Monday, April 16, 2018

Good Words to end a concert

I was asked to give the benediction at our community choir presentation on April 15, 2018.  Here is what I said:

    • May the flood of God’s love encompass you.
    • May the support of God’s presence hold us close.
    • May the peace of God keep our hearts and minds safe.
    • May Christ be seen, known, and heard in all we say and do.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cannabis and Me

My latest editorial for Kindersleysocial.ca – March 15, 2018 issue

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Cannabis and Me

My Grandmother was a faithful member of the Kindersley chapter of the WCTU. Most of you will have no idea of what WCTU stands for. Let’s just say politics, women’s rights, social equality, all were a part of the WCTU. This movement has been branded as the first women’s rights movement in Canada.

As the Canadianencyclopedia.ca explains: “The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) . . . [believed] that alcohol abuse was the cause of unemployment, disease, sex work, poverty, violence against women and children, and immorality, the WCTU campaigned for the legal prohibition of all alcoholic beverages.”

Alcohol?? In the 21st Century, that sounds like a non-starter!

Now that Cannabis (we used to call it marijuana) is about to be legalized, I think I’m a step closer to understanding her passion to limit a social ill!

This past decade I sat on a community committee called KDAWN. Membership over the years included social workers, RCMP, town administration, ministerial and other interested individuals and agencies. We cooperated with the P.A.R.T.Y. program (a secondary school educational program dealing with alcohol), sought to find a way to bring a drug and alcohol rehab center to Kindersley area, and provided educational resources and events regarding drugs and alcohol.

If I didn’t realize the depths of the problem before joining KDAWN, I was soon filled in. While alcohol has been regulated for some time, the social cost has been enormous. While some drugs have been illegal, and others (such as cigarettes) have been legal, the social cost has been enormous.

An attempt to restrict drugs and alcohol in relation to children/youth has met with mixed results. While we claim that this age bracket is too easily influenced and unable to responsibly partake, adults have sometimes served as poor role models! Maybe the adults need to be regulated more stringently as well.

In a recent email circulated to the Kindersley Town Council, I addressed the issue of cannabis. I understand the Council would like to have others provide feedback.

In my email I asked that, while medical cannabis has a place in pain management, the recreational use of cannabis has been documented as harmful to our society (and the second hand smoke has much the same effect as cigarette smoke). I do not think we need a dispensary for recreational use of cannabis in our town – and if individual grow-operations are allowed by the legislation, let’s find ways to make sure both regulation and enforcement are sufficient to restrict harm to our citizenry. Finally, I suggested that the Town Council consider proclaiming a day of mourning for those whose lives are adversely affected by drug and alcohol addictions.

And here I thought Grandma was merely “pushing against” alcohol use. Some will think I’m merely “pushing against” cannabis use.

The truth is, I’m “pushing for”! For a citizenry who are seeking to live healthy lives. For a culture where the heart is set on loving others and not harming them. For an opportunity to be an example, as a region, that we not only seek harm reduction and rehabilitation for those who are addicted, but that we want to be proactive in producing a citizenry whose heart is set on the good of all and not just the pleasure of the individual.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Reflecting on Society

Proverbs 14:9 says:  Fools make fun of guilt.  The godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.

I’m not sure how our society looks at guilt.  I sense we are interested in coping with guilt more than addressing guilt. 

One approach is to completely do away with guilt.  There is no wrong if there is no standard for wrong.  By redefining morality as the erasure of all wrong, we are most likely to end up seeking “my happiness” as our goal.  If happiness is the final and ultimate goal, then the only “guilt” is whatever stands in the way of that happiness.  We are victims of those obstacles – not sinners!

My own approach is to admit that there is a “God”, and that that God has a definite standard of deviation from what is right.  My “happiness” is defined by God’s desires for me, not by my own desires.  If God’s desires are the ultimate goal, then guilt is based in God’s standard.  We are sinners when we stray – not victims.

In the first case, the victim laughs at guilt – dismissing it as a cruel joke of a misguided deity.  In the second case, the sinner recognizes guilt and seeks a way to approach the rule-giver for reconciliation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

On puns and puzzles

A great thread of comments on a picture of a puzzle rife with shells and ocean beauty.

This is lovely, it makes we want to clam up!

I guess that would keep you from shelling out your resources! (my wife was just waiting for your comment – I think she likes to see what we will flood the ocean of vocabulary with)

Every puzzle holds the pearl of a pun…

. . . I think that you have won (note the rhyme in time).

I have a knack for this, it’s how I have… fun!

Thou are a wordsmith and a punster’s . . . son

With a good pun, oi’ stir it up …hon!

And with that, I have to . . . run

Hmmm….I wonder if they sell pun-free puzzles???
What would they be called???

That’s a puzzling question.

Pun free puzzles? I don’t understand the question. Up is this jig, saw past the pieces to the whole picture.

LOL. Just couldn’t resist asking

Pondering punless puzzles can be a perfectly, perplexing yet precisely, pleasing priority.  Go alliterations!!!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sitting in Ambrose University Research Library

I love libraries.

They are somewhat sterile areas – protecting the treasure of units contained therein.  They are moving into an internet age, and yet house rare paper volumes.

I’ve been working on a research paper on Funerals.  I believe that the rites and custom of funeral practice give us a good insight into our current and future society. 

We tend to revere, or disregard, the body of the deceased. 

We dispose of the body in sanitary ways (according to government regulation).  We may have them buried, burned, chemically disintegrated, plasticized or used for anatomical study.  We may not have a specific location in which the remains are placed.  We may not visit gravesides.  We may not even care to make “death commemoration” an ongoing practice.

All of this is undergirded by your philosophy of life – and death. 

As a society turns more towards existentialism, secularism and individualism – an afterlife is disregarded.  A body is just another mass of cells comprising an animal mass.

Or is it? 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

While reading through Lent

I love the writing of David Timms (I have mentioned that before on this blog).  We are currently reading through his Lenten devotional (2017) at home (Reflections through Romans – you can pick this up on US Amazon).

I’m also reading this year’s devotionals online.  Today he talked about our faith – and how we sometimes misread the story of Peter – where Jesus says, “Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt.”  Here are some of those thoughts – you can check them out at https://davidtimms.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/little-faith/

“Little faith” in the gospels is not a criticism but a commendation. Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith as small as a mustard seed (that’s very small) they could move mountains (Matthew 17:20) or uproot mulberry trees with a word (Luke 17:6). Little faith is not a bad thing; no faith is.

Indeed, Peter’s little faith saw him walk on water. The story is not so much about Peter’s failure — which is how we tend to read it — but of Christ’s grace, power, and responsiveness to faith of any size. Perhaps the tone of Jesus’ voice was not frustrated disappointment but gentle admiration.

What happened to bass singing?

I popped onto a marvelous piece of acappella music (https://www.facebook.com/Musicianary/videos/2022499804432042/) reading through Facebook.  As I am listening, I can hear the bass singing away, comfortably making a foundation for the other three parts. 

I moved my computer away from the speaker system that I use to give full-bodied sound for my listening pleasure.  I played the song again.  The small speakers could not take the extended vocal range.  I just heard a trio singing.

Much vocal music that we listen to today is only in the higher frequencies.  Trio parts are featured.  Seldom do you hear a good bass voice. 

Did the transition to three part harmony come because of poor speakers on computers, or . . . ??

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Into the definition

The other week I heard a phrase. 

“His loving kindness endures forever.”

I grew up in the mid-1900’s memorizing the same phrase with the words, “His mercy endures forever.”

Two cultures met in the mid-1900’s.  The words that were emphasized by each culture reflect their differences.

1)  A guilt society plays to right and wrong.  Mercy is the antidote to a guilt society – pardon bestowed. 

2)  A shame society plays to society and unity.  Loving-kindness is the antidote in a shame society – honour bestowed.

You will notice with the 80 and 90 year olds that they talk of being lifted out of the pit of guilt. 

The legalism of their day and age is decried, deconstucted, and dismissed by them – they are not satisfied unless mercy is applied.

20 and 30 year olds honour the victim whose rights have been trampled – from sexual assault to harassment based on gender to . . .

The intervening decades between an older generation and a younger generation – while deconstructing the old rules – dismissed the old parameters around which we defined victimization.   The younger generation has taken on the noble task of redefining the rules – creating a new sense of society.  For the sake of the victims, they are not satisfied unless honour (loving kindness) is bestowed.

My question is – how were these new rules arrived at?  Are they any better than the old rules?  Who decides?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Words and definitions

As I started 2018, I was reminded how words paint a moral landscape.

On Sunday, our preacher for the day mentioned the situation we are in.  His references were vague.  Vagueness often increases our scope of vision.  I’m sure some who were listening would cite Donald Trump, others  Justin Trudeau, or Korea, or immigration, or sexual harassment, . . . . .

A new word that is cropping up is “attestation”.  In order to access grant money for youth summer jobs, an organization must “attest” that jobs that are created will not be in contradistinction (my word, a great word which I think describes what is being asked) to the law or the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

There is a grey area, which is described as the right to freedom of speech.  An organization may have at their core a strong disagreement with the current societal norms (or one might say the current norms of the authority structures of society).  At the moment individuals and these organizations are allowed, under the ruling of their conscience and under religious freedom, to express those thoughts.

The attestation asks about these core beliefs.  The actual work being anticipated over the summer is secondary – the application will be rejected if the attestation cannot be signed. 

This nuance of the word attestation creates disharmony in an older word which we use when we describe our society – tolerant. 

Perhaps we are finally seeing what the word toleration – a term that began its current ascendency about 30 years ago – really means.

Have we been able to repaint our moral landscape or are we finally seeing the true picture?

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas message

Here is my Christmas message – found in our local social media (Kinderlsey Social.ca).

50 years hence

I’m working with a group of young adults. We’re preparing a paper for a research conference at Ambrose University. The theme is “The World After Tomorrow”, a perfect opportunity to look ahead fifty years. I may not be on this planet, but these young adults will be. They’ll be into retirement, if there is such a thing in 50 years, and looking back on past happenings.

For now? We live in “carpe diem” (seize the day). We fight for food, and pleasure, and good working conditions. We abhor sexual slavery and harassment, conflict of interests and unfair advantages.

50 years from now? On the optimistic side, our region could become the paradise of the future. Warming trends in climate could create an ideal atmosphere for the comfortable. We could become hospitality-central, friendly and sociable, open to others and safe for habitation.

But then, there are predictions of cynicism. Oil prices change, housing prices fluctuate, the economy perches on a precarious precipice. The farm of today may be replaced by a corporation of slice and dice efficiency, with little of the look of today’s farm. Government may be ruled by algorithms – the highest good for the greatest number.

How do we break from a senseless trap of helplessness and hopelessness?

We break away! From those whose destructive condition of life seeps into ours. We break away! From a political stance that is more pandering to others than for the good of the people. We break away! From our own self-sufficiency, and turn to others and to God for support.

God didn’t just happen to slip into this equation on a whim. There is wisdom in remembering with appreciation your creator. There is wisdom in listening attentively to your maker. There is wisdom in obeying your creator’s scheme for this life.

Which is why Christmas reverses our onward plunge to despair. In the story of Christmas there is a creator, a counselor, a governor, a person who erases the bad and restores the good.

Maybe that’s a good enough reason to keep Christmas recycling each year. The echoes continue to reverberate when you hear that Jesus is vitally concerned with you – your current condition, and with your condition fifty years from now!

Jesus’ story begins as a baby and ends with . . . well the story doesn’t really end. In the story of Christmas, Jesus is still watching, protecting, inviting, initiating, creating, comforting, rejuvenating, laughing, strengthening, surprising, upsetting the bad and restoring the good, bringing peace and joy.

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