Monday, November 28, 2005

Game on!

Liberals lose. 171 to 133. Paul Martin will visit the Governor General tomorrow to ask her to dissolve parliament.

A Christmas election.

Liberals and Conservatives running neck and neck. The NDP is the wild card. The Bloc Quebecois are poised to make great gains in northern Quebec. Also, let's not discount the Greens.

It's going to be a helluva ride.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Robert Kennedy would be 80 this week

“His speeches were effective not so much for their words, which, when scripted, were usually bland, or their delivery, which was often flat or awkward, but for something more ineffable: the body language, the aura, the emanations of compassion and understanding that Kennedy conveyed. Inarticulate but urgent and sincere, Kennedy could reach poor and dispossessed people who themselves had difficulty articulating their needs and anxieties. People loved him even though he challenged, even baited them, to overcome their fears and narrow self-interest. He would embarrass middle-class college students — whose support he desperately wanted — by belittling their draft deferments, pointing out that the casualties in Vietnam were disproportionately suffered by minorities and the poor. When a medical student asked him who would pay for better care for the poor, he answered bluntly: "You will." Measured by the poll-driven caution of the stereotypical politician, Kennedy's willingness to speak hard truths seems almost quaint. But it worked to inspire many voters, particularly those most alienated from conventional politics.”

Evan Thomas author of “Robert Kennedy: His Life”

via Kevin Also here.

See also RFK's remarks upon the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

ET Phone Ottawa

(PRWEB) - OTTAWA, CANADA (PRWEB) November 24, 2005 -- A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with “ETs.”

By “ETs,” Mr. Hellyer and these organizations mean ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that may now be visiting Earth.
(Whole article here)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

An Advent Prayer

It is my prayer, O God, that in this Advent season, you will disquiet us enough; make us uncomfortable enough, that our embrace will widen, our love for the world will deepen. Enlarge our vision of your kingdom in our lives and in the world; your kingdom of love, mercy, and peace. Help us to live a broader vision of life for all people and all creation. Keep us hungering for more of your kingdom alive in our midst. Amen.

Book Reviews by Real Live Preacher

Check it out.

Canadian Blog Awards - Go Vote!

If you want to vote for the best Canadian blogs under a variety of categories, click here.

psst, I've been nominated for Best Religious Blog, so...

UPDATE: You can vote once a day until November 30. I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More on Atheist Fundies

Is it too easy to dismiss intelligent design? Strike that. Is it too rational to dismiss intelligent design? (the rest here)

via Jordon.

December Pastoral Letter or Buy Nothing Christmas?

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim,
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up you might, and come to save us!
Restore us, O God; let your face shine that we might be saved
. (Psalm 80 1-3)

This ancient cry of God’s people was heard in the heavens. And the answer came as a child born in Bethlehem.

Some Christian groups are getting upset because some stores say “Happy Holidays” to their customers rather than the traditional “Merry Christmas.” Some churches are targeting Target, for example, for just this reason.

“We need to send a message to the retailers,” says one pro-Merry Christmas activist, “that Christmas is part of the country’s cultural heritage.”

I find it puzzling that the problem is with the greeting and not with the hi-jacking of Christmas by a consumer culture.

I remember when I was growing up I began to feel a disconnection between the Christmas story – the story of a poor saviour, born in a barn – with the way we celebrate that child’s birth. I was told at Sunday school that Jesus came from a poor family, and that the gifts Jesus received from the three wise men had deep symbolic meaning.

Some Mennonites suggest that Christmas has become so corrupted by crass consumerism that the only alternative is to “buy nothing.” While I have deep sympathy for this approach, I also have two young children. I know that Rebekah and I won’t get away with giving “nothing” to the kids.

But that’s the challenge: celebrating the saviour’s birth without getting sucked into the cultural traps of buying too much stuff we don’t need with maxed-out credit cards.

Maybe the best way we can celebrate Jesus’ birth is to reach out to other who need God’s love in their lives, and also offering him ourselves; our brokenness, our sorrow, our pain, and our sins, laying them at the manger, which he will then bring with him to the cross to be crucified. So, then we can rise again with Jesus into new and everlasting life.

As we begin our Advent journey to the manger at Christmas, I encourage you to think about how you and your family celebrate the birth of the saviour.

Grace to you and peace...Pastor Kevin

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sermon: Christ the King Sunday

Jesus...couldn’t care less if whether or not they were deserving of our help. Jesus seems to be placing no conditions on us lending a hand to folks who need help. Jesus would say, “Of course its folks who smell, who drink to much, who probably do drugs and gamble away their rent, who come knocking on your door. And I expect YOU to receive THEM as you would receive ME. I expect YOU to treat THEM like ROYALTY – like Christ the king – the guy you sing about.” (the whole thing here)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

True Christianity?

Robert over at My Blahg has a good discussion going about true Christianity. Check it out. But be forewarned, the discussion often gets a little intense over there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Culture of Life...

From Steve at Catholicism, Holiness, and Spirituality:

If we valued life more than
good appearances,
and vengeance…

If we loved,
listened to,
and cared for
ourselves as well as others…

Then we could truly have a pro-life society, a culture of life.

For me, these are all just restatements of the two great Christian commandments to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Two simple, if not always easy, principles...

...I believe we’re not all called to heroic feats of social justice. But, we are all called to live the two great commandments in our daily lives. And while we may not move a mountain of injustice on our own, lots of little bits of daily love & justice done by lots of people all around the world certainly can....

Amen, Steve.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

If you're being burned at the stake...

If there is no hope of escape, request dry wood and plenty of dry kindling. Green wood burns slower, smokier, and at lower temperatures, causing a more painful death.

Great advice.Thanks Tom.

From the Lutheran Handbook.

Sermon: Pentecost 26 - Year A

Did you know that if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, it DOESN’T make a noise?

Yes, that’s true. The tree’s fall will send out a sound wave. And it remains only a wave until it comes in contact with an ear which processes it as sound.

At least that’s the theory. Proving it is something else altogether.

Today’s gospel asks a similar question: If you have gifts and talents and you bury them under ground so no one can see them, how do you live...
(the whole thing here)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Happy Birthday, Martin

Today in 1483, Martin Luther was born.

Martin Luther, loved and hated, heroic and foolish, stood at the doorstep a new world, indeed, pushed the door wide open, and the chimes of religious freedom rang throughout western Europe. The 95 Theses that he nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg was a clarion call to all who sought after God amidst the abuses of the medieval church.

After Luther, the western church was split in two: Protestant and Catholic.

Luther democratized the faith. No longer was the believer beholden to the cruel teachings of the Holy Roman church. Just the bible and the individual conscience were enough to discern the Word of God, Luther said. Bibles were translated into the common language. The Latin Mass was thrown away in favour of the vernacular.

Literacy was on the rise. Education blossomed. Faith surged.

But when people stop me on the street and ask what a Lutheran is, I tend to revert to church-speak that I learned in seminary, “A Lutheran is a Christian who believes that sinners are justified by grace alone through faith alone, not by works of the law.” An answer which meets a glassy stare. The great triumphant Reformation call of the gospel is unintelligible to modern or post-modern ears.

But what about those of us inside the church. What would your answer be if asked what a Lutheran is? I often ask my confirmation class what they know about Martin Luther and the history of our church and I am often met with that same glassy stare as the person on the street.

I remember the first time I really heard and experienced the gospel and felt its impact. It was in seminary, oddly enough. I heard the gospel previously of course, in church, in bible study, etc, but never really EXPERIENCED it. It was in church history class, of all places, and the professor, Dr. Oz Cole-Arnal was lecturing on – you guessed it – the Lutheran Reformation.

He described Luther’s understanding the salvation: salvation was something that you couldn’t earn. You can’t cozy up to God to receive God’s favour, you can’t even choose salvation.

Salvation was a gift, pure and simple. There was nothing we could do to make God love us more and there was nothing we could do to make God love us less. Our salvation was taken care of when Jesus stretched out his hands in suffering and death, and rose again to bring us new and everlasting life. Jesus went and came back from where we could never go ourselves. And in our baptism we die and rise again with Jesus, named and claimed as God’s own beloved children, clothed in the garments of salvation

To suggest that we could co-operate in any way with our salvation was an offence. Hubris. An insult to the sacrifice Jesus made for us. We didn’t have to do a thing. No good works. No moral purity. No religious observance. Nothing. It was Christ alone that gave us our salvation.

Wow. I walked out of class renewed. And I committed my whole life to sharing this good news as a minister of the gospel.

A message that tell us that a world that says: “You must compete, achieve, earn.” I can say, “No, I am a beloved child of God. a world that seeks freedom through violence, peace through war, and prosperity through greed, I can answer “No. I am a servant of the Prince of Peace, who makes all things new through God’s creative and self-giving love.” a world that tells me to be self-sufficient, to be independent, to pull myself along by the force of my own internal will, I can say, “No. I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, who lift me up when I fall, who comfort me when I sorrow, who seek me when I stray. And in return, I help bind their wounds, I feed them when they are hungry, I listen when they speak. And together, we pray, we serve, we love. Because we can’t do it alone.”

That is Luther’s legacy. Happy birthday, Martin.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Harper is starting to sound a lot like Layton

From Politics Watch

OTTAWA — A week after he took NDP Leader Jack Layton to task for trying to strike a health-care deal with the Liberal government, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper would not rule out voting in favour of the government's supplementary estimates early next month because it could contain things his party agreed with.
(Whole thing here)

Update: Check this out. Yes, there will be an election this winter. Hello, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

What Harper needs to do to win

Calgary Grit offers Harper some free advice. Here's a snippet:


Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. None of this wimpy “wait for Jack” nonsense. One of the reasons people have soured on Paul is his “Mr.Dithers” label. Don’t look desperate, but you should stand up November 14th and announce that you cannot support the Liberals in light of the Gomery Report – toss a non-confidence motion out there and force Jack’s hand.

I just need to emphasize that THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE.

Yes it is. But CG is wrong on one thing. He says that Harper should keeping hammering away at Liberal corruption. That would be a mistake. They should offer a compelling reason for traditionally Liberal voters to turn to the CPC other than they're not Liberals.

Gomery should be only part of their strategy.

Kinsella has this advice for Harper: "policy, hope, you love the country."

Harper also needs to muzzle some of the more radical members of his caucus. Most Ontarians are afraid of anything that smells of extremism. So, maybe Cheryl Gallant should be sent on a vacation until after the election.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Does this mean election?

Jack Layton says that Canadians shouldn't have to wait months to pass judgment on the Liberals. I think he's right. I don't buy the whole "Canadians don't want an election during Christmas" nonsense. It seems that we never want an election. Summer is vacation time. The Spring is too close to summer. Fall is too close to Christmas.

I think that Canadians think that, if an election could sort out the nonsense in Ottawa, then let's do it and get it over with. Folks are tired of the constant politiking at the expense of good governance.

But while I haven't voted NDP since 1990, I think Jack and his crew are the only party behaving responsibly. They've gotten their so-called "NDP Budget" passed. They're still hammering away on health care. They're doing the work voters elected them to do. Whether or not you share their values, they're effectively representing their constituencies.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sermon: All Saints Day - Year A

Many people remark to me that they wonder the same thing, nuclear threat, terrorism, or not. They wonder if the headstone that marks their burial place will be the only monument left by which people will remember them; they wonder if their story will be lost, their name forgotten.

They wonder if when they close their eyes, they will never open them again.

So they come to the cemetery looking for some kind of guarantee. What clues to eternity are hidden amidst all this death? Are our loved ones really in heaven? Will we join them when we die? How will we know them? What really happens to us when we die?
(read the whole thing here)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Religion v Science...or not.

While I have many disagreements with the Roman Catholic Church (contraception and the role of women in the church being chief among them), it sounds as if they are trying to distance themselves from the US conservative religious establishment by affirming science as an arbitor of truth.

Religion divorced from reason runs the risk of falling prey to fundamentalism, warns Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. (the rest here)

Poupard's statement may sound like common sense, but in light of this, sadly, it needs to be re-affirmed.

Thanks to Holy Weblog.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Which 16th Century Theologian Are you? (I'll bet you were dying to know)

Philip Melachthon
You are Philip Melancthon, author of the Augsburg
Confession and colleague of Luther at
Wittenberg. You were the most prominent among
the Lutheran theologians seeking reconciliation
with the Catholic Church.

Which 16th century theologian are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to the "other" Melancthon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Where faith and life collide

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you might notice a change in my tag line. I’ve taken out the “politics and culture” part because it seemed so limiting. I’ve been reflecting on the connection or “collision” between faith and life, while touching on politics and grazing on culture. I want to make this blog more encompassing of faith experience.

I Participated in a Pagan Ritual!

Last night the pagans came out to play. And our family participated fully.

My wife, who is the Martha Stewart of the progressive, hippie, feminist set, carved a pumpkin with a beatific smile radiating from the environmentally friendly candle. She placed the pumpkin lovingly beside the “pumpkin people” – a grandpa with a baby in his arms she made out of old clothes filled with newspaper– who sat smiling at the trick-or-treaters who stopped by for candy.

I took my kids out, door-to-door, trick-or-treating. My oldest – four years old – was a mouse. My youngest – 22 months – was a can of Tomato Soup.

They had a blast and collected more candy than can be eaten without an insulin overload.

But there were some Christians who decided that my daughters, by dressing up and collecting candy, were – somehow - glorifying Satan. These churches had their own alternative celebrations.

Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. The Witch’s Sabbath. Satan is rubbing his (her?) hands with glee. Think of it. Candy. Costumes. Community. What else can bring down western civilization, or send the WORLD into everlasting fire, than a 4-year-old gorging on Mars Bars and lollipops while dressed up as a mouse?

I wonder if these same folks have Christmas trees in their houses in December. Last time I checked, the Christmas tree has its roots in paganism.

It occasionally occurs to me that folks who get their shorts in a bunch over Halloween miss the larger picture. Where are the tears of sorrow over genocide in Sudan? Where is the weeping over the suicide rates on the Native reserves? Where is the outrage over the 30 000 children who died today of hunger and malnutrition related diseases?

It’s easier to confront Satan. A disembodied, almost abstract concept, rather than to jump in the fray of flesh-and-blood human tragedy.

I know my church could do a better job of engaging the pressing issues of humanity. But one thing I LOVE about my congregation is that these people aren’t hung up on non-essentials. There is a variety of political perspectives in our pews but one thing they can all agree on: they will not tolerate playing church. They know that faith is not a game. They know that faith has temporal AND eternal consequences.

They know that there’s too much pain, sorrow, brokenness in the world to be worried about whether or not my kids go out on Halloween.

They want the real deal. They want to make an ACTUAL difference in peoples’ lives and the world. They want to see the kingdom of God alive and active. They want to see the promise of the New Creation actualized before their eyes.

They want to see the lame walk, the dead raised, the blind see. They want to see good news preached to the poor.

So don’t bother them about this Halloween nonsense. They don’t want to hear it. Paint them a picture of what God is doing in the world. Show them lives being changed. Declare forgiveness of their sins and the sins of world.

Then, you’ll get their attention. And you’ll get mine.