Hey, Warren Kinsella took down the "childish attack" post. You think we played any part in that? I wonder. From time to time, if something really irks me, I might send off an opinionated email. Join in the "democratic" process. I am little skeptical about it actually having much effect, but you sure get some interesting responses sometimes.


Impactful lyrics from Andrew Smith:

Searching for a language of the soul
Much moreso than any unifying creed
Or militant meassage
And we're hard to hold
Like fog people
As we search for a reason
To waste our lives

(Holy War)
Darren Rowse suggests a church that is full of hot air...
I haven't introduced any new bloggers for while - likely because I have hardly been reading any blogs in the last month. But now the high speed connection is up and my cyber friendships are getting re-established.

Anyway, two blogs I will be watching closely in the days to come. One is Mike Todd. I noticed that he doesn't have an "about me" section on his blog (and then I noticed that I don't either), so I don't know much about him, but I intend to find out more. I know he is from Toronto, which we are ok with if he avoids all Winnipeg weather jokes.

And also my cousin Ron Janzen. He is about ten years older than me, and used to take me around on his motorbike. That's about all I can recall. Anyway, he's now a family-man living in Steinbach and posting some interesting quotes and commentary. And he's smart, real smart. So don't over there with brain disengaged.
From the bored-in-Japan file...

What would happen if the sun went out?

And why is snow white?

Another kind of baptism??
I sent the previous post to Kinsella's email. Here is the response I got back:

If you want heavyweight Canadian politicians, John, look elsewhere. Warren's is about/for anything but that.

PS Go easy on the piety over the holidays. We'll all be better off as a result.

Brian, from what you say in your comment, it sounds like this guy's m.o. is to be the frat-boy prankster of Canadian politics. Good for him (John applauds sarcastically).


It is a sad thing. I hear that heavyweight Canadian politicians are blogging now. Hmm. Sounds like something I might want to check out. What do I find? Warren Kinsella initiating a childish personal attack on some NDP that made him mad. Reminds me why I pay as little attention as possible to party politics.

And they wonder why the younger generation is disillusioned. These are our �gleaders"...
To my cousin Ron Janzen. If you read this, please send me an email. I want to send you a Christmas picture and I lost your address...


Whoah, it was cold in Japan today. Well, not Winnipeg cold, but Japan cold, which is around 0 degrees. But the thing is, in Winnipeg inside the house is always a comfortable 22 degrees or so. Not so Japan. It is truly one of the strange paradoxes of Japan. They hate the discomfort of a cold toilet seat, so everyone has a heated one of those, but central heating is just something that no one sees as necessary. And rarely does anyone leave their heater on all night (dangerous and wasteful I suppose), so on a cold morning you wake up with very visible breath. And then there is the argument, the debate about who's turn it is to get out of the warm bed to turn the heater on.

But then there are the baths, and what luxury is lost in the absence of central heating is all gained back through the Japanese bathing experience. They just plain do it better than we do. It is a ceremony, a ritual that has a history reaching back to the times when the Kings and Queens of us dirty Europeans were taking baths only once or twice yearly.

This morning I went to a local "fitness club" which is a gym/ swimming pool/ public bath. After a workout you can go and soak in either an indoor or outdoor bath, with water so hot you turn lobster red in only minutes. And this is a cheap imitation of the real deal specialized public bath houses. There you can soak in any number of pools, from "medicine water" pools, to "polar bear pools" (six or eight degrees). Usually, they even have an electro-shock pool which I can never get into beyond my ankles.

It is such a relaxing and relational way to waste time. Of course, everyone is buck naked (men separate from women) which sometimes causes a little pause among foreigers, but once you get past that, it is a great way to hang out with the guys (pun not intended, but not deleted either). Way better than Monday Night Football.
Did I mention that I like what Len has to say?

The best apology is a life lived in the grace of Christ. But unless that life has a strong relational dimension, it remains private.. love is relational by definition. We must demonstrate in renewed communities that the Gospel is true. Today the greatest hindrance to the Gospel is faith communities that are not transformed communities or are based almost solely on Sunday relationships.

St. Francis wrote, "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." The witness to the power of the early church was not just the signs done by the apostles but the surrounding community looking on and saying, "See how they love one another!" The Spirit makes us One. When those around SEE the truth in flesh, they will believe it. Isn't this the very heart of the meaning of the incarnation? God could have lectured us as to His caring for us, His presence with us.. instead, He demonstrated love in his life by living among us, and by dying for us.


Len has this to say on the postmodern theology blog:

My point is incarnation.. a physical, historical and fleshly manifestation of the truth. Lacking this we only have a modern propositional apologetic and reasonable sounding excuses about truth and witness. The church must be an embodied presence, and faith is participation in truth embodied in a faithful community.

So, I am not arguing that we abandon our multiple or electronic communities. I am arguing for a center of embodied presence. If we fail in that one, the others wont' be worth much.

Noam Chomsky proposes encouraging Iran to invade Iraq as a solution to America's current dilemma...


I was really taken by this Dave Matthews song today. I like how he says it.

Christmas Song

She was his girl; he was her boyfriend
She be his wife; take him as her husband
A surprise on the way, any day, any day
One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy
The wise men came three made their way
To shower him with love
While he lay in the hay
Shower him with love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around
Not very much of his childhood was known
Kept his mother mary worried
Always out on his own
He met another Mary for a reasonable fee,
Less than
Reputable as known to be

His heart was full of love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around

When Jesus Christ was nailed to his tree
He said "oh, daddy-o I can see how it all soon will be
I came to shed a little light on this darkening scene
Instead I fear I spill the blood of my children all around"

The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around

So the story goes, so I'm told
The people he knew were
Less than golden hearted
Gamblers and robbers
Drinkers and jokers, all soul searches
Like you and me

Rumours insisted he soon would be
For his deviations
Taken into custody by the authorities
Less informed than he,
Drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers
Searching for love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around

Perparations were made
For his celebration day
He said "eat this bread and think of it as me
Drink this wine and dream it will be
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around"

Father up above, why in all this anger have you filled
Me up with love
Fill me love love love
Love love
And the blood of our children all around
Merry Christmas from Japan. I still haven't figured out how to access my webspace, so if you are interested in some of our Japan pictures thus far, go here.


I always think this gets more obvious when you live in another culture:

I don't cuss a whole lot. Even when I'm upset, the words just don't come out. I have no ethical objections to most cuss words. A word is a word is a word. I only have a moral objection to language used to hurt people, degrade others, and purposely offend. Obviously cuss words can be effectively used towards that purpose, but cuss words are not the enemy. I can hurt, degrade, and offend without dropped any particularly word; it's the set of words. The overall organization of my thoughts that can hurt people. We don't need to be afraid of a particular word.

From David Hopkins.
Yeah, I didn't explain say much about the Osaka trip. I was there for the weekend to work with the company I am doing weddings with. It was an interesting place to visit, and just as interesting was the ride there on the Shinkansen. For someone coming from a country that rarely uses trains to transport people, the bullet train is a wonder. When you hit about 200kmh or so, there is something almost scary about seeing another train coming at you at the same speed. And for the two seconds it takes for the trains to pass at 400kmh, a few feet from each other, you are thankful for the precision of Japanese technology.

Osaka was populous and never-ending, which I tend to like. The downtown section is called Umeda and it takes shopping to a whole new level. On top of one of the shopping centres is a massive red ferris wheel that will let you and your date take a romantic look over the city, for only about ten bucks. That is pretty cheap for Japan.

And apparently Osaka is one of the few cities in Japan that has a "bad area", like an inner city in North America. Generally, real estate estate prices here are so high that "white flight" is not really an option (though I guess it wouldn't be "white" flight here, would it...) so poverty stricken inner city areas generally don't happen. I am interested to see this area, how bad it really is, because I know that for a lot of Japanese, the desire for complete security causes their definition of a "bad area" and mine to be very far apart.


Well, lookey here. Seems that what all those reams of Japanese forms that came about an internet hookup were actually telling us that all we need to do is plug in. Andrea figured that out, and we are ONLINE!! Woohoo. I guess that is why God puts people like me together with people like Andrea, to keep me from blundering my way through life. So now I put a bit more time into hefty analysis of Japanese life...

...Well, as soon as there is some time. Tomorrow is another 13 class day, and Christmas day - 15 classes!! Seems Christmas is just kind of an evening thing here. Christmas cake (specially made at Japanese bakeries everywhere) and fried chicken from KFC. That is what most everyone does. Quirky, eh? That's why I like it here.


I am spending my anniversary in a business hotel in Osaka sans wife. How much fun is that? I will be glad when life slows down a little.

I think people in Osaka are a little taller than people in Nagoya. Or is that just me? Other differences? Not really many, just the massive and incredible super shops are even more massive and more incredible. John and Yoko still playing everywhere I go...


It was enough to give me chills. Today I was walking around in the subway when I heard this incredible shouting coming in every exit. I ran up to the top to see what was going on, and there in the biggest round-a-bout in Nagoya sat about eight massive trucks, painted black or brown, with massive loudspeakers on top. They were blaring with such volume that everyone around was covering their ears, and the echo rang through the streets, even ten minutes after they had driven off. Apparently, these are the campaign tactics of Japan's extreme right wing, the Uyoku. It was a little unnerving how busy Nagoya station just kinda ground to a halt and watched. Made me wonder what Hitler's rallies and military displays must have been like.

Anyway, if you're curious, I found some info here. There are blurbs about other fringe groups in Japan as well.


I guess I am thinking that if there is a grand disservice that some brands of Christianity have done to the advancement of the Kingdom, it is the narrowing of what it means to have a knowledge of Christ. I often find myself on a tightrope between two sides because I do actually believe Christ to be supreme; I believe that Christ is the Light that every being will stand before on the last day. But I also believe that the spark of Christ has existed in every human being since the start of time (inasmuch as they have a knowledge of God), and many humans know that Light very well without knowing the name of Christ (as well as those who claim the name but reject the Light). In fact, historically the "Christian" church may have done as much to obscure the true light as reveal it. Frankly, I too have rejected the "Christ" that was presented to me much of my life. But the Light of Christ, of the goodness, kindness, and truth of Christ, is something resident in each person that can be turned toward or turned from.

Anyway, here is Lewis from Mere Christianity:

...But there is another way of demanding results in which the outer world may be quite illogical. They may demand not merely that each man�s life should improve if he becomes a Christian: they may also demand before they believe in Christianity that they should see they whole world neatly divided into two camps � Christian and non-Christian � and that all the people in the first camp at any given moment should be obviously nicer than all the people in the second. This is unreasonable on several grounds.

(I) In the first place the situation in the actual world is much more complicated than that. The world does not consist of 100 percent Christians and 100 percent non-Christians. There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians but who still call themselves by that name: some of them are clergymen. There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God�s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of goodwill may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christs birth may have been in this position. And always, of course, there are a great many people who are just confused in mind and have a lot of inconsistent beliefs all jumbled up together. Consequently, it is not much use trying to make judgements about Christians and non-Christians in the mass...

That sounds a lot like Romans 2. And 1 John 4.


I wrote these comments on another site yesterday:

What if the church as we have defined it historically was never really "the Church of Christ"? I wonder if when God looks down on us, he sees his church as something quite other than how we have defined it through the ages...

and then,

I feel a need to clarify what i just wrote a little. Mainly, two things from Christ are making me think like this. First, in John (14? 15?) Christ goes on and on about how those who belong to him will "obey his commands", basically do what he did and be about what he was about. Couple that with the spot where he talks about that the many who will come to him thinking that they knew him, and he will say he never knew them. That would say to me that when we look back in history, regarding the historical Christian church as Christ's church, we are likely at odds with God's own view. God likely looks inside and outside the walls of what has been called the church, sees those both inside and out who have been transformed by and have joined in on the Love of God, and calls only those his own.

By the same token, there are those within and without who are "haters of the light".

C.S. Lewis had a bunch to say on this subject that I will blog about soon.

I have been thinking about this for a while, and somethings I came across in Lewis were really reinforcing it. The first bit, from The Last Battle, when one of "followers" of Tash (the evil power) finds himself in heaven:

...So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size was an elephant�fs; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes, like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world, even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert. Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath�fs sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted... Beloved, said the Glorious one, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek...
Two streams of thought on all the recent Bono posts:

Jason Evans:

Okay, I kinda hate doing this, but I can't help myself any longer. There is a lot of talk about Bono and the whole AIDS crisis in Africa... The whole world realizes that this is Bono's crusade... you don't need to talk about it any more, we all know. The man is getting enough press coverage, he doesn't need your help. How 'bout you quit talking about Bono doing something about it and start letting Jesus doing something about it through you. ENOUGH ABOUT BONO PLEASE! Thank you, sorry for the outburst.

or Derek Eidse:

Bono's constantly changing my views on fame, and the value of having a universal voice. As I said in my last entry, his opinion may not be any more valid than yours or mine, but he's been thrown into a place where his voice can be heard world-wide, and he's using it for the good of people and for justice and peace.
Here's a thought some friends and I were discussing recently... We've all died and it's judgment day. God gets up in front of us and says, "Okay, I decided to change the rules. You're all in." After the cheering subsides he says, "Well, there's a hitch. For all of those that were pissed that I said you're all in... you're out!"

Interesting thought from Jason Evans.


If I hear one more awful rendition of "War is Over", original or cover version, I will burn every Beatles CD I own, or at least anything featuring Yoko.


Ok, someone is searching "naked fat men" and my blog is coming up. What's that about?? My true self, perhaps??

Anyway, in a unrelated story, Andrea is here and doing well. Simon is sleeping more normally now, and not waking me up in the middle of the night pulling on my ears and saying, "dance! dance!" So that is good, because for the time being I am working like a Japanese salary-man, out the door at 7am and home at 10pm. I don't think I have worked this hard since my farm-boy days. And I feel that work-allergy acting up again. The family-on-weekends-only phase should be over by January, but it sure is giving me a window into how much of the rest of the country lives. I don't know if I have ever lived life where everything revolved completely around pulling a paycheque. Don't want to either.

I would love to post some pictures of what is going on over here, but I don't have an account at home yet, so I don't have any room in cyber-space where I can post some pictures. I tried for three hours the other day to set something up on geocities, only to find that they won't let me link pictures from this site to that one. Freaks.

Soon enough though.


From Bono with Larry King:

KING: Why -- how did you handle money and fame and all the things that goes with it? Well or not well?

BONO: I don't know. Ireland has a very different attitude to success than a lot of places, certainly than over here in the United States. In the United States, you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I'm going to get that bastard. It's a different mind-set.
I hope these guys get big and find the money to produce this song really well, because even the basic version is really hooky. What a great pop song!

Easily Amused, Better that Way


Jordon Cooper dug up a great quote from Hawerwas:

"Through his ministry and death, Jesus offered humankind a radical vision of forgiveness and freedom from revenge. To a world obsessed with power, that is outrageous. An omnipotent God incarnate who relinquishes his power and dies an ignominious death in order that human beings might "have life and have it more abundantly"? Whoever heard of such a thing? "

A God who embraces powerlessness unto death is a message the world will never accept, says Hauerwas. Yet, he argues, it is that message the Christian is bid to take to all nations. If you were to ask Hauerwas to define himself by a single word, once he got Texan out of the way, he would probably say disciple and add that anyone who uses the word "better damn well mean it.

A few comments back I was talking about "Christ as the revelation of the Love of God". That is what I was trying to say. Yeah, what he said.
Global survey reveals discontent with U.S.

In the eyes of much of the world, this is America: an inconsiderate lone wolf that has really good entertainment but really bad values, that wants war with Iraq just to get oil but still should remain as the only superpower on Earth.
Is this subversive or just dumb?


Liam Gallagher 'more hated than Saddam'

The singer, who came third, was beaten only by Germany's wartime Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who came first, and former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

I'd always hoped he would eventually say it loud...

"That there's a force of love and logic behind the universe is overwhelming to start with, if you believe it. But the idea that that same love and logic would choose to describe itself as a baby born in shit and straw and poverty, is genius. And brings me to my knees, literally."

Merry Christmas.
Richard says,

...All too often I've heard people say, "The Bible says it, I believe it!", without thinking about the fact that no two individuals can read anything without filtering it through their own life experience. Interpretation is the way our brains interact with the world around us. That doesn't take away from the idea that we can agree upon a communal interpretation of a specific event.

"I believe in God, the Father almighty..." (Voice in my head: "Wait a sec... what do you mean by 'God'... how about 'Father'... how about 'Almighty'?")

Yeah, Richard, that voice in your head seems to catch the essence of it. And thankfully, where it leads us, I think, doesn't have to be a place of immobilizing doubt (which seems to be the fear of so many when it comes to the question of inerrancy). Rather it goes to a place of honesty and humility, where we admit that the world of interpretation has never been black and white.

And doesn't that honesty reduce the amount of things that we can really be conviced of, the things that are worth fighting for?? For me, that reduction is a blessed thing, because it can bring a very real unity, based around Christ as the revelation of the Love of God, which is the bedrock of what I can be convinced of in scripture, and is the only thing I really want to "fight" for, rather than whichever denominational issue.

But I suppose there are plenty of Christians who would disagree that the basic thing God is trying to communicate through scripture is "Christ as the revelation of the Love of God". Sometimes I wonder what common ground I have with those ones. Are we even on the same team??