Monday, July 21, 2008

on the other side by gilad

         part one

Earth Day came but once a year. At least it used to in elementary school. The older classes would put on a play about becoming more earth friendly and more than once we were all subjected to earth propaganda films starring Candace Bergren and some other maybe known actors to emphasize to children the dire need to care about the ozone layer and global warming. For our generation reduce, reuse, recycle replaced the rhymes taught to our parents of reading writing and arithmetic. While we still learned to dot our i's and the multiplication table we were also taught to separate the reusable materials and the food waste from the 'garbage'. At home on tv the muppets taught us that we should turn the lights off when we're not using them with government sponsored commercials. And as the children from the beginning days of these earth-forming ideals grow into free thinking adulthood they're thinking they can take it a step further.
Growing green has grown bigger than recycling what you use, it's grown bigger than public television commercials and a single day of kids dressed up as globes and hunks of trash. We have television networks devoted to earth friendly shows, trash cans on the sidewalk are now divvied up into the appropriate recycling bins, and consumers are urged to do away with disposable plastic bags. Turning the light off is ok, but a light with the energy saving light bulbs is better. And energy saving light bulbs are the least that you can do; why save money on your electricity bill by screwing those twisted light tubes into your fixtures when you could make money by installing solar panels on your property.
As becoming one with earth replaces just being nice to it, we as Christians seemed to be faced with whether or not this is a concern that we should take a stand on. Although it is satisfyingly easy to take a stand on something that is not only politically popular (a politically correct belief that is fadishly popular- it's not just something "most" people believe but also makes you look cooler if you're carrying a Lulu Lemon recycled, reusable bag), it is beginning to be discussed as to what kind of priority should being earth friendly take.
A few years ago I read a book called the Velvet Elvis.... well most of it.... ok at least half of it with a young adults group at a church I was going to. Velvet Elvis, written by Rob Bell, from what I remember is a book Bell wrote to look beyond past conceptions of what Christianity meant when living it out in real life.
(I'm going to pause here to tell you that I didn't read the whole book because I didn't like it. Rob Bell seems like a cool guy and he's a good writer, but since much of what he wrote wasn't new to me I usually ended up skipping through most of the chapters. And now I'll pause here to tell you that I'm not being cocky, my education just happened to cover those kinds of topics, most of you know more about calculus than I do because I never took it.) In case anyone has never read a book with a group of Christians, where as "book clubs" will read an entire book and discuss, a bible study group will take it chapter by chapter. One week came upon a chapter that broached Environmentalism and it seemed from the discussion that some of the group were surprised by its inclusion.
Environmentalism is a word which has in the past been reserved for hippies and extremists. It's a word for green peace, for people who tie themselves to trees, sit in front of bulldozers and eat tofu. And while many of these people have been admired for their efforts of making the world a better place they are also regarded as oddities and upholders of issues that lacked any relevance to real life. Like so many things that began with those who were willing to live out on a limb Environmentalism has shed away it's original connotations and like Rob Bell decided to repaint the picture of Christianity it has also been repainted. And while many people in that young adult group had grown up with the same earth friendly manner I had it was still surprising to some to conceive the word Environmentalism in the same topic of discussion as Christianity. Christianity has (and perhaps this is an evangelical viewpoint or maybe just that missionary mindset that pulses through Briercrest education) two main concerns. You know what they are. The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. Evangelicals have for the most part focused on the person or more specifically on their soul. It is only in recent history that we have widened our scopes; we realized that caring for the person is not divided up neatly, the human is a whole package of distressed spirit and waning body. If the rich in spirit can care for the soul why cannot the rich in resources care for the stomach? So we fill the hungry tummies, send them our doctors and nurses and build them proper homes. To our own and to others we share in a old testament type way until someone finally steps back and says 'what are we sadists? We give them what they need and then either leave them in self loathing for not being able to support themselves or leave them suffering because we can't afford to support us both'. And we begin to think about giving them the means to do for themselves what had been doing for them.
And now that environmentalism has shed away its old tye-dyed shirt and it's hemp pants.... and now that cool people like David Suzuki are willing to make commercials (apparantly Murphy Brown's earth-friendly school video wasn't enough for us) Christians are starting to say... wait didn't God tell us to take care of the earth?...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


much farther to go

I graduated almost one year ago.
I have had my hands full for so many years. Now as life begins to resemble a kind of regularity-as the stress from the hectic life behind me merely begins to unravel-I am left feeling a little lost. And also left to think about how exactly it is that I got to this point. I spent a lot time wholly concerned with what I need to do to reach the end and then after "the end" had come I was already being launched into another new stage of life. I know that life is always moving, changing. That is full of things to look forward to and goals to meet. But seeing my juggling act of educational career and working to pay the bills finally come to an end and immediately stepping into marriage and bringing together all the loose ties (aka. personal documentation and belongings in multiple provinces) into a new home.
Now that I am here, a married winnipegger with a few more degrees, as I look behind I find that it looks almost as indistinct as trying to see what lays ahead. There are some people who can remember every detail of their past but I find that the further I get from a moment the blurrier it becomes in mind, as though I am literally moving away from that point. There are some things I remember, pivotal moments in my life and bits and pieces of memory of things past linger, but many of things behind me fade away. As I said before I have been thinking about how it is I have gotten to this point, pondering on what I remember of days past and wondering about the actions and decisions that have brought me to the present. I know I am one strange bird. Even as I think about what I can remember there is much that causes me to scratch my head in wonder. Often I think about myself and feel as though I am thinking of a stranger. Some would shrug their shoulders and say that this is merely growing up; it is maturing. But many mature and do not feel alienated from their younger selves. Many mature and barely change from their younger selves. However there are many who may relate these feelings to something the Apostle Paul once wrote in a letter. He enlightened to his readers that those who choose to follow Christ, who reconcile their souls to God, become a new person and the old life they used to lead shed away like the discarded skin of an animal. Often when Paul's words are considered they are thought of with a sense of immediacy, as though the change is instantaneous. And for most there is an immediate change, but if there is one thing humanity has learnt as it has matured it is that despite the pivotal moments in our lives, in our history, the greatest change always occurs over a great deal of time. C.S. Lewis painted a picture of the journey of the soul which connects these thoughts in his book The Great Divorce. He describes how when a soul comes to the point of accepting heaven, even after reaching the gates of eternity, there is progress. Though a soul enters into heaven and perfection they learn and change. No modern person would deny that life is a progression; that idea, it is the very idea of linear time progression, beats in our minds as our hearts beat in our chest. And C.S. Lewis did not restrict his progress of the soul to the realm of heaven, rather it is an extension of what is already begun while we live on earth. And just like the pivotal moments in our life here death is a turning point in our journey and then we continue on.
I said I was left wondering how I came to be at this point, but I began with stating that there is a slight feeling of being lost. All that I had been aiming to achieve for 6 years had been accomplished, with a few unexpected 'accomplishments' as well, and it has come to that point of "what now?" "Get a job" is what we are told responsible young college graduates are to do, that is the next step in life. I think most of you reading this, knowing me, will know and understand that "what now" is bigger than the modern ideal of getting a good education so that we can get good jobs so that we can be secure and buy good houses and cars, etc. It is more of which direction, and how, my soul is progressing. Nolan and I are looking ahead to working with the youth here in the North End of Winnipeg. My heart loves possibilities and is passionate for all sorts of things; I find it easy to dream about what could be next. what now for me hopes that God will give me some post-graduate direction.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

the bridge between mind and matter by gilad

the bridge between mind and matter

I feel like the all the elements in my life are coming together to thwart my attempts to write.

This may seem like an exaggeration, but you're probably not surprised since I've always been a conspiracy theorist on non-consequential matters. It is although technology and small pieces of plastic have been banding together to play a practical joke that just isn't funny.

I sit down on the computer and if more than one window-internet browser or otherwise-is open it suddenly feels as sluggish as my grandfather after a potluck dinner on a hot summers day. And pens! Every one I pick up is conspicuously out of ink! And time plays tricks on me. I think now that I don't have to unpack boxes, switch legal documents over to new names and new provinces all after I'm done working a full day that I should have a few more minutes to write a few thoughts out. No! No time at all!
Of course the fact that my computer is ancient and bogged down, that I haven't bought new pens in about 2 years and that I spent a little too long watching tv last night (it's a bit of a novelty right now since I haven't had tv since I lived at home) mean absolutely nothing.

Now that I'm done ranting mostly to myself about my inability to bring myself to do what I want to do, I'll reflect more seriously.
It's been hard to write since I graduated. In fact I didn't write much in my last year at school either. I was burnt out and struggled to do the things required of me. There was nothing left for extra-curricular.
But since the last paper that I handed in just under a year ago thinking creatively, thinking at all, has ceased. I've been urging myself, even taking my journal and a pen in hand, telling myself not to let the tiredness to take away what I enjoyed. For awhile nothing came; nothing outside of daily thoughts. Here and there thoughts have come to me, ideas, plots and some ponderings. Once I'm done writing in my journal or before I can come to the computer to type it out languish creeps in-somehow it all seems not only unoriginal but more predominantly it all seems inconsequential, as though nothing that I think matters anymore- and the life of my thoughts slides away.
I have told myself that these past few years have been hard and I need some time to rest and its probably true. But small fears of slipping into laziness or those condemnations I've heard people say about "real life" (why is it that when people talk about real life or responsibilities is usually lacks life and sounds more about making ourselves comfortable and secure in material concerns?) taking over urge me not to let go of what I love, not to let it fade away.
So, I hope to have both, to rest and also to write. Since writing has always been a refuge for me this should not be a stretch. Nolan is a great encourager and has broached the idea of setting aside time that is meant for me to write. Where is the resting in this idea, I am not going to push myself to come up with anything great, in fact I may purposely write crap. And look I've already started! What I'm saying here is not a new idea, it's just where I am. The point is to allow myself the space so that when my mind and soul are ready they'll be able to say something that maybe isn't unoriginal or completely insignificant.