Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Taste of Things to Come . . .

Well I will be extremely busy in the coming new year as we are moving and I will begin a new job. However, while on holidays I am becoming reinvigorated with what was an initial vision for my cyberspaces. This vision has to do with orientation, locating yourself within space, time, and whatever other variables you choose to include (spirit, society, sexuality, etc.). As a primer to the importance of cartography in our lives sit back and enjoy this cutting edge informational video.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Life Imitating Art

I love coming across a book where I become increasingly unconcerned about catching every detail because I realize I will need to read the book again. This realization is no commentary on the reader's inability but is praise for the density and fertile nature of the work in question. I had little to no expectation for Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when I first picked up. However, once I got past the slightly disorientating "stream of consciousness" beginning I quickly began realize that I was reading some of the most dense but accessible literature I had ever come across (which may not be saying too much).

What I have appreciated is what I perceive as Joyce's encounter with the various manifestations of the sacred in the main character Stephen Dedalaus. Stephen encounters this humbling power in his experience with religion, sexuality, and ultimately his embrace of art and beauty. Perhaps this is too much a case of the reader influencing the interpretation but Joyce speaks directly to the issues that have become extremely important to me. This is the question of transcendence and how close we can come to Reality. That is, how close we can experience something or someone without the mediation and limitations of such things as language and space as well as such human boundaries as fear, insecurity, and hatred.

For me this is where beauty and holiness find a union of expression and purpose.

Perhaps there will be more commentary to come or at least some excerpts but I can tell that this book is quickly driving to the top of "best of" literature list.


Monday, December 11, 2006

A New Start for a New Year

Well I am pleased to announce that I have been offered the position of associate pastor at Hillcrest Mennonite Church in New Hamburg Ontario (close to Kitchener/Waterloo). Here is a link to the sermon I preached on my candidating weekend. I start on January 9th. Crazy times.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Humour . . . It's No Laughing Matter

About five years ago I saw a professional comedian perform live for the first time. I can’t remember his name but he was Dennis Milleresque and quite good. What struck me was that at least half of his performance was a fairly strong critique of our western culture. He has a captive audience with a medium that would stick in people’s minds. I had never realized how powerful a platform a stand-up comedian could have.

I have a co-worker who was obsessed with finding the type of joke that would make me laugh. He told me some of crudest jokes I have heard in long time. I was never quite sure how to respond. He knew I was planning on becoming a pastor and that played a role in the types of jokes he would tell me. Was I supposed to be offended? Was he looking for some sort of victory in making ‘the christian’ laugh at something naughty? Was he just trying to tell a good joke?

Michael Richards reacts to some hecklers using some derogatory language . . . people laugh. He drops numerous ‘n-bombs’ on them . . . fewer people laugh. He tries to incorporate his tirade into some type of social commentary . . . people get up to leave.

Michael Richards begins to apologize on David Letterman . . . people laugh. Jerry Seinfeld tells them, “It’s not funny” . . . still some chuckles.

Elaine thinks that Jerry’s voice is permanently funny. Jerry shouts at her, “It’s not funny!” Elaine and audience laughs.

Kramer makes Indian war cries out of a taxi-cab with the ‘cigar-shop Indian’. Jerry makes the Indian dance and chant . . . everyone laughs.

Gabriel-Maximilien Leuvielle – Star of early silent film comedies; depression and suicide
Tony Hancock – British comedian; suicide
Richard Pryor – 1980 suicide attempt
Charles Rocket – suicide
Freddie Prince – suicide

Parker Posey – “I can do comedy, so people want me to do that, but the other side of comedy is depression. Deep, deep depression is the flip side of comedy. Casting agents don't realize it but in order to be funny you have to have that other side.”

Whoopi Goldberg – ““I am [a relatively happy person]. I only say that because other people have said that of me. I’m drawn to depression. It’s what inspires me.”

. . . The sad clown is no joke . . .

I find humour bizarre. Perhaps it is no different than the artist’s relationship to death and depression, but the contrast is certainly more striking. Humour can expose and insulate. It is a tool of control and manipulation. It can heal and calm . . . or enrage. What is it that humour is dancing with?

. . . But I suppose the laughs will just keep on coming . . .