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One tragedy, two tragedy, third tragedy – true tragedy.

April 17, 2019

On April 15th the world witnessed a tragedy. An architectural wonder, that took lifetimes and decades to complete was destroyed in the matter of hours. The world mourned as the Notre Dame was turned to ash and before the flames were squelched millions of dollars were pleged to rebuild it to a more glorious form and future.

But there was another tragedy that day. The only known female of four remaining Yangtze soft shell turtles left in the world died. Hunted to near extinction and now the species is on the pericope of being lost to the world forever.

I love the architecture and beauty of the Notre Dame but I can’t help but wonder how a creature of God’s making, a one of a kind living breathing, glorious creature is all but ignored. No money committed to help preserve the remaining three turtles . No crowds mourning for its demise. Hardly any headlines or tweets or mentions of the second, arguably equal if not greater, tragedy.

And perhaps, the true tragedy is the third tragedy that such a disparity of concern unveils. Are we as a species becoming less humane as a species. Does the tale of these two tragedies reveal a preoccupation with all things anthropocentric and a hardening indifference to the world of creation?

Regardless of the religious nature of the building, the soft shell turtle was a greater testimony to the creativity of God and His love of beauty. And perhaps this third tragedy of humanity’s callous indifference, or at least misplaced prioritization of concern, signals the ever looming extinction of our essential humanity.

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I might be the only one…

October 17, 2018

The way the news is reporting it, I might be the only one who is not high on the legalization of marijuana. In fact I am quite the opposite. How is it that a law with such poor planning, and nearsightedness was foisted on me without input or discussion? We’ve been told it will reduce the amount of money going to crime. Really?

How is it that that everyone is smoking up today when they haven’t been able to purchase marijuana to have it mailed to you until today? Will they really stop using their friend down the street for Canada Post?

How will it be policed?

What are the long term health costs, not just physical but mental as the incidences of schizophrenia and anxiety begin to climb?

What of second hand smoke in condos and for children?

What of the thc levels in the breast milk of mothers who smoke up?

And what of the dozens of unforeseen ripple effects, that can never be proven to be linked to marijuana legalization, but will still exist and bear negative fruit in our society?

And when in 10 or 15 years we begin to decry our decision how can it be reversed or pulled back? Might we find that we have set off into the sea without compass or map or means of rescue?

I know that many will disagree with me. I’m overly concerned about nothing, after all “It’s only marijuana” they will say. But what if my concerns are justified? Then what?

Today while many run around giddy with a fresh buzz of freedom, where the commercial “this buds for you” takes on a new meaning, I feel melancholy for my country. I might be the only one who is concerned… but I don’t think so.

Let it snow!

April 15, 2018

Today there is a terrible ice storm that cancelled church gatherings and University exams. It has kept people in doors and the streets have an apocalyptic feel to them; deserted, empty, abandoned.

What has caused these drastic change in routines? If you break it down to the root cause it is simply snowflakes that have crippled the streets and shut the doors. Of course if it were only one snowflake it wouldn’t have mattered, it probably would have gone unnoticed. Even a few hundred would have been quickly brushed away. But these were hundreds of thousands. Millions! Hundreds of thousand of millions of snowflakes!

I wonder if any of those little flakes, especially those first few – if they could have thought – would have thought “What use will my small contribution be?”

It really is a testimony of how that which is small and insignificant can have an impact when multiplied. Consider the go fund me campaign for the Humboldt tragedy. The story has gripped the hearts of people all around the world and the goal of $100,000 has been dwarfed by the actual figure that continues to come it. Most of it in small $5, or $10 dollar gifts according to a Star report (https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/04/14/humboldt-gofundme-donors-have-their-own-stories-their-own-reasons-for-giving.html)

I wonder if any of those first few contributors would have thought “What use will my small contribution be?”

Sacrificing first in great causes is no doubt filled with second guessing even scary, but I suspect that most of those who are first in a movement don’t do it because they think their small contribution will change the world. Neither do I suspect that they have in mind to start a movement. No, for those first few, they do what they can because their conscience will not allow them to stand by and do nothing.

If they were to think “What use will my small contribution be?” They would probably not start. Truly great causes are not started because of some grand illusion that they can change the world, but because of a small vision of goodness which resides deep within that compels. The next time your heart is gripped by goodness don’t bother wondering about the affect you will have simply act because you must. I say, “Let it snow!”

So What if I’m Right?

April 13, 2018

I suppose I am like most people. I imagine that, by and large, I am representative of the human race – at least in the Western world. And as such I imagine that most people assume, as I do, that their perspectives are correct. Me, like you, think that anyone who is thinking correctly would reach the same conclusions and point of view. In short I believe that I am right – just as you believe that you are right.

But here is where I find things then begin to get murky; when we disagree why is it that we treat each other so poorly? Especially since we would probably both agree that we ought to treat others kindly? It is as if there is a belief that says “because I am right it does not matter how I treat you.” Our attitudes betray an hypocrisy in our hearts. We want from the other a chance to be heard, understood, and our position considered because we believe we are right. And yet we do not extend that same courtesy to the other person who thinks that they are right. We want them to offer to us what we are not willing to offer to them – that is hypocritical.

However it is more than simply being hypocritical, we have valued the treatment of our ideas above our treatment of humans. We preserve our ideas at the expense of people. The non-tangible has become more important than the tangible. The conceptual has been valued above the relational. What we think has outstripped what we love.

And I think when we do this we have taken a step towards our own dehumanizing. We see a lot of this dehumanizing “l’m-right-so-it-doesn’t-matter-how-I-treat-you” mentality. But the sad, pathetic irony of it all is that by dehumanizing you, I dehumanize me in the process. Therefore, is there any sense in which I can any longer say I am a representative human, at best I am a less-than-human representative. My view, my thinking, has become a reflection of my sub-human reality. So how now can I insist that I am right?

I suppose the only way I can now reach “truth” is by bouncing my sub-human ideas off of other sub-humans. I need to listen to see if together we might build on each others limited thinking and reach better conclusions. And I ought to be very careful, even gentle, in how I reason with them, because in the pursuit of finding out what is right, people are the most valuable asset that I have and it is very unlikely that I can find what is right without them.

At least this is what I think but I might be wrong and you might be able to help me think about this more clearly.

The Bitterness of Good Friday

March 30, 2018

On Good Friday, nearly 2000 years ago, the Bible records how the sky went dark at noon, while Jesus hung on that cross. It was during the celebration of the Jewish feast of Passover and those who loved Him, mourned for Him when they would normally have been singing and they wept for God’s only son. It was a bitter day.

But this is what the prophet Amos had foretold:

“In that day, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your religious feasts into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.”

But I wonder if Jesus, reading that passage, and realizing that it was spoken of Him, I wonder if He asked Himself, how bitter that day would be? Could Jesus have imagined that the nation that hailed Him as a king as He entered on a donkey would reject His life for that of an insurrectionist? Did He suspect that the one He trusted with His money purse would betray Him for a few silver coins?  How was He able to see past the boldness of the one who stood by His side with a sword to defend Him at His arrest and perceive the coward who would deny that he knew Him? How deep was the pain of hearing those who were experts in the law, which foretold of Him, twist that law to deny Him the justice that the law upheld? How bitter was that day when the one who created humanity was rejected by that humanity?

How bitter was the ridicule? Were there among the voices the sound of those who had once been mute, were there eyes of scorn now staring which had not long before been blind, were there people running with the crowd, drunk in the revelry of bloodthirsty entertainment, who because of once lame legs, had once only been carried to Jesus? How bitter was the day? Was the cross that he carried made from a dead fig tree found outside the city that some say He had cursed and now was cursing Him? Were the tools which fashioned it those which once held memories of joy in His father’s workshop? Had the soldiers who mocked Him ever been under the command of the centurion whose servant Jesus had healed? How bitter was the day when the one who upheld the universe was held up upon a cross?

How bitter was the irony when the one who claimed to be life was stripped of life? When the one who said that “whoever believes in me will never thirst again,” Cried out “I thirst?” When the feet that walked on water were nailed upon a cross and hands that blessed the heads of children were stretched out as a curse; that the one who heard a voice from heaven say this is my son, now cried out to heaven asking why he was forsaken? How bitter was the irony that the one whose spit had opened blind eyes was spit upon by those still blinded?

How bitter was that day? How bitter was the pain that He endured in silence? The one who chose to put on flesh now had his flesh stripped from Him as He was whipped by Roman guards. The one, who was head of all powers and authority, was surrounded by the puppets of Caesar’s authority and struck upon His head. The words of whose breath had calmed storms and gave life to the dead, found His breath being slowly choked as he breathed His last. How bitter was the pain for the one which the prophets said, “A bruised reed he will not break,” whose body now lay bruised and beaten?

How bitter was the humiliation of being stripped and exposed and displayed in shame, for one who modeled modesty? Whose life had exemplified gentleness and love to be surrounded by anger and hate? The one about whom the Psalmist said, “owned the cattle on a thousand hills,” was buried in a borrowed tomb.

His final taste was the bitterness of vinegar, His final image was the bitterness of His mother and friends in mourning, His final sounds were the sounds of crowds mocking, soldiers swearing and religions leaders ridiculing. His final feeling was the agony of asphyxiation as He could no longer lift His body to draw His breath, His final thought was that God had abandoned Him and His final resting place was in a stone, dark, cold cave – the end of a bitter day in deed.

Longing

March 21, 2018

I have come to discover a trait within me. I advocate for living fully present in each moment, which I try to do. I try not to borrow tomorrow’s worry or pine for yesterday’s successes. I remind myself in the mornings to drink in the day as if it could be my last. To look people in the eyes, to hear their hearts and not just their words. To embrace challenges and look for where God might be in my circumstances and discern what He might be up to so I can join Him.

But what I find is that it is not the moments that trip me up but the seasons. At first the newness of the season is great. I love the first snowfall of winter, the sun dancing off drifts, the squeak of snow beneath my feet but after a while I’m restless for a change. Similarly with summer, I love the warmth and thrill at the opportunity to wear sandals and t-shirts while walking down a wooded trail. But then, again, my heart gets restless for change.

And it’s not just the seasons of the year, it is the seasons of my life. When I was single I was restless for a relationship, when I was in high school I was restless to be in university, and in university I was restless to begin a job. And on and on my heart is stirred season to season.

And it’s not that I don’t appreciate each season but with each new thrill there comes, over time, this sense of disappointment, it is as if I was longing for something else, something more.

I don’t think I’m the only one. I think that this same longing is behind many divorces, job changes, and career changes. It, in part, is what drives chronic shoppers to shop, alcoholics to drink and video game addicts who spend real money on developing a make believe world.

If we are not careful we become cynical, or worse despairing.

Past writers have spoken about this and have come to the conclusion that it reveals that the world as it presently exist is not our true home. My restlessness, your restlessness, is evidence that we were created for a different world. The restlessness we feel is simply the longing for our true home. It is as if there is a primal memory of a world we once enjoyed and our inability to see and experience that world produces the anxiety-laden, boredom infested, flighty world we now live in.

But here is a secret. God, who architected our true home, offers to place His Spirit within our hearts so that with Him we can help to remake this world to become more like that for which we all long. The restlessness now fuels our activity. It spurs us on towards fashioning the circles of influence we have, so that the world we long for – a world full of beauty, love, justice, and mercy – begins to be experienced by others through us.

Jesus imagined the reality of this process when He spoke to His Father about it in this way, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” And now that I have experienced a small piece of its presence in my heart how can I become settled in a world that still falls so short?

A walk in the park

March 10, 2018

I wrote a poem/rap several years ago and a friend recently asked for a copy. I had never written it down so thought I would share it. If you want to hear me recite/rap it you can hear it here on my YouTube channel.

Well I was walking through this park,

And I met this guy, named Mark.

And my spirit cried “hark,

he’s walking in the dark!”

Well I knew that he was smart,

So I reasoned to his heart.

And that word of God that’s sharp

It pierced him like a dart

And that word became a spark.

Well he couldn’t keep it in,

So he told this guy named Jim.

Now Jim is kind of dim,

And he never seems to win.

But when he heard of Him

He repented of his sin

And Christ filled him to the brim,

And now he wears this silly grin.

And when people wonder “Why?”

And they ask him if he’s high,

He just points up to the sky

And says, “the saviour heard my cry.”

And although he’s kind of shy,

He’ll look them in the eye,

And say, “give my God a try,

Because with him you’ll never die.”

And that my friend is no lie!

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