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Posts by Ryan

Something about Forests and Trees…

Well, this really is a head-scratcher for me. This morning I came across this truly baffling article in the New York Times. Leaders of several conservative Christian groups have apparently drafted a letter with the expressed purpose of attempting to dissuade the Washington policy director of the American Association of Evangelicals, Rev. Richard Cizik, to stop speaking on the problem of global warming. Read more

The Possibility of Disinterested Love

I’ve posted a few reflections on Peter Rollins’ How (Not) to Speak of God in the last couple of weeks, and I alluded to some views of his which might find their way into a post at some time. Well that time is now. Rollins has some interesting ideas about how human beings are to love in response to God—ideas that I am having some difficulty going along with (I promise this will be my last post about this book, so maybe you can humour me for a while longer…). Read more

The Quarrel

Last Saturday, Naomi and I had the entirely unusual and entirely pleasant experience of an entire day in Vancouver without the kids (some friends had generously offered to let them have a sleepover from Friday to Saturday). After a leisurely morning where we could actually sleep in and have an enjoyable breakfast at a cafe on Main Street, we went to Pacific Theatre and saw the Canadian Premiere of The Quarrel by Joseph Brandes and Joseph Telushkin. Read more

Truth Telling

I’ve finished reading the “theory” part of Peter Rollins’ book that I brought up in a previous post and I have to say that it was a bit of a mixed bag for me. There are times when Rollins is really insightful, and offers a genuinely illuminative way of looking at or understanding the nature of faith. At other times, I was completely baffled at why he would introduce certain ideas into his scheme. I’ll post about the latter another time… Read more

Cognitive Dissonance

I came across an interesting article yesterday morning, which raises a whole bunch of important issues from my perspective. The story deals with Marcus R. Ross, a geologist who recently completed a doctoral dissertation at the University of Rhode Island. The subject of his dissertation was “the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago.” According to his supervisor, his work was flawless – a brilliant piece of scientific research. So far so good… Read more

Bonhoeffer II

Just wanted to post a brief follow up to a discussion Dale and I have been having on the prominence of the resurrection vs the incarnation vs the crucifixion. In a previous post, I had reacted against Peter Rollins’ claim that our faith ought not to depend on the triumph or victory of the resurrection. At issue is where we ought we to locate the primary significance of the redeeming work of Christ. Read more


I’m currently reading through a little book by Peter Rollins called How (Not) to Speak of God. Rollins seeks to lay out some of the theory and praxis behind the movement known as the “emerging church,” and in so doing attempts to re-emphasize what is sometimes referred to as the “apophatic” strand of Christian tradition. Put briefly, this tradition sees God as so radically transcendent that it is more appropriate to speak of him in terms of negation—what he is not—because all of our positive statements fail to capture his essence, and communicate only our own understanding of God. Read more

Strange Days II

My post about the jarring experience of attending a Regent chapel which highlighted the monstrous evils that plague our world followed by a celebration of the blessing of a new library generated a surprising amount of interest. As the discussion seems to have drawn to a close, and I’m not sure people will be checking back, I thought I would highlight the most recent comment. Personally, I was greatly encouraged to hear from this man, and am thankful not only for his generous contribution toward the building of the library that I now enjoy, but that he took the time to describe what goes on behind the blessings that people like me wonder endlessly about. It was instructive and inspiring to see that these incongruous experiences need not be paralyzing—there are people out there whose “lives have theological outcomes” in important and commendable ways.

Preferred Futures

I thought I would throw out some thoughts about a book I read last week and this morning’s church service. Last week, a good chunk of my bus time was spent reading a book I picked up for a couple of bucks at a used bookstore on Broadway. Albert Camus’ The Outsider was an interesting read, but one that left me feeling a little bewildered, somewhat annoyed, and deeply saddened by the bleak outlook on life it portrays. Read more

Strange Days

Today was a strange day. Chapel at school was a bit of a grim exercise, as we were reminded of some of the atrocious evils human beings are perpetrating against each other, and our responsibility to resist these evils and work toward the peace, harmony, and justice that we believe will ultimately characterize God’s redeemed world. Stories of murder and rape from Sudan and Rwanda, human trafficking from Eastern Europe, and drug addiction and prostitution in our own backyard here in Vancouver painted a pretty desperate and hopeless picture of what humanity is capable of. Our world is a sick, hurting, and evil place, and it was painful to be brought face to face with that fact again this morning. Read more

It’s Magic

I’m in the process of taking my third and fourth courses from Professor John Stackhouse right now, and I think it would be fair to say that my own views of epistemology have been profoundly shaped by my time spent under his tutelage. In one of our classes last semester we discussed the postmodern tendency to be untroubled by lack of coherence or consistency with respect to one’s views about the world. So, for example, someone may have no difficulty thinking in strictly rationalistic terms in their professional roles, in Romantic terms when it comes to interpreting the “objective value” of a piece of art, or appealing to the law of karma when thinking in the “religious” sphere of life. This multiplicity of mutually incompatible cognitive styles seems unproblematic to the postmodern mind—a feature Stackhouse claims to be unique in intellectual history. Read more

Lessons in Transit

This morning was a fairly ordinary morning on the bus.

Riding the bus has taken some getting used to for a prairie boy accustomed to wide open spaces, and driving everywhere and anywhere at the drop of a hat. I am not used to having to wait to get anywhere I want to go, and I am certainly not used to being squeezed like cattle into a bus or standing less than a foot away from a total stranger for forty minutes, both of us desperately pretending to look anywhere but at each other. I am not used to standing in the rain on a cold Vancouver morning while three buses blow by because they are full, and I am not used to taking three hours to warm up after the process described above. Read more

Who Has Heard Correctly?

Reading Discipleship for this seminar on Bonhoeffer is proving to be quite a jarring experience. As an Anabaptist, passages like the one Bonhoeffer concludes his discussion on the Sermon on the Mount with should not be as troubling to me as perhaps they might be for others… As one who is often prone to drift toward rationalism… ouch! Read more

Bavaria, Lisbon, and the Problem of Evil

This morning I was washing the dishes, listening to the sounds of my happy children playing (surprisingly!) peacefully together. Some days everything just seems right with the world—the kids aren’t fighting, the sun is shining, I’m not wretchedly behind in my schoolwork, the Flames beat the Oilers last night… Read more

Nations and Narratives

An article discussing the Liberal Party of Canada’s national leadership convention caught my attention in this month’s edition of The Walrus. In it, Don Gillmor addresses, among other things, the vexed issue of what exactly constitutes Canada’s national identity, and the role nationalism plays in personal senses of belonging and identity. Consider the following quote (Ignatieff = Liberal leadership runner-up and author Michael Ignatieff): Read more

Why Blog?

So here goes… the typical “first post” where that pesky question “Why blog?” is usually addressed. For those who know me (and have harassed me to start a blog for some time now), this question becomes even more acute. I have frequently expressed ambivalence toward the whole medium of blogging—you know, typical criticisms such as: Read more