Friday, December 23, 2005
The subway doors open. A hobo enters, holding a bottle of windex in one hand and a tube of toothpaste in the other. He says: Which is the better time to read Dostyevsky? Winter?
He sprays the windex.
Hobo: Or Spring?
He squeezes toothpaste out of the tube.
Japanese girl: Spring!
Hobo: You are correct.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
When most people hear "The 12 days of Christmas" they think of the song. This song had it's origins as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the meaning and content of the Christian faith. From 1558 to 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not able to practice their faith openly so they had to find other ways to pass on their beliefs. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is one example of how they did it.
The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..."
The "true love" represents God and the "me" who receives these presents is the Christian. The partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.
The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments-another gift from God.
The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love-the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1Corinthians 13).
The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Book of Moses." The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.
The "seven swans a swimming" were "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit." (1Corinthians 12:9-11, Romans 12, Ephsesians 4, 1Peter 4:10-11)
The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.
The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22- 23)
The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.
The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.
The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.
So the next time you hear "The 12 Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in the Christian Faith.
As we prepare to elect a new federal government, we consider how faith informs our view of current issues. The following issues and questions are offered by MCC Canada for your consideration, based on MCC’s programs, education, and advocacy for justice and peace.
1. Canada’s commitment to refugees is most clearly demonstrated by the annual immigration levels. The 2006 levels for all immigrant categories has been increased to 250,000 but there is no mention of an increase for refugees sponsored or resettled from abroad, which has fallen far below the level of a decade ago. In addition, the signing of a new border agreement with the US last December (the Safe Third Country Agreement) has reduced the number of refugees admitted directly at our borders by 25 percent. In order to make up for these decreases, advocates recommend that the target for refugees resettled from abroad should be increased to make up for the decrease at the border. In light of the increasing overall immigration levels, how will the parties ensure that refugee numbers increase correspondingly?
2. A home is much more than a physical dwelling. It can also be a place of security, of welcome, and a first step in getting other elements of life under control. Yet 1.7 million Canadians were unable to find shelter that is adequate, suitable, and affordable. Those most affected include refugees, people who have been incarcerated, people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, those living with mental health concerns, Aboriginal people, and low income Canadians. What measures will your candidates take to help ensure that these groups can access appropriate housing?
3. What should Justice mean to our politicians? Current policy discussions around crime advocate higher levels of incarceration and new laws, with little or no consideration for ubstantive victim and community needs. With fewer than 50 percent of victims of abuse, assault, or theft reporting their victimization to the police and only $2 million dedicated to meeting victim needs, what can be done by the Canadian government to meet the needs of victims? In comparison, how could the $10 billion we spend be used more effectively?
4. International Development continues to be a crucial issue. Some two billion people live in severe poverty. An estimated 30,000 die unnecessarily every day. In the year 2000, virtually all heads of governments committed themselves to reaching eight “Millennium Development Goals” by 2015. If this is to succeed, industrialized countries will have to increase aid, provide more debt relief, and do more to promote justice in international trade. In 1994, Canada cut its budget on foreign aid substantially. Recently, Canada has committed itself to a gradual increase but, according to this new plan, Canada’s aid will still not reach the widely accepted goal of .7 percent of gross national income by 2015. On debt relief, Canada has been somewhat of a leader since the 1980s, but more needs to be done. Many countries suffer from terrible debt loads because of changes in international interest rates and uneven international commodity prices, and also from bad management of their economies. African governments have made deep cuts in expenditures on education, health and other basic needs just to service their debts. A strong voice from Canada is needed in multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
On justice in trade, Canada has also taken positive steps but, again, much more is needed. A key problem is that in trade negotiations, poor countries are pressured to open their markets to products from richer countries, which in many cases, are heavily subsidized. A recent UN report says that donor countries “spend $1 billion a year aiding agriculture in developing countries and $1 billion a day on domestic subsidies that undermine the world’s poorest farmers.”
What do the parties envision as Canada’s role in international development? In line with the “Make Poverty History” campaign, what will Canada’s political parties do to increase aid, provide more debt relief to hard-pressed developing nations, and promote justice in international trade?
5. Work on issues of international peace is also urgent.
On nuclear weapons, the threat of a nuclear war no longer manifests itself as it did in the Cold War years. Nuclear disarmament is, however, stalled and the number of countries with nuclear weapons is increasing. This should be addressed and the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Canada has always supported, should not be allowed to collapse.
On small arms, (which claim 500,000 lives each year, most of them in Africa) Canada should make every effort to ensure the success of the 2006 UN conference to review and strengthen the 2001 “Programme of Action” to control these “instruments of death”.
On Canada’s arms exports, which rank as the sixth largest in the world, Canada should review its 1986 export regulations to ensure that export decisions are made, not only as trade issues, but also in light of our foreign policy ideals. Further, to limit proliferation in the developing world, Canada should press for an international treaty on the transfer of conventional weapons.
On security spending, Canada spends four times more on defense than on development aid. Smaller still is our spending on diplomacy, even though it can do much in terms of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. What are the most effective ways of promoting our own security and that of our sisters and brothers the world over?
6. Water is life. Its multiple uses offer us spiritual, physical, economic, and social sustenance. Perhaps because of its importance in so many aspects of our lives, water is often the subject of conflict. How can the use of Canada’s waterways balance indigenous uses of land and water with the demands for hydroelectricity? How can we ensure good quality drinking water for all Canadians? How will Canada’s rich water resources be managed as the market for water continues to grow? How should we respond to the needs around the world for safe and accessible water? Ask your candidates what concerns him or her about water in Canada and around the world.
All of life is in your embrace—
Even the political life of our country.
We give you thanks for Canada, our home.
We give you thanks for a political system that invites our participation.
You cared for those who were poor, physically challenged, social outcasts.
You called all people to practice love, peace and reconciliation.
Empower us to hear the voices of the marginalized.
Move our hearts to seek the common good, rather than our own gain.
You enliven us as Christians to be salt and light in this world.
Increase in us conversation, vigilance and prayer about this election.
Guide candidates to campaign fairly and present their viewpoints honestly.
Guide voters as they listen and assess the positions of the different parties.
May all of us speak and act in ways that bear witness to you. Amen.
—Adapted from a prayer by Carol Penner
Monday, December 19, 2005
This idea also comes from Henri Nouwen, which I believe I posted about a few days ago.
Erwin (McManus)said that the church tries too hard to be relevant. He expounded that the word in itself implies that someone else has already arrived or done something; that anyone thereafter must link or join to. Anyone after the first has to also find ways to add on some value to the foundation already built. He said that the church (who has all of the power of Christ, and inherently the ability to do anything in God’s will) should never try to be relevant. Instead the church should be setting the curve for the culture to follow. Wouldn’t it be great if the church was doing so many great things that the culture took notice and was in hot pursuit to add on to what we were doing? I agree: Jesus was not relevant, he was real, he was revolutionary. He was not connected to anything else, except the Father, and that is what made him so much more than anything that was, or is, relevant.
House lawmakers approved legislation early Monday that would complete the transition to all-digital television broadcasts by Feb. 17, 2009.
The measure also would allocate up to $1.5 billion to help consumers with older, analog TV sets purchase converter boxes so they would continue to get service in the digital era.
If this is true, it will be the end of a huge era in life for people born in the last half of the 20th century. What we have come to expect as "normal" will be gone, and something totally different (at least in some ways) will take it's place. Sounds like another institution I know of, although that one is finding the changeover much more difficult. Maybe the church needs a hard date too.
Friday, December 16, 2005
a little thing that I wrote...
There are so many distractions everywhere. They make you cut yourself shaving, miss a turn, or have to ask to have a question repeated. They are difficult to rid ones' self of because there is always a new one to take the place of the old one. You cannot stuff the hole fast enough to prevent drainage of the noise back into your recently cleansed cortex.”I need to get out of the house” I say. But this only changes the flavour of the filler that is waiting for me.
This morning I was thinking about the things I've done wrong. Not necessarily in a bad way,. Just acknowledging that they exist and I have not yet forgotten about them. I did miss a corner on the way to work, but I'm so used to that that it no longer bothers me.
I guess I don't want to be bothered by sin once I've dealt with it as far as I have the power to . I know that others have participated in worse acts than I have, and some would not even think of doing some of what I've done. The comparison to others – good or bad – is not the point. I don't know what the point is, but I cannot live if the point is keeping score with what you think you know about other people.
So I just try and whistle a little tune and get on with the day. Someone asked me whether I was bothered when my screw-ups were thrown in my face. And to that I have to say yes...and no. I have not been humiliated in public, and my wrongdoing has not yet caused catastrophe in my day-to-day existence. So, in that sense, I learn to live with my mistakes, and it's relatively easy to do so.
On the other hand, I can hear an echo of lostness in my brain; a sound of the chances I've had and may continue to have slowly moving away. The weight of evil, sin, and wrong choices is rolling forward and putting all it's force on me (or so it seems). I find that some days the only thing I can do it to allow a little of the noise of life seep in and distract me. I'm like a drunk who actually cannot imagine not having at least a little rye before bed. That is the only way I can get through the day.
And that's why I don't mind if I cut myself shaving. I know there is more to the situation than a trickle of watery blood touching the neckline of my shirt. There are the big things, the things that actually do matter, or should. And there is the knowledge that, although I am not who I want to be, I am also not who I once was, and I will change again, and write a few more words about that time in life. It will probably sound a lot the same as this one.
Monday, December 12, 2005
I found this interesting, as there are so few that want to venture into the porn world with the ideas of Jesus. The few (very few) stories I have heard of believers reaching out to the porn industry have been encouraging and amazing. Not that it's not tough (I don't think I could do it), but Jesus is already there, loving those people right where they are.
Friday, December 09, 2005
It's been a while...
Life has been going full-force in the last while. Our car is finally fixed (who knew transmissions were so important). Work is okay, although I still feel like a fish out of water a lot fo the time. (You can read more here.We are in the middle of Christmas parties, birthday parties, crazy work schedules, and trying to find time in the middle of all that to be together as a family. Not the easiest thing to do. That's all I've got for now. Just so you know I'm still alive and kickin'.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Big Easy Launches Free Wireless System - Yahoo! News
Free citywide wireless...COOL!! And N.O. needs all the encouragement it can get.