Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When the day is through.

"When I opened my eyes and saw reality, I started to laugh and I haven't stopped since.
I saw that the meaning of life was getting a livelihood; its goal acquiring a titular office. That "loves rich desire" was getting hold of a well-to-do girl, that the blessedness of friendship was to help one another in financial embarrasment. I saw that wisdom was what the majority assumed it to be, that enthusiasm was to make a speech. That courage was to risk losing ten dollars, that cordiality consisted in saying 'your're welcome' after a dinner. I saw that the fear of God was to go to communion once a year.
That's what I saw, and I laughed."
Soren Kierkegaard

"things never happen the same way twice, dear one" - Aslan

The study of fallacy's of argument focus in on how people use misinformation, generalizations, and other tactics to win a discussion, and or prove a point. There is a generally agreed upon list, which you can access easily by googling it. Knowing this list does much to help when trying to discern how people are winning/loosing an argument - as typically they will resort to fallacies when hope in the rational has gone.

Kiergaard devoted his life to what he saw as the empty formalities of the Danish church - themes such as faith in God, rituals, emotion and theology and...argument. Since him (and arguably much before him) many have devoted time and energy to understanding how it is we understand God. How we have missed the boat, how formalities have lead us astray and other areas surrounding the emptiness of Religion.

After a 5 hour meeting, in which David, Gideon, Aslan, Israel, and Moses (yes, that's right, they went there) were tossed around like best buddies of the group I am convinced of a few things.
Fallacies in argument, or rather fallacies in theology plague our faith. We are plagued by misconceptions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations of our experiences. But that in of itself is not the problem. It is once we employ our misunderstanding to "convince" or "win" the situation becomes lost. The base for thought and spirit is stripped and we are left with little more than words, anecdotes and "reflections." And because the general christian populous is ignorant to these fallacies, we engage in it routinely. I engage in it routinely.

And here's the point of my poorly made attempt at being intellectual: Where there is no peace, is where the fallacies will present themselves. Where there is no peace, we will resort to "winning" an argument. Where there is no peace we will talk for 5 hours thinking that resolve looks like a common sense of confusion, where the elderly are up past their bed time, the irish are dumbfounded and the others are well...just done.

And so what? So the answer is clear...sort of. We must work for peace, not a solution to the need, but peace. Does everybody need to get along? no. But peace must be employed. That is the battle. And once you put that lense on the situation, really, how can fallacies stand? I'm not sure exactly what working for peace looks like, but I want it. And I think I know something about how to start it:

"Waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning, O Israel, wait and watch for God - with God's arrival comes love, with God's arrival comes generous redemption. No doubt about it - he'll redeem Israel, buy back Israel from captivity to sin." - David

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Life After S.Bucks - v.2

Growing up in Tsawwassen, the opening of S.bucks was truly a day of celebration. The Golden Calf, after years of waiting at the fence post, was being allowed in to graze on the fertile fields of the third wealthiest subdivision, in the second wealthiest city, in the seventh wealthiest country in the world. It was heralded as a coming of age story for our town - gaining front page recognition in the Delta Optimist - the newspaper that I, until the age of 13 helped spread around our fine suburb.

Having the convenience of big city coffee in our small town was akin to Pemberton all of a sudden receiving Jay Z to their sleepy town. For up until that point - in the minds of my friends - Tsawwassen was nothing more than Merit without a music festival; Britania without the mine tour. A Vancouver twist on a modern day Miami. Retired, rich and royally cranky.

Three years later, that very Starbucks served me up a new drink; a hot cup of inappropriate student - teacher relationships. I'll spare the details that would turn this blog post into a novel; and rather attempt a fly-over of what was my Grade 12 year.

Her name was Mrs._. She tended to wear outfits that while were no Janet Jackson nip hugger; they were definitely not what one thought of as business casual. A sports bra and short shorts for the summer, and a poly pro top for the colder months - Mrs _ had a style unique for a sub urban teaching professional.

But I digress. I'm not sure where the relationship began, but I suspect it was grade 10, in Hawaii on a band trip, that I was never quite sure how or why my parents funded. It was a dinner out with her and another teacher, a walk on a boardwalk and a few laughs exchanged at the expense of the tourist attractions that littered the street - the tacky t-shirt stands with inappropriate writing, and the leis provided the bulk of the conversation that evening.

It progressed to a one off interruption from History 12 to grab her coffee. "But Mrs_ , I don't know how to drive standard" ; that's alright, she said, you'll learn. And so began the routine. Every History class, an quiet knock on the door and Mrs. _ would be standing at the door wanting her Venti, No Fat, Vanilla Latte - extra hot.* I would soon be buying, no rather picking up, coffees for her and four other teachers. I say picking up, because when I walked into that Starbucks I was treated as the dutiful messenger of one much higher. Coffees for Mrs _ and her croonies were always on the house.

Driving standard was a task I quickly learnt, and quickly "forgot" when my father was teaching me later that year on our car. Once or twice I had to duck from the Vice Principle who was exiting the school as I was entering it, with a tray of drinks in the middle of a class.

This "relationship" of sorts continued; but it started to take a more "unfortunate" turn. Mrs _ became single, a lot of weight was lost, and rumours started to fly about everything from her teaching habits to ... other habits. The world of celebrity has created it's own destructing cycle. In this world, teenagers truly begin to believe their lives are as dramatic as the ones they read about, and create a reality that tries to mirror it. Unfortunately, what they don't realize is that that the world of celebrity is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Life imitating art imitating art. And no - one is really sure what the first image was.

Four or five nights prior to graduation I received a note from her daughter stating, in the form of "20 facts you didn't know" fact #18 that "she liked me since the day she met me."

The daughter, the mother, the whole thing was too much. Graduation, hands shake, hug, hug - goodbye.

I suspect after me there were a few other men or women, boys or girls who delivered the bean. Starbucks can be "just a coffee shop", but for many, it's just another expression if a need. The needs change, the expressions change, but this common denominator, this common need is pathetically universal.

Fast Forward five years - third year UBC. Sitting on Kits beach feeling the need for a frap of some sort, I walk into the Starbucks on Yew and Cornwall to see none other than Mrs. _ and her daughter, now a barista. Smile, exchange pleasantries, make plans for a future, much more distant date.

And that is that.

*ok, that's a stretch, she didn't get it extra hot

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life After S.Bucks - v.1

I remember it pretty well I guess - as well as one can remember complete chaos. I remember it because I was wearing my lululemon yoga pants and they had this weird streak on the left shin and although I had tried washing the pants like 3 times, the streak wouldn't come out. If I scratched my thumb nail against it, I would have success, but I couldn't be bothered to do that all day.

I knew something was ary when the dark rimmed, shaved about three days ago, popped collared barista told me they had run out of soy. S.bucks out of soy? I guess, with Soy being the most advanced of the beans, if any were to jump ship - it would. And yet the whole beauty of modern management for a chain like S.bucks is that it has removed from it all possibility of human error. We laughed at Office Space's depiction of "pieces of flare", silently sinking into the realization that a lot of us, are a lot closer to the reality of channeled expression than we'd like. Customize your drink, so long as it fits in the customize your drink boxes we've made.

But I digress. S.Bucks, running out of soy is like McDonalds running out of McNuggets; it just shouldn't happen. The variables that make up management have been reduced controlled or eliminated - all so I can have my Soy based beverage every damn day.

But it did. I changed my drink order and was waiting by the lid counter, reading a pamphlet on the duetto card, humming whatever was on the S.Bucks XM Radio and before I turned around to pick up my boring, soyless drink I knew it was over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Our conversations are never easy, but as I - we - get older, we are all finding that our conversations must be spoken. A need burns inside us to share with others what we are feeling. Beyond a certain age, sincerity ceases to feel pornographic. It is though the coolness that marked our youth is itself a type of retrovirus that can only leave you feeling empty. Full of holes.
The glamour of corruption disappears; the learning is no fun anymore. You don't want to waste the energy, so instead you learn tolerance, and compassion and love - and distance - and these are hard words for me to say. All of this is hard for me to say.

-Douglas Copeland "Life after God"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This End of the Telescope

Alone you ramble the whole of the world, through the black water jungles for bliss. It's feast or famine, you eat what you kill, there's no need to bring God in to this.

Inevitably when there is a need to understand something from a perspective that exists with us not being at the centre of the picture a conflict will occur. Inevitably.

We have to be the centre - and if we are not, the perspective must shift to make us so.

At our best, your joy becomes my joy, your pain becomes my sorrow. At worst, pain dictates my pleasure and your pleasure manipulates my pain.

This tension, albiet poorly described above, is a distorted, or muted image of that which I believe exists between our Creator and us.

Pain, conflict, sorrow and all that stuff which is, to us: "not good" is so quickly viewed through the wrong end of the telescope that we loose perspective. So our sorrow becomes about us, our pain is about us, and our confusion is about us not understanding. Through the wrong end of the telescope the Creator becomes a passive third party or at very best a smaller image that what he really is in this tension. It is from this end of the telescope that faith gets turned quickly into religion.

It's as if our understanding when it comes to God is that a) there is some stuff that God just "allows" to happen b) there is some stuff God wants to happen and c) there is some stuff where God just kind of goes..."oh shit..shoot didn't see that coming...hey Moses, you totally pulled the wrong lever on that one...this'll be interesting"

It becomes about us and only us - and then maybe a God character who is interacting from a far.I'm feeling like I'm only starting to wrap my head around this idea, that I think has many further implications - but in terms of the one I'm confronted with right now, the truth is this:

That if understanding our pain, pleasure and any other "thing" that goes on really gets reduced to the sum of our actions + the sum of other peoples actions and maybe the sum of a sometimes acting Diety we will forever come up short to the question of why does shit happen in our lives. Or more classically "why does God let bad things happen"

Always short.
And there are those (many, oh so many) Christians who actually believe (say on the topic of pain) that a lot of suffering is because God is just plain 'ol unhappy with them. They preach a sort of "God is getting you back" or actually disguise it as a "God is teaching you about ___" - while YES God does discipline those he loves, he is NOT "getting you back" and really I believe is not going "hmm how can I teach __ about humility...I know I'll give them nasty flesh eating disease...". Many christians would not actually articulate that, but I think a lot of us believe it. I'm going to go out on a limb here:
Jesus, when he died 2000 years ago, that was it. All the punishment, all the "revenge" that you could have had - done. Job's suffering wasn't about Job at all.

I think why we do this cause and effect system that reduces God is because we still want to be the centre of our faith and belief system. We have a great propencity for religion. This idea that whatever I do, it comes back. It puts us at the centre and removes Jesus. If I "get right" with God, he'll speak to me is such an intuitively "nice" idea but I would say totally biblically incorrect. Maybe it's unfair to draw a connection between us and Jakob - but, let's face it: where was he and what was he doing when God radically changed his (and our) life? Moses? the Disciples?

I do believe God's plan / will has suffering in it. Totally. But I think western Christianity has made up this cause and effect because it's easier than believing a faith that is mysterious, tension filled (ala first paragraph), not totally a sum of our actions etc. etc.

So ___ definitely, scour the bible for the why why why does this happen, but be prepared for the answer. I don't claim to know it, but I think it really has something to do with questions of who is this all about? Who is the person most glorified here? Cause, I think it's not really about us.

I think this Blog post is about a whole set of things just kind of perculating in a brain that I am finding to be ever more emotional, active and other than I would sometimes like. But I guess it's kind of an idea that our prayer life is so very much a reactionary thing - and while thats ok, it starts to breed a faith that it's about us. This starts to breed a set of beliefs that while based on the Bible, kind of take their own "twist."They are not "wrong" but I think a lot of the time they are really just not biblical (so yes they are wrong, I was just being kind). As a result of this "wrong" theology, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, we go running to a bible, from the totally wrong angle, and surprise, find that it just kind of leaves us unsatisfied.
But from a different end of the telescope I think, the galaxy is a lot bigger.

Word's out the doctor is not coming in
This genie's too angry to go back
Into the bottle again

Years of progress digging the sand
Companions we made didn't last
Lousy lovers do well with their hands
But I'll reach you like nobody can
Slow and easy you let your paddle go
Down a the bottom there is more hell to row
I see clear at last I love I loathe
On this end of the telescope

-Jakob Dylan

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Snapshots of a Friday

'The guards are asleep", "the guards are asleep"

Kits beach, friday evening, eight o'clock. With a finished glass of spiced rum, a book and a bible in hand I find myself sitting against a log looking out over the ocean to a setting sun. A few logs over there is a group of about 20, 20 somethings, talking, making light conversation. Immediately I say to myself "must be a young adults group" - pretty soon a guitar gets pulled out, and before I know it they're signing starfield. Gosh.

Rewind by about 5 or 6 hours, driving up oak street. No music, no cell phone, no texting, no emails. Excited because I am close to finishing work and it's only 2pm. All of a sudden I blank out, and bam smash into the car in front of me. Shit.

The day is done.

Young adult singing wraps up, and a girl stands up to deliver, her expose on "salt and light." Knowing that the verse "should" mean something about something, she pulls meaning from it - the usual "stand up for Jesus" dialogue that was oh too familiar. Ironically, this process is almost more like squeezing salt from the rock, leaving a tasteless stone of a religion - void of this notion that SPIRITuality is more than "sticking up for Jesus." Let me tell you, he doesn't need sticking up for - history has done a good of enough job of that.

Have we become reduced to framing the gospels into an experience that we can "understand" and apply in a 30 minute study? Is that a bad thing?

Sitting in a room staring at a twenty something, dozing off in front of me. A few others to the right give me blank looks. Repeating words that both hold so much meaning and so much frustration - let the oil pour. Feeling, in some sense: ruined. Ruined because maybe I long for something that is not meant to happen. Ruined because maybe I think I could be a part of that - a catalyst. Ruined because, I think Jesus said it first, "We are prisoners of hope."

Salt and Light, Salt and Light. Saltiness, is not about "sticking up" for Christ. It's not about "walking the good walk" or even living by the moral handbook. Salt, and Light is spirit. Loosing one's flavour is not about denying Christ, but rather about denying spirit. Tasteless salt has all the qualities of Christianity, it has all the qualities of religion and following Christ. It just lacks its soul. You search the scriptures because you think in them there is life. You sit on a couch, making trite commentary about this person's thought on so and so, the historical analysis of Jerusalem, the pity prayer for those who don't know Christ - because you think in that you will have life.

My sheep know my voice.

He stood in the field, all of a sudden looked up quickly to the left and said - "sound the trumpet"; but the guards were asleep. The guards were asleep.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Where have you been, my son? Where have you tarried so long? Where have you traveled? what have you been seeking in the world? Happiness? And where should you have sought it but in God? And where should you have sought God but in his temple? And what is the temple of the living God but the living temple that he has prepared for himself, your own heart? I have watched, my son, while you wandered, but I did not want to see you stray any longer. I have led you to myself by leading you into yourself, for here I have chosen a palace for my dwelling"
-John Amos Comenius

It's far too late right now to add to this, and really, how can I? How can I express what is deeper than to know that the living God has prepared a living temple for himself in you? How can we express anger towards christian circles who teach to fear thyself, to fear emotion to downplay imagination, creativity, expression? How can we cry for a renewal of thought, a reformation of an understanding of 'self' that is simply not valued in our culture? How do we build a damn against the flood of indifference, the currents of escapism the rushing of sound that violates our collective ear? How do we retort against the rhetoric of the "emergent few", ooh to be an emergent. From what are we emerging? and to what are we emerging into?

I have led you to myself by leading you into yourself, for here I have chosen a place for my dwelling. God help me.