Finding a Voice
Saturday, December 31, 2005
men and women in the church
... providing opportunities for anyone in the church, women included, is not an end in itself but always in furtherance of taking the whole gospel truth to men, women and families. We should never accept some hybrid such as feminist theology on the mistaken assumption that we are thereby pleasing women. We will never truly satisfy women that way, and even if we did, it would not be worth the cost. Our objective must always be to please Christ, and not to please men (yes, that generic term includes both sexes).
... How should men and women regard and treat each other if they are both truly faithful to the gospel of Christ and value truth more than personal power?
If you do not find that question important and fascinating, you ought to. So please move on and start reading Sarah [Sumner]’s book, where you will find that question very thoroughly and faithfully answered.
- Philip E. Johnson, "Foreward," Men & Women in the Church by Sarah Sumner. InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Monday, December 19, 2005
on being an educator
Classes are finished and I cannot believe how many amazing gifts my students gave to me. My Native Studies class gave me a beautiful cedar quill box and inside each student wrote the most encouraging notes that make me cry everytime I read them. You always wonder if you are getting through and making a difference and if what you are saying is making an impact; I am so glad to know that it did. Each card and little gift are a reminder to me that I need to continue to be faithful and know that even me, a little Indian, can make a difference. How thankful I am to God for this opportunity. I sure love my job and my students. I am so overwhelmingly blessed.
Dale was my student a few years ago. How many? Her first class with me was my first semester teaching here in 1998. Wow -- 8 years. Since that first Literature and Composition class Dale has gone on to finish her BA and then an MA in Counselling. I have watched and sometimes helped her wrestle with some very hard things in life, including her identity as a woman and as a First Nations person. She's now working as an Academic Advisor, happily married as of June, bought her first house, pursuing another Master's degree, and wondering about further education. Wow. She has accomplished so much, yet I also see that she is still only beginning.
Though I am still beginning, too, I am also a little further down the path, so this is what I wrote to Dale:
Here's something to look forward to as an educator: someday you'll get to watch your students graduate and go into the world ... and live their lives and you'll marvel that you got to be an integral part of their formation. This is how I feel when I look at people like you, Dale. Sometimes it feels like a dream that I ever taught you in classes, especially when I see where you are now. When did you know you wanted to be a teacher? Preparation time is important in and of itself, but when you get to blossom into what you were preparing for it's amazing for the rest of us to stand on the sidelines cheering wildly!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
woman or mouse? publications editor
Even so, the challenge is enjoyable. Editing can a very nurturing process -- developing both messages, audience, and fledgling writers. Nurturing is not merely sentiment, it is also discipline: the discipline that cuts out extraneous material and finds the essential article.
Courage utterly opposes the bold hope that this is such fine stuff the work needs it, or the world. Courage, exhausted, stands on bare reality: this writing weakens the work. You must demolish the work and start over. You can save some of the sentences, like bricks. It will be a miracle if you can save some of the paragraphs, no matter how excellent in themselves or hard-won. You can waste a year worrying about it, or you can get it over with now. (Are you a woman, or a mouse?)
~ Annie Dillard, The Writing Life, quote on Beyond Magazine's website.
Then there's the discipline that solicits material and meets deadlines. Hopefully I'll get to do this at least 2 years in order to find my rhythm in it.
write as if you're dying
"Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?
"Write about winter in the summer. Describe Norway as Ibsen did, from a desk in Italy; describe Dublin as James Joyce did, from a desk in Paris. Willa Cather wrote her prairie novels in New York City; Mark Twain wrote 'Huckleberry Finn' in Hartford. Recently scholars learned that Walt Whitman rarely left his room.
"The writer studies literature, not the world. She lives in the world; she cannot miss it. If she has ever bought a hamburger, or taken a commercial airplane flight, she spares her readers a report of her experience. She is careful of what she reads, for that is what she will write. She is careful of what she learns, because that is what she will know."
~ Annie Dillard, "Write Till You Drop," The New York Times on the web
Yesterday I spent a lovely evening with Shantelle, my colleague who was suddenly diagnosed in early November with terrible, terrible cancer. I arrived later than expected, shared a supper of sloppy joes and then stayed for "family games night" with her and her 8 year old daughter. We played Uno Attack, a version I had never played before -- what a scream. We flinched every time we pressed the button, never knowing if cards would come shooting out or how many. One time Shantelle moved the salsa just as Mikhayla pressed the button and 2 cards landed in the sauce! I'm going to see about getting this game for our family Christmas in Calgary.
A potentially terminal illness is sobering. Shantelle has faced it not just courageously but reflectively, realizing the preciousness of people and memories, especially family, and the fleetingness of accomplishments. And she writes about it all on her blog, not merely as if she were dying -- she very well could be, and she captures moments in print and picture while she can.
Annie Dillard's article challenges me to finish a particular project. I was going to write something for my dad's birthday in August, then for his birthday party in October -- now I'm going to write it for him for Christmas. This time I really am going to finish it. If I was dying I would write down childhood memories and give them to the key character. If I had pictures, I would include those with the memoir. Perhaps I would give these stories one at a time and someday (if someday comes) self-publish the collection in a little bound book. Here's the birthday reflection: The Honey House. (If it's not there immediately, check back in a day or two.)
Saturday, December 10, 2005
my lucky day
One of the luckiest in a long time.
I don't really believe in "luck" per se ...
even so, yesterday fits the description.
It actually started on Thursday evening
when my friend Sherry called from Vancouver
to see if she could drop in the next day and stay overnight.
Someone had offered her a Westjet buddy pass;
could she come?
She came on Friday
with her 20 month old daughter, Evelyn Olivia,
arriving just after 2:00 pm.
This was a big Christmas party weekend at Caronport:
seminary party last night--cheesecake,
college party tonight--hors d'oeuvres,
high school party tomorrow night--banquet.
Sherry came to the seminary party with me.
Concurrent with the seminary party,
just on the other side of the wall & curtains,
was the bookstore's annual Midnight Madness event,
with special guest merchants Ten Thousand Villages.
I ran over to the school between supper and the seminary party
to drop off some Christmas CDs
and stopped in at the bookstore to say hi to people.
While we were chatting, Ken, the manager, came around distributing numbers for a draw.
So I stayed long enough to see if I might win something.
I did, I did! Ken called #27 and I had #26,
and since the closest number won, I got the prize!
It was a book, The Names of the Holy Spirit, or something like that.
I went home to get Sherry & Evelyn for the cheesecake party.
We sat at table 8.
There was a wrapped gift on the table
and we played a game where Debbie read a story and everytime the words "right" and "left" were said we had to pass the gift that direction.
The last person holding the gift won, and I got the prize!!!
And what a prize it was: a plastic pirate playset.
I couldn't decide whether to send it to my friend Lamb in Ontario
or send it home with Sherry for her 3 1/2 year old son Anderson.
I went with Anderson.
A bit later, there was a draw for a table prize
and wouldn't you know it -- my table won!
It was a box full of Hershey's Kisses.
So my luck was good for everybody!
Was it luck or blessing?
Whatever it was, it was a lot of fun.
I toured Sherry & Evelyn around a bit yesterday afternoon
and some more this morning,
then drove them to Regina to catch a 12:40 flight.
Whirlwind, but so worth it.
I'm preaching in Avonlea tomorrow,
so better get some sleep!
Here's a link to the sermon.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Treasure for the Taking
I walked away from this year's musical with a big smile on my face from the delightful story and production. It just keeps getting better and better.
Click here to visit the photo gallery on the Briercrest website.