Archive for the ‘life’ Category

The Myth of the One-eyed Child

Posted: October 1, 2013 in kids, life
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As I was having lunch at home to day, the middle child was thrashing about and wondering aloud, “Where de top of my Combatacon Brawoollll?” For those unfamiliar with this particular English dialect, he was looking for the top of a wooden toy tank. I had no idea where the tank was having just arrived home for lunch, but I was quickly informed by Mom – the knower of the placements of all missing things – that Brawoolllll’s top had been confiscated and placed on the appropriate high shelf to protect the baby from injuring himself on the 5 inch long wooden dowel cannon. Initially it all made sense, but then I wondered to I, and aloud to the rest of those gathered, “Seriously, how many one-eyed kids do you know?”
It is the job of any good responsible North American progenitor to protect their progeny from life’s visible hazards. Don’t run with scissors! You’ll trip, you’ll poke an eye out, you’ll go blind! … Don’t throw those stones! You could hit someone in the eye and they’d go blind! … No you can’t use your own knife to cut your food! You’ll slip, you’ll cut your finger off, you’ll go blind … I mean you’ll lose a finger! We’ve all heard it, and I’ve certainly said it. All that being said, where are the teeming hordes of one-eyed and fingerless children? I’ve never in my life met a kid with an eye patch that wasn’t part of an ill conceived Captain Jack Sparrow Halloween costume. So what are we worried about?
I’ll suggest to myself first, and you second that maybe we all take a breath, relax, maybe do some hot yoga and just let kids enjoy life apart from our paranoia once in a while. I’ll still put the baby proof lock on the household cleaners cabinet – I’m not a MONSTER – but maybe if I learn to relax a bit more it will rub off on my kids too. Maybe.

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Much has been made in recent times of the church’s need to understand embrace the strengths and ministry directions needed to include introverts. Much of Western church culture has been formed on the ideal of the extroverted pastor and church member. As an openly recognized and admitted introvert this has felt like welcome acceptance and vindication. All this being said though, I’ve been thinking lately if just the ecclesiology of the church being readjusted to include space for the quiet and thoughtful goes far enough. What if our very understanding of the gospel itself has become so culturally bound to an extroverted relational way of understanding that we need to re-evaluate that as well? Is there room in our understanding and explanation of the gospel to make it meaningful for those who are introverted and task oriented rather than naturally relational?

The common way of explaining and understanding the gospel in Western Christianity often sounds something like this:

God is love and the parts of the trinity began in perfect relationship with each other. Out of love and God’s relational nature, he created humans in his image to be included in this love relationship with him. Humans at some point broke off this relationship through sin and God sought to reconcile that relationship through covenant relationships. Humans continually failed God and lacked the ability to  reconcile things through their works, and as such God reached out to humanity in Jesus – coming in person to live amongst us. He came and lived out love and the message of forgiveness and reconciliation for creation with their creator. The greatest love of all was shown in Jesus willing death at the hands of those created in his image to in some way reconcile them with God. We now have hope for healed relationships with God and the rest of creation in this life and a life to come after death or when Jesus returns.
Now given this may not explain every denomination ‘s particulars and I’ve attempted to leave the details as broad as possible to include as many in the thoughts as possible, but I think this is a fair portrayal of the story. Relationship is good, tasks are insufficient at best and evil at worst.

Some of my thoughts and struggle with this came to a head a few months ago as I sat in church listening to a friend preaching and heard the message of, “Stop doing and stop trying to do anything to get God’s love. Just let yourself fall in love with the person of Jesus. (loosely quoted)” At that moment instead of feeling at peace and full of joy as the message was intended to do, I felt sad and helpless. I don’t disagree with the message in principle, but I wonder if there isn’t more to it than that. You see, I’m introverted and task oriented: I have little idea what to do with that message. Even in my most loving and intimate relationships everything is processed in the form of lists of things to do, to not do, and to work on getting better at. For me love does. There is always a next step to take, a plan to be made, a thing to do. Love is an action plan made with passion. To not work or seek towards doing something is to not love. This is the filter that everything has been processed through for me for as long as I can remember. Trying to conceive of relating to someone outside the context of task is confusing and borderline terrifying. When the task is clear the anxiety fades and life works. This doesn’t make the love any less real, it’s just a different frame of reference.

So, how can the gospel be explained in a way that is meaningful, and full of life, hope and love in this context?

I hope this gives you some things to ponder as you follow Jesus and share his gospel, and maybe even as you talk and think along with me. I have a number of more thoughts I plan on sharing and getting your input on hopefully in the weeks to come. I believe deeply in community hermeneutics, not just me figuring out alone with a bible in a broom closet. Is there a gospel for the task oriented?

I’m a Good Dad

Posted: July 30, 2013 in kids, life
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I’m a good dad. There, I said it out loud (ish). I’m a good dad and I, maybe for the first time, believe it.

It may come as a surprise to some people because pastors are these perfectly balanced and self-confident specimins of Christian perfection, but I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy, self consciousness, and insecurity for most of my life. In the last number of weeks and months I’ve been working through a number of these things again and exactly how they are affecting my life and even my ministry. It is amazing how seemingly small things can make a big difference.

I have never really felt that confident as a dad. I know I love my kids and I do my best to try and show it. It has been often been the case in my life though that what I am actually feeling does not get accurately perceived by those around me. I am complicated at best and socially awkward at worst. I thank God he blessed me with the wife he did who seems to understand me and enjoy my company, not just in spite of these things, but through and because of them. I noted a David Wilcox song “Hard Part” the other day that goes, “You have a whole heart, give me the hard part, I can love that too”, and was immediately grateful for Jenn. All this being said, I have for years struggled with feelings of doubt as to whether I could actually be a good dad.

Media and society is full of so many messages and mixed messages that have fed my feelings of doubt and failure. There is no end of parenting advice telling parents how they are coming up short, messing up their kids irreparably, and are generally to blame for every failure their children experience. Whether the news, magazines, social media, or blogs, there is no end of conflicting advice that has served well to convince me of my inability to be a good dad. When I am tired, frustrated, impatient, wanting to be alone, enjoying being at work, or thankful the kids have school there is always an article to convince me I am a moral failure.

Enough.

I am a good dad. Chances are you are too. Sometimes we have victories, and sometimes moments of unmitigated flaming dumpster fire failure.

I love God and try to exemplify it in my life publicly. I love my wife and tell her and the kids regularly. I tell my boys I love them multiple times a day and give hugs, kisses, and snuggles. I coach their soccer teams. I play toys with them. I share my interests with them and take on their interests as my own. I invest an hour and a half every night in the bedtime routine. I take them for ice cream for no special reason. I ask them about their days and take the time to genuinely listen. I am a good dad dang it.

I fail them regularly. I get mad. I lose my temper. I wish I was elsewhere and bargain with God to move the sun ahead ten stairs so bedtime comes sooner. I look forward to nights out and weekends away where I will not have to invest an hour and a half in the bedtime routine. And when I have done wrong I admit it openly to them and ask for forgiveness because that is what Jesus followers do. This makes me a good dad too.

I am not perfect at anything and that admission in and of itself is a good starting point for being a good dad. I am building on it.

Given that it’s May long weekend, we – like many people – had hoped to go for some outdoor fun in the sun at the beach. However, in keeping with our Narnia like eternal winter here, sun and warmth were replaced with rain and cold. Fun though can still be had. Especially if you’re a little kid and rain and puddles and mess and the simple joys of throwing stones and then hopping like you’re riding an imaginary unicorn down the rainbow of happiness is your thing. From what I was told, this is “hopscotch”. It reminds me far more of a scene from Monty Pythons Quest for the Holy Grail.
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Lesson learned at the end of the day: Life is pretty much always what you make of it. This weekend we made rainonade.

The Special

Posted: May 20, 2013 in church, life
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Tonight I got to go to the birthday party of a ninety year old woman who is a part of my church family, who is the grandma of my close friend and who I consider a friend myself. I could try to wax eloquently here or say something profound, but reality is it was just kind of special to be included in the family and to have a chance to wish her a happy birthday. Birthday parties for ninety year old friends don’t come often.
The day in some other respects was a nuanced exercise in futility.
That birthday party though, that was something special.

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Long days happen. When they do, small moments of laughter can be the only thing saving you from a date for a swim with a large millstone. Today was heinous for a person who likes structure: me. Plans were made, cancelled, and changed. Issues long since thought deader than the batteries in that junk drawer you have – admit it – were resurrected to a new life no one really thinks will bring anyone’s salvation. Pants were pooped and replaced, and not for my infant son. Little moments of laughter… right… so on to the story:

Groceries were badly needed. I’ve been out of bananas for two days, denying me my customary two pieces of peanut butter and banana toast for breakfast. And I guess other people needed stuff too. So, we went to Sobeys and the boys quickly rushed to the sample tray in the cake section. They each got a 2oz. cup of white cake. When asked what it tasted like Devin said something like “good”. Good old, reliable, simple, Devin. Payton however said it tasted like mousse.

At that point I was kind of thrilled. We watch food network. I get giddy about Chopped. I kind of like to pretend in my imaginary world that Markus Samuelson is my roommate, Geoffrey Zakarian is my cool older friend and Scott Conant is my cousin with the sports car. Oh the adventures we have. All this said, Payton was eating a cake layered with Strawberry mousse and called it mousse cake without a hint or the ability to read the sign. I’m thinking, “Hey this kid’s got a future!” While Devin happily licked his cup clean and threw it away, I pushed my budding aficionado further: “What kind of mousse cake Payton?” I couldn’t wait to hear this young Morimoto’s answer!

Payton: “Blood.”

Me: “Blood?”

… yup, blood.

Payton: “It tastes the blood from a moose.”

Little moments of comedy friends. Little moments.

In the interest of full disclosure I am a born and raised in the church type that is now a pastor.  I say this to let you know where I’m coming from before you view the videos below because honestly, if you haven’t been in the church long enough to get a little cynical these probably will not be funny to you and you can just move along.  If however you have ever had awkward conversations about your faith, tried awkwardly to invite someone to church – or been awkwardly invited for that matter – and if you know something, ANYTHING about Calvinism, this post may well kill your productivity make your week.

I was pointed to the following video by my body double, Leighton Penner, here in my church.  If I had no sense of humor or suffered with bouts of paranoia I probably would have just turtled in a corner and cried myself to sleep that he thought about me in sharing this video.  However, knowing that he is a guy that dresses in a blue full body stocking with a mop wig and dances like Beyonce and university volleyball games tells me he likely has a sense of humor.  I will admit fully that the similarities with the blue jeans and untucked shirt rings true for me, but the rest is a vast fabrication of my real life.  All that being said here is the video goodness:

Once you catch your breath from laughing after that one, or even if you have just put up with it enough to keep reading this I will point you to video number two below. I am now a happily married man with a couple of kids, so I no longer have a deep need for pickup lines. If however you are a single bible college student of some description as I want, get a pen and a notepad before you watch the video because the wisdom contained within its two minute span may well net you the prized woman of your dreams. I cannot guarantee success and in fact it may well instead result in public humiliation, but really to be known for taking a bold step like using one of these lines should be reward enough in itself. That being said, I give you the Calvinist pickup lines:

What would we ever do without the internets to teach us these things?

The night before Christmas

Posted: December 25, 2010 in kids, life
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Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Every creature is stirring and raising a fuss.
The stockings are hung by the chimney with care,
But sleep hasn’t come yet and that’s just not fair.
From Payton and Devins’ been non stop crying and chatter,
It’s an endless list of wailing matters.
Into my bed I would sure like to crash,
But the sleepless children are unreasonably rash.

I’m sure I could carry this on for a while more but my memory of the rest of the poem is getting foggy now that its 1:40am on December 25th and the boys haven’t let me get any sleep yet between coughing and nightmares. Christmas 2010 is going to be pretty interesting. I hope my parents get here soon.

P.S. – I write this lying alone in Payton’s bed, as the newest plan of attack has him sleeping with Jen in our bed. Brutal.

**This should have posted on Christmas morning, but apparently never made it through the tubes that make up the interwebs to this site.  Blame Al Gore – he invented the thing.

Obviously with the world seemingly coming to an inescapable end at the hands of climate change in the near future – even Stephen Hawking thinks we should bail ship – every company and their tail wagging subsidiaries are trying to seem more earth friendly.  NBC does its green week, toilet paper comes recycled and this past week our Shopper’s Drug Mart started charging five cents per bag.  Obviously they are not the first business to try these shenanigans in an attempt to appear more environmentally conscious.  Superstore has been doing it for years.  It was the rest of the transaction that made me laugh out loud.

Being the well known Planeteer that I am, I turned down the bag at the check out counter – save a plastic tree when you can right – but then I was handed a 3″x3″ cardboard ticket and was wished “good luck”.  That is right: Shoppers Drug Mart would be horrified to give you a free flimsy plastic bag to carry your recently purchased items in and as such will charge a five cent per bag “sin tax” to make up their financial shortfall in a recession, but they have no problem in handing out cardboard instant win tickets – which we all know no one ever wins on – to every customer that comes through the doors.  Using a plastic bag that I will reuse at home is an evil to be discouraged five cents at a time, but deforesting South America to print lottery tickets in perfectly acceptable apparently.  The real kicker is that the prize being offered if someone were to win was a greenhouse gas factory . . . yup . . . a car.

I am all for being environmentally conscious, but please, can we all just agree to be at least a little bit consistent on this?  If only Alanis Morrisette had released “Jagged Little Pill” fifteen years later this could have been the second verse on her hit single.

For years now I have been a professed theologian.  My bookshelves are full of works by authors whose names I can barely pronounce writing about topics and using words from languages I cannot speak.  I have always enjoyed reading books of great depth and importance and this has kept me almost exclusively in the camp of serious non-fiction.  I occasionally made some time for some fictional works or less serious reading, but I usually felt guilty like a diabetic eating chocolate cake – it was fun but I was pretty sure it was not healthy for me or profitable.

That being said, this current admission comes with no feeling of guilt of pangs of conscience: I love good stories more than anything.  It may be fiction or non but I can read a book full of good stories with the kind of joy and tirelessness that should accompany only Homer Simpson at an all-you-can-eat buffet.  And I’m not necessarily talking about biographies here.  They are often filled with a lot of boring minutia that only the authors’ mother could love.  I have fallen in love with Donald Miller‘s disarming and self-deprecating honesty, Douglas Coupland‘s strange but unbelievably insightful stories about post-modern life, and most recently Matt Mikalatos‘s funny and poignant book “Imaginary Jesus“.  In all honesty I’ve been finding far more food for thought and more life changing insights in the stories than I have by keeping on reading the seemingly never ending debate over the same church related issues in every book I have read over the past five to ten years.  It is not that I do not still read more traditional non-fiction ministry related books – they will always have their place and I do enjoy them- but I have found that these stories have been causing me to think more and change my life more than many other kinds of books have in recent history.

I still think that there will always be a place in my life and my studies for more traditional non-fictional didactic teaching type books, but if Jesus thought that teaching through stories was a good idea once in a while there is probably some space to be made in my reading for stories too.  If ever you want to take me out or invite me over for a beverage of some description make sure to bring your good stories with you.