Archive for February, 2011

Friday photos

I really need to stop calling these things Friday photos – that’s the goal but life doesn’t always schedule itself neatly.  This week I got all touch-feely, gravitating towards the texture of things.  I love the amazing array of tactile wonders before us every day in these images.

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Friday photos – “like these pancakes young one you will.”

You’ve probably heard the stories of Jesus showing up in a pancake.  Because its obviously a family trait, his mother Mary has also been spotted in similar guise.  These spiritual sightings are not limited to any one food group because there’s been sightings of Mother Teresa in the famous but disputed “nun bun” or the grilled cheese Virgin (which fetched a handsome $28,000 US on eBay), Cheetoh Jesus, Tortilla Christ, and the list goes on.  Seriously?  Why do people feel the need to find a basis or verification for their deeply held faith commitments in peculiar food sightings?  Perhaps you find my lack of faith disturbing but I thought a really good meal along with a fine glass of wine or lager was a persuasive enough argument for the existence of a good and loving God.  Or a really good pancake.

So check out what shows up on our breakfast table this weekend – seems George Lucas is not content with theatrical special effects but is now trying to emulate deity.  Yoda, Darth Vader, an Imperial Storm trooper and then, oddly enough, Mickey.

Well, it’s Family day weekend here in Alberta (I love a province that decided we needed a holiday in February) and our usual Saturday morning ritual is for me to make pancakes for breakfast.  I started making the pancakes into animal shapes and letters and then Betty upped my game by picking up some very fun, and finicky, Star Wars pancake forms (the Mickey Mouse pancake, obviously, needed no form).  My first try a few weeks ago was a debacle but this morning’s results turned out pretty good (and if you look really closely I think you can even spot the visage of George Lucas in the Mickey Mouse pancake).

P.S. Check out the “yoda-speak” translator – get you speaking Yodish in no time.


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New atheists, old questions.

You know the new atheists – Dawkins, Hitchins, Harris, Dennett, Stenger.  All have published a number of books posing challenges to the Christian faith (and religion in general).  I think they’re important and needed reading – too often my Christian tribe can spout off without having taken the time to listen well and sympathetically to those who oppose the way of Jesus.  Listening to these doubts and challenges is an act of love.

John Stackhouse, professor at Regent College, recently wrote a piece in the magazine Faith Today (which you can read here), noting that the questions, doubts and challenges posed by the new atheists are really not so new; they’ve been studied and responded to by Christians for quite some time.

The real challenge for contemporary Christianity is this: do you and I know how to respond, intelligently and generously, to these old questions?  We won’t be debating Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins but we regularly bump into people who have been shaped by these thinkers.  We had better be prepared to respond lovingly, patiently and intelligently because most people won’t even consider Christianity plausible until these basic questions are addressed.

In his article (also posted on his blog which is worth reading – he’s a smart, savvy and generous apologist),  Prof. Stackhouse notes the six basic questions/challenges any Christian should be ready to tango on.  Check it out and see how you would handle these if they ever came up in a conversation (and they will).

And if you find yourself stumped on how to respond, it’s time to do some work – and I can’t recommend highly enough Tim Keller’s The Reason for God.

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har har har har

Growing in recognition, nominated for two Grammys (and playing at the Grammys with Bob Dylan and the Avett Brothers – come on, that will be the high point of the whole night!), let me add my voice to the growing chorus and profess my great affection for the music of Mumford and Sons.

Oh my, what stunningly great music – lyrically and musically, deeply visceral and full of heart all at once.  There’s a psalmic quality to much of their music – lamenting what is, yearning for more, angry, repentant, rejoicing, hopeful.  It’s music by which to raise a pint or lift a prayer.

One of my benchmarks for great music is its capacity to coax me out of my small little self, to make me feel fully aflame, caught in a moment forgetful of self and unconcerned with what others might think.  The music of Mumford and Sons does that for me again and again – I get lost in the power of the music – I want to jump and dance, kneel and weep, pray or just yell out “thank you”!

Just consider this sampling of their lyrics:

  • “Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free.”
  • “If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy, I could have won.”
  • “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”
  • “It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart but the welcome I receive with a restart.”

But those words, in text alone, seem tame; you’ve got to enter the power of the music with the beauty of the lyrics, producing at once a rich, melodic quiet space and then next a pulsing, pounding, rhythmic, breathless romp (I love how the tempo changes dare you not to dance).

Try to catch their performance on the Grammy’s or check out this video of the Mumford and Sons song “Sigh no more.”

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/19327177″>Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More : {el.de.te}</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/eldete”>el.de.te productions</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Friday photos

There is something about mountains that lures me to endlessly photograph, ski (which I did yesterday), hike, explore or simply be in them.  Their sheer size dwarfs, generating in me an appropriate sense of my smallness.  I love the wildness of mountainscapes, the sheer indifference of a mountain to me and my safety.  Getting out into the mountains removes me, in some small way, from the safe and domesticated life I usually inhabit, stepping into something more untamed.  And that is tonic for my soul.

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Technologies and intimacies

There’s an intriguing new book out by professor Sherry Turkle called Alone Together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other.  She’s exploring how use of technology shapes our relationships, wondering what will be the impact of importing “the technologies of efficiency into our intimacies.”  My take is that she’s not real sunny about what she’s seeing; and, well, who can blame her – the notion of “friend” has been pretty much drained of its heart by Facebook.

Canada’s Globe and Mail did an interview with her here.  She’s worried that much of the social media technology produces narcissists, a soul who does not feel okay to be alone, needing constant validation, “a self so fragile that it needs constant support.”  She not a neo-Luddite, arguing we drop these technologies, but more simply insisting they be put in their proper place.

I’m thinking this might be a good read alongside of my planned sabbatical reading of Albert Borgmann’s Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life (I remember Eugene Peterson recommending this book as the one book to read if you wanted a good overview of the impact of technology on human life).  Here’s an interview with Borgmann that will give you a sense of his thinking.

So is Turkle on the money in her assessment?  What are your thoughts on how technology/social media impact human relationships (with others and God)?  What is it doing?  How is it shaping us?

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Friday photos

I headed west into the mountains, hoping to do some skiing today; however the mountains were socked in and Canmore had snow covered roads already so decided to turn back.  Heading back home a little disappointed, I caught a glimpse of one of those enduring scenes of Canadian beauty in my rear view mirror: gold-brown prairies backed up by snow-covered mountains.  I love the view of the Rockies from the prairies, two radically distinct landscapes suddenly meeting and saying hello – they make a majestic pairing.  And it’s a lovely thing to wonder at how this landscape took shape.

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