Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Large and small

Administrators tend to think bigger. 

That’s vision.  That’s moving ahead.  That’s progress.

To think bigger is to plan for bigger.  To plan for bigger is to upset the apple cart, or perhaps more rightly, to put new tires on a larger box.

Then I ask myself how we got bigger, or at least why we have grown to this point. 

And the question arises, is the smaller what we build on to get bigger? 

The idea that understanding the great movement we have been a part of, that we would like to invite others into, that has been a great thing up until this point – is where we should start to figure out bigger.

Go back to go forward.

And perhaps in engaging in the excitement of the past, we will trust that the structure to hold the organism will be forthcoming.  If we merely borrow someone else’s infrastructure, we may eliminate the very thing that makes for growth.

Be sure you know where you came from to get where you want to go.

Friday, October 27, 2017


Is there ever a time when we do not censor?

As a Master’s of Library Science grad, I remember the discussions on censorship.  All intellectual property should be available to all.  We harm people by not exposing them to the full orb of knowledge.  Knowledge is power.

The decades following brought variant views (not all of them worth listening to).  Here are some of the many thought lines you can follow.

Knowledge is not power, transformation is (thus we seek our inner self to gain an understanding that leads to who we truly are). 

A collections policy for a library is censorship (you can’t have it all, so choose the information that will socialize them to the current culture you want to see promoted).

Even the publishing of books is subject to censorship.  A publishing company designs what will be there theme.  The Canadian Government will no longer do Cataloguing in Publication for self published authors (oops, that should be authours).

Why do we fight censorship?  Most often because our point of view is assailed, assaulted or set aside by censors.  Oppression appears everywhere and we are not willing to be set aside or dismissed.

And the war goes on – all of us looking to promote our truths.

Who says truth is dead?  Censorship proves that the pursuit of truth is alive and well.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Great Little Quote

So, I’m sitting in the midst of a group of us at our local seniors home.  The session is a devotional by one of our local clergy.

He holds his hands to his ears and says:

What do you get when you put your two ears together?  A heart.

What is in the middle of the word heart?  Ear.

What a great illustration of the need to listen to other people.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Phrases that count

So, I’m sitting with a good friend and having a conversation.  Then there is a great twist of phrase, and all of a sudden I’m asking for a pad of paper and writing furiously as he repeats his saying!  He’s invited me back, but next time I have to bring my own pad of paper!

Here is a bit of the phrases I jotted down:

*  God has decided to become obvious in me (a bit about how we talk to people about the God they cannot see).

*  In our non-abilities we are called to show off God.

*  Jesus had trouble convincing most people even though he knew what the full Gospel was (on asking the question, what is the Gospel?,  and what are the implications of that?).

*  The religious institution/church of Jesus’ day was a fighting place (Jesus realized the institution of his day was contrary to what gave empowerment)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Palliser Heights– a half century later

I am a student from the early days of Palliser Heights school in Moose Jaw. From 1960 – 1965 I attended Grades 1 – 6. I attended school the day JFK was shot. I was there when the soccer field was shoots of grass and gravel. I remember the hallways being polished and the structure being only one story.

My own story was as a student coming to Moose Jaw as a raw grade oner! My memory was of entering the classroom after the school year had begun. I was scared and was welcomed in. By Grade six I was comfortably situated in a school community that I enjoyed. And then we moved.

In the early grades, the English readers which students studied carried stories by now famous authors. One story struck me. “Circumstances Alter Carla.” Carla had transferred schools and had learned to live into the circumstances instead of fighting the changes. She was mentored by older people and cared for by her peers. This scenario, portrayed in a classroom assignment, became very real to me in coming years.

When students say they learn nothing new each day, that’s how I felt in my elementary schooling. Perhaps normal daily life in the classroom was the teaching environment. Nothing new but everything newly experienced and taken in. Mrs. Winslow (or so I remember the name) was my grade three teacher. In Grade three life was about stories of travels. Sitting at the front of the class, Mrs. Winslow would talk of climbing mountains and seeing the beauty of nature. A world that needed to be explored.

By Grade five I was beginning to enjoy writing. My competitive nature came out when journals were required of each student. The journals required cursive writing, but also gathering in of our observations. My friend, Donald Dankewich, was neat and organized. His journal was outstanding and he received the highest honours – an honour I did not begrudge him, but that also spurred me on to excel and not just coast along.

In Grade Six I was abandoned to “The Other Grade Six Class” when I was unable to attend a scheduled day-time field trip. In the class, the teacher handed out pictures. Mine was of a white-tailed deer. The assignment? Observe the scene and write a paragraph about what you saw. Each of my sentences began with “The white tailed deer . . .” The foreign class laughed at me and I felt shame. I determined to either not write again, or only write in such a way that I expressed myself well and the reader became immersed in what I was saying. In strange settings, some of our best incentives come clothed as failures.

In August of 2017, I returned to Palliser Heights school, with my grandson in tow. He was entering Grade Six and comparing his school with the school his grandfather grew up in. Thanks to the principal, Jonathan McLean, for the tour of the facility, and for those teachers and staff who were present to greet us. I truly believe the students are in for a treat as they are guided by your patience, presence and passion for them this year.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Every generation feels like we are blazing a new trail.

We are.  Up to a point.  On the trail.

The point where we walk an old path is when we look at the rocks and foliage and sky.  The similarities to the past suddenly appear – in living colour. 

This is so with the current state of Western Christian ideals.  For the last few decades we have been quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) gone about exploring the culture’s current store of novelties.  This has happened in such varied areas as sexuality, or integrity, or even marketing.

Now we are at the state of calling for a council, a Diet, a creedal confession.  For those of you who look back as much as forward, you are already thinking such places as Constantinople, Wittenberg and even Worms.

The latest outpourings now come in online statements with signatories gained by electronic clicks.  Two that have come out most recently are:  The Nashville Statement:  a coalition for Biblical Sexuality; and A Reforming Catholic Confession:  A ‘mere’ protestant Statement of Faith to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

For others in the evangelical camp, you know of The Truth Project, and The Gospel Project, and who knows how many other projects designed to steer our education. 

Now we are into the affirming part of the mix.  To figure out how many of us are actually on the same side – because we have all been trying to live in the same camp for some time.

The next step will be the ‘Stand Firm, Hold Fast – here comes Trouble’ part.

Always the hardest part.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A gig economy?

Well, here’s a new word for me!

An old concept, but packaged for a new generation.

A gig economy relates to the idea that people take temporary jobs and institutions contract with independent “contractors” for short term assignments.  Each job is a new “gig”.

With the downsizing of available resources, companies are looking for savings.  A contractor does not receive extra perks – like benefits, sick days, retirement contribution.  A highly experienced and resourced contractor can work for a short period – instead of being on the full-time payroll.

For the worker there is the opportunity to seek out life balance, to do what  you love, to charge what you think you are worth.

Of course, there are downsides to each of these approaches.  I’m not about to dispute that, nor to go into explanations.

The result is an increase in the sharing economy – where we will borrow or rent rather than buy; the gift economy – where we will head towards contributing to society from an altruistic bent; and the barter economy – where we will exchange what we have for what others have in a negotiated agreement.

Tax structures will change to try to assess and gain from these economies.  Workers will need to specialize – or at least be proficient at what they do.  Companies will need to reassess efficiencies.

As if the change from a word based to a visual society were not enough, now try and figure out the change from employer based job descriptions to employee based proficiencies.

And life goes on.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


WWJD – another perspective from A.B. Simpson:

I had earlier this year mentioned that the book "In His Steps" was not wholly endorsed by A.B. Simpson – a contemporary to the writer – Charles Sheldon. Here is another indication:

– From A.B. Simpson’s Christ in the Bible series – XVII – Romans (Christian Publications), p. 266 –

"What would Jesus do?" is a simple question which will settle every difficulty, and always settle it on the side of love.

But we cannot answer this question rightly without having Jesus Himself in our hearts. We cannot act Christ. This is too grave a matter for acting. We must have Christ, and simply be natural and true to the life within us, and that life will act itself out.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reviewing a life past

A decade ago a friend of mine died.  These past few weeks I was going through some files and found a card on which I had jotted down some thoughts. 

Lloyd Orthner had been a dentist in our community, a church leader and a community spokesperson.  In the last year of his life (before his passing from cancer), I gleaned from him these thoughts, which are still relevant today:

Accept others for who they are.  God will do the changing.

Know people’s limitations.  Don’t just dismiss people.

Be involved in the community.

Don’t force things – care about people.

Be yourself – sincere in all  you do.

Be content where you are.

Not a bad list of virtues to live by. 

Life in Jesus is reflected in people like Lloyd, a winsome person who lived his life transparently following Jesus.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Witness to a conversation

The Party Line is not dead.

Not the political party line – which many be finding itself on hard times.  What with extremist leaders and moderate followers.

No, the party line I’m talking about is the old fashioned phone line, where conversation could be had with a multitude of people at one time.  Before three way calling or teleconferencing. 

Yesterday I sat at a party.  We had a circle of around 10 people, with four leading the way in conversation.  They were all within about 5 years of each other, had been school, church and family chums.  Their stories were hilarious, scattered with inside jokes.

They were fun, without cell phones to interrupt.  Us on the periphery found out lots about those on the inner circle.  Things that helped us see what companionship and community is all about.  Institutions do well to heed the micro functioning of those who guard our heritage. 

Enjoy those times where you are not the center of conversation, nor are you attempting to propel the conversation.  You will find a global wealth of life that so easily escapes us.

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