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Thursday July 7, 2022
Every storyteller runs into difficulties. A retired Ontario minister told me his favourite children’s story disaster. He started, like me, with a question: “What is furry and runs up and down trees?”
He tried again: “What hides nuts for winter?”
Still no answer.
Somewhat desperately: “What has a big bushy tail and beady eyes?”
Finally one girl held up her hand. “I know the answer is always supposed to be Jesus,” she said. “But it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Bible, storytelling, worship, meaningless words
Sunday July 3, 2022
One of my former computers had an operating system that allowed me to recover my settings and data if I made a catastrophic mistake. I could “restore” the system to a date before the mistake.
Recent news suggests that Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and the U.S. Supreme Court run on a similar system. They want to restore America to a previous time.
Donald Trump’s preferred “restore” date is fairly evident. His “Make America Great Again” campaign wanted to go back to the 1950s, when America was the world’s uncontested and most prosperous superpower.
He hasn’t rebooted his mind since.
The Republican Party, equally clearly, wants to reset America to before the Civil War. When white men still exercised authority over women and other lesser beings.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: abortion, Supreme Court, originalism, Roe v Wade
Thursday June 30, 2022
Two scenes. Or maybe two sides of the same scene.
My street has been torn up for several weeks. The municipality is installing a new water main. I don’t know why -- the water pressure coming into my house already exceeds municipal standards.
Installing the new pipes involves ripping up several blocks worth of paving. Digging a ditch. And filling the ditch in again. All of which involves a lot of heavy equipment. And because it affects traffic, the construction company requires flaggers.
Flaggers do not have an enviable job. Aside from low pay, they either stand around feeling useless most of the day. Or they get abuse from impatient drivers, angry at being delayed for no apparent reason.
Tags: Flaggers, STOP, construction
Sunday June 26, 2022
“Forgive us our trespasses,” says the most familiar prayer in Christianity, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
If those words are so important, why, in 80-odd years of attending worship services all over the world, have I never once heard a sermon connecting them with colonial peoples’ treatment of Indigenous inhabitants?
Indeed, I doubt if any preachers focussed on those words from the Lord’s Prayer even this week, which marked National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.
Because there can be no doubt that we are trespassing on lands that did not originally belong to us.
Tags: Indigenous, Trespass, settler, colonial
Thursday, June 23, 2022
I started writing a journal in December 1964. Ironically, I didn’t set out to chronicle my life. I intended to write a magazine article. For fame, or glory, or something.
That autumn, I had taken a night-school course taught by author and ghost-writer Raymond Hull, co-author with Lawrence J. Peter of the best-selling book, The Peter Principle. I never completed that course, because I got a new job in Prince Rupert, far up the northern B.C. coast.
During my first weeks in that rain-soaked, rock-hewn, isolated city on an island in the Pacific, I compiled my impressions into a magazine article, following the conventions Hull had taught me. I sent it to his class.
I never heard anything more about it. But that article established a habit of writing down my impressions. And so I continued.
Tags: Raymond Hull, Journalling, Jeremy Lent
Sunday June 19, 2022
“The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men,” wrote poet Robbie Burns long ago, “gang aft agley.”
Canadian Blood Services and I laid plans for celebrating the one-year anniversary of opening the new Kelowma plasma clinic, this coming Wednesday, June 22. Alas, life had other plans. Things went agley.
I wanted to be the first plasma donor, when the clinic opened in 2021. My wife had been receiving plasma transfusions for 12 years, while she had chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL). The plasma contained immune-globulin, antibodies distilled from about 1000 donors per transfusion, to supplement her weakened immune system.
I wanted to repay some of that debt, if I could.
Tags: Canadian Blood services, plasma
Thursday June 16, 2022
It was not a typical breakfast conversation: But then, we weren’t a typical breakfast group.
For around 25 years, a group of guys -- who all worked for, with, or in Canadian churches -- have met at least once a year to talk. About almost anything.
We haven’t solved any of the world’s problems. But we’ve had a good time not solving them.
And so, on this particular morning, we found ourselves wondering about the difference between guilt and shame.
Tags: Shame, guilt, indigenous peoples, settlers
Thursday June 9, 2022
Piano recitals are back.
My church has a wonderful grand piano. Piano teachers love to bring their children to play on it, to the applause of their admiring parents and adoring grandparents.
Until Covid-19 came along, we used to have up to a dozen piano recitals a year. During the pandemic, some teachers abandoned recitals altogether. Others did virtual recitals.
But as the pandemic restrictions eased, the recitals have come back.
I’m the sound man. I get to attend, without having to play anything.
Tags: learning, piano, recitals, mistakes, duets
Sunday June 5, 2022
England is having a grand party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s platinum anniversary – 70 years on the throne. (TV doesn’t tell me how enthusiastically the Scots and Welsh are joining in.)
“Lillibet” and I don’t have a long personal history. Minimal, in fact. Our life stories intersect at only two points.
Tags: Queen Elizabeth, 70 years, A, .C. Taylor
Thursday June 2, 2022
As far as I know, none of my friends are in imminent danger of dying – thanks to pills, pacemakers, and physiotherapists.
But we have all had warnings of our mortality. The future is not infinite anymore.
The editor of my elementary school’s newsletter mused about her shrinking mailing list. “When I don't know what's happened to classmates,” she wrote, “it makes me sad. Sort of like I haven't said a proper goodbye.”
We don’t like goodbyes. As Rabbi Kami Knapp wrote, “People feel uncomfortable with the feelings associated with goodbyes, or we become too busy to take the time to properly say goodbye.”
Many of our words for parting deny the possibility of permanent separation, whether by death or circumstance.
Tags: death, goodbye, partings