I have been reading a very illuminating work by Franco Berardi entitled The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy. The title will be somewhat misleading for a Christian audience as it is not a theological or spiritual book but an analysis of the shift from an economy that captured the bodies of its citizens (typified in the factory setting) to an economy that now captures the minds of its citizens (caught up in the endless corridors of the technology). One section reflected some of my thoughts that I articulated in my previous post.
Should a church parking lot be full of $50,000 cars? Someone once said that it was wrong for Christians to own vehicles of that value. On the one hand, I don't own a $50,000 car. I probably never will. For me a car is a device that gets you from A to B. It doesn't need to be fancy or spectacular. On the other hand, I certainly own some things (an Apple computer, for one) that other people might find excessive. A cheaper Windows machine can (more or less) do all the same things. It would get me from point A to B (to use the driving analogy).
Leaf blowers are everything that is wrong with this world.
Let me back that statement up. Jeanette and I are spending our first Fall in a house. When we lived in our apartment, we didn't mind the fact that we didn't have to mow a lawn, shovel a driveway, or rake leaves. But we also looked forward to those things, mostly because they symbolized the fact that we would have a yard, a parking space (or a garage), and trees. Now we have those things. And we're enjoying the yard work.
The first time I ever visited the Sky Dome, I mean Rogers Centre, it was for a Billy Graham crusade. I walked right onto the field, ran onto the bases, and then took a seat for the concert and sermon. Billy got sick that week, so while he still came and spoke for a bit, his son Franklin also took the stage. Franklin's message was good, but his father's was better. Billy got a standing ovation. The man was a powerful speaker, an influential leader and a well-respected figure. It's quite a legacy for Franklin to live up to.
I'm trying to be less critical.
Lately, I've noticed my tendency to critique everything. From the beginning. Often before I even have enough information to properly critique. I come in to a situation looking for things I disagree with, things that I want to argue. Overall, it leaves me feeling kind of blah and less than optimistic about things in general.
It's not just affecting me.
I'm looking forward to the upcoming issue of the Canadian Mennonite where some attention will be given to the life and work of former Conrad Grebel University College professor A. James Reimer. Though I never worked closely with Jim, I was a student in more than one of his theology classes and I was a big fan of his bluegrass gospel performances.
Do we care too much about creation? To continue what I said last week, there are all kinds of good things that can separate us from God. It still is strange to me that Paul would list many of these instead of purely negative things, but at the same time it's an important message to keep in mind.
I first heard of Nel Noddings in a class on "Social and Ethical Issues in Education." Her comments on the ethics of care, that is, putting caring first in ethical decision-making as essential for education, caught my attention.
She came to EMU last spring to speak on caring and attachment theory. As her ideas provided foundations for EMU's education department, people were excited to say the least.
Life is a good thing. I don't think there's anyone who would argue that. In the beginning, God created life. In fact, given that there are plenty of potential times I probably could have already died, God sustains life in an active and involved way. There are many times where He gets involved in the nitty-gritty. It's not always obvious in the moment, but usually looking back you can see His fingerprints like they're glowing in the dark.
For anyone following U.S. media, it would seem that there is a divide between Christians and Muslims that has lead to violence in the past and will inevitably lead to more. This is a disturbing narrative reinforced by the media coverage of isolated extremist groups.
More comments I've heard recently are the need for the voices of peace to speak up and to act for peace. On the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) campus and in the community of Harrisonburg, I experienced the strength of voices for peace this week.
Romans 8:38–39 provides a list of all kinds of things. You’re probably familiar with it. It goes something along these lines, “Neither A nor B, neither C nor D, neither E nor F, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” While I have always loved the verse and always loved what it was saying, I sometimes missed what was going on. I, possibly like many others, knew the outline of the verse but didn’t have it memorized.
At the corner of St. James St and Portage Ave in Winnipeg is a building which has provided the canvas for some massive murals for Winnipeg Hydro. As I passed by the mural today I saw two kids laying back on the grass at the edge of a lake. They were looking up into a blue sky made lighter with the presence of distinct white clouds. It was the classic scenario of seeing ‘something’ within the unique and random shapes that pass by. The clouds, however, betrayed the clear and unmistakable shapes of an energy-efficient light bulb and washing machine.
After the summer of people coming and going, holidays, and uncertain schedules, we finally returned to worship. Although it felt strange coming back up the hill after so many weeks away, entering the space of worship and exciting greetings of old friends and a few new faces, I sensed familiarity, warmth, and rejoicing in community.The theme of worship through the summer had connected with gardening. From preparing the garden soil, to sowing seeds, to nurturing plants, to the harvest, we journeyed through the metaphor of our lives and spirit.
Do you know Bradley Manning? And no, he is not related to Preston. Some would argue he is a new American military hero. Some would argue he is a traitor. We have no idea how the history books will paint him. We don’t even know the details of the case because there is a pending legal investigation around it, but here’s what I’ve gathered from the various quasi-news sources.
I’d like to continue to add to last week’s post. There I made the point that, although we are certainly using technology more and more for communication, human beings will always rely on (and get the most joy from) face-to-face interaction. Some of you may have heard of the iPhone 4. It’s Apple’s new smartphone that’s selling faster than borscht at a Mennonite Church potluck. One of the most advertised features of the iPhone 4 is “FaceTime,” a video conferencing technology that allows you to chat with friends, family, and enemies face-to-face.
There’s something about being in God’s creation that seems to stretch time. I feel a sense of abundance and re-connection with the Creator of all. Time taken in rest, away from the people-creations which focus on time, money, production, and consumption, I remember who I am, I re-centre my self and life in Christ, and I re-commit myself to the community of faith which seeks to live in the kingdom of the Creator.
I might just be ready for a new semester.
Let’s face it, we all use technology. The fact that we’re reading from others on a blog is evidence to that fact. Jeanette and I use email as our primary communication method. It’s quick. It allows people to respond on their own time. And it doesn’t interrupt life the way a phone (especially a cell phone) does. As we’re getting used to all this technology, many people of older generations (mine included) are opposed to some of the movements among the younger crowd. Texting, facebooking, etc. They scare us. “It’ll reduce face-to-face interaction,” we say.