Doesn't this sound about right?

North's Law of Folk Music: "The winners write the history textbooks, and the losers write the folk songs."

From this article which I found here .


Oh, and an audio version of that song is at www.mp3.com/neac. It was an album we did a while back. Some explanation from the liner notes:

This CD began as a project of the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard School of Justice. It grew out of desire to give a voice to those in our community and our society who would normally be left unheard. We offer these songs as a reflection of our community; we are from different social, racial and economic backgrounds, but Jesus brings us together, Jesus makes us one. And through this, Jesus demonstrates to us his kingdom. He whispers to us that we should listen to the small voices, the ones being drowned out by the noisy processions led by the priests of a thousand other gods. He shows us that those with no fixed address have a lot in common with Him, and so, we want to get to know these people, the princes and princesses of the kingdom.

Jesus, we are driven by your whisperings, and we thank you for this rooftop.
It's amazing how a song can bring such an emotional response in a person. Here's a song that does that for me, again and again. It's called Prodigal Daughter by Andrew Smith. And I feel like I should of written this one. It expresses my heart so closely.

Prodigal Daughter
Andrew Smith

I see her wander �round
Princess without her crown
Stumbling and falling down
beneath her burden
She�s floating through my town
A bride without a gown
Passing her heart around
to numb the hurting

She�s scared of coming home
She�s been so long alone
She sat upon her throne until it crumbled
And now she�s got to choose
She�s nothing left to lose
She�s battered and she�s bruised
and feeling humbled
and saying her prayers to anyone

Who is her brother?
Who is her keeper?
Where is her lover?
Can anyone reach her?
A cup of cold water
in the name of the father
I�m sending a letter
to the prodigal daughter

Now where is the reward
for all the ones who mourn
for those who suffer scorn
and have no father
Maybe the blessed are cursed
Maybe the last are first
Maybe the ones who thirst
will find the water

Her lover sees inside
He sees with lover�s eyes
He sees a radiant bride
with passion burning
Everything upside-down
Her rags become a gown
Her scars become a crown
at the returning
and I�ll sing my song for you baby

� 1997 Remnant Records


And more good stuff from Tom Sine (conversation at ginkworld also).

... I am very concerned that a number of American evangelical Christians not only fail to question the assumptions underlying faith and culture issues but our political and economic views as well. We are seeing a growing reliance on nationalism, political and military power and the pursuit of empire to set the world right. I am concerned that so few American believers are questioning the assumptions underlying this new effort to shape the global future. I believe that we need to ask questions like: �are the aspirations of empire and the goals of the kingdom synonymous?� If American believers are open to discussing these important questions from a biblical view point I suggest we begin by seeking the view point of Christians in other countries. I would urge that we ask our friends in other countries how they view the most urgent political and economic issues in our world and how they believe scripture calls us to respond to these issues.... and really listen.
This is just a good thing to be reminded of:

...that the essential thing is "to count conversations more than conversions." If we are always trying to convert people, we'll shortchange conversations -- with all their questions and twists and turns and ups and downs -- and as a result, conversions won't happen. But if we focus on asking good questions and keeping conversations going, conversions naturally occur. At least, that's how it seems to me. Sometimes it's just best to ask questions, like "Tell me about your belief in God," and then just to listen, listen, listen. We may preach more effectively by asking questions and listening than by anything else....

From a conversation with Brian McLaren at ginkworld.
An email today alerted me to the fact that I have never explained the reason for the nickname "Fatblueman" here. Here is the response I sent...

Here is the Fatblueman. My sister painted this little icon for me when I was in Japan. At the time my wife and I were totally isolated from anything "church" so we were quickly learning what it was to be followers of Christ rather than only church-goers. At the time, I realized about myself and my society that we are "fat" and "blue", overfed to the point of immobility, and bored to tears. But deep inside there somewhere was the spark of Love that leads us to live with passion.

My sister thought, sheesh, that was a lot of meaning for a sketch that took her 10 minutes to create.

Anyway, I named the first little demo I did "Reflections from Deep Inside a Fat Blue Man". And the name kinda stuck.


I am going to the airport to pick up a girl that a friend in Japan is sending over for a holiday. It should be a fun week. i get to practice my nihongo (hotondo wasurechotta) and show her around the place. And with all the Asians in the house, it should be a nutritionally brilliant week of kimchi, miso soup, tonkatsu, etc. I know that mot much about me looks Asian but I am pretty sure that my stomach is oriental.

I have never been in a place where the variety of food is so broad as when we were in Japan and Korea. My Asian friends love to serve you some strange mystery food, and then tell you what it is after you have eaten it. I regularly ate salty plums (oh it burns!), sea cucumber (looks like snot), and cow's tongue (who's tasting who here..). But the one that took the cake was at a bar-b-q. Of course I was supposed to eat it first (they said if they told me what it was, I wouldn't try it). Not one to back down from an adventure, I ground it on down. It was kind of a bony, intenstiny texture. What was it? Shikku, they told me. Quick check of the electronic dictionary: cow's uterus. Yeesh. Talk about nothing going to waste. I didn't eat that one twice.

So when we bring them here I try to do the same, shock them with something strange that we eat. But you know what? We don't really eat anything that they don't already have in some kind of similar form. One time I reached way back into my Mennonite heritage to find a food (that I love) that I thought would make them flinch. Cracklings, it's called. Pig fat basically. But they didn't even mind that. My family was more disgusted than my Japanese friends were.


An article like the one I read in the previous post drives me further toward a sort of theological minimalism. There are a few things I consider vital and they pretty much revolve around Christ's Love changing us into being active "Love-ers". Beyond that, I am pretty happy to leave a lot of things in the grey. In fact, it seems that being too concerned with the stuff beyond that usually leads us away from the mission of knowing and revealing the Love of God. If theology becomes disconnected from a life lived, has it any value?

Do you think all that is ok?
I thought this was a think-inducer:

"G. K. Chesterton is supposed to have warned against liberal distortions of Christian truth by saying that if one wishes to draw a giraffe one can draw it many ways, but it has to have a long neck. A moment of genuine enlightenment occurred for me when I repeated this aphorism to a colleague who replied: "Unless one is viewing the giraffe from above." Before condemning a Christian thinker for not drawing the giraffe correctly, it is worthwhile to inquire into his or her perspective. Traditionalists are right to affirm that Christianity �and especially evangelical Christianity�cannot be made compatible with any and every cognitive content. On the other hand, they need to recognize that viewpoints may give equally correct affirmations diverse forms. "

From an article in CT called The Future of Evangelical Theology.
And here is another great one:


I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Chorus: Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Maybe I've been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
I remember when I moved in, you
Your holy dark was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Maybe there's a God above
And all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
Yeah but it's not a complaint that you hear tonight
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

You say I took the Name in vain
I don't even know the Name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
In our live show we have been doing a song by the Canadian poet Leonard Cohen. He is a brilliant poet. His songs just do something (good) to me. So I have to share some lyrics...

If It Be Your Will

If it be your will that I speak no more
And my voice be still as it was before
I will speak no more, I shall abide until
I am spoken for, if it be your will

If it be your will that a voice be true
From this broken hill I will sing to you
From this broken hill all your praises they shall ring
If it be your will to let me sing

If it be your will if there is a choice
Let the rivers fill let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill on all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will to make us well

And draw us near and bind us tight
All your children here in their rags of light
In our rags of light all dressed to kill
And end this night if it be your will


Alan Creech is thinking some interesting thoughts about church meetings and why we do them. I added this comment:

I have a friend who speaks about many a Christian's relationship to the institutional church in terms of codependence. He figures it is like an addiction that, unless we get in that two hours on Sunday am, we have done something wrong, and God is getting nervous about us. So he figured that the way to deal with a codependent relationship is to leave it - to find out what it means to be a Christ-ian.

I see a lot of people doing that lately, and I don't think it is too threatening. I think it's a very good thing to work out for yourself what it means to follow Jesus rather than simply attending church. I don't think it means the end of meetings. I just think that when these people start "meeting together" again, their meetings will serve the relationships rather than them serving the meeting machine.

I know that is a cheap and easy way to fill a blog but... well...


I heard Tony Campolo say something once that, for whatever reason, was running through my head today. He was talking about how his mother that had always told him, "...you were not brought in to this world to be happy. You were brought in to this world to be good."

Then he went on to talk about how such a philosophy is so at odds with the society we live in, which pretty much revolves around a really shallow take on happiness (ie: decrease pain, increase pleasure). But he talked about being good. Not a cheap keep-a-long-list-of-rules kind of goodness, but to live a life that radiates the goodness, kindness, compassion, justice, and mercy of a "good" God.

I just find that so inspiring.
Here is a blurb that a friend of mine sent me the other day. It is from the 24-7 Prayer site. I just thought it souded like a great idea - a good expression of what has been stirring with so many of us for a while:

Houses of Prayer...

Maybe it was inevitable from the start�

First 24-7 Prayer Rooms began self-seeding around the world

Then some people started joining up all the seasons of prayer to form prayer houses; on the go 24-7-365!

"� these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer� For my house will be called A house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 56.7)

Ancient rhythm, be our vision�

We nick-named them 'Boiler Rooms' because there was that sense of an engine driving God's dreams forward. We also liked the industrial vibe - these are not rural idylls, they are right in the heart of messed-up communities. We later found out that the great preacher Spurgeon attributed his effectiveness to his 'boiler rooms' - prayer-rooms that supported his ministry.

Some people describe the Boiler Rooms as 'Gen. X monasteries' because of similarities with the ancient Celtic (and later Franciscan) monastic movements. Although we fall along way short of those radical prayer-communities, we do find ourselves gathering to do many of the same things as them. The heart is the same but the clothes are new. So we adopted the strap-line 'Millennium 3 Monasteries' ('Gen X' sucks!)

"The dominant institution of Celtic Christianity was neither the parish church nor the cathedral, but the monastery� a combination of commune, retreat house, mission station, hotel, hospital, school, university, arts centre and power-house for the local community - a source not only of spiritual energy but also of hospitality, learning and cultural enlightenment."
(Ian Bradley - The Celtic Way)

Like those early Celtic pioneers we are seeking to establish prayer-houses right at the heart of communities; a hostel for modern-day pilgrims, an outlet of justice for the poor, a mission station and an arts centre.


Someone asked me about my "life verse" - the verse of scripture which is the theme or mission statement for my life. I monitored in my reaction a certain contempt for the idea (I gave Proverbs 31:6,7 as mine). But upon further reflection, it is true and obvious that everyone has scriptures that they emphasize (how else could there be so many breeds of christians all reading from the same book?).

So I was thinking of the scriptures that continually come up for me as themes, or as foundational to where I aim my life. Here's what I came up with:

Matthew 22: 34 - 39; Mark 12: 28 - 34

Luke 6: 20 - 49

Matthew 25: 31 - 46

1 Corinthians 3: 10 - 13

Romans 12: 9 - 21

Romans 2: 1 - 16

1 John 3: 11 - 24; 1 John 4: 7 - 21

2 Corinthians 10: 3 - 5

James 2

This was a really good exercise. I am feeling all kinda pumped up. There is more, but I think I will just read it over to myself. There's a lot of good stuff in there!
Mike Bishop is dreaming good dreams:

"The idea is this: What if a few people in the church were sent out to 'plant' a small missional community in one specific neighborhood in Chattanooga? They would sell their houses and move within walking distance of each other at the location of their choice. They would participate in some kind of corporate discipline together - praying the daily office, gathering for common meals, sharing work cleaning duties around their houses, etc. The community they develop would be intentionally open, focusing on sowing Kingdom seeds in the lives of their neighbors. But at the core of their mission would be their friendship - their unique love for one another born out of common love for Jesus and the commitment they have made to each other."

I don't know when, but we are going there one day too...


"It is long and a bit pompous, but then, again, in blogdom, who isn't? One man's pompous prat is another's amusing clever blogger."

From Andrew Ian Dodge, who has an entertaining take on blogdom.
And in memory of last year's Fringe performance (and anticipation of this year's) here is a rough recording of a song we sang once, and then kind of dropped. The Anarchy Song ...seems that word made people nervous...
Hey, for anyone who is local to Winnipeg, Kim and I have a gig at the Fringe festival this Saturday at noonish (11:45am is the official start). We will be doing one set at the Old Market Square Fringe Mainstage. The buzz is that it will be the greatest outdoor concert since Live Aid.

Along with that, the best of Winnipeg's scads of summer festivals starts Thursday. I recommend the Royal Liechtenstein Theatre Company. They do some hilarious sketch comedy. I've seen them two years in a row. They even just got TV gig with the CBC.


Say... for some incredible in-depth analysis regarding the spiritual themes inherent in Seuss's seminal work Green Eggs and Ham, go here.
Here's a good example of the kingdom charging forward. It's "about a palm pilot software programmer who is down with the Christian Community Development cause in the 'hood of East Palo Alto" (found at Rudy C's blog ). Dat's what I'm talking about, yo! (white farmboys should maybe avoid inner-city-ese, y'think?)


Man! You want to hear a good song? And well done too? The Corrs featuring Bono at mp3.com. Watch the video if you have high speed.


Here's a piece from the interview with Chomsky. Interesting...

ES: You suggested after September 11th, that we ought to look in the mirror, we being America or the West. We ought to look in the mirror at ourselves. Was that a way of saying - "Look, people like Bin Laden are angry at us for good reason?"

NC: That's not what I was saying. The statement of mine that you just quoted is a very conservative statement, in fact it was articulated by George Bush's favorite philosopher, Jesus Christ, who pointed out, and famously defined the notion, hypocrite. A hypocrite is a person who focuses on the other fellow's crimes and refuses to look at his own. That's the definition of hypocrite by George Bush's favorite philosopher. When I repeat that I'm not taking a radical position. I'm taking a position that is just elementary morality.

ES: But even if he is a hypocrite�

NC: Not he, everybody. Let me ask you another question. Here's an experiment. Try to find a phrase in the massive commentary on September 11th, that is not hypocritical in the sense of George Bush's favorite philosopher. Find one phrase. I don't think you can do it.

ES: OK but before, I don't want to get gnostic here and religious�

NC: This is not religion, this is elementary morality. If people cannot rise to the level of applying to ourselves the same standards we apply to others we have no right to talk about right and wrong or good and evil.
For anyone interested in the Middle East situation and the events of 9-11 from a historical perspective, I saw a good one tonight. CBC Newsworld has a show called Hottype, and what's good about it is that, even though the host leans pretty left of centre, he does a good job of giving voice to both sides and letting us form opinions from that. Impartiality is a good and Godly thing...

Anyway, he has interviews with both Noam Chomsky and Bernard Lewis, who aren't that impressed with each other. Long read, but just think of how much better informed you will be afterward...


One more story that made me laugh all weekend. A friend told me this a swears up and down that it really happened. Apparently, the worst part was that when the pastor made the error he didn't even try to continue through it, but just stepped down from the podium and went and sat down in embarrassment.

Anyway, he was a stately, old preacher who got up to give the message or do the scripture reading. As he fumbled in his shirt pocket he said,

"Please turn with me to first glasses while I pull out my Peter..."

Ah, the twelve-year-old in me is doubled over once again...
Oh, and thank you Jeff McCann. I am adding him to the list of kind people who gave me a positive review... that list being two now.
I heard recently that a grand old house three doors down from us (it was the house of Winnipeg's first mayor... aren't you impressed now??) may be coming available. Now, there are enough of us around here who are very into community living/ inner-city development/ relocation-is-incarnation type stuff, and who would like to go deeper in that direction, but here is my question: how do you go about finding the money to go after such a thing?? Especially all you house-churchy community types, what crazy and creative ways do you go about finding the funds to undertake such a venture? Or all you all millionaires?? I've got some stuff I am going to try, but I would love to hear ideas...


Found a computer. It is more interesting reading blogs than straining to hear others reminisce about things that I wasn't there for in a smoky and dimly lit hall. Some interesting points to the day though. I met these folks, who are doing some inspiring church network stuff in Brazil (boating down dangerous Amazon tributaries, etc). Very cool...


I am heading out the door to begin our trek across Saskatchewan to Andrea's high school reunion. I will be posing as her rich and ultra-successful husband as the truth just hurts too much...

In the meantime, for your entertainment, here are the lyrics from a cheezy country song I wrote:

The Drive North (An Autobiographical Nursery Rhyme)

Feeble in attempts to grasp a hold of something more
Looking forward only to find less of what I looked for
Even points between had changed their look from where I do
Balance on the axis of a spinning sort of �what is true�

�True� is what they point you to, and then is what you see
And �True� has charged a lot for what I thought I had for free
And �True North� is so hard to find, aiming at poles that move
Perhaps a misdirection �cause I know that I can prove
That polar is apart about as far as you can go
And polar is the place with all the cold and all the snow
And polar is finality with nowhere left to turn
And polar is the place you go to freeze, not to burn

I still love the journey but the pole becomes the end
�Cause if I keep on going then I�m heading south again
And what�s the point of heading south if North is where you�re going
Until my ever-squinting eyes can see it�s warm and it�s stopped snowing
And the sun is shining, and it�s not cold here anymore

Layers now are coming off and searching I can see
A little bit more clearly to the core of �what is me�
And I guess I�ve changed direction, I guess I�ve lost my aim
But I�ll not tell my destiny �cause it�s not got a name


I was just doing some web searching about the North End that reminded me of an affectionately self-deprecating joke one my students told me. Of course you understand that you can only tell this joke or even laugh at it if you are from the North End, otherwise someone from here will likely come and kick your @#$%...

Two guys from the North End show up at the gates of heaven. St. Peter sees them and gets kinda nervous and figures that he'd better run this one past God before letting them in. So he goes to God and says,

"Umm, God, there are these two guys at the door and I don't know if I should let them in or not..."

"What's the problem??" says God.

"Well, they are from the North End."

"Peter. Come on. You know I love all my children. Get back there right now and let them in."

Peter returns to the gates but moments later comes running back to God yelling,

"Lord, they're gone! They're gone!!"

"Why did they leave? Did you offend them?"

"No, no! The Gates!!"


"It's a matter of being beyond nationalism - beyond earthly allegiance - focusing on things above rather than on things below. Frankly, it seems clear to me in scripture, that if the founding fathers were to have been paying close attention, they would have seen that bit about submitting yourself to earthly authorities - EVEN the ones who were unfair and a bit tyranical - we might never have had a revolution."

Wow! An American said that! And two days before July 4th! He shall remain unnamed for his own protection :-)
I have been spending some time lately over at Kiwi University under the tutelage of Professor Fromont. I like lots of what he is thinking.

Check out his July 2nd entry, on The Provocative Church. This struck me because I went to sleep thinking about the same thing last night. I was thinking how the best "tool of evangelism" or whatever you want to call it is to really follow Christ. Taking him seriously and acting out his way causes heads to turn and people who are otherwise disinterested to start asking questions. A couple of examples are the two stories I shared a few days ago. Here's another one:

A guy I know owned two houses. He gave one away to a friend (and it is a nice house). He straight out gave it to him, no payments, expectations or agendas. The second guy is now using it to live in community with some friends of his.

I have seen remarkable fallout from this act. I, for one, could hardly believe that our buddy just went from debt-laden-single-guy to homeowner in one day. Some reacted almost with anger, almost feeling like such generosity isn't even fair (brings to mind the parable of the workers in the vineyard, Matthew 20). Others reacted to this act with acts of their own. There was an attitude of "wow, if he can be that generous here, I can be generous there". I have a friend who is rather disintersted in anything Christian who heard about this. His response was so gushy and incredulous it made me laugh. "These people must really believe it," he kept saying. I was saying the same thing.

This is the kind of stuff that makes for "provocative Christianity". This kind of action turns its back on the spirit of the world that says things have to be done like so, that you have to live in a mediocre way. Our part is to have the creativity to think of what crazy things we might do, and then the courage to do them. The courage is necessary because the sacrifice part is hard (it was hard for Jesus too) but it is the sacrifice that reveals the difference. Wouldn't it be something if Christians were defined by the acts of kindness, compassion and self-sacrifice that the Leader was known for, if we were known "by our Love".