Archive for March, 2007

Libs pull in to a statistical tie in the polls

Libs pull in to a statistical tie in the polls


Strangely absent is a big headline from Bourque about the latest poll.  After reading far too many skewed headlines I deleted my bookmark to Bourque’s "please buy my headlines" propoganda watch.

CPC 36
Lib 34
NDP 12
BQ 9
Green 8

 

Now this little video is fun! Youtube makes politics even more fun!

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Simple church network update

Simple church network update


Mark Trew and I have completed a draft proposal we are now taking to our denomination. We put a lot of work into this. It seems as though the timing is good. There seems to be a big shift in the thinking in our denomination towards becoming missional. I generally don’t use the term even though it is in vogue these days. I must confess it was a little bit strange hearing a successful conventional pastor talk about being missional before I brought it up.   It proves to me the whole conversation about church the gospel and culture has hit the mainstream. 

It is kind of sad in a way because I’ve replaced most of my online connections with local ones. However it is good because it feels more tangible. 

Most of the established church leaders seem really happy that we’re seeking to be part of the denomination. Accountability can be a dirty word. After my experiences in house churches I’m convinced we need it. What do you do if the leader of your independent house church decides to start spending the group’s money on equipment he gets to keep at his house or starts causing a lot of interpersonal conflict? If you have a serious problem with church leadership you need to be able to appeal to an outside body to resolve the conflict. 

In some ways I’ve retreated to relationships where there is a strong amount trust. Victims who’ve never really dealt with their issues make lousy leaders. They also tend to turn others into victims.

From what I’ve observed even established churches don’t have much in the way of fruitful accountability to people outside their organization. Being part of a denomination is really only one small step to really embracing a healthy relationship with the rest of the church. 

A lot of planning might seem like an inorganic way of doing things but it is valuable. People need to know what the church is all about and what they’re getting into. Transparency is key to earning people’s trust. For a simple church to reproduce there are some things that need to be very intentional.  A simple church can be very casual and be a great place of healing but it won’t grow and ultimately won’t reproduce. 

So we’re entering a new phase. I hope to have a new web site up soon that will chronicle our journey.

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Anybody else remember this "heat" wave

Anybody else remember this "heat" wave


There was a stretch cold weather for just over 2 weeks in the winter of 1996.  This particular arctic high pressure front has become legend.  It started mid Janurary It is funny listening to people exaggerate how cold it actually was. "It never got above minus 40!"   There are always those that like pass off windchill as an actual temperature.  To my delight the Canadian weather office has historical weather data online.

Here is the dreaded January of 1996.  I still have fond memories of my then roomate having to walk back to our house, in to the wind from 7-11 where we abanonded my car.  I brought a touque…he didn’t.

 

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Chris Simon is a Looooooooooooooooser

Chris Simon is a Looooooooooooooooser


That is all.

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The moral consequences of climate change

The moral consequences of climate change


Climate change is a scientific issue that has become a political one. On issues of politics people can disagree and the side who gets the most votes wins. Climate change is not an election. It doesn’t matter if any given person decides they don’t believe it is real. If it is real it is real. Because it is a matter of truth and consequences those who speak against action on climate change will be morally responsible if they are wrong. I believe the weight of evidence is compelling enough to force action and refusal to act is recklessness. 

Imagine this situation. George is the owner of manufacturing plant. He has taken his 16 year old son and employee to the hospital because he has some terrible symptoms. The doctors tell George that they are 90% sure it is caused by his bodies response to product X, a material the plant uses in the manufacturing process. They suggest that the son shouldn’t work at the plant anymore and they should use a different material with fewer health risks. George recognizes that it will cost a lot to switch. The new material doesn’t cost much more than the current material, and it does make for a better product but the cost to switch the plant over will eat up two year’s profit. He goes home and looks up information on the Internet and finds a slim but vocal minority of health professionals believe there is no connection between the use of product X and health problems. Convinced that the science behind the connection is junk George ignores the warnings of his doctor and puts his son back in the plant.

Wouldn’t you say the father in this story was reckless?  Even though there is a small chance the doctors were wrong would a responsible person take the risk?  If a layperson is going to go against the vast majority of professional opinion they better have done their research. I’m convinced that on the issue of climate change the arm chair sceptics have not done their research. It is easy enough to read an article and feel your way to an opinion. It is another thing to read critically and look for answers and rebuttals. Check the sources, check the claims and check the credentials. At first glance you’ll probably find dirt and exaggeration of both sides of an issue, especially a polarizing one.  On the issue of climate change some scientists catch heat for not going with the flow on climate change. A lot of the sceptics work for organizations well funded by the oil and coal industry. You will also find sceptics misrepresenting the views of scientists. If you follow the money you discover a lot of things. I’ve tried to do this on an issue such as abortion and I find it thoroughly frustrating as both sides have largely abandoned honest debate in favour of pursuing rhetorical advantage. 

I find the sceptics arguments weak and it is easy to find compelling rebuttals online. There are entire blogs dedicated to countering the disinformation and spin created by climate change sceptics. When I see an actual debate online the sceptics get owned every time. Here are a few blogs I’ve been watching.

ClimateDenial.0rg
DeSmogBlog
Gristmill

This feed is huge. Environmental Health News

 

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Way to go CBC

Way to go CBC Saskatchewan


Here you can see the article on which this image if found. Ummm, guys Saskatoon is on the South Saskatchewan River!  Move the square a little to the right…good grief!

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I gots myself a bloggin chair

I gots myself a bloggin chair


The latest greatest thing in free classifieds in Saskatoon is Kijiji!  I was able to pick up a sweet Laz-y-boy rocker recliner for $50!  Now that Saskatchewan has emerged from the long dark of winter and the veranda has been reclaimed I’ve got myself a great place for reading and writing!

I came home from a lunch with my realtor and discovered a huge lake of water just outside my neighbours door!  The snow that was piled up in front of my house was preventing drainage.  I found my shovel and started digging a trench.  After 40 ft of trenching my yard was done and a helpful neighbour started helping me out.  We then did the next yard.  Unfortunately the water started pooling in her front yard.  So I dug a trench through a big snow bank and finally finished creating my stream to the storm sewer drain.  It was great fun to work outside without a jacket and meet 3 of my neighbours.  I’m liking my neighbourhood more and more!

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Where have all the theologians gone?

Where have all the theologians gone?


I think one of the biggest things ailing the western evangelical church is poor theology, particularly in the areas of salvation and transformation.   Our understanding of what it means to follow Christ has been skewed through sales pitch conversions.  Over the last couple hundred year’s evangelists have made it progressively easier for people to respond to their pitch without thinking through what they are really getting in to.  They have reduced discipleship to eternal fire insurance.  Without a proper understanding of what it means to follow Christ people remain untransformed and thoroughly fixated on their own “spiritual needs”.

How has this come about?  The practice of evangelists sacrificed quality for quantity but that isn’t the whole story.  Increasingly the church has adopted a marketplace approach to theology.  People believe what sells.  Unfortunately a lot of what sells is terrible.  There are some people that recognize this but too often they are isolated in higher learning institutions like bible colleges and seminaries.  Their voices are one of many and usually the only people that hear them are the ones enrolled in the school.

The church is in dire need of quality theologians that can engage people at their level.  I’m concerned that with the rise of cell groups we have sacrificed teaching in favour of small group community.  Unfortunately most of the teaching that makes it to the small groups are resources purchased at the local bookstore.  The learned lay teacher seems to be an endangered species.

Some people look down upon theologians as overly intellectual and unspiritual.  After working with many theologians I consider good friends I can see where people get that impression.  Theologians trust their thinking more than their feeling and often distrust people who speak in terms of feelings, impressions or divine revelation.  The disdain between the “thinkers” and the “feelers” is often mutual.  The consequences of this disdain are dire.  The charismatic movement has lost its theological and biblical moorings.  The prosperity gospel seems to have infected most of this movement.  Christian television is a theological wasteland.  Among many conservative evangelicals we find an unnatural obsession with political power and a narrow set of social issues. 

The people that could bring correction are too isolated from the local church.  When they do speak they are one voice among many.  If they aren’t a successful pastor or an author with market power their influence is limited.  Many of our grounded theologians watch and perhaps shake their head but are not in a place where they feel they can make much of a difference.

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Has anyone ever named a toilet after you?

Has anyone ever named a toilet after you?


I discovered the Leighton comfort height toilet at the Home Depot!

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We need to change the system

We need to change the system


After reading more depressing interviews about manufactured evidence in the lead up to the Iraq war, school children launching an email campaign to reform behavior in the Canadian house of commons and watching Ann Coulter talk about how the green forces of the world are bent to reducing food supply through energy effeciency I seriously begin to question the leadership of our society.  

Someone asked me why I joined the Green Party. Why pick a party with no chance to win a seat? Isn’t it a wasted vote? Well, one huge is reason is that when I read or watch the green party leader Elizabeth May she seems conspiciously void of disingenuous rhetoric.   I am so disappointed with Dion. I thought the Liberals were going to get a leader with substance but we have seen precious little.   On the strategic side he got “swift boated” and the Liberals react like cry babies. We’ve become so used to the idiocy that is Ottawa that our tolerance of incompetence has grown. 

I am someone that straddles both left and right on issues. I care more about competence than idealogy and I spend a lot of time listening to perspectives from across the political spectrum. I hate it when I see people reject something just because it comes from the other guys. On so many issues people are so polarized that cannot begin to understand the other side.   People on either extreme don’t realize how blind they become when they see the whole world as a stark us versus them fight. 

Right now most of our political leaders are acting like little children. 

There was a post by Prairie Wrangler a little while ago that won me over to changing the way our democracy works. 

More than that, I can’t conceive of a situation where this will change independently of the system. We need a fundamental shake up of our core institutions to lead to any change in behaviour. The partisan inertia leading MPs to act as blind followers of their leader, while insisting that the other party leaders would surely lead the country to economic, social and environmental ruin, is far too ingrained in the political culture and the MPs’ psyche to be cast aside. The system rewards loyalty, ambition and partisan fervor over capability and conviction. It turns long standing members into hypocrites, as they attempt to defend the very same misdeeds committed by their government that they condemned with feigned outrage from the opposition benches. And worst of all, it turns our otherwise dignified leaders into bumbling idiots.

We need a system that encourages cooperation and debate. Proportional representation, where no party is likely to gain a majority by itself, can do this. If nothing else, it forces somebody to work with somebody, and not just for cynical partisan purposes, but for progress. It aligns the interests of parties where common ground exists, instead of encouraging a zero-sum strategic battle ground. It would blunt the instinct to frame another party as villainous, as future initiatives may depend on the support of that very party.

I think changing the system is necessary. We need leadership in this country and not partisan bickering. If we put our politicians in a place where they are forced to co-operate it just might make a difference. I’ve become a proponent of Proportional Representation. There are two parties in favour of PR. One does press conferences with hand puppets and the other one does not.

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