My first night in the West Bank came to a rather abrupt, if expected end with the Islamic call to prayer (adhan) outside my window at 4:00 am. The song from the muezzin was haunting and beautiful. And rather longer than I expected. Given that I had collapsed into bed around 9 pm the previous evening after a long (and sleepless) few days of travel, and given that going back to sleep in the circumstances would prove spectacularly unlikely for me (I have a hard time sleeping well at the best of times, never mind when traveling), I decided I might as well do what I was told and get up to pray. Read more
Tomorrow morning, dark and early, I will be heading up to the Calgary airport for the first leg of a journey that will end in Israel a day and a half or so later. A few months ago, I was fortunate to be invited to participate in a learning tour to Israel/Palestine put together by MCC Alberta. The departure date has kind of snuck up on me in the midst of what has been a full first few months of 2016, but now that it’s here, I’m very excited to go. Read more
A few long and rambling reflections on my first experience of the Big Apple this past week… I’ve included a few pictures, too, for those who will undoubtedly tire of my wordiness. 🙂
New York City is one of those places that looms large in our collective imagination as Westerners and, more particularly, as consumers of media produced in the USA. Its streets and buildings and cityscapes and rivers and landmarks provide the backdrop for so many of our films and television programs and advertising. New York is where famous people live and work and play and produce moments for the rest of us to observe. And, of course, since September 11, 2001 many people feel an even deeper connection, however conflicted, with the city. We watched as its towers came down, as the already intense media glare was sharpened still further, as its citizens were lionized and held up as emblematic of all that was good and true and virtuous about America. New York is where the action is, where it all happens. New York is where people want to be. Read more
I’ve tried to sit down and write something substantive here a few times over the past week and a half or so, but for whatever reason(s), the words haven’t come. Maybe it’s just because the last few weeks have been unusually full. Maybe I’m out of words. Maybe my spirit (and the Internet) is in need of a prolonged period of digital silence. Maybe I just need a vacation.
At any rate, in place of a more substantive piece, here are a few unfinished thoughts on unrelated matters for a summer Wednesday morning. Read more
My friend and I spent the last two and half days or so meandering through the inferno that is the Las Vegas strip in early July while our spouses sat in the conference that brought us down there. Big city streets are fascinating to wander in general, but Las Vegas, of course, takes things to a different level entirely. Maybe the heat had fried my neural circuitry, but after about a day or so of wandering, I found that I had lost the ability to be amazed. Floating flower balls in hotel lobbies? Ho hum. Fake replicas of ancient Greece… and Paris… and Venice… and New York? Obviously. Artificial thunderstorms with rainfall in a shopping mall? Yawn. Ok, who wants to impress me next? Read more
For the first few days of this week, I find myself in, of all places, Las Vegas, NV. My wife is attending a conference here so I tagged along for a short getaway. It’s nearly 45 degrees Celsius here during the day. It “cools off” to the mid 30’s at night. Walking outside is like stepping into an oven. Read more
Yesterday morning, I hopped in the car and made the brief (!) thirteen-hour jaunt over the Rockies for a weekend in away in Vancouver. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a while, not least because tonight I’ll be heading downtown for the second of U2’s two Vancouver shows to open up their world tour. Plus, it’s just always nice to come back to this beautiful city—a city where we lived from 2005-2008 while I attended graduate school, a city where we have many friends and made many good memories. Read more
Spring seems to have finally, laboriously, tentatively, intermittently have sprung here in southern Alberta, so I spent my day off yesterday on a motorcycle ride. The glorious first ride of the year. My dad and I meandered south through the small predominantly Mormon towns that dot the landscape between Lethbridge and the American border before crossing the Milk River ridge and heading west. Then it was through the Whiskey Gap and then a tour along the brown snow-flecked foothills in the shadow of the majestic Rocky Mountains. After a quick stop for lunch we turned back north through the Blood Reserve before the final turn east to arrive back home in time for the kids to be get home from school. It was a lovely ride—clear blue skies, relatively warm temperatures and, best of all, little wind to speak of. Read more
I spent part of this morning catching up on some reading on “leadership” for a conference call later in the day. I have a tough enough time convincing myself that I am a leader at the best of times, but the task is made even more difficult when I spend even a minimal amount of time reading articles peppered with words like “visionary” and “outcome analysis” and “dynamic action strategies.” But good leaders use (and understand) words like these, apparently. Leaders look and sound a certain way. That’s the way things work. Read more
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.
For the better part of the last two weeks, my vacation morning routine has looked roughly the same. Wake up (usually at least two hours before the rest of my family), make a pot of coffee, proceed to the patio overlooking the ocean at our friends’ place in North Vancouver, and begin to leisurely sift through the newspaper or a novel while basking in the sun-drenched early morning silence. It’s been delightful. The patio, the sun, the coffee (mmm… Kicking Horse), the gorgeous ocean view…. But especially the silence. Read more
I am a theological schizophrenic.
Some days, I am an incorrigible rationalist. I like reading philosophy and theology. I like rational arguments and logic and consistency. I like highly charged debate about abstract and arcane concepts. I am drawn toward topics that have very little “practical” value. Thinking rightly about God’s nature and God’s purposes is very important to me. I like to be right. Read more
I drove to Montana and back today. An unforeseen set of circumstances led to my having to head down to Great Falls to drive a motorcycle back home. So, at 5:30 am, fortified with barely enough coffee, a piece of banana bread, a few podcasts on the iPod, and not nearly enough sleep, I began what I imagined would be a rather dull and uneventful three-hour trek south. Read more
Well, it’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks of travel and holidays back in British Colombia which has, obviously, meant less time for writing here. I plan on posting a bit more in the coming weeks, but things will likely remain a bit slower than usual over the next little while as I try to get caught up and settle back into a regular routine. I am also planning on tackling the intimidating stack of unopened/half-read books that I have accumulated over the last year or so. I spent much less time reading than usual during the last year as I stepped into a new job, and I am beginning to think this needs to change. I plan on reading more and, perhaps, writing a bit less over the rest of the summer. Read more
Our summer travels have taken us back to Vancouver Island where we have spent the last three days reconnecting with dear friends and enjoying the spectacular beauty of the west coast. Our first few days have been full. We were barely off the ferry and we were off to a lovely wedding celebration. Then, yesterday we had the opportunity to worship with the church we called home for three years. It has been good to be back.
I’ve been a part of a number of interesting and often painful conversations over the last few days, many of which relate—directly or indirectly—to the problem of evil and whether or not there is a coherent way to think about and respond to this from a Christian perspective. These subjects of these conversations have covered a head-spinningly wide range—from the reality of war and poverty to systemic injustices to painful realities of everyday life and relationships. In every conversation, old, old questions lurk in the shadows: “How can God allow this? How can I believe that God is good and loves his children in light of ____? What am I supposed to do, as a person of faith, in light of all this evil?” Read more
Well, after a long and exhausting day of travel yesterday that began at around 9:30 pm on Monday night in Bogotá, Colombia and ended at around 2:30 yesterday afternoon back in southern Alberta, I am finally sitting at my desk with an opportunity to begin the process of synthesizing, analyzing, or somehow responding to what I have seen and heard and experienced over the last ten days or so. Read more
Late last year, someone involved with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) here in Alberta approached me about the possibility of taking part in a “pastors learning tour” to Colombia in the spring of 2012. Initially, I was a little hesitant. I didn’t really have the resources to consider international travel and I wasn’t sure about the security situation in Colombia. I was, of course, very interested in the opportunity to travel and learn more about a country I know little about, but still, the trip seemed like a bit of a longshot to me when I was first made aware of it. Read more