30.11.03

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28.11.03

Tensions: The Pain of Honesty and the Gentleness of Love

This is at least partially me venting :)

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

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

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

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

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

23.11.03

In Religous Studies and Christian?!?! Impossible!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does anyone else see a problem here?

21.11.03

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

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

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

20.11.03

Rant: Liberty, Freedom, and Hearing Different Voices

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

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

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

19.11.03

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

Timeline

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

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

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

18.11.03

I'm back.

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

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

13.11.03

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

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

11.11.03

Today's Jumbled Brain Fart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.11.03

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

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

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

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

6.11.03

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

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

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

You had imagined
That that was all
That we wanted.

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

4.11.03

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

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

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

Off to school now, have a great day people.

2.11.03

Don Williams and I through the Ages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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