Friday, 16 January 2015

So What's the Difference? (Charlie Hebdo and Slutwalk)

Obviously, Charlie Hebdo, free speech and religious sensibilities have been at the top of the news recently.

First of all, let me say that I believe in free speech. However I have no desire, nor do I see the need, to publish reproductions of those cartoons that many Muslims find so offensive. On the other hand, I can't see how millions of people can be as upset as they seem to be over them, to the point of committing violence and even murder. It just doesn't seem to be worth it. Having said that, I guess I wasn't out on the streets protesting the Viet Nam war, back in the day either. I just don't get that riled up over stuff.

So... having said that I agree with anyone's right to publish cartoons such as these, even my own right, had I the inclination, one might take the position, as many surely do, that it may not be wise to do so, knowing what the consequences might be. This thinking , I believe, is not uncommon. In other words, they might be saying that Charlie Hebdo had it coming; that they should have known what would be the consequences of doing what they did.

However, this brings me to the title of this post, and raises another area where I suspect people holding this same attitude might think quite differently, even expressing their thoughts in a strident and aggressive manner. That is, the idea that women should be careful how they dress, or where they walk alone, in order to avoid sexual assault. I suspect, and forgive me if I'm wrong, that at least some of those who blame Charlie Hebdo for bringing on their fate themselves, might also be those who would condemn, equally as adamantly,  those who say that women should not dress provocatively, or walk alone in dangerous areas, to avoid sexual attacks.

Just saying. Publishing  those cartoons, just to make a point regarding freedom of the press is really just the conservative version of Slutwalk, and vice versa.

Obviously, publishing cartoons does not justify murder, just as a woman wearing as much or as little as she chooses does not justify rape. But I believe there is cause for caution and good judgement in both cases, those who would argue for it in one case should examine themselves to see if they are being consistent in their thinking.

Take Care

Friday, 26 December 2014

"Hallelujah," A Christmas Carol

Everyone seems to love the melody of Leonard Cohen's song, "Hallelujah." I have taken the liberty of creating my own lyrics, in honour of our Saviours birth. This is me and some of Christ the King, Edmonton's musicians at our Christmas Eve service. I hope you will forgive the quality of the recording. We hope to make a better one at some point. See what you think.

If you would rather watch it on Youtube itself, click Here...
Here are the lyrics:

HALLELUJAH (CHRISTMAS CAROL)
I heard there was a baby boy, was born this day to bring us joy
Salvation and the Holy Spirit to you
In Bethlehem this baby lay In a manger filled with hay
While angels sang a glorious

Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,

The shepherds came and saw that night, you, Jesus, of the world, the light
The Saviour of all who give their hearts to You
They left their fields, they came and saw the One who would fulfil the law
You, only worthy of our Hallelujah

Hallelujah, …

And wise men travelled from afar, with gold and frankincense and myrrh
Presented gifts and bowed in worship to You
And so to this day all who love the God who came down from above
Can join together in the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, …

And so Jesus, all praise to you. All glory, power and honour too
For salvation that can only come through You
We thank you for your humble birth that brought new hope to all the earth
We sing out, all together, “Hallelujah!”

Hallelujah, …

So on this day we celebrate, and You will come again some day
To earth to raise up all your children to You
And every knee will bow before our Saviour and our risen Lord
And every tongue will sing out “Hallelujah!”

Hallelujah, …

Music: Leonard Cohen, ©1984 Sony/ATV Songs LLC
Original words: John Kivell ©2014

Take Care

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Pass the Torch? No, Just Let it Die.

I made a call today on an Anglican church. There were 2 or 3 seniors preparing for a bazaar. We talked a bit about Alpha. Nice people. One of them had done Alpha a few years ago with video's by, "Who was that guy?"

"Nicky Gumbel?" I suggested.

"Yes  that was him."

I gave him some information and my card and he walked over to place it in the Rector's mail slot. I looked into the sanctuary. It was very nice, with seating for probably about 200 or more.

"How many do you get on a normal Sunday," I asked

"Oh, a good Sunday would be about 50," he replied, "Mostly seniors. Young families seem to be so busy these days." I commiserated with him about the fact that there seem to be so many distractions on Sundays - sports and activities for the kids; so many distractions that people seem to place in priority to going to church.

"Oh, it's OK," he said, "As long as they're good people."

I don't know if he knew his church was dying, but I just said, "Thanks. Call me if I can help."

"Good people" can kill any church. Oh well, I guess the land is worth something.

Take Care

Monday, 3 November 2014

Go Figure

I have tried, for the past year or so, to avoid being overly critical, on this blog of certain, what I would refer to as 'liberal' denominations. But some things I just plain must say. I will say this as a mere statement of fact and will leave the editorial interpretation to the reader.

My new home church is now about a year and a half old. We are a group that left a mainline denomination to affiliate with ANiC, the Anglican Network in Canada. Our first facility was a local community hall but now ewe meet in a Christian High School. We are fairly stable (flat, if you are more on the pessimistic side), but growing slowly, seeing new people dribbling in, and not many leaving.

The other day I met and spoke with the pastor of another church that reminded me very much of our own situation. They split off from a local church about five years ago. They met in 6 locations in the first three years. Finally they moved in to their own permanent facility and have grown to between 300 and 400 members in the last two years.

So... a couple of things. We recently hired a part-time youth pastor and just this week were informed that our Pastoral Selection committee have found a new full-time pastor who will be joining us a couple of months into the new year.

We are also in the search for a new facility, one of our own, where we can be more settled and able to offer various ministry activities any and every day or evening of the week. We have found three potentials, and here, finally, is the point of this post. Of the three, one is that of an evangelical denomination who needs a larger facility, and has just turned the sod on a new, larger, church building.

The other two are buildings of a mainline Protestant denomination that has departed from what I would call, to quote the book of Jude, "the faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints." Both are closing their doors.

So, I look at the reasons these three buildings are available and say again,

"Go figure."

Take Care

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Tribulation?

According to my Blogger stats, most of my pageviews have to do with teachings on the end times; specifically on the pre-tribulation rapture of the church and my criticism of David Jeremiah's teaching on the subject.

The largest audience, next to the United States, is from China and the Ukraine. These are both countries where there are great difficulties at the moment. In China, there is rather intense persecution of Christians. (And may I reiterate my position, still firmly held, that China's destiny is to become a great Christian nation, and the sooner it becomes Christian, the sooner it will become truly great and the greater it will be.) In the Ukraine there is great suffering because of the current civil war there.

Much of my study and writing on the subject of end-times prophecy was when I was in the middle of a severe clinical depression. I have seen the same interest among others who would just like something to end their suffering. I believe many Christians suffering persecution or severe difficulties would be happy to see the Lord return and make all things right - not just in these countries, but anywhere they are, suffering severe physical, emotional or financial struggles. As I have said, at the worst of my own depression, at the bottom of the pit, in the darkest moments, I would have welcomed it. I would have welcomed death, although I never once thought of suicide.

So my heart goes out to these readers. My prayers are with them, as well as those suffering the severe persecution going on in the Middle East.

And for their sake I pray, in any way he chooses, "Amen, come Lord Jesus."

Take Care

Friday, 17 October 2014

Of Bureaucrats, Overregulation and Sheep (Updated)

We seem to be becoming a nation of bureaucrats and sheep. Let me try to explain what I mean. In the category of bureaucrats I include elected officials. In that of sheep, I include many of us ordinary citizens.

Bureaucrats pass laws. Sometimes, I am convinced, just to have them. It may be just in attempts to justify their existence, but I believe it is more the case that they have come into power because they are the type of people who want to enforce their will on others. And the populace as a whole often doesn't seem to question these laws. Let me give just a couple of examples, although examples seem to be everywhere one looks.

The first is secular. In my province we have photo radar. For those who may not know what I'm talking about, this involves a vehicle sitting beside a road, taking photographs of the licence plates of speeders. The speeder then will have a speeding ticket show up in the mail some time later. Officials will insist that this has everything to do with safety. I think it has almost nothing to do with safety and everything to do with income.

There has always been a, "grace spread" with these tickets. In other words, you won't get a ticket unless you exceed, say, 10 km over the posted limit. In Edmonton, this grace spread was recently reduced from 15kmh over down to under 10. Arbitrarily. No one was told, but all of a sudden people started complaining about now getting tickets where they never did before. Now, I could issue the challenge to show me one accident that could have been prevented by a difference of 5 km an hour, but that's not my main point. The letters to the editor were suddenly filled with argument from both sides, but I was amazed at how many took the position, "If you don't want a ticket, don't speed." Sheep. Not that I am trying to condone speeding, but I guess my point is that a prevailing attitude now seems to be not to examine a particular law or rule, but to accept it blindly and say that anyone who disobeys deserves their punishment. I just use the volume of opinions in favour of this photo radar business as an example.

None question whether the new practice was fair. No one questioned whether the speed limits were reasonable (there are cases where I think they are not). No one questioned whether hiding on the overpass of a 3-lane expressway, as if 2 kmh over or under the grace limit would cause or prevent an accident. Just, "There's a law. We must obey it."

My other example touches more on matters of faith. Freedom of conscience, religion and speech. A most recent example of what I mean was the story out of Houston where city council passed a motion requiring certain pastors to submit to them their sermons (now revised to speeches) addressing issues of sexual orientation and gender identity for approval. Bureaucrats in action. "Let's make a law just because we think there should be one." Overregulation.

And sheep. The sad thing, to my mind, is that there are a great many people who might think this a quite a reasonable law. The pendulum has swung so far over toward the spirit of which this law represents, that a lot of people think that anyone who differs with them should not have the right even to express a contrary opinion. The funny thing, to my mind, is that a decade ago, many of these same people probably held the same opinion they now so condemn. "Yes, I thought a certain way then, but what I think now is right, and you don't have the right to still think the same way I thought then."

Another example is the arrest, documented here, of a couple of protesters at the University of Regina. They were protesting homosexuality (which I think is pointless) and abortions (which I think is not.) What I found interesting were the comments of students near the end of the video clip. One said, "We believe in diversity - they don't." So they should be arrested? Apparently her belief in diversity applies only to those who agree with her. Another said protests were okay as long as they didn't "infringe on anyone's quality of life," whatever subjective interpretation can be applied to that nebulous phrase.

And these sheep will one be the bureaucrats. Just my interesting speculation.

Take Care

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Want Freedom From Religion?


“I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.” Richard Dawkins. (Ruth Gledhill, Scandal and schism leave Christians praying for a ‘new Reformation’, The Times (UK), 2 April 2010)

The, "Freedom from Religion" people, and others who consider it their mission to remove Christianity from the Western public square would be wise to pause and consider: If Christianity is expunged from our society it will not be replaced by nothing. The vacuum will quite likely be filled by something much more sinister, less tolerant and not so willing to be ignored.

The key to the true face of any religion is not how it behaves when it is in the minority, but what it does when it has power. Having just said that in a general sense, compare the rights of Muslims in Christian-majority countries with the rights of other religions in Muslim-majority nations.

I think I can safely rest my case. I see no reason to believe it would be any different here should that situation ever come to be. #ISIS

This is not Islamophobia; it's just my perception of reality.

Take Care

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Some Things Are True...


I often think of Nicholas Cage's final line in this clip from the movie, 'City of Angels'. I wouldn't say it was a Christian movie, in fact, far from it, but I think this quote fits very well with the Christian faith. It is one that all atheists would be wise to consider. I think I will probably post it on my Alpha blog as well.

Take Care