Wednesday, 30 July 2008


Some odd things I've eaten:

Chocolate covered meal-worm beetles
Olive flavoured casserole
Hailstones with kale
Chocolate milk and tomato juice (mixed)

And that's about as adventurous as I get in the culinary world. Hm. Hopefully this list will grow over time.

Bo: There's a monster outside my room, can I have a glass of water?

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Three Things I Thought

Thing I:

General Canadian culture is on the decline, because everyone is so strongly encouraged to live out the culture of their heritage, to the deficit of being Canadian. Tolerance abounds, and it's a ghastly idea that Canada should ever have one overarching culture.

On the flip side, the role of a woman in society and the role of a man are getting much closer to being the same. This is so strongly encouraged that it's a ghastly idea to think that the two should be different.

I wonder what would happen if we played a bit semantically and swapped "gender stereotypes" for "gender culture", and "ethnic culture" with "ethnic stereotypes". Hmm.... Granted, stereotypes and cultures aren't quite the same thing, but it's an interesting concept, I think.

Thing II:

People should never be talking on their cell phones when they go through a drive-thru at a fast-food place. They should put their friend on hold for that looong half a minute when they're at the window. Imagine how snubbed a customer would feel if the situation were reversed, and the person handling their food and money didn't bother to say hello, thank you, or even make eye contact because they were too busy on the phone with their friend.

Thing III:

Performing Arts Camp is over! Yay!!! No more kids' camps until the end of August! Although I must say, I am super proud of my dancers.

When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

Friday, 18 July 2008

The Way Kids See It

VBS is over! And I am so glad. That was quite the learning experience. Let me tell you, it's definitely different being on the planning/leadership side of VBS than it is being on the volunteer side of things. I guess it went well - I mean, no one got hit by a bus or left behind at the Science Centre or anything. The kids had fun.

I had a memorable conversation with a little girl of six or seven years. We were standing in line together during the family BBQ. Allow me to post an approximate transcript of what transpired.

Me: So, what's been your favourite part of daycamp so far?

Esther: Mm... I don't know. I like all of it, except for that one song we sometimes sing.

Me: Which song?

Esther: The one where we march at the beginning.

Me: On the March? Well, that's interesting. Most kids love that song.

Esther: I don't like the army. Canada already has an army.

Me: But this is God's army, so that's better than Canada's army.

Esther: I think it's worse.

Esther's dad: Why is it worse, honey?

Esther: Because you get killed more often.

Esther's dad: No, in God's army you have eternal life. In the normal army you just die once, and that's it, caput. In God's army, you live forever with Jesus.

Esther: But I don't think God even has an army.

Me: Sure He does! He's got a really big army.

Esther: But that's not until the end, when everybody dies.

At this point Esther's dad smiled half-sheepishly and half-proudly, explaining that they had been studying the book of Revelations.

Anyways, I thought it was quite cute. And also quite impressive that a kid going into grade 2 this fall would be so well versed in Biblical knowledge and already thinking seriously about theological issues.

The aspiring psychologist in me noted that at her age, Esther is still in the concrete operational stage of mental development. Thus, it's probably our fault that she mistook the metaphor of a spiritual army for a physical reality. I wonder how many more kids have been led astray by that line of thought...

"Brethren, do something; do something, do something! While societies and unions make constitutions, let us win souls. I pray you, be men of action all of you. Get to work and quit yourselves like men. Old Suvarov's idea of war is mine: `Forward and strike! No theory! Attack! Form a column! Charge bayonets! Plunge into the center of the enemy! Our one aim is to win souls; and this we are not to talk about, but do in the power of God!" Charles H. Spurgeon

Friday, 11 July 2008

Unabsolutely Certain

I had a conversation on the C-train the other day, and the person I was talking to said that he considered it stupid to believe absolutely in something that cannot be absolutely proven and defended from every angle with empirical evidence. I hemmed and hawed a bit on the train, but wrote him out a better response the day after, and that is what I am posting today (with a few minor changes, of course, to protect privacy ;-)

Is it stupid to absolutely believe something that can't be completely defended from every angle? I think not. I don't believe you can be absolutely sure even that the physical world exists (oh, Descartes...), and yet I absolutely believe it does, and most people wouldn't consider that stupid.

But I guess the key word here is being "absolutely" sure. I could be wrong in what I believe, I acknowledge that. But it's a mental footnote, and not much more. I can acknowledge in my head the hypothetical possibility that God doesn't exist without giving the idea any role to play in my active life. I have absolute belief because I'm convinced, not because everything has been proven. I suppose some dramatic new proof could possibly convince me I'm wrong, causing my conviction to change, but it would have to be exceedingly dramatic.

That's what faith is – believing in what we do not see. And people use faith tons in everyday life. For all we absolutely know, Shania Twain could be an illegal immigrant making evil plots to eradicate all of Canada's gophers in the most painful possible way – but we're all absolutely convinced that she isn't. And it would be silly to sit on the fence about it. Belief in God is kinda like that. You become firmly convinced one way, while still recognizing you could be wrong. Am I making any sense?

Naturally, there's more debate over God's existence than there is over Shania's evil plots, but the implications of either God existing or God not existing are much more serious and carry far-reaching consequences. As such, it seems much worse to sit on the fence with this issue. If we decide to remain unsure about Shania Twain, then we might not like her show, but that's about it. If we decide to remain unsure about God, then we can't legitimately make claims about almost anything, or act on those claims, because if God exists, everything is very different – extremely different – than if God doesn't exist.

Eso es todo, for now.

“There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.” Alfred Korzybski

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Camp of the Family

The picture is of the beautiful Miss Emily, and some of the kids from family camp.

Well, happy belated Canada Day, Independence Day, and Happy B-Day, BJ!

Family camp (where I was known as "Tangent"... see if you can guess why) was definitely a worthwhile experience. The ups and downs of being a leader... It was an interesting week, to say the least. I learned a few things about myself.

Slight scare: after each "Sunday School" session we would dismiss the kids to go do whatever they wanted, except for those six and under, who would have to be signed out by a guardian. I accidentally dismissed the kids too early one day, before the adults were released from their own studies. The mistake was quickly realized, and most of the kids from my group were called back into the gym, but two girls were already off and gone. Not too big of a deal, because they were old enough to be released on their own, anyways, but I neglected to check for them during lunch. I didn't see them all day, and they didn't show for the evening campfire. Logically, there wasn't much reason to think something might have happened to them, but one naturally worries about little kids - especially when the fate of these little kids would be on one's own head. And there are plenty of ways for two unsupervised little girls to get hurt in a camp. Thankfully, both girls were just fine. They had spent the rest of the day with "Katy's grandma", apparently, because it had been her birthday. Still, I was quite relieved to see them again.

There were some issues with the curfew, which got frustrating. Despite the fact that I was their "leader", most of the girls on-team were never in the cabin on time, despite promising to be. And I got a little lip from some of them, as well, though thankfully, it wasn't from the girls from my church.

I was emotionally up and down all week. I'm really weird for that this summer. Co-leader Andrew must think I'm a nutcase.

Some happier things about family camp:
1)Emily! (aka River) I am very thankful that there was someone else my own sex, age, and approximate maturity around. It was great getting to know her better this past week.

2)The kids! Ohh... I miss Jared and Josie... I know I'll see a bunch of the kids at church again tomorrow, but I sure won't see them all. And it's not the same informal context. The kids were all awesome. Well, I guess kids were the reason I wanted this job in the first place.

3)Taylor and Andrew's fight scenes. Especially the one where Taytay was a cow and rolled the whole way down the hill. Kudos, seriously.

Everyone did a great job teaching their small groups. It was neat to see how the team rose to each occasion. And I must applaud Mrs. Franzen and Mrs. Little for all the energy and time they drained into this camp. Seriously, I don't know how you do something like that while you're sick or in the process of moving, planning three more daycamps, and making travel plans to Uganda. Insanity!

And the thunderstorm that blew in on the last day was pretty spectacular.

From Finding Nemo, because I had goofy emotions last week: "No! It's because I like you, I don't want to be with you. It's a... complicated... emotion."

P.S. Everyone see Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I'm kind of tiring of the Evolution/Creation debate, but this is different enough to be really interesting. Ben Stein has some important things to say.