Monday, September 29, 2008

A Crisis of Values

As you most likely know, the U.S. economy has had better days. The government is trying to push through $700 billion plan (failed the first vote) to aid lending institutions that are struggling with failed debt, primarily caused by defaulted mortgages.

I don't want to weigh in on what I think about the whole mess because I am still processing all the information coming in. Though I have to say I wonder/worry how this will all play out for the average American and Canadian... what does a great depression look like in the 2000's??

The observation that leaves a slightly bitter taste in my mouth is this: how quickly the money came out of the pockets. Already $900 billion has been spent. Another $700 billion proposed. To save the American people (if you believe the rhetoric). My question is: how about the rest of the people? How about the Haitians who don't have clean water and are living in mud filled houses? How about the Somali's who are afraid to even step onto the streets in the capital of Mogadishu? What about the Ethiopians who are starving? What about the millions dying of AIDS in places like Lesotho and Swaziland? Why, when it comes to these people, are we so hesitant to pull out the money to fix the problems?

President Bush's plan PEPFAR came out to great fanfare in 2003 as the largest contribution by one country to fight the global plague of AIDS. It was $15 billion dollars.

The UN recently reported that not a single country is on target to reach the Millennium Development Goals (which include the eradication of hunger, primary schooling for all, etc...) due to lack of financial commitment from participating countries.

To much fanfare, countries of the UN gathered and pledged $3 billion to end malaria.

And yet hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on a war in Iraq to secure oil for Americans. Billions have been spent on agricultural subsidies to support American farmers. $900 billion has already been spent to prop up the American banking system. $700 billion is being proposed to prop up an economy that is fundamentally bankrupted by a society of 'more'.

Where are we headed and why have we dragged ourselves to this point? Make no mistake, we enabled the politicians and businesses in getting to this desperate point.

I can only wonder at the absolutely skewed values of the society I belong to and wonder what's next. Will we change? Or will we search frantically about for band-aid solutions to aid us in our reckless living?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Musical Bits

For lack of engaging things to blog about I shall update you on my musical wandering and you shall pretend like you are interested.

Last week I went down to Element to check out Fleet Foxes live! I was stoked. The hour and a half waiting to get in made me less stoked. The jackasses who stood in front of me the whole time made me even less stoked.

And then Fleet Foxes came on. And they blew my mind away.

Their CD is one of those that makes you wonder if they can replicate it live. They can. Super tight harmonies, funky jams, and a more driving drum beat than their album made them one of the coolest bands I've seen live. Overall show experience: 6/10; Fleet Foxes: 10/10

I love going to shows but unfortunately Nolana doesn't share the same passion so I have been to few shows in the past many years... being away didn't help either. But I think I might try and squeeze one more in before le' babie arrives - The Acorn is coming in October which should be cool.

As for CD listenings and goings on... Been listening to Calexico's new one "Carried to Dust" which has some nice acoustic indie folk/latin rhythm stuff going on, bringing the steel guitar back into it. The Acorn's "Glory Hope Mountain" has some great Fleet Foxes meets Honduras vibes going on. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's CD "Lie Down in the Light" has been grabbing me for its simplistic, stripped down genius-ness.

Good tunes = good times.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I tried to tie the title into some inspirational message but just couldn't... I'm a failure.

This weekend we journeyed to the lovely hamlet of Hope (or close to) to see Tim and Kari, some good friends of ours. Dave and Kristen, another couple of friends journeyed from Whistler to meet us there and the 6 of us had a rollicking good time.

Many games were played (despite Kristen's protests), much great food was devoured (Thanks for the goodness Hun!) and even more great company, new friends and old, was enjoyed. It does the body good to get away and enjoy some time with close friends... it's too bad they don't live closer so we could do it more often!

The men engrossed in a game of extreme bocce.

And while we did that the ladies did a photo shoot. Kari is due 4 days after Nolana so they enjoyed comparing their bellies!
A contemplative pose from my lady.The 6 of us plus another couple for Sat. evening.
Hard to match good times with good friends...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Christian Defense of Israel

The flier from my local christian book store arrived in the mail today. On the front was this fine text - "In Defense of Israel: The Biblical Case for Supporting the Jewish State". And, WOO HOO, it was on sale!

Now before I jump into what I so eagerly I have to say, let me start by saying I have not read this book and know little beyond the few articles and quotes I have seen. And yet I am absolutely gobsmacked to see it sold at the Christian bookstore (though I am not sure why, when I stop and think about it....)

First, and the point I will deal with briefly, Hagee defends Israel and the Jews by claiming Jesus was not the Messiah. Ummm, pretty sure that's not a Christian belief so it's hardly a Christian defense.

Secondly, should Christians really be supporting the Jewish state? Not Jews, but the state of Israel? Not if we believe we serve a god of equality and justice! Israel is often called by critics the last state to openly practice apartheid. The UN has repeatedly tried to condemn their inhumane treatment of Palestinians living within Israel and in Gaza and the West Bank. They openly take away basic human rights from Palestinians living within their own state, making them powerless members. They refuse to recognize that Palestinians should have equal rights. They displace and persecute Palestinians on a regular basis. This is the state Christians should support??

And yet the U.S. stands staunchly by Israel's side, constantly vetoing UN sanctions and supplying billions of dollars in aid and military supplies. Supplies that are used to treat Palestinians like sub-humans. And Christians all over the world feel compelled to defend Israel as their special pet project, ignoring the realities.

A favorite quote of mine comes from the great Palestinian intellectual Edward Said, one of the most balanced and stanchest supporters of Palestinian rights. It's not damning and yet I think the force of it is understated...

"Every Jewish Zionist I have either read, heard, or spoken to... adheres to the notion whose common denominator is that Israel must remain as it is now on order to safeguard the Jewish rhythm of life; a phrase that presumably serves to camouflage the wide social discrepancies... The [rhythm of life] phrase is an argument for preserving Israel from having to face the real truth that the Jewish rhythm of life has surplanted a more inclusive one"

Palestinians have just as much historical right to the land, and more importantly just as much right to basic human and political rights. The God I serve revels in justice and love. The state of Israel stands for neither of these.

Monday, September 15, 2008

SNL is sexist?

I'll admit I am a bit of a political junkie and I am watching the US race with a bit of fascination. It is just such a circus compared to the wham-bam-Thank-you-Ma'am style of Canadian elections.

The most recent news is that someone from the Palin/McCain camp is slamming actress Tina Fey on her SNL impersonation of Palin.

Check out the article here.

The gist is this: Palin's impersonation was sexist because it showed Palin as superficial. Ummm, so if I portrayed George Bush as being superficial I would be sexist towards men? Or maybe I just think his policies are superficial. Or maybe I think he as a person is superficial. I would NOT be saying it because I think men are superficial.

The funny thing is that the Negative Nancies realized that Clinton was portrayed as substantive but kind of forgot that she is also a woman. It is clearly the policies that SNL was poking fun at but...

Someone on the McCain campaign felt they were getting some negative press and needed to say something to counter it. Lame. Instead of showing me how shallow and callow your comebacks are, how about showing me some of Palin's policies that are clearly not superficial.... or are there none to show?

Anyways, my two cents for your day. Take 'em or leave 'em.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I have recently subscribed to the most intriguing magazine, whose online direction I should like to point you towards.

It is out of Manitoba (who can think of ANYTHING good to EVER come out of Manitoba!?!!) and it's called Geez: holy mischief in an age of fast faith.

I received my first voume in the mail this past week and instantly settled down with a cup of coffee and read it cover to cover - 93 pages of recycled paper goodness.

I love how it engages faith with all aspects of the world around us. Sustainable living - check. Homelessness - check. Art - check. Other viewpoints - check. It comes from a Liberal Christian perspective but is not afraid to include voices from other writers. Faith SHOULD engage with anything and everything for that is what it was meant to do.

I highlight one of the sermons that was part of their "30 Sermons You'll Never Hear in Church" issue because it truly makes one think and definitely has at least a kernel of truth in it. Check out the magazine at

And check out the article I am talking about here

Tell me what you think. Do you agree?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Convince Me..."

A short while back someone left a comment on my blog that went like this:

Eric, do you believe that any other religious expressions are valid? I ask because I believe that God is God no matter what you call him and that there are many paths to Him. Therefore, I can't believe that "No one comes to the Father except through Me" because then I have to believe that all other faiths are wrong. Feel free to convince me otherwise.

And since then I have been debating whether or not to respond to it. I don’t really feel that anything I say can ‘convince’ someone of faith in Jesus Christ. I know that I firmly believe that when Jesus says in John, “I am the Way…No one comes to the Father through Me” that this is the truth. We all at some time have had to try and reason out why we believe what we believe and yet there is something about logic that is incompatible with faith; as the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, we all come to a time when we have to use faith to leap into an unknown. He believed that there were simply too many paradoxes in Christianity that reason could not fully comprehend.

And yet I do believe that there are reasonable, logical answers to many questions that interaction with Jesus brings up. I am often frustrated with the ‘blind faith’ of unquestioning Christians and firmly believe in “testing and approving” as it says in Romans.

So can I convince anyone of faith? Not likely. Convincing usually comes off as bullying and Christians are notoriously bad convincers. Kind of like bulls in a china shop. So I am not out to convince anyone in this blog but feel the need to present some of the reasons why I believe that Jesus is the one true way to salvation and heaven. They are to be taken as personal ramblings rather than an academic dissertation and are meant in the humblest of expressions. I don’t have all the answers. Like others, I am continually wandering/searching/seeking, as the title of my blog suggests.

First, a couple of clarifications. God is God no matter what you call Him. He doesn’t change and still IS, regardless of what we believe. There is more than one path to Him but only one path to salvation and it goes through Him. We all make our way there in various fashions and speeds but, like I said earlier, I do believe He is the only way to salvation. I understand the gist of the question though.

My first question is this: What name do you call God? This does seem to matter because if you call him Allah you will want to follow what Allah says. If you call him Jesus you will want to follow what Jesus says. If you call him Brahman you will try and make him happy. The issue then becomes how to reconcile the vast differences and oppositions found in the texts and sayings of these gods. That is not to say that there are not similarities within religions. Many have similar ethical boundaries but they vary widely and conversely on key issues, even most scholars recognize the conflicting truth claims of differing religions. Similarly, what are we striving for by following God? Is it the heaven of Christianity? Is it to be reincarnated at a higher level? The Nirvana of Buddhism? Or do I get to choose which reward I get depending on what I choose to call God? Again, there seem to be some logical contradictions.

The question becomes: why would the same God give such varying and contradicting answers to salvation?

This is not to say that I believe Christianity has a monopoly on truth or salvation. I believe Christ has the monopoly. We go through Christ and not through a religious system or special incantations. So are other religious expressions valid? You don’t have to adhere to Christianity to be saved, certain parts of Buddhist worship rituals might aid in bringing you closer to Christ, or Taoism might have some good principles to follow in aiding you in living a just life . There may be different kinds of worship but there can’t be different types of Jesus. He IS. Christianity has morphed over times but God cannot. It is in Christ we find the Truth.

So are there many paths? For sure. Is Allah the same person as Jesus? No. Are we just worshipping a “higher being” that we Westerners call Jesus and people in the East call Allah/Buddha/Brahman/etc…? And yet these religions recognize the historical Jesus and all speak differently on him. Islam denies that God could have a son. Judaism denies the divinity of Christ. Christians believe Jesus is Christ, part of the Trinity incarnate. These simply cannot gel. As my favorite author G.K. Chesterton said in his book Orthodoxy about people who believe that the beliefs and God are the same among religions, it's just the worship that is different:

"So the truth is that the difficulty of all the creeds of the earth is not as alleged in this cheap maxim: that they agree in meaning, but differ in machinery. It is exactly the opposite. They agree in machinery; almost every great religion on earth works with the same external methods, with priests, scriptures, altars, sworn brotherhoods, special feasts. They agree in the mode of teaching; what they differ about is the thing to be taught. Pagan optimists and Eastern pessimists would both have temples, just as Liberals and Tories would both have newspapers. Creeds that exist to destroy each other both have scriptures, just as armies that exist to destroy each other both have guns"

While I feel my argument is slightly superficial in scope I feel it highlights the main problem with religious pluralism: the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit with each other. If we try and put the major religions of the world together to find a coherent ‘god’ or ‘higher being’ we only highlight the contradictions. Hopefully I haven’t confused anyone even more than they were before.

Again, let me put it out there to any reader that made it this far: I say this all with a sense of knowing that words and reason are inadequate for the task. The Bible says the knowledge of man is confounded by the knowledge of God and when we try to completely wrap our minds around who God is - we fall short. Faith can be the only complete guide to Christ and through Him, to salvation.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fantasy Hockey is Here!

Oh my gosh. I've been waiting years for this exact moment. Normally I am the part of multiple fantasy hockey leagues and due to being abroad with lack of internet and funny time zones I have had to forgo this immense pleasure.
The wait is over. Yahoo fantasy leagues have begun and I am starting my own league for the first time.

I am welcoming all to join. I am sending out invites to people I know will be interested but in case I miss you... just leave a comment or email me and we can get you a team.

It will be weekly head to head format. I am open if there are certain stats you do or don't want to count. Live draft online, but for those of you in Vic you're welcome to my house to do it, we'll make it an event. If you can't make the live draft date you can set your preferences before hand. Just let me know if you have questions. Oh my gosh I can barely contain my excitement. Let the battles begin!

And as soon as I tell my wife I know what she's going to say. Eric, you're such a dork.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Personal Jesus

There's a lot of talk in evangelical circles about personal relationships with Jesus. He wants to walk with you. He's your best friend. You need to have an intimate, personal relationship with him. Prayer is just like talking on the phone to your best friend. You can tell him anything. You get the idea.

And this is what we have created. Buddy Jesus.

This is not to say that we shouldn't have a personal relationship with Jesus. Not to say that he doesn't walk with us. Not to say that you can't tell him anything. But I wonder if what we have done is boxed him up, created a Jesus that is "the guy next door", created a Jesus... that works for us.

We've sanitized all the things we don't like. The wrath. The holy anger. The cross we're supposed to bear like him. The sacrifice that love demands. The suffering we're supposed to rejoice in. We've taken it all away and made Jesus a suburban Dad who likes to golf on the weekend and take his kids to Dairy Queen.

Now don't get me wrong, the God I believe in is a God of love and of compassion and of grace and has unlimited quantities of these things. But he's also pretty radical which doesn't always go over so easy in my cushion-filled life. Do we tend to focus too much on the overflowing love and not on the commitment/sacrifice factor? Probably. Love and mercy are a hell of a lot easier to sell that's for sure.

Not really sure if there is a conclusion to this but I simply wonder if maybe we have shot ourselves in the foot a little. We've pushed the "Buddy Jesus" to make Christianity more palatable and have forgotten to tremble in fear at his awesome might. I know there have been books like "Your God is Too Safe" and tons of Narnia quotes ("He's wild") but I still wonder if we really grasp something of God beyond him sitting in his pajamas, painting his nails while he listen to our laundry list of complaints. What do you think?