Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I'm off to the Yellowhead Presbytery (Interim) Executive meeting this morning.  This is expected to be the 'last' meeting of the executive of YHP.  Last week (weak), I agreed to become the new chair of the Presbytery Operating Team, which will in some ways is the replacement for the Executive.  You see, the Presbytery has changed the way we will govern ourselves.  We will spend less time as a whole body of 50-70 congregational reps and clergy making the routine and day to day decisions of Presbytery.  Actually, it almost always was basically a rubber stamp process as the real work of deciding what to do was done by the smaller committee who looked at all of the factors and possibilities and came to the full Presbytery for approval.  The new Operations team, which I guess I am chairing, is charged with making these routine decisions within the policies and mission statements of the Presbytery.  This will free up time for the whole body to focus on learning and spirituality and policy setting and visioning.

I haven't even chaired my first operations team meeting, and I've already been connected to two other groups (the executive today and the Presbytery Council - which as Operations Chair, I am also a member of).  It goes like that sometimes: you say yes once, and it makes more than one connection.

Sure it's an extra meeting or two, but what a wonderful metaphor for the church: we have our one point of entry (whatever it was that first drew us in) and we find that we then are more and more connected by others who have been drawn in as well.  Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The radio talk shows and TV news channels have been filled with conversations about the Tuscon murders and attempted assassinations.  The two main sub-topics have been: (1)  [not surprisingly] the ease of availability of guns in the US and in Arizona in particular; and (2) [surprisingly] the prevalence of 'gun' and 'violent' imagery within political discourse.

I think it is a red herring in the discussion of the actual shooting to stretch a direct connection between Sarah Palin's website cross-hair images (oh wait, her handler tried to 'spin' that these were surveying symbols).  This murderer did not take aim because Sarah Palin used that metaphor in her campaign to 'target' certain democratic districts.  But that doesn't mean that this doesn't raise an important side issue.

It is very clear to me that Violent and War imagery and metaphors are used too freely in political and social discourse.

Talk with your friends about this.  Discover how easily and frequently people can use this imagery in everyday conversation, especially conversations that are adversarial or controversial in any way.

This is a conversation I remember having in 'the church' a decade and a half ago.  The United Church was publishing a new hymn book, Voices United (the first one in 25 years) and there was a minor uproar that Onward Christian Soldiers had not made the final edits.  It had been in the 1971 Hymn Book, but it was not to be marching on in the next one.

The conversation centred around concerns that many people had around the war imagery to describe a faith that in so many other ways is based on peace and compassion.  It was understood that for the generations with living memories of the first and second world wars, this imagery was a more natural fit in their lives, but for those (including me) who grew up during the relative calm of the cold war, the words seemed out of place. 

Yes, our Bibles are fill with war and violent imagery.  That makes perfect sense given the way the world operated in the Biblical times.  Governments rose and fell on the strength of their militaries and sometimes the brutality and strength of their leaders.

Fourteen years ago, I was already being mindful of how I use this kind of language and the place it has in the church.  It seems that current events have expanded the conversation beyond the church.  This is a good thing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Here are the words of a song I have been listening to lately.  For me, it is a reminder to let faith be life-giving and mystery-exploring rather than confining and limiting.

Cast Off
Written by David Wilcox
(from "Reverie" on What Are Records?)

Your cast was taped over with plastic bags
‘Cause you wanted to wade in the waves
You held your arm high but the water got in
And it itched like hell the next day

The strength that you need, you doubted
The cast was getting rotten inside
But what would it feel like without it
Weakness needs a place to hide

Doc said the cast is gonna have to come off
Try to get by with a brace
You opened your fingers so slowly at first
With a terrified look on your face

I knew what that look on your face meant
Though you didn’t have courage to speak
You wished they would cast a replacement
You felt broken like you’re way too weak

But the doctor explained what would happen
You atrophy the longer it stays
If you wear an old cast like it’s fashion
What’s beneath will just wither away

Have mercy for lives that are shattered
Cast with hard doctrine and creed
If it’s only the idols that mattered
Plaster would be all they need

© 2010 David Wilcox