I know, it’s overdue. Long overdue. This blog seems to have disintegrated into one of those that has an irregular stream of posts saying, “Sorry I haven’t posted more, but I will soon, I promise.” But I don’t believe in those posts – and maybe I don’t really believe in apologies for not blogging. Sorry to disappoint you. ;^)
This evening is in a way a day of closings. It’s the end of the week, and the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I think our television has been on almost nonstop for 17 days now. And it’s been good seeing our Canadian athletes doing so well. 14 gold medals, more than any country has ever won in any winter Olympics. I think the early glitches of the games were pretty much forgotten as we showed the world how we party at home. People in the street spontaneously singing the national anthem? That’s pretty remarkable for any country anywhere, I’d say. And of course, we made sure to remind the world that hockey is our game. I might have over-tweeted that point, but there it is. Here we are being Canadian… thoroughly proud to the core of all our athletes who scored a podium finish, and feeling sorry for those who didn’t, whether those others are Canadian or not.
Well, I started out with some prognostication, and then I got distracted, and got back on track regarding my thoughts on The Decade Ahead for the Emerging Church. As I set up my thoughts and predictions (scary word) in that post, I asked three pairs of questions, the last of which was, “where is the world outside the church in all of this? Do they benefit at all, or are they worse off?” And then I pretty much didn’t answer that one, just the other two. This set of questions is fundamentally different because they have to do with the church’s interaction with the world, and are therefore the most important (certainly to the missional crowd, at least). For these reasons, I felt a separate post was warranted.
A few things crossed my path this week, in the wake of Copenhagen perhaps, where I was embarrassed by the title of “Colossal Fossil” that was bestowed upon my country. And then a friend of mine said he “got grumpy” and made up his own Christmas greeting card, which I thought was worth sharing.
Then there was this video about climate change, “The Big Ask”.
One of the things about the way I’ve been reading blogs lately is that I often get summaries after-the-fact and reactions from others on various topics and happenings, which offers me a shortcut to catching the drift of some notable posts. And sometimes in this exchange I feel perhaps I’ve missed something important. Often I let it just slip by, but then there are times when I find my feet just instinctively digging into the sand adjacent to home plate as my eye fixes itself on the ball. This time it’s internal bickering among some who insist that any bickering on these points could not be classified as internal, because It’s fun to exclude others.
In our now time-honoured Sunday tradition, we turn to music. This week in my new series Hymns from the Radio Dial, we get political with a call for social justice from Psalm 137. It is most likely that we all remember Rivers of Babylon as a late-70s song by German disco group Boney M. In fact, the song was written and recorded in 1972 by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of The Melodians (1965-73), a Jamaican group in Kingston, the birthplace of reggae.
The idea was brilliantly conceived. Faced with the economic and logistic realities of suddenly having six extra mouths to feed, the two hatch a plan: get a bunch of television cameras to follow them around and film the whole thing for a television show as a way of earning some extra cash. Maybe the plan went over too well. You all know the story better than I, perhaps… family portrayed as devout Christians with a deep faith in God and down-home family values. You can sense trouble brewing already. It’s too much of a setup, isn’t it?
The author of the second-best-selling book in history (next to the Bible) would have been 80 years old today — June 12th — had she not died in March of 1945. Ironically, on June 20, 1942, she wrote, “It seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a 13-year-old schoolgirl.” This was one of the earliest entries in the Diary of Anne Frank, who wrote offhandedly on May 11, 1944, “Just imagine how forgetful I’ll be when I’m eighty!” The innocence with which she wrote and the unthinkably tragic way in which her story ends are a jarring contrast, and perhaps this has somehow contributed to her diary becoming one of the key texts of the 20th century. Events are planned to commemorate the occasion. I’ve mentioned Anne Frank before, but it seems to me that she is one of those standout voices that somehow resonates with us all.
I think I mentioned an event coming up here this October featuring Phyllis Tickle speaking on her book The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. I’m one of several people who have been asked to present a workshop and sit on a discussion panel over the course of the one-day conference. At the moment, October 31st seems such a long way off, but I’ve been asked for a topic and a brief description of the workshop I will present.
This week saw the start of the summer series of Theology by the glass, now meeting at Confusion Corner Bar and Grill, just around the corner (sort of) from our most famous street sign. Our first conversation of the season began with a CBC podcast of The Age of Persuasion where Terry O’Reilly discusses church marketing and related matters.
JR Woodward is about 2/3 of the way through his Good News Series, where he puts a question to 50 bloggers, asking them for an article explaining what the “good news” is — but the article is to be about 500 words and written as though for publication in each blogger’s local newspaper. It’s quite a good series with a variety of responses and approaches posted so far. Today’s post is Jamie Arpin-Ricci in Winnipeg, which is also my city. I found it very poignant and compassionate approach to presenting the good news, opening with the account of a suicide that did feature very recently in our local media. Jamie takes an approach which is not theology-first, something I appreciate and attempted to do as well. My contribution was the sixth in the series. It didn’t generate a lot of discussion, perhaps because it appeared on a weekend, but I thought I would post it here as well now that it’s run on JR’s blog for a while. In the disclaimer that ran with my article, I said that I wanted to write early in the series “to get it out of the way before reading what so many astute thinkers would write so I wouldn’t feel the pressure to come up with anything so profound. This way as I follow the series, I’ll only have to say, ‘Gee, I wish I’d written that…’.” As I expected, a number of such approaches and statements have already appeared in the series. In any event, what I said follows below.
Things have been tense here in Manitoba for the past week or so… longer, for some. In recent days, the provincial flood forecast has been changing frequently, and almost hourly at times. When people have been sandbagging frantically to build a dike, it can be rather disheartening to hear that the anticipated water level just went up another eight inches, or two feet. The present forecast suggests that the water level will be second only to the legendary “Flood of the Century” in 1997, ranking this flood second over the past hundred years. To make matters worse, the two rivers that meet in downtown Winnipeg are projected to crest at the same time.