no slander to tell this man, if all he has is 2 dollars, that he is a bit of a poor man and a long ways from being a millionaire. It may be slander to call Bush a warmonger out for nothing but oil and blood, but it would certainly not be slander to say that as the president of the united states Bush has led his country through a war which was partly justified on lies (evidence presented to the U.N.), and which has not been completely justified based on some of the terms he himself set up (weapons of mass destruction?). The point of this is not to be political though. It is to bemoan my, and our, inability to walk the fine line of gentleness and honesty.

I have heard "slander" and said to to the person that that couldn't be right, ease up a bit, you don't need to be so harsh, it can't be all that bad. I said this with the Christian value of gentleness and "niceness" in mind. How surprising to find out that the people saying those things were already muttering half-truths due to the influence of those same values, and I called them untruths. Now I call them half truths because they were too nice. How surprising to look the rebel in the eyes and tell him that his methods would not work, not because they go to far, but because they do not go far enough.
Today I woke up braindead. It is not uncommon for me to go to sleep in that condition I euphamistically call braindead, but waking up like that doesn't happen to often. I realized that basically for the last four weeks I have been doing non-stop research and writing, producing over 40 pages of essays, as well as keeping up with all the normal stuff I do, or most of it. Throw in a few very long meetings this week, and voila, fried morning TheLogo, a pleasant light brown color and a little extra crunch.

Seriously, I feel like I am mostly done this semester, and I am saying that with the full awareness that I have five finals left to write. Finals look like nothing compared to essays right now, though that opinion might change as I write some fo them. But, at least my teachers limit me to one or two books plus notes... when I write an essay there is no such limitation.

Its kind of wierd, this is my second last semester. It has gone by so quickly, as all semesters do, but now I am thinking "This is my second last set of undergraduate finals.... woah dude." I think next semester will be much more surreal than this one though, graduating and getting married and moving to vancouver and preparing for seminary... :)

I also learned some other things. My ability to write is seriously hampered by the need to keep some of the things I am most passionate about private... it is also hampered by the incredibly tap on any of my slim creative resources that writing essays has been. Fun fun fun

23.11.03

In Religous Studies and Christian?!?! Impossible!

I have lost track of how many people are surprised that I am a Christian, and at the same time in religous studies at a secular university. I'm going to be honest here, I used to get this warm fuzzy feeling...
"So what are you taking at University?"
"Religous studies"
this response varies, but the gist is: "Wow, and your still a Christian?" "Thats pretty impressive that your still a believer"

Yep, that warm fuzzy feeling is called pride. I would like to say that I don't get that anymore, but that wouldn't be true. I fight it, and sometimes I don't get it, but its still there. Honestly, it can be hard not to be when you start getting that response from pastors and proffessor's. Still, it's not right and I know it. Pray for me on that account.

But lately, a new feeling has been mixed in when I get into that kind of conversation. Its a quesy feeling, a kind of twisting in my gut, or sometimes a vague uneasiness. I am not exactly sure how to explain it, but I think I know, again vaguely, what the source is.

We are all given different gifts, I know this. Not everyone can argue with a philosophy prof about some obscure and abstract proof of some kind, not everyone has blonde hair either. Frankly, there are better gifts to have than intelligence. It doesn't make me any better or worse than anyone else. But, I find it disturbing that there is some kind of assumption out there, that within the secular university there exists a shadowy doom. A departmental soul eating machine which bleeds to death all who wander within its grasp, breathing anti-Christian propaganda as it stalks the unsuspecting campus for victims.

Sure, the religous studies department can be difficult for a Christian. Yes, there is some anti-Christian bias in some places. But, by and large, it is full of people with honest questions. They are grappling with truth, they don't understand it, and they ask the tough questions. Is it malicous? Some of them, for sure. So what? I would rather have someone who is slightly anti-Christian but still asking questions, even if only out of aggression, than someone who is apathetic and cotinuously being reproggramed by television. While it is definitely not true of everyone in religous studies, I have seen more honest and full grapling with Jesus within this secular soul eating department than I have in the church.

But what of all the atheists, agnostics, and pluralists that come out of that machine?
Yeah, there are a lot of them. Probably because there is no one there to help them. The prof's aren't out to help, they are there to give out information and make you regurgitate it. Your fellow students aren't there to help, especially not if the class is curved; at worst they are competition, at best a seat filler next to you in class. And the church certainly is not there to help, we are to scared to face this one.

So, sure, not everyone can get through a degree in Religous studies. As I said, we all have different gifts. But some of us can; if we weren't all steered to bible college. If we honestly believe that there is this thing that destroys our faith, shouldn't we face it? It's like we know we aren't preparing people to face the real questions that are out there, and we do nothing about it.
"Yeah, you know, lots of people have really hard questions. Its best just to ignore them, otherwise you might lose your faith."
WHAT!?!?!?

Does anyone else see a problem here?

21.11.03

I realized that I never mentioned how my project went. Well, it went well. We decided to do the whole thing kind of like a poetry reading; some of it was a little disjointed, and most of the people in our class have never or rarely done any kind of public speaking, but it went well. One other group really showed everyone up though; it was the group that did their presentation on Rumi's poetry. They read one of his poems, with music in the background, and a slide show to go with it that included much mocking of Canadian politics. Despite this, the rest of their presentation wasn't amazing or anything.

I think I finally broke through the wall on my WWII propaganda essay; I think that some parts of the problem I faced was that the Nazi regime dealt with three distinct religions in three distinct ways, the fact that its all great on paper and in theory, but that this war was real, whatever you say about how Hitler used the Jews as scapegoats and to manipulate the people, he really did hate them and he really did murder millions of them. Also, religion was dealt with in many more ways than on paper, and finally that the Nazi Regime was basically creating there own religion. So how am I supposed to fit all of those important things into a coherent paper on religion and literature in a way that they all add to my points? I might have figured it out, we will see. I think the problem isn't half as hard as I have found it, because of other things going on, but oh well.

We just finished this years mass media campaign on our campus, entitled "The Green Figurine". It was a curiousity based campaign, we put up teaser posters for two weeks asking questions about the green figurine, without saying who it was, and then at the end revealed it was Jesus and had a talk on him. The campaign was done very well, which is not me congratulating myself, as the only real help I did was in the area of the meniial tasks (putting up posters and such). On the other hand, I begin to wonder about how effective these campaigns are, relative to the work and cost of putting them on. They are definitely effective, no question there, but could other means be more so? Who knows I guess. To those who put so much work into this one, great job!! Please don't take my questioning as criticism; its just part of my neverending quest to learn and improve :) Merely mentioning the questioning here is perhaps a foreshadowing of a future rant, but you will have to tune in later to find out, if you even care :)

20.11.03

Rant: Liberty, Freedom, and Hearing Different Voices

I wasn't around when the gags started coming off. I wasn't around when men allowed the heretics to start speaking in the hopes that we might learn, that in giving liberty to those previously imprisoned freedom and learning themselves might be re-invigorated. I have always thought they had noble intentions. In the name of truth, of peace, of love, or whatever, they, whoever they are, did what they did.

But I look at where I am today, and I wonder what really happened. The actions of one day are built on the philosophy's of the last, and yet we are a world that will praise a man for his philosophys and imprison him when he carries them out. Perhaps a more apt analogy is this: We saw that several voices were locked in a high tower, unable to escape, the only windows were the arrow slits in the lower portion of the tower. Upon seeing this, or moral disgust rose, and we proclaimed that we must all be free, they too must speak. Acting on these convictions we boldly strode up to the tower, opened the door and walked in. We then proceeded to lock the door and throw the key out one of those arrow slits. "There, now we are all free." Perhaps all those in the tower were so self-centred as to desire this, so narrow minded that all they could think of as they looked on the outside world was that everyone else should be stuck in the same tower as them, but I doubt it. Now, however, that the rest of us have joined them in the tower in such a manner, is it any wonder that all of those voices we sought to free for the sake of truth have turned on us and all we stand for?

(Inspired by G.K. Chesterton's "Heretics". Which is to say, I was reading it, and some of this comes from him, and some of it I thought as I read.)

19.11.03

I'm finished preparing my group project, we do it tonight, and once again I am back at my essay on religious propaganda in WWII Germany. That essay is turnign out to be more frustrating than I expected... I just can't stay focused. I read about what was happening back then, and I start thinking about so many other things, which are good and important, but have nothing to do with my essay.

Timeline

I bought "Timeline" by Micheal Crichton about 2 weeks ago, and I just finished it the other day. The book isn't nearly as subtle in its plot or characters as many of his earlier books; several parts of it follow what are becoming recognizable patterns in Crichton, with variations, yes, but not entirely new. It seems the book was almost written to be a movie, and no surprise, the movie is being released on the 26th of this month (after massive delays). Nonetheless, the book was excellent. Crichton does not fail to deliver what, in my opinion, is the best part of his books. That is, his unique vision of the future, combined with some interesting characters and actions that seem to be such a natural outworking of where our world is headed, and some veiled yet penetrating criticism of the present.

The rich and ruthless business man of the book is the source of much of this material. In a speech to potential supporters, he puts his thumb right on our day. "What is the dominant mode of experience at the end of the twentieth century? How do people see things, and how do they expect to see things? The answer is simple. In every field, from business to politics to marketing to education, the dominant mode has become entertainment." He goes on to explain what this means and how he intends to exploit it. Doninger, the man making the speech, realizes that as long as people are running on entertainment they will continually be shifting from one form to another. He then predicts that the next major buzz will be "Authenticity", and he plans to take advantage of it. "And what is authentic? Anything that is not devised and structured to make a profit. Anything that is not controlled by corporations. Anything that exists for its own sake, that assumes its own shape. But of course, nothing in the modern world is allowed to assume its own shape."

There is much more in this book, for when Doninger's comments are set aside the experiences of those who have travelled to the past, you see the vanity and pointlessness of it all. Several of the characters see this to.
We, in our period of time and in our part of the world, are incredibly lucky. We are really some of the first people who don't have to worry about our lives, or our daily bread. What we really have to fear is boredom. Of course, we aren't quite the first ones, there were those Roman citizens. They didn't have it quite as good as us, but they too got to the point where they just needed to be entertained. Of course, it didn't last. The "barbarian hoardes" encroached. Meanwhile several emporers couldn't open their eyes enough to see that the most important thing was no longer the gladiatoral rings; of course, they never were, but they couldn't see that either.

18.11.03

I'm back.

As expected, and as usual upon returning from Vancouver, I am super busy. My group project on Gary Snyder's "Smokey the Bear Sutra" is tommorow night, then I have two more essays to do/finish.

This is a quick update, nothing more, have a great day.

13.11.03

I am in Vancouver!!!! Chapter is right beside me. I know I hadn't mentioned this trip, but I am in vancouver this weekend; were going to a conference thing for engaged and married couples. Its sooo good to be here, with Chapter.

Anyway, have a great week, I likely won't post again until monday or tuesday.

11.11.03

Today's Jumbled Brain Fart

Postmodernity looks at modernity and proclaims it flawed; your claims to truth, your foundations, they are manipulative power ploys. Foundations don't work. As for language, it cannot refer beyond itself; reality, therefore, is nothing but a fictive construct.

I respond to postmodernism that you have made everythign meaningless, nothing makes sense because there is nothing to make sense of. You trivialize the pain, the loneliness, and the ostracization of all those you claim to protect. Suffering from a fear of Descartes you open the door once again to Descartes fear.

I do not offer this criticism as someone who considers himself "modern" in the philosophical sense, or any sense. I find it interesting that both modernity and postmodernity seem to destroy that which they find most important. Seeking foundations modernity has turned to manipulation, attempting to create a self-perpetuating system which would consistently destroys any hope of moving towards truth. Seeking to create an epistemology, modernity has turned language into self-referential fiction. Seeking community, to hear the voice of "the other", postmodernity has trivialized all, including the other. Seeking to remove the manipulation in order to allow dialogue to occur, postmodernity is rendering true dialogue impossible.

Whenever faced with a trend that is so obviously a submission to the ideas of the age I become very cautious. It is dangerous to follow along with the masses. Neither modernity nor postmodernity matter on a philosophical level like they do at the popular level. And it is the popular level with which most of us interact. The problem is that the popular level is uncritical. While many mistakes are made by them, the philosophers have done there best. They only became dangerous insofar as they are not taken seriously: Nietzsche proclaimed "God is dead, and we have killed him" but he well knew what that meant, and one hundred years later we see he was right in the consequences he proclaimed as a result of this. In our enthusiastic grasping after his proclamation we ignored what he had to say. Smith, a social philosopher as well as an economist, knew what capitalism involved, but in our leaping forward with his system we have ignored what he himself proclaimed it was based on, and what he warned us to avoid.

And what about those things not in the realm of philosophy? The world I live in seeks to destroy my passions: I can't care to much about anythign or else i would find myself unable to be tolerant, and God forbid, literally according to most Christians, that I cease to be the nice guy for a second. Next to go is my imagination, and it doesn't stop there. Of course there is no malevolence in these things. Were all good people after all, we just want whats best. Being truly creative takes a lot of work, and we know you don't want to strain yourself, so we will relieve you of that pressure. Actually caring about something inevitably brings pain, and we don't want you to feel pain, so we will elevate all those qualities and traits which take away the source of the pain, the passion. The most tragic casuality in the search for "Freedom from" is the "freedom to".

Can you cope with the end of one world and the begginning of another? Most people don't like when movies end without ending, but what if life is like that? No lab can fit an earthquake, no bottle can fit the sea, lightning doesn't follow directives, the wind is still one of those things we don't know. Are you not terrified by the hurricane that became human? The word became flesh and dwelt among us, the fire rested in his bones and flew from his fingertips. The truth became a man, and Life itself came to life to live beside us. Is this not offensive? Does it not shake you to the core, sending shivers up your spine, adrenaline into your system, and make your hair stand on end?

Or are you just a nice person, looking for a buddy and a hug?

8.11.03

Its been an exciting last few days, if I can call it that. I spent almost the entirety, and then some, of thursday night at ER, stupidly thinking I might have appendicitis. Turns out it was a hernia (No, before then I did NOT know where my appendix was, thank you very much!). I didn't even get to see a doctor, the pain went away, and I went home. I went to a clinic on Friday and found out its a really minor hernia which may yet heal on its own... fun times.

Then Friday was good, though a long day. I went to SHINE which is our CCC weekly meeting at the UofA; It was a matrix theme, people dressed up, the speaker spoke on God and the Matrix, there was much mocking of Keanu Reeves, and so on. Then, I went to the new Matrix movie on friday night, but due to the incredible mass of people at the theatre, we had to go to the latest show (11:00) despite being over an hour early for the earlier show we wanted to go to.

There have been many mixed reviews about the new Matrix movie; when I heard them I said that everyone else could say the movie sucked, and I would still go see it. I am not going to tell you anything about the movie, don't want to spoil it for you, but I really enjoyed it. I have a low entertainment threshold, but I enjoyed this movie on more levels than that. On the other hand, I am not going to lie to you, 10 of us went and 3 of us liked it.

Now, this long, 4 day weekend, is going to be spent working on essays. 3 to go, one to edit. I am basically done my group project. So, wish me luck, send up a prayer, and have a great long weekend. Spend at least a few minutes remembering what this weekend is for too... I can hardly avoid thinking about it as, appropriately, the first essay I am working on is that Religion and Literature one on WWII propaganda.

6.11.03

So I finished editing one of my essay's on tuesday night, the one that is due today, my bioethics essay. I returned the books that I had out for it yesterday, and I picked up more books for my next essays. It seems that the piles just keep growing.

One of my essays, the next one I have started working on, for my Religion and Literature class, is turning out to be very interesting. I am writing on the church, the occult, and literature surrounding both within Nazi Germany. I have started reading a book, published in 1943, by the man who was the American Chaplain in Germany before the war. Quite a read (in a good, and yet so terrible, way).... Its called "It's Your Souls We Want". He shares this poem, published in a Berlin Newspaper in 1939:

We have captured all the positions
And on the heights we have planted
The banners
of our revolution.

You had imagined
That that was all
That we wanted.

We want more.
We want all!
Your hearts are our goal,
It is your souls we want!

4.11.03

I just read a good story online. Its called "The Imp and The Crust" by Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy is an excellent author, despite the fact that some of his writings are considered "classics", and this story in particular brings up some good issues. Check it out.
Yaaah! My books are here. For those of you who read my post on Wright, you will know what I am talking about. Of course, a lot of my "other" books are here to, that is library books. I did research for several essays yesterday, and was very lucky to get a ride home from a friend instead of having to carry my 40lb bag home on my 30 min walk.

4 more weeks of school... not even full weeks, 3 more essays, 2 essays to edit, and one group project left. We get a 4 day weekend this weekend, and its going to be packed. Read lots, write an essay, repeat.

Thanks for the comments on my last post :) My Auntie Gwen, my Grandma, and 2 of my cousins are going to a Don Williams concert in Saskatoon tonight, have fun guys :)

Off to school now, have a great day people.

2.11.03

Don Williams and I through the Ages

I realized I hadn't, in my busy-ness, put much of a personal nature up here lately. Some rants, some thoughts, thats it. This weekend was good, I finished my incredibly frustrating bioethics essay on saturday. I talked with Chapter, though never enough. And my Mom came up today. She took me out for a nice dinner, and to a Don Williams concert.

At least some of you probably have no idea who Don Williams is. He is a country singer, old fashioned, good country (for those of you who think no such thing exists, think again!). He was big back in the day, like 20 years ago, or even 15-12 yrs ago. He is also known as the "Gentle Giant". He has a voice so deep that even from the second balcony you can feel it rattle in your chest. He started to lose his popularity when music videos became the thing, because he refused to do them. He believes that part of listening to music is making your own pictures, some of your own story, so that each song means something different to each person. A man who values the imagination, rare in our day.

I started to listen to Don Williams whan I was young, so young I don't remember it. He is just kind of there in my earliest memories. I can remember listening to "You're My Best Friend" and excitedly telling my mom that I figured out who he was talking about in that song. When my mom responded "his wife" I said "No, it's God." Now, if you read the lyrics, its pretty obvious its his wife, still :)

I remember my favorite song, "Tulsa Time". Before I knew what it was called, or was old enough to really hear the lyrics, I thought the main line was "The Old man down the road". When I asked my Mom and Grandma what song it was, my Grandma, somehow, instantly knew what I was talking about. To this day, neither my Mom, nor I, can figure out where I heard that line, or how my Grandma knew.

I remember when I was 8, going to a concert. It was a surprise, I didn't know who was playing. When we got there, my parents bought my brother and I pops, and they ran into some family friends. These friends let slip who was playing, but somehow, standing right there, I missed it. Then we went in, and the announcer mentiond that Don Williams would be up soon, but the opening act was now coming on. I missed that one to, sitting in the audience. Finally, when she finished playing, she introduced Don Williams. I caught it that time, and boy was I excited. It was an excellent concert.

I remember my walkman, a blue sony, and how his tapes were my most frequently played for years. While I delivered papers, on long car rides, when I was supposed to be sleeping, or to fall asleep to. I entered a period in late junior high and highschool when I didn't listen to him very much, but I came back in university.

I remember reminiscing in my room in Lister Hall, the large 1st and 2nd year residence here at UofA, as I heard Tulsa Time once again, and listened to "Good Ole Boys Like Me", feeling old and young at the same time, which is odd considering that I am quite young. I listened to "I Believe In You", and enjoyed it immensely.

I remember a time, after going out with Chapter, but before we were engaged, when I hoped I could one day sing to her "You're my best friend". I also remember one day, while Chapter was visiting me in Calgary, when my mom told us that Don Williams was in concert tommorow. On a whim, we went to see if their were any tickets left. There were. Up until then, Chapter didn't really even know who he was, and I don't think she had heard his music. We both loved it. "Years From Now" is now a song we sing to each other.

Tonight, I made more memories of Don Williams, my Mom and I, as we saw him in concert again.

I think my biggest memory though, only barely ahead of the ones I just mentioned with Chapter, is getting up everyday for several months, and including in my morning prayers singing and praying "Lord I Hope This Day Is Good".
I've got it playing right now, why don't you pray it with me:

Lord, I hope this day is good
I´m feelin´ empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful Lord, I know I should
But Lord I hope this day is good

Lord, have you forgotten me?
I´ve been prayin´ to you faithfully
I´m not sayin´ I´m a righteous man
But Lord I hope you understand

I don´t need fortune and I don´t need fame
Send down the thunder Lord, send down the rain
But when you´re plannin´ just how it will be
Plan a good day for me?

Lord, I hope this day is good
I´m feelin´ empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful Lord, I know I should
But Lord I hope this day is good

You´ve been the King since the dawn of time
All that I´m askin´ is alittle less cryin´
It might be hard for the devil to do
But it would be easy for you

Lord, I hope this day is good
I´m feelin´ empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful Lord, I know I should
But Lord I hope this day is good...

31.10.03

Developing a Faith big enough for the World

It is a frightening thing, from the perspective of a man such as myself with a background of protestant separation of religion and politics, and the comfortably personalized and individualized, and thus reduced, version of the Gospel, to watch as my faith grows and becomes inextricably connected with social, political, and global issues.

It is a frightening thing, from the perspective of a man such as myself with a white middle class North American background, to watch as my views of money, of life, and what it really means to have a good life change so drastically.

Is the full gospel of Jesus Christ really that he died, took my sins away on the cross so that I could be saved? Does it not include that, important as it is, but also much, much more? Doesn't the gospel proclaim that Jesus lived (we always have an answer to why Jesus died, but besides to give us some good moral teachings, why did he live?), died on the cross, rose from the dead, and is now Lord of All (capital A All), with all that implies about our values, about worldwide and systematic issues of love and justice, mercy and judgement, forgiveness and repentance?

I sometimes think that Jesus must gaze on our world, and at the very least shake his head in wonder at all we Christians do and think in His name, if he doesn't outright shudder, cry, and shout in anger. We give money to a good organization once and a while, salving our conscience, telling ourselves that we have done our duty. All the while we ignore the radical call that Jesus actually placed on our money. We run our lives around our jobs, around our income, and forget that Jesus pointed out that it is impossible to serve both God and Money. We might pray for the poor, maybe give a little, maybe not even consider them since our personal salvation is taken care of, we can get back to getting ahead in the real world. Meanwhile Jesus gives us the parable of the sheep and the goats, where those let into the kingdom are let in solely on the basis of their acts of compassion, sacrifice, and generosity to those less fortunate. And that's just a start on a personal level.

What about the systems we support? We live in a society that has idolized technology, and we do it to. Technology will solve all our problems; it will take time, but just wait. Yeah, lots of people are poor right now, and lots of people starve, but when we get more efficient at collecting solar energy, and when we tap into the oil under the oceans, then we will be able to feed those people, and everyone will benefit off of this technology. Personally, I though God was going to renew the earth... but I guess he doesn't need to, we've got it under control. Of course, that's a pile of BS. Its the same crap we've been fed for the last hundred years or more, and quite frankly, it is uncertain at best how much things have really improved. Undeniably, technology has brought benefits: better public hygiene, more food, more and larger dwellings, more consumer goods, faster mobility, wider access to ideas. But who enjoys these? And is the progress really helping everyone, or anyone?

Those who enjoy these benefits the most are those who already have an economic advantage. The rest of the world gets a little bit, but the trickle is certainly tiny, since we do everything we can to minimize it. Even those who do get to enjoy these technologies and advances, what is it getting us? Stress levels are at an all time high, there are more therapists that in any day before now. How can we enjoy anything when the pace of change is so fast that it takes all of our energy to lose a step each day? We still manage to watch TV every night on a set the cost of which is greater than most workers in this world make in 3 months, or 3 years. But do we enjoy it? Most of us don't really even know how to do that anymore. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer; yeah, a few developing countries have taken jumps, not nearly as many as was hoped earlier this century, but enough that we can keep the myth alive. Meanwhile first world companies outsource more and more, leading to a shrinking middle class in those first world countries. And the tradeoff is done in such a way that we don't even see it until it is to late, in fact we support it the whole way. Lower tech societies have always bled to provide the material for higher tech societies, and the trend continues there to. But the gospel of inevitable progress does not, and cannot, admit its casualties, or its failures.

I turn to the bible, looking to Jesus for an example, and realize that this is the place it all started. Memorizing parts of first John, doing a study of James, re-reading the sermon on the mount and the sermon on the plain, familiarizing myself with the old testament prophets, all this and more has led me to where I am now. Combine that with Wright's ability to put Jesus teachings right into the middle of Jesus own day, Thiselton's philosophical hermeneutic that has opened my eyes to the foreign horizon of the bible, Brueggemann's radical view of some Old Testament writings, and I was bound to get in trouble. Then let's read Richard Foster's "Freedom of Simplicity" and the last nail goes into the coffin of my private faith with a resounding bang.

Wealth and resources have never been equally distributed, and probably never will be... Except in the church in Acts. Greed, selfishness, and desire for power have always run the world, whether it was a Capitalistic system that is explicitly based on these (see Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations") or Communism which tried to deny them... Except in the life and call of Jesus, as well as some of his followers. All of our attempts to eliminate poverty, our gospel's of the inevitable progress of mankind, or of the saving efficacy of technology, have failed, and I wonder how long we will continue in our naivete? Perhaps we need to learn a lesson from Jesus, who as far as I can tell never tried to eliminate poverty. He tried to eliminate wealth.

30.10.03

A few things quickly.

Chapter has been real sick lately, and she is starting to feel better, thank the Lord. The doctor's told her she has strep throat (spelling? probably wrong), but the symptoms don't match. In any case, she is getting better.

The ETS has released all the documents from the Oct. 3rd meeting. The results, briefly: They voted 9-0 that the chages be dropped towards Pinnock, and 7-2 that the charges stay for Sanders. I will comment more later, but as of yet I haven't had time to read the stuff.

A good article, which Pinkmoose reffered me to, is here. I haven't read it all, but what I have read is worth thinking about. The article is entitled "Bush and the Divine".

Lastly, I have suddenly gotten super busy... Hence only one update yesterday and one today, lol.

29.10.03

Ok, so I am wierd. This morning I started writing some stuff, but I didn't get to finish. So I emailed it to myself and now I finished it at school. So here it is, again, it gets into some stuff that may not be of interest to everyone. Fair warning issued, enjoy.

Note: I have extensive quotations below from N.T. Wrights "Jesus and the Victory of God" as well as one of his sermons. I have not included footnotes or anything, but if anyone wants to know where to find this stuff, just ask in the comment section or email.

Jesus and the Victory of God: Questions evoked by Wright and life

Yesterday I finished reading N.T. Wright’s “Jesus and the Victory of God”. As I read through it, watching Wright one by one interpret sayings and parables in a way I have never thought of, nor seen, but which makes so much sense of so many things, I started to wonder. Wright puts Jesus into his day, and makes him radically relevant to his time and place. Jesus becomes political, eschatological, prophetic, and frankly, real. But, with each parable put into its appropriate context I found one more parable removed from my context. Wright succeeds in making the text “the Other” in a way that I increasingly, as I read his book, fail to see a way around. I started wondering, if that is really what Jesus was saying then what does it have to do with me? How can I possibly continue to claim this text still has something to say to my world?

While the bible has never been easy for me to read, and I think that preachers and pastors do much more harm than good when they claim that it is easy to read, even though their motive is good in that they just want people to actually read it. But I now see that I have flattered myself in claiming that I had stepped out of my horizon and engaged with the biblical horizon, when I am only beginning see just how extraordinarily foreign from my own it is. For example, Wright argues that when Jesus speaks of the coming of the son of man he is not referring to the son of man coming to earth from heaven, but the other way around. This is to read it in the Danielic sense, and Wright argues much more thoroughly for this in “The New Testament and The People of God”. But what a radical difference in reading this is from our common one.

To my initial delight, and my eventual chagrin, Wright himself realizes these problems. If you make Jesus a teacher you can translate his teachings into timeless truths, or at least apply them to today. If you make him a revolutionary then you have a model to imitate. “See him as an eschatological prophet announcing, and claiming to embody, the kingdom of the one true God, and you have a story of a man gambling and apparently losing. Einstein’s question, whether God plays dice, acquires a new poignancy… Place Jesus in his historical (that is eschatological and apocalyptic) context, and you risk making him massively irrelevant.” The very fact that he was so specific to his day, and to Israel, makes his teaching look less and less like timeless truth. “Worse: he promised a kingdom, and it never arrived.” And so how relevant, and in what way Jesus is relevant is no longer an easy question for me to answer.

Wright goes on to highlight another problem, much more serious, that he calls the real problem, which is to say that Jesus interpreted his death as the defeat of evil, but on the first Easter Monday evil was alive and well, and it still is. I myself have been faced with this question, posed to me by a fellow student in religious studies: “If Jesus died to heal the world, he failed. 2000 years is a long time to wait for things to change.” And why, if he failed, if evil still existed, do people two thousand years later still claim to be his followers?

My initial delight comes from the fact that Wright points to an answer: the resurrection. This has been the traditional answer, but it brings up its own problems. Again, Wright sees these. What did the resurrection prove or accomplish? If Jesus was a docetic figure, it proved he was in some sense “god”. If he was a teacher, it validated his instructions. But if he was a prophet/messiah then the resurrection declares that he has in principle succeeded, evil is defeated (which is not to say he didn’t have good instruction, or that he wasn’t God. It is to say that there is more here than we like to acknowledge). This is the picture, Wright claims, that we get from early Christianity: “they announced and celebrated the victory of Jesus over evil… there was still a mopping-up battle to be fought, but the real victory had been accomplished.” And here Wright points to an answer to the problem of relevance. My eventual chagrin came in the fact that Wright concludes his observations and ideas, which are unsatisfyingly brief, by claiming that all this will take us into another book. And another book he has written, which I hopefully will be getting in the mail soon.

Meanwhile, I find myself continually challenged by Wright’s words from his sermon entitled “The New Creation”, included in his book of sermons called “The Crown and the Fire: Meditations on the Cross and the Life of the Spirit”. This too deals with issues of relevance, but it does so in a way that is, frankly, terrifying. In this sermon Wright tackles the same basic questions from a more pastoral perspective. Responding to the same basic question, in fact a question almost eerie in its exact relation to the one my friend asked, Wright realizes that there is no reply to that question, not in words. He urges us to make the words flesh once again. John 1 says that “The word became flesh” and Wright laments that the church has too often turned the flesh back into words. “What changes the world is flesh, words with skin on them, words that hug you and cry with you and play with you and love you and rebuke you and cry with you and build houses with you and teach your children in school.” Go out into the world and tell them that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, that he is alive for them, that there is a new creation, a new celebration, and that there is a God who made them and yearns for them. And, Wright says, Jesus asks us to not “just tell them in words. Turn the words into flesh once more. Tell them by the marks of the nails in your hands. Tell them by your silent sharing of their grief, by your powerful and risky advocacy of them when they have nobody else to speak up for them. Tell them by giving up your life for them, so that when they find you they will find me… remember, follow me.”

28.10.03

"It is a conceit of postmodernists that they are charged with survival on behalf of a humanity whose gods they alone have declared dead... What is degenerate about much postmodern celebration is that it lacks any religious sense of space and time... In practice, the footings of postmodernism are sunk in fast food, information desks... and indifferent elevators that marry time and money to the second. The postmodern celebrants of the irreal, of the screen and its simulcra, ought to be understood as religious maniacs, or as iconoclasts breaking the gods, and not at all as sophisticates of modern science or art."
John O'Neill The Poverty of Postmodernism
Its our first big snow today. I don't know how I feel about it. Biking home in the snow sucked, and not being able to bike much more until spring isn't going to be fun. On the other hand, I like the snow. I like to watch it fall. It always amazes me when I hear of people, or meet people (cause I have), who have never seen snow. Who won't believe you when you describe it to them. Snow makes me feel fortunate, it reminds of all I have to be thankful for.

27.10.03

Breaking the Rules of School

Today, in the middle of class, I cried. I wasn't the only one though, fully one half of my class of 18 people were crying. Today the rules of school were broken in the middle of my Christianity and Social Activism class. There is some kind of unwritten rule that education in the university doesn't get personal; your hands don't get dirty, your faces don't get wet, and your heart doesn't even get brushed.

Later on in class, we, the students, were challenged!! Challenged in the sense of actually being encouraged to do something, and exhorted to change things. This is another no no. You can't ask a university student to DO something. Oh sure, you can get them to write an essay or an exam, maybe do some lab work. But you can't ask them to do anything meaningful because that might insult someone's value system.

How could this happen? How were the rules of school subverted in the middle of that UofA classroom? The same way rules are always broken: with Money. You see, that class is not funded by the UofA. It is a religous studies course, and so it must conform to all the academic standards appropriate to its level, but having independent funding allows for some flexibility. Some rich philanthropist in Calgary funds this course, and he runs it with the hope of making social activists out of some of the students. It is not required for the grade, but it is encouraged. Apparently there has even been some success.

Today we had a two guest speakers; a chaplain in a reintegration program for women prisoners, and a woman who is at the end of that process (which means that just recently, three years after getting out of prison, she finally has a job). This woman, Diana, told us her story. It was one of those stories that you always hear in circumstances like this, yeah you can already hear it can't you? But having the women sit in front of us, seeing her go through the emotions as she retold them, bursting into tears several times, it softened the hearts of many of us white gloved, clean, middle class students.

When she was six, Diana recieved second and third degree burns to her face. It was an accident involving boiling water. Thats when the abuse started. She was abused and sexually assaulted nearly every day from the age of seven until 12. At the age of 13 she had her first drink, and discovered how to escape the pain. She started doing cocaine a few years later. She got into two abusive marriages, and had several children. All teh while, her and her husband were dealers in order to maintain their habit. They usually made enough to keep up their habit (over one thousand dollars a day), but not enough to buy their children birthday or Christmas presents. Eventually she got caught and went to jail. While she was in jail, several grandchildren were born. One of her daughters had to have a cicerian section done (i think i spelled that wrong), and she was unable to be there for her daughter. Up until going to prison she thought she wasn't hurting anyone but herself. She realized that wasn't true. So she cleaned up, found God, and eventually got out of prison. Shortly thereafter her husband hung himself.

Today, she said that going to prison was the best thing that ever happened to her. While she cried during her talk, she encouraged all of us to do what we can for people in prison. The chaplain quotes the verse in matthew from the parable of the sheep and the goats. She read all of the things we are supposed to do, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, etc. except for visiting the prisoner, and asked us how many of us did one some of those things. All hands went up. Then she read the part about visiting the prisoners and asked how many of us did that.

Silence.
I had a good bad weekend. It was fun, and I got to do some hanging out. I helped our fourth, Superman, move in. So its me, Superman, the Big T, and That Guy, in our house now. But I got no work done. I tried to work on sunday and I just couldn't do it.

Chapter on the other hand had an excitement filled weekend of chaos. She is a youth sponsor at her church and they went to an alliance youth conference this weekend. Chapter had never been to one before, and was a little bit unprepared for the amount of chaos that is involved in such things. Kids skateboarding in church hallways, doing the macarena in the aisle on the bus, etc. She got used to it and had fun still.

My random music on winamp just started playing REM "Its the end of the world as we know it". That combined with John's comment on my last post, and a few books I am reading, just now started me thinking. The world is changing a lot. No one seems to quite know how, the growing mountain of contradictory books on the subject continually reafirms this. Some of the authors are waking up to the fact that we really don't have a clue what we are hurtling towards; all we really know is that we are hurtling somewhere at an accelerating, and incredibly fast, rate. The fact that a name like postmodernism has stuck for so long is a prime example of this: we can't call it what it is, we have to call it what it isn't. Bill Easum compares what we are going through to a journey through a wormhole, and if that analogy was taken all the way then we would be forced to ask the question of whether or not we will survive the journey.

I just started reading "Burning Road" by Ann Benson. It is a fiction book which tells two parralel stories. One is during the black plague, following a renegade genius doctor. The other is in the future, there has been a huge outbreak of a disease called Dr. SAM. Dr. SAM has since gone dormant, but there has been a massive restructuring of society.

"Jesus, Tom, we have a Bill of Rights, a Constitution..."
"I know. Everyone knows. Don't ask me how we all forgot those things."

I have read several other books about the massive restructuring of society due to disease and/or war. It seems a common plot these days. Undoubtedly, the real world will turn out much more complex, and much more simple, than these novels. We had our first taste in 9/11, what will be next? And how will we respond? How will you respond? And where is your hope in the midst of this world?

"Its the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine."

25.10.03

What follows are some comments on a specific issue, which I suspect may not be of interest to many of you. I write this for my sake as much as anyone else's; I still hope those of you who read it enjoy it, but I thought fair warning was in order.


Pinnock, Sanders, Nicole and the ETS
(for full details and articles that I have read regarding what I am writing, refer to this ETS page.

Today I found out from a friend that there is currently a membership challenge process going on within the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) with regards to Clark Pinnock and John Sanders.

Let me start off by saying that those are two academic theologians whom I have great respect for. There are a few people on that list, but not a lot. The list is not entirely composed of those I agree with; I disagree in a lot of ways with John Piper, but I very much respect him. I disagree also with some of what both Pinnock and Sanders say, though less so than with Piper. That list is also limited to those theologians whose works I have actually read and/or studied; there are likely many other very respectable scholars out there who I just don't know about, and so not being on the list of scholars I respect does not neccessarily mean that I don't respect that scholar.

Before I give my reaction, let me explain further. The ETS as a society has a very short doctrinal basis, "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory." It has no statement of faith, instead it has attempted to provide a safe place for dialogue to occur between evangelicals, and it trusts that the bible will win out in the end, whatever that means. So in order to expel a member it must be shown that they disagree with some part of this doctrinal basis; each member must sign it each year, so it also means (by implication) that the character of those scholars is being questioned. Dr. Roger Nicole in 2002 brought charges against both Sanders and Pinnock, claiming that their teachings violate the innerrancy doctrine in the doctrinal basis. Once the charges are issued, there is a vote as to wether or not the issue should be taken up by the executive committee. This vote occured, and the majority voted that yes, there should be an examination. So, for the past year, this has been occuring. On Oct. 3rd the executive committee met with those involved, and had prepared its reports. These findings, interactions, and reports are not yet available for viewing. However, their website does say that "The original charges, brought in November 2002, will be voted upon at the ETS Annual Meeting, in a special business session, in the evening of November 19, 2003." In my understanding of the constitution and by-laws of the ETS this means that the committee has decided to reccommend a vote on the expulsion of Pinnock and Sanders be taken. I am a little confused there though, so I could be wrong.

My initial response, before reading any of the papers written up, was one of cynicism. Expel them and get it over with, join with the rest of evangelicalism in the multiple ways that you have resisted up until now. Several people have, rightly in my opinion, pointed out that there is more at stake in this vote than simply Pinnock's and Sander's membership. It calls into question the entire nature of the society. So my cynicism continued: It was a miracle that such a place existed for so long within the confines of evangelicalism, praise the Lord for that, mourn its passing, but it was inevitable. I mean seriously, a place of open dialogue, respect and safety for differing opinions called ETS? Get real. My cynicism was short lived, not because my opinions really changed, but because I realized it was pointless, and the lack of hope was just not good, no, it was downright bad.

Now, I have read Dr. Nicole's charges against both Pinnock and Sanders, as well as their responses, the letters by the president of the society, some of the responses, and several other articles (Basically all the links on the site I put right under the title, plus a few). As well I have read many of Pinnock's books, a few but not many of Sanders, and several of various people who oppose these two. I found Dr. Nicole's papers charging Pinnock and Sanders to be very shallow. It is fairly obvious that the real issue is not innerrancy at all, but hermeneutics and a theology of God, with all the surrounding issues of free will, calvinism and arminianism, etc. Both Pinnock and Sanders, in their response papers, point out the incredibly indirect nature of Dr. Nicole's charges. It seems, when combined with much of what Dr. Nicole said during the yearly meetings of the ETS, that there is much more and much less going on that appears on the surface. Pinnock's response, though good in that it gets right to the point and wastes no time refuting much of Nicole's indirect attacks, does seem somewhat lacking. He is no saint; after pointing out that Nicole uses some pretty low blows involving guilt by association and broad strokes of character slander, turns around and does nearly exactly the same thing (Nicole compares Pinnock's ideas to Socianism, and Pinnock compares Nicole's to Muslim doctrine. Admittedly, Pinnock goes into no detail and makes no direct attacks, whereas Nicole does. Still Pinnock does imply much). Sanders, on the other hand, provides what is in my opinion an incredible response, defending himself on every front.

In the end I have found it hard to seperate my opinions on the theological issues from my opinions on this political action. On the one hand, I find that many others are not even attempting to do this, i.e. Dr. Nicole. So I feel somewhat justified in this, but I cannot accept it. Dr. Nicole's charges are missing the point; the issue is not inerrancy. For some reason, open theism is incredibly threatening to much of evangelical theology and theologians. The responses to it have been intense, with book titles such as "God Under Fire", "Beyond the Bounds", "Battle for God", "Creating God in the Image of Man". It has been called a cancer and a heresy. Yet, many of those who disagree with it, from both Calvinist and Arminian camps, have advised charity and moderation. Why is it then that some are given to such a strong response? I have my own suspicions; Perhaps it has more to do with power and unwillingness to change, as some have claimed. Or, dare I say it, perhaps it calls into question some of our long cherished security and our ability to shirk responsibility because "God planned it all this way". Could it have more to do with the long standing, and often unstated, N.American priority of safety as well as the continually growing trend of holding no one responsible, or of throwing the responsibility anywhere but ourselves, than it does with genuinely grappling with biblical texts to better grow in our faith, maturity and understanding? I realize that those accusations sound harsh. Let me say that I well understand the fears associated with those things; no one wants to be vulnerable, and no one wants to be judged. But does not the bible teach the importance, and inevitability, of both those things? In the end, I to fall into the trap of pointing the finger, making it personal, and so on. So can I blame Dr. Nicole for these things? They are human, but that is no excuse. I need to watch it in myself, as does Dr. Nicole. I also realize that in all likelihood, the harshness of the response is out of genuine concern; genuine belief that Open Theism is incredibly bad. The issues I brought up may be under the surface, systemic and not conscious, or not. Still one can only stand amazed at the lack of gentleness, humility, and charity in those who have reacted so vigorously against Pinnock and Sanders. I can only pray that the majority of the members of the ETS will see what is going on, and by that I don't mean what I have just mentioned, but that the charges are missing the point.



For a few varying opinions and short articles on this:
Christianity Today
Stone Campbell Journal
Crosswalk
We had a guys poker night last night, it was sweet. We got two tables going, one of four and one of five. Five dollar buy in, so this is cheap poker were talking about here. Of those nine people, 3 lost all their money, 3 ended up down but with stuff left, and 3 ended up winning some. I did pretty good, i was down 7 and came back to being down only 1.50. But my friend steve did amazing. He came back from being down 6 to being up 25, which is a record win at our guys poker nights. HomieBear if you are reading this, you shoulda been there.

In other news, lightning struck the Gibson Passion shoot, again! I follow in the wise footsteps of the pink moose, and offer no comment on that one, though many jokes spring to mind.

And finally, the fourth member of our household should be moving in sometime today. Very cool.

24.10.03

Just a Regular Happy Sand Man


I read a lot. First line in my description. I think a lot, yep, its true. I was reading and thinking today, and I came across three stories I want to share. They are from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, all about a man named Abba Agathon. Historical? who knows, possibly, even probably. Thats not the point though.

It was said of him that, coming to the town one day to sell his wares, he encountered a sick traveller lying in the public place without anyone to look after him. The old man rented a cell and lived with him there, working with his hands to pay the rent and spending the rest of his money on the sick man's needs. He stayed there four months till the sick man was restored to health. Then he returned in peace to his cell.

Going to town one day to sell some small articles, Abba Agathon met a cripple on the roadside, paralysed in his legs, who asked him where he was going. Abba Agathon replied, 'To town, to sell some things.' The other said, 'Do me the favour of carrying me there.' So he carried him to the town. The cripple said to him, 'Put me down where you sell your wares.' He did so. When he had sold an article, the cripple asked, 'What did you sell it for?' and he told him the price. The other said, 'Buy me a cake,' and he bought it. When Abba Agathon had sold a second article, the sick man asked, 'How much did you sell it for?' And he told him the price of it. Then the other said, 'Buy me this,' and he bought it. When Agathon, having sold all his wares, wanted to go, he said to him, 'Are you going back?' and he replied, 'Yes.' Then said he, 'Do me the favor of carrying me back to the place where you found me.' Once more picking him up, he carried him back to that place. Then the cripple said, 'Agathon, you are filled with divine blessings, in heaven and on earth.' Raising his eyes, Agathon saw no man; it was an angel of the Lord, come to try him

Abba Agathon said, 'If I could meet a leper, give him my body and take his, I should be very happy.' That indeed is perfect charity.


Having read these, I started to think about my own life. How unwilling am I to do even one tenth of what Abba Agathon did. Such Charity is not expected, encouraged, or in most cases even thought possible. Yet, in the sayings of the Desert Fathers, Abba Agathon was no one special. He was just a regular happy sand man.

23.10.03

Storming Through My Final Midterm

7:14, and all of the appliances in my room waited with glee. The coming moment would be marvelous.
"You ready?" Asked the palm pilot.
"Oh yeah!" replied the alarm clock, a little to much glee in his voice.
The computer, the voice of reason, chimed in with "I don't know if he meant to turn the volume all the way up last night guys, maybe we shouldn't do this..."
But it was to late.
"ENGH ENGH ENGH ENGH ENGH!!!" the alarm clock shouted, almost giggling at the same time.

In a blind panic, I awoke. Sometimes when I awake to that stupid buzzing noise, yeah you can all hear it, I think I have a sadistic masochistic streak in me. This mornign when I awoke to that alarm clock, I couldn't think anything except "shut it off shut it off shut it off", like a mantra it rang in my head. But I couldn't find the button... never fear there's always the plug. I reached, and pulled.

"Not this time buddy, you gave me batteries" thought the alarm clock, and with a vengance the buzzing continued, only he upped the pitch.

Now I didn't think it was possible for my alarm clock to get more annoying, but it did. It took a minute, but I did find the button. I then proceeded to reset my alarm to 7:30... why, I am not sure. I think if my mind had been functioning properly I would have realized that 15 more minutes of sleep would not have been worth going through that experience agian, but alas, I did it anyway.

I spent the morning reviewing, I called Chapter and she prayed with and for me. It was good. Around 9:10 I went upstairs, and got ready to go. My midterm started at 9:30, so with my bike 20 minutes was lots of time to get to school. Then I looked outside. Pooring rain, windy, really really windy. Too late now.
Heading out the door I tried to put on a brave face, as my roommate scared the crap out of me by poking his head into our airlock.
"Wow its nasty out isn't it!!"
Now, I'm thinking, thanks man, I needed to hear that. "Oh yeah, can't talk though, gotta midterm to write."
"ok Good luck, cya later."

Several things conspire against my bike ride to school being a good time. Pouring rain and cold don't help, it is up hill all the way to school, not serious uphill, but a gradual rise that makes me work the whole way there, and the streets act as funnels so that when it is windy the windy is always blowing directly in my face as I head to school.

I learned three very important things on that bike ride to school. One: Puddles are often deeper than they look, deeper even than I thought possible on our streets. Sploosh "Man I don't remember that pothole being there...". Two: My spring/fall jacket which looks like a windbreaker over a fleece is actually about as waterproof as a rianjacket, though probably not over long periods of time. Three: Khaki pants can hold a lot more water than you think.

Despite all this, I got to school in record time. Its amazing what a little motivation can do. 5 minutes. I walked into the medical science building, which is the logical place for an ancient art and architecture midterm, and shoke my jacket off on the mat. My hair feels like I am still in the shower, and I have gained at least 10 pounds. So I head upstairs to the washroom. Once there I dry my hear and wash my hands and face with hot water. Then I rung my pants out. Thats right, I took my pants off, held them over the sink, and squezed enough water out of those things to fill an aquarium. They were still soaked, but I sure felt light on my feet.

The midterm started on time, and I arrived early enough. A friend and I joked the whole while we waited for it to be handed out. "Please Lord, make it 25 slides of Hercules, if its the last wish you grant, please." The slides turned out to be worth less than I though, only 25 out of 100, and they were definitely the worst part of the exam. Slide 1, what is this... good question. Slide 15 where is this... yep I missed that class. And so on. I think I got about half of them. The rest of the test was a breeze though. The terms and such were easy, I think I got two wrong. One i didn't know, and another I got mixed up, so maybe three. The essay question... well, i wrote three pages single spaced.

So the test didn't go as well as the previous three, but it went well. Now I think I am going to have to speak with my appliances about their recent behavior.
This morning I found out that the word "internet" first came into use the same year that I was born, 1982. Cool coincidence.

How did I find this out? By rewatching a flash music vidoe called "Internet Killed the Video Star" by Broad Band. Which is another funny little music thing. "Came from the cold war, now its one global store" (while these lyrics are being played the have two guys (world leaders perhaps? lol) giving each other the finger, with the bold words COLDWAR in the background, and then it changes to the same to guys, in winter gear, smiling, with the words COLWARDROBE instead. Yep, American Capitalism won the day... of course the Russians taking the bad advice of america led to its economic downfall, and while this was going on, America was given multiple chances of mutual disarmament with Russia, but they refused every time. They knew that the "Russian Bear" was entering its death throws, why disarm? Of course, today, the US is reaping what they sow, as the former soviet union's missiles, that could be gone now, are slowly being distributed among the enemies of America. On the other hand, Communist China seems to be doing quite fine with a little bit of free market economics, although some are arguing that it is only a matter of time before the whole communist thing there is done, because after all, how could free market economics, capitalism and consumerism not win the day? Of course, more and more people, who are more educated than I, in that field are pointing out that while democracy promotes free-market economics, it doesn't neccessarily work the other way around.

Who knows what will happen next, isn't this fun?

22.10.03

Happpy Day! My little big brother has started a blog of his own.

You may have noticed that my list of places worth a fly by blurring is growing, or you may not have. Obviously I consider all those places cool and good places to check out, though they definitely focus on my interests. This new link, to my brothers blog, I not only consider worth listing, but also worth mentioning. I am sure his site will change over time, but he has his first posts up. It is called "What Was That?" which is its name in the link list.

Check it out
Outside The Inbox: songs inspired by SPAM is now available for free online!! Thats right, a free cd, by various artists, full of songs inspired by subject lines from spam.

Its actually a pretty decent CD, I don't like all the songs, but some of them are pretty funny.
I liked "You Are Being Watched" by Supercar "Never trust your cookie jar, cause cookies are all spies...." lol

I haven't listened to them all, but I am quite enjoying it. Worth checkign out. Huge variety of styles, as well as varying levels of interaction with the actual subject of SPAM.
"Erik Someone wants to date you.. so we told them you didn't know how to drive."
(from "Erik Someone Wants to date you" by Brad Sucks)

enough, i have studying to do. Hilarious stuff, check it out. I will listen to the rest as I study.

21.10.03

The Night of the MAO's

"My brother is watching CSI, and its backwards, and you have to decipher it." Chapter, on MAO's.

My Fiancee, Chapter, gets headaches. She has an incredibly high threshold for pain, and so normally, while they are not good, they are bearable in some sense. She has advil and tylenol, but if the headache is light enough that she only needs those, she usually just grits her teeth and gets through it.

Then she has a permanent prescription of T3's. These she affectionately calls "Skittles". It doesn't happen super often that she needs to take them, it happens enough though.

But every once in a while, Chapter gets headaches that stare T3's in the face and laugh. Demoralized, the pills skitter through her body with little to no effect, except to sometimes make Chapter sick. For headaches like these, Chapter pulls out the Big Daddy of all headache pain killers. MAO's

MAO = Medically Administered Opiate. These MAO's pack more punch than Morphine, literally. They come in nosespray form. In my experience Chapter gets headaches like this 1-4 times a year. I think the doctors must like having someone who needs this stuff, cause they keep trying new ones out on her.

While the MAO's do kill the pain, you can't take a drug that strong without side effects. The common ones that Chapter experiences are: Vomiting (usually once, soon after the MAO is taken), then minor hallucinations, and completely jumbled up memory. Sometimes when she takes these, she doesn't last long before falling asleep. Other times, she doesn't fall asleep at all. The doctors have told her she can take gravol with it to ease the nausea and maybe help her sleep through it.

So conversing with her during these times can be very interesting. "How long have we been talking, cause i keep forgetting we are talking, and I know we have been talking about something sometime." Chapter, 30 min. into our conversation tonight.

I make it sound funny here, but often its not. I remember the first time I spoke with Chapter while she was on MAO's, and I was scared. She told me about the colors flying around in the air, and how she thought we should stop polluting... Having no experience with this, it freaked me out. On top of that, I have never had a headache, so i can't identify with the pain, but having bad enough pain that you need to take drugs stronger than morphine.... It sucks. It can be frustrating because I wish i could do something, wave my hand and make it all go away. But I can't, and so all I can do is be with her through this. I have learned much about the value of companionship, and though I doubt it sometimes, Chapter claims that my presence, in person or on phone, does help and make her feel better. At the very least, I am a distraction from teh pain, and if thats all I can do, then I will do my best at it.

Being faced with pain, wounds, and hurts that we can do nothing about is hard. But there are many things like that in the world. Many people have deep wounds that I will never be able to heal; but I can listen. I can be a shoulder, or an ear, or a clown if I need to. I can love even in the face of pain that I can do nothing about. Yeah, its hard, but so what?
Some have noticed that I mentioned having more hope since some stuff happened, but that that hope doesn't seem very evident here. This is true, but only partially. Of my last blogs that have been more than "here is what is going on" two have been retellings of where I have come from. In all honesty, I have come from a place of little hope (not no hope, but less). So, I guess I am saying, its coming. Still haven't figured out why I am rehashing some of this stuff, but I am. As to the other one, well that one was a wierd post. It was trying to express a feeling that I didn't know how to explain... probably sounded worse than it was.

Here are some good lyrics:

"William" by Relient K
My life’s been torn apart, stripped down and going nowhere.
I don’t know where to start, and where to go from there.

It gets tough, to follow your will. I get scared, that I might take a spill.
Me and faith, we argue a lot. If my will will be your will or will it not.

God I need you here, I need you now to help me through.
I think that its clear that you know how to do just what your gonna do.
(x2)

I am feeling quite content. Already a testament.
Sure of what I seem blind of. My guidance is your everlasting love.

God I need you here, I need you now to help me through.
I think that its clear that you know how to do just what your gonna do.
(x2)

I realized that my post from sunday at 12:30ish was a part of my story. I feel like I should write more of it, who knows why. But I am not going to write it all from the same perspective, or with the same style. I kind of doubt I am going to put it together either. Maybe I am writing it just cause I can, who knows.

Another Part of My Story: Part 1.?
(prose this time)

I met a man, an amazing man. His name was Jesus. For a time I followed him. But I, as everyone does, turned away. I got lost, again. Jesus found me, again. I was so excited. Being away sucked. Nothing was the same without this man.

"I want to show you something, follow me." Jesus said. And so I did. I followed him up a steep rise, and I was so excited I ran. When we reached the top, we stood, overlooking a cliff. There was no where else to go but back the way we came or over the edge.
"You want me to jump Lord?"
"Yes, but..." And I cut Him off. "I can do that, I trust you, just watch."

Looking back I here an echo, the words another man once said haunt my ears, "I will follow you even unto death Lord. Everyone else may turn around but I never will."

"But, let me..." Jesus tried to speak to me, but I was ready. Thats right, I was ready.
"I can do it Lord, I can handle it."
"No you can't. You can't do it." (and the echo, I tell you, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me)
"Lord I already failed you once, not again."
And I jumped. Of course, I prayed quickly first, and quoted scriptire. Those who hope in the Lord will soar on wings like eagles.

For a time, I marvelled that I was flying. But the ground rushing up at me quickly that delusion to end.

CRASH

I lay at the bottom of those rocks for a time, shattered and broken. Eventually I was healed, stitched back together again. I walked once more.

Jesus was the one who healed me; I tried to follow him again. But I refused to go back to that cliff. Having done it once and seen the result, that was it.

It came up once and a while. But each time, I beat it back. You think I am going to try again? You think I will even let it come up? After what happened last time, forget it.

My resolve could not hold out. Once and a while we seemed to sneak up on the cliff, and I didn't know it was there until it was to late. Most of the time I ran, but I couldn't do it always. Over time, I was refined. My courage has slowly built back up.

Am I ready to approach that cliff once again? Maybe. I would like to think I have learned to be obedient, as well as to listen. Probably niether are true. Perhaps when I finally get back up there I will jump; maybe I will break at the bottom again, or maybe I will fly.

What is the Cliff? We each have them. I have one, You have one. You may have faced it once, long ago or recently. You may have tried, or you may not have. The cliff is a dream, a calling, a summons, a fire in your bones that you can't deny but that is so far beyond you you just can't respond either. Perhpas you have quenched your fire, closed your eyes to that cliff and out of long habit of avoiding it you can no longer see it at all. Maybe you have lain at the bottom of that cliff more than once. Perhaps this is just the idealistic writing of a young and naive man, who hasn't really been broken yet. As a wise friend of mine said to me, and I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her here, "When you follow your dreams its scary as hell" (she clarified that though she doesn't usually use the word hell, she felt it warranted in this case.)

Is this just saying that you should follow your dream? No. I did that and ended up broken at the bottom of my cliff. It is more complex than the banal reassurance we usually get from people who just say "Go For It". I may not know all the difficulties, but I know some. And I say don't give up.
A third midterm done, and quite to my surprise, done well. Once again they asked the questions I knew the answers to. Thanks to all those who have been praying for me, the Lord is answering. One more test to go.
Woah! check this out!! It can read minds!

Lol, ok, I know how this thing works. Can you figure it out?
Tuesday morning. The day of my third midterm. Bioethics today; while an interesting subject, the test doesn't look like it will be fun. Oh well, I think I am ready.

19.10.03

A Part of My Story: Part 1


Somewhere along the line, I got confused. I began to think that walking by faith would remove the vagueness and ambiguities, when in fact it calls me to live in them. I desired much less a mandate that required faith, and much more a guarantee so that in fact faith was never really neccessary. And so I started to live by "the faith" instead of by faith.

Somewhere along the line, I got confused. I began to put my hope in my guarantee of salvation, in the afterlife, and I stopped having hope for this world, for this life. I accepted the fact that the world was going to hell in a handbasket, and rationalized that that was neccessary so that Jesus would return. I forgot that Jesus came to heal the world, to offer springs of living water in the midst of this desert existence. And so my hope gradually left the person of Jesus Christ and moved to having hope in the right doctrines.

Somewhere along the line, I got confused. Love become self serving. It was romanticized, emotionalized, and reduced to seeking some kind of fulfillment for myself. It became a matter of convenience, and I forgot that it involved sacrifice. I forgot that love is a verb, it is serving and giving, it is thinking of The Other before yourself. Love became something I did as long as it was easy, when it needed to be something I did when it was hard. I started to find that loving God was the hard thing; loving God in many ways is the easiest thing, because he is perfect, He is deserving of love unlike everyone else. And when loving God became hard, loving my neighbour became impossible. And so I lost love, unable to love myself, others, or God.

Somewhere on my walk I forgot that God is the rock, and I am just a man who is desperately seeking to build his house on the rock when I can't even tell the difference between rock and sand.

Somewhere on my walk I forgot that Jesus is the vine, and I am the twig that clings to him for dear life.

Somewhere on my walk I forgot that Jesus is the living water, and I am a clay vessel that usually forgets to keep the water flowing, and so I usually make it stale.

Somewhere on my walk I forgot that Jesus baptizes with fire, and I am a wet rag that just refuses to light.

Somewhere on my walk I forgot that the Spirit is like wind, and blows where it wills, and that I am a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by every wind, but hoping to catch the wind of the Holy Spirit.

Now I know that I am a man. Broken, wounded and bleeding. I am a doubter and a skeptic, but I scream out, often in frustration, "Where else can I go? You, Lord, have the words of Life!" And so I kneel before the Lord and cry out into the darkness.

And I know, I know that he hears my cries.
Sometimes I get gripped by this feeling. I can't describe it. Its like being sad, joyful, thankful, tired and fully aware at the same time. It happens in those rare moments when something touches you deeply; but it also happens at times for no reason.

I spent the whole day studying, and talking with Chapter. Both good, one obviously more fun than the other; but at the end of the day, I just need to relax. So I played chess with Chapter, then I played some other internet flash games, I read, and as I was heading to bed I decided to put on some music from a few anime's.

Sometimes i listen to music because I am in a certain mood; other times music puts me in a certain mood. Perhaps the best way to describe this mood would be sober solitude. "We couldn't say them, so now we just pray them. Words that we couldn't say. Someday maybe we'll make it right, until that day, long endless nights. Words that we couldn't say." Ha-a-le-lu-yah. The words of a prayer of St. Thomas Moore come to mind "Give me the grace good Lord... To be joyful of tribulations, to walk the narrow way that leadeth to life. To bear teh cross with Christ, to have the last thing in remembrance, To have ever before mine eyes my death that is ever at hand, To make death no stranger to me... To pray for pardon before the judge come. To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me..." Ha-a-le-lu-u-yah.

Perhaps it is not normal for one my age to be sitting up near midnight, reflecting on my life, on love and on death. Perhaps I am just trying to appear deep, when I know I am shallow. Maybe this will be the last thing I ever write, and likely I will go on to make many more mistakes in my life. Truly you are merciful God, to let one such as I continue on. And you are loving God, to teach someone as slow and stupid as I am, to keep me growing and going when I fight every step of the way. "I don't feel a thing, And i stopped remembering. Days are just like moments turned to hours. Mother used to say 'if you want you'll find a way' but mother never danced through fire showers. Walk in the Rain, just walk in the rain. I walk in the rain. Is it right or is it wrong, is it here that I belong. I don't hear a sound, silent faces in the ground. The quiet screams, but I refuse to listen."



18.10.03

In a culture of convenience true love, deep passion, a large vision or sense of mission, and much more go against the grain. Not only that, but seeking these things is costly. True love gives beyond convenience, but good luck getting anyone to do that for you. Of course, its easy enough to point the finger, but I do at least as much as anyone. It is discouraging to try to give of yourself in love, because having a larger vision of love means that you see many others not giving to you in love, I get frustrated and want to give back what I am getting, or I get angry. Turning the other cheek is never easy. I see lack of integrity in many people's actions, and it makes it hard. But that isn't the hardest thing, I see all this in myself more than I see it in others, and am faced with how much I lack. Sometimes I wish I could just remain ignorant, satisfied with a lower standard for myself. I realize that all my indictments, of the church, of those around me, are indictments of myself. Not only for being judgemental, but also because the finger inevitably points back; not from those people, but from myself. Why does God have to keep putting people in my life that challenge me? that show me things like what it really means to love? Lol, I thank you all, especially you Chapter, but man can it be frustrating sometimes. grrrrr.