Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fun with Church Signs

I saw this sign on the way home from my own church service.

This church is notorious for signs that make me go, "huh?" This one got me thinking - what is it that Jesus doesn't. So I thought maybe you all could make some suggestions.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Very Important Video

Jamie had this posted. It is very worth watching.

In my experience 'stuff' is the most stressful aspect of my life. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Be Not Afraid

"The lover of truth has no truer friend that an intelligent critic."
- Oliver O'Donovan

Saturday, November 22, 2008


In a recent conversation, over on facebook, my friend Cameron keeps invoking the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. I have been thinking about this. I know from discussions at Saint Paul that what actually constitutes this Magisterium is a bit of a debated topic. For instance there is the teaching office of the Bishops, but the concept of Magisterium includes other voices such as the Magisterium of the poor. The reality, as I understand it, is that this is not a concrete well defined body of teaching, but rather a charism possessed by the whole Church and brought to consciousness to lend weight to ecclesial decisions. Sort of like the tradition of pseudopigrapha in the writings of the early Church.

Regardless of how this charism is expressed, I am wondering if this is a useful concept. In the Protestant Evangelical world, the one with which I am most implicated, there is a resistance to a definitive body that imposes dogma on the rest of us. Yet, at the same time we can be some of the most dogmatic of Christians. I think the biggest roadblock to a Magisterium in the Prot-Evangelical world is our commitment to individualism and personal revelation. This is a debate for another thread, but it doesn't mean that a Magisterium is a bad thing, just not something that would readily fly for Prot-Evangelicals. Or would it?

There is a strong leader-follower mentality in the Prot-Evangelical world. This is most clearly seen in our Fundamentalist roots. Another way of naming it is cult of personality. In this model it is a few dominant voices, claiming unmediated access to revelation as support for their truth claims, who lead the majority of followers. There is little wrestling together for what might seem good to us and the Holy Spirit, rather it is presented as a propositional reality. At least in the idea (abstract as it is) of the Magisterium, there is an attempt to acknowledge this process. The Magisterium, as I understand it, is never a single individual and almost never a dominating subgroup. Although I think there are Roman Catholics who wish this were the case.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jim West's Desktop Challenge

I had to respond immediately. I call this one - My Girls. They are truly my inspiration. BTW can you tell where I'm posting this from?

Smells and Bells

I had a great time preaching at First United in Truro. I always feel a bit clumbsy when I am in a highly structured service, but someone had placed a huge quilt (one that is touring Canada) so that it obstructed view from the guest preacher's chair. I was happy to not be the centre of attention for the whole service. I couldn't have put together a better service - the music and prayers were all themes that have become so close to my heart: unity, justice and faithfulness. But two things overwhelmed me. First, this is the church I spent my youngest years in. I was shocked to realize how commanding a view the preacher (and choir) get of the balcony seats where I used to hide out - Doh! But more than that I was flooded with memories and the memories triggered smells (or maybe vice versa, but as it is a scent free (practice) church I'm not sure). I could smell the pine of the great Christmas trees that the young people always used to gather beside before being dismissed for the children's programmes. I could smell the wood of the pews that was an anchoring presence in my early life. I even met with the couple who'se house always made me think of a shade tree - and they still sparkled.

As we were greeting folks leaving the church, a number of ladies told me they had had me for Sunday school - I apologized to them all. But one lady actually thanked me for apologizing, she said I would never do anything I was told. But she was very proud of me, I could see that in her eyes. For me that was worth the whole trip.

Well I'm back to Ottawa today, and back to the daily grind of my studies. Oh, I called this Smells and Bells because they had a wonderful bell choir playing throughout the service, when I realized this I was thinking my daughter (my oldest came with me) would just love how beautiful they sounded. It was quite something.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

From Guest Lecture to Guest Speaker in Just One Week!

The lack of words here does not mean I've forgotten my regular readers. But merely that I have been busy. Yesterday I was guest lecturer at Saint Paul University. Prof. Heather Eaton is doing a course on Religion, Culture and Diversity and needed someone to tackle Evangelicalism. So I put together a lecture on contemporary Evangelical Identity. This included a look at the significant developments of Evangelical Identity in the 20th century - material from my masters work. But the big issue I wanted to cover was how the Evangelical self-identity creates barriers in academia. I found John Stackhouse's Evangelical Landscapes (especially "Why Can't Johnny Produce Christian Scholarship") especially helpful here. It seemed really well received.

I'm still putting my message together for this weekends anniversary celebration in Truro. Quite and eventful week for me.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Going Preaching

My mom sent me this blurb from their local newspaper. The worship committee of First United Church (Truro) has asked me to come and celebrate their 248th anniversary with them. I'm really excited.

My message will be called Honouring Our Journey, and I hope to encourage them to reflect on God's faithfulness as we travel through life by sharing a bit about my own journey. I am incredibly honoured to have been asked to speak at this church. I have a great deal of respect for Gordie the pastor there. However, I think they chose the wrong picture - wouldn't this glamour shot have been so much better.

Unfortunately this was taken much too late for the article. This is what PhD students do at their super secret seminars, or at least what they do when a classmate pulls out their crazy sunglasses at the end of the class!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bad Posture

Went to see the doctor today. Seems years of sitting improperly in front of a laptop have taken their toll on my neck. I've had really bad neck pain for at least two years now. My wife was trying to scare me into seeing the doctor, she was worried I had done some serious damage, but the doctor gave me some exercises that he felt should help. I also need to think through my computer use habits (also my posture when reading is not so good). Habits are not easy to modify - I was trying to adjust just now on the computer and devolved into my usual slump with scary ease.

In other posture news, the markets are rallying today with the impending news of a new president to the South of us here in the Great White North. I am actually unimpressed with how much of a sense of importance my fellow Canadians are placing on this election as opposed to our own election. No I do not wish I could vote in the US election. I think it will be interesting to see how the Obamania pans out if he is elected tonight. I was saddened to hear of his Grandmother's passing though. Much as I'm unimpressed with national politics these days, I think this temporary optimism, sown in the markets, does not help with the realization that the world needs all of us to do our part if it is going to be a better place. I'm disturbed by any posture that surrenders that control to others in a sort of public fatalism. That is the posture that is really at the roots of our problems in North America. We are so self-absorbed and disconnected with a world that so desperately needs us - especially those of us who claim a religious orientation of hope.

If I do my exercises perhaps my pain will eventually give way to new muscular strength. Unless the world learns to exercise our public ability to act it will be more than our necks that are one the line. Something I'm thinking about.