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Archive for March, 2008

I’ve been telling a story on or near Christmas Eve for about three years now. I don’t know who the author is. I got it out of a Christian Ethics textbook about sixteen years ago. It goes something like this:

Now the man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man. “I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another. (more…)

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Ouch.

So, the archdeacon just dropped by to see how I was doing, and to let me know he’d been visiting a family from the parish I just stopped pastoring last month. It was a parish that had a church in four small, rural towns, and this family lives in the smallest town, furthest from the rectory I still live in for another month. Their son, who just turned fourteen, died two days ago in an ATV accident. I don’t have all the details. Apparently, his rib pierced his heart.

I had him in a Christian education class just a year ago. He was always a big help in church. Now, he’s dead. I can hardly believe it.

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When I was seventeen, I received a letter from a friend of mine. She had been attending this Christian camp and was “slain in the spirit”: falling down beside the campfire and hitting her head on a rock. She claimed to be okay, but I was concerned. I really liked her, and the idea of her getting swept up in some dangerous cult, perhaps opening herself up to the influence of evil spirits, worried me.

I went to my dad with my concerns, and we talked about the Holy Spirit. He borrowed some books from our pastors (a husband and wife team) and we sat together to read and discuss. I began to be reassured by the news that being overcome by the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, causing one to fall, cry, laugh, shake, stagger or speak in unknown tongues, was widespread and therefore normal. I took comfort from Jesus’ words:

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

If we asked God for His Holy Spirit, He would surely keep any other spirits from entering in. I prayed for my friend, then (more…)

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As I pack to move (no, I don’t have a new job yet, but canon law gives me three months grace in the rectory before I really should be moved), I am struck with a large lack upon this blog. If I’m talking about who I am, and what has formed my journey thus far, I really need to discuss books.Most of what I own, is books. Most of what I’ve spent my life doing, is reading. My parents tell me that when I was two, I could write my own name. When I was four, I was reading Archie comics.

I fondly remember the public library near where I grew up, and the school library at my elementary school. I read Mr. Mugs and Mr. Men books. I polished off Choose Your Own Adventure books by the handful. I devoured books by Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Eric Wilson and Gordon Korman. I learned a lot about what adult women remembered going through as young girls, because most books I came across had female protagonists. In grade five, I was introduced to the works of Madeline L’Engle. In grade six, I discovered Arthur C. Clarke. Rendezvous with Rama. Rama II. The Songs of Distant Earth. Project Solar Sail. the Ghost from the Grand Banks. 2001. 2010. Suddenly, I was hooked on Science Fiction. Science Fiction led to Fantasy, which led to Humorous Fantasy (especially British humour Fantasy), which led, strangely enough, to Military Science Fiction, which led to Space Opera, Detective Fantasy, and so on and so on.

Archie comics, apparently, are a gateway drug.

Most of my life has been spent learning about (more…)

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I’ve always been more of a reader than a social butterfly. I remember that my parents would always stay after church to have coffee with the others. They were often among the very last to leave. As they did so, I’d work my way through the Sunday school library, reading all the children’s books. Most of them were highly edited versions of stories from the Old Testament, where one person, standing on God’s side, would make a huge difference in the world.

I wanted to stand on God’s side.

When I was in kindergarten, I noticed that some kids were made fun of by most of the others. I tried to be friends with the kids the others made fun of. It’s what I thought God would want me to do.

As the years passed, (more…)

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After clicking around to see why I suddenly have so many more people dropping by, it looks like Wilbau added this blog, and in particular my post on “What it took” to StumbleUpon: in the Atheist/Agnostic and Unknown categories. One person has Stumbled by looking for things in the Atheist/Agnostic category, and two hundred and twenty looking for the Unknown. Since then, two other people have told StumbleUpon that they like the article: a teenager in Canada and a forty-six year old guy from the United Kingdom.

Er, thanks for Stumbling by. Don’t mind the mess. Please visit the sites listed in my Blogroll to the right side of your screen, especially De-conversion. I hang out over there as Quester.

And have yourselves a good day.

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Praying for strength.

I said a prayer the other day.

In some ways, that’s not surprising. I’ve been a theist for decades. Giving thanks for meals or asking for forgiveness are almost reflexive for me.

But this was something more. My wife was going into surgery. She was scared. She knew the risks and the probabilities, and while there was little chance of danger, there was certainty of pain. She needed comfort, and I had none.

I wrestled for several minutes with my integrity, then I offered to pray for her. She accepted and I asked God to give her calm, comfort and strength. I asked God to fill her with His spirit, help her know He was with her, reassure her with His love and help her through the surgery.

She thanked me, and I held her.

I’m not sure, though, what this story says about me.

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