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.

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!!!

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? 

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

“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 ( 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 . . . ??

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?

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?

Christmas message

Here is my Christmas message – found in our local social media (Kinderlsey

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.

Revolutions change everything

I was reading about the industrial revolution.  In the same time period there was the commercial revolution.  And the French revolution was moving into full swing.

In the 1960’s there were songs about revolutions.  Sexual revolution, then the digital revolution, the communist revolution reversed.

In all, we just love revolutions.

We tend to characterize revolutions as pendulum swings.  In order to move on to the next second of time in history, the pendulum swings to the opposite side.

Art has often proclaimed the next revolution.  Art tends to be a precursor.  Art can also be a reflection of society.  The romantic period portrayed individualism, the heroic and the idealized – emotion ruled!  The period of realism in art, falling hard upon the romantic period, looked and proclaimed – we are people of the ordinary life, with ordinary tastes and realistic social expectations.

We are in that transition period.  A Trump presidency, while giving a billionaire the right to rule for the ordinary people, does carry the sense of encouraging tax breaks, seeking conservative morals and listening to the ordinary people.

How is the art world doing?  Are you seeing a change in art that is being produced?  Or will art follow society’s current revolution this time around?

When words appear in the night

As I was waking – or perhaps as I was sleeping . . . a phrase kept ringing in my head.  . . “Oh, words with heavenly comfort fraught” – a phrase from the song, He Leadeth Me.

Now, I’m not aware that we use the word fraught much – in conversation or in literature.  I have always had this scary sense about the word.  Something is fraught with danger – a heightened sense of danger.

So why are the words – “He leadeth me” – so exceptionally dangerous?  Especially since these words are said to be a blessed thought.

Maybe this is a recognition that roses have thorns or wood has slivers.  Both of these carry beauty that attracts the eye.  Both can adorn a portrait of life that is winsome.  And both can sting!

If we use heaven to attract others, we had better include suffering and shame and discomfort and gloom and trouble.   All can be found in our approach landing to the bliss we call heaven!!