Until recently, I was quite unimpressed with U2. I was feeling like a spurned lover because I have always been a big fan, mainly because I thought there was more going on with them than just being rock stars. But that belief was starting to wane; I was starting to wonder whether they stood for much of anything other than being "the greatest band in the world". But Bono is getting a lot clearer. Check out his reaction to the G-8 summit in Kananaskis at cbc.ca.


It was an emotionally gripping day for me today. One of those days that makes the everyday grind of your job very worth it. It was graduation day at our adult ed. school. Many of the graduates come from a pretty rough inner city context, so some of the speeches had us all near or in tears. But wow, talk about redemption. Education can be a wonderful kingdom thing.

One student I am particularly proud of is off to university in the fall. He had this to say,

"Just three years ago I was a drug addict, tripped out on crystal meth. I was dying! Now I am graduating and taking care of my new son..."

And tonight is the Bombers home opener. To quote Lou Reed, "Oh, what a perfect day!"


Again for whatever reason, that I am baffled by, this thing won't let me make a long post. So, if you want to hear what Paul Fromont thinks about the atonement thing we were talking about before, go here.


And another thing...

I'd like to introduce you to my computer, Caiaphas, the Pharisaical computer. He's a legalist, strict, strict, strict. He works with me here at the school. You'll notice that in the second paragraph of my last post he cast the d.e.m.o.n out of d.e.m.o.n.strate. Yesterday, he hounded the c.u.l.t out of c.u.l.t.u.r.e. Yep, he keeps me safe from corruption... and I can't figure out how to turn him off, but I can usually find away a.r.o.u.n.d. h.i.m....
What I appreciate about reading stuff by Tom Sine is the way he collects stories about people around the world who are being really deliberate about walking out the Kingdom of God. For me, the anecdotal stuff is usually a good deal more inspiring than the theoretical.

There are a few people who I have watched perform radical acts - of generosity, courage, and other kinds of sacrifice. These people strate the kind of action that makes me say, "Wow, it can be done. You really can live that way."

You hear a lot about fitting Jesus in to the place where you work, but one guy I know saw it the other way around. He began spending time with some very broken people here in our city. He was taken by the way he was discovering the goodness of God in the low places, and realized he wanted to be there more. He quit his decent-paying, secure job (as an accountant) and found a job working with the Salvation Army, taking care of down-and-out people who have had a mental breakdown. A lot of people would look and him and think, "what are you doing..." but my hunch is that for him, the whispers of the Kingdom are getting a lot louder.

The other person I have never met, but I have heard about her. Apparently she is a nurse, and single. She determines to put a good portion of her salary away every year, to use in the Third World. Then she books off a couple months of holidays, takes the money over there (I think it is India) and spreads it our where there is need. Even a portion of a North American salary goes a long way in the Third World. I think she even built a school over there. Wow. She's not famous, but I'll bet she's well-known in heaven.


Wow. Check out Jason Evans post for today. Am I ever on that page.


Oh, and check out Little bear's blog. She cracks me up. She should be a writer. She writes long entries about her day which, according to blog law, are supposed to be boring. But I always read all the way to the end.
I have nothing to say today. In fact, it is past midnight, so I have already missed today, that was yesterday. Unless you're in New Zealand where it is always tomorrow. Well then, here is something I wrote not today. (I gotta go to bed)


I've got friends leaving left and right. Was it something I said? Andrew and Tami Smith are taking their family across the nation on a pickin, singing, folk music extravaganza. They are heroes. That's all I have to say about that... sniff...

And my friend Dave Ruis is moving to America. We're excited for him and his family in their new life in Pasadena, but we're also sad to see him go. So I am trying to make him a compilation CD for the long ride down. I'm brainstorming every song about America or California I can think of. Here's my top ten:

10. R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. - John Mellancamp
9. Living in America - James Brown
8. California Dreaming - The Mamma's and the Papa's
7. American Dream - Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
6. America - Simon and Garfunkel
5. Californication - Red Hot Chili Peppers
4. American Woman - The Guess Who
3. Here in America - Rich Mullins
2. I'm Afraid of Americans - David Bowie
1. Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen

What did I miss??


Sometimes I feel threatened by the extreme confidence and volume with which some people convey their position; other times I think extreme confidence in a position means you haven't thought about it long enough.
My friend Rik Leaf babbles profoundly on his website:

Stupidity over Silence

There are times I wish I could just be alone, without my incessant chattiness.
Without all the stupid comments I make because I'm more comfortable with stupidity than silence. And I'm not the only incessantly chatty one. Everywhere I go someone is being interviewed about nothing, on a show about nothing, for an audience that expects nothing.

I guess it is the phenomenon of our day and age, we would rather suffer stupidity than silence.

"Someone say something!" (even if you have nothing to say.) Real bumper sticker philosophy.

In fact it's better if you don't have something to say. That way we don't have to think about what you've said. Just fill up the space, because space is too uninviting, too empty. Given too much time on our hands in the middle of silence we might actually be able to hear something, like ourselves and we've invested too much too let that happen.

The constant drone; like white noise. I knew a guy who sold these little boxes that strapped to a baby crib that produced white noise and simulated the movement of a car driving. It was supposed to help babies sleep. They sounded like pushers trying to get kids hooked on noise before they had a chance to hear silence for themselves.

These are the times I wish I was a painter instead of a singer.

Rik Leaf


I got some response on the atonment blog of a few days ago. Thank you James Ferrenberg. Helpful perspective from the Eastern Orthodox school of thought:

(but for some reason blogger won't let me post it... can a blog be too long or soemthing?? ... must be the devil... so you can read it here)
I am cruising around the blogsphere, and it is making me feel so good! There are so many like minds out there; so many people who believe in Love. Sometimes you see so much of the ugly side of Christianity that you start to think you have to raise your voice to get the message out. But He seems to be doing a pretty good job of it for himself. Lord, I'm glad you're in charge of teaching us about your Kindness. Because I would just screw it up.


Stuff I was reading over at What Is Church was making me think about spiritual disciplines. I was thinking how, when it comes to spiritual disciplines, I think of prayer, fasting, contemplation, bible reading, and things in that vein. But there is one I could add to my list, I think. Friendship with the poor/ people in the low places. I think that is a kind of spiritual discipline. Often people call it "ministry" as opposed to "worship". From what I see, it is a whole lot more on Jesus' page to see friendship with those in the low places as worship. I think that the "poor" change you a lot more than you change them. It's not so much that they need you - you need them. Jesus seems to tell us that there is certain part of him hidden in the low places, a piece that we will find nowhere else. As we find him there, he changes our values and motivations. It's there he teaches you Love.

And it's not first nature for me to hang out with ones that most of society calls cursed. So it must be a spiritual discipline.
From poetry class: my own ready made tongue twister. Someday I will open up a french fry restaurant on a golf course and call it The Chip Shot Chip Shop. Say that five times fast!
I want to ask a favour from those of you who enjoy pondering theology. I wrote this piece a little while ago when some friends and I were discussing the atonement. We were basically admitting that we didn't understand it, and we were surprised when we went to the theology books to discover that it hasn't been really clear cut since the beginning of Church history.

So the piece I wrote was me trying to figure out what the atonement meant. I realize that to some it may lean toward vile heresy so I wanted to invite criticism. I wouldn't mind someone with a strong grasp of the subject to shooting holes in the idea so I can ponder it some more.

Well, if any of you kept reading after the word "theology", here it is (click on "Grace at the Cross").


I don't exactly know why, but I was really missing Eastern Europe tonight. I lived for a little while in Lithuania, and there are not too many places in the world where I loved it more. We spent a some time in St. Petersburg, Russia, and I loved it too. I enjoy big cities, especially really big cities. Maybe that is what 18 years on the farms does to you. Well, did to me. Lots of the friends I grew up with went right back to Killarney, Manitoba. Indeed, a good place to be, but I like cities. Tokyo was one of the coolest places I've been. But alas, my wife doesn't share my passion for populous places, so I will just visit.

But back to Eastern Europe. These days there is a gang of us here who still feel like we are headed back there someday. We worked in an orphanage for a while, and felt like that is something we would like to do more of. Most of us are teachers too, so we think that one day, schools and orphanages will be a good kingdom mix.

So now I am trying to learn Russian. Zdrasvuytye, minya zavut John. Ochin' priyatna. Progressing beyond there is no easy task, so we are going to get a teacher. My text is called Learning Russian the Fast and Fun Way... hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!! Anybody know of another "fast and fun" way to do this??
Here's some autobiography. Are you interested in a long read?

A few formative years ago I came across this guy's personal philosophy of life. It was right on track with the vein of philosophy I had been reading, but was written more for a layman. No huge sections that I could just barely understand. While I wasn't convinced by everything he said, his main idea was very influential to me, and kind of cemented in me a move away from seeing the world in terms of absolutes toward seeing things more as varying in degrees of certainty. Some very intellectually dishonest blacks and whites blurred into more questioning shades of gray. Anyway, here are his ideas.


Pastorman: ...we must befriend the world to show them the love and truth of our God

Kwestions: It sounds like your trying to conquer somebody.

Pastorman: It's called Friendship evangelism.

Kwestions: What about just friendship?

Pastorman: Well, yes, we have to allow people to belong before they believe.

Kwestions: What if they never believe?


Well, the bio is still going poorly, but it was a good evening for the "press" page (and my self-esteem). I found a good review!!! I am not too familiar with the site, but it is called The Phantom Tollbooth. They have lots of good music and movie reviews, so go check them out.
Arrrrgh! Blogging friends help! I am just trying to put together a promotional package for an upcoming tour we are putting together, and I am so horribly stuck on the biography. There is something obnoxious in trying to subtly brag about yourself. Does anyone know how to do this right??
Feeling like everything is going great? Need a little humbling? Need to be knocked down a few notches? Go get this Demotivational Series (if you have powerpoint). It's good for what ails ya...


I can't make my archives show the ones from May. What am I doing wrong??
My class was watching the Leonardo Dicaprio version of Romeo and Juliet today to end off our unit. I must say I like it plenty. It's Hollywood meets Shakespeare, and I think this time it is a success (I have never been much of a traditionalist).

One thing I noticed. I was taken by how the love theme in Romeo and Juliet, though impetuously begun, was all about "forever". My wife and I have taken to calling the two very different kinds of love we see portrayed in the media as "forever love" (the I-will-love-only-you-all-my-life kind) and "tonight love" (the hey-hottie-let's-get-it-on variety). My weak and impressionable mind being what it is, I find that the one I dwell on is the one I tend to want. The sad part is that in the popular media, "forever love" themes are in short supply. I think that has much to do with the cultural cynicism thing I blogged about days ago (forever love is hard to do, so it's hard to believe in it).

Anyway, sometime I am going to make a list of movies or songs with "forever love" themes, the kind I can dwell on. Give me some ideas to help me out. Here's a start:

Hi Fidelity (John Cusack)
Titanic (well... I thought so, friends vehemently disagee)

Still the One - Shania Twain (cheesy maybe, but the theme is there)
She Walks in Beauty - Kevin Prosch

Any more you can think of??

And now her husband (and my good friend), Jason Parks, just got going on a blog of his own too. Wow, this thing is spreading fast...


Introducing my friend, Yvonne Parks, a new blogger. She's musical. Check out come of her songs here and her blog here.
Just reading Alan Creech's blog. He says people are calling themselves "christ-follower" instead of "christian" and he thinks that is faddish. I don't know about faddish, but I think people who are taken by the life and way of Jesus are finding that what is called "Christian" often has very little to do with what he was all about. The word originally meant "Christ's ones", centered on the person of Christ. Two thousand years of "Church" later, the word just doesn't carry the same meaning, and can often be opposed to what Christ was in favour of.

Jesus spoke of how his "ones" are the people who are trying to obey him, to be what he was about. You'll know them by their Love. He also said that there would be reams of people coming to him saying, "we knew you!" and he'll say, "who are you??" To me that blurs the lines of what is and was the "historical Christian church", but that is ok too. The definition was never about what you called yourself; but it was about who changed your life...


New Hip album out tomorrow. In Violet Light. It's a happy day in Canada (nobody in America has any idea what I'm talking about...).
Someone sent me these "stories from the hospital" and they bust me up. Here are a couple:

A nurse at the beginning of the shift places her stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall. "Big breaths," instructed the nurse. "Yes, they used to be," remorsed the patient.

One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct. Not more than five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a "massive internal fart."

More here.


And here is the website of Christian Community Development, started by a guy named John Perkins. The ideas of Mr. Perkins were huge in convincing us that moving to the inner city was a good idea. He has this saying that always sticks in my head, "relocation is incarnation"; the idea being that the same way Jesus relocated from heaven to make a difference for us, if you want to bring "good news to the poor" you need to relocate to where they are at. Good stuff. And connected to that, the Urban Onramps blog, by Rudy Carrasco. Check that out too.
Yay Point Douglas!! My area of town got profiled in the Winnipeg Free Press this morning. The gist of the article was Point Douglas as a forgotten inner city neighborhood that is not as bad as everybody thinks. I had to smile at this article juxtaposed with a big yelling match outside my window that woke me up at 3:45 am last night. Seems that folks in the inner city tend to have less interest in hiding their ugly stuff. I am sure the same kinds of fights go on out in the 'burbs, just in the house with the windows closed! But I like it plenty. People are in each other's faces and in each other's lives here. That can be a good thing if you are into it.


I like this New Zealander's blog. Do you?


Good advice from Jesus Christ: this struck me again today as I was reading. Luke 14:13 and thereabouts. Jesus sitting around talking to a bunch of rich guys, and he gives them some tips. Not parables or veiled stories but some clear advice about what he thinks would be a good idea. Have a party, a big feast, and invite all the people who can't pay you back, the people that society calls the losers. Funny, in this case he's not talking about "attacking poverty at the root" or solving any of their problems. He just talking about getting us all together, teaching us to be friends. I wonder if that is the root.
Here's a wacky thing. Colorquiz.com. Stare at some colors, say which ones you like, and find out what kind of person you are. It was eerily accurate for me...


A friend of mine in Kelowna, Dustin Green, just completed the first worship compilation on his new label, Cre8ed Records. Check it out at mp3.com.
Man on his deathbed is talking with his wife. "Well, you can't take it with you, " says he. Wife says, "How do we know? Has anyone really ever tried?" So they agree that they will give it a shot. They hang his bag of gold in the corner of the room with the plan that as he goes past it he will grab it and take it along.

That night he dies and sure enough, it works. He shows up at the gates of heaven with his bag of gold. St. Peter greets him at the door to welcome him and asks, "Whatcha got in the bag?" Proudly the man opens the bag and reveals his accomplishment.

St. Peter asks, "Whatcha gonna do with asphalt?"


Wow. I just saw something you don't see too often. A goal. In soccer. I am trying so hard to be interested as friends tell me it is the most impressive game in the world etc, etc, but so far it's not working out. What am I to do? Score's at 1-0. Pretty much an insurmountable lead from what I've seen. Why don't they shrink the field or something? I suppose such blasphemy could get me hurt in some places.
In my world issues class we just watched a video called Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo. If you want to get depressed, this is just the one. War sucks, sucks, sucks. Lucky for us we don't have to think about it. Where's my remote control.. oh, there... click... ahhh..........


Here's something to take a serious look at. Amnesty International has a Worldwide Appeals page. You write to various governments internationally expressing your concern about various human rights stories. They have had some inspiring successes and all it takes is some letter writing.
Bono is spending a lot of time in Africa. Say what you want about rock stars making obnoxious preachers, but at least he's doing something. A lot better than growing old and ugly off your money and drugs.


I was talking with my friends Kim and Craig last night and the conversation was inspiring. A good look at Jesus would lead me to believe that he never gives us permission to make the call about who is in or out of the kingdom of God. On the contrary, Jesus was particular about pointing out just how surprised we will all be to find out. This to me is a welcome shift. If I am not to be to concerned with figuring out who's "saved" and who's not, it changes my mission. Love (the God-kind, not the perverted sort) becomes the very center of mission. I can be confident that my mission is to be changed, and then go change things, through Love. There is something a lot less colonial about that than working my butt off to get people to agree with my list of mental assumptions.
Can they really do this? This article talks about bringing an extinct animal back through cloning. This is getting really Jurassic Park...