I was listening to a radio program this morning about tattoos. Specifically, the co-hosts were discussing whether or not it was permissible to refuse employment to someone because of tattoos in prominent places—places like faces and necks and whatever other places people are finding to ink themselves up these days. Even more specifically, the co-hosts were wondering about if said prominent tattoos contained offensive messages. “What if, for example, someone had a tattoo in a place that was impossible to ignore that said, ‘F*** the World?’” asked one co-host to the other. What if, indeed. Can people who choose to decorate their bodies in such ways expect to be hired in public roles, for example? Do employers have an obligation to ignore such things and focus only on competencies? Murky waters, these are… Read more
About four years ago, our family got a little white dog named Woodchuck. A neighbour on Vancouver Island was looking to find him a different home, and so, after a sober, rational family conversation—a conversation which consisted mainly of me saying, “I don’t want a dog” and my wife and kids saying, “who cares what you want, dad, it’s three against one”—the decision was made. Woody was in our house the next day. Read more
The other day I was racing around some big-box type store, scrambling to get all the back-to-school stuff for the kids. We had adopted a “divide and conquer” mentality with my two kids going in one direction and I going in another for different things, and agreeing to meet at the front till. As I was standing breathlessly in the line up, having emerged relatively unscathed from my close encounter with the panicked hordes of desperate parents, I noticed one particular item amidst all the pencils and paper and geometry sets that I didn’t recall being on the list.
A bottle of Coke. But not just any bottle of Coke. This one had my name all over it. Literally. Read more
I was sitting in a local Starbucks this afternoon when I saw the most absurd thing in the history of humankind: a big glossy advertisement for a product called an “Oprah Chai Tea Latte.” Alongside pictures of what I can only imagine must be very tasty delights indeed (iced or hot) was a (larger) picture of a beaming Oprah Winfrey, lending her teeth, her hair, her celebrity to this product. What does Oprah have to do with chai tea lattes, you might wonder? I certainly did. Did Oprah Winfrey make this chai tea? Did she create the recipe? Did she enjoy drinking this tea in some kind of unique way? Does she own the tea? Did she import it for our benefit? The advertisement didn’t tell us. It simply presented a picture of Oprah, a picture of tasty beverages and assumed that we would make (invent?) the connection. Read more
My son has a backpack. It is an old, weather-beaten backpack that has been kicking around our house forever. I think it was my backpack once. It might be almost as old as my son.
This backpack bears a great many strange burdens over the course of a given week. Books, clothes, playing cards (he likes to do card tricks), miscellaneous scrunched up permissions forms that his parents were supposed to see two weeks ago, rocks, guitar picks, a (usually half-open) lunch container spilling out its uneaten contents, sweaty sports uniforms, dirt, and an assortment of the other inevitable accretions of a preteen, male life. Sometimes I have to open the backpack to retrieve something, but I try to do this as infrequently as possible. Sticking my hand into this backpack is a very frightening thing. Read more
So I’m meandering down a dark street in Vancouver (I’m here for a conference), taking in the old streets where we used to live and work and worship, smelling the smells of spring, enjoying the sounds of the city, when I hear footsteps behind me. I turn and see a young man approaching me. I begin to walk a bit faster but I hear his pace quicken. I turn around again, all kinds of scenarios beginning to nervously take shape in my mind. I ponder increasing my speed again, but all of a sudden he blurts out, “Are you staying at the ____ house?” “Um, yeah,” I say, hesitantly. “Come with me,” he exclaims with a wide smile. “I’ll show you the way.”
Hockey is Canada’s Religion! So blared the headlines yesterday after the second of our nation’s triumphs with skates and sticks on the Sochi stage. For much of yesterday, Canadian media outlets were aglow with videos and tweets and updates about brave, patriotic Canadians getting up at ungodly hours of the morning and braving frigid temperatures to heroically make their way to the pub (sometimes, without even the lure of alcohol, if you can believe it!) to watch the big game. There were even heartwarming video clips of mosques and churches that decided to show the game before morning worship. The overall mood was exultant. This is what it means to be Canadian, we rehearsed to ourselves over and over again in myriad ways. Read more
I was in a social setting recently where someone introduced me as a “theologian.” I smiled weakly, fraudulently, unsure quite how to respond. I was flattered, of course. “Theologian” sounds so much more impressive and loaded down with scholarly weight than “pastor” or certainly “blogger.” But while I am well-practiced in fraudulence and generally quite inwardly pleased to have my ego stroked, I have never been particularly good at accepting compliments. So instead of a simple straightforward “thank you,” I awkwardly umm-ed and ahh-ed whilst turning a strange shade of pink and staring at my feet, and mumbled, Ah, well, you see, I’m not really a theologian… I’m at this little church… I have this little blog… But, um, thanks… that’s nice of you to say… even though it’s not technically true… but, yeah, um, thanks.
Very eloquent, I know. A real theologian would surely have had a more coherent and articulate response than, well, than whatever that was. Read more
I deleted my Twitter account today. I had been a Twitter-er or a tweet-er or whatever the right term is for just under two months during which I produced a grand total of fifty-five tweets.
I apologize to both of my followers. Read more
On the way back from a weekend conference, my wife says she wants to stop at the mall. Just for an hour or so.
I don’t like malls. Especially huge malls like this one. I don’t like the idea of the mall or the reality of the mall. I don’t like the orgy of reckless consumption that they represent. I don’t like the bright lights and the crappy pop music that bleeds incessantly through the speakers. I don’t like the labyrinthine layouts that seem designed to trap and confuse me, imprisoning me in the mall’s frightful and constricting embrace.
All of this not liking was pulsing through my brain as I (wisely, no doubt) replied, “Sure. Let’s go to the mall.” Read more
I was out driving around running errands and listening to sermon podcasts today when I was confronted by one of those religious clichés that drives me nuts. I’m not talking mild irritation here, but full-on, pull-out-your-hair (if one is fortunate enough to have hair) and scream-at-the-steering-wheel-in-self-righteous-indignation nuts. It is a term or a way of speaking that I have loathed for a very long time—a hatred that undoubtedly says more about me and my own private insecurities and neuroses than it does about the term itself or the person who is using it. But still. It is an expression/way of speaking that I really, really don’t like.
You might be wondering what term could possibly inspire such an intemperate reaction. Ok, here it is: “I just have a heart for ____.” Read more
I know a girl who loves to laugh. She has a smile that can light up a room and a kind and compassionate heart that loves to seek out the sad, the lonely, the forgotten. She is also, like many kids her age, a little forgetful, a bit careless at times. Her head has been known to wander up into the clouds, far from the more terrestrial concerns that occupy the minds of her parents and other adults in her life. She doesn’t do many things quickly. She cheerfully lives life at her own pace.
Among my discoveries on two long days spent on my recently acquired motorcycle was that I am now part of a club. I’m not sure if it qualifies as an “elite” club yet or not, but we have our own equivalent of a handshake and everything. Every time you pass a motorcyclist on the highway you will be greeted by “the wave” from your fellow “two-wheeler.” Well, most of the time. More on that later.
This afternoon, I was browsing around The Pessimist website and briefly flirted with the idea of actually buying something. What, you might ask, was I doing on this site? Well, aside from the fact that it’s a great website (see “The Pessimist’s Guide to Working From Home” which, in addition to being flat-out hilarious, pretty much exactly matches parts of my experience), it’s mostly a sad and predictable story of bouncing around from link to link and then, fifteen minutes later thinking, “Um, how did I get here and what am I doing?!” I didn’t buy anything (although I still kinda want to), but I did get to the “checkout” stage where I was greeted by the following delightful message:
Your shopping cart, like your impoverished soul, is empty.
How can you not appreciate such humour? Read more
What if we just made God up?
The question came not from a despairing parishioner or a reader of my blog or an inquisitive university student at a trendy coffee shop. No, the question came from my twelve-year-old son at a sushi joint last weekend while drumming on the table with his chopsticks in between green tea and California rolls. Read more
If I ever do bite the bullet and buy a PVR it will almost be exclusively due to my hatred of television commercials. The prospect of skipping over every moronic attempt to sell me something is a delicious one indeed. But I’m also cheap. What to do? Such are the weighty conundrums of my life.
Anyway, I usually try to hit the mute button when the commercials come on, but I was a little slow on the draw the other night while the kids and I were watching the hockey game. And once this commercial started, well, there was no way the kids were letting me mute it. This comes to us courtesy of People for Good: Read more
I spent part of this past weekend reading Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble. The book is about the personalization of the Internet—about how companies like Google and Facebook and Amazon (to name just a few) are buying and selling information about us in order to “customize” search engine results, provide “recommendations” based on past purchases and assumed preferences, to suggest links and articles, to “connect” us with like-minded people or potential romantic partners, etc. Pretty thoughtful of them, right? I thought so too. Read more
When I was in my twenties, I swore I would never drive a van. Vans were spectacularly uncool, boring, gasoline-sucking behemoths that middle-aged people who had given up on life and ideals drove. Vans were for tourists. Or people who went to Disneyland with whiny kids who were never satisfied. Never! Not for me. I would drive a trendy Euro-wagon or something. I would get a roof rack for extra storage. I would drive just about anything but a van!
I am now in my thirties. I drive a van.
[Sigh] Read more