Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Jesus Doesn't Fill Your Void.

Sexy mullet man Darcy McAlister sent an email out last week to the youth pastors with an article written by Cameron Stang of Relevant Media Group. It’s a short and sweet article that, for the most part, is quite agreeable. Cameron is simply trying to outline the great paradox and tension of what it means to be holy and separated while still being active participants in the world and culture. Good article.

However, he ends the article with a statement that I think severely hamstrings and misrepresents Jesus: Our generation is looking for something to fill the void in their lives. We have what they’re looking for.

I can only assume that what Cameron is talking about is Jesus. Jesus; the Great Void Filler. If I can be open here for a moment, I’m not too sure that Jesus actually is this great void filler that we so adamantly preach about, in fact, I’m more then a wee bit skeptical.

Every time I hear this phrase I think of a jigsaw puzzle. Like most people, I am yet to find a completed puzzle that has captured my imagination and devotion for longer then a brief instant. When a puzzle is finished and we lock that last key piece into place there is that fleeting moment of satisfaction, a nice picture, and then we move on with life. It looses interest real fast. However, an incomplete puzzle will keep me interested for hours; I might get up and leave the puzzle for a few minutes to go to the bathroom and get some food and I might even leave for a day to go climbing, but the incompleteness of the puzzle brings me back. There is something about searching for the pieces that is much more opium-like then actually locking the final piece into place.

I can’t think of anyone who has ‘come to Jesus’ who has had all of their voids in life filled? Next time a friend approaches me with their confusion, hurt, excitement, anger, joy, or whatever, I am going to pull out a piece of paper and:
let a = your feelings
let b = your problems
let y = the solution
and leave x unknown.

Then, I am going to proudly proclaim that if we let x = Jesus then the problem will work out brilliantly. Jesus the Great Void Filler? The Mathematician maybe? I hope not. I would much rather prefer the intrigue and richness of a poem as opposed to the calculated response of formula.

Let me suggest that Jesus-centered spirituality is less about living a completed life and more about living a life that is incomplete and concerned more about finding then having. Lack of void in life is perfection. Proclaiming lack of void in life is pride.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Learning Community::seclectic.

Last Tuesday I was faced with wading through the shallow waters of a new experience. I finished teaching, led our collective of young adults into communion, prayed and then expected that people would, like every other Tuesday night, move forward, participate in financial worship, and share communion. Nobody moved.

Well I suppose, in all honesty, they did move forward slightly – I think, only to readjust how they were sitting. And then the encore came.

Ideas are powerful things; they may be ethereal and abstract but powerful nonetheless. They move us to greatness and to defeat. There has been nothing great ever to take place among the human race that did not begin first with a great idea. Ideas are powerful; they allow us to gaze into the heights and wonders of awesomeness and help us to shamefully shuffle our feet in a dark room when the idea wasn’t the light bulb moment we thought it was. Ideas wield incredible power.

I began this blog in December 2005 simply as a place where I would force myself to write; someday I would love to get paid to write. I have started a new blog in order to continue to force myself to write regularly. However, this particular space in the wonderful world wide web has taken on a life of its own > a place were ideas, perspectives, views, debates, and heated discussions have taken place to the benefit of those involved. A learning community.

This place has become a small magnetic field of teasing, annoying, and controversial thinking that has opened my eyes to new ways of seeing; I hope it has you as well. Should a thing be believed and held to be true if others could see things differently? I suppose I might call it a seclectic. Seclectic, as defined by postalpedia, is a scattered gathering of diversity. A gathering and scattering of diverse ideas. Thank you for being apart of this little seclectic group of learners.

The most significant thing I have learned since beginning this blog in December is how people are inspired to think. Learning happens in two ways: 1. Dealing with the implication of weird vaguness. 2. Dealing with the implication of bold specificness. Either way, you are forced to think.

One. Weird Vagueness. Ideas that are too big, too broad, too evasive, and too vague force people to categorize, organize, and make things more specific. That is just how humans operate.

Two. Bold Specificness. Ideas that are definitive, absolute sounding, and presented in a tone of boldness immediately chisels at people defenses; the natural response, call it whatever you may, is thinking. Bold specificness has generally a more aggressive response to ideas while weird vagueness tends to be more reflective in nature.

If we were able to effectively use weird vagueness and bold specificness I believe that we could really allow this to become a great place of learning for people across the country. That said, how can this little magnetic seclectic of learners become a scathering?

1. More people generally means more ideas and perspectives. Link and recommend this blog to someone.

2.Use bloglines so that you do not miss a post. It is easy to subscribe to and saves you time.

3.Ask lots of questions; leave bold comments and opinions. Try and pry others eyes to at least seeing your point of view.

4.Try to keep comments somewhat short and open for dialogue… leave your thought slightly incomplete so others can fill in some blanks.

5.Begin your own blog; cross-post your responses.

6.Instead of posting everything in the comments section, write your response, post it on your blog, and link back to the original article.

7.Feel free to post anonymously to float your ideas. Anonymous posting is easy enough to turn off but I know that there is value in the unnamed author. Do keep in mind though that continuous anonymous posting is consider a faux pas.*

8.In commenting, don’t be afraid that the community may disagree with you… Your goal is not to be right but to contribute to others learning.

9.Dare others to respond; call people out on their bad(good) thinking.

10.Try and write as well as you dress yourself; for many of us, your words are all that we know of you. Give us good impressions…!

11.And for the highlight!! Though this is a place of learning it is also, and maybe more importantly, a place where relationships are cultured and developed. Consider it a place to meet friends.

That should be it for now. Hope you had a good weekend! Happy posting!
-Jer, Mark, Alyne

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Friday, June 23, 2006


Considering that Jesus specifically spoke of loving God, loving others, and loving yourself in reference to the greatest command, it would seem that an honest faith and an honest humanism could walk hand-in-hand together down the isle. Anything outside of that isle may end in a quick and nasty divorce….which, believe it or not, has happened over and over and over again through out history. The comment count is still rising on this thread; go ahead and add some thoughts.

Today is Friday of what seems to be shaping up as a great weekend! Go outside and enjoy it! Before you do, follow this link to get you started on a treasure hunt to two great posts!

“From city to city from coast to coast Friday night is the night we like to party the most!”
-Ice Cube.

New content on Sunday.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Humanism??? Driven by Faith

I have a been brewing on some thoughts on humanism – an attempt to define humanity without God but at its core is fundamentally a reactionary philosophy. Anything that reacts to another philosophy means that inside the system it presupposes that the opposite is valid and actually true. Humanism -has a strong theological root system.

Our line of approach for 600 years has been to oppose it in every expression… maybe we need to embrace it at its roots but understand why it was reactionary to the thinking of the mainstream philosophies of its day.

As with any philosophical view points there are some flaws [as with Xianity as well] but there are soem very deeply powerful tenets to humanism that are more Godly than we think. Here are some tenets of Humanism... keep in mind that the original humansts were Priests trying to find where the church was missing it.

Need to test beliefs - A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on blind faith.
Reason, evidence, scientific method - Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.
Fulfillment, growth, creativity - A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
Search for truth - A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it. [the truth is out there]
This life - A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
Ethics - A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.
Building a better world - A conviction that with reason, an open marketplace of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.

So could humanism be more faith driven than we think? Could it be that the formation of humanistic thought is/was a part of God's strategy to open doors for a greater expansion of the kindgom? [I will explain this greater in another post]

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Sunday, June 18, 2006


Friend, and contributing writer to this blog, Alyne, found herself on the 'yes' side of accepting an engagement ring last night!! Well done Dean! We wish you both the best of luck....

For one of the best recent posts in blogland right now > check this out. It's titled, "This is What God Says"

Other then that, I am much enjoying the conversation and commenting on the 'Numbers' post. Injustice, in its many forms, is real and must be dealt with.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


My friend Derwyn recently wrote a blog about social justice; at some point everyone does this. It reminds me of how every girl with a cheap camera has dreamed about and experimented with being a professional photographer……but I digress.

Derwyn starts us off with a short story and then follows it up with a whole pile of questions which, if you were to answer them, are seemingly contradictory. At risk of sounding snarky and verging on liable, I think one of the most irrelevant questions that he asked was “What would Jesus do?” More on this soon. However, there are piles of very significant questions asked that, to the honest pursuer, should easily keep you up at night (i.e. note the time of this post).

Try and track with me for the following moments while I try to answer one of his questions: Would Jesus have given him just the $1 coin or would he have given $2?

There are roughly 195,000 homeless people in Canada.

Our last Canada Census puts the Canadian population at 30,007,094 in 2001; however, given one birth every one minute and 33 seconds, one death every two minutes and 14 seconds, and a net migration gain of one person every 2 minutes and 41 seconds, the Canadian population now weighs in at ‘lots of land for everyone still.’ Roughly 32,554,754 people.

Now, according to IPSOS-REID, 84% of these people believe in a Christian/Jewish God while only 20% of these, roughly one in five, regularly attend a church or synagogue. That is 6,510,950 people that go to church every Sunday. And, you might ask, where do they go to church? They go to small churches; Barna Research Group has found that the average attendance of churches in America (which I am going to assume to be similar here in not-America) is smaller then 90. Do you know approximately how many churches there are in Canada then? About 72,343.

195,000 homeless people in Canada, a third of whom are 16-24 years old; huge problem right? Wrong. Small problem if the church in Canada would only respond. Divide the number of homeless people by the number of churches in Canada and you have a relatively small problem; 2.6 people per church. Not so bad is it? Could a group of 90 people adopt and support 3 people? I think so.

Here are the numbers.
- Let’s budget a $1000/month to cover rent, food, and miscellaneous x 3 people: $3000.
- Each group of 90 people would need to give $36,000/year which only equals $33/month/person. $33 a month?!
- Did I mention that this would be an annual budget of $214,861,350?

The big problem isn’t the massive homeless population in Canada; the big problem is the massive apathetic church population in Canada. So Derwyn, to answer your question shortly, I don't think it is what Jesus would do; I think it is what we could do. A dollar a day....

Derwyn has writen a follow up story about his experiences panhandling downtown Vancouver. You can check it out here.
****end edit****

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Failure has the Highest Success Rate

I have heard success defined, questioned, debated, and re-defined more times then I have heard the dreadfully-appealing-in-the-closet-head-bobbing hit single, My Humps, by Black Eyed Peas. There are bad songs that offend our sensibilities but can still be enjoyed; then there are the songs that are just really bad—transcendentally bad, objectively bad. But kind of good. This is one of those songs and success is one of those debates. You would have to be dead and wearing ear plugs not to hear either the song or the debate.

And now, like BEP, it is my turn to stir the dead with an idea of success. Consider, if you would, the speed of Light for a moment……

……and now, hold the thought.

Have you ever woke up one morning with the feeling that you are working and living at 100% capacity? You have this sense that there are no more heights nor depths nor far reaching places that your capacity and potential will allow you to achieve or explore? That is not a very exciting day to get out of bed is it? In fact, it is most likely the day that you felt the isolated and desperate icy waters of failure; cold hard and clear to the naked eye failure. At least it seemed like failure.

Still holding that thought? Good. Consider this.

I have always understood Light to be something of a metaphor of triumph; Light prevails over Darkness, good over evil, Oilers over Hurricanes. Light illuminates and pulls the images out of film in a Dark room. Light has allowed us the simple pleasures of color, shape, and hue while affording us (at very steep price tags) the opportunity to marvel at the multiple-personalities of its wave/particle duality. We sit in the warm filtered rays of sun Light and turn to a delicious golden brown while somewhere a sculptor uses highly focused lasers of Light to cut diamonds. It is no wonder we have attached the ‘Light as victory’ idea to all things brighter then Dark; the Bible even uses the metaphor. Yet, if we were judging Light purely by its speed it would have surely lost.

In the relatively small world of physics Light brags boasts and legitimately believes itself to be faster then anything. However, if anyone should know the truth it should be Light. No matter how fast Light travels it finds that Darkness has always got there first and is simply waiting for Light. Light, with its racing shoes on, consistently fails.

I wonder if that is success? The ability to never quite reach potential.