Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm Moving

I started this blog way back in 2005 as a means to force myself to write, connect with other thinkers, and dialogue some of our burning questions. The first couple of years were spent debating, commenting, and agitating each other to a fuller, deeper, more authentic faith. It was very common, through the years 2005-2007, to have many many comments on a single, poorly written post. I believe the record amount of comments for any one post was 109.

Anyhow, if you are a regular follower of this blog, I appreciate the many years you have read and learned with me. I would invite you to update your RSS feed, reader, or subscription service over to my new home on the web. You can find my new home here.

The contents of this blog are protected by the creative commons. All Rights Reserved. Protected under Creative Commons (Noncommercial-No Derivative Works-Use With Permission) © 2005 - 2010 (CANADA/USA) 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top Ten Best of 2010

1. Best Movie – Jonah Hex, another graphic novel film adaption that made little to no money at the box-office. I’m a sucker for westerns.

2. Best Sporting Event – The Vancouver Olympics. Of course, the best moment was Sidney Crosby’s goal that is burned into every Canadians memory. The most entertaining, though, was Shaun White’s winning half-pipe run.

3. Best AlbumRise Against, Appeal to Reason. In came out in 2008 but my iTunes shows it has the most plays.

4. Best Book – Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Steven King, published in 1983. Just happened to be the best book I read in 2010.

5. Best Video Game – Angry Birds.

6. Best New Website Addiction – Twitter. I finally joined and, after a couple months tweeting, realized that the only people on Twitter are egomaniacs and PR people. I’m not sure which I am. Either way, you can follow me here.

7. Best TV Show – The Office takes the cake again. I know exactly what character I would be if I was on the show.

8. Best Life Change – Quitting coffee. Except, I seem to drink more coffee now that I’ve quit.

9. Best Trip – Dominican Republic with my wife for our 10 year wedding anniversary! So good.

10. Best Photo – My ankle 11 days after falling while rock climbing. This is after the stitches came out.

What are your Top Ten Best?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Christian Christmas Party

It is coming to that time of year when people from all different walks of life come together to enjoy a dizzying amount of Christmas parties. Some of these parties are good and some of them, well, should never have happened. For those of you fretting about your staff Christmas party, you would do well to Google something along the lines of “work Christmas party etiquette” and remember to mind your toos. Your skirt shouldn’t be too high or your neck line too low. Don’t be too flirty, too hairy, or too late, and definitely don’t drink too much. Remember, your boss is there.   

Anyhow, the remainder of this post will deal with another beast altogether: The Christian Christmas Party.

There are two characters that make up the Christian Christmas party guest list; the Christian party-goer and the reluctant non-Christian. Meanwhile the host, who generously opens the doors of their home to their Christian friends, cautiously hides any incriminating evidence that may call their Christianity into question. This may include R-rated movies, an empty bottle of wine or two, or a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.

The first on the guest list are usually friends from church. These Christian party-goers usually plan to show up late and arrive extra hungry. In fact, since receiving their invitation to the party, they’ve probably stopped eating altogether. These people know that the host has spent the last month baking and preparing tasty little finger foods. As long as they’re not later than everyone else, they’ll feast like kings. Gluttony, of course, is only a minor sin. Right?

The other guest, much rarer to find at a Christian Christmas party, is probably nervous about the whole ordeal. They’re likely a neighbour or a friend from work who has been a targeted evangelism project. They’ve Googled “Christian Christmas party etiquette” and still don’t know what to expect. If this is you, pay attention! I’ll answer a few questions for you:

1. Yes, as is your custom, bring a bottle of wine as a gift for the host. As long as you arrive on time, they will have ample time to hide it.
2. No, you will not need to plan for a DD. *Note to Christians: “DD” is short for designated driver.
3. Yes, feel free to speak as you normally do. For extra fun, add some color to your conversation if the hosts’ pastor is there.
4. When you are offered a “cider,” don’t be surprised when you are given a “hot apple cider.” These are also good.
5. Yes, dress the same way you would for your office party and mind your toos. Remember, Jesus is there. 
6. If the host advertises ugly Christmas sweater party or white elephant gift exchange, any reason not to go would be fine.

Well, now that we’ve got that all straight, go out and enjoy the Christmas holiday season! It is a great time to get together with friends and family, to tell stories and laugh together, to share good food and drink, and to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas & Traditions

For most people, I think, Christmas is not really Christmas unless the right traditions are observed year after year with a dedication rivalling Santa Clauses’ devotion to cookies and mall appearances. Of course by “right traditions” I don’t mean “right for everyone.” Each person and family have their own traditions, twists on popular traditions, and traditions that make the rest of us wonder how much rum was in the egg nog.

Traditions get funny around the holidays. It is one thing to have your morning coffee tradition (or is it addiction?) and an entirely different thing to have a giant tree slowly dying inside your home. One friend of mine decorates their family tree with sour soother candies. Given the choice, I’d decorate it with bottles of maple syrup, but that’s just me.

Perhaps one of my favourite Christmas traditions, providing many opportunities over the years, has been the mistletoe. It stands to reason that anything that stays green during winter and produces fruit, should be celebrated with a kiss! And though I can’t prove it or find it anywhere in history, this might be the reason men started bringing trees inside the house. The reasoning? The bigger the green plant, the bigger the kiss.

While the Christmas tree first shows up in 16th century literature, most believe its origins date back to 8th century Germany when a missionary with a chainsaw cut down a sacred oak on Christmas Eve. The outraged locals, understandably ticked, were eventually calmed by the planting of a young fir tree and disaster was averted. Eventually, German settlers brought the Christmas tree to Pennsylvania where it sprang to life as a good ol’AmeriCanadiana tradition.

Even earlier, in 4th century Britain, evergreens were given as gifts to each other during the week of Winter Solstice. Interestingly, during this gift giving time, slaves and masters would exchange positions making speech free and, theoretically, unhindered. I imagine this to be like a modern day office Christmas party where cubicle dwellers tip a few back with the boss but can’t and shouldn’t say what they really think.  

The great thing about traditions is that, while you and I may have the exact same tradition, each of us gets to inject our own meaning into the tradition. We are free to adopt and borrow traditions from other ages and cultures and make them uniquely our own. Traditions act as symbols and guideposts that generally point people and communities to something larger.

Christians have been doing this for centuries, and it’s not wrong. Traditions change, they morph, they pick up new meanings and discard old ones, and people carry on. If a Christian wants to decorate an evergreen tree to be reminded of Jesus, fine. Others in history have held that evergreen trees increase sexual potency. Obviously, symbols and traditions mean different things to different people.

As Christians, our hope is that people would come to know the reason behind some of our kooky traditions. Christmas is a celebration of the life of Jesus and we’ve adopted certain cultural things to be reminded of this. What will our Christmas traditions of the future look like? Who knows, but for Christians, it will always include Jesus.