An article that really struck me

It helps me see my biases and how others, especially new Canadians, experience my thinking I’m showing care and concern. All they hear is “are you a productive member of this society yet?” Reminds me people have value and contributions to make beyond having a job.

Btw, Christian Courier is worth subscribing to. Browse some of the content and then sign up if you see the value!

http://www.christiancourier.ca/news/entry/beyond-bootstraps

What has been most difficult for him is what he has come to understand about the way he is viewed by the people with whom he interacts in Canada. With his employers, he feels he is just a cog in a machine. With others around him, he feels the only thing they want to know is if he has a job – and when he affirms that he does, they nod and make a comment about how it’s good for newcomers to be “productive members of society,” and ask nothing more.

Sitting in a coffee shop and apologizing (unnecessarily) for not being “more positive,” Nabil told me, “Sometimes I feel that Canadians are saying that we [refugees] have zero values, and so Canadians have to give them to us. But we both know that’s not true. And I also see that many of the values Canadians want to give to us are actually values created by companies – by capitalism.”

 

The video conversation I mentioned on Sunday

I have talked before about my interest in what we who have been watching it call “the Jordan Peterson phenomemon.” I believe he represents a kind of fulcrum moment in our cultural times. I know that he has helped many, mainly young men, improve their lives and relationships greatly.
A pastor acquaintance of mine (we have only been in the same physical space twice, but we have corresponded via an email forum called “CRC-Voices” since about 1995) started making YouTube commentary videos on this phenomenon over a year ago and it has become for him a second job besides pastoring his small congregation. He had been asking me to do a conversation with him, and because I feel kind of drawn to do the same as him (make video commentaries – in other words turn blogging into making videos) but am afraid of the time that would take (and of nobody being interested) I have been reluctant to do the conversation. But I realized that each time I watched one of his videos I wanted to make one myself that added to what was said or challenged it — mostly adding or exploring further. He talks to some interesting people and those conversations stimulate a lot of thinking in me, so I finally agreed to do one.

So, here is a link to that conversation video.

A couple of recommended reads

In the cold rainy days (not using the s-word yet) in the forecast, you might want to curl up in a chair with a warm beverage and do some reading.

Bill Spaans recently brought the following article to my attention, and it is very relevant to some of the questions CCC is asking of herself. Take a read for yourself, It is titled:

Does Jesus’ Mission Have a Church?

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/september/does-jesus-mission-have-church.html

“With busy believers neck-deep in personal responsibility, and a similarly frantic church calendar appealing for their most valuable commodity—time—a huge question remains both unasked and unanswered: Who is taking spiritual responsibility for the spiritual harvest that sits neglected all around us?”

Also, if you want to do some deeper, heavier reading that is very relevant to the church and it’s relationship with society today, a first draft report of the human sexuality study committee of the CRC was recently published. Without long preliminary comment, I’ll say it graciously represents a very good presentation of the standard or classic Reformed view of things. It is good to know and understand that view.

human_sexuality_interim_report_2019

 

 

I performed a marriage ceremony two weekends ago

This is the one where the flowers the guys wore were seated in shotgun shells — even though it was not what we would call a “shotgun wedding” Here’s the picture I showed some of you a couple of Sundays ago.

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They had wanted to do feathers instead of flowers, but when they went hunting (literally) the day before they found nothing with feathers. Such is how things often go in a rural Central Alberta wedding…

The setting was quite something. It was on a hill overlooking a lake.

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A family from the church own’s the land, and they’ve set up trails (it was a long walk from where we parked to this site) and this is the seventh family wedding… as you can see they’ve built a platform and benches for such occasions. Just out of sight in this picture behind the trees on the right, just steps from the beach is a lovely log cabin. Wonderful stuff.

That’s not why I started this post though. I wanted to share the picture of the shotgunshell boutonnière, for sure, but I more want to talk about how I see the church’s view of marrage in the light of the cultural captivity I spoke of Sunday.

I use the language “performing a wedding ceremony” above with very specific reasons. In my view the couple were already married in God’s eyes and we were having a time of worship together to solemnize what already was.

See, the couple were living together when they asked if I would do their wedding. I have seen, far too often, that a church spoils the relationship of a couple to the church — and of the couple to what fledgling faith connection they have — by drawing a hard line around the living together. So I tend to start with the couple where they already are, and try to build the faith they have and their relationship with a gracious God. I don’t hesitate to share with them (I do two main passage studies with couples) what God wants in a marriage. Fidelity etc. But I don’t make them retreat into a pretence of apartness so the church can feel comfortable. Lots there…

For myself, and there are many stories and examples here of how I came to this, if a couple who had faith in God gets intimate emotionally and physically and have sexual intercourse — they are already married in God’s eyes. All else is human tradtion and invention. Cultural Captivity. With this understanding I see so much of the evangelical “defense” of marriage as very odd,  like defending women wearing hats and gloves in church…

A long time ago I was part of a classis study committee on cohabitation. There were things that were good challenges to my thinking before that, but being part of researching and writing that report clarified for me that we have loaded a lot of social stuff onto marriage that does not need to be there. I’ll include two versions of the report, a summary we did, and the full report. These should serve as some explanation of where I stand on this.

Summary Cohabitation Report

Full BCNW Study Committee Report on Cohabitation (2)

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A quote on prayer

Thinking back to the sermon Sunday, and how I briefly stated that prayer itself is a form of healthy submission, this quote in a devotional today seems worth sharing as a supplement. The switch to thinking about prayer this way is not easy, or is learning to recognize that still small voice:

Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts. — Mother Teresa