Another good one from the Hauerwas article:

I also think � and this is John Howard Yoder's point � people say, "Well you can't survive without violence." Yoder said, "Well, you know, there have been a people that have survived for two millennia without an army, without a land, without a nation state � that their lives have been held together through lives of holiness and prayer. They're called Jews." (Laugh) So, you can live the way Jesus wants you to live. The Jews have done it. Maybe it's true that Christians got called out in the world for Jews to live the way we Christians think we should. This is about God after all. It's not about us. Therefore, it makes some sense that the Jews may be living the way we think we should.


From Snarky Malarkey:

Ever feel like playing God? Smite away with this Flash game...
Stanley Hauerwas: Faithfulness First

As a Christian, if George Bush had come to you and said, "Stanley, what should I do?" What would you have told him?

It's a tricky question because, if he had asked me, he wouldn't have been President! (Laugh) So, I'd say, "You need to tell the American people the truth." This is still about oil. We intervened in Kuwait to protect Saudi oil. You can say, "Well, gee, don't you think you ought to oppose a tyrant?" Look, the United States is very selective about which tyrant it's going to pursue. When Indonesia invaded East Timor twenty-five years ago, we didn't do anything. Why? East Timor didn't have any strategic interest to us. Bin Laden is clearly motivated by the fact that the United States is in Saudi Arabia. We're in Saudi Arabia to protect the oil. We need to say that the reason America has such a problem is because we're such a rich country, and we depend on the resources of the rest of the world. Therefore, maybe the best thing we could do� I mean, rather than saying, "Well, what can you do to support a reaction against bin Laden" � rather than saying "Go out and shop" � maybe he should have said we should put a three dollar tax on gas. (Laugh) That way we won't use so much of it. That would have been a sacrifice. Yeah, I'd say, "Tell the American people the truth about these matters." I'm not sure that people around the Bush Administration even know the truth because they need to tell themselves lies about what they're doing � and they believe the lies � in order to carry forward.
Man, Dan Hughes is a good talker:

this one who tells us to forgive 70*7 and who himself forgave even those executing him on the barbaric Roman electric chair also sets no limit to the love and forgiveness of his Father. God loves his enemies. God sends the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. God forgives 70*7. victory is a posture of reconciliation and selflessness; not right systematic beliefs.

He just says that so well. Here's the rest of it.

I don't know why exactly, but it's been it'sin my head a lot in the last while. Maybe because I am moving to the richest country I have ever seen. Maybe it's because twice this week friends asked me if having money and comfort is going to wash over me, cop me out, so to speak. I am thinking about what I cannot forget, the thing that has become deep and central in us over the last few years.

That thing is God's heart for the poor, the rejected, the losers, the fringes of society - whatever language you prefer. I am thinking a lot about attention paid to "spiritual disciplines", as I am feeling a need to increase things like prayer and contemplation in my life; but I am also being reminded of the incredible importance of the poor as a spiritual discipline. Friendship with the poor is vital to my spiritual health. There are kingdom things that I cannot learn apart from friendship with those on the fringes. I think it is quite similar to the role of working out (physically) in my life. Especially when I started, I despised the practice of waking up at six am on a dark and cold Winnipeg morning, dragging my butt down to the gym, and running until my lungs burn. Same thing with spiritual disciplines. They're not something you especially want to do; they are disciplines. But without my trips to the gym, I become unhealthy and fat (maybe I should say, "even fatter"). Without the poor in my life, messing up my neat and tidy times and spaces, teaching me humility, and kindness, and perserverance, my spirit is flabby.

I think I need the poor to be central in my life because they are the loudest prophetic declaration I know of that says that God's values are contrary to ours. The people who have little worth by our value systems, the people that the world says are not people who you should strive to be friends with, are the ones who Christ was deliberate about being with. We are trained to run from any kind of pain, suffering, or "ugliness". Christ chose to be there, in the low places.

God don't let me forget to be deliberate about joining him there.
My posting might be somewhat sporadic in the next while. I take off for Nagoya on Monday, and I don't know what my computer situation will be for sometime after that. Looks like we will be living in a friend's apartment in downtown Nagoya for a good part of December, so I will be back with some regularity at that time. Until then, it will be wherever I happen to track down a computer.

I have been studying Japanese pretty hard for the last couple of months. We will soon see how much it will pay off. For me, it gets way easier to learn the language when it is all around me all the time. Trying to learn it here is so disconnected from the rest of life that it frustrates me because I can hardly seem to remember what I learn the day before. Mo sugu wasureru yo.
My comments work, then they don't work, then they do again... what's up with this thing?


Me as a cyclops. What fun I am having with photoshop today...


This a view of salvation that I really appreciate. James expands on this a bit on his site:

... Well in Orthodoxy it doesn't work this way at all...in fact we see it altogether differently. Salvation is union with Christ and so the relationship with Him is not an added benefit to the "salvation contract", rather the relationship IS salvation itself. And so the process of salvation (since salvation is a relationship) is very much like the process of developing a relationship (big suprise, huh?). But to try and label or characterize any relationship with legal terms and definitions is to negate its true worth. Don't believe me? Try it sometime with your spouse.


Whenever I find Miroslav Volf talking about the concept of the "other", I am inclined to listen. It is a remarkable thing when you hear a Croatian talking about the importance of loving Serbs. A while ago, that would have been kinda like a Jew talking about the importance of loving Samaritans. Not something you hear everyday.


A couple new good blog finds: Mennoboy and Leighton Tebay.

They're Saskatchewan boys... probably Rider fans... hmmmm **eyes narrow into slits**
If the Riders beat Edmonton tonight, the Bombers can still take first place in the West, so we will be tuning in. Go Riders Go... did I say that... I suddenly feel somehow dirty...


I just watched a short thing about a couple adopting from Russia, and wow, does that whole adoption thing move me. I was thinking how in the previous post it said that the reputation of Christians was as those who take care of orphans. The Bible so regularly speaks of concern for the orphans. Wouldn't it make sense then, that among Christians adoption be a regular, common occurence - almost expected. I can't think of too many expressions of the kindness of God that are as holistic and as sustained as adoption. Right now I can admit to being a little torn as to knowing whether our next child should be biologically our own or adopted, but I do feel that somewhere in our future will be some adopted children. In my life I can remember hearing some criticism of people who "mix" families, having both biological and adopted kids, but I don't buy that. I have seen too many examples where the benefits far outweigh the difficulty of the challenges.

Foster care is another awesome option right here in Canada. I have met people who open their homes to kids from bad family situations and are able to shine such light in a dark situation. Wouldn't it be something if Christian homes were known for being centers of foster care.

And hey, if you want to join in with God's heart for the "fatherless", here is a starting point.


Andrew Careaga found a good quote on what was once the reputation of Christians:

Christians love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them. If a man has something, he gives freely to the man who has nothing. If they see a stranger, Christians take him home and are happy, as though he were a real brother. They don't consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit, in God. And if they hear that one of them is in jail, or persecuted for professing the name of their redeemer, they all give him what he needs -- if it is possible, they bail him out. If one of them is poor and there isn't enough food to go around, they fast several days to give him the food he needs... This is really a new kind of person. There is something divine in them. -- Aristides, a lawyer, before Hadrian
Archie Bunker on honesty in prayer:

See Edith, Job hollered at God and, if memory serves, he got a promotion from that there and even a nice write-up in the Bible.


Derek Eidse points me to a documentary on Iraq that brings my last post into sharp focus. I am a North American listening to the voices from the other side. If what this documentary says is true, what should we do??
Listening to an evangelical preacher talk about "righteous indignation" provoked some thoughts. It made me think about listening in humility and its relation to Truth. Now, perhaps there is a place somewhere for "righteous indignation" a la Jesus clearing the temple, but my problem with what this guy was talking about was that it reeked of arrogance. Righteous indignation requires a very high degree of certainty that what you are attacking is evil, even that your manner of attack is appropriate. And I think that is the thing that makes me nervous about fundamentalists on the right, and activists on the left, that it seems the Truth is less important than clinging to your position, which often seems to be more about where you are from (personal experiences influencing tastes and opinions) than what you have actually endeavoured to learn.

Once again, clarity likely requires that this be a more thought out discussion than just a blog entry, but if you are tracking with me, one more thought. The Truth about anything is usually impossible to know with absolute certainty, but at least getting closer to that absolute certainty requires a high degree of humility. Interesting then that humility is a virtue Jesus points us to. It requires us to listen carefully to both sides, and to be deliberate about doing so. "The wisdom that comes from heaven... shows no partiality..." I think that links in directly with Jesus telling us of a time when true worshippers would worship in spirit and truth. I think the truth side of that directs believers to be vigilant about finding honest truths, both big and small. Listening well, asking loads of questions, and a continual openness to learning seem to be part of the path to learning Love, which is worship.
More quirky Japanery. A shoe store from one of the malls in Japan.


If you like Coke, you'd better get over to Snarky Malarkey and get yourself some of these.
Remember Woody from Cheers? Who'da thought he would have an opinion... and an opinion like this.


More good music online. Check out Dale Nikkel. He is a folk singer from Edmonton who I knew in college. He has full mp3's from his album available at his site and they are indeed tasty. If you only buy one CD this year... buy mine. If you buy two, get his too...
Well, I am back. For a guy who loves traveling, I sure hate the actual travel part of travelling. Driving - I hate it. Flying - makes me throw up - literally. Ship - sick again. Ricksha is about the most enjoyable transpodtation I have experienced.

Coming out of Alberta, the Flames game was the talk of the province. Some idiot at the hockey game decided he wanted to do the naked streak thing across the ice. Problem was, he misjudged how slippery the ice was, totally wiped out, and smacked his head on the ice. So he is lying unconcious on the ice, in all his naked glory, until the trainers take pity on him, throw a towel over his midsection, and drag him off on a stretcher. Now that's entertainment.

And could some American football fan please explain to me the problem with Terrell Owens great offense?? I was listening to an American sports show on the way home, and by how incensed they were, you would have thought he had killed someone or something. It was a freakin endzone celebration! To me such actions don't "threaten the tradition and integrity of the sport". I mean lighten up. It's a game. It's entertainment. Owens was entertaining. You'd think Owens was messing with the national religion... hmmm.

Didn't endzone celebrations used to be allowed?? I seem to remember Ickey Woods doing his shuffle.


Thirteen hours of driving and all I can say is I gotta sore ass. Then I stayed up eating nachos and drinking beer (english beer which tastes rather flat to me) which I just should not do. I so pay for it! There is something about late night junk food that just doen't agree with my stomach. Anyway, probably not the content you care to read.

Now it is off to the embassy for the visa interview. After that, I think I'll take in the West Edmonton mall for a while, and then back on the road. On the way here I listened to an audio book called The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. It was such a sad, sad story about a busted up and broken down black family trying to make their way in a hostile world. But more than that it was about how we do our best to deride and destroy the things we consider ugly, cleansing ourselves on their ugliness. It got me thinking all kinds of thoughts about how Jesus remained so close, and identified with the things we consider ugly, but to much to post right now... Read the book...


More driving. Now I am off to Edmonton to get a working holiday visa from the Japanese embassy there. I have readied myself for the long drive with lots of sunflower seeds and various audio books. Everything from Dostoevsky to Oprah's book club. I also made a mix of all my favorite tunes of late, the Prairie Boredom Mix. After 14 hours of driving, they likely won't be my favorites anymore.

Today I scored 119 seconds on Windows Solitaire, a personal best. What a perfect waste of time.


Just home from Thanksgiving in Saskatchewan. Spent lots of the weekend explaining to in-laws this sudden decision to take off overseas once again. Told lots of stories about cultural differences and just why it is that Japanese folk often want to get married by a westerner. Japan is the strangest mix that way. On one hand you can say that they have a somewhat-overboard fascination with the West, but they are also well-known for the fierce clinging to the more ancient aspects of their culture. Maybe the restaurant Denny's is a good illustration of the collision between these two tendencies. Go to a Denny's in Japan. On the outside, it looks just like any Denny's you would find on this side of the Pacific, but then go inside and order something. All the food has been Japanized. And the portions are way smaller. Funny, I hated this at the beginning, but after two years of living there I came home thinking that North Americans eat too much (and that Japanese food is much better than ours).

Japanese folk on the surface are rarely arrogant or condescending. They are usually humble, almost to an annoying extent for a Westerner. But underneath the very polite exterior, I found that most Japanese are as proud of their country and their ways as any Canadian. I remember seeing just a trace of contempt for things un-Japanese once when I was talking with a friend of mine. He had just returned from a trip to America and the thing that struck him as digusting was that most often Westerners put the toilet and the bathtub in the same room. He said, "We Japanese feel that to put such a "clean thing" and a "dirty thing" in the same room is something barbarians would do." I responded that us Canadians feel that not cooking your food is something barbarians would do..." Ooooo. Tense moment. But you don't get too many of those.


Daniel Miller has an article over at Seven magazine where he points to all kinds of good music available on the net. That got me looking around at old favorites of mine as well:

Nathan - Band from Winnipeg that is on their way up. Keri McTighe, lead-singer, has a gorgeous voice. The song to listen to is .Australia

Whitelock - Band from Vancouver. Fall is an amazing song.

The Ancestors - New York band. I have only heard one song, but I like it plenty. Sounds like neo-Lou Reed.

Blimp - Sometimes you get lucky and find a good one at mp3.com. Who's Laughing Now is a good song.

Jennifer Marks - She writes this ballad called Fragile that has the saddest chorus.

And here is the website for Radio I. It is one of the things that is getting me excited about getting to Japan. It is a good sized station in Nagoya where a friend of mine works. He is the afternoon DJ and well-connected into the musical life of Nagoya. So I am looking forward to continuing with music and touring over there. Heck of a lot easier to tour in Japan, where I will have five massive cities within a four hour drive. Compared to Canada where you play one small city and then drive 12 hours to the next one.


Good point Kevin...

I've always had a little problem with the cliche, "Bleeding Hearts." I first heard the phrase when I was a kid, and like most kids, I took the phrase literally - and I agreed. Yes, hearts do bleed. They bleed constantly - that's what they're made for. As a matter of fact, hearts bleed so much that blood has to be constantly pumped back into them. And even more importantly, when hearts stop bleeding, they die.

... or maybe turn to stone...

Toronto, Ontario Two volunteers from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), Lisa Martens, 25, from Winnipeg MB, and Ben Horst, 23, from Evanston IL, were detained without charges by twelve members of the Colombian Administrative Security Department and the Colombian armed forces at 10 p.m. on October 8, 2002.

Earlier the same day, Martens and Horst, had accompanied a Colombian civilian woman, along with the body of her deceased husband and other civilians, from a nearby village to the city of Yondo, for burial. The civilian woman had requested international accompaniment because of her fear of . None of the civilians were members of any illegal armed group, nor were any armed.

Martens said, ?We have done this before. We have fished bodies out of the river because even their relatives are afraid to, afraid that they will be further victimized.?

CPT regularly accompanies unarmed civilians who are in danger because of the ubiquitous in Colombia. ?The accompaniment Lisa and Ben offered a bereaved widow, so her husband's body could treated and buried with dignity, is a part of the work of building peace in a war-wracked country," said Gene Stoltzfus, Director of CPT.

CPT staff contacted legislators and government officials in both Canada and the United States to seek the release of Martens and Horst. Officials from both countries were in contact with Colombian officials throughout October 9, and by late afternoon Martens and Horst were released without charges.

After her release, Martens reported, ?While in detention, we prayed and called to mind the great cloud of witnesses in heaven who are concerned for us and the people of Colombia.?

CPT still does not understand why Martens and Horst were detained, but hopes that the Colombian government better understands the work of CPT after this event. Colombian President Uribe has stated that his government is committed to the protection of human rights. CPT hopes that Colombian and international human rights organizations will be able to continue their work of defending the rights of unarmed civilians caught in the y conflict that grips Colombia.

CPT has had a -reduction team in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, since May 2001, at the invitation of the Colombian Mennonite Church. Present team members are Scott Albrecht (Waterloo ON), Ben Horst (Evanston IL), Lisa Martens (Winnipeg MB), and Lena Siegers (Blythe ON).

CPT is sponsored by Mennonite and Brethren congregations, Friends? Meetings (Quakers), and other Christians, both Catholic and Protestant from other denominations, in Canada, the U.S.A. and the U.K.


Man, Wayne Gretzky is a classy guy...
Simon is sick with an ear infection, so it was a long night of Teletubbies for me. Thank God Treehouse TV plays almost 24 hours. Finally, at 5:50 am, he fell asleep, and he's still out now. It's 11:30. Good thing I have no classes today.


From an article by Dave Andrews:

In Jesus on the cross, we can see that God embraces our pain. Frederick Beuchner tells a story that he says is 'a peculiarly twentieth century story'. And you only have to hear the story once to know it's just the kind of story that Jesus himself might have told. 'It's a kind of parable of the lives of all of us. It's about a boy of twelve or thirteen who, in a fit of crazy anger got hold of a gun and fired it at his father, who did not die straight away but soon afterward. When (he) was asked why he had done it, he said that he could not stand his father, because his father demanded too much of him. And then later on, after he had been placed in a house of detention, a guard was walking down the corridor late one night when he heard sounds from the boy's room, and he stopped to listen. The words that he heard the boy sobbing out in the dark were, "I want my father, I want my father". 'Our father', Beuchner says, 'we have killed him, and we will kill him again.' But Jesus, on the cross cries out, as one of us, saying "Father. Forgive them. For (I know) they know not what they do".


Jordon Cooper posted this a couple of weeks ago, but it has been bouncing around in my head so much, I thought I would put it up again. The idea in this quote is so similar to a book, Christian Anarchy, that changed how I thought.

Our worst sin is prayerlessnss, because of what it says about who we really think is in charge of the church and the universe. God save us from the people who would renew the church and bring justice in the world without praying. Having he appearance of godliness, but denying its power, they are more dangerous than the wrongs they would set right. They will replace old evils with new evils, themselves. -- P. T. Forsyth


I am cleaning up my desk today and I found two things that were juxtaposed in such a way as to get me thinking. First I found my year book from university. It got me all nostalgic and thinking of how I would like to head back to the institutions for some more of that "higher learning". Then I found a sort of journal entry I had written on a legal pad that reminded me of the tenous balance between theory and practice; I haven't thought about it much for awhile, but that struggle was a big deal to me in those days:

Anytime something takes our focus off of the acting out of grace, the demonstration of the Christ kind of Love, the forceful advancement of the Kingdom behins to lose momentum. Historically, I believe I can see where theological pursuits have become so singularly intellectual and divorced from the radical self-sacrifice of Christian Love, that the Kingdom of God in that sphere grinds to a halt altogether. It would seem to me that the wisdom of God is again the opposite of what seems so wise to us - to the point where the kindly lady who has no intellectual depth of understanding regarding theological things , yet whose heart is turned by compassion to, say, taking care of orphans, is much closer to the Kingdom than the professors in the seminaries whose head-truth is never allowed anywhere near their hearts.
I found this through Dan Hughes. It is called the LaughLab and it was a great big study some university did on humour. There is a bit of discussion on the types of jokes that various countries found funny. The UK joke made me laugh the hardest. Does that mean I have a British sense of humour? No wonder I was the only one laughing at The Full Monty...


A profound theology-meets-reality moment from James Ferrenberg had me in tears...

Draw us near and bind us tight
All your children here in our rags of light
In our rags of light, all dressed to kill
Come end this night, if it be thy will

Leonard Cohen


Speaking of Simon, I am starting to realize how threatened my computer time will be as he gets older. Already he drags me to the computer and demands "Tubbie-tubbies", which we all know means, "let's go to the Tele-tubbies website". Now we found a new one with Little Critter that he also likes lots. I have been searching around for more such interactive websites, but haven't been finding much. Any ideas??
Simon, at 20 months, has lots to say. For the longest time, he would ever so sweetly say "thank you" whenever you gave him something. Recently, for reasons that I can't figure out, he stopped saying "thank-you" when given something and instead says, "there you go mom". I often say to him "there you go" so that is no surprise, but adding the "mom" on the end is a mystery. So I have been telling him that he should say, "thank you dad". I guess he must be trying to incorporate at least some of my suggestions, as this morning when I gave him his bottle he said "thank you mom dad". Close enough.
Something you don't hear a church pastor say every day:

We are nearing the end of a 2 year transition and one of the final steps in the transition will (I believe) affect my "employment" with VC. This is not really a vocational shift as much as I just want to go off the payroll and streamline the budget down to the absolute minimum overhead (like a phone and internet service and that's about it) and free up the rest for mission (church planting, coaching leaders etc)...
Blogstyles of the rich and famous.



Someone found my blog by googling "I hate canadian tire". Good. I hope the truth gets out.

Hmm. Is this somewhat in opposition to my last post? Like I said, all that stuff is hard. Real hard.
The Wisdom That Comes From God

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere.

Methinks that is just plain hard....
I switched my radio to CBC 1 tonight because I am soooo gut-wrenchingly tired of Avril Lavigne and Nelly. The program Ideas was on, and it was pretty interesting. And their website provides some good internet content, if you are sitting for hours at your computer and want something informative playing in the background.

Tonight was a discussion with Jean Vanier, the guy who began L'Arche community, and was very influential on Henri Nouwen. It is not up yet, but there is another talk with Vanier posted, which would likely be good. Also, Jordon Cooper was talking about Hernando DeSoto, and there is a talk there with him about globalization and poverty. Another one that looks good is THE CRUSADES: AN ARAB VIEW, but go take a look and see what you like.


Whoah. Derek and Joy are going to try to get Kevin Costner to come and produce a documentary about Aboriginal peoples up in Norway House. Nice. You go, you video technology freaks...