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Monthly Archives: May 2013

BradleyHelloooooooooooo Bradley!

The last car I drove before you was a 1992 Chevy Cavalier. Before that, it was a 1991 Toyota 4Runner. And before that, a 1991 Ford Taurus.

It’s nice to finally drive someone who’s my age…

But Bradley, you scare me. Not only are you the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought (outside my education), but every time I look at you, I think one thing: I don’t deserve you.

I actually said this to the sales lady when I first laid eyes on you. She laughed, but I was serious. How does a person like me think I get to drive you in all of your awesomeness? You’re too good for me, Bradley.

I mentioned this feeling to a couple of people, and without pause they each said the exact opposite: I DO deserve you! Sure they were family and friends so they should say that, but the emphatic tones in their voices implied something more.

I also fear that you will let me down. I don’t have good luck with cars. Hopefully things will be different with you.

The other thing that scares me about you is that you give me a freedom I haven’t had in a long time. In the fall, I was confined to my bedroom; a prisoner of my own body. Now, you and I can go anywhere at anytime, and the thought of that is both exciting and frightening because I’m afraid of all of the ‘What ifs.’

You also mark the true beginning of my post-university life. If I am completely honest with myself, school has been somewhat of a means of avoiding moving forward. I’ve been loathe to start living in the real world for fear that I couldn’t handle it. Besides, I’m good at school. Really good. Why stop doing something you’re good at?

Bradley, the next month is probably going to be a bit rough. But hopefully in a few weeks things will settle down and we can start enjoying each other, ’cause right now, you seem much too good for me.

My last week in Toon Town…

Links

Faith & Religion

The abusive theology of ‘deserved’ tragedy – Rachel Held Evans

In which words like ‘real’ and ‘true’ mean things – Sarah Bessey

Carding people who walk into church – Fred Clark

The Great Disappointment – Jason Hines

The consequences of ignoring the hard parts of the Bible – Ed Cyzewski

The end of bully Christianity – Mark Osler (not sure I see an end…)

The sexiest missionary wins – Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

Suburbia needs Jesus, too – Andrea Pallpant Dilley

When you’re wondering: How God feels about storms – Ann Voskamp

We need thicker skin – Zach Hunt

Culture, Society & Life

A field guide to summer blockbuster season: 22 movies to see

Is ‘Nashville’ the most feminist show on TV? (after reading this, I think so)

A feminist look at the women of ‘Arrested Development’ 

What TV’s still missing: Working moms and anti-heroes – Anna Breslaw

25 important life lessons we learned from the Bluths

The theology of Stephen Colbert

20 ways to relax and unwind

7 quick ways to ease stress

Politics, Economics & Law

Judge finds smoking gun in robocalls scandal but who pulled the trigger? – Andrew Coyne

When political rancour bleeds into the hearts of citizens – Peter Loewen

How Duffy and Wallin helped Harper win – Kim Mackrael and Josh Wingrove

The paranoid style and An end in sight – Andrew Sullivan

Wow, Americans are a lot more miserable about the economy than Canadians 

Random & Weird

9 things you probably didn’t know about swear words

Snowflake diversity

154 one-liners for the climate change denialists in your life 

Photos of an erupting Alaskan volcano from space

What I’m reading…

 

What I’m watching…

I’ve gotta say that 2 episodes in, I’m underwhelmed.  Hopefully it picks up.

Cassandra Brooks made the above video and is blogging about her Antarctic journey here.

Photo by Heath Allen

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in Moore, Oklahoma who were devastated by yesterday’s F4 tornado. But among the wreckage was this important reminder about what our lives should focus on.

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I got a nice little surprise before I went to bed last night.  I found out that my blog was linked to and sort of featured on WordPress’ Weekly Writing Challenge!  This led to a number of people checking out my blog for the first time, and some new followers, which I’m very excited about!  Thanks to WordPress for the shout out!

This week’s edition of links is one day later than normal because I was out of town for the long weekend enjoy time with family and friends.  For those who are new to the blog, all of the links included in my weekly round-up are not necessarily endorsements of the views expressed in those links; sometimes I link to pieces of writing that I just find interesting and thought-provoking.

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Links

Faith & Religion

Why LGBT equality is not a doctrinal disagreement – Krista Dalton

You don’t have to be perfect to be loved – Danielle of From Two to One

The church is a big fat business – Loren Seibold

In which they are overlooked in a sea of hipsters – Sarah Bessey

Millenials and their ‘radical faith’ – Amy Lepine Peterson

It’s not a sin to change your beliefs – Stephen Mattson

Culture, Society & Life

Can you love others if you can’t love yourself? – Sarah Moon

My advice to graduate: Be ignorant, make mistakes – Melissa Harris-Perry

Why Christian pastors are talking about “Scandal” in church – Stacia L. Brown

How to quit a bad habit – Kate Bartolotta

Where have all the women gone in movies? – Rebecca Keegan

Politics, Economics & Law

Wright resigns, Stephen Harper, and questions remain and The BC electiona and home-team advantage – Paul Wells

12 thoughts on the Duffygate scandal (does everything really have to be a -gate?)

Christy Clark on motherhood, optimism, and plans for the next four years

Even Conservatives are liberal in the greatest place ever, British Columbia – Jeff Wattrick

Obama in the storm – Andrew Sullivan

The impossibility of being Barack Obama – James Fallows

Random & Weird

How they got to “Sesame Street”

For a geography nut like me, GeoGuessr is a great online game.

What I’m reading…

         

What I’m watching…

          

Um, I find this way more confusing than normal notation…

You’re probably wondering why I’ve linked to a Chris Christie ad.  Well, it’s because of this one key phrase buried in the middle of the ad:

“Compromise isn’t a dirty word.”

See what he did there?

For far too long now, the old adage of “you’re either with us or against us” has laid waste to our discussion of policy issues.  Complex issues have been reduced to black or white, yes or no, with an inability to find common ground.

What makes the problem worse these days is that political parties intuit votes against certain motions or legislation as indicative of the opposing party’s views when the true story is much more complicated.

Take this past fall’s that passed.  It was 425 pages long and affected 64 different pieces of legislation.  64.  So if you were against the changes made in only one piece of legislation, you’d be forced to vote against the bill in its entirety.  That makes it difficult to defend yourself, doesn’t it, as your voting record only shows a ‘nay’ vote.

Conservatives love exploiting this tactic in Question Period.  How many times over the past weeks has the Opposition brought up changes to Canada’s student summer jobs program with the Government responding that the Opposition should simply vote with the Government and support Canadian young people?

Far too many times to count.

It’s not that the NDP opposes jobs for Canadian young people (I assume).  What the NDP opposes is how the Government is going about creating those jobs.  But that’s far too complicated an argument for a 6 second sound bite, so it’s easiest to just say that the NDP is obviously against supporting Canadian young people because they voted against the Government’s initiatives in this area.  There’s no mention of the larger policy debate at play.

What infuriates me more, though, is when political parties exploit these situations to try and paint the Opposition as somewhat less patriotic than other Canadians, as if not supporting the government was tantamount to treason.  Remember Taliban Jack?  NDP Leader Jack Layton was pilloried for suggesting that ending the war in Afghanistan might require negotiating with the Taliban.  Many, including journalists, thought Layton was not only off-his-rocker-crazy, but that this line of thought obviously meant he wasn’t patriotic and didn’t support Canadian troops.  The same thing occurred in the US during the war in Iraq; those who were against the war were branded unpatriotic.

*Sigh.*

It’d be nice to have a grown-up conversation about these issues instead of reverting to a political version of ‘Did not!’ ‘Did too!’ that kids play in elementary school.  But that won’t happen unless we demand more of our politicians.

Unfortunately, we’re all more enamoured with the NHL playoffs and ‘American Idol’ than we are with politics.  But based on the above, I really can’t blame you.

A couple of weeks ago, we were studying the book of Amos.  I’d never read the book in its entirety before; it’s pretty stark and depressing.  But one of the major themes of the book is justice.

I have to admit: I have a law degree and I can’t even begin to define what justice is.

The first word that comes to mind is fairness.  But fairness is relative, of course.  Another word is equality.  Justice must be available to all, and the rule of law must apply to everyone.  Other words I think of include rehabilitation, deterrence, punishment and restitution.

One of the biggest sins that Amos speaks out against is the exploitation of the poor:

Because of the three great sins of Israel
    —make that four—I’m not putting up with them any longer.
They buy and sell upstanding people.
    People for them are only things—ways of making money.
They’d sell a poor man for a pair of shoes.
    They’d sell their own grandmother!
They grind the penniless into the dirt,
    shove the luckless into the ditch.
Everyone and his brother sleeps with the ‘sacred whore’—
    a sacrilege against my Holy Name.
Stuff they’ve extorted from the poor
    is piled up at the shrine of their god,
While they sit around drinking wine
    they’ve conned from their victims.

Amos 2:6-8 (The Message)

Right now, these verses bring to mind the factory collapse in Bangladesh where over 1100 people needlessly died.  All for what – cheaply made clothes?  Injustice screams from the rubble of that building.

Later on, Amos writes:

I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Amos 5: 21-24 (The Message)

These verses hit me between the eyes.  How often have I ignored injustice yet felt like a ‘good Christian’ because I’ve towed the party line or fit the mold?  How often have I looked around the church on a Saturday morning and felt somewhat smug about my presence there?

I often think that as Christians, and therefore our churches, have forgotten that we are called to do justice.  Sitting in the pew on Saturday or Sunday morning does not make you a true follower of Christ.  While I think fellowship with other believers is important, doing justice is more important.  Look again at Amos 5: all God wants is justice.  That’s it.

Doing justice is hard.  It requires you to give up your pride, your comfort and your need for instant gratification.  But you don’t need to go to the other side of the world to do justice.  You can do justice everyday.  Ed Cyzewski hosted a series awhile back about the everyday ins and outs of doing justice.  It’s worth a read.

We all want justice in our own lives, yet we’re so loath to practice its principles and fight against the persistent injustices we see all around us.  I think the first step is to realize how unjust our world is and then take small steps to correct what we can in our immediate area, including in our own homes.

Justice is the theme of the Bible.  From the punishment of Adam and Eve in Genesis through to the ushering in of a new, just kingdom in Revelation, the Bible demonstrates God’s justice.  Our concept of justice obviously differs from God’s; the God of the Old Testament greatly differs from that of the New Testament.  But it’s the promise of the New Testament justice that keeps me going on the days where the world’s injustice knocks off of my feet; it’s the hope that someday the meek will truly inherit the earth.

For Christmas, I received an iPad Mini.

It’s both the best and worst gift I’ve ever received.

My iPad has become my best friend, and I feel lost without it.

It’s a MACHINE.

In the fall, when I was in sensory overload, my online consumption was pretty limited.  I couldn’t stand being in front of a screen for hours at a time.  And I LOVED it because I felt in control of my need to compulsively check my Facebook account, even if that control had actually been wrested away from me by my anxiety.

Regardless, I still felt connected to the world, and I realized that life indeed could go on without a constant WiFi/3G connection.

Then I got the iPad.  Ever since, my Internet use has skyrocketed to new levels.

Needless to say, I was intrigued to read this piece by Paul Miller, entitled “I’m still here: back online after a year without the Internet.”  I find it difficult to go 12 hours without checking my email, so I can’t imagine going a year without Facebook, etc.

These quotes sum up the gist of the article:

I was wrong.

One year ago I left the internet. I thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it lacked meaning. I thought it was “corrupting my soul.”

It’s a been a year now since I “surfed the web” or “checked my email” or “liked” anything with a figurative rather than literal thumbs up. I’ve managed to stay disconnected, just like I planned. I’m internet free.

And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect.

But instead it’s 8PM and I just woke up. I slept all day, woke with eight voicemails on my phone from friends and coworkers. I went to my coffee shop to consume dinner, the Knicks game, my two newspapers, and a copy of The New Yorker. And now I’m watching Toy Story while I glance occasionally at the blinking cursor in this text document, willing it to write itself, willing it to generate the epiphanies my life has failed to produce.

I didn’t want to meet this Paul at the tail end of my yearlong journey.

What I do know is that I can’t blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. I have many of the same priorities I had before I left the internet: family, friends, work, learning. And I have no guarantee I’ll stick with them when I get back on the internet — I probably won’t, to be honest. But at least I’ll know that it’s not the internet’s fault. I’ll know who’s responsible, and who can fix it.

It’s depressing.  I’ve often thought the same thing: if I could just unplug from the Internet, I’d solve all of my problems.  But the problem isn’t the Internet; the problem is me.

 A couple of weeks ago I read Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.  It’s an interesting account of how technology has changed our brains and our ability to access information throughout history.  It begins with the introduction of writing, through the discovery of the book, then Gutenberg’s printing press and onward to our current Internet-infested lives.  It’s a stunning revolution when you think about it.  Carr points out how our brains have changed with each successive technological leap; how we’ve adapted and evolved to the influx of new information.  My reading of Carr is that he seems confident that we will be able to do so again in this new technology age, but that it will take some time.  Plus, we need to start controlling technology rather than letting it control us.

The book is a bit technical at times (like when he describes exactly how our neurons fire), but it’s a thorough examination of how we’ve come to this point.

Carr ‘s analysis substantiates pretty much everything we’ve suspected about the Internet: it has decreased our attention spans, it has allowed us to stop exercising our memory muscles, and that it causes a lot of groupthink rather than engaging us in more critical thinking.  And that’s to say nothing of the social and societal consequences of all of this.

But that’s not to say that the Internet is bad in and of itself.  Like anything, moderation is the key.  Yet is moderation possible when society is increasingly being built with instantaneous communication in mind?  How can we unplug when we’re expected to have our cell phones on at all times, when we have to sort through mountains of email or information to find an answer, when our friends expect us to ‘Like’ their status updates on Facebook, or when social media management is a seeming requirement of everyday life?  It’s tough.

When pervasive Internet and email use is a given in nearly every job these days, it’s up to us to ensure that our personal lives don’t end up the same way.  For awhile, I managed to stop all online media consumption after 7 PM.  I also tried to stay away from my cell phone and didn’t watch TV.  I tried to take a ‘technology Sabbath,’ but wasn’t terribly successful.  Why?  Mostly because I didn’t know what else to do without my iPad in hand.  And I think that’s the problem: we don’t know how to relax anymore.  We don’t know how to be bored.  We don’t know how to sit in the silence and be still.  We only know how to be plugged in.

For me, that’s the real problem with the Internet.  It makes me feel like I’m constantly missing out on something if I don’t have access to my Google Reader.  It makes me think that I need to be connected when I really don’t.  It doesn’t let me relax; it’s addicting.  But it’s up to me to decide how I use the Internet, at least when I’m not at work.

I’m starting to think that moderating my Internet use is akin to exercise and healthy eating: I know it’s good for me and that I’ll feel healthier in the long run, but society is built for convenience and instant gratification so I have to make a conscious choice everyday to do what’s best for me.

But that feels like a lot of work.  Maybe I’ll just check my Facebook account instead.

photo (1)

Ah…that’s more like it. Spring has finally sprung…

Links

Faith & Religion

Seasons – Rachel Held Evans

There are lots of ways to mother – Kathy Escobar

Elizabeth Smart and the psychology of the Christian purity culture – Richard Beck

Simple stories: an invitation to old-fashioned blogging – Ashleigh Baker

Culture, Society & Life

What can you do with $443,360 and 12 years? 

Lord, send pesticide for the weed of ‘gendercide’ – Colby Cosh

Whose history is it anyway? – Susan Delacourt

The state of censorship

The power of ‘I don’t know’ – Tim Kreider

Politics, Economics & Law

The economy is good, so why is Conservative support slumping? – Andrew Coyne

We all pay for the government’s hockey ads – Jeffrey Simpson

Tory heartland hit hardest with loss of long-form census data

Canada’s courts are choking on an increase in evidence – Adrian Humphreys

Senate expense scandal: money or morality? – Susan Delacourt

A new narrative on American gun violence – Chris Selley

There’s no such thing as a generic woman presidential candidate – Garance Franke-Ruta

The two sides of the minimum wage debate

Random & Weird

Weaponized weather

Earth in time lapse shows human wear and tear

What the world eats: a week’s worth of groceries

What I’m reading…

        

What I’m watching…

    

David Foster Wallace gives a spot-on convocation address…

http://vimeo.com/65576562

Slaw

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

CFL.ca

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

Mental Floss

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

The Hairpin

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

PassiveAggressiveNotes.com

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

Visual News

Content that educates, engages, and inspires.

stuff antonia says.

lipstick, sacraments, espresso, & grace. not necessarily in that order.

Rage Against the Minivan

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

Peter Enns

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

Lainey Gossip Articles

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

TheCourt.ca

THE COURT is the online resource for debate & data about the Supreme Court of Canada

Crumbs from the Communion Table

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

David Akin’s On the Hill

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

Blog - Elizabeth Esther

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

Experimental Theology

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

gailvazoxlade.com

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

Love is an Orientation

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.

The Atlantic

My ramblings on life, politics, sports and other things.