Archive for November, 2016

Present day proverbs

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

I wander through Facebook every day.  I even comment off and on.

The evolution of Facebook has been interesting.  Originally the idea was to connect.  To see what others were doing, thinking and even visioning for the future.

My latest wanderings show that FB is all about a picture, a video or a short thought – or all three combined.  We don’t tend to look at a detailed written post.  We seem to need a picture.  Or less than 100 characters. 

Short, sweet and simple.  That works along with visual, vibrant and viewable.

So, what is the good side.

I’m finding that Facebook is the new Proverbs.  The memes are short.  The thoughts are based in the context of culture.  And sometimes there is even truth to what is said.

Read on . . . and consider that you may be reading the book of life! OR NOT!

Whatever happened to the sacred?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

In my youth a book arrived on the shelves of bookstores (back when there were actually shelves).

Carl Menninger wrote convincingly about the topic, “Whatever happened to sin?”  His thesis was that we had disregarded the matter of trespassing on sacred ground.  I suppose in the end, anarchy would be the result.

Until now, I thought we were still dealing with that thesis.

I’m not so sure any more.

We’re not even sure what sacred ground is anymore.

Until there is a place where we can say that something is sacred, we cannot say that there is sin.  The greatest eraser of a society is the brush that finally lets nothing be sacred and all things common.  In that case, the society reverts to individuals and the individual’s own sense of priority.  In which case anarchy arises.

So, what is sacred today?  If we boil it down to our own God within us, we will soon end our society in chaos and confusion.  If we boil it down to a group of people, the group will become fearful of outside influences and will implode. 

I guess we need a sacred that is outside of humanity in order to have a society that is peaceful.  Perhaps Christmas has something to do with that?

Launches and Lunches

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Friday and Saturday were spent going to, arriving in, returning from Calgary.

On the way I talked with some people about Rural Churches – initiatives, curriculum tracks and just the stuff that you encounter in a rural church.

Arriving in, we said “hi” to a relative and found out they were friends with some of our “on the way” people.

While in, I attended the launch of the Flourishing Congregations Institute at Ambrose University.  Accidentally I sat with a friend at the speakers table.  Good conversation throughout the day.  My wife met with three of our children throughout the day.

Returning from, we went directly to bed – church was the next day and we were on worship team.  For lunch, we ate with friends – whom I performed their wedding almost 40 years ago.  They are off to the south for a month, escaping the snow that is sure to fall in the next month!

And that was our weekend.  Short, sweet and sure to be remembered.


Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Today feels like yesterday.  And yesterday I felt like Friday was tomorrow.

Some days we just don’t know what day we are in.  Yes, we can tell if the day is cloudy, sunny, windy or rainy (or even if a blizzard is happening).  We can look at the clock and see what time it is.  We can even have a calendar shown to us.

And we still think today is tomorrow. 

I suppose part of that is anticipation.  We want to be there now!  Christmas as a child was just one of those days.

I suppose part of that is inactivity.  When one day blends into the next, we soon lose sight of what comes next.

Or maybe I’m just getting old???

Carrying forward culture

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

I love to sing.  I love music.  I love the spirit of the music.

Over the years, notation of music has helped us understand an era, and that era’s expressions of emotions, feelings and love. 

I watched my mother sing the songs of her era.  Those that deeply touched her soul were sung with eyes closed.  Her voice reflected the spirit of the song. 

I’m not sure we can always notate what happens in the spirit.  We can find ways to describe the tempo, the mood, the timbre of voice.  Somewhere along the way, we have not yet been able to capture the spirit in print. 

An actor will move into the role of their character, as outlined in the script.  This method allows them to try to touch the spirit.  A truly good actor runs the periphery of the character with ease.  When there is no longer an act, but a sense of the presence of the character, then there is a great actor.

These artistic expressions, in music and acting, cannot be attained by notes or words or even videos.  We know that a culture is truly dead when no one can exact the spirit of that culture from within their own beings.  Yes, they can imitate, they can fashion a look that images the original – but the spirit and the letter are two different things.

Trumping McLuhan

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Today I read a blog about Donald Trump – that it’s words and not ideas that change us.  We don’t look for reasoned facts and big ideas, we look for factoids, catchphrases, and memes to express our heart and our emotions.  And our hearts rule us. 

Trump used small words to skip the hard work of structure and analysis, and in a few scribbles, spoken with passion and visual flair, he expressed big ideas.  Big ideas that are emblazoned on a generation.  We will spend years trying to analyze the structure of those ideas found in his speeches, while followers and foes will say they knew the idea from the start.

Do Donald Trump’s words and catchphrases really just mean what they “say”?  Or do you have to be in the crowd, in the spirit of the moment, to hear what was said beyond the “literal” meaning? 

Words tend to find the heart much more easily when they are attached to an emotion, a visualization, a medium.  In many ways the medium becomes as much a part of transferring the message to the hearer, perhaps more so than the words.

Maybe this election is just pointing out what Marshal McLuhan had prophesied years ago – “The medium is the message.”

Have you ever missed?

Monday, November 21st, 2016

A play on words.  Or at least playing with words:

The term miscommunication tends to mean words flying at each other and missing their mark.  We miscommunicate when we have different vocabularies.  My mother used to dislike the use of lunch and dinner.  In Eastern Canada, from which she hailed, dinner was supper.  For us Westerners supper was supper.  Try inviting friends over for dinner some day and see if they show up at noon or 6:00 pm.

A part of miscommunication is also missed communication.  When we intentionally or unintentionally don’t say something we miscommunicate.  As a pastor I would hear of someone having been in the hospital – via the grapevine – after the fact.  An opportunity for ministry was missed because communication was missed. 

And now, we can add mist communication.  That is the grapevine working at overdrive because privacy laws create a roadblock to understanding.  The mist of random raindrops of information overshadows communicating the truth.

And so, speak the truth in love, speak the truth constantly, speak the truth in season and out of season.  Take a risk.  Speak.

We will all benefit from the effort!

Off to church

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

There is a place where I feel at home.  Besides being at home.

That is what I call the church.  The gathering place where others of like mind in regard to God – the future, the past and the present – meet.  There we speak of our entrance into God’s presence through Jesus Christ.

And we differ.  On issues that are not central to that worship.  Things like what tractor one should own (John Deere has a definite edge for some of our congregants), or what store best serves our grocery needs.

Sometimes we have a hard time telling what is central and what is periphery.  We work together to discover our common threads and our common threats.

And somehow, when we commune together with a strong determination to be God’s people, we survive and thrive.

That’s what I like about the people I call church people.

We love each other.

When death brings life

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

I have been occupied with obituaries this week.

My uncle Bruce Baker passed away on November 15, 2016.  Another more distant relative, who attended a Baker reunion this summer (Henry Heald), passed away on November 17, 2016.  94 years and 88 years respectively.

Neither of these men were relatives whom I saw on a daily or even annual basis (actually, I met Henry only once).  But relatives nonetheless.

Relativity signifies a bond that is of blood or kinship.  That bond does not need proximity of location, or enjoyment of a pasttime, or even just liking someone.  You just are.

To be or not to be!  That is not the question.  You are.

I read my relatives accomplishments and smile.  One was a well known character in Whitehorse.  The other was a writer/journalist in the Ottawa area.  One loved mining, the other was an agriculturalist.  One was from the West, the other from the East.  Both could spin a tale.

Their stories were indicative of life livers.  There was no slowness of heart in their endevours. 

Not unlike how I would like to be known.

Obituaries can be life giving.

Child proof lids

Friday, November 18th, 2016

We have switched pharmacies.

Not out of disgust or poor service.  The opposite is true.  We loved our pharmacist and their service was always helpful.

The local grocery store is closing.  The pharmacy was contained in the grocery store.  The pharmacy has closed already.

Our files were transferred to another pharmacy.  My first visit there was quite cordial and their service was exceptional.

Except for mandated restrictions by the government.

Child proof lids are required on medications.  Understandable – but the lids are also arthritis proof and require amazing amounts of pressure.  I could barely get the lid off.  Others in the family would have needed to take a hammer to the bottle in order to extract medications.

A little tip!

Ask the pharmacist for non-childproof lids.  Your signature will be required.  You are giving away your life.  Of course, if you can’t get to your medications (or at least can’t get the lid off), you may be giving away your life anyway!!