It’s been a while…

I haven’t blogged in a while.

Self-reflection is a practice that is heavily stressed in Teacher’s College – to the point where its value is often depreciated.  Many complain.

But today was the second day in a row where I took time to listen to music for the sake of listening.  As a musician and music student teacher, I rarely make time to enjoy or use music as therapy (un-wind, relax, comfort) and I seem to forget how affective and wonderful it is to listen to music.

I have a forty-five minute subway ride back downtown from my teaching placement and its been refreshing to listen to Iron and Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days these past two days.  Soft guitar playing and relaxing melodies with the occasional heavier bluesy track, it has brought peace and calm to my busy and restless heart and mind.

Writing reflections on my day in this mood is a very effective use of my time.

Take some time to listen to what you need to.  Take some time to reflect.

A Thought on Excessiveness:

Quote

We should remain within the limits imposed by our basic needs and strive with all our power not to exceed them. For once we are carried a little beyond these limits in our desire for the pleasures of life, there is then no criterion by which to check our onward movement, since no bounds can be set to that which exceeds the necessary.

– Fifth-century monk Nilus of Ancyra

I am regularly inspired by the thoughts of “ancient” folks.

I remember being humbled in a grade 11 English class when my teacher posed the question of whether we thought of ourselves as more intelligent or knowledgeable than people in ages past.  We have different knowledge, not a greater knowledge.

Nilus here is talking about living simply.  Something that is often thought of as faddish.  But it is something that I strive for.  I like his observation that there is no way to gauge excessiveness — anything beyond the limits of our basic needs is excessive.

The Human Race and the Body of Christ

Aside

We know the Human Race.
We know the Body of Christ.

Are we as a church, aware of our body?
Each of its members, all of the parts, the structure and interdependence of it all, its flexibility and ability to grow.

Could we describe humanity as a community or body?
Could we describe the church as a community or body?

Is the world in chaos.  Are we literally a race to be alive today?  A race for comfort, health, supremacy, safety.

Does the church reflect this “race”?

Or, are we as a church, an actual community, an actual body.

How Healthy is the world.
How healthy are we?

Summer Time

Well.. it’s now August 9th, and:

I’ve had a summer that started with a road trip, followed by a 3 week internship at a High School (music classroom helping), and now I’ve got a month left of working at a tractor dealership (which has lent my name to being published in a local periodical).

I’m at the point where I’m stoked to go to Toronto for school and meet up with all my school compadres.  Yet, I know I’m going to miss looking out at 6 acres of peaches out the window and living at home.

Working in the shipping/receiving and parts department of a tractor dealership has been a mostly unrewarding job.  There’s not much to look forward to… other than some very hilariously inappropriate comments and incredibly creative uses of curse words by the mechanics (one in particular).

Moving to and living in Toronto will be really great.  I’m joining MoveIn – intentional Christian community living in poor and densely populated areas.  I’ll be living with 2 other guys in an apartment in St. Jamestown, and we’re part of a ‘Patch’ that includes another 2-3 girls who will be living in an apartment nearby.  We’ll meet for weekly prayer meetings, and be a presence in the community.  (I will be blogging about this soon, and will give much more detail).

I also might be doing an internship at a church in Oakville.  We shall see… updates to come.

Sportianity: Sports instead of Jesus

Sports as religion?

Sports like religion?

Though I would mostly disagree with the claim that sports are literally a form of religion, as some scholars would attest, I certainly believe that sports – specifically professional sports – have characteristics of and fulfil some religious functions.

Myths, legends, ritual and tradition, sacrifice, sacred sites, ineffability, and community. These words conjure up thoughts of experiencing religion just as much as they do of sports.

I’m curious if Christians are aware of and if they should participate in the “religion of sports”.


Following a team: the stats, scores, and players (and their twitters’), being glued to the TV, Internet, or a smartphone (yes, there’s an app for that) for the latest information on trades, rumours, news, prospects (reading the paper and sports magazines works too), wearing a jersey (or something more extravagant), regularly attending games (often with a rather high ticket price),

making an event or a whole day out of a game and the traditions/rituals that come a long with it, having a sense of belonging, ownership, friendships and community built around a team, and an emotional connection.  All these things, and more, are the ways that people invest their time, money, and energy into sports or a specific team.

None of these things seem inherently bad.

But, as a Christian, I question whether professional sports are taking too much our time and if it is a god – how much do these things mean to us?

I question whether we should be proud of, cheering for, and supporting organisations that: spend (tens or hundreds of) millions of dollars on players salaries, commodify people (athletes), promote violence or suffering of self for ‘winning’ (though making money is actually the goal of the organisation), as well as promote the sexualisation of women, the achievement of stardom, and the ethic of winning above all else.

What do you think?


To note: I’m very much in favour of sports on a local and/or amateur level.  Fitness is important and there is plenty of fun to be had!  I love playing intramural hockey and ultimate frisbee.

KONY 2012

(click here to watch the video on Vimeo, or click the photo to watch it on the KONY 2012 site if you have no idea what’s going on).


As Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and social networking sites have massively and virally spread the news of KONY 2012, I’m curious of how things will move from here.

This article from enough (‘The project to end genocide and crimes against humanity’, which has partnered with Invisible Children and Resolve for the KONY2012 campaign) features a Q+A with Jason Russell.  This quote is the most important thing to keep in mind, in answering, “What’s the dream for KONY 2012?”, Jason Russell answers:

“The ultimate dream for KONY 2012 is that it becomes a tipping point for conversation, and that people will make a commitment to stop at nothing by making sure Kony is known in their circle of influence, whether it’s their family or office or school. The dream would be for Kony to be captured, not killed, and brought to the International Criminal Court to face trial. The world would know about his crimes and they would watch the trial play out on an international level, seeing a man face justice who got away with abducting children, raping little girls, and mutilating people’s faces for 26 years.”

I fear of an Bin Laden-like response if his death occurs (don’t get me started) … but there is hope, because of the people behind this, that Kony will stand trial.

Giving funds to the cause is interesting though.  I’ve already seen at least one reddit commenter who is concerned with IC’s budget (see page 6).  Yes, they spend a lot on Travel, but I think that it’s worth it – there needs to be someone filming, and visiting all the villages and cities across Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan, and Central Africa in making their cause more legitimate to a North American audience.  I’d say Jason Russell has good intentions and is making good use of donated funds, unless I see something a lot more questionable.  You can also see “Where does money donated to Invisible Children, Inc. go?” on the FAQ of the IC site.

The North American-ness of the cause is also interesting…

The site features the pictures of extremely American celebrities and almost exclusively American politicians.  The site also only allows people to purchase their kits in dollars (as opposed to Euro’s, etct.).  I’ve already read of folks overseas really wishing they could help out with spreading the word and buy posters.  If they wish to succeed world-wide the KONY campaign needs to start appealing to the worldwide audience.

This cause also seems very dependant on the US military – a branch of the US government that I’m not terribly fond of.  It’s as though they need support from the US military to track down Joseph Kony.  Which, in all likelihood is close to the truth, considering how much technology they have (I’m assuming the resources of the Uganda military is slightly less than the US…).  The video glorifies these 100 US military advisors – as though they will end the conflict once and for all.  It makes the US military look like a good and upstanding humanitarian force.

Jason Russell sure likes his bazookas...

Can’t the UN assemble a peacekeeping force – much larger than the 100 US military ‘special operations forces’ – to track him down with US (or UK) surveillance help?  I like the concept of multiple nations coming together to create a joint peacekeeping force, would more people and more support really help in seizing Kony and freeing the children?

I think the cause is great.  I hope it catches on.  I hope Kony comes to trial at the ICC.

I fear of too much hope in the US military.  I fear that people want Kony dead.  I fear of things that tear people apart over bringing things to justice: like finance – but it better not be ignorance.

Here’s an article of two survivors of Kony’s Lords Resistance Army that lived alongside him.

The tracking system they’ve made is pretty legit.

This article from 2009 is a really great critique on the directors of Invisible Children and their mission.

And Visible Children has gotten a lot of hits as well.

A thought on suffering and the call for Christians

A reporter once asked Mother Teresa, “When a baby dies alone in a Calcutta alley, where is God?” She responded to him,

“God is there, suffering with that baby.  The question really is, where are you?”

This quote came up in a sermon I just read from a friend.

I don’t want to be cliché, nor do I want non-christians to be offended, I’m looking at Teresa’s response as a call for Christians.  Christians are called to a rather high standard: love your neighbour; give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back; welcome the strangers, feed the poor, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned.

Where are we when there is such suffering?

In Tom’s sermon he discusses how we are called to the margins, called into relationship, called to equal relationships where barriers are broken down.  We are called to have reciprocal relationships where we “walk with” the other, don’t have defined rules that can stifle the spirit of Christ to work, care, and show gentleness.

I like what Tom has to say about our society, our comforts, and the call of Christ:

One of the major faults of Jesusʼ society and ours is that
we push people out. We see certain people as having more importance and others as having less. This simply will not fly for Jesus. If there is any group or individual that we devalue, that is exactly where Jesus will go. This therefore is where the church of Christ and his followers must also go in order to serve.

We like to be with those who are at the centre. We like
to be with those who we know, those who aren’t struggling with money, who are self-sufficient upstanding citizens.

So the call to be yielded to Christ is a very scary one because we very much know where it will take us.

What do you think?