Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Inside the News

I know someone who was in the gymnasium at Luther College High School in Regina today when a former student entered brandishing a weapon. The news services have the details mostly right. But they don't and, I am convinced, won't tell the whole story. I won't either, but I will say this. This event is entirely the wrong one to use to further political debate having to do with firearm legislation in Canada.

There are at least three critical reasons why this is true:

1) - The weapon involved in the incident was not, nor is likely to ever be, scheduled on a list of restricted weapons. In fact, if you really think about this event, it becomes obvious that the current legislation worked well to ensure the disturbed offender didn't obtain a dangerous weapon. If the details if this individual's recent activities were known it would also become obvious that he would not be allowed to obtain a permit. The offender could have obtained a lethal weapon, but it would have meant using illegal means - and no legislation will ever prevent that from happening.

2) - No conceivable legislation could ever prevent an individual from entering any public facility like Luther College High School unless we are willing to turn all of our public places into armed camps surrounded by razor wire and filled with armed personnel. If we are going to live out of the collective fear of what might happen, then we are all going to lose much, much more than we could ever hope to gain by arming and entrenching. The best we can hope for is that those who are responsible for any school, shopping mall, recreation complex or other public place will train and empower their employees to act accordingly when dangerous incidents arise. Obviously the teachers and administration at Luther were ready.

3) - The measures, policies and actions of those in authority were appropriate and effective in the face of the threat - even if the threat had been more deadly than it turned out to be. The teachers and administrators acted in a professional and mature manner, keeping the safety and welfare of the students uppermost in their minds as they made decisions as to how to respond. The local police responded quickly and acted decisively while also seeking a resolution that would minimize potential injury to all involved. In short, this incident could not have been handled any better.

There is a lot of background to this incident that I'm not at liberty to divulge, but this is clear to me - the issues that led to this incident have little, if anything, to do with firearm legislation and much to do with personal and social issues that are more complex than a commercial news report or a blog can cover. I've read a lot of the reactive comments to be found after the news item I linked earlier in this post and the sad truth is they miss the point by a wide margin. The commentators are not to be blamed - they don't have all the information. And this is my final cautionary word to us all. We never have all the information in these situations. So we should proceed carefully in making our judgments and pronouncements.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The TULIP Died

One of the outcomes of my ordination journey was the examination of where I fall in the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate. Strangely enough I was prompted to post this because I was channel-surfing the other night and happened across the movie Hardcore in which George C. Scott plays a very conservative mid-western businessman on a quest in California for his estranged daughter who has run away and fallen into the world of hardcore pornography and the sex trade. I actually just caught the scene where Scott is explaining the TULIP acronym to a hooker he has convinced to help him find his daughter. It's an odd scene to be sure, but it speaks to the character Scott portrays and to a large portion of Christian belief and experience in America and Canada.

I admit I have flirted with some of the petals of TULIP over the years, particularly 'total depravity' and 'irresistible grace', but my recent journey has led me to be convinced that I am a Wesleyan through and through - something my parents would have been happy to hear as they were both taught by largely Wesleyan Methodist professors, and were in every way Arminian in their position. As the Apostle Paul observes there is no substitute for a good upbringing in the faith.

Most Christians don't give much thought to these things - they believe what they believe and that's that. I'm not so certain that results in a persuasive witness. In a world where the fanatical religious seem to be uncontrollably following their belief systems like WWE actors - prisoners of inevitable inertia as they fly across the ring of life, unable to change their trajectory - I believe many people are looking for the Truth that frees instead of binds.

At the core of the Wesleyan perspective is the concept of God's prevenient grace. It is that grace that restores our ability to choose God and have an unforced relationship with Him. This does not mean that God leaves it entirely up to us - He does make a persuasive argument - but in the end we have a choice. I struggle with some of the ways we talk about that choice - often I think we describe it with a bit too much emphasis on what we do and so I believe Calvin did have some points worth noting. As my history/theology prof, David T. Priestley said, "Calvin wasn't a Calvinist. He was Calvinian." (emphasis mine) Others who came after him created the five points out of his, and others, writings at the Synod of Dordtrecht in 1618-19. A cautionary tale for us all I'm sure.

In the end, my faith is based on God's Word and the evidence of His grace and love to me - but it is, I hope, a reasonable and understandable faith. The Apostle Paul writes that the Gospel doesn't make sense to the world. In a world where thought, reason and personal reflection seem as archaic as buggy whips and Morse Code I guess this is one more aspect of my life that marks me as His. And I pray that my witness is persuasive.


The image attached to this post was found here and was not used in any way that was intended to deprive the owner of their rights.

Friday, September 12, 2008

To Debate or Not To Debate

Simply put, I do not believe what we will experience in the so-called "leaders debate" will be of any use to anyone, except the TV networks and their advertising departments. If the debate is 1 hr (with commercials) that means we will see 44 minutes with 5 candidates (8.8 minutes per candidate). Even without commercials it will only allow 12 minutes per person, but we all know that what we will get will be an hour of poorly controlled mayhem. No one uses dictionaries anymore - we're just like Lewis Carroll's caterpillar, "When I use a word it means what I choose it to mean." "Debate" indeed!

At the risk of offending - I'm not quite sure who - neither M. Duceppe nor Ms. Mays has any business being in a national leaders debate. I'll not go into depth here, but I cannot vote for a candidate from either party in my riding (as far as I know at this time) so they are, in the strictest sense of this word, irrelevant.

Our political system has devolved into a media circus that can only communicate in 5 second sound bytes. Watch the debate if you want - I suggest taking two Excedrin beforehand to ward off the inevitable migraine it will produce - but remember this, the media has absolutely no interest in providing you with anything in the way of useful information. They just want you there to watch the ads and prop up their market share numbers.

As Liam Neeson said to Clint Eastwood in "The Dead Pool", "Bums on seats, luv. That's what it's all about."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Library Additions

I've added The Shack to my reading list. I found it at Shoppers Drug Mart for 25% off so it was cheaper than buying it online. I'll discuss it here soon.

I also just received my copy of Letters From Jesus by Pastor Alan Descheneau. Alan studies the seven churches in Revelation through the specific messages or "letters" they receive from Christ. Al was one of my classmates in seminary. At the very least I should get some motivation to publish something myself. Knowing Al, I'll get much, much more from his work.

I'll be ordering the Treasury of Daily Prayer being released by Concordia Publishing House on October 23rd and the companion book Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. This may seem odd - a Baptist reading Lutheran theology and using a prayer devotional that is designed around the church year - but, in my opinion, all Protestants are (or should be) children of the Reformation. As Protestants we should know, understand and appreciate Reform Theology. Or are we something other than Protestants?

The Shack has been both lauded as a Christian allegory for the 21st Century and criticized as dangerous heresy masquerading in the guise of fiction. As always, gentle reader, I suggest we decide for ourselves.

So there appears to be some balance in my acquisition strategy, at least until I get my copy of Schlock Mercenary: The Teraport Wars. Then things seem to definitely go a bit askew.

In a related note, Susie and I need new eyeglasses. We hope to see the optometrist next week, and we're praying out coverage will help us see better - affordably. Until then it's onward and squint away!


Friday, September 05, 2008

Still On My Soap Box

So here it is kids - proof that glass (other than that which has gathered a cash deposit) has no where to go in Saskatchewan - except the landfill. With all the "green" blather that is flying about one wonders where Elizabeth Mays or David Suzuki is? No doubt out and about getting airtime over something far sexier and photogenic than abandoned pickle jars.

I'm generally disgusted by this, but heck, it pales by comparison to having a guy drown in a tailing pond in Ft. McMurray while operating a floating backhoe. Meanwhile we trade our children's future each day for another cup of drive through coffee.