Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Conference Blogging

Many folks have told me that Paul Scott Wilson was the best speaker we've had in years. He led us through a preaching method that required us to engage the biblical text with integrity and creativity. Then he shared a bit from his book that is coming out in October (which he suggested we check out at the library) on preaching that "Teaches, Delights, and Persuades."

He was excellent. I highly recommend him to any preachers' gathering.

Tonight we're having communion. Then it's beer time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Conference Blogging

The wife and are are slumming it in Canmore, listening to Paul Scott Wilson talk about preaching. Wilson, a United Church theologian, does a better job of talking about law and gospel then many Lutherans. The interesting thing here is that he's energizing both "liberals" and "conservatives."

What I think is happening is that we are talking again in a common theological language and remembering our theological roots. The proper use and distinction of law and gospel is the bedrock of the Lutheran theological method.

So far, Wilson has been a big hit. Which I'm glad for. His is a valuable contribution to homiletical enterprise. I think we'll all come away from here better preachers of the gospel.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reading and Preaching

My wife rightly pointed out to me that most of the books I read last year were of the more practical kind, and noticeably lacking was theology/spirituality/biblical studies and fiction.

It’s not that I don’t like fiction. I just find it hard to read. But unlike most people it takes me LONGER to read fiction than non-fiction. I can plow through a couple non-fiction books in a week, but can spend almost a month on a fiction. I can’t get through as many fiction books as I can non-fiction.

But then again, volume isn’t really the point, is it?

It’s also not that I don’t like theology. Most of my bookshelf is theology. I used to read systematic theology just for grins because I found it so enveloping. Reading theology was like praying for me. As the rabbis say, “An hour of study is as an hour of prayer.”

But over the past four years or so I’ve noticed my brain changing. Where I would drown myself in Douglas Coupland’s books, lately, I’ve been getting giddy as a school-boy while reading about organizational systems. Where I used to soak in Douglas John Hall’s cruciform theology, now I get almost sexual gratification over studying newer ecclesiastical administrative models.

But I have noticed the quality of my preaching slipping. I think that’s because I’ve strayed from the imaginative use of words that were my homiletical building blocks. It’s not that I was Hemmingway or Harry Emerson Fosdick, but I did try to see the biblical texts in fresh ways, and struggled to use words that hadn’t been lying around the church for the last 150 years. I wanted to dust off old words and put a new shine on them.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my preaching has been fine and it’s me with the problem.

But when I preach, the listener I’m most trying to reach is me. After all, I need good news as much as anyone. Maybe even more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Just to remind you of the cost.

Since 2002, 78 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan. Here is a list of the deaths:


Jan. 23. - An unidentified soldier was killed and two others injured when their light armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Panjwaii district of southern Afghanistan.

Jan. 15 - Trooper Richard Renaud, 26, of Alma Que., a member of the 12e Regiment blinde du Canada, killed when the Coyote light armoured vehicle he was travelling in hit a roadside bomb while on patrol in the Arghandab district, north of Kandahar city.

Jan. 6 - Warrant Officer Hani Massouh, 41, and Cpl. Eric Labbe, 31, of 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment, killed when their armoured vehicle rolled over in wet, rugged terrain southwest of Kandahar City.


Dec. 30 - Jonathan Dion, 27, gunner with 5th Regiment d'Artillerie legere du Canada from Val-d'Or, Que., killed when his light armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan.

Nov. 17 - Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp of the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier and Pte. Michel Levesque of the Royal 22nd Regiment, killed when their light armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb near Bazar-e Panjwaii.

Sept. 24 - Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, 24, with the King's Own Calgary regiment, killed by a mortar shell while trying to repair a Leopard tank in southern Afghanistan.

Aug. 29 - Maj. Raymond Ruckpaul, 42, died from a gunshot wound in his room at the headquarters of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. He was an armoured officer based at the NATO Allied Land Component Command Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany.

Aug. 22 - Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier, Royal 22nd Regiment; Master Cpl. Christian Duchesne, 5th Field Ambulance unit, both based in Valcartier, Que., killed when light armoured vehicle struck by roadside bomb after battle for strategic hill west of Kandahar city.

Aug. 19

-Pte. Simon Longtin, 23, of Longueuil, Que., on Montreal's south shore, a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment, killed when his light armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb west of Kandahar city.

July 4 - Cpl. Cole Bartsch, Capt. Matthew Johnathan Dawe, Pte. Lane Watkins and Cpl. Jordan Anderson, all of 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton; Master Cpl. Colin Bason, a reservist from The Royal Westminster Regiment based in New Westminster, B.C., and Capt. Jefferson Francis of the 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery based in Shilo, Man., killed by a roadside bomb west of Kandahar city.

June 20 - Sgt. Christos Karigiannis, Cpl. Stephen Frederick Bouzane and Pte. Joel Vincent Wiebe, all of 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb near a forward-operating base at Sperwan Ghar, west of Kandahar.

June 11 - Trooper Darryl Caswell, 25, of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, killed when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath his vehicle north of Kandahar City.

May 30 - Master Cpl. Darrell Jason Priede, a combat photographer based at CFB Gagetown, N.B., killed when a U.S. helicopter was reportedly shot down by the Taliban in Helmand province.

May 25 - Cpl. Matthew McCully, 25, a signals operator from 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Squadron based at Petawawa, Ont., killed by an improvised explosive device in Zhari district.

April 18 - Master Cpl. Anthony Klumpenhouwer, 25, of Listowel, Ont., died after falling from a communications tower while on duty with the elite Special Operations Forces Command, conducting surveillance in Kandahar City.

April 11 - Master Cpl. Allan Stewart, 30, and Trooper Patrick James Pentland, 23, both of the Royal Canadian Dragoons based in Petawawa, Ont., killed when their Coyote vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

April 8 - Pte. Kevin V. Kennedy, 20, of St. Lawrence, Nfld., Sgt. Donald Lucas, 31, of Burton, N.B., Cpl. Aaron E. Williams, 23, of Lincoln, N.B., Pte. David R. Greenslade, 20, of Saint John, N.B., Cpl. Brent Poland, 37, of Sarnia, Ont., all of Gagetown, N.B.-based 2nd Battalion, RCR; and Cpl. Christopher Stannix, 24, of Dartmouth, N.S., from the Halifax-based Princess Louise Fusiliers, killed when their armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Maywand district.

March 6 - Cpl. Kevin Megeney, 25, of Stellarton, N.S., a member of 1st Battalion of Nova Scotia Highlanders, killed by accidental shooting at NATO base in Kandahar.


Nov. 27 - Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Girouard, his battalion's regimental sergeant major, and Cpl. Albert Storm, both of Royal Canadian Regiment based in CFB Petawawa, killed when suicide car bomber attacked their Bison armoured personnel carrier on outskirts of Kandahar City.

Oct. 14 - Sgt. Darcy Tedford, based at CFB Petawawa, and Pte. Blake Williamson from Ottawa killed in ambush west of Kandahar.

Oct. 7 - Trooper Mark Andrew Wilson of Royal Canadian Dragoons, based in Petawawa, Ont., killed when his armoured vehicle hit by roadside bomb in Panjwaii district.

Oct. 3 - Sgt. Craig Gillam and Cpl. Robert Mitchell of Royal Canadian Dragoons, based in Petawawa, Ont., killed in series of mortar, rocket attacks just west of Kandahar City.

Sept. 29 - Pte. Josh Klukie of First Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ont., killed by explosion in Panjwaii while on foot patrol.

Sept. 18 - Pte. David Byers, Cpl. Shane Keating and Cpl. Keith Morley, all of 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Shilo, Man., and Cpl. Glen Arnold, 2 Field Ambulance, based in Petawawa, Ont., killed in suicide bicycle bomb attack while on foot patrol in Panjwaii.

Sept. 4 - Pte. Mark Graham, based at CFB Petawawa, killed when two NATO planes accidentally strafed Canadian troops in Panjwaii district.

Sept. 3 - Sgt. Shane Stachnik, Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish, Pte. William Cushley and Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan, all based at CFB Petawawa, Ont., killed in fighting in Panjwaii district.

Aug. 22 - Cpl. David Braun, based at Shilo, Man., killed in suicide bomb attack in Kandahar City.

Aug. 11 - Cpl. Andrew Eykelenboom, 23, of Comox, B.C., stationed with 1st Field Ambulance, based in Edmonton, killed in suicide attack.

Aug. 9 - Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh, 33, of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Man., killed by apparent accidental discharge of rifle.

Aug. 5 - Master Cpl. Raymond Arndt, 31, of Loyal Edmonton Regiment, killed when large truck collided head-on with his G-Wagon patrol vehicle.

Aug. 3 - Cpl. Christopher Reid, 34, of 1st Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, killed by roadside bomb. Three other members of same battalion killed in rocket-propelled grenade attack by Taliban forces west of Kandahar: Sgt. Vaughan Ingram, 35, Cpl. Bryce Keller, 27, and Pte. Kevin Dallaire, 22.

July 22 - Cpl. Francisco Gomez, 44, of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, and Cpl. Jason Warren, 29, of Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment of Canada, based in Montreal, killed when car packed with explosives rammed their armoured vehicle.

July 9 - Cpl. Anthony Boneca, 21, reservist from Lake Superior Scottish Regiment based in Thunder Bay, Ont., killed in firefight.

May 17 - Capt. Nichola Goddard, artillery officer based in Shilo, Man., with 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, killed in Taliban ambush during battle in Panjwaii region. She was first Canadian woman to be killed in action while serving in combat role.

April 22 - Cpl. Matthew Dinning of Richmond Hill, Ont., stationed with 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade in Petawawa, Ont., Bombardier Myles Mansell of Victoria, Lt. William Turner of Toronto, stationed in Edmonton, and Cpl. Randy Payne, born in Lahr, Germany, stationed at CFB Wainright, Alta., all killed when their G-Wagon destroyed by roadside bomb near Gumbad.

March 29 - Pte. Robert Costall of Edmonton, machine-gunner, killed in firefight with Taliban insurgents in Sangin district of Helmand province.

March 2 - Cpl. Paul Davis of Bridgewater, N.S., and Master Cpl. Timothy Wilson of Grande Prairie, Alta., killed when their armoured vehicle ran off road in Kandahar area.

Jan. 15 - Glyn Berry, British-born Canadian diplomat who had served with Foreign Affairs Department since 1977, killed in suicide bombing near Kandahar.


Nov. 24 - Pte. Braun Woodfield, born in Victoria and raised in Eastern Passage, N.S., killed when his armoured vehicle rolled over near Kandahar.


Jan. 27 - Cpl. Jamie Murphy, 26, of Conception Harbour, Nfld., killed in suicide bombing while on patrol near Kabul.


Oct. 2 - Sgt. Robert Short, 42, of Fredericton, and Cpl. Robbie Beerenfenger, 29, of Ottawa, killed in roadside bombing southwest of Kabul.


April 17 - Sgt. Marc Leger, 29, of Lancaster, Ont., Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, 24, of Montreal, Pte. Richard Green, 21, of Mill Cove, N.S., and Pte. Nathan Smith, 27, of Tatamagouche, N.S., all killed when U.S. F-16 fighter mistakenly bombed Canadians on pre-dawn training exercise. Eight other Canadians wounded in friendly-fire incident.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sermon: Epiphany 2 - Year A

On the one hand it seems pretty simple, just like what we heard in today’s gospel reading. “Come and see,” Jesus said.

On the other hand inviting people to church has HUGE ramifications. And people know that. People know that when you invite them to church you’re not just inviting them to hear some good music, listen to some guy in a big white dress shoot his mouth off, or to drink coffee downstairs.

When you invite people to church people suspect that you’re inviting them to experience God. After all, isn’t that what we do on Sunday mornings? Isn’t that why we get up early on our day off, put on a tie or find our cleanest jeans, trudge through the snow, park down the street and walk two blocks to the church?

Because, it’s not as if you don’t have options. Sunday morning talk shows, the epic brunch at the Cheesecake café, the football game, or – hey - even sleeping in. These are all options for you. But you’re here instead.

So why is that? Why ARE you here? You probably all have different reasons. But I’m guessing that you’re here because...(the whole thing here)

Thursday, January 17, 2008


IN JUST a few days, the world will once again reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Much has changed since his death 40 years ago. It is no longer illegal or dangerous for people of colour to live, go to school or socialize with whites. Yet in a city like Halifax, it is obvious that blacks and whites still live in two solitudes.

And speaking of solitudes, how about the poor and people of means? A lot of people don’t know that Martin Luther King’s last campaign, and his most unsuccessful effort, was to make poverty as much a matter of conscience as race. His "Poor People’s Campaign" was not universally supported even by his followers, who thought it diluted his central cause.

I remain disappointed by the approaches taken by leaders in my generation to tackle these challenges. I think leaders in the 1960s spoke to marginalized people in a hopeful voice. There was a sense that if we could only remove the barriers of racism and classism that enslaved people, the sky was the limit. Today, as I listen to leaders who speak for those in marginalized communities, I have the sense that their fallback position remains passive support programs. To me, true justice is not only the equity of wealth but the self-confidence that my dreams and your dreams are possible, and that we have it within ourselves to make this happen.

On the other hand, we have the smug indignation of the "haves." I think the middle-class too easily imagine that our status was accomplished through some act of our own. We dismiss all of the advantages we were given. We assume that marginalized people have made bad choices, while we made excellent ones.

It is most ironic that...(whole thing here)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sermon: Baptism of Jesus - Year A makes absolutely no theological sense for Jesus to be baptized. If he was sinless as we say he was, then he had nothing to repent of. If he was God Incarnate - the Word Made Flesh - as we proclaim, then John was right, Jesus should’ve been the one doing the baptizing.

But I wonder if the point of this passage not Jesus getting wet or God’s voice booming from the clouds, but the point of this story is that Jesus stands with us, poor sinners, to break us free of our bondage to sin, to see the world as God sees it.

Baptism is the red pill where we break free of the Matrix.

Eugene Petersen, writer of The Message, and a whack of other books, says that one thing that drove him crazy as a pastor was when some well-dressed, self-satisfied, self-made success story would shake his hand on the way out of church saying, “That was great, pastor, but now its back to the REAL world.”

Real world, indeed. More like...(the whole thing here)

Which Theologian are you?

Which theologian are you?
created with
You scored as Jürgen Moltmann

The problem of evil is central to your thought, and only a crucified God can show that God is not indifferent to human suffering. Christian discipleship means identifying with suffering but also anticipating the new creation of all things that God will bring about.

Jürgen Moltmann


Karl Barth


Martin Luther




John Calvin




Jonathan Edwards


Friedrich Schleiermacher


Paul Tillich


Charles Finney


via the "Other" Moltmann

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Stelmach v Daveberta

I’ve tried to stray from politics on this humble blog, but this is just too silly NOT to report on. Especially when it’s happening to a fellow-blogger.

But it seems that Ed Stelmach, fresh from the glow of giving himself and his one-year-old government an A+ (For what? I’m not sure.) is suing blogger Daveberta (also see my blogroll) for buying the domain

Daveberta didn’t purchase said domain name until four months AFTER Stelmach became premier. If you read the letter, one of the grievences is that Daveberta has "misappropriated" Stelmach's identity.

(What makes this even funnier, and Stelmach even pettier, is that Daveberta points the domain to one Harry Strom. If you don't know who that is, just click on

It shows that the premier does NOT understand the online world, a world that is quickly, if not has already become the dominant mode of economic transaction and discourse.

What Stelmach should have done was simply buy the domain name from Daveberta. It would have been a lot cheaper than legal bills and more in the spirit of a "new" technological age. Releasing the hounds on a student blogger makes the premier look small and mean.I just hope Alberta tax-payers aren't paying Stelmach's lawyer fees for this nonsense.

Stelmach has the political instincts of a tit-mouse.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Books I’ve Read in 2007

Some I read for fun. Some because folks loaned them to me and wanted my opinion. Others for my job.

• Fryer, Kelly A, Reclaiming the “C” Word: Daring to be Church Again
• Burke, Spencer, A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity
• Branson, Richard, Screw it, Let’s Do it
• Ferrazi, Keith, Never Eat Alone
• McLaren, Brian, The Church on the Other Side: Doing Ministry in the Postmodern Matrix
• Easum, Bill, Cornelius, Bil, Go Big: Lead Your Church to Explosive Growth
• Butler Bass, Diana, Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith
• Butler Bass, Diana, Practicing Congregations: Imagining a New Old Church
• Allen, John A, All the Pope’s Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks
• McLaren, Brian, A Generous Orthodoxy
• Hauerwas, Stanley and Willimon, William, Where Resident Aliens Live: Exercises for Christian Practice
• Buckingham, Marcus, The One Thing You Need to Know
• Ivins, Molly, Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known
• Simon, Paul, 52 Simple Ways to Make a Difference
• Gladwell, Malcolm, The Tipping Point
• Maxwell, John, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
• Kouzes, Jim and Posner, Barry, The Leadership Challenge
• Kiyosaki, Robert T, Trump, Donald J, Why We Want You To Be Rich
• Driscoll, Mark, Confessions of a ReforMission Rev
• Kimball, Dan, They Like Jesus But Not the Church
• Canfield, Jack, The Success Principles.
• Allen, John A, Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church
• Ronni Eisenberg & Kate Kelly, Organize Your Office! Simple Routines for Managing Your Workspace
• McManus, Erwin Raphael, An Unstoppable Force
• West, Morris, Lazarus
• Maxwell, John C, Talent is Never Enough
• Maxwell, John C, The 21 Indisputable Qualities of a Leader
• Byrne, Rhonda, The Secret
• Lamott, Anne, Bird by Bird: Some Instruction on Writing and Life
• Sanders, Tim, Love is the Killer App
• Tracy, Brian, Time Power: a Proven System for Getting More Done in Less Time Than You Thought Possible.
• Murrow, David, Why Men Hate Going to Church
• Eldredge, John, Wild at Heart
• Hybels, Bill, Holy Discontent
• Leonard, Elmore, Pagan Babies
• Slaughter, Michael, Unlearning Church
• Sanders, Tim, The Likeability Factor
• Bulter Bass, Diana & Stewart-Sicking, Joseph, eds, From Nomads to Pilgrims: Stories from Practicing Congregations.
• Welch, Jack, Straight from the Gut.
• Jackson, John, PastorPreneur
• Rainer, Thom, Breakout Churches
• Peters, Tom, The Pursuit of WOW! Every Person’s Guide to Topsy-Turvy Times
• Peters, Tom, the brand you 50
• Cooper, Anderson, Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival
• Peters, Tom, Re-Imagine!
• Myers, Joseph R, Organic Community: Creating a place where people naturally connect.
• Brewin, Kester, Signs of Emergence: A Vision for Church that is Organic/Networked/Decentralized/Bottom-uo/Communal/Flexible/Always Evolving
• Pagit, Doug & Jones, Tony, eds, An Emergent Manifesto of Hope
• Stetzer, Ed, and Dobson, Mike, Comeback Churches
• Luntz, Frank, Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear
• Hale, Constance, Sin and Syntax: How to Create Wickedly Effective Prose
• Clark, Eliza, ed, Writer’s Gym: Exercises and Training Tips for Writers
• Flanagan, Tom, Harper’s Team: Behind the Scenes of the Conservative Rise to Power.
• Fishkoff, Sue, The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch
• Turner, Michael A & Malambri, William F III, A Peculiar Prophet William H Willimon and the Art of Preaching
• Willimon, William, Conversations with Barth on Preaching
• Rutz, James, Megashift: The Best News Since Year One
• Viola, Frank, Rethinking the Wineskin: The Practice of the New Testament Church

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008!

What latte are you?

What Your Latte Says About You

When it comes to what you like, you have your own unique tastes. And people don't really understand them.

You are a very serious person. You don't have time for silly antics.

You have a good deal of energy, but you pace yourself. You never burn out too fast.

You're addicted to caffeine. There's no denying it.

You are a child at heart, and you don't ever miss the opportunity to do something playful.

You are sophisticated and daring, but you are never snobby.

via Triple non-fat grande