SARcasm











{January 14, 2015}   Charlie Hebdo

“I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire.

“Je ne suis pas Charlie” (I am not Charlie) … but I sympathize with him.

Those were my words last week, and really, my thoughts on the terror attack on the French satirical newspaper can be summed up as such. Through the worst (murdered cartoonists, journalists and hostages) and the best (a brave Muslim police officer’s defending a magazine’s right to mock and demean his faith, a near-universal discussion and defence of free speech), all of the many facets and nuances of this case have been discussed in other forums and by wiser, better-spoken people than me, from all sides, all along the spectrum of identifying very personally with the magazine (#jesuischarlie) to hyper-criticism that by being so provocative, they knew they were antagonizing extremists. For me, what I know is this –

I cannot ever and will never sympathize with violence as an answer to our grievances. Period. The bottom line when it comes to free speech, is that perhaps the incendiary stuff Charlie Hebdo published was unkind, unwise, racist and all sorts of awful things – in fact, it almost certainly was. But it was also allowed. And if it wasn’t, if it started hitting up against the edges of ‘hate speech’, well, that’s something else to deal with too. But at the end of the day, that does not make the taking of life acceptable. Period. Write letters to the editor. Protest. File a complaint with whatever authorities look at hate speech, Β standards and practices in the media, what have you. Start up a counter-publication. All extremely good options in a free society to express one’s great displeasure with one’s editorial stance. Expressing your displeasure at the end of a gun is unacceptable. And frankly, by rallying everyone’s sympathies around the very opinionistas you hate, you are doing your cause no justice.

I will admit I am not comfortable associating so personally with the #iamcharlie hashtag, because personally, viscerally, I disagree with a large portion of what they put out into the world. But like much greater minds (Voltaire – see above) before me, I will defend with my every breath their right to do so. And I will defend the right of anyone who wishes to criticize them. I might question the wisdom and motives (Charlie Hebdo), or the timing (critics at a time when perhaps compassion is called for), but this world is big enough that there is room for all, and there always should be.

I sympathize and pray (or send good thoughts, if they’d prefer) for those who lost their lives, and for the loved ones they left behind who are grieving. I hold in my thoughts as well Muslims who an all-too-bigoted world will yet again hold responsible for the actions of a few lunatics. And I pray that again, as France, and the world, face an incident of terrorism, that we see it bring out more humanity than hate, more compassion than fear. Because at the end of the day, it is our humanity we have in common … and that counts for much more than I think some realize.

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{December 1, 2013}   Church Reflections

One of the true blessings I’ve had through my work at my church over the last few years has been the opportunity to lead worship from time to time when our minister is away. I thought I’d share my reflections here for those who might be interested in what a progressive Christian worldview might represent. I encourage anyone with a bit of time on their hands to listen – not so much because I’m an especially good preacher, but more because I’d love to share as widely as possible the reality that there is another way to ‘be Christian’ … to be a progressive, affirming, loving person who takes Jesus’ message of radical inclusivity (the Samaritans, lepers and tax collectors of our day) in a 21st century Emerging Christianity. I’d be extremely flattered by anyone willing to listen, and familiarize themselves both with my own faith journey, and how faith can, in fact, inform a progressive world view.

CLICK HERE to listen to my reflection on Christ, Gandhi, and peaceful conflict resolution.

CLICK HERE to listen to my reflection on radical forgiveness.

CLICK HERE to listen to my reflection on discipleship in a progressive Christian context.

CLICK HERE to listen to my reflection on the power of prayer.



The above is a catchphrase of Marcus J. Borg. In the insanity of the last couple of weeks of adjusting to the new school year, job interviews, getting the house back in shape after having been away, it has also been time to prepare for a book group I am participating at church this year, which begins Monday. The theme of this book study is “Beloving the Bible”, and how we see this central text of our faith. The anchor book (well … ahem … one of them), is “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time”, by the above author. I was supposed to read 3 chapters of it for Monday. I have so enjoyed this book that I went well beyond those chapters, finishing it today, and have to say it served as an amazing reminder that Borg has, over the last few years that I have experienced his theology, had an amazing way of putting into understandable, readable words, thoughts I have had a hard time grasping and expressing for some time in my Christian journey.

As a progressive Christian, it can sometimes feel lonely out there – the non-religious in my network struggle to understand how I, a good solid liberal/left-wing progressive, can be a Christian. Some Christians, however, might question how I can be a passionate, praying, church-going Christian while still believing in marriage equality, women’s bodily autonomy, and disbelieving the factual, historical accuracy of some (OK, much) of the Good Book. Borg not only helped me understand that there were others like me out there, he helped me find language to express it – the understanding that stories can be ‘true’ – deeply, powerfully true – whether ‘factual or not’, and that in fact to narrow our view of the Bible so rigidly that it only has value insofar as it’s factual actually robs it of some of its most richest meanings … that despite Christianity having been an entrenched power in many ways for centuries, it actually started out, and is at its core, an egalitarian, power-challenging, anti-Imperial movement in favour of radical democracy. That there is, in short, more than one way out there to be a Christian, and to read the Bible.

On that note, I wanted to take the time and share my “Goodreads” review of this book, and add preface it by saying again what I can’t emphasize enough at the end of this review: that anyone who wishes to understand Christianity in particular or religion in general – for better or worse, good or ill, admiration or critique – should read this book, as it is accessible, not a hard read despite the thorny subject matter, and important in forming ANY understanding of the Bible, and Christianity in general, be it to critique or to praise … beginning with the reality that, just as there is no one way to understand the Bible, there is no ONE Christianity. Thus, my review:

“I absolutely love Marcus Borg, as he’s able to take some complicated concepts that have made Christianity in particular (and, probably, religion in general) either a damaging stumbling block, or a compulsive mania, for so many, and demonstrate how it can make sense, be tolerant – beyond tolerant, even radically inclusive and compassionate – and still meaningful. The subheading for this book, “Taking the Bible seriously, but not literally” sums it up in as pithy a nutshell as I can manage.

Looking at both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, at the Law, Prophets and Wisdom, at the Gospels, Epistles and Revelation, not only does Borg show how these can hold deep and guiding wisdom and truth, even if at times their imagery is more metaphorical than factual history, Borg makes sense of the deep history of the Christian faith while bringing it in line with up to date understandings of the world, realizing that some truths and realities are timeless, while contextualizing others in their thousands-of-years-ago history.

And best of all – incredibly readable. Don’t let the dense and (perhaps – yawn – boring-sounding?) subject matter overwhelm or deter you. Borg is accessible, readable, funny and intelligent, and I very much believe there is much to be learned for anyone – secular or religious, atheist or “True Believer” to glean and learn from this book. It might not change anyone’s mind – in my case, it didn’t so much change my thinking as provide me a foundation, a basis, context and language for where I’m already at in my faith journey – but it will provide a perspective that perhaps goes under-heard and under-represented in terms of the voices speaking loudest on behalf of “Christianity” today. While it might not change your thinking, it will inform it, both about the Bible itself, and your understanding of how you and others think about it.”



So I am sorry that over the last two weeks we have literally one or the other of our little family has been sick, or we’ve been travelling almost every single day. However, the good thing is that my time sick the last few days has given me a little chance to catch up on some of my blog reading, including my friend T over at The Dubious Hausfrau – you can find her link over in my blogroll, and I’ve linked to the specific blog entry here. And she had a great idea (that she in turn had gotten from a friend, and proper credit is given over there) about a reverse bucket list – instead of listing all the things we have yet to do, perhaps a list of the things we’ve done that we can celebrate and be thankful for are in order … as much as it’s my policy to not dwell on the past and live instead in the present and future, that can sometimes lead to feeling you haven’t lived life yet, and minimizing the experiences that have made you who you are. So for giggles … here’s my reverse bucket list.

  1. My family. This is the one thing I know without a doubt I’ve done right. I’ve married a good guy and had two kids I was never certain I’d have. That’s pretty awesome in my books. There are lots of other things on this list that excite me and give me great joy, but through the good times and the bad, this is my anchor and my rock. When you add in the parents, step-parents, sibling, grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws … the people around me and I have built a tremendous network of love and support and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
  2. Teaching. Yes – I haven’t done as much in this field as I’d like but if I’m honest, I’ve had two years of working in a classroom of my own, three years teaching online courses, and some solid supply teaching … this is not bad in this day and age starting out in the profession in Ontario, and I am blessed for that.
  3. Two degrees – on a similar note, I’m proud of having earned two pieces of paper that have allowed me to pursue that career, in however an ad hoc, haphazard fashion. I have, in frustration, felt at times like those pieces of paper were worthless, but I also know there are people out there who would love nothing more than to have them, and if I’m honest, would have worked harder for them and appreciated them more than I – I am grateful for the opportunity to have gone to the school of my choice, to have graduated, and to recognize it took a village to make that happen.
  4. Travels – I have been incredibly blessed with the travelling I’ve been able to do … from almost every major city in the US (New York, LA, Las Vegas, Miami), to Edinburgh, to various parts of Canada, to Mexico and the Carribbean, I treasure all of my vacation moments, and look forward to more as we can manage them. Especially when events are tied to them … Wrestlemania …. Disney … honeymoon … my brother’s World Championship drumming win … a cruise … all very, very cool, and something I need to remember when I sometimes feel like life’s ‘too boring’.
  5. Having seen a play I wrote get produced. I know this was controversial back in the day – it was very autobiographical and artsy emo chick nonsense, and I think I might have hurt or upset some people in the process … I don’t know if I would do this again now as a more mature adult. But both the pride of seeing my work onstage, and the lessons learned about writing ‘what you know’ while being careful about it, I think was worth the growing experience of it all.
  6. Directing theatre. I’m grateful to have learned fairly early that I can’t act, but I do have a vision for putting things together aesthetically. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’ve had lots of help, advice and support, but I’m proud to have directed two plays … that’s kind of a cool experience, and something to remember as I find myself missing theatre of late. Perhaps something to get back into.
  7. Having acted. Even if I will never win Anne Hathaway’s Oscar, I’ve had the chance to be a part of some pretty nifty productions with some pretty cool people. I like it. I like it a lot.
  8. Preaching a sermon; I have always found the idea of leading worship inspiring and with both my faith and my inclination to public speaking, something I have always been interested in doing. I had that opportunity in my teens when I helped lead youth worship, and I have had the blessing to grow into that role a few times now over the last couple of years at my current church home, and I am so thankful for the lessons and support I’ve received for that endeavour.
  9. Defeating the Legend of Zelda. Both quests. Yeah baby! πŸ˜€ Yeah OK maybe not as cool as the others but dammit, it took me years!
  10. Seeing my name in print – in newspapers and blogs, writing has always been like breathing to me and so it’s really super cool when something I write does get picked up. Hasn’t happened in awhile, but it’s pleasing.
  11. Breaking the soother habit. Yeah – again – but this one took me four years.
  12. Getting my driver’s license. Fifteen years from bell to bell people, with some real issues in terms of spatial and depth perception, I am damn proud!
  13. Being a wrestling writer. OK – it’s not exactly Pro Wrestling Illustrated or WWE Magazine, or even the Pro Wrestling Torch or Pro Wrestling dot Net, but I have my own little wrestling corner on the web, with its own little audience, I get to chat with the fine folks from Kayfabe Wrestling Radio from time to time and enjoy their support, and it feeds my little need for attention. πŸ™‚

I’m sure I could think of more … but I want to turn it over to you. What items are included on YOUR ‘reverse bucket list’?



{April 15, 2013}   More Reading List Progress

So yes it’s been awhile – the good news is last week was largely taken up with finally shaking that 6 week illness that had ahold of me and I’m feeling far, far better now than I have in almost two months … but it does mean that I barely had the time or energy to keep up with the ‘must-dos’ in life – teaching days, housework, parenting, doctor’s visits … with yes, some downtime but very little energy to do anything productive like blogging with it. I did, through that, manage to kill a couple of books on my reading list though so I thought that might be a good re-entry point to blogging! πŸ™‚ Off my list now are “The Last Week”, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan’s take on Holy Week, and “The Manticore”, the second book in Robertson Davies’ Deptford trilogy.

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. β€˜Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The SixΒ WivesΒ of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point – Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

Starting with THE LAST WEEK, this was a really good and accessible, readable book on the last week of Jesus’ life, from his ‘Triumphal Entry’ into Jerusalem through his Good Friday crucifixion, and the mystery of his resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. It’s a good entry into the use of parable in the bible, and the different points of view of the 4 Gospels on Jesus’ life and – in this case particularly – his death, albeit particularly looking at this story through the lens of the Gospel of Mark, the earliest (in terms of when it was written) and shortest of the Gospels. A really good read that is informative and educational without being overly dry or academic, Borg and Crossan strive to bring difficult theological concepts to the general laity, and do so well; you don’t need an M.Divinity to understand their perspective, and they provide a fresh take on the importance of the death and ‘sacrifice’ concept of Jesus’ execution.

The MANTICORE is the sequel, of a sort, to Roberston Davies’ FIFTH BUSINESS, which I read and reviewed during my last reading list on the old blog (archives can be found here) – and yet sequel isn’t quite the word as it recounts some of the same events and timeline, simply from a different perspective; while FIFTH BUSINESS was told from the point of view of Dunstan Ramsay, this story is told from the point of view of David Staunton, the son of Dunstan’s best ‘frenemy’, Boy Staunton. Upon the (murder? suicide?) death of Boy, David seeks counselling with Johanna Heller in Switzerland, where he also runs into Ramsay, as well as Ramsay’s friends Liesl, and Magnus Eisengrim (a fellow Deptfordian-turned-world-famous-Magician, Paul Dempster, who has his own perspective on the passing of David’s father). It is an interesting followup to the first book, a book that outlines some important growth on David’s part, and I look forward to the third book in the trilogy, WORLD OF WONDER, told from the perspective of Magnus Eisengrim/Paul Dempster. A unique piece of Canadiana, it should be an interesting read.



{February 17, 2013}   Bad Blogger, and Update

Hi everyone,

So even the best intentions can run into madly busy weeks and months! It’s been nearly three weeks since I last posted – bad blogger! But it has been absolutely insane. Work has been quite the thing on a number of fronts – several interviews, tests, putting feelers out there with some response but no tangible success yet on one front, but things going so very well with my online teaching and church. It’s the Lenten season which means book study time and I’m excited about that, and we began this most solemn of times on the Christian calendar today with Communion, and a message that all are invited at Christ’s open communion table, and by extension to share his journey to the cross, and the period of rebirth and new understandings that followed.

It’s been a fun few weeks/weekends as well, as we have been able to babysit for friends, skate on the canal (Little Tyke’s first time on ‘big boy’ skates was ‘not so easy, but I do it’ – a good attitude we’re encouraging very strongly from our sensitive perfectionist), we’ve gotten LT’s first report card, and he’s become a “Zipper Expert” at school learning how to do up his own zipper all by himself. Little J, who has been known from time to time to have something of a temper, has also been playing really nicely with his friends and his brother. And both got to spend some time on the first Valentine’s cards they’ve really gotten to participate in. Nice. We could have done without some plumbing and flooding issues we’ve had, but those are now resolved and all’s well that ends well … right?

This weekend, however, takes the cake for fun. After a very busy week with much to do work- and ‘around the house’-wise (reorganizing our basement after the above-mentioned flood), my in-laws came up for a visit. They are awesome, by the way. They facilitated us being able to take Little Tyke to his first birthday party invite, where he had a great time. We also got to head out to Winterlude, the big February carnival here in Ottawa-Gatineau area, play on the winter playground and ice slides, have hot chocolate and beaver tails, and … oh so much fun. Before – get this – Ari and I got to go out to a lovely steak dinner for a belated Valentine’s date, and to the movies to see Zero Dark Thirty. I recommend it strongly by the way – although perhaps not at 10:30pm when really tired. It does take some mental energy to follow, and we managed and enjoyed it – but barely, in terms of a few moments of ‘What just happened?’ that I think wouldn’t have occured if we’d seen a matinee, or even an early show. Good stuff though.

And today, after a fabulous morning at church as described above, we had an ‘in’ day, making cupcakes with “Grandma V” and a game of Chutes & Ladders with LT. And now we’re heading into the dinner hour with boys who are just the right kind of tired lol, playing with all their newly-laid-out toys in the basement that’s been off limits to them for a week, and with a wrestling PPV just hours away. YAHOO!

I promise there won’t be a break between blogs that long again, and I will get back to posting about news/important world stuff and not just personal updates – it has been an EXTREMELY busy end of January/beginning of February, however, and I appreciate a really lot your bearing with me. You’ll hear from me again in the next day or two, and until then, be well. XOXO



{January 31, 2013}   Random Thoughts
  • There are definitely some parallels between the Lion King story and the Christian story. Simba=Jesus, Mufasa=God, etc.? Timon and Pumba the well-intentioned but somewhat dimwitted disciples who ultimately stood up for the right and the good?
  • My son loves villains. Shredder from Ninja Turtles, Cruella de Ville from 101 Dalmations, Scar from the Lion King … yeah. He’s going to be one of those kids, when he becomes a wrestling fan, who finds it cool to cheer the bad guy.
  • I have learned a lot about compassion and turning the other cheek as a Christian. I can still get angry … and it can still feel oddly good at times lol.
  • I recommend “Hyrule Historia” as a must have for all and any Legend of Zelda fans. A beautiful and interesting inside look at one of – if not THE – most successful video game franchises ever.
  • I congratulate Ontario’s new premiere, Kathleen Wynne, on her win of the Liberal party leadership, and wish her all the best as she tries to set right some of the issues set in motion by her predecessor.
  • Best wishes to my mom, step-dad and grandmother for a fabulous Florida vacation as they drive south for a few weeks! πŸ™‚ Should be fun … and I regret not stowing away in their suitcase.


et cetera