Thursday, May 31, 2007

[THO] Inconvenient or Irrelevant Truth?

We watched Gore's An Inconvenient Truth tonight in class, I've wanted to see that one for a while now. Gore does a pretty good job, although he speaks primarily out of a stewardship paradigm, that is the Earth is up to us to manage so that we have something for our children to inherit. He is also quite anthropocentric in his approach, dealing primarily with the potential impact on humanity. But that aside it is a good assessment of the ecological crisis.

But there is one assumption that I think is flawed. He calls us to a moral judgement of our ecological impact. He says that we have a moral obligation to this world, and assumes that the reason we don't respond is because it is highly inconvenient. He is right it is highly inconvenient, but I think there is a worse reason why so many turn a deaf ear to the ecological crisis. Too many see it as simply irrelevant.

Our culture gorges on decline narratives, we love to look at the signs of the times like the ecological crisis and imagine they are speeding along the demise of this fallen world. Why would we want to stop that? This is the danger of the otherworldly view we have of ourselves. We don't see ourselves as residents, but as aliens waiting for the real show to start. This is so incredibly sad.

The reasons for this are quite complex. The mechanised view of the world, the misplaced confidence in our ability to force our way through any situation and other ideologies have overwhelmed our sensibilities. They have blinded us from even getting to the point of inconvenience, we are still stuck on Gore's vision as an irrelevant truth.

Friday, May 25, 2007

[LIF] Busy, busy, busy

I imagine a number of you are wondering where all the posts have gone, I have been really busy lately. CanGames last weekend, exams this week and next, papers to write and a blog post for Ben Meyers to finish. But more importantly I have had to carve out time in there to be with my family. It is so easy to let the busyness of life override what is most important. So the other day when Chelsea asked me to pick her up from daycare early - I jumped at it. We went grocery shopping together and had a great time. Those moments are too few in life, I'm better one on one than with the whole group of us. So while it meant not getting a paper in this week, I think it was worth it. I hope you all don't forget the important things this week. No worries, I'll be my usual prolific posting self soon enough.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

[LIF] Hockey and Church

Normally I don't follow sports, but when you pick up your four year old from pre-school only to hear, "Go Sens Go!", you realize that this is really big for your city. Last night was our service, but also it was the chance for the Senators to shut out Buffalo! I knew I was in for a competition, our hosts are really into the game.

I arrived late because one of the people I pick up was stuck waiting for her employer (she's a nanny). We arrived at church to find only a few brave souls risked missing the game to come out. And they were sitting, eyes glued to the game! Michelle asked me how churchy I felt tonight. I smiled and said we'll have worship at intermission, watch the second period (a really good one!) and then I'll give short message at the second intermission. And it was a lovely evening. Too bad the Sens lost, but they sure played a good game. The first period was sort of lazy, they were dancing around but not making any real progress. But something happened in the second period that energized them - perhaps it was the wonderful worship time we had (we missed some of the start of the second period, but the Sens waited for us to start scoring). I really enjoyed my own message, but perhaps it was a little flat for the Sens who couldn't overcome the one point lead of Buffalo. I'll try better next time lads.

Church is something that happens in the midst of life, so often we think that it is a separate event. This leads to a whole notion of separation that neuters our witness in the world. If we really believe that God loves the world, then we need to be like Jesus, right there in the thick of it. Sharing the triumphs and disappointments of life with all of humanity. Last night was a great lesson for me, not that I want to do intermission church again anytime soon, but that our lives are one, not two: one in the church and one in the world. But one and that glorifies God even when the Senators don't win.

Go Sens Go!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

[THO] Good News on the Activist Front

Sometimes the state of our world can be pretty overwhelming. Illegal armed conflicts (yeah I'm talking to you G W Bush), ecological ruin, HIV/AID pandemic, oppressive systemic poverty, a culture that has sacrificed morals on the altar of Capitalism, so much in this world just makes you want to throw up your arms and quit. Once one gets past the initial shock a realistic view of the world affords, there comes a second realization: either we find some hope or we plug our ears and hope this is all just a bad dream. As a Christian, I believe hope is the order of the day. So I try to do my part. We replaced our van with a fuel efficient hybrid, we have been trying to eat locally, including buying local, organic meat. We have been ridding our selves of some of the nastier plastics, especially the ones we place our food and drink into. We don't drink bottled water. We have been opting not to use grocery bags (I always have a bin or two in the trunk) and I insist on ceremac cups for coffee - I've walked away from places that do not provide a reusable option.

But the other thing that I've gotten excited about is writing companies and the government on issues that I take seriously. I recently received a very encouraging response from the Environment Minister, John Baird, which echoes my concern over cluster bombs, now if we could only get him to be as concerned about the environment! Also a very quick response from Petro-Canada that since April 2004 none of their gasolines contain the neurotoxin MMT. I know where I am buying my gas from now on. All this reinforces my hope that even a single voice, like my own, can make a difference. For those that don't know MMT is used to increase the octane of gasoline and is one of the cheapest alternatives for that process - and the Canadian government was sued by big corporations whey they tried to ban it! We paid out something like $16million (tax payers dollars) to the companies we inconvenienced by telling them not to f^%& up our brains with toxins! MMT gets into our water and our air and causes Parkinson's like symptoms! I have been fuming ever since I heard that my taxes went to pay this fine. At least I know there is an alternative. The best I have been able to determine there is a bill to ban MMT going through the house - you better believe I will travel to protest if big corporations try to sue us over that one.

The state of our world should make us angry. Angry enough to do something about it. And our hope comes from a conviction that God works with us to make change happen. God longs for the liberation of all of creation. God cares about the world we leave our children. God is with us in the project of saving the world. That gives me great hope. The only throwing up of my arms will be to worship such a great and wonderful Saviour!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

[LIF] House Concert

Last night Rik Leaf and Tina Newlove came to share their art with us. It was a really great evening and Rik, as you can see here, sang his heart out! Our church hosted a house concert, which is an idea Rik introduced us to way back when we were first starting out as a church. A house concert is friends getting together with an artist for an evening of stories and songs. Last night Rik graced us with poetry as well, and Tina painted the whole while.
I'm not sure what Tina was trying to paint (that doesn't sound right - I mean I am not sure I am interpreting this painting the same way Tina intended), but several things really struck me as the image developed. First was the variety of stances and ethnicity of the people in her image. One is turned away, one is very ceremonially dressed (ornate kimono, so beautiful BTW), and even one Christlike figure was looking out from around a big stone, which spoke to me of Resurrection as just being a normal part of this scene. Also earlier there was a face that emerged from the crowd looking up, it was in profile in the upper right hand corner. I kept seeing that as an image of the Body of Christ (the Church or the crowd!) looking up towards God. There was a sense of longing and expectation there. But then almost at the end of the night this face was swallowed up by houses. And even more startling, the stone of resurrection seemed to morph into a highrise apartment. I found this so encouraging, especially considering words that were given to me in Montreal and in a recent email.

After the concert we just hung out and chatted. It was pretty nice to just share a slice of life with these two travelling artists. Rik and Tina, you are both welcome at Freedom anytime!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

[THO] EcoFraud

I keep finding myself more and more upset with our present government in Canada. Of course my current readings aren't helping! This semester I'm doing two courses in Ethics, one is a history of ethics and the other is more of a liberationist course on ethics and economy in a globalized world. Personally I find much of what happens in classic moral philosophy (ethics) becomes so focused on a particular ideology (deontology, teleology, etc.) that it is unable to cope adequately with the complexity of life. But that is to be expected from my background in liberation theology.

What kills me is that we continually work for solutions that are potentially worse than the problems! Take the new light bulb plan of the Harpur government. I haven't found any of these new light bulbs that do not contain mercury. Mercury is nasty shit! So how about one of these lights breaking in your kids room? It happens. Plus they might last a long time, but what do we do with burnt out mercury filled lights? I agree that we need to cut our power consumption, in fact I am planning on doing all I can to ensure we cut our usage at least by 10% this summer. But we have to step back and really think through the problems. That is where the liberation theology methodology really helps.

An easy way to understand LT methodology is with the slogan: see - judge - act. But this is not to be mistaken with an immediate response to a percieved need. LT is self-critical of its own responses. The problem with shortsighted responses is that they come back to bite us in the future - like those mercury filled bulbs! See is the most important part of this, you need to understand, really understand what is going on, what are the implications and who stands where in the situation. Obviously the government has a lot of balls to keep balanced in the air. I appreciate that, and that is why we elect a government. But we also expect them to think it through. It isn't about trying to make the least amount of voters pissed so you can get re-elected. It is about doing what it right for Canada and the world. Harpur and his Conservatives fail on both accounts.

LT methodology also adds another component. There is no LT without action, and we realize that actions sometimes create different injustices. That is why the cycle starts again and again. I wish our government would be more self-critical than trying to tread water until the poles seem to be in their favour. I really want a government that is willing to do what is right instead of what they can get away with.

I offer you the site EcoFraud, the Suzuki video alone is worth the browse.