Archive for December, 2003

Latitude and Longitude

Latitude and Longitude
I received a GPS for Christmas.  I was hoping to get one so I could use it for hiking and  my yearly road trips.  My location is  N5209.973 and W10637.310.


Happy birthday to me

Happy birthday to me
I am now officially 30 years old!


Merry Christmas in Australia/New Zealand

Merry Christmas to all those in Australia/New Zealand
I’m not sure its fair that our friends down under get to celebrate Christmas before us.  Doesn’t the world realize North America is the centre of the universe.


Making the effort to understand

Making the effort to understand
A few days ago someone made some ridiculous comments on my blog.  He said some stuff about a lack of scripture in my responses and seemed to lump me in with the entire emerging church which apparently has a strong aversion to theology.  His comments could certainly apply to some in the emerging church but I don’t think they can be fairly applied to me.

I wonder how much would have changed if he realized I have completed (well almost) my BA with a major in biblical studies at an evangelical college.  I wonder if how much would have changed if he realized I did an internship teaching at the college level.  Perhaps he doesn’t know that even after my internship I was invited to teach week long sections of core courses.

I don’t think we are going to learn much unless we make the effort to really understand what other people are saying.  I am trying to change in this regard.  That is why I posted a summary of what I thought Bishop Spong believed.  I thought it would be good to let people correct any misconceptions I have about what the guy actually teaches.  I’ll admit that I don’t think much of the guy as a scholar or theologian.  However if I don’t make an effort to truly understand what people are saying I do myself and others a disservice.  Essentially I cut myself off from a learning opportunity. 

I find that debates on blogs get pretty futile when people just start talking past each other.


Cuz its Salo

Cuz its Salo
Sung to the tune of “Let it snow”

Oh the Edmonton Oilers are frightful
The Flames find it delightful
Iggy’s gonna score ya know
Cuz its Salo, Cuz its Salo, Cuz its Salo


Well…the days are getting longer

Well…the days are getting longer
Today is the day we Saskatonians begin to console each other with the hope of spring.  We have passed the winter solstice.  Each day from now until June will get longer. 

Today the sun rises at 9:13 AM and Sets at 4:56 pm.

With the exception of Edmonton and Anchorage Saskatoon is pretty much as far north as you can get for a city over 100 000 people in North America.  As dark as it is here there is one blogger in total darkness right now.

December isn’t a particularly cold month in winter.  The average high for this day is -9 degrees.  In January our average high will be around -15 degrees.  Many days are warmer than that.  The average is offset by the very cold.  At least once a year we hear the weatherman say “a high pressure ridge is moving in from the arctic and it will settle over the prairies for the next week.  But there is hope, next week wednesday look for a return to seasonal temperatures”.  These weeks usually involve lows around -38 and highs around -30.  In that kind of weather many of the things you trust to work stop working.  Key locks freeze.  Cars don’t start.  -30 isn’t really all  bad by itself.  If you dress warm and plug in the block heater in the car you can survive.  It is the wind.  Lots people talk about how bad a “wet” cold is.  I don’t think they would complain too much if they ever experience a 40kph gust of wind with temperatures below -30.  In those kind of conditions exposed skin will freeze in less than 60 seconds. 


Microsoft starts Spam lawsuits

Microsoft starts Spam lawsuits
It makes me feel oh so good to think that company with the technical understanding and financial resources of Microsoft are going after spammers in court.

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Bishop Spong

Bishop Spong
My first real experience with Spong came when one of my roommates purchased Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism.  The title appealed to me because I’ve long departed from the rigid biblical literalism that is found in some conservative circles.  My interest in Spong dropped dramatically when I read some of his claims.  The one that sunk things for me was the idea that Paul was a guilt ridden homosexual. 

Last night I had a long chat with Phil over at Signposts.  Phil has quoted Spong a number of times and even heard him speak in person.  I’ve always appreciated Phil so I asked him about Spong.  It became pretty clear that Phil had a different impression of what Spong was teaching than I did.

My experiences with Mormon missionaries have taught me that is important understand the words people use as they use them.  I believe it would be a tragic mistake to assume that Spong means the same thing I do when I use words like redemption, life, God, Jesus etc…  Below I try to piece together a fair summary of Spong’s core beliefs.

Spong on God
“We have come to the dawning realisation that God might not be separate from us but rather deep within us. (RBF p. 33)”

We become ‘[Gods] … by having the courage to be the self God created each of us to be. (RBF p. 206-7)’

“We look for and find meaning and divinity, not always so much in an external God as in the very depths of our humanity. . . .” (RBF pg 33)

Spong rejects the traditional view that God is a separate personal being that one can know, love and relate to.  God is essentially a life force that dwells in us all.  We discover divinity within us.

Spong believes that God is better understood in mystical terms rather than theistic ones.  The tradition of mysticism sees God as  “the inexplicable presence, the symbol of transcendence, otherness, the emergeng life force that produces an expanded consciousness. It portrays the deity in non-personalistic terms as the source of life, the source of love and the Ground of Being.”

Spong on Miracles
Spong doesn’t believe that God intervenes in human affairs.  If God did intervene and he chose to intervene in some instances and not others that would make Him immoral. 

Spong on the Bible
Spong believes that bible is a source of inspiration but it is riddled with errors and rife with the cultural prejudices of the authors.  Most of Spongs theology stems from his personal experience and science.

Spong on Prayer
Song found no meaning in the traditional spiritual discipline of prayer.
“Still, despite my efforts-sometimes frenzied, but at least persistent-I could not make prayer, as it has been traditionally understood, have meaning for me. The real reason, I now believe, was not my spiritual ineptitude, but rather that the God to whom I had been taught to pray was in fact fading from my view.”

Prayer “This is a portrait of the presence of God in human life that manifests itself in wholeness. “This is what God is,” I want to say, “and prayer is that experience of meeting God.” Prayer is the conscious human intention to relate to the depths of life and love and thereby to be an agent of the creation of wholeness in one another. Prayer is the offering of our life and our love through the simple action of sharing our friendship and our acceptance.”

Prayer involves shedding the delusion that we are the center of the universe or that our lives are so important to some external deity that this deity will intervene to protect us. Prayer is a call out of childish dependency into spiritual maturity

Spong on Humanity
“Human Beings are not born in sin! The Church’s understanding of the fall of human life from the perfection of creation to a state called original sin is pre-modern mythology and post-modern nonsense. This means that theological doctrines based on this view of sin which includes the image of Jesus as the rescuer, the sacrifice, the one who died for our sins are doomed. The old myth no longer works for us because it is not true.”
“Darwin presented us with a view of life in which there was no perfect creation that God could pronounce good and thus no fall from this good creation into a state of sin. Instead, he suggested that the creation is not yet finished. It is still evolving and still expanding. So we are not fallen creatures, we are evolving creatures, a work still in progress.”

It appears to me that for Spong Christianity is essentially a spiritual journey of human evolution.  Humanity is not sinful, but merely underdeveloped.  Christ was not an incarnation of a divine being. Christ was just another human who managed to become the finest expression of life, love and being.  From a historical perspective most of the bible is a complete farce replete with errors, omissions and interpolations deeply tainted by the primitive beliefs of the authors.  Prayer as we know it is futile because there is no God to pray to.  We are better off attempting to tap in to our own depths of life and love, instead of childishly relying on the power of an interventionist deity.   


I spoke too soon

I spoke too soon
A little while ago I commented on a blog entry that painted Saddam Hussein as an American puppet out of control.  My response was that the Americans funded and supported Iraq but they didn’t create him.

I found a good article that seems to explain the situation well.  The CIA worked with anti-Soviet forces in Iraq in the 60’s.  These forces included Saddam Hussein.  The facts aren’t completely clear but we are sure the CIA assisted the Baath party during a 1963 coup.  They provided a list of suspected communists for the new regime to hunt down and kill.  Saddam received some training from the CIA as well.

This was all part of the Cold War and at the time the US would cooperate with anyone that was willing to oppose the Soviet Union.  Calling Saddam a CIA puppet implies that the CIA were in direct control and orchestrated the Baath Party’s ascencion to power.  It looks far more like the CIA and the Baath party worked together against a common enemy.

Does this mean I don’t believe the US should be held to account for this? No.  In the Cold War the Americans supported many brutal regimes to further their own interests. 

I think we should also be careful not to paint any one leader, even President Bush, with the actions of former leaders.  It was Kennedy, a democrat, that supported anti-Soviet forces in Iraq in the early 60’s.  It was Reagan that funded Saddam in the Iran/Iraq war.  Bush does not equal America and America does not equal Bush. 

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Return of The King is so very, very good

Return of The King is so very, very good
I just came back from the last installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Far and away the best of the trilogy.  An excellent, excellent movie.  Wow.