Saturday, 17 December 2005

I'm... It?

I sucked at tag so bad. It was the late 1980s, and I was a chubby little bugger with a broad smile, a poor diet, big hair and completely un-aerodynamic curls. That, and I hated every kind of physical activity that my parents tried to get me involved in: hockey, soccer, ..., that's about it, actually. What's with my siblings doing figure skating, tennis, badminton, basketball, track and field, volleyball, floor hockey and just about every other sport imaginable, but I only got to try two before they gave up on me.

Tag was that thing that was sort of like baseball, except there weren't bases, and there weren't balls, and you just ran a lot. It was like baseball in that people always seemed to know where I was going, and got there first to make me "it". And I would then be it forever. It sucked bad.

So anyway, to relate this anything I care about (and it's a stretch), I got "tagged" recently. Apparently, on the Internet, it's now classé to fill out irritating Internet surveys and tag your friends to answer them, otherwise YOU'LL BE UNLUCKY IN LOVE FOR SEVEN YEARS AND ANYBODY YOU TRY TO DATE WILL GET CRUSHED BY A FERRY BOAT.

Today's iteration: Five Weird Habits of Walter Branflakes

  1. If I'm in a bathroom with a bathtub or shower, I need to check behind the shower curtain/door before I... deal with the matter at hand — even my own bathroom, in my locked apartment. What it someone were to be hiding in there?So, peoples, do the neurotic a favour. Open your shower curtains.

  2. If I'm in a public place and hear people singing or a band playing instruments, I invent a harmony line for the music at hand and join in (very quietly).

  3. I conduct the radio, which can get hairy when the radio doesn't seem to have a defined beat. It also looks pretty silly, and can get dangerous when you drive a standard like I do.

  4. I hate the phone so bad that I haven't called one person outside my family since I moved to BC. I feel really bad about it, since there are a lot of people I miss really terribly back home, and the Internet isn't the communication medium everyone makes it out to be.

  5. I quote things a lot. Movies, television, music, family, co-workers, political figures. I figure that if it's good enough to be quotable, it will probably express my idea with more... moreness... than I ever could. The Japanese call that umami, like the taste sensation you get from MSG. My friends call it annoying.

So that's my list. Who will I tag?

Tricky? Taken. Minako? Taken. Jenni? Taken. Marilyn? Taken. I got in the game too late.

Let's go with: Nancy, Lauren, Heather, Kristin, and MEAT.

Most likely to do this? Lauren.
Least likely: MEAT. I don't even know if he exists any more. As far as I know, nobody's talked to him in ages.

Everyone is pretty unlikely, actually, but that's the name of the game, I guess.

Friday, 9 December 2005

On Atonement

I received the most interesting comment from a perfect stranger named Tim on my last post. For those who don't addictively read my comments, I wanted to share it and provide some thoughts.

Initially quoting me, he says: "He’s so hell-bent on making someone pay for defiling the world He created for us that he needs to find one person to carry all those sins, and then to die for them. And would it be good enough for any old person to do that. No. He has to concieve a Son, because this salvation business ain’t nothin’ but a Family Thing."

He then continues on his own: That's probably the weirdest way I've ever heard anyone talk about atonement. But you realize what you said? That's actually what makes Christianity amazing... It's not that he's "hell-bent on making someone pay" in the way that a criminal desires vengeance. It's Justice, and it makes perfect sense... God is holy, pure, righteous, and just. It's really popular to talk/think like you're talking, but what's it based on? Intuition? Since I'm a fan of the Bible, here's an interesting bit that deals with our perception of Christ from the letter to the Corinthians that Paul (the guy in the Bible) wrote:

[He then quotes 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. I have redacted it to this link from the NRSV, though he quoted New King James. Every translation has its place.]

Anyway, if you actually read that; don't you think it's cool? Maybe it's kind of hard to wrap your head around without reading more of the Bible, but I just have to say that the Bible is actually an amazing book. You can read the same stuff so many times and if you are reading to learn (not necessarily with the intent of proving or disproving your point of view, for as Plutarch so wisely said- "It is impossible for anyone to learn that which he thinks he already knows"), you will learn!

I'm not trying to provoke hostility here.. I know that people tend to get hostile or frustrated when one quotes the Bible, but the Bible really ought to be quoted in the context of God. I went through a pretty major crisis of faith when I started university (I'm a Geology student, so it had to happen!), so I just wanted to share that... I don't even know how I found this blog, actually. Kinda random. So that's that.


Contrary to Tim's implication, I own a Bible, and I've even read some of it. Paul is one of my favourite writers, for it is in the closing of some of Paul's letters, particularly 1 Corinthians — "Stand firm in your faith; be courageous, be strong. Let all you do be done in love." — and 1 Thessalonians — "Encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." — that we find this distilled essence of what it means for us to be Christian.

The reason why what I say sounds about atonement sounds weird is we look at atonement differently. You think of substitutionary atonement; that is, that Jesus died on the cross in our place, individually and collectively, as propitiation for our sins. Propitiation is exactly where my problem lies — that Jesus must die in order for "it [to] become consistent with [God's] character and government to pardon and bless sinners." (Propitiation – Wikipedia). If I believe in atonement at all, which is questionable at best, I believe in the moral influence view of it, in which Christ's death is not a substitute for our own, but an exemplar of God's great love and the devotion and obedience of the Christ.

I cannot comprehend substitutionary atonement for the same reason I cannot comprehend the death penalty, because I find justice in compassion and forgiveness, not revenge. Say, for example, that I kill another person, a member of your family. How does my death equate with justice; surely it does not return your family member to you. Likewise, I sin, and God will forgive my sins, thus saving me from death, but only if someone (the Christ) is punished for my sins instead. My trouble comes in that God cannot simply forgive.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Crisis of Faith

Let me set the stage for you.

It's right around Passover in the year 7 or 8 CE, a nice spring day in Nazareth. There's going to be wedding the next day; all the preparations are ready. There are three characters in our little scene:

  • Levi, who is called Biff: the protagonist, and narrator. A Jewish boy, apprenticed to his father as a stonecutter, about 13 years old. Funny, irreverant. (Hopelessly) in (hopeless) love.

  • Joshua: another young boy, again around 13. Very philosophical, and incredibly wise for his age. Kind and honest. Biff is his best friend.

  • Maggie: a young Jewish woman, also about the same age. She's the bride in this wedding, betrothed to Jakan, the son of Iban, a Pharisee and important member of the Sanhedrin. As appalling as at might seem to us, remember that 13 or 14 was a routine age for marriage in the Promised Land in those times.

Right. So, to contine, Maggie is (not-so) secretly in love with Joshua, and Biff is (not-so) secretly in love with Maggie. Biff is also in love with Joshua's mother, Mary, but only in a sort of mainly joking "she's my backup wife" sort-of way. So anyway, it's the day before Maggie's wedding, and she asks Biff to get Joshua to meet her that evening. Joshua knows it's so Maggie can profess her feelings for him. He knows he can't carry through on anything he might feel for her, so he asks Biff to go in his place, and pretend to be him, so Maggie's feelings won't be hurt.

I fell backward on the ground and there was in my head a bright light, and the rest of the world existed in the senses of touch and smell and God. There, on the ground beside the synagogue, Maggie and I indulged desires we had carried for years, mine for her, and hers for Joshua. That neither of us knew what we were doing made no difference. It was pure and it happened and it was marvelous. And when we finished we lay there holding each other, and Maggie said, "I love you, Joshua."

"I love you, Maggie," I said. And ever so slightly she loosened her embrace.

"I couldn't mary Jakan without—I couldn't let you go without—without letting you know."

"He knows, Maggie."


I thought she might scream, that she might leap up and run away, that she might do any one of a hundred things to take me from Heaven to Hell, but after only a second she nuzzled close to me again.

"Thank you for being here," she said.

- excerpted from Lamb, by Christopher Moore

If you haven't figured it out already, Maggie is better known today as Mary Magdala, or sometimes Mary Magdalene. She is the one, scripture says, who found Jesus' tomb empty the first Easter morning. She was with him in his last days, and one can assume, through much of his ministry as well. Joshua is just Greek for Jesus, so it's not that much of a stretch. And Levi, who is called Biff is Jesus' childhood best friend.

Purists would complain that the character of Biff completely fictional, and that including Jesus as a character in a story with extra-marital relationships (for which he is in part responsible) is nothing short of blasphemy. I think they're wrong. Though very little is written about it, it's very likely that Jesus lived a largely normal childhood, had friends, played, and did everything else a normal child did in the first century.

There's something about the humanity in this portrayal of Christ that I like, that he was one of us. The book as a whole is, of course, wickedly funny, and I recommend you find a copy of it at your local public library, and read it just as soon as possible.

But that brings me to my recent crisis of faith. Did Jesus' humanity appeal to me in this portrayal because I already think of him as a person? Am I so unsure in my faith that I can't even say for sure that Jesus was the Son of God? Was Jesus anything more than a worker of miracles, a man of wisdom and kindness and acceptance, and a prophet of God?

I've puzzled over these questions for a little bit, and haven't come any closer to finding answers that work for me. I still find church (when I go) to be a place where I feel at home. I'm surrounded there by by a love largely rooted in a God that maybe none of us is understanding correctly, speaking about and listening to fallible scriptures written by people with biases and prejudices just like us, singing hymns of praise with memorable tunes, and words of questionable accuracy. It's a comfortable place, but having said what I just have, my presence there feels almost quasi-apostate.

It's not that I have a problem in my relationship with God. He or She, and I, are doing just fine, thank you very much. We even talk once in a while, though it's not as often as I feel I should. My trouble is, the belief system to which I allegedly adhere places the divinity of his Son front and centre. While I can accept and believe (without proof, I might add) that God exists and that he loves me, the precise nature of his son seems... insignificant.

When I was still discerning for ministry just a year ago, one question I was asked was to describe what I believed God was. And I said, "I believe that God loves me, and all the rest is crap." It just doesn't matter. It would seem that Christian doctrine disagrees with me.

How do I put Christian doctrine as it exists, and my fractured, shattered belief system back together?

Sunday, 6 November 2005

On Mission

Mission is not a small word.

Don't get me wrong. Phonetically, it only has two syllables. In this sense, it is a much smaller word than, say, onomatopoetically, or pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, or even, syllable. These words, tounge-tying as they may be, express not horrifically exciting, or broad, or significant concepts [though you might disagree if you're a fictional coal miner afflicted with pneumonoult...]

Mission is not a small word. A mission can be a journey or a quest, sometimes military, of some significance. A mission statement is a statement of beliefs which one will follow, a credo, a motto, a set of guiding principles. Mission is the name of several places, including towns in British Columbia (in the Fraser Valley, near Abbotsford), South Dakota and Texas.

I live in an area of Kelowna called the Mission. It's an almost exclusively residential area, with reasonably sized (for a city) lots, green space, foliage, beautiful mountain views, schools and not a lot of traffic. The specific area I'm in seems to have been built in the 1970s, and not renovated for modernity's sake since then. As a result, my apartment is in a house with a stucco'd exterior, and the inside is covered with enough dark wood panelling to heat this place for an entire winter.

I've also noticed that, for a city of its size, Kelowna has an inordinate number of churches, a large number of them highly conservative theologically, and extremely evangelical in practice. A result is a truly amazing number of religious schools: Catholic, Lutheran, Pentecostal (the Kelowna "Christian" School, as though the rest of the church-run schools aren't, I suppose), and so on. I wonder if this trend of evangelism has a historical basis in Kelowna's founding. If Kelowna's early years saw developed focused in what is now the downtown, a particularly eager group of Christians, perhaps, set out to take God's message to the (then) more rural, unchurched areas, and thus started the Okanagan Mission. I don't know if that's true, but it seems plausible.

These observations were drawn together by my experience travelling to Kelowna from Nova Scotia; six days in a car travelling across New England, Ontario, the US Midwest, Saskatchewan and Alberta. I was struck by the pervasiveness of radio in the United States.

Let us consider, for example, a typical Canadian conurbation (one of my new favourite words). I'm going to use Pictou County, in Nova Scotia: New Glasgow, Stellarton, Trenton, Westville, and for kicks, the slightly distant Pictou town, total population around 35 000. I could just as easily use the cities of Vernon or Penticton here in British Columbia, which are similar in size. Pictou County has one local radio station, CKEC, and a CBC transmitter. Compare that with Minot, a city of 36 000 in northwestern North Dakota, which has ten radio stations, several of them locally originating, and six of them self-describing as "Christian radio".

This is not something isolated to small Minot. Driving on Interstate highways, far away (for the most part) from large cities, one is exposed to mainly AM radio, which propogates over greater distances. The majority of stations I was able to receive were either Christian radio or conservative talk radio. Sadly, I don't think I heard Air America Radio once. Several of the programs I listened to really disturbed me. One was a program extolling the virtues of (I swear I am not making this up) Christian financial planning.

In one call, the hosts advised a man to quit the part-time job which helped him to support his family. The reason: he was selling beer at the local stadium at sporting events, and this wasn't Christian. Sure, his family might not be able to eat. Sure, he wasn't having any himself. But God has a plan; he'll provide. What absolute "God has a plan for you; it's just not this, because you'll obviously be damned forever, because we think the Bible says so" Calvinist crap. I think. I really need to read more theology. Then I'd know whether it's Calvinist or not.

The other thing that really bothered me was a letter from the mother of a three-year old, who wrote (ostensibly for the three-year old — yes, really) about how she loved witnessing (that's a friendly word for evangelizing) people by handing out Christian-themed pamphlets to people while in a grocery store, because, seriously, who's going to be mean and turn down a three-year old girl? It bothers me because the girl can't possibly understand the Message (capitalized for the evangelicals who are reading) she's sharing. At best, she understands that Jesus was born in a church filled with hay and cows on Christmas Day, and that church is where she goes to play in the Nursery on Sunday.

Coming up next: pictures (I hope!), and a possible crisis of faith.

Sunday, 16 October 2005


I'm off to Edmonton tonight for this year's iteration of the Access conference. I may blog while I'm there (depending on availability of Internet access, but more than likely, it will just be me whining about barely understanding the latest library technology.

I'll be back Thursday.

In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful scenery, and the poor bugger who stood between it and the camera.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

"I'm Off to Start Something New..."

Those were the last words I said, in person, to my parents.

When I last wrote, I was just about to go to Saint John for a job interview with the School of Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John. They were looking for a Systems Administrator, and apparently they thought I would be an adequate candidate. Shortly thereafter, on my birthday, I was to be skirted away on an aeroplane to Kelowna, British Columbia, for a 48-hour whirlwind tour of Kelowna, British Columbia (24 of those hours spent in the air or at airports) accompanied by a job interview at Okanagan College, where they were looking for a Coordinator, Library Computing Systems.

The short version of the story is that about two weeks later, I was offered the position in Saint John. Suddently, I was faced with the not-small task of deciding whether to:

  • stay where I was, with an incredible group of co-workers, a job I enjoyed immensely, and free (if not cozy) accommodations surrounded by people I love (more or less)

  • leave my home province, and the world of public libraries to re-enter academia, albeit as a tech monkey, not a member of the grad-student (or even undergraduate) intelligentsia, and replace that now-typical slate of conditions with a list of relative unknowns, in a city where I knew one person (an ex-girlfriend)

No small task, you say.


A week later, after having determined it was necessary to "start something new", I received a call one evening at around 7:30, announcing that I was also being offered the position in Kelowna. A nearly identical situation, except that the job would keep me working in a library setting, though I would now ostensibly be in management (at 24!). Oh, and also, the job would be in Kelowna, British Columbia, some 6000 kilometres from home, where I know nobody, except two taxicab drivers, a checkin guy at the Ramada Lodge Hotel, and a handful of librarians and library paraprofessionals (total interaction time: 3 person-hours).

Resignations were tendered. There were parties and dinners and barbeques and gifts and hugs and tears, and on Monday, September 26, I set off with a packed Toyota and a wallet full of plastic, for Yarmouth and the CAT Ferry, on my journey, across two nations, that would take me into new, unexplored lands, and reunite me one more time with some old friends.

It is now accomplished. I am in Kelowna. I have started my job. I have living room furniture (free!), a dining room table (cheap!), a bed (transported from Coquitlam), and as of this weekend, a mattress (comfy). While I am established here, this is only a "home away from home". I am a Maritimer, born, raised, and educated. I will always be one.

This is only a waypoint on my journey.

I will come home again.

Coming soon (really): how soon I could actually be home.
Coming soon (also): reminiscences of a journey through strange and beautiful lands, as seen through my eyes, a digital camera and (mainly) AM radio.
Coming soon (hopefully): high-speed Internet at home (now T + 10 days without), so I don't have to come into work in the evenings to write here.

Oh! And times here are now in Pacific Time — Daylight Savings or Standard, whatever flavour happens to be the order of the day.

Addendum [the next day]: When I moved back to my old server (had to return the "new" one), ImageMagick moved. Again. So you couldn't comment. Again. At least some things never change.... Thanks to my old colleague J. Adam for pointing the problem out.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Welcome to the New (Old) iHOB

Welcome to what you've been waiting for.

Zut Alors! A new, exciting bilingual name. A new domain name, and the registrars, they are Canadian, like us. No need to panic, though: the same dull, meandering, rarely updated content will keep you company. The fleurs-de-lys and my head (an actual photo of my head) provide the minimally required quantities of Canadian content to keep the CRTC off my back. Though some Péquistes could hunt me down over the fleur-de-lys thing, though. Your thoughts? Too much francophone baiting? Or am I right on the money?

Recently, though, I've found myself asking a question similar to one which comes up in the House of Commons from time to time, namely, "What should we do about The Other Place?" I, of course, am talking about the old Branflakes Dot Net domain. In the Commons, they're referring to Hell The Senate. Should I burn it in effigy? Bury it at sea? Send it a rejection letter? Laud it with gifts?

At one point, I had considered replacing it with a portfolio-style website extolling my awesome glories as a human being and Library Systems Administrator. Then an interesting thing happened. I got a job interview in a far away land, for a position as a Library systems person. It seems my glories are manifested already in my resumé! Who knew? On that note, I'll be spending my birthday at Okanagan College, Kelowna, British Columbia. I promise to have a piece of pie or cake, with a candle, before I fly home overnight that night though.

To reiterate, welcome!
(offscreen stage whisper) To....
(offscreen stage whisper) Zut Alors dot CA...
Something! Dot CA!

Tales from my sordid vacation in the Northeastern corner of the continent will come later this week.

Addendum [August 18]: Sorry, everyone. I forgot that when I moved to the new server, I forgot to install ImageMagick. No wonder no one has commented for the last month. You can now, though.

Saturday, 4 June 2005

Out of Deep, Unordered Water

Well, there's good news, and there's bad news.

I didn't drown. ;-)

Depending on your point of view, it could go either way, really. I sure hope it's mainly taken as good news in these circles. If it's not, I think I'll have to start watching my back a little more.

The flood waters of the raging Petite Rivière and it's feeders, Hebb's and Fancy's Lakes, have receded almost completely to their normal levels. Going out with the record amount of water (220mm of rain, by some counts!) were a period of unseasonably cold temperatures and general misery. Of course, the return of beautiful summer-like heat coincided almost exactly with the day my office, after a week of indoor coat-wearing and gathering around cups of coffee, got our oil tanks refilled after ordering them emptied several days earlier as the waters threatened our building.

Speaking of threatening waters, enjoy my Flood '05 gallery.

I'll be back in not too long to talk about last week's trip to the annual meeting of the Maritime Conference of United Church of Canada, and some thoughts I have coming out of that.

Until then, keep fit, and have fun.

Thursday, 19 May 2005

Portrait of a Quitter

Quitter, thy name is Brandon.

Today I parted ways with the CentreStage production of Sarah, Plain and Tall that I've made such a big deal of in recent weeks. It was quickly becoming obvious to me that I was having serious (insurmountable, even) problems with my lines, and it wasn't going to get better. It really was a fool's exercise to accept the role in the first place — my first role in community theatre: a lead role in a play I've only heard of as a Simpsons reference, taking place in a community far away from where I live, with an incredibly short rehearsal schedule that seemed to conflict with everything I do, and a performance schedule that took my whole summer away.

Why did I say yes? Because I'm that guy who can't say no.

Well, not anymore. This time, I said yes, and then I let other people down in a bad way. And I don't think I can do that again.

I feel like such a crappy person. :-/

Monday, 9 May 2005

On Comedy

Last weekend, I went to Meshuggah-Nuns, playing at CentreStage Theatre, Kentville. A great show, all around, and I would think that even if I wasn't already friends with most of the cast. ;-) It was, in fact, so good, I'm going to see it again this weekend, this time not even as a member of the cast group from my play.

Watching the actors in Meshuggah-Nuns though made me realize something, and that is, comedic acting — that is, serious goofball, totally friggin' nuts comedic acting — is easier than dramatic acting. What I am NOT saying is that comedy is easy to act; it isn't, believe you me.

In my dramatic role in Sarah, Plain and Tall, I'm quickly coming to see how much easier it is to see whether you're being a farce than whether you're being Joe Q. Average. I can do farce convincingly. I'm not sure I've got average down yet.

Thursday, 5 May 2005

Desperately Seeking Understudy

"You found a boat for sale?"
"No. It's a man who says he's seeking an understudy."
"Well, why on Earth would you be interested in something like that?"
- from my version of Joseph Robinette's "Sarah, Plain and Tall"

CentreStage Theatre, Kentville, is undertaking a production of the (occasionally musical) drama, Sarah, Plain and Tall. It is based on the book by Patricia MacLachlan, which also spawned a highly respected film version starring Christopher Walken as the Kansas widower Jacob Witting, and Glenn Close as his perspective bride, the Downeaster Sarah Wheaton.

For reasons I don't yet understand – apparently I'm kind, genial and fatherly! – I was approached to take the role of Jacob in the CentreStage production. And for reaons I understand even less, I accepted. the only problem I have now is that I require an understudy. Now the only reason I need one is that I may have to travel for my job (or, more specifically, a new job). If this travel were to coincide with the performace run, that would be a Bad Thing.

The cast is a fun group of people, the story is touching, and it's a experience I'd recommend to you for sure. If you're interested in understudying for me, or know someone who might be, please let me know, so I can get you or them in touch with the play's director.

Monday, 2 May 2005

He Saved The World A Lot

Easter Day is well past now, but in the early days after that Holy day, I was left with a few thoughts and ideas that seemed worthy of their own category. In the intervening time, while I've formed these ideas into a cohesive shape and injected them with my typical vitriolic humour, the death of Pope John Paul II occured, and introduced the Theology category, a bit differently than I had planned.

That being said, without any further ado, let me present my Theology category, and it's *ahem* Second Hurrah. Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to share my future meanderings down this path with you all. Do note that I get the irony that at least a portion of my audience is atheist (the adjective, not the noun), and either doesn't care or will want to pull their eyes out. Well, here's your chance!

In this age where humanism and spiritualism are digging their claws into each other, if one asked a (nominally) Christian group to name somebody who gave up his or her life to save humanity, you'd be as likely to get Jesus as your answer as you would to get Buffy Summers, the Vampire Slayer. You're welcome to deride this statement's validity all you like; the statement is certainly open to debate, and it is absolutely not based on scientific assessment or statistical analysis in any way. However, some statements I heard during the Holy Week observances led me to consider these issues, and this similarity anyway.

Before I go any further, I think it's important to admit that I don't know who Jesus was. I don't know whether he actually was actually borne of Mary, a virgin, whether he died on a cross, what he did between these things, or whether he was the son of God. I'm not sure how important the answers to these questions are either, in the scheme of things. Many of the important lessons of the Christian faith tradition don't come from the death of Jesus (or the Resurrection), but from his life, or rather, the stories of it that have been passed to us, from ancient generations, through scripture. Is every story about Jesus in the New Testament true? Probably not. But we can find, generally, a snapshot of someone who cared for others despite their cultural background, and despite their past actions.

But that wasn't the point of this conversation.

On Good Friday this year, I heard something that had been said on many previous Easter Days, but which I actually processed this time, for the first time. There's a line from the Apostle's Creed, which, by the way, we don't say very often in the United Church, which is why I only hear it on Easter at the Chapel. It goes simply like this:

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.

He descended in to Hell. It's not a part of the story with which I'm particularly comfortable. I don't like to hear this; that suffering, even for the sins of the world, is an integral (some would say) part of my faith. Fortunately for me, the meaning of this line of the Creed has been debated by smarter people than I for centuries; they call it the Harrowing of Hell.

But, really, that wasn't my point either.

Buffy Summers. Jesus Christ. Both were called, for want of a better world, to some task greater than themselves. Both surrounded themselves with a community of friends, drawn from many walks of life and from outside what one might consider the "mainstream", to share in their lives and in their work. Both ultimately died to save the world from evil. Both, in the context of their experience and in the words of their time, asked that "this cup might pass me by".

Except Jesus died, this Apostle's Creed says, and went to Hell. And Buffy died and went to Heaven.

I wonder if this dichotomy means anything. I haven't quite figured it out yet.

Or maybe I'm just completely off my rocker.

So anyway, to borrow and mangle Buffy's epitaph: "Jesus Christ: He saved the World a lot."

Monday, 4 April 2005


Commenters - take note!

I have added a CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing test for Telling Computers and Humans Apart. The goal - prevent software-based comment spam by requiring people posting comments to type in a short string from a picture on the web. Since a computer can't "read" the picture, comment span will disappear.

Hopefully, you don't mind too much. Sorry if it's a pain. :-(

Saturday, 2 April 2005

Karol Wojtyła: 1920-2005

His Holiness John Paul II
Pope John Paul II died today, at the age of 84.

I disagree with many of the things for which he stood, not the least of which were his opposition to the use of contraception, his view on the role of women in the faith he lead for nearly 27 years, and his stance on the sin (he would say) of homosexuality. I am not Catholic. Yet, over the past few days, I have watched with the rest of the world as he has given up his struggle, a struggle lived in the public spotlight, as he has, to quote media reports, "serenely abandoned himself to the will of God".

I am moved to tears by the loss of this great servant of God; someone who, until nearly his last breath, struggled to lead a God-led life, and to make the world, and the lives of each individual he encountered on his life's journey, the best he could in his own small way. If we can all follow, in our own way, this great example, then perhaps, as in the words of the great prayer, God's will may be done "on Earth as it is in Heaven".

Though it was a random happening, I will remember that, at the time of the Pope's passing, I was among friends at a rehearsal of the Chapel Choir, practicing the Gloria Credo (fixed May 4, 2005) from Victoria's Missa O Magnum Mysterium, part of the liturgy of the Catholic mass which he would have practiced for much of his life. I take some comfort in this time from the reassurance the Pope would have found in his faith, perhaps even in these words:

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero.
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum.
Et vitam ventura saeculi.
God from God, light from light, true God from true God.
[I] await the the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come"


Sunday, 20 March 2005

What? Me Mental?

This introduces my new Survey BS category, where I will pare my favourite surveys from the Internet and my mailbox, and share the results with you for your information and amusement.

I SAID AMUSEMENT! Laugh, peons!

Ummm.... without any further ado, I present my Personality Disorder Test. Enjoy.

Ahem, my


-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --

A Marathon of a Different Kind

Well, it's been a busy age, really.

Some of you may have noticed a recurring trend in my recent bloggage: a marathon search for a missing pet, a marathon quest through lands foreign and domestic for an exciting opportunity (and just because we could), and now this: a marathon hymn sing.

Of course, by now, many of you have heard of the First (and perhaps, Only) Manning Memorial Chapel Choir Hymnathon, a fundraiser for Pilgrim Song, the Choir's planned performance tour of the England, Scotland and the Inner Hebrides in April, 2006. But, about the Hymnathon.

628 hymns sounded like a whole frig-load of a lot. Oh, and they were. Including our breaks, it took 22 hours and 38 minutes to sing first (and, generally last) verses of all but one of the hymns. And I was there for just over twenty hours of it! I won a gift certificate for being a hardcore fool, and not subjecting people to my piano playing. A good time was had by all, and $3700 (!) was raised toward our final objective.

Many people have asked also how the trip to Brock went, and specifically the interview and job prospect. I did poorly on the practical skills component of the interview, and was not able to successfully compensate with my indelible charm and dashing good looks. I got a call a couple weeks ago telling me I didn't get the job, followed the next day by the job getting readvertised. Oh bother. Guess it just wasn't meant to be.

That having been said, the trip was a great time, and I was very priviledged to enjoy the company of the incredibly friendly, wonderfully patient, and generally wonderful Christine and Jenni, who both accompanied me at the expense of nearly a week of their lives, and their continued mental health. They've both described the duress we underwent far better than I could.

Speaking of things that are meant to be, have any of you, my faithful readers, ever visited, lived in, or known somebody who lived in McAdam, New Brunswick? It seems the winds of change might be trying to push me in that direction. And if they do, I'd like to know what they're pushing me toward. ;-)

Aside from that, Holy Week and Spring both started today, and it's bound to be a busy and beautiful week! Tschuß!