April 30, 2004

the right side of history

Idelette has posted highlights from Bono's address to the GLOBAL BUSINESS COUNCIL FOR HIV/AIDS AWARDS in Berlin on April 21st.

Because the thing that ought to be clear as we sit here tonight is not that we've beaten this disease, nor that we're even close to beating it, but that we can. But it doesn't stop there. We are the first generation that can end not just AIDS, but extreme poverty. By that I mean the kind of stupid poverty that allows a child to die for want of food in its belly, or for want of medication readily available over the counter in any other part of the world.

For the first time in history, we have the brains, we have the cash, we have the drugs. Do we have the will?

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poor robert

close.bmp

Canadiens' Season Comes to a Close... but he'll bounce back. I have no doubt.

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April 29, 2004

the block II

... Or, I Get The Point, Already.

As a follow up to The Block, a couple of people have commented and emailed me about Nouwen's blurb for today. Anj has posted it, as has Maiken.

Making Our Lives Available to Others

One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: "I have nothing original to say. Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to." This, however, is not a good argument for not writing. Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well. Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.

While we're at it, it also goes well with Story from a few days ago.

Gotta run - I'm heading up to Linwood House today to look in on The Journey and bring home Sue and Jen.

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April 28, 2004

the block

I don't seem to be able to write anything longer than 2 or 3 sentences this week.

It seems to me that a big part of being a writer (something I can't be accused of yet) is "not writing". That is, trying to write, failing to write, hating to write and writing crap. If that's the case (and I'm hoping it is) then I have the "not writing" down to an art, and the "writing" part of writing should be a snap. Today I took my journal and went out. I visited three different places and all I came home with was a grande latte and a headache.

The Greatest 2 or 3 Sentences I Read Today That Makes Me Wish I Could Write Award goes to...

Anne Lamott, in Blue Shoe:

It was all too much. "I want to kill myself," Mattie told Angela one night on the phone. "And then get on with my life."
"Honey," Angela replied, "You don't know yourself well enough right now to commit suicide. So it would be considered a homicide."

I think Anne Lamott could win a Pulitzer with 2 or 3 sentences. Don't laugh. It'll happen.

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brimstone

Over at Connexion our friend Steve is doing some work with a great McLaren quote on evangelism. He's stuck. He can hear a great line in his head, but he can't place it. Head on over, have a look and see if you can help Steve figure it out. He's thinking it's from a movie.

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all that you give III

As I've written before, I found the "All That You Give" video from Zen TV very meaningful. It has slipped into the archives, but I've added a permanent link to it over in the Odds & Ends section of my sidebar.

(I'm sitting here with the video on repeat again....)

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April 27, 2004

paint

My friend Wes is sharing a little more of his story, and painting again after 30 years. There's something that sounds... sacred about that.

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been busy II

Just to keep the story going a little longer...

Idelette has her own post about The Path Workshop, and then goes on to tell us how God hung around for a while after most had left.

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freeloaders

Canada gets a military 'free ride': Clarke
Last Updated Tue, 27 Apr 2004 8:05:10

OTTAWA - Canada is a freeloader when it comes to military spending and should review its priorities, a former White House adviser said yesterday.

In what may seem like a contradiction to some, I can't disagree with anything Mr. Clarke has to say here.

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tomorrow

Beth has mentioned the Dick Staub interview before, but I received my CT email this morning which jogged my memory.

Check it out here.

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April 26, 2004

coupland crazy

The Prodigal Kiwi has posted some great Douglas Coupland links. I'm turning into a raving fan, and I know there are others out there.

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been busy

A chance to put my feet up. It's been a busy few days.

Last Wednesday night our friend Nancy flew into town from Philadelphia (yes, that Philadelphia) to attend The Path Workshop up at Linwood House. (This is an incredible program facilitated with skill and sensitivity by our friend Idelette. I'll be participating in the Men's Path - our first - at the end of May.) Sue and our friend Jen were going up to work during the workshop, so I dropped the three of them off at the ferry on Thursday.

Friday night we did some late night reno's at Jen and Pete's place. I slept on the couch, and the reno's continued all day Saturday. Sunday Rob and I grabbed the first ferry out, did some work on the art studio he's building in Roberts Creek, then up to Linwood House. I got there in time to witness and participate in an incredible moving of the Spirit - very cool. Back home last night where the Path experience continued late into the night, after some Swiss Chalet, which poor Nancy - a transplanted Canadian - can't get in the States. Heathens.

This morning I was up early and drove out to Langley to pick up my niece Lauren and took her to the airport. Lauren is a student at Trinity Western but was heading home for the summer. We miss her already! Then it was quickly back home where I picked up Sue and Nancy for trip #2 to the airport, as Nancy headed back to the home of the Broad Street Bullies.

Tomorrow it's back to the ferry to drop off Sue and Jen. They're heading back to Linwood to work The Journey, which is also an awesome ministry. Take a second to read about the program... it is Christ in action.

Busy days - loving it.

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April 24, 2004

the only genuine ideas

I love this:

"And this is the simple truth: that to live is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce."

Soren Kierkegaard

From the Bruderhof Daily Dig.

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April 23, 2004

story

Mr. Amazon knocked on my door yesterday, and today I'm about half way through Experiential Storytelling - (Re)Discovering Narrative to Communicate God's Message, by Mark Miller.story - small.jpg

"The sad reality is that the Church has a great story. No, it has the greatest story. Sadly, for too many today, that story is tired and worn out.

At a time when so few people in Western society are familiar with the biblical story, one would think this would be a prime opportunity for the Church to retell that story - using our God-given imaginations in order to reconnect people to the power of its message." (p. 42)

Yesterday I also received an email that directed me to GoldenFleece, an "international community of practice devoted to storytelling in business and organizations."

Listen to this from their site:

WHY STORY?

Story is the oldest most proven way humans learn and remember information.

We are story-making machines. Cognitively speaking, every experience, every relationship, every object is stored in the mind as a story.

We think, feel, and live thru story. As far back as we can remember, we have gathered in community to tell stories of who we are, where we come from, what we believe in, and where we are going.

I am a huge fan of the idea of "story" If people of this time and culture are going to hear about Jesus, it will be because we figure out the importance of story, and how to tell the greatest story.

NOW PLAYING: Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around (Now there was a storyteller...)

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April 22, 2004

the author

Iphy's on Amazon!

Way to go!

Congratulations Renee!

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screwed by geography

By virtue of the fact that I live in the West, I'm sitting here watching Calgary in Detroit, while the Leafs battle in Philly without me. I mean really.

Who do I call to complain?

"Get me somebody - anybody! And get me somebody while I'm waiting!!"

UPDATE: Is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks of the Bugs Bunny cartoon everytime the sportscasters say "Leopold"?

Leopold!

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outcome

This has been a painful experience, and I am saddened by the way it ended. I'm not sure what could have been done differently. No doubt there are lessons to be learned - I'm just not sure what they are.

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April 21, 2004

prowess

A quick clip from this morning's reading:

Idolatry is alive in our modern technological world. One of its forms is celebrating our technological prowess, which is reshaping the very world in which we live....

As we increase in the ability to affect and change our world, so our ethical responsibility increases.

Resist the Powers with Jacques Ellul
By Charles Ringma

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April 20, 2004

the battle of ontario

Sorry - I've been negligent:

FINAL SCORE: 4 - 1 Toronto!!!

Bring on Philly!

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hockey news

OK, here's a brief update for those of you who may be out of the loop. (Besides, if I don't give Robert a forum to boast about the Habs he'll just go and mess up the comments section of some unrelated post... again.)

+ It was a sad night here in Vancouver as the Canucks lost Game 7 in overtime to that team from the east, the Calgary Flames. (Calgary goes on to play Detroit in round 2.)

+ The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins in their Game 7 and will go on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was huge - the Bruins were the favorites by a long shot, and the Habs came back from a 3-1 deficit to complete "the greatest comeback in team history."

+ Of course, the game that matters is this afternoon, as the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators meet in Game 7 of the Battle of Ontario.

Go Leafs Go!

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April 19, 2004

dalai lama II

"So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald . . . striking.

"So I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one -- big hitter, the Lama -- long, into a 10,000-foot crevice, right at the base of this glacier. . . .

"So we finish the 18th and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, 'Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.' And he says, 'Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.'

"So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."

Bill "Carl the Groundskeeper" Murray, in CaddyShack

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black swans

I'm on a couple of pretty cool email distribution lists. Some, like The Edge, I just barely hang on to by the skin of my intellectually weak teeth, and hope to occasionally glean a couple of nuggets from.

I love this quote from the current edition:

"A black swan is an outlier, an event that lies beyond the realm of normal expectations. Most people expect all swans to be white because that's what their experience tells them; a black swan is by definition a surprise. Nevertheless, people tend to concoct explanations for them after the fact, which makes them appear more predictable, and less random, than they are. Our minds are designed to retain, for efficient storage, past information that fits into a compressed narrative. This distortion, called the hindsight bias, prevents us from adequately learning from the past."

(From the introduction to LEARNING TO EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED By Nassim Nicholas Taleb, emphasis mine.)

Like I said, I love that. I'm not sure exactly what the hell it means, but I love it. If it's possible to take a statement like that out of context (and I'm not sure it is), then I am doing so. regardless, I find it very stretching and illuminating.

Anybody else have any reaction to it?

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beauty on Jen & Pete's driveway

Do You See It?More shots on my fotopage. See if you can spot my favorite - shrinking it didn't do it justice, so I didn't post it here.

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dalai lama in vancouver

Dalai Lama draws big crowds
WebPosted Apr 19 2004 07:58 AM PDT

VANCOUVER - The Dalai Lama brought his message of peace and compassion to 26,000 people at two sold-out appearances at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum on Sunday...
Dalai Lama.bmp

This visit is something I'm going to spend a little time thinking about (and hopefully blogging about). Just not now.

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April 18, 2004

hoowah!

Today I'm celebrating with our friend Robert, and also with our friend Wes (up until it comes time to play the Leafs...)

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April 17, 2004

dear george

Our friend Christy (who I had the pleasure of meeting at emergent) has written a letter to the President that you should read. (He should read it to, but that goes without saying.)

Posted by mike at 02:39 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

feedback

For those of you with a high speed connection, a little patience, and some time on your hands...

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on something I've just posted on our ministry web site. Our new friend Adele has put together a Quicktime movie highlighting Global Action Canada's work in Bulgaria, and our upcoming mission trip to that country. (Scroll down that page for the clip.)

It takes forever (mainly because you have to download the entire file, seeing as I have no idea how to do the streaming video thing). Maybe you could start downloading and go walk the dog or something. Anyway, if you do end up viewing it, please let me know what you think, etc.

Posted by mike at 11:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

all that you give II

One of the benefits of this being, well, my blog, is that I get to choose which dead horses I want to continue beating. (That analogy sounded better in my head. Oh well.)

I was completely blown away by All That You Give, and was a little disappointed at the lack of comments. Jen commented this morning (and called me to tell me) how much she liked it. Thanks Jen. Anybody else? Loved it, hated it, whatever. I'm just curious about what connects with people and what doesn't.

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pop Christianity

Apocalypse Now
Brian D. McLaren talks about beginnings, endings and the Bible in best-picture nominee 'The Return of the King'
Interview by Paul O'Donnell (Beliefnet)


So how do you read the destruction of the Ring, with cracking earth and the lava is pouring down? It seems so apocalyptic.

This question is very alive in biblical studies right now. Medieval and modern Christian theology creates this very clear apocalyptic myth, if I can put it that way--this idea that history is about to be over and we'll all go to heaven. It's related to the Platonic invasion of Christian faith. The Platonic ideal is perfectly static. Nothing changes, because everything is in such a state of perfection that the only way it could change would be to get worse. We started with perfection before the Fall, and we can't wait to get back to it. It's as if we're given this experience of life that forms us and is then completely invalidated.

A number of very responsible biblical scholars are saying this is a gross misunderstanding of the Christian story. It's popular, and it's been brought into the heart of popular Christianity. But they look at the Book of Revelation and say, "This isn't some map of the End Time; this is a vision into deeper realities in the present." The things that we interpret as heaven in the Jewish prophets, for example, they interpret as a dream of justice coming to life on earth. Tolkien's work is more in tune with some of this serious theology than with this sort of pop Christianity.

(That's one of my favorite parts of this great interview. Thanks to Jason Clark for the link.)

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April 16, 2004

sky

Very cool sky from the balcony tonight...

swirling

More shots on the fotopage.

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pope bono

Top Ten Reasons Bono is Our Pontiff, by Tom Ordeman and John Hawbaker.

Sounds about right.

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all that you give

So I started off following a link from Jonny Baker who posted about this DVD a while back, and found this song/video, which to me is like a contemporary psalm.

I love it. (If the server is busy it's probably because I'm listening to it over and over and over again. Be patient.)

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a bright spot...

Canadian hostage released: report
Last Updated Fri, 16 Apr 2004 11:37:18

BAGHDAD - A Canadian aid worker abducted in Iraq was released Friday, according to witnesses in Najaf.

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April 14, 2004

affliction

Lynne sent me this quote, which goes well with this one, as well as the idea behind The Quarry...

"Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. God hath many sharp-cutting instruments, and rough files for the polishing of His jewels; and those He especially loves, and means to make the most resplendent, He hath oftenest His tools upon." --Archbishop Leighton

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April 13, 2004

tech question

Does anybody know why I've got those purple boxes around the Global Action and Maple Leaf images to the right?

Posted by mike at 08:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

reality check

Man, that Sister Joan rocks...

Check out Monarchies, PQ's and Condoleezza Rice
By Joan Chittister, OSB

Posted by mike at 03:17 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

the best

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.
C.S. Lewis

Quote borrowed from Cedar Ridge CC's site. (Also, feel free to comment on the previous post here, as the integrity of the comments section of that post has been... compromised.)

Posted by mike at 02:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

delusional cliches, or a quasi heresy (mid month)

This quote arrived in this morning's First Impression email from Fast Company:

"We manage our companies through a series of delusional cliches."
- Brad Blanton, Psychotherapist

When I first saw it, just for a brief second, I thought I saw the word "churches" instead of "companies".

Posted by mike at 07:10 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

April 12, 2004

robert on a miracle

Our friend Robert writes...

"As I read Mike's terrific post on the magical evening he spent with his buddies years ago, it reminded me of the night 11 years ago that changed me forever.

I was 3 years into a career that was not going well. In fact, it was a disaster. I hated selling life insurance, was horrible at it and the results showed. I was also 3 years into a relationship that was going nowhere and that also sucked. All in all, they were not great times. Then a miracle happened.

That spring, the Montreal Canadiens came out of nowhere to win the Stanley Cup. They were an ordinary team that year and not favoured to do much in the playoffs but riding the astonishing goaltending of Patrick Roy, they beat the Quebec Nordiques, Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders to reach the finals where they faced Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. Before I go on, I should explain how much this team means to me. As I have mentioned before, I wasn't raised in a happy home. There was a lot of tension, violence, etc. I was a skinny kid and a lousy student but I had one passion. The Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s were among the greatest teams of all time. They won 6 Cups during the decade and played an exciting game that was beautiful to behold. As a kid, I worshipped the Habs. For a kid who felt like a complete loser most of the time, this team, my team, was my solace. They were Champions and they made me feel like a Champion. I adored these guys. I knew they were winning for me. As I grew up, life got happier and though I remained a passionate fan, I didn't feel the same connection with the team.

Until 1993.

I had been out of University for 3 years and it had been a tough time. Let me tell you, being a newbie in the insurance business is just about the toughest thing I can think of. After about 3 years, I was looking to get out but felt I had no options. That spring, the Canadiens' playoff run went from improbable to unthinkable as they beat opponent after opponent. They accomplished something that will never be repeated. They won 10 overtime games in a row. If you are not a hockey fan, ask someone how nutty that is. It will never happen again. I was going nuts all spring, Life sucked but the Habs were winning for me once more!

By a stroke of luck, I got invited to attend Game 5 of the finals with my manager, Herb. Herb is a very nice man who felt sorry for me and he just happened to have 1st row seats. FIRST row. Anyway, as the finals progressed and the Canadiens won 3 overtime games in a row, I realized they could clinch the Cup, with me in the front row.

We got to the game and I noticed that seated directly behind us, was NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The commissioner sat BEHIND me. These were unreal seats. We are watching the game and chatting (Herb about insurance, me nodding politely). Herb mentions that he has heard a rumour that the Desmarais family (very powerful Canadian family, owns many financial services companies including Great West Life, London Life, Power
Corporation) has season tickets in the same section which is great because he has been trying to meet them for years. I think to myself: "Shut up Herb, I am trying to watch the game".

Anyway, blah, blah, blah. He won't stop talking but that's the price you pay for 1st row seats. I get up to make a pit stop and as I am returning to my seat, a puck comes flying off the ice and lands at my feet.

I caught a puck. Front row seats. This is turning into a good night.

I get back to my seat and show Herb the puck. I then make an incredibly generous offer to him because he invited me to the game. "Take the puck", I say to Herb. He says no, he knows how much it means to me, that I should keep it. I think I may have kissed him. Then I made my only mistake of the night. I didn't put the puck in my pocket but admired it for a few moments. An 8-year old kid walks up to me and asks, polite as you please: "excuse me, sir, but may I have that?" Before I have the chance to tell him to get lost, I hear folks behind me starting to stir: "Give the kid the puck!"
Damn.
I am in a business suit, he's a kid. I gotta give it to him. Here you go kid, enjoy. I sulk the rest of the period. At the intermission, we head to the lobby so Herb can smoke cigarettes 999 and 1000 of the evening. I am still sulking when I feel a tug on my jacket and the kid is standing there. "Thanks again for the puck, sir." Then his dad puts out his hand and says: "Thanks for giving him the puck that was very nice. My name is Paul Desmarais."

I introduce Paul to Herb.

They win the Cup. It is, by a country mile, the best night of my life to that point. Felt like Champion again for the first time in a long time. I love the Habs.

It was 3 months later that the miracle occurred. I met my cousins for a holiday every year and that year, we met in Cancun, Mexico. The first night we were in the bar when I noticed a guy looked familiar. It was Lyle Odelein, defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens. I went over, shook his hand and thanked him for the wonderful ride he and his team-mates had given me. The next day, walking along the beach, my cousins saw the two girls they had had dinner with the previous night before I arrived. One said we should talk to them, he thought they were Canadians. We walked up and when they confirmed they were from Toronto, I said (here comes a GREAT opening line): "Do you know Lyle Odelein is here?"
To which Denise replied: "Who is Lyle Odelein?"

I moved to Toronto 8 months later. That was 10 years ago next Friday.

Go Habs."

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"except you"

The ever-vigilant Gord has found us another U2 article... one very appropriate for the Easter season.

U2's "Until the End of the World," from the landmark album "Achtung Baby," ponders actions and relationships of cosmic proportions and affords a deeper understanding of Jesus' life and a divine love.

The music is such straight-ahead radio-rock and the lyrics so personal, that most listeners might never recognize the actual narrative perspective of the song. U2's lead singer Bono is channeling an awestruck Judas:

"Haven't seen you in quite a while/ I was down the hold, just passing time./ Last time we met it was a low-lit room./ We were as close together as bride and groom./ We ate the food, we drank the wine./ Everybody having a good time/ Except you./ You were talking about the end of the world."

Read the rest of Rock of Ages: The Passion of Judas

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April 11, 2004

bored

is it over yet?

Well, there was at least one who was not impressed with our Easter Sunday worship this morning...

Posted by mike at 07:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

why are you crying?

The Stones

This morning we gathered as community to celebrate The Stone that had been rolled away. (More photos on my fotoblog)

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

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April 10, 2004

easter 2004

Easter 2004 - small.jpg

Greetings from Linwood House. Yesterday we saw Him hung on a cross. Tomorrow we will see the emtpy tomb. Today we are in between, and we wait.

Posted by mike at 08:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 08, 2004

go leafs go!!

Go Leaf Go

UPDATE: 1-0 Toronto!
UPDATE: 1-1
UPDATE: 2-1 Toronto!
UPDATE: 2-2
UPDATE: 3-2 Ottawa : (
UPDATE: 4-2 Ottawa : (

FINAL SCORE: 4-2 Ottawa...

FINAL UPDATE: This is hilarious! (large mp3 download)

Posted by mike at 03:04 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

April 06, 2004

the quarry II

I did the construction gig again today. I'm so tired I can't see straight, but there's something I need to talk about briefly.

Some of you noticed my early morning today. I sat here from 2:30 am to 7:00 am, when my friend Rob picked me up for work. I did a little surfing, sent a little eMail, played a little Zuma, and ate Breton crackers (the Originals, I think. It was dark, so I'm not 100% sure. Call it 90%.)

In the wee hours of this morning I think I had a crisis. Not a crisis of faith - nothing that dramatic, but a crisis none the less. As I look back on it now, after thinking it through, it makes sense. It makes sense that after writing about life in The Quarry yesterday, the evil one (or The Bastard, as Sue refers to it) would see fit to remind me how heavy the sledge hammer, how sharp the chisel and how deep the cut was in one particular area of my life. (Interesting side bar: Sue is the only person I have ever heard use the word "bastard" while praying in public.)

Where to start? (I've put no work into the "writing" of this. Just some raw thoughts for you...)

At 2:30 this morning I woke up thinking about a T-shirt. It was white and blue, a little faded, a little torn, a little small, and it said Park City Utah on the front. And last week I threw it out.

I bought that shirt in - you guessed it - Park City, Utah. I still remember the day I got it, although I'm no longer sure of the year. It might have been 1997. Or 1998. The occasion? Well, you need to keep in mind this was during my "previous life". I was employed with Fidelity Investments, and I was in Salt Lake City with several colleagues attending the annual convention of the International Association for Financial Planning. (I can't find a web site, which leads me to believe that organization no longer exists, at least not by that name. How appropriate.) One night we rented a van, and all 8 or 10 of us drove up to Park City for dinner. I can still see the restaurant, although I have no memory of the name. We had a huge table right in front of the large stone fireplace, and it was a good night.

I loved my job, I loved the company I worked for, and I loved a lot of the people I worked with. I can still remember conversations I had in Salt Lake with James from Calgary, Vincent from Montreal and Brian from Vancouver, among others. We all loved what we did for a living, and it showed. Anytime we gathered together from across the country it was just a little bit like magic. I was a year or two younger with a year or two less experience, and my friends embraced me and offered me their experience to draw on. Like I said, I loved them.

As you may have gathered, this isn't really about a T-shirt. Not entirely.

Looking back, Salt Lake City represented a personal benchmark of sorts for me. If you'll forgive the arrogance, I was about to be really good at what I did for a living. And did I mention we were paid a lot of money to do it? I loved my job. Actually, we used to say it wasn't a job, it was a lifestyle.

When I look back at it now, I think I can safely say we had "community" of sorts. We had a very clear sense of our purpose, we were devoted to a cause that was greater than all of us, and we worked toward that end with a commitment that bordered on obsession. We felt like what we did was important, and it made us walk a little straighter and shake hands a little firmer.

Fast forward a few years. God very, very clearly called us away. He said, in effect, that if we wanted, that chapter of our lives was over, and He had something else for us to do. And the rest, as they say, is history unfolding.

I know I'm making this sound too romantic. Some of my friends have moved on as well, and some remain. (At about 4 am this morning I googled a former boss and tracked him down. This guy scared the crap out of a lot of people, but he was good to me, always motivating and encouraging, and I loved him for it.) Out of the blue it hit me, and I realized what had triggered this trip into the past. Last night, Sue showed me the April edition of Canadian House & Home (which is not online yet). The featured home in this month's issue belongs to a former president of Fidelity Canada, a man I greatly respected. Although I wasn't aware of any reaction at the time, I think that's what did it.

It's true - you can never go back, even if you wanted to. And I don't want to. Really. The Masterbuilder's hammer and chisel have removed that part of my life so that I may be that much closer to the necessary measurements, the measurements that will allow me to fit into the place in the temple assigned to me, and I am so grateful. And yet I miss it.

So this morning I woke up at 2:30 am thinking about a T-shirt. I've been wearing that shirt on the construction job, and it finally got so worn and torn that last week I gave in and threw it out. That shirt was a symbol of "my previous life", a small stone chip, if you will. It was a link to the past, and part of me hurt to throw it out. The trinkets and trash and T-shirts I collected over those years will slowly fade away and find their way to the garbage dump. The memories I have of the incredible people I was privileged to work for and with, however, will last forever, and I thank God for that.

The stone that has been cut way represents my previous definitions of what it means to contribute, to be valued and to be successful. And I'm grieving the loss of those definitions, even as God helps me redefine those characteristics in His economy.

Through it all, and above all, I long to see the temple.

Posted by mike at 06:22 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

an unknown god

My good friend Steve is dealing with a biggie over on their blog. Be sure to swing by, check it out and contribute to the conversation.

Posted by mike at 05:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

no thanks

Some interesting thoughts from Frank Shaeffer on why he won't be seeing The Passion anytime soon.

"My fundamentalist Protestant mother disagrees with my Greek Orthodox theology. But it was her reverence for what she called "the things of the Lord" that taught me that some experiences are off limits. Mom was always much more upset by anyone "taking the Lord's name in vain" than by the use of scatological or sexual epithets. Similarly, she did not like novels about Jesus. She would read her children Wind in the Willows or Winnie the Pooh, but never what she called "those awful Christian books." To her the sacred was the sacred. It was not to be misunderstood as entertainment or even as education, no matter how inspiring.
I've left a lot of my childhood evangelical faith behind and embraced a more mystical expression of Christianity. And I write novels that are satirical at the expense of some particularly strict brands of Protestant fundamentalism. But my mother's "old time religion" sense of the sacred stuck.

The person I meet when I pray is not subject to negotiation or interpretation by a movie director. I want Jesus as he reveals himself to me when I pray, not Mel Gibson's casting choice. This is not a comment on his movie, since I won't see anybody else's film about Christ either. But I am surprised that so many who say they are believers are allowing a mere movie to crash into that very private sacred space we Christians call our souls.

As for me, I'll stick with my Mom's old-fashioned sense of the sacred. This Easter I'll be in church not in a movie theater. Mom was right."

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hang on

The best line I can find at 3:30 am when I should be sleeping:

"...walking with God is like standing up in the back of a moving pickup truck."

April, quoting somebody named Betsy. Link from Jennifer.

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April 05, 2004

the quarry

We heard about it, then we saw it
with our eyes--
In GOD's city of angel armies,
in the city our God
Set on firm foundations,
firm forever.

(Psalm 48:8 The Message)


The wall was jasper, the color of Glory, and the City was pure gold, translucent as glass. The foundations of the City walls were garnished with every precious gem imaginable: the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate a single pearl. The main street of the City was pure gold, translucent as glass.
(Revelation 21:18-21 The Message)


The stone blocks for the building of The Temple were all dressed at the quarry so that the building site itself was reverently quiet--no noise from hammers and chisels and other iron tools.
(1 Kings 6:7 The Message)

And an excerpt from today's Aidan Reading (Celtic Daily Prayer):

"...Here! Not there. All the thud of hammer and falling of axes, the grating of chisels and the grinding of sand... is done here! It is the plan of the Masterbuilder that the business of making rough rock into perfectly fitting, polished stone be accomplished in the stone quarry. There, there, beyond this place, beyond that door, is only the assembling together of what has been done here."

What a great corollary to one of yesterday's questions... What if Heaven is our home?

Can I be frank for a second? There are a lot of things about my faith I don't understand. Heaven is one of them. (When I was younger in my relationship with God I pretended I had no questions. After all, monkey see - monkey do. Now, I'm getting comfortable with the questions. Actually, who's kidding who? I'm growing to love the questions! And if I ever start telling anyone that I have completely figured out this God that I worship, then please point out that I am no longer worshiping God, but some cheesy, Wal Mart imitation of a god.)

The Masterbuilder has a detailed set of plans for the Temple. Precision. Each stone measured to extremely fine tolerances, and placed according to infinitely exact surveys.

Here's the catch: All the work must be done in the Quarry. The Temple site is a Holy Place, and can't be desecrated by the dust and clatter of rock work. The rock must arrive finished and ready to be placed according to the plans.

This brings to mind a couple of issues. First is a question of context. Have you ever been to a stone quarry? They are noisy, dirty, dusty places. There's no getting around that part - given the nature of the work, that is what they are. To complain about that strikes me as futile, and to long for a cleaner, quieter quarry seems to miss the point.

A second point to consider is the process. I don't know a lot about rock work, but I do know this: Initially the work is very rough. From the wall of rock we need a stone. Sometimes drilling is needed, sometimes jack-hammering. Often explosives are necessary! Regardless of method, it's always dirty work. After the noise has subsided and the dust has settled, a rough stone is ready for work. (At this stage it should be obvious that the work is not finished, but is only beginning.)

As the stone is worked the Masterbuilder switches gradually to smaller and sharper chisels, and the measurements become much more exact. As the stone is cut there are often imperfections that the chisel exposes. Sometimes they are successfully removed and the work continues. Occasionally though the flaw requires a change of plans. The stone can still be used, but perhaps in a different location. After all, the Masterbuilder's plan is fluid, and there are constant adjustments. I imagine that there are many places in the Temple where the plans call for less precise measurements. (Rarely do stones come off the wall destined for these spots, but many are placed there when they have undergone as much work as they can stand.)

The Masterbuilder has a good eye for rock. When He determines the stone can handle it, the cuts are sharp and deep. He knows how to swing a sledge hammer! Sometimes the stone is sure it will crack under the blows, but the Masterbuilder knows better. He is kind, though. On those occasions when the stone is convinced it will shatter with one more swing, the Masterbuilder smiles gently, puts down the hammer and chisel, and finds an appropriate place in the Temple for the stone "as is". He will find another stone to fill the job He had in mind.

I am a stone. When the work on me is done and I am carried to the Temple I long to be placed where the Masterbuilder intended. I also have to admit I hope it's a good spot! To be anywhere in the Temple will mean indescribable joy and beauty - I know that - so I'm not worried. But I trust the Masterbuilder is able to do with me as He wanted. That is my goal, and in as much as I'm able to to do my part to help make that happen, that's what I will endeavor to do.

Posted by mike at 05:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

low tide

A Star

I spent some time with my journal at Starbucks this morning. On the way home I wandered through Cates Park and found I had stumbled upon one of the lowest tides of the season.

You can see more on my fotopage.

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April 04, 2004

a deadly mix

From today's tomorrow's Daily Dig from Bruderhof:

"One of the many things this story tells us is that Jesus was not brought down by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God's will from their own. Temple police are always a bad sign. When chaplains start wearing guns and hanging out at the sheriff's office, watch out. Someone is about to have no king but Caesar."

Wow Damn. (By popular demand...)

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the gospel of bono II

Reflecting on Relevant's look at Bono, Maiken went on to remember that Handel's Messiah was originally considered profane and subversive. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

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mike's (april) heresy II

On the heels of the previous post, I just received an email from the good folks at off-the-map, promoting their upcoming conference.

Check out some of the questions they're pondering... and see if they sound familiar:

What if Christians were called doers instead of believers?

What if we were known as followers of Jesus instead of defenders of truth?

What if missing people liked us in the same way they liked Jesus?

What if we initiated change rather than resisted it?

What if heaven really was our home - what risks would we take then?

I love it.

Posted by mike at 03:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 03, 2004

mike's (april) heresy

Inspired by Jocelyn's great comment on The Gospel of Bono, I have another one for you:

Perhaps what the Church needs is less spreading of the Gospel, and more living it.

(Any slings and arrows should come my way, and not Jocelyn's!)

Posted by mike at 02:30 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

the grind!

100_0738-small.jpg

My friend Scott and I did The Grind this morning (and yes, it's not "quite" open yet, but that doesn't deter people). Actually, it was our second time - we did it last Saturday morning too. I'm kicking myself for not having my camera then because there was a ton of fresh snow (and a ton of it falling out of the trees on our heads, too.) Today the last quarter was a little icy, but a lot of the snow is gone. I think skiing will probably be done this week. And no, that's not Scott or me in the top picture! I had to laugh at these guys It's a strange time at the top right now; you have the hardy European guys coming up with no shirts on, and the skiers in full suits, all in the same place.

Our trip was a little rough, but the view from the deck (and the large hot chocolates) made it all worth while.

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April 02, 2004

metissage

EmergingChurch.info is out with their latest issue, and it's a good one. It includes Jonathan Finley's great article from a while back - check out this post for an explanation of the word "metissage", which defies translation.

And, of course, the quote on the "Pick of the Blogs" page caught my eye:

"Christians are spending far too much time complaining about liberals, and far too little time seeking the kingdom of God"

Posted by mike at 06:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 01, 2004

ecce homo

From my friend Jamie, a link to Ecce Homo.

This is some stunning art from Jonny Norridge of Organic Church. You can download a copy of the flash (without the music) for your own use here. Fantastic.

Posted by mike at 08:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

the gospel of bono

(A commenter on this blog recently used that term in a negative way, but I like the sound of it...)

My brother-in-law Gord (who is also a fan of the man and the music) pointed me to a blurb in the recent on line edition of Relevant Magazine:

Bono: How Faith Fuels His Quest to Save the World

Relevant magazine is running a profile of Bono in its March/April one-year anniversary issue, on newsstands now. The story, called "Opening Eyes: Bono Awakens the Church to Social Activism," focuses on Bono's call to churches to take an active role in the fight against AIDS in Africa and the role spirituality has played in Bono's career.

On his work with church groups, Relevant writes: "Aside from loosening the political grip on the issue, Bono has also broken down stereotypes within church walls and pointed out the errors of some evangelical communities in need of scolding. One myth often associated with contracting AIDS is that it stems from sexual irresponsibility, often traced to same-gender relations. 'It's a remarkable thing, the idea that there's some sort of hierarchy to sin,' Bono said. 'It's something I can never figure out, the idea that sexual immorality is somehow much worse than, say, institutional greed. Somewhere in the back of the religious mind is this idea that we reap what we sow [that] is missing the entire New Testament and the concept of grace completely.'"

On the part spirituality has played in Bono's career, the magazine says: "It's evident that Bono's spiritual emphasis was never missing from the U2 equation since the band debuted with 'Boy' in 1980. Perhaps it was just overshadowed by critical interpretation, unfair scrutiny by the Christian community and more headline stock in being a controversial celebrity than caretaker. 'I wouldn't say his spiritual awakening is a recent thing; it probably happened when he was a teenager and asked Christ into his life,' proposed Martin Smith, singer for UK group Delirious? 'His work has been spiritually "alive" throughout his career, and his challenge to the church to tackle AIDS is only an extension of that.'"

In the forward to Get Up Off Your Knees Eugene Peterson refers to U2 as " a prophetic voice". I think he's right. In the old testament I don't think too many people were thrilled to see a prophet coming up the road into town. The tended to say things that made people uncomfortable, and the "establishment" never looked the same after they left (or were run out of) town. (Perhaps the comment I refered to earlier is proof of this.)

One thing is certain... we ignore the voices of the prophets at our own peril.

Thanks Gord.

Posted by mike at 04:48 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

the final irony

Left Behind left behind: Rapture occurs, sales of popular series plummets
Authors and publishers hurt by lost revenue, agonies of tribulation

The global disappearance of Christians earlier this week attributed to the "rapture" predicted by premillennial theologians, and the corresponding disappearance of Left Behind books from bestseller lists have left authors Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins, and their publishers discouraged and soul-searching. They're also disappointed that they were not among the airplane pilots, school bus drivers, or toll booth operators taken up to heaven in the wink of an eye, leaving behind piles of empty clothing as well as chaos, terror, and inconvenience, respectively.

When asked why the rapture hurt sales of a series that would seem more timely than ever, Jenkins commented, "Apparently the folks who've actually been left behind aren't interested in reading about it. And I can see why - it's a real kick in the teeth for me personally. This goes way beyond bitter irony."

Related headlines:

BUSH RAPTURED!
President Cheney forms new Department of Homeland Tribulation

ASHCROFT MANDATES BARCODE FOREHEAD TATOOS FOR ALL AMERICANS
"Law-abiding church-goers have nothing to fear," states Attorney General

EMPTY PILES OF CLOTHING A BOON TO THRIFT-STORE INDUSTRY
Raptured Christians had penchant for name-brand quality, say merchants

(From this weeks Sojomail, aptly renamed Sojoke.)

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