"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Monday, January 26, 2015

me and the west wing

Did you ever watch The West Wing?

(Not the actual West Wing.
I really don't pay much attention to US politics.
The rhetoric alone is enough to make my head explode.)

No, I mean the TV series.

I loved it.

CJ's determination to win respect. Toby's sad loyalty. Abbey got on my nerves a little, but President Bartlett was tremendously inspiring, and he loved her to bits. Leo - how could you not adore that humble, immovable man? Sam, passionately naive. Charlie, quietly observing all of the nonsense and refusing to be pulled into it.

I'll be honest with you, when Zoe was kidnapped at the end of a season, that was a rough summer for me. I still follow Josh and Donna on Twitter. They got married after the show, by the way. She's in Congress now, can you imagine?!

It's possible I'm blurring the lines between TV and reality.

Anyway, there was one episode in which a potential Supreme Court Justice was being vetted as the President's candidate, or some such terminology. And he was "this close" but then they discovered something he wrote in an obscure university paper, long ago, and it was awful, but it happened, he wrote it, and the press would have a field day, and that was that. Game over.

No new job for him.

It's been on my mind lately because I have to successfully debate a position in class on Friday from a theoretical perspective that I completely disagree with. And that wouldn't be so bad, except I also have to write a short position paper on it. I could write from a different perspective, but either way, I still have to debate from the assigned one, so that's double the research, and ... um ... that is NOT gonna happen.

So if you ever run across an obscure, short, position paper written by moi that attempts to support biology as a plausible explanation for race riots a century ago ... I'm just so sorry. I assure you that in *real* life, I recognize that theoretical viewpoint for the horse poop that it is.

(And so does my prof.
He just thinks it's effective to make us learn theoretical perspectives,
even awful, completely discredited ones, 
by knowing them well enough to debate them.

He's probably right.) 

And the thing is ... I need the 15%.

I can hear Toby yelling in frustration, even now. "She ... wrote ... WHAT??!!! How ... HOW ... can that ... even ... be POSSIBLE??!!!!"


I'm never going to be a Supreme Court Justice. 

And I was REALLY looking forward to that "Thank YOU Mr. President" moment with Jed Bartlett, too.

Friday, January 23, 2015

texting with my niece

The other day, my niece and I were having a meaningful conversation via text. She's 16. She's awesome.

She's my favourite, really.

(Don't tell the nephews!)

Anyhoo, she has a pottery bench for sale that she built at school. She wanted to know if I knew anyone that wanted to buy it. If I did, then SHE would buy it, and hopefully sell it at a profit. But there was no point in HER buying it, if she couldn't then sell it.

She doesn't have any personal need for a pottery bench.


Amusingly for her, her favourite aunt (don't tell the others) is bottom-lip-deep in sociological studies. And also a little protective of her favourite niece.

There was kind of a pause on her end.

I could feel that her one eyebrow was raised, waiting for an explanation.

She knows I'm weird.

It's why she loves me.

I felt this was an important teaching moment.

My mistake. No child labour happening here. 

So I switched sides.

Like I said - she's awesome. I adore her.

Happy Outrage-Free Friday to you!

Friday, December 19, 2014

on being a pastor

"Patti, can you stop by for five minutes?"

So I do. Stay for forty-five. I remember that so very difficult time a few years ago, when I couldn't do anything except be there. And I leave quietly moved by ... what is it ... the privilege of being part of other people's lives.

It is a beautiful thing, this "being a pastor". 

"You helped our family. Thank you."

Fifteen years in the same church, same city. I know the stories of so many people. I've been part of their stories, wonderful moments, terribly difficult moments. And they've been part of mine. 

"I said I didn't know what to do.
They took my hand and said, 'We're standing with you.'"

Today I had several opportunities to consider the wonder of an authentic community of Christian faith. A place to belong. A place to vent.

"I think I maybe need to let it out, Patti."

People who look out for each other.

"I don't know what would have happened if Crossfire hadn't stepped into the gap."

People who were in impossible places....and now are doing ok.

"Better than ok, Patti, I'm good. Really."

A beautiful thing, indeed.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

brain clench

Woke up with a start this morning - which theorist talked about the culture of consumption and the welfare state having contributed to the decline of egalitarian conversation in the public sphere of civil society?!

Oh! It was Habermas. Gramsci was the other guy, all about hegemony and the masses. Sank back into the pillow in relief.

Wait...I don't need to know that anymore. That exam was written Tuesday. 

My brain is taking longer than usual to unclench.

Meanwhile, a textbook for January's course has arrived. I flipped through it last night. Doesn't look too bad. 

On we go!

Friday, December 12, 2014

honesty on Outrage-Free Friday

Well - it's Outrage-Free Friday.

Um ... one of our friends has been dealing with significant health challenges after being rear-ended on the highway by someone who didn't even slow down ... so almost all of this week has been spent at hospitals or on the phone with various members of the very slow-moving bureaucracy of our health care / legal / insurance system. Frustrating barely begins to describe it. Some of you know what that's like, I know.

Thankful that there is a health care system at all.

Thankful that each person I talked to was responsive and kind,
even if they couldn't be entirely helpful.

Thankful that a few of them looked me right in the eye and said, 
"She's very fortunate to have you and your church supporting her." 

The next time you hear someone bashing religion,
maybe pause to mention to them
how much money is saved by the government,
how much is added to the fabric of a community,
when faith groups step into the gap.

One evening this week, I came home to discover our door ... our outside door ... ripped from its frame and lying on the kitchen floor.

Thankful for a street with several neighbours
on whose door I can knock late at night.
We have great neighbours.

Thankful for police who come in a timely manner,
who are honest about the low odds of catching the person,
but are compassionate and kind.

Thankful for parents who live in the city,
for a Dad who comes down to nail a door shut,
and a Mom who says, "I have extra supper ... come on over."

Thankful for social media,
through which friends can say,
"Hey - you ok? Praying for ya."

Super thankful for Spike - aka Trucker-Boy - 
who talks me through weeks like this,
reminds me of what's good,
encourages me to keep going,
even while he navigates snowstorms and break-downs.

I was invited several weeks ago to attend an event hosted by this group yesterday, to hear this speaker. Considered asking to be excused from the event, halfway through this week.

Thankful I didn't. It was excellent. I'm glad I was there.

Did you know that (based on Revenue Canada numbers),
people who practice their faith regularly
(i.e. attend their faith group once a week or more)
are engaged in philanthropy
at approximately three times the rate of people who don't?  

So ... onward. Not sure today will be entirely outrage-free ... but I'll do my best.

You with me?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

christmas chaos and cheer

For the next week, I'm flat-out running. It's Christmas. It's final exam time. It's chaos.

One of my friends is undergoing some cognitive testing,
among other things,
after a car accident a few weeks ago.

Someone ever-so-cutely suggested
that perhaps I needed some cognitive testing too.

Listen, if it'll get me someone
to wash the dishes at my house,
I'll take it.

I just sent a long email to my awesome assistant pastor, in her response to, "Hey - what can I do to help with Crossfire Christmas Chaos?" And then sent a shorter - but still longish - email to my very excellent mom, in response to HER, "Hey - what can I do to help you host the family at Christmas?"

Dear God, thank you for moms and assistants.

Anyway - most of the time, I just chat meaninglessly here. But - if you're local to me - you're welcome at any of our Christmas events. They're all free, except for this Sunday evening's show with the terribly fabulous Jeanine Noyes. That's $15 a ticket, and I assure you - worth every nickel.

Here are the details of all of it.

Crossfire is at 458 King Street West, in Hamilton, Ontario.
Between Pearl and Locke. 
In Canada. We're in Canada.

Free parking onsite.
Because we're just that good.

Gotta run!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

different spaces

Sunday was a little different from the usual.

Of course, there was our morning service. Honestly, I just have to tell you ... the group of people whom I get to pastor are simply wonderful. Sunday had it all ... heartfelt worship as we sang together ... we gathered in little groups and prayed together ... we interacted with Scripture together ... we shared the Lord's Supper together ... and then we sat around and chatted with bowls of soup together.

I really love my church.

Sunday afternoon, Spike and I stopped in at the grocery store, on our way out of town. Walked past a woman outside the door who was politely asking for spare change, responding with, "No, I'm sorry, I don't have any." It was a moment later that I realized what I had seen as I passed her. Terrible bruising and swelling, covering half of her face.

Someone had beaten her up.

I bought her a sandwich and a coffee, and gave her my card on the way out of the store. It took awhile for images of how the beating might have happened to stop flashing through my mind.

I can't comprehend the rationale behind personal, physical violence. There are a lot of things I don't understand. This is one of them.  

Sunday evening, we relaxed with food, laughter and friends at the home of The Crusty Professor. This is now a firmly-cemented friendship - probably one of the most unexpected ones I've ever had - and it makes me smile and shake my head in amusement.

So Sunday was a little different.

Grateful to interact with people.

In all these spaces.