Category Archives: Uncategorized

Transcending Memory

I am usually in bed by 9:30, to fall asleep reading by 10:15, 10:30 or so. It’s been years since 10pm marked the start of my evening rather than its end. But last night I made an exception, trudging out of the house at 9:20pm and making my way down to The Power Plant at the Toronto Harbourfront to see if I could pull an all-nighter to watch a good chunk of Christian Marclay’s, The Clock.

I expected long lines and a minimum 1-2, probably 3, hour wait, which is I why I aimed to be there for 10. I wanted to be in the room when the clock struck midnight. But I arrived just in time to be the last person let in before the line-ups began.

The Clock is a 24 hour video compilation of short clips from films (and some tv shows), each of which contains some reference to the time, Continue reading

Bilbao: Part 2 – The Scattering

I wrote before I left for Spain that I didn’t know how I’d feel when I reached Santiago, but that my first pilgrimage was actually to Bilbao – and the walk proved me true.

We reached the city about a week in. By that point we’d made some good friends, a couple in particular, and we were treasuring our final moments with them. I think we all knew the good-bye was approaching, and this allowed us to push into our rapidly expanding intimacy with a little more courage than an expanse of time allows. Tyler, walking with our Brazilian lawyer friend tested and expanded the limits of language barriers Continue reading

Piano, Piano. Suave, Suave.

The dinner table is lively with multi-lingual conversation, but I am mostly slumped in my chair in pain. Day 2 of the Camino, and it’s our first time sharing in the “Pilgrim Meal.” Pilgrim meals in Basque country (the first 1/4 of the Camino Norte) are served around 7:30, about an hour before the restaurant opens for regular dinner service (I believe so the other customers don’t have to smell us). They cost about $10, and have a couple of hearty courses, plus bread, dessert and as much wine as you can drink. They are awesome. But I’m feeling beat. I’ve done something stupid to my right shoulder. And so the scarf I brought with me so I could feel like I had one pretty thing is now wrapped as a sling holding my arm in place so that I don’t wrench my shoulder something worse. Each person who joins us at the table points at my arm with one hand while pouring themselves a mug of wine with the other, and asks me in their own language, what’s wrong? “Oh,” I say in English and begin miming (though even miming hurts), “I’ve pulled my shoulder. I’m trying to keep it still. I’m sure it will get better,” even though I’m panicking inside that it won’t. Continue reading

I Suck at This! (And I Never Got Any Better)

“Are you crazy?! You’ll kill them!” all three of the guys who were walking one way start shouting at a guy walking the other. “No, no,” replies the solo walker. “They’re young, they can handle it!” We’re a couple of hours into the first day of our Camino, and we’re standing in front of a sign that points in one direction (seemingly up into the sky via a rocky, hill/mountain thing) for “Alpine Pilgrims,” and another direction (gloriously flat and paved) for “Other Pilgrims.”** Four Spanish guys are gesticulating wildly, arguing over which path Tyler and I should take as we watch on amazed. I have no idea what is going on, but I get the sense that we don’t have much of a choice in the matter; they’re going to battle out the decision for us. Nevertheless, I also sense the significance of this battle as Tyler tries to translate for me using phrases like, “they’ll die!” and “they’ll never make it!” as he tries simultaneously to insist it’s probably not so dramatic as they’re making it sound. Continue reading

Leaving for Spain Today!

Dear friends,
Well, Tyler and I are dashing around the house this morning trying to get things all packed up before our 3pm departure for Marseilles this afternoon. From Marseilles, we’ll train to Hendaye, and then cross over to Irun, where our pilgrimage of the Camino’s Northern route will begin. I am crazy excited and nervous – my tummy is all butterflies! So I want to share a few things that this Camino is about for me – those of you who are inclined, please pray for us in the next 40 days! Continue reading

starting over, again

So I’m using this picture again because I’m taking another stab at these new year’s resolutions. I wrote back in January about the contemplative practices I planned to take up so that I could delve deeper into my faith, particularly through practices of gratitude. Around March (maybe February?), I got a cold and began finding getting up at 5:45am to pray too difficult. I lost the rhythm and quickly lost the practice. I’ve been chastising myself ever since to try to get back into the swing of things. Continue reading

Good-bye to the God of Capital Letters

I’ve long defended praise and worship music to friends who claim it is too simple theologically. “It’s not about the theology,” I’ve argued, “so  much as it’s about a meditative practice.” The reason I used to love P&W, and in surprising moments nowadays, still do (albeit with a touch of nostalgia, an emotion that never sits right with me), is its chant-like quality. There’s the possibility of losing myself in the repetition, and opening my eyes surprised to find out I’ve been swimming in the deep waters of the Divine. But in recent years, I’ve found this depth harder and harder to plum. Even so, it hasn’t been the simplicity that has bothered me, and I’ve struggled to figure out what it is that I fail to connect with.

I visited a church a few weeks ago, heavy on P&W – and all of a sudden it struck me: I can’t handle all those capital letters projected onto the screen:  Continue reading

Accidentally Dying to Self

I shared last week about how writing a dissertation chapter about the forgetfulness of God started to feel like I was slowly killing God…not by crucifixion, as an orthodox view might have it, but by the slow deterioration of dementia and aged decline.

In a sense, I was trying to frame the ways in which our post-Christian culture tends to view God – as diminished, ineffectual and humiliated. Initially, with the project, I was wondering: if we think carefully about how our culture views God, perhaps we can think more honestly about how we might embody God’s grace and love within that culture…particularly for those people who are marginalized because they are seen to embody similar characteristics to those I was exploring in God. But the writing process didn’t result in such a joyful faith-based stance. Instead, as I felt the death of God, I realized I was also participating in a death to self. Continue reading

God’s Forgetfulness

I ended up erasing the final chapter of my dissertation and replacing it with another. The one I initially intended was simply too much of a mess, and too risky to do well with the limited time (and, more importantly, limited skill) I possessed in that moment.

In a nutshell, the constructive theological moments in my dissertation were all inspired by conversations between my own academic theological ways of speaking and the everyday theological ways of speaking articulated by people in my church (this conversational process was more formalized through certain forms of academic methods, but I won’t bore you with that here). The final chapter was inspired by a conversation about God’s eternal nature in one of the Sunday night theology classes I taught at the church.

One of the women in the class said that some time she spent with a friend who had Alzheimer’s Disease had helped her to understand God’s eternity Continue reading

new year’s peas and resolutions

My favourite thing about new year’s is not the booze and parties (although those are fun!). It’s the lucky black eyed peas (food, not band). Indeed, I became a bit obsessed with January 1st good-luck breakfasts while living in Nashville, TN; so now, black eyed peas are a staple at our first breakfast table each year. Until I did a little googling for this post, however, I didn’t realize that this tradition traced back to an ancient Jewish custom for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year). It was picked up by non-Jewish Southerners around the time of the Civil War…and I started doing it after a Southern friend got me hooked. It just seemed like fun, and it stuck. I think I’ve kept doing it because I loved my 5 years in Nashville so much, it’s now a way to remember and honour that time in my life as each new year begins.

This new year’s was not just about looking backwards, though – it was also about looking forwards and, mostly, about enjoying the present. Last year at this time, Continue reading