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.
And so begins the weekend. 12 o'clock on a saturday, with an oreo cookie for breakfast. Well, ok, I am going to go and eat a real breakfast, but thats what I started with. It seems that I like to write here even when I have nothing to say; lets see, this weekend will consist of studying, reading, and talking with Chapter.

Thinking about tithing last night as I fell asleep; as I plan on being a minister, I am going to have to talk about money sometime. I, like most people, or so I like to think, know there is little to no basis for the 10% tithe to be found in the new testament. I have heard the church accused of keeping this old testament teaching, among all of them, because they want/need money. I don't think that such an accusation could be farther from the truth; I think that this idea is kept and taught because the attitudes towards money that are actually evidenced and encouraged in the New testament are much scarier, and much harder, than a 10% tithe. Jesus on money and treasure in the sermon on the mount, the poor woman who's penny is worth more than rich men's tithes, the rich young man, the descriptions of the church in Acts... Just some thoughts.

17.10.03

Another midterm done, and done well. It sure makes it easy when they ask the questions you know the answers to. Now if only the rest of life worked like that... well ok, it would be much less fun that way. Two more midterms to go, and while the rest of life may be less fun if I knew all the answers, that isn't true of these tests.
The same Amma (Amma Theodora) said that a teacher ought to be a stranger to the desire for domination, vain-glory, and pride; one should not be able to fool him by flattery, nor blind him by gifts, nor conguer him by the stomach, nor dominate him by anger; but he should be patient, gentle and humble as far as possible; he must be tested and without partisanship, full of concern, and a lover of souls.

Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, of holy memory, asked Abba Pambo to come down from the desert to Alexandria. He went down, and seeing a prostitute he began to weep. Those who were present asked him the reason for his tears, and he said, 'Two things make me weep: One, the loss of this woman; and the other, that I am not so concerned to please God as she is to please wicked men.'

---The Sayings of the Dessert Fathers
My second midterm is this morning, Chinese religions. Hopefully it goes as well, or better, than the one on wednesday did :)

16.10.03

I realized something today. In bible study I said that in accepting a view of the church that is not very flattering, and realizing we are a long ways from where we should be, myself included, I have found more hope and joy than before. While this is true, it is not quite accurate. What has given me hope and joy is not so much looking at the church in a certain, as being free from the modernist obsession with resolving paradoxes. The law of non contradiction is still valid in my mind; two opposite things cannot be true at the same time. However, I think that sometimes we have, and again myself included (if I didn't do this then i wouldn't have had to be freed from it), taken tensions and nitpicked them down until we think we have proven them to be contradictions and then we must make a choice between one side or another. After doing this once, we somehow get to the point where tensions themselves are bad and need to be resolved. Like true peace of mind would come if only we could get rid of them. At the very least we would be comfortable, and that, I think, was the driving force. But we aren't supposed to be comfortable, its not supposed to be easy, and tensions are a fact of life. For example, the whole Free will or Sovereignty of God thing... for hundreds of years teh church held these things in tension, and then along comes the reformers and suddenly you can't have both. So Calvin writes institutes in which he claims that IF human's ever had free will, it was before the fall, and only then. On the other side, James Arminus comes along, and must redefine the sovereignty of God. I must admit I find what arminist's have done much more tasteful than what calvanist's have done, but thats not the point. Maybe there is supposed to be a tension there. So, I can have the tension of on one hand seeing the church's brokenness and failure, and on the other hand still see it as good. I can live with the tension of where I am and where I should be, knowing that i will never be where i should be, and i should never expect to be there, but that i can never be satisfied with where I am. I can be thankful for all the Lord has given me, for the distance he has brought me thus far, and still be seeking. This has been freeing, liberating in the best sense of the word. I know there are some tensions that shouldn't be there; like my desire to trust in Christ, and my desire to be financialy secure for example (not saying they are neccessarily mutually exclusive in reality, but I think they are in desire, at least in me). So, I have once again piled on more responsibility, as I now have to be responsible for critically deciding which tensions are good and which are bad, and like so many of the things we avoid, realized that maybe the point isn't being right, but being good; maybe it isn't about finding the right mehtod, or, as T.S. Elliot says, finding a system that is so perfect that I don't have to be good, but about taking responsibility and being Good, not on my own, or in a human sense, but filled with and dependant on the Holy Spirit, allowing God to play his full part, and me fulfilling my full part with Him.
This semester the Bible study I am in has been examing various doctrines and ideas about Hell. It has been very interesting, and, considering how big an issue it often is with those who are not Christian, I think it is fairly important. On the other hand there isn't really that much for personal development in a study of Hell. So I have taken the wise advice of Chapter, and today will be attempting to do a bible study more focused on personal development. I have basically given up on connecting it to Hell, which is fine. The problem comes in the fact that in planning and thinking about this bible study, I have got myself into a corner again. Why are we studying Hell? Seriously, yeah its important, and I know we probably all learn better in a group setting, and we need to know about Hell, yes... but I have a lot of other questions, and see a lot of other areas that are lacking, which seem to me to be more important than Hell.

Rant: The Hard Questions
So today I think I am going to ask some of the questions that we don't often like to hear voiced. I am going to bring up some of our shortcomings that we don't often like to face. Or, I am going to try. The paraphrased words of Gandhi ring in my head, "If only Christians lived like there Christ, then we would surely all be Christian." Yes, at least in part, I am goind to talk about the failure of modern Chrisitianity to really make any difference in the lives of the majority of the people who claim to be part of it. I have said it before, Rwanda is the perfect example. In a nation supposedly 90% Christian, genocide was attempted. How about the ever famous statistics about divorce rates? Yep, higher, or as high, in the church as outside it. What about apathy? Though some places don't have trouble with this, most organizations that need volunteers are short on them, while hundreds of people sit in the pews every sunday. The hard question: Why? and What can we do about it? "The indictment that we must recieve is tha the Christian faith as we express it is no longer seen as a viable option. Masses gave the church a try and left wanting. We accuse them of not being willing to surrender to God; they accuse us of not knowing him. People are rejecting Christ because of the church! Once we were called Christians by an unbelieveing world, and now we call ourselves Christians and the world call sus hypocrites. Is its possible that it wasn't the nation that was becomign dangerously secular, but the church? We were niether relevant nor transcendent. We have become, in the worst of ways, religous. We are the founders of the secular nation." (Erwin Raphael Mcmanus, An Unstoppable Force, pg. 29). People want answers to the questions that the church should have answers to, but we don't anymore, and we are largely ok with that. Not only that but we rationalize it, justify it, and make it not only accepted, but right, thus gauranteeing to the best of our ability that things will stay this way. All because we are uncomfortable.....?

15.10.03

The beatification of Mother Teresa will take place Oct. 19, 2003. One step closer to sainthood. I find it encouraging that this champion of love, a saint of the gutter as she has been called, is being moved so quickly through this process in the Catholic church. I can't really articulate why, it just warms my heart.
Ok, rant time. From now on, if I go into a rant on here, I will title it, and label it rant, so you know.

Rant: When the Trouble started for the Church

I am supposed to be studying for my midterm on Friday and preparing for my bible study tommorow. I have been, but I decided to take a break. I was looking through some of the music I had on my computer, some old stuff. Ever heard of Carman? Probably not; he is a Christian musician whom I first listened to way back in elementary school. His songs are interesting; very eighties, though I think he continued producing past that, those are the songs I have. I listened to one, called "Its Our Turn Now". It starts out with a news broadcast, presumably from the time and date it mentions, about prayer being removed from classrooms in america. June 17th, 1963. It goes on to say how the world has screwed up, but its our (our being the church) turn now, and were going to do better. While I think Carman has the right idea, that is the church should be serving and helping the world, tryign to make it a better place by the standards of Jesus, I think that he might be missing the point. Prayer being removed from school? That was the Church's turn, that is what we did with it. The crisis didn't begin on that day, as if tuesday everything was cool and then on wednesday somehow the world fell apart. It began before that when we stopped praying. The end didn't start with the sexual revolution, but when the church adopted victorian standpoints (and also created them) on sex, thus failing to celebrate the beauty of this amazing gift from God. It didn't begin when our society started praising tolerance as the highest virtue, and redefining it to boot. G.K. Chesterton said that tolerance is the virtue of those who lack conviction. No, the decline started when one day we went to bed without persecution, and we woke up without conviction. The begginning of the end happened right when we were at our best; we had the most people, the most money, we had a Christian Nation. And from there on out, its only gotten worse. We started to be more concerned with our survival than with our servanthood. It doesn't work; we are called to serve, and often that service leads to our death. The monk Telemachus could not have known wether or not he would have any affect when he jumped into the gladatorial ring, on that fateful day, the last day of the Roman games, in Christian Rome no less. He died, and the games finished. Was it good stewardship? How could he know, he did it anyway. Did it help him survive? No, he died. But it ended the games, for good. The trouble began when we began seeing the church as an organization instead of an organism (thanks to Rick Warren for that one). We began to die the day we became more concerned with preserving and duplicating our success than we were with following God. You can point at the world all you want, but you can't deny our part in making it. In the last years we have had, if anything, an over churched leadership in arguably the most influential country in the world (though I loathe to say it), the United States. Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, the Bushes. In his book "The Liquid Church" Pete Ward makes a good point. We live at a time when interest in Spirituality is rising, people are seeking more than what was offerred by modernity and are willing to look into the supernatural to get it, etc. The second last page of "Life After God" by Douglas Coupland says this: "Now - here is my secret: I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God - that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love." If this is the case, "if people want God, then the problem doesn't lie with those outside the church; it rests on those inside." (pg. 75 of Liquid Church).

So whats the point of this rant? This is me yelling at the church, and to Christians, to get their heads out of the sand. The problem lies in YOU!!! It also lies with me; we need to take responsibility and move on. Yes our culture and our world has problems, yes we are all fallen people, and yes the world could do with some improvement. So what? Tend to your own house, take the plank out of your own eye first. Don't condemn the world, thats not your job. Stop pointing the finger and start searching your heart. Sometimes i just get frustrated.

"I'm part of the problem I confess, but i gotta get this off my chest. Lets extinguish the anguish for which were to blame, and save the world from going down in flames" Relient K "Down In Flames"
Woohoo!! One midterm done, and done well. My Rel 215, Christianity and Community Action, midterm went excellent. Our teacher had given us a list of twelve essay questions to study from, telling us two would appear on the exam, and explicitly saying that we would NOT have a choice. Today, before he handed out the exam, he said "don't be nervous, there is always grace and mercy." And he handed out an exam with 4 questions, and we could choose two. Not only that, but two of the questions I was most prepared for were on the exam. So it was sweet. 3 more to go.
Funny Site: We Love Arnold. I particularly enjoyed reading Arnold's campaign platform: Pro-Kids! Pro-Jobs! Anti-Violence! Pro-Hope! Anti-Bad Stuff! Which, the site goes on to note, is much better than the opponents campaign platform: Anti-Kids, Anti-Jobs, Pro-Violence, Anti-Hope and Anti-People.

14.10.03

Hello, I am back. Its Tuesday. And while in some ways its good to be back, in many ways it sucks to leave. At the end of a month, or month and a half period, of not seeing Chapter, I almost get used to it. Not quite; I always miss her, and there are many times that I wish I could just hold her, but it gets bearable. On the first day back, everything that I can't get by phone is fresh in my memory.

But I am back, and I have to deal with it. Not only am I back, but I have had to hit the ground running. I said to Chapter at the airport that it's going to be wierd going back and being all of the things that I am not while I am in Vancouver; A student, a volunteer with Campus Crusade, a roommate in a house with 4 guys, once again in a long distance relationship. Its not that I am not those things while I am in Vancouver, but that I am not directly in those roles. I am still the same person, but I have a different hat on. Issues of being and doing; fun yes? So why hit the ground running? Well, I have a midterm tommorow, and another on Friday, and a bible study to lead on thursday. Good times.

My Trip: My trip was sweet. I spent the majority of a day on the UBC campus, which I had never seen before. Its huge, and beautiful. I toured regent, and sat in on a John Stackhouse lecture (a third of it actually; 3 hour long lecture, Chapter and I were just to tired). Regent looks really good; good bookstore, good library, good teachers, good system. They have some ideas and practices there that I like a lot, and look forward to being a part of. Such as transformative instead of informative learning, and teachers who care about the students and want to have relationships with them. They have a prayer room, with an attached meditation garden, which i thought was very cool. And judging from their bookstore they are very balanced (I always find most christian bookstores a bit... well not so balanced, to say it nicely). I saw some of my very good friends besides Chapter, I was even there for a birthday of one such person. Chapter and I went on our silence retreat, which was a really good experience. Something I was thinking about, since we went for 3.5 hours on our first time, instead of easing into it as some suggest, was this: Some practices you ease into, such as jogging, or piano playing. Obviously you don't get up one day and run a 13 mile marathon, or play some kind of amazing piano piece. But other kinds of practices you have to just jump right in; like hard drugs, you have to just go cold turkey sometimes. Or cold water (though some like to ease into that :) Sometimes it is a matter of perspective; I mean for jogging, if you want to get to a 13 mile marathon in 6 months, you cant really start by walking a mile three times a week. You have to, in some sense, start abruptly and just go jogging. So what if the disciplines of silence and solitude, in our day and age anyway, are needed in order to break us from addictions. Addictions to noise, addictions to distraction, or entertainment. Should we really ease into them? how beneficial is it? Maybe a mix of both? Just something I was thinking about.

We also watched some movies, and just hung out. It was mostly a relaxing weekend, for which I am very thankful. We played quite a few games of chess too. Neither of us had played in a long time. The first two games, I beat Chapter while only taking one piece and losing none. The third was very similar, but a few more pieces were exchanged. Then we played a game where I tried to teach her all I know about chess (which isn't very much, so it was feasible to do it in one game, or most of it anyway). It took her two games to get one move from a stalemate, and on our last game she almost had me if she had not got cocky. Learning entirely to fast for me, I enjoy winning, but at this rate it won't happen much longer. Figures, I should know better than to teach someone smarter than myself and expect to keep some kind of edge.

Hopefully that wasn't to many banal details for you. It was an awesome trip. As I mentioned though, I have much to do, so, I am going to get to it now.

God Bless

8.10.03

Well, I am about to head to bed. This will likely be my last entry until tuesday, though I might get one in this weekend. Tommorow I am flying to vancouver, and I can't wait. Its like Christmas eve right now, except that I don't usually feel this way at Christmas anymore.

Have a great thanksgiving weekend, whatever your doing. Thank you Lord for this trip, and for the blessings that you give to each of us.
An episode from my Brother's life. But first, a bit about my brother. He is 19 years old, in bible college, his name is Shawn. Physically he is taller, stronger, broader etc. than I am. He is hilarious, and an awesome guy. Anyway, in one of his classes they had essays due, and the teach picked three that he thought were well done to present to the class and ask questions about. One of them was my brother's paper. The teacher read a quote from it, and then asked "What does this passage reveal about the author?" My brother immediately put up his hand, and the teacher (probably unaware at this point that it was Shawn's paper, but i am not sure) acknowledged him.
My brothers response: "I think it shows that the author of that paper is an incredibly good looking guy."
I just read the two Real Live Preacher Dramatized Version stories that the real live preacher has on his website. Excellent stories, and they are making me think. I particularly like the story of blessing the breast and the womb It makes me think about what it means to be a christian.

Along the same lines, something else i was thinking about last night was the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30 I was thinking of sermon ideas, and ended up modernizing the story, which I did much like Real Live Preacher does his things. I really did think of this last night though, but I was definitely moved to write it out by the RLP's stuff. In any case here is what i came up with (its a bit unpolished)

Meet Tim. Tim is a 22 year old man; he has blond hair and blue eyes, broad shoulders, deep chest, low voice, and a commanding presence. He is handsome and fit, and has a girlfriend in university; he plans to ask for her hand in marriage next week. He is a humble and gentle man. Tim is not in university. After highschool he founded an internet business. Since then it has become very successful; in fact, this year Tim became a multimillionare. This morning Tim was driving in his brand new Porsche to meet his girlfriend for lunch, when he saw Jesus in a park, playing with some children. Jesus looked so peaceful, so joyful, and Tim couldn't help feel some of that in his heart.

Tim thought to himself, "everything in my life is going so well, I have everything I have ever dreamed of and more. Now God has given me the chance to get one last thing squared away; my afterlife." And with that, he turned around, and pulled up to the curb next to Jesus.

Getting out of his car Tim approached Jesus.
"Hey Jesus."
"Hello"
"Do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Not at all, I'd love to help out. Give me one minute" At this point JEsus had a little boy in his arms, and he put him and down and told the children to go play.
"Whats your name?"
"Tim"
"Cool, well go ahead."
"Well, I do my best to be a good person, but what must I do to get into heaven?"
Jesus looked at him for a second, and then said "Why do you bring up what is good? You must understand that there is only one who is good, God."
"Ok, I will remember that. But how do I get into heaven?"
"Have you heard of grace and faith?" Jesus replied.
"What do you mean by those?"
"God, through me, graciously offers forgiveness, and it is by faith that you recieve this."

Now, at this point, Tim was in the clouds. He had indeed heard of this, and asked the Lord into his heart many years before. It looked like it was a done deal.

"I accept this. I believe you came and died, rose again on the third day. I know that God sent his Holy Spirit down after you ascended. I prayed the pray. I have done these things, and accept them."

Full of Joy, Tim turned to leave. But the look in Jesus eye stopped him; it was an odd look; Tim did not understand it, but he saw compassion and sadness, and hope.

Turning around, he asked the question he dreaded "Jesus, do I still lack in some way?"
Jesus replied, his voice quiet, the look in his eye now becoming the tone of his voice "If you want to be perfect go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor. and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

As those words proceeded from Jesus mouth Tim's world exploded before his eyes. He had everything, but the one final thing he wanted required him to give it all up. How could you do this God? I thought this was going to be it, and then I could live out my days in peace, assured, and comfortable. Why? I can't do this....

And without saying a word, his head drooping in a way that it hadn't since before he had vowed to fail for the last time, vowed to never be in want, Tim walked back to his porsche and drove away.

On his way to the university campus, Tim thought about what Jesus had said. Who knows exactly what conclusions Tim reached. It is not for no reason that Jesus told John the baptist "blessed are those who do not fall away on account of me". Perhaps by the time he got the campus, Tim had decided Jesus was not the way. How could anyone be the way who made demands like that? Maybe Tim was a little more attached to his faith, and convinced himself that that wasn't Jesus at all. Maybe he was honest with himself, wrestling with this issue through many sleepless nights, even delaying his engagement because he was so troubled. Or more likely, by the time he Got to lunch he had rationalized the whole thing away. Jesus didn't say i needed to do that to get to heaven, but to be perfect. Well, I don't need to be perfect, I just want to be saved. Unfortunately, Tim did not hear the conversation that followed his departure, or he may have come to grips with this. One thing I do know for sure, whatever conclusion Tim reached, the look in Jesus eye, the tone of his voice, and the moment his world exploded in front of his eyes would remain with him forever, haunting him in moments of indecision or tranquility.

Meanwhile, back at the park; The children were silent in a way that only children can be, for they were the only ones there who grasped the full gravity of the situation. The parents were whispering among themselves, wondering what this meant for their lives, and for their children.

Jesus meanwhile watched Tim go, still hoping, but Tim did not look back or turn around. After an uncomfortable few minutes of silence, he turned around. Dried tears stained his face and he said to those around him "It is indeed hard for a rich man to enter my kingdom. It is easier to fit a semi into a one car garage than for a rich man to enter heaven."

This brought gasps of astonishment, stares of wonder, whispers of amazement from all who heard it. Question after question ran through their minds. The disciples got into a group and whispered amongst themselves. And it was one of them who finally spoke up.
"If he can't be saved who can be?"

Jesus thought for a moment, understanding the importance of this question, and seeing an opportunity to give some hope and direction to these people. "You can't save yourself, you will never be able to. It is only possible with God."

The people could no longer read this as they used to though, in the safe model of salvation by grace through faith, for Jesus had addded a harsh demand on the end of this. Before Jesus could continue, another one of the dsciples interupted "We have left all to follow you, surely there is a great reward awaiting us?"

Jesus sighed, on the inside laughing and crying at the same time. "Indeed, there is great reward waiting for you, and for all who sacrifice to follow me. Your faith must touch your life, you cannot follow me without becoming a different person. Sacrifice will be neccessary. And, many who you think are first will be last; many who you think will be last will be first. The world is not as simple or straightforward as you think, and I am here to turn it upside down."

Jesus then gathered them into a circle, in that park, and set out to explain further. "Let me tell you a story....."

And just as Tim often thought of that day, so did Jesus, remembering Tim and the lesson he had taught.
I was just reminded that I haven't commented on Arnold's recent landslide election in California. The PinkMoose just called and wanted to know what I thought. We agreed that we know nothing about his ability to govern, and most likely, neither does anyone else. So why was he elected? Not on that basis. Will he do a good job? who knows, who cares. I think its a good image of the state of the American, and probably N. American, conscious and conscience. Celebitry'ism at its best, Arnold was elected based on popularity and public image. In my opinion its a natural and neccessary outcome of the all-covering consumerism of our culture.

Note: I am aware of Clint Eastwood's success as a mayor, and am not saying anything about Arnold or his ability to govern. That remains to be seen.
The mind works in odd, confusing, and often annoying ways. Yesterday, as you know, I wrote an essay. Though it doesn't take me long timewise, it takes a lot out of me, it requires more focused energy than I accustomed to putting out. So when i am done an essay, i am basically done for a little while. I tried to read last night, but I couldn't (which if you know me will say something about how done I am after an essay). So after wasting some time with comics, strongbad's email, and online games and talking to Chapter online, I decided that since I wasn't should go to bed. I was tired, my brain was shut down, so hey, why not? That of course was when i underwent a system reboot. By the time my head hit the pillow my mind was fully active again. Normally I can get to sleep pretty good, I just set aside whats on my mind and go to sleep; yes, this takes me 15 to 30 min, but hey. After a system reboot though, I guess it doesn't work quite so easily. So I ending up lying in bed awake for about an hour and a half. This happens sometimes, and what I like to do in that situation is phone Chapter.... yeah, couldn't do that. Chapter once told me that when I have spent a lot of time thinking and reading, it all comes out and is kind of overwhelming, and last night I found out what that was like. Half asleep, my thoughts remained undisciplined, undirected, and very numerous. In a way it was good to find out whats on my mind and heart, but sleep was what I was looking for.

So, I am not going to share all I thought about, but one thing that came up quite often was what kind of ministry I am going to go into after seminary. I think I mentiond earlier on, in connection with my t-shirt idea stuff, that i want to be a minister. Or a pastor, or a missionary, etc. But the more I think about it, the more I read from the traditional conservative church, as well as the "emerging" and "postmodern" church, the more sure I am that I could not serve in a traditional conservative protestant setting. Not to say I am to good for that or anything, just that my ideas would not go over well there. This forced me to consider the question, "where can I serve then?" Three options came to mind. There are several churches popping up that are being labeled "alternative" or "emergent" or "postmodern". That would work. Also, I would be able, I think, to serve in a church that was seeking change, willing to enter into a little self-critique, and ready to acknowledge that the forms of church we have practiced in N. America for the last 100 years, or even the more recent ones such as "seeker service" stuff, are not neccessarily the best ways any more. Lastly, I could become a church planter. In the end, I will be going where God sends me, and that is more than just a truism to me. When I say I have been thinking about this, I have also been praying about it, and trying to figure out which the Lord is leading and calling me to. Obviously I won't know for sure, probably ever, but I do my best. I realized though that the option that most appeals to me right now, being a church planter, is also the one I am least prepared for.
Yesterday was tantalizing. You ever heard of the greek myth about Tantalus? He became immortal by wining and dining the God's, but then betrayed them, stealing some of their godly nectar and sharing it with other mortals. So he was sentenced to the eternal punishment of being neck deep in water, with fruit right above him just out of reach. If he bent down to take a drink, the water level would sink, and the fruit would come down, but if he stood up to get the fruit, it went back up and so did the water. Thus we get the word Tantalize. This word, however, has become almost a good thing, and I am not reffering to it in such a way. No, yesterday was tantalizing in that good old fashion sense of greek torture. Why is this? Well, if you have never been in a long distance relationship, you may not understand, but I will try to explain. In a long distance relationship the best form of contact available to you is usually the phone. You come to depend on a person's voice in a very special and intimate way, and though not the same as being with them (which is also amplified by having a long distance relationship), it is still very good. Yesterday, my phone was cut off for the entire day by TELUS while they switched the line over to my name. Why you need to cut the line out at all when nothing is changing but the name on the account, I don't know, but I was definitely not expecting it to take all day. So I spent some time online with Chapter, but that just doesn't cut it; and thus I was tantalized.

The good news? My phone works this morning!! Unlike Tantalus, my fruit is in reach after only a day.

Chapter I miss you, and i can't wait to speak with you tonight.
Also, I get to go and see you tommorow!!!!!

7.10.03

Sweet, done the essay.
Report: Time: 4:10 - 7:55 = 3hr and 45 min. Subtract breaks and dinner (about 1hr) 2.75 hrs. Still to be done: Final editing.

When am I going to do the final editing? Sometime in the next two months!! Thats right, this essay is not due until Nov. 24th. Why am I done an essay due on Nov. 24th by Oct. 7th? Don't ask, because unless you knew my schedule it just wouldn't make sense. Normally, I don't do essays this early at all. Normally about 3 weeks before it is due i start reading for it, one week before its due I write it, and over that week i edit it. Can't do that this year, my schedule just won't allow it. So I had to be a little more disciplined and planned. Thats 2 essays, out of six, done, and boy does it feel good.
Ok, so i am seriously going to get to work now. But i checked out the second site reccommended to me, its Jonny Baker's Blog. Another site not thouroughly checked out, but i found this quote, and thought i would cut and paste:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

amzanig huh?

Cool
Ok, I had to Blog about this. A few sites were recommended to me by a good friend of mine, and I was checking them out in my usual efforts to delay the inevitable (my essay). The first one, the only one i have checked out so far, is called Clubbers Temple. It is an English (like, England) flash site that is pretty cool as far as sites and flash go, but it is also a church. I haven't fully explored it yet, i can't let myself do that now, or I will never get to my essay, but I did take the flash journey thing, and checked it out a little bit. Its very interesting. First impressions: A good attempt to be church online, it has all the fancyness and proffesionalness, but it seems almost to much like the real thing (like online should be different or something?). I haven't fully explored, but i am wary of it being a good alternative church, but falling into some kind of consumeristic trap... i am always wary of that though i guess. So, for now, I liked it, its cool. Thats all I will say. If it is interesting enough, and if, upon further exploration I feel the need, I will comment further.

Its worth a look either way, and I am curious what you think... so what do you think?
Woohoo my books are here!!! I ordered some books online almost a month ago, but then that huge power outage cut that out. When I and the company finally figured out what was going on i had to reorder them, and then when they got here, i guess the slip or whatever (didn't get it delieverd because there were customs fees to pay) got lost, so they have been at the post office for a week. But they are here now. Incidentally, if your interested in the specific books they offer, 7loaves is an excellent place to order books from. They handled the situation incredibly well, did literally everything they could and then some to get it all sorted out and get my books to me. They even gave me a discount for the inconvenience (in the form of free rush delivery, though it didn't matter at this end, but thats not their fault), when i knew that there was nothing they could do about it (i mean, seriously, how are they supposed to handle a massive blackout without inconveniencing people?). Plus, their prices are decent.

Thanks to both of you who commented on my post about finding my voice, i appreciate the advice. Its almost counterintuitive for me, as I have spent much more time developing speaking skills than writing skills, and in speaking the audience plays a large role. In any case, I will figure it out, and my style will definitely change over time.

On my way home today, i saw yet another person hit the "audible signal only" button at a crosswalk. I looked real hard, but i don't think they were blind. At first i wondered if it was stupidity, so easy to be judgemental, but i spent a little more time thinking about it (yes, definitely a good use of my mental faculties while riding home on my bike) and I think its just habit. Habits run our life a lot more than we like to realize. Postmodernism in a lot of ways is about freedom, but it is about freedom from instead of freedom to. So many are so unwilling to undertake the harsh disciplines that might shape their person, their soul. All the while we shout about freedom, and are enslaved to the habits that must grow to fill the void we leave in our unwillengness to come under discipline.

I'll stop there for now, as I need to get to work on the essay that i was avoiding when i started this blog, but over time i will rant about stuff, probably more on what i touched above.
Here's some stuff i have been thinking about:

In the early 1900's, with industrialization and such, we in the first world reached a place where our basic needs were generally well met. In response to this, people wanted to work less, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. However two groups of people didn't want this: 1. The protestant moralists, who believed that to much free time would lead to, at the very least, sloth (one of the seven deadly sins). 2. The economists, who were operating under the assumption that growth is good, and in order to get growth needed people to keep working and keep consuming after their basic needs were met. So there were a bunch of economic meetings to find a way to solve this problem. In the end they come up with one, known as "quality of life" or "standard of living". Let me offer you some quotes (taken from "Your Money or Your Life":

"In 1929 the Herbert Hoover committee on recent economic changes published a progress report on this new (and very welcome) strategy: (reffering to the idea of getting people to consume more by promoting the necessity of improving the "standard of living")
The survey has proved conclusively what has long been held theoretically to be true, that wants are almost insatiable; that one want satisfied makes way for another. The conclusion is that economically we have a boundless field before us; that there are new wants which will make way endlessly for newer wants, as fast as they are satisfied... Our situation is fortunate, our momentum is remarkable. (end of statement form committee)
Instead of leisure being relaxed activety, it was transformed into an opportunity for increased consumption - even consumption of leisure itself (as in travel and vacations)....
The Hoover Committee agreed. Leisure was not, in fact, a reason for not working. It was a reason for working more. Somehow the consumer solution satisfied both the industrial hedonistss hell-bent on achieving a metial paradise and the puritans who feared that unoccupied leisure would lead to sin. In fact, the new consumerism promoted all the deadly sins (lust, covetousness, gluttony, pride, envy) except perhpas anger and sloth.
Only mildly subdued by the Depression, consumerism returned with added vigor in teh post-WWII era.Victor Lebow, a U.S. retailing analyst of the early postwar era, proclaimed: "Our enormously productive economy... demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption... We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate." And thus the rat race was born, leading to our excruciating balancing act between working more to buy luxuries and having enough leisure to nejoy them. In our initial enthusiasm for our new status as consumers, we learned to assert our rights, standing up to unsrupulous business. 'Rights' however, have since taken ona different hue."

pg. 16-17

Yes, they actually had a committee that met to plan our cannabalistic demise and today we reap the "rewards". Sound to much like an evil empire? or some conspiracy of behind the scenes bad guys? Yeah, it kind of does. Wierd eh? But its not so much a conspiracy as a system of assumptions, implicit and explicit goals, that come together to create what we live in today. Some people, way back in the day, had the brains to figure it out, but unfortunately these were people who wanted it all to happen.

Stuff to think about anyway, and here is one more quote:

The dangers of the ideal of competition is that it neither proposes nor implies any limits. It proposes to simply lower costs at any cost, and to raise profits at any cost. It does not hesitate at the destruction of the life of a family or of the life of a community.
229
Wendell Berry, What are people for? (San Francisco: NorthPointPress, 1990) 131