September 29, 2003

Mike's Doctrines

1. Grace

2. Grace

3. Grace

4. Grace

5. Grace

6. Grace

7. Grace

8. Grace

9. Grace

10. Grace

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ignited

In 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, Paul says, "We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in your Lord Jesus Christ." Here Paul gives us an inside look into the hearts of the Thessalonian Christians. They were a church that was ignited and fueled by faith, a labor prompted by love, and a perseverance inspired by hope in Jesus Christ.

Could it be that the most powerful ingredients for awakening an apostolic ethos are right before us? Could it be that while we've been searching for innovations and new strategies to effectively engage this radically changing world, the secret to seeing first-century results lies in the first century church?

Erwin McManus
An Unstoppable Force (p. 148)

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September 27, 2003

at the edge V

OK, here's the next installment in the continuing saga of At The Edge. Thanks so much for the great comments, mostly found in At The Edge II.

Tom Peters is one of the guys I loved to listen to back in my investment industry days. Here is a guy who has a passion for what he does, and what he believes.

Here's an excerpt from a recent interview regarding his new book, Re-Imagine!. (Now there's a word we should be paying attention to!) In keeping with my recent ranting about creativity and the gospel, however, substitute your favorite word which represents your faith in place of the word business.

"It's a scary time. It's an exciting time. The story which we attempt to tell is about energy and passion and excitement. It's about the application of creativity, as opposed to the continuous drudgery of rote work. And it strikes me that the visual presentation of that story ought to have the same degree of energy and passion and soul. I believe that (business) at its best is exciting, and if (business) is exciting, why should the average (business) book be dry and dull and dreary--not only in its language, but also in its visual presentation?

A book is theater. And when you're looking at a theatrical performance, you don't separate the costumes from the set design, from the actor's skill, from the playwright's skill. In this book, we tried to produce a kind of whole--an experience that brings together a number of elements. And, again, the visual presentation thereof is, frankly, as important as the language therein."

You see... these people get it, and they're applying it to BUSINESS!! Why aren't we applying it to the GOSPEL? And why, as Idelette so honestly pointed out in her comment in At The Edge II, do we seem to delight in stomping on those who try?

"...I have a thought that perhaps we're not getting a lot of fresh stuff, because the Creatives who also have a Kingdom heart have been shouting at the top of their lungs, all the while being muffled in these environments. Losing our voices, literally. And therefore, the ministry world is losing its voice.

I know that many artists who grew up in the modern church are generally extremely wounded for this same reason--their voices have not been appreciated and heard.

From the team of people I used to work with, I can honestly say that most of them are now burned out, having tried and tried and tried to bring creativity to the Message...

More input and reactions, please.

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stories

Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I, of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity... that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally.

Frederick Buechner (Telling Secrets, 1991)

(Link found down on The Corner, which came from the Ramblin Man.)

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honest mike's

Alan Creech has been trying to buy a new van. (Check out September 23 and 26, for starters.)

What would a Kingdom Car Dealer look like? How would it function? How would consumers feel dealing with them? (Check out At The Edge II if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

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September 25, 2003

at the edge IV

Sometimes God's sense of timing (and humour) really whack you. As I'm sitting here thinking about some of the great comments in At The Edge II, what it all means, what it might look like, what "it" is, etc., I'm also doing a little surfing.

Jordon took me to Seth, who took me to The Acumen Fund.

"Acumen Fund is a not-for-profit enterprise focused on improving the lives of the poor around the world. We operate like a venture capital firm - investing philanthropic resources in innovative social entrepreneurs through three thematic portfolios - with a goal of social change rather than financial return."

Wow - we're getting closer...

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danger

The world is a dangerous place to live;
not because of the people who are evil,
but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

- Albert Einstein

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September 24, 2003

Micah's Challenge

by Jim Wallis
(From SojoMail 09.24.03)

QUERETARO, Mexico - Several hundred evangelical leaders are gathered here in this Mexican industrial city, from Christian relief and development organizations around the world, with a big and bold idea. From more than 250 agencies in many countries (and growing quickly), these evangelical poverty fighters from Africa, Asia, and Latin America (with allies from the U.K., Europe, and a few from the U.S.) are calling themselves the "Micah Network." Inspired by the ancient Hebrew prophet to "do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God," they are about to issue a challenge to their own churches and to the government leaders in each of their countries, right out of the prophetic biblical tradition. They are calling it, appropriately, "The Micah Challenge," and are directing it straight to the heart of globalization and its impact on the poor. The backdrop of the failed trade talks in Cancun, not so far from here, was clearly on people's minds. I was here to speak to the "prophetic call" of our times, and to strategize with these brothers and sisters about what a global campaign might look like.

No longer willing to just pull the bodies out of the river, these evangelical Christians, mostly from the southern hemisphere, are ready to go upstream to find out what or who is throwing them in. Having worked in poor communities for many years (and won great credibility in doing so) these community development agencies have decided to now turn to advocacy as well - prophetic advocacy on behalf of the poor. And they have entered into a clear partnership with the World Evangelical Alliance (comprised of church associations in 120 countries - they're here, too). That partnership will unite evangelical churches around the world (now comprising 200-400 million Christians) with evangelical relief and development organizations in the common cause of biblical justice.

The Micah Challenge mission statement begins with a clear declaration that will warm the hearts of people across the world who long for justice. It reads simply, "The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Micah Network are creating a global evangelical campaign to mobilize Christians against poverty."

Their strategy is to first listen and learn from one another, promote "integral mission" - where the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel are deeply connected so that evangelism and social justice both have clear consequences for the other, and to prophetically call upon and influence the political leaders of the world to seek justice for the poor and rescue the needy as Psalm 82 instructs.

The Micah Challenge is taking direct aim at the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, agreed to by 147 nations, to cut extreme global poverty in half by 2015. The Micah Network believes that achieving those goals will require a "spiritual engine" that provides both moral energy and political accountability. They intend to raise a strong "evangelical voice" to political decision-makers in their own countries, in the wealthy nations, at the United Nations, World Bank, IMF, WTO, and other international bodies. Their advocacy will be local, national, and global, holding the nations accountable to what they have already said and agreed to. The Micah Network is ready to collaborate with others, whenever possible, but their strong appeal will be to and from evangelical Christians. Given the amazing growth of evangelical Christianity around the world, especially in the global south, the emergence of the Micah Challenge could be of great significance. As one delegate from a developing nation remarked quietly and prayerfully after today's morning session on the vision of Micah for today's world, "We could be starting history in this room." Indeed.

For more information, visit The Micah Network

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ah, progress

Here's an interesting perspective on 25 years of change in Vancouver. (Thanks to Lisa for the link.)

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at the edge III

At The Edge III is nothing more than a plug to get you to check out the comments in At The Edge II.

Keep the conversation going - I need more feedback!

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September 22, 2003

at the edge II

I've been doing a lot of thinking since scribbling down At The Edge the other day. Unfortunately these thoughts aren't any more coherent than the others, so bear with me please.

I think I'm on to something... but I'm not sure what. A few years back when I went to Real Time Philly I was still with Fidelity Investments. That was my life, and I loved it. So while at the conference I was looking at things with my Fidelity eyes. That being said, I distinctly remember two things. First, I was blown away by all the creativity - there was actually an adrenaline rush! The other thought I had was, "Where are the Christians?"

Here's a couple of questions I wrote in my journal last night:

+ Why isn't anyone applying this type of creativity to spreading the Gospel?

+ Where are the "Kingdom Venture Capitalists?"

+ Not "Ambition", but "Kingdom Ambition". Is this thinking wrong?

+ Are "Kingdom Corporations" the start? (My definition of a Kingdom Corporation: A company that is a ministry itself, exists solely to generate funds for ministry, or both.)

+ How do you measure success in a Kingdom Corporation?

+ How do you motivate people in a Kingdom Corporation?

The name Paul Allen came to mind this past weekend as I chewed on this. You know the name - along with Bill Gates, Allen was one of the original founders of Microsoft. He's long since cashed out and is spending his billions as a venture capitalist and philanthropist. I was thinking "Where are the people willing to finance ministry the way that Allen is willing to finance projects?" Just looking at his web site gave me a rush. Where's the Christian version?

I know there are countless Christian ministries/charities. That's not what I'm talking about. I guess I'm talking about something more in tune with the postmodern culture. What does that look like?

Now I realize that I'm probably making some people nervous. And as I said I have no idea where this is going, if anywhere.

I'd appreciate feedback and reactions... positive or negative. Does any of this make any sense, to anybody else?

By the way, I love this quote from Gary Hamel, from the most recent Real Time gathering:

"I can't tell you which five acorns are going to germinate, but I can tell the difference between a rabbit turd and an acorn."

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killing the buddha

BTW, I've just added Killing The Buddha to the Fellow Travelers roll. (Just be prepared for a great shot of The Man In Black in one of his more "animated" moments... )

Check out this excerpt from their Manifesto:

"The idea of "killing the Buddha" comes from a famous Zen line, the context of which is easy to imagine: After years on his cushion, a monk has what he believes is a breakthrough: a glimpse of nirvana, the Buddhamind, the big pay-off. Reporting the experience to his master, however, he is informed that what has happened is par for the course, nothing special, maybe even damaging to his pursuit. And then the master gives the student dismaying advice: If you meet the Buddha, he says, kill him.

Why kill the Buddha? Because the Buddha you meet is not the true Buddha, but an expression of your longing. If this Buddha is not killed he will only stand in your way.

Why Killing the Buddha? For our purposes, killing the Buddha is a metaphor for moving past the complacency of belief, for struggling honestly with the idea of God. As people who take faith seriously, we are endlessly amazed and enraged that religious discourse has become so bloodless, parochial and boring. Any God worth the name is none of these things. Yet when people talk about God they are talking mainly about the Buddha they meet. For fear of seeming intolerant or uncertain, or just for lack of thinking, they talk about a God too small to be God."


Sounds like a worthwhile read to me.

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September 21, 2003

lousy liberal media

"...So when President George Bush admitted on Wednesday, for the first time, that there was "no evidence that Hussein was involved with the September 11th" attacks, one would assume that would be big news and an opportunity for the press to make up for past failings.

And according to some newspapers, it was a big story. The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune (both owned by the Tribune Co.) ran front-page stories on the revelation Thursday. But an analysis of most major American newspapers found the story either buried deep within the paper -- or completely absent.

Of America's 12 highest-circulation daily papers, only the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, and Dallas Morning News ran anything about it on the front page. In The New York Times, the story was relegated to page 22. USA Today: page 16. The Houston Chronicle: page 3. The San Francisco Chronicle: page 14. The Washington Post: page 18. Newsday: page 41. The New York Daily News: page 14.

The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal didn't mention it at all."

I thought this was kind of odd at the time. Read the article "Bush 9/11 Admission Gets Little Play".

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supply side jesus

Buzzflash gives us one of the funniest and most pointed sections of Al Franken's book: The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus.

This ought to set some people off... My reputation as a liberal is secure. And no, I don't spend all day perusing such "left wing" sites!

(Link from the Slacktivist. And as Fred puts it, "It's kind of sad that Al Franken is a better Christian theologian than 90 percent of American evangelicals." Ouch.)

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busted

Can anyone explain to me why all my sidebar stuff is now appearing at the bottom of the blog? I never touched my template! Arrgghh.

UPDATE: In frustration I've just downloaded and intsalled Mozilla, and the site is fine! Time for a brief survey: What browser are you using and how does the page look to you?

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September 18, 2003

at the edge

"The action is at the edge."

Kevin Roberts,
CEO Worldwide,
Saatchi & Saatchi, Ideas Company

I heard Kiwi Kevin Roberts speak a couple of years ago at Fast Company's Real Time Philly gathering. He blew me away then, and he blew me again yesterday when I spent an hour or so on his web site.

Something's brewing in my head. I can't put it into words yet, but it has to do with creativity and The Kingdom. (Maybe I should start capitalizing Creativity. After all, I think it's sacred. God is the Creator, He Created, and I think He's happy when we are Creating.)

I'm fairly certain I'll send some of you right around the bend if I try to explain this now, so give me some time.

In the meantime, check out some of Saatchi's spots (the descriptions are from Kevin's site):

Adidas 'Black': "This spot comes like a bolt out of the blue. Intensely local it has an immediate, heart-pumping impact everywhere we show it." Saatchi & Saatchi Wellington, 60 seconds, 1.8Mb/254Kb, September 1999.
Fast or Slow?

Driver Safety 'Prison': "An irreverant move using convicted Australian murderer Mark 'Chopper' Read as a role model! - does the business." Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, 45 seconds, 1.4Mb187Kb, April 2001 (Gold Lion).
Fast or Slow?

Telecom 'Father & Son': "This is the spot I usually end my presentations with. Deeply rooted in the local of New Zealand life, it speaks to everyone about our most deeply-felt relationships." (Silver Lion) Saatchi & Saatchi Wellington, 80 seconds, 2.3Mb/311Kb, June 1998.
Fast or Slow?

(If my links don't work you can also view the spots from Kevin's site.)

For those of you who are starting to get nervous about where I'm heading with this, think of it this way: If Kevin can make toothpaste more appealing to people than we can make the Gospel, then something is wrong!

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September 17, 2003

'till things are brighter

Man in Black

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man in Black.

Johnny Cash (1932-2003)

(c) 1971, House of Cash, Inc.

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inspire

inspire.gif

I don't live in the UK, and I'm not 15... or even 15+ for that matter (15++, maybe), but this looks very cool.

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September 16, 2003

God rode shotgun

Tonight was one of those nights.

I did the construction thing in Whistler today, and periodic rain couldn't keep the day from being spectacular. (On the radio they were busting with the news that there was a little fresh snow on top of the mountain this morning.)

As Rob and I drove back to North Van (about one and a half hours), we went from rain to blinding sunshine, to rain again. Howe Sound is beautiful in any weather, but today was incredible.

Then, as I drove home alone from Rob's place, God bummed a ride. He rode shotgun, and together we admired his handiwork.

Oh yeah - this song was playing, and He told me to turn it up...

You're Everything
David Crowder Band

You're everything
I could want
That I could need
If I could see
You want me
Could I believe?
'Cause You're perfectly
All I want, all I need
If I could just feel Your touch
Could I be free?
Why do You shine so?
Can a blind man see?
Why do You call?
Do You beckon me?
Can the dear hear the voice of love?
Would You have me come?
Can the cripple run?
Are You the one?


To raise me up
From this grave
Touch my tongue
And then I'll sing
Heal my limbs
Then joyfully I'll run to You
Then joyfully I'll run to You


'Cause You're everything
And I'm alive and I'll sing
And I'm alive and I'm free

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September 15, 2003

afterlife

For all sorts of reasons I can't articulate yet, I think I love this site.

(Link from the RLP. Follow the Preacher's advice: go slow, have your speakers on and move the mouse around the image.)

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emotion

The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.
Donald Calne

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we don't want...

I find it strange that the last place I can really quote Jesus these days is in American churches. We don't want to hear 'overcome evil with good.' We don't want to hear 'those who live by the sword die by the sword.' We don't want to hear 'if your enemy hurts you, do good, feed, clothe, minister to him.' We don't want to hear 'blessed are the merciful.' We don't want to hear 'love your enemies.'
Tony Campolo

(From Bob Carlton, who got it from Doc Martens, and so on...)

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September 14, 2003

50 reasons not to vote for ernie

Hot on the heels of 50 Reasons Not To Vote For Arnie, our friend Robert has sat down and put pen to paper over the upcoming Ontario provincial election. The object of his affections today? Premier Ernie Eves and the provincial Progressive Conservative party. Go Robert!Ernie.jpg

1. The Tories have been in power for 8 years and are so lacking in fresh ideas, they are attacking Dalton McGuinty as their only platform plank. Wouldn't you run on your record after 8 years?

2. Yesterday's Tory news release said that McGuinty is: "against continuing to lower taxes in this province so we can have more money to spend on things like health care and education." Huh?

3. The slime factor: every time Ernie Eves appears on TV, I wonder what used car lot is missing its rust-proofing & undercoating sales guy.

4. Dented Tuna: These are the same conservatives that told welfare recipients to save money by looking for dented cans of tuna at the grocery store. Nice.

5. Health Care: ask anyone in health care what the conservatives have done to the system over their past two terms. (more later)

6. Education: people in education wish they had been treated as well as people in health care. (again, more later)

7. Amalgamation: If not for the Tories, Mel Lastman would not be the mayor of all Torontonians, just North Yorkers. (again, more later)

8. Same sex marriage: Hypocrite Ernie is saying that he believes that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. Apparently not sacred enough for him and his common law companion, Angela Bassett.

9. SARS: The man did not interrupt his golf vacation at the height of the outbreak.

10. Blackout: The man did not interrupt his evening for the crucial first 6 hours of the crisis when people weren't sure what was happening and if bin Laden was behind it.

11. Magna Budget: The last provincial budget was delivered, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the taxpayer, from Magna headquarters rather than the provincial legislature, in a brazen photo opp. The TORY speaker of the house found the process to be in contempt of the house and condemned the action.

12. Ernie's hair: Come on, man! The tube says a LITTLE dab will do ya! Nowhere does it say use a big honking glob!

13. Their economic record is nothing to write home about: They rode the wave of a global rebound and bragged that it was their doing. Now that the party is over, Ontario is in no better shape than anyone else. Wait until we hear about the "surprise" deficit that will be announced soon after the election no matter who wins...

14. Pro-Iraq war: How come Ernie doesn't mention the pro-war rallies he appeared at in February in his campaign ads? Could it be because France was absolutely right all along? Or could it be that he wanted to assure himself a steady supply of grease for that hair?

15. They hate Toronto: Look at the record. They hate Toronto.

16. Walkerton: I really wonder how Mike Harris can sleep at night.

17. Aylmer meat plant: They are so lucky no one has gotten sick.

18. Hydro One privatization: Screwed up worse than Dubya in Iraq (which they supported!)

19. Toronto Olympics bid: Two major bids for a super city in the eastern time zone of the US, prime time television audience guaranteed. Zero for two. Have fun Vancouver.

20. Electricity rate freeze: In another ploy to buy votes with voters' own money, rates have been frozen until 2006. This accomplishes many things – all bad. Does not promote conservation, does not promote use of solar or wind power, does not create incentive for anyone to increase capacity on the grid, virtually guarantees California-like shortages in the future... Well done!

21. Did I mention the hair?

22. No, really, does anyone think his hair looks good?

23. I won't even get into the perpetual, even-in-the-middle-of winter, Fake 'n Bake tan.

24. Health care revisited: No two-tier, not even one-tier! A client of mine tells me his Dad waited 11 months for bypass surgery! That's 30 days short of a year, folks!

25. Education revisited: Do you know a public school teacher who sends his/her kid to private school because they know how shitty the system has gotten? I know three.

26. Education revisited again: Our neighbourhood kindergarten has 32 kids in it. Think of the teacher's Advil consumption.

27. Amalgamation revisited: Property taxes have risen so much that for many Ontarians, the income tax cuts barely offset the rise in the tax they paid on their home.

28. Highway 407: Gave it away after spending billions on it. The chairman of the company who bought was chuckling a year later that his company would have paid two times what it did, and still would have gotten a bargain.

29. Toronto's Waterfront: Boston has the Big Dig, Baltimore got a new harbour development plan, Montreal redid ITS waterfront, Toronto? Nothing.

30. I know Dalton McGuinty is a black hole of charisma but at least you don't feel Greenpeace is going to organize a cleanup rally to remove the oil from his head.

31. Speaking of Greenpeace: The Tories environmental record sucks. Ontario ranks ahead of Texas, only Texas, in output of emissions for the entire continent. Thank God for Texas.

32. More tax cuts: The Tories are proposing more tax cuts despite the fact that the province is probably already in deficit and education and health care are starving for dough.

33. Ernie is a hypocrite: I did not agree with much Mike Harris had to say but I have to admit at least he stood by his principles. Ernie has flip-flopped on every issue to get re-elected.

34. Name-calling: It got ridiculous yesterday when a Tory release called McGuinty: "an evil reptilian kitten eater from another planet." However, it has been going on for the whole campaign. What does it tell you when the party that has been governing for 8 years spends all its time mudslinging at the opposition?

35. Welfare cuts: I know it was a long time ago, but the Tories cut welfare payment s by 30% to balance the budget in 1995-96. Sounds to me like they were promoting kitten-eating!

36. Strange Bedfellows: For years, they have had closer ties to the Alliance than to the Federal Tories. The Alliance... Remember Stockwell Day? THAT Alliance.

37. Auto insurance: While governments in New-Brunswick and Nova Scotia were fighting for their lives this summer over high premiums, Ontario's rates are the highest in the country and went up 20% this year! By the way, the legislation the Tories introduced just before the election call to bring relief to drivers was killed by election call. Thanks for nothing.

38. Cojones: They actually have the nerve to mention health care and education in their campaign literature.

39. Remember Walkerton... Again, could YOU sleep?

40. Retirement: Ernie had actually retired from government and only came back after he was assured the top job when Harris decided to call it quits. Should have stayed away.

41. The Tories will be endorsed by the National Post.

42. The Tories will be endorsed by the Fraser Institute.

43. Big liar (2): Ernie keeps saying that McGuinty will raise taxes. McGuinty keeps swearing he won't. Then again, the Tories said McGuinty eats kittens. Who are you going to believe?

44. Education revisited for the last time: Ontario students used to have the highest test scores in Canada. Now, we rank among the lowest. Too bad Texas is not in the survey.

45. Make up one of your own, I am really running on fumes at this point.

46. Homelessness: OK, the Tories did not invent the homeless or squeegee kids but the explosion of people wandering around downtown Toronto over the past few years is not a sign that we are moving in the right direction as a society.

47. Hiding in the Bat cave: You know how you see politicians glad-handing during a crisis as a photo opp? Did you notice that during the SARS crisis, Ernie was nowhere near a hospital? He knew what kind of reception he would get.

48. The Tories cheat: The rules clearly state that no one can advertise for the week of any campaign. Tory ads started the day the election was called. They were pulled when their "error" was discovered.

49. Whoever loses will go away: The leaders of all three major parties will either resign, or be pushed out if they fail to retain the same number of seats they had before the election. This is our chance to make Ernie go back to banking!

50. New York minute: New York's power was restored in hours, Ontario's power took over a week to get up and running again. Who has been "in power" for the last 8 years?

Posted by mike at 07:50 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 12, 2003

total recall

50 Reasons Not to Vote for Arnie

Hey - I live in "California North", so I figure I'm entitled. Found this article down on The Corner. Thanks Bob.

Posted by mike at 07:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

blackberries

"Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.
But only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."
--Elizabeth Barrett Browing

(Thanks Eric)

Posted by mike at 07:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

the man in black

Country legend Johnny Cash dies
'Man in Black" suffered from complications of diabetes

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 12 - Johnny Cash, "The Man in Black" who became a towering figure in American music with such hits as "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the Line," and "A Boy Named Sue", died Friday. He was 71.

Watch the Hurt video one more time...

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September 11, 2003

certainty

9 11 cross.jpg

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September 10, 2003

wheat and chaff

Alan Creech has been taking a look inside and is trying to sort out the stuff he needs to lighten up on from the non-negotiables, the things he believes need to go (Look for the September 8 post).

Here's his list of non-negotiables, or as he calls them, his Points of Revolution (I like that):

> hierarchical leadership
> pulpit/pew Sunday only large meetings
> cold-call revivalist evangelism
> quick-fix altar ministry
> full-time professional pastorate
> programmed, departmentalized "ministry"
> tight, dogmatic faith statements
> extra-biblical life rules
> local ecclesiastical isolationism
> "the church" programmatically trying to spiritually form children

Lead on, Alan. We're with you.

Posted by mike at 06:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

dogma

I don't know anything about Grist, but Bill Moyers is a journalist I respect. He always brings an interesting perspective to his subjects, and this is no exception.

An interview with Bill Moyers
by Grist magazine

Grist: In the year and a half since the launch of your PBS program "NOW," you have done extensive reporting on the Bush administration's environmental record. At a time when most news outlets have focused on war and recession, you and your team have been among the few journalists who've consistently taken a hard look at these policy rollbacks. What has been motivating you?

Bill Moyers: The facts on the ground. I'm a journalist, reporting the evidence, not an environmentalist pressing an agenda. The Earth is sending us a message and you don't have to be an environmentalist to read it. The Arctic ice is melting. The Arctic winds are balmy. The Arctic Ocean is rising. Scientists say that in the year 2002 - the second-hottest on record - they saw the Arctic ice coverage shrink more than at any time since they started measuring it. Every credible scientific study in the world says human activity is creating global warming. In the face of this evidence, the government in Washington has declared war on nature. They have placed religious and political dogma over the facts.

Grist: Can you elaborate on their religious and political dogma?

Moyers: They are practically the same. Their god is the market - every human problem, every human need, will be solved by the market. Their dogma is the literal reading of the creation story in Genesis where humans are to have "dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing...." The administration has married that conservative dogma of the religious right to the corporate ethos of profits at any price. And the result is the politics of exploitation with a religious impulse.

Meanwhile, over a billion people have no safe drinking water. We're dumping 500 million tons of hazardous waste into the Earth every year. In the last hundred years alone we've lost more than 2 billion hectares of forest, our fisheries are collapsing, our coral reefs are dying because of human activity. These are facts. So what are the administration and Congress doing? They're attacking the cornerstones of environmental law: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, NEPA [the National Environmental Policy Act]. They are allowing l7,000 power plants to create more pollution. They are opening public lands to exploitation. They're even trying to conceal threats to public health: Just look at the stories this past week about how the White House pressured the EPA not to tell the public about the toxic materials that were released by the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Grist: I'm interested in your explanation of why - I haven't heard this dogma-based argument before. More often, critics interpret the White House environmental agenda as political pragmatism, as simply an effort to stay in power and pay back corporate contributors.

Moyers: This is stealth war on the environment in the name of ideology. But you're right - there is a very powerful political process at work here, too. It's payback time for their rich donors. In the 2000 elections, the Republicans outspent the Democrats by $200 million. Bush and Cheney - who, needless to say, are oil men who made their fortunes in the energy business - received more than $44 million from the oil, gas, and energy industries. It spills over into Congress too: In the 2002 congressional elections, Republican candidates received almost $15 million from the energy industries, while the Democrats got around $3.7 million. In our democracy, voters can vote but donors decide.

Read the rest of the Moyer's interview...

Even allowing for hyperbole, this stuff is shocking.

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the response required

Wow - two days in a row without posting! That has to be some kind of record for me. I was up in Roberts Creek spending a day working construction, and a day in the ministry office.

The good news is I spent a lot of time on the ferry reading more Erwin:

"Bibical interpretation must be missiological, not theological. A theological construct for interpretation finds success in the attainment of knowledge. The more you know, the more mature a Christian you are thought to be. And yet knowledge of the Bible does not guarantee application of the Bible. To know is not necessarily to do. When the construct applied to the Bible is missiological, you engage the Bible to discover the response required of your life. It is significant that the history of the first-centurey church is called the book of Acts, and not the book of Truth."

This is the second or third time in the last couple of days that I've come across this reference to "knowing" versus "doing".

Remember this from Jordon's review of Len Sweet's new book:

For the church to be "open" to this emerging culture requires a move from a reformational to a missional paradigm. A reformational paradigm is fixed on the message: getting right about what we think about God. A reformational paradigm focuses on the church and differences between Christians - the marks of a pure and true church versus a false church. A reformational paradigm assumes Christendom thinking. Christianity has been in the reformational paradigm for 500 years. The missional paradigm is fixed on methods: communicating what God has done in and for us; communicating the divine presense through worship, the arts, and community. The missional church focuses on the world where people don't believe the gospel in the least. Purity is the goal if you're in the reformational paradigm. Communication is the goal in the missional paradigm. The biblical model is both reformational and missional. But the reformation occurs in the context of being in mission: how do we mediate the saving grace of Jesus to a fallen world?

Theological/reformational or missiological/missional. What we are talking about is being right versus doing the right thing. At least that's the way I see it. I don't want to spend the rest of my life trying to prove my way of thinking in relation to the teachings of Christ is the right way - I just want to go out and try and do what he told us to do, live the way he told us to live.

That's why I find my loose grip on formal theology and doctrine very liberating. Not only does it invite me back to a mysterious God who has more up His sleeve than we could ever imagine, but it also enourages me to get out and "do".

(And no, I'm not talking about salvation by works. You don't earn salvation by "doing stuff". But I do believe you help build The Kingdom by living life as taught by Christ and guided by the Spirit. That's definitely "doing stuff".)

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September 07, 2003

safe II

Here's a post from last November...

Safe?
Who said anything about safe?
'Course he isn't safe.
But he's good.
C.S. Lewis

Leonard Sweet recently spoke in Toronto. Here's a thought from his message that struck me.

When (and why) did we turn God into a safe God? We need to rethink this misconception that the "safest place to be" is in the centre of God's will. Try telling that to Paul:

2 Corinthians 11:24-27 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

The centre of God's will is the best place to be.
It's the only place to be.
It's definitely not the safest place to be.

Mark 4:35-41 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

It's as if Jesus is saying to us "Can't you trust me enough to ride these waves, knowing I am in the boat with you?" Think about that: we are in the boat with the God of the Universe. What could possibly frighten us?! He says "I won't speak peace into every storm in your life, but I will speak peace into you during the storms of life."

Maybe our definition needs work: Safety is not the absence of danger but the knowledge that you are doing God's will.

We could play it safe. We could sit on board and leave the boat anchored in the harbour.

Boats don't belong in the harbour; they belong on the high seas.

OK - back to real time. I almost laughed out loud this morning. It might have been inappropriate, seeing as I was in church. The speaker referenced the "safe" quote from C.S. Lewis. The reason I almost laughed is because I had thought about the quote just before church. I was on the exercise bike reading An Unstoppable Force. I know, I know, I'm not supposed to be reading it yet. I can't help myself. Here's the blurb that brought the quote to my mind:

The truth of the matter is that the center of God's will is not a safe place but the most dangerous place in the world! God fears nothing and no one! God moves with intentionality and power. To live outside of God's will puts us in danger; to live in his will makes us dangerous. (p. 32-33)

Many of us have chosen the safe theology. Or, as the speaker this morning put it, we've decided to be civilians and not soldiers. We've become comfortable with "settling", instead of "conquering".

It's interesting that I heard a good old Salvation Army message preached in an Alliance church this morning. (A message, sadly, that the Army needs to hear again.) No, I'm not going to go looking for my old uniform just yet. But I am recommiting myself to being a soldier, not a civilian; to conquering, not settling.

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September 06, 2003

ugghhh

I don't even know what to say about this.

UPDATE: For some reason the CNN story has been removed... so I moved the link over to CBS.

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forward

I'm just flipping through my copy of An Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus. (Must... fight... temptation... to... start... reading... now....) Thank you, Amazon!

I like the way he signs off the Acknowledgments page:

"Advancing the Invisible Kingdom."

That's what we're doing. That's why we're here. Yeah.

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He drives me crazy too

Over at The Ooze Jordon has written a review of Len Sweet's new book, Jesus Drives Me Crazy!. I've already got a ton of books to read, but I think this one will go on the list.

Here's a couple of excerpts from Jordon's "Selected Insights":

+ Did Jesus come to deliver us some teachings? Or did Jesus come to reveal to us the character of God? The point of Christianity is not a point. The point is a person. The point of Christianity is not believing a doctrine but experiencing a reality that transcends all concepts and categories.

+ Will we just drift into the future, or will we dialog about it—argue over it, debate it, direct it? Where are the sustained, serious conversations in the church regarding the future?

+ For the church to be "open" to this emerging culture requires a move from a reformational to a missional paradigm. A reformational paradigm is fixed on the message: getting right about what we think about God. A reformational paradigm focuses on the church and differences between Christians - the marks of a pure and true church versus a false church. A reformational paradigm assumes Christendom thinking. Christianity has been in the reformational paradigm for 500 years. The missional paradigm is fixed on methods: communicating what God has done in and for us; communicating the divine presense through worship, the arts, and community. The missional church focuses on the world where people don't believe the gospel in the least. Purity is the goal if you're in the reformational paradigm. Communication is the goal in the missional paradigm. The biblical model is both reformational and missional. But the reformation occurs in the context of being in mission: how do we mediate the saving grace of Jesus to a fallen world?

I like the sounds of this one.

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a connoisseur of dirt

I've been sitting on the balcony this afternoon watching a sailing regatta taking place right in front of me, and catching up on some reading.

Dust Jacket is the latest Ann Lamott piece on Salon.com, and it's a good one. You have to subscribe to get her complete columns, but it's worth it.

Here's a great quote that really speaks to me:

Maybe you're like me, a connoisseur of dirt; most artists are, as are many spiritual seekers: We love the rich smells and bugs and textures and lights and roots and stones of earth. Sometimes the soil is barren and isolated, other times it releases green shoots and surprises, bottle caps and cocoons, itty bitty leaves, bits of bone, lost jewelry. Many things grow in your yard that you didn't even plant, that you don't particularly like, that you know should be weeded or pruned. But maybe the connoisseur in you wants to let it stay in the dirt awhile, let it just be. I tell you: It's taken me such a long time to discover that I can know a lot of stuff for sure, without being right.

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spin me right round

Hussein Link to 9/11 Lingers in Many Minds
By Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, September 6, 2003; Page A01

Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this...

Would one of the seven of you please explain this to me?

UPDATE: For those of you who aren't clear on what I'm getting at, go check out Lust in His Heart at the Slacktivist's place.

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September 05, 2003

ambition

"I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize."

Steven Wright

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the thrill is gone

Farewell America
After six years, The Observer's award-winning US correspondent Ed Vulliamy takes his leave from a wounded and belligerent nation with which, reluctantly, he has now fallen out of love

Once smitten, it should be impossible to fall out of love with America. Who could fall out of love with that New York adrenaline rush, or the clutter of the 7 Train as it grinds on stilts of iron from Manhattan out to Queens through the scents and sounds of 160 first languages? Who could fall out of love with the mighty desert when a lilac dawn fades out the constellations in its vast sky? Who could fall out of love with the muscular industry of America's real capital, Chicago, 'city of big shoulders', as the poet Carl Sandburg described it? It was insurgent Chicago that first captured my heart for America as a visiting teenager in 1970.

Now it's time to leave the United States as a supposed adult, having been a resident and correspondent for exactly as long as Tony Blair has been Prime Minister - I was appointed that May morning in 1997 that brought Britain's Conservative night to an end. Blair's love for America seems to have deepened since; but love is both the strongest and most brittle of sentiments, and mine has depreciated. I still love that adrenaline rush, the desert light, those big shoulders; but something else has happened to America during my six years to invoke that bitter love song by a great American, BB King, 'The Thrill is Gone': 'And now that it's all over / All I can do is wish you well...'

This is a brilliant essay. Do yourself a favour and take the time to read it.
(Thanks to the Slacktivist for the link.)

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September 04, 2003

where there's smoke...

fire NASA.jpg

NASA photo, via CBC

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tattoo you II

I've barged into an interesting conversation over at Country Keepers, where Gary is considering the scriptural prohibition of tattoos.

While we're on the subject, here's another possibility for my upcoming inking - the Tetragrammaton.
yhwh.gif

You can read about the Tetragrammaton here. Hey - this may work in my favour: "Stringent rules also apply to writing any of the names of God. For example, once God's name is written it is to be neither erased nor discarded."

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the presence of God

Interesting...

Here's what C.S. Lewis has to say today:

"We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labour is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake."
(Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer)

And here's what our friend Richard (You Can Call Me C.S.) Bott had to say yesterday:

"Take a newspaper... any newspaper.
Open it up to a page... any page.
Read that one page.
Go back to some part - an article, a photo, an illustration, an ad... whatever.

Now... answer this question:

Where is God in this?"

Sometimes I think Christians believe that they have cornered the market on God. Oh sure, He's God of the Universe... but He prefers to hang with us.

At best that is crap. And at worst, it just might be exactly backwards.

Look around. He's out there.

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lost

Fred Peatross continually hits them out of the park with his GraceAwakening newsletter. If you don't subscribe, you should. (You can sign up here.)

Lately Fred's been talking about relevance. Specifically, how we as Christ-followers can possibly have anything to say to this culture. Language is so important. Do we even think about what we are saying?

GraceAwakening
Becoming Relevant--Once Again (3) September 3, 2003

The term "lost" is consequential to the three parables Jesus told in Luke 15 about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and two lost sons. But what strikes me about the three parables is not that the sheep, coin, and sons are lost but that the shepherd misses one out of ninety-nine, the woman misses one out of ten coins and the father dearly misses his rebellious son. All were intensely treasured and missed.

As I reflect back to a time before I was a Jesus-follower I realize how little I understood about life, God, his people, and salvation. More than anything, I needed to hear I was both treasured and missed by the Father. Yet, I don't recall a time when one of God's servants seized the opportunity to express this idea of being "missed" and "treasured." What I remember was "lost."

Simply strolling into a Christian assembly and taking a seat in a pew was uncomfortable. Everyone seemed to notice, too many knew my name, and the sermon was always directed at me. And then to hear that good citizens, as myself, being publicly referred to as "lost" only reinforced this us/them—in- roup/out-group attitude among Christians. They were "the found" insiders; I was part of "the lost." My misperceptions temporarily pushed me away and delayed my eventual decision to follow Jesus.

"Lost" is a potentially painful word with "set-back" properties. I no longer refer to anyone as "lost." I like terms and phrases that express God's heart; phrases like "the people God treasures" or "the people God misses" as well as "pre-Christians." Our use of the term "lost" needs to be considered, not in light of what we consider is biblical or traditional, but in light of what a soul (with little understanding) hears when we use such words.

Besides, who really is lost, them or us? I sent a letter to my daughter last month and it never arrived. When a letter never arrived at its intended destination we say it is lost. Similarly, Christians have been sent into the world with a love letter from God. Yet few of us have actually arrived with the message we've been sent to deliver. Perhaps we are the ones "lost."

That puts a different spin on things, doesn't it?! Well said, Fred. Thanks.

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September 03, 2003

praying the psalms

OK, I admit it... a little cardboard box from Amazon showed up this morning. I'm addicted - what can I say?

I won't tell you everything that was in the box, but I did get through Thomas Merton's small work Praying The Psalms while on the exercise bike this morning.

Here's a little gold from our friend Tom:

merton1.jpg

"But we do not really think we need God. Least of all do we think we need to praise Him.

It is quite possible that our lack of interest in the Psalms conceals a secret lack of interest in God. For if we have no real interest in praising Him, it shows that we have never realized who He is. For when one becomes conscious of who God really is, and when one realizes that He who is Almighty, and infinitely Holy, has "done great things to us," the only possible reaction is the cry of half-articulate exultation that bursts from the depths of our being in amazement at the tremendous, inexplicable goodness of God to men. The Psalms are all made up of such cries - cries of wonder, exultation, anguish or joy. The very concreteness of their passion makes some of them seem disjointed and senseless. Their spontaneity makes them songs without plan, because there are no blueprints for ecstasy.


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September 02, 2003

robert on canadian politics

It seems like Robert has a lot to say these days. However try as I might, I can't find too much to disagree with here...

Canada has the greatest leader in the world today. (I will now wait for the laughter to die down before I continue.)

You think I'm kidding? Look around. Canada has the best leadership of any industrialized country in the world today. (By industrialized, I am referring to the G-8 nations + Australia)

Exhibit A: George W. Bush
The man has turned a projected $5 trillion dollar surplus into a $5 trillion deficit by enacting tax cuts that benefit the top 1% of taxpayers at the expense of the middle class and future generations. He's taken the US to war twice in three years. One war was entirely justified and the other was not. Homeland security is still a mess and GI's are getting picked off daily in the quagmire that is Iraq. Imagine what a mandate he would have had if he had actually been elected!

Exhibit B: Tony Blair
A year ago, he was everyone's favourite world leader. Well-spoken, bright. Bill Clinton minus the scandals. Now? We wonder what he was thinking cooking the books to go along with the Hawks at the Pentagon. What was the purpose of it all?

Exhibit C: Jacques Chirac
Fiddled for a month while 12,000 seniors died from the summer heat.

Exhibit D: John Howard
Another example of someone dragging his country into a fight in which it had no business. The horrible Bali bombing was a signal this stuff does not go unnoticed.

Exhibit E: Vladimir Putin
Former KGB. 'nough said.

Exhibit F: Silvio Berlusconi
Made a joke comparing a German politician to an SS Nazi officer. Then he couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.

Exhibit G: Junichiro Koizumi
Never heard of him and had to look up his name. Until you hear about 7 or 8 Japanese banks going belly-up, you know that whoever is running Japan is not making the tough calls. Everyone knows how to fix the problem. No one wants to be the one to do it.

Exhibit H: Gerhard Schroeder
He was elected on a pretty nasty anti-US platform. OK, the Americans are not perfect. No one is. But let's keep some perspective here. The US is still a worldwide leader in virtually every field and a pretty good place with pretty good ideas.

Exhibit I: Jean Chretien
Has been in power during this period of remarkable global instability. Canada is still running budget surpluses. Yes, Paul Martin had a lot to do with that, but at the end of the day, who is the boss? Last year, the Bank of Canada was raising interest rates to cool the economy at a time when the rest of the world was starved for growth. We have had a SARS outbreak, mad-cow disease, huge forest fires in BC and a big blackout and still, our economy has fared pretty well. Separatism in Quebec is in big decline. Who knows? That nightmare may
actually be over.

Globally, Canada participated in Kosovo peacekeeping (righteous act of humanitarianism), Taliban-ousting in Afghanistan (stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our American friends after they were attacked) and most importantly, did NOT go into Iraq last winter. Can you imagine the pressure the Bush administration placed on our government when it was scrambling and couldn't find anyone to support this war? Chretien kept us out and while that appears to be the obvious answer now, it was a tough call in February. You have to think that Canada had more pressure put on it than any other government in the world to go along with the American Iraq policy. Say what you will, saying no took guts.

On top of that, we have a social agenda of legalizing same-sex marriages and decriminalizing marijuana that, while it is a divisive debate and controversial, certainly shows that the government is trying to keep up with the times.

I know the man butchers both official languages, we still have the GST and we ended up paying twice for the same helicopters that Brian Mulroney ordered 12 years ago. I know Chretien is far from perfect. But guess what? Right now, he's the best leader in world.

Posted by mike at 09:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

out with the old

bluejayslogo.jpg

I don't like it.

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September 01, 2003

robert on the 5th commandment

Here's our friend Robert:

The fifth commandment is nonsense.

As some of the regular readers may know, I am the resident atheist and yet, I feel the other commandments are actually pretty good ground-rules for how to live your life. But the fifth one is ass-backwards.

To refresh your memory, it's the one about respecting your parents. It lays out the notion that children should respect their parents. Wrong message, aimed at the wrong group of people. For the first twenty, probably twenty-five years, the rules should be aimed at what parents OWE their children. Our children owe us nothing until we have fulfilled our responsibilities toward them. We owe them to house and feed them but we also owe them to be kind and loving. We owe them to teach them to respect themselves and others. To love themselves and others. We owe them to raise them in a healthy, loving environment. The world is harsh. They'll find out soon enough how tough life can be. At home, they should be soaked in love like a teabag. They should be steeped in love. Immersed in it until it soaks their every cell.

This afternoon, I spent the 20 minutes reading to Emily from "My First Bible". Looking at the pictures, I told her the story of Jesus sleeping during the storm and the faithless dudes freaking out. So when I get to the part about waking up and calming the waters, I went through the whole thing without a trace of sarcasm.
Just told her the story.
Laid it out.
Straight.
Without mentioning the Easter Bunny or leprechauns or anything.

I, myself, do not believe Jesus could control the elements. I told Emily the story because I want her to have the choice about what she wants to believe. If it's different from what I believe, I want her to know that's OK. When the time comes, we will talk about what I believe. Not now, but someday. But if I don't introduce stuff to her now, she won't be as open to it later. I want my children to think for themselves. I want them to know they have been presented with as wide an array of ideas as possible.

Above all, I want them to feel they were raised by people who love and respect them. Our reward as parents will come later, in seeing the wonderful people we have helped into the world and maybe, the wonderful people THEY will help into the world...

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thoughts III, or "what I'm reading now"

All this Dallas Willard talk has me running for the book shelf. OK, the office is only 6' by 8', so I'm not really running. More like leaning over from this desk.

It's time to read Renovation of the Heart, which I bought a while back. In order to make room for it, I'm going to put Beyond Foundationalism back on the shelf. I'm not making much headway anyway, and seeing it on the blog is just making me feel guilty.

As for the other books, here's an update. It's been a while since I've seen Waking the Dead. I was about half way through it when I made the mistake of showing it to Sue. Like I said, I haven't seen it since. It's fantastic, so I will finish it eventually.

I'm also enjoying The Emerging Church. I tend to grab it and read a chapter at a time, so I'll get through it as well.

Stay tuned for notes on Renovation.

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thoughts II

Ryan Hale has posted his thoughts on their recent time with Dallas Willard. He's also provided links to some notes from others who were there. (See his Sunday August 31 post).

Take some time to scan through the notes, as well as Alan Creech's thoughts. There's gold in there.

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