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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

find your own door

From my Annoying Things file: Dove's #ChooseBeautiful campaign.

I haven't watched the video. I'm not gonna, and I'm not gonna link it either.

It's easy enough to search out, if you're interested.

The constantly repeating post in my Twitter feed irks me enough. The whole "which door would you walk through" thing is somehow supposed to demonstrate that most women don't feel beautiful, because so many of them choose to go through the door labelled "average" rather than the one labelled "beautiful". And that this is tragic, in an obviously self-evident kind of way.

First - you can't know WHY the women chose the door they did.

Unless you posed well-worded questions
in a controlled environment,
identical for each participant.

And accounted for the possibility
that the women may or may not tell you the truth,
since you kinda manipulated them into the whole situation
in the first place.

Second - you can't know that you sampled a group of women that actually represents the general population. At best, you got a representative sample of women who went to the mall that day, in that city.

Unless you went to the effort of ensuring
a statistically-correct representative sample.

And I doubt that very much.

That's right.
I learned something in that statistics class.

Third - in this effort to somehow empower women, build them up, blah, blah, blah, it's STILL based on their physical looks.

And as someone else pointed out,
the intent is to get women to #ChooseDove,
not #ChooseBeautiful.


How about a door marked "curious"?

Or ... "ambitious"?

Or ... "happily content with who I am"?

Or ... "authentic"?

Or ... here's a crazy one ... "not defined by a beauty product"??!!!

Last night my mom asked me which door I would walk through. I thought about it for a minute, and then said, "Neither. I think I'd walk away. They don't get to force me to pick one of their two definitions of me, and then analyze my self-esteem from it."


You know what door I'd walk through in a heartbeat?

The one attached to an old wardrobe, labelled "Narnia".


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

love my city

I'll admit that yesterday involved a lot of mental pacing. Some actual pacing as well. Forced myself to read a book and watch a movie, trying to avoid checking emails.

First day of vacation can be tricky. It takes a bit to go from top-speed to no-speed, and I knew I had to do a bit - *just a BIT* - of work this morning, so my brain refused to unwind.

But around noon today, as I walked out of my office, I felt my core muscles begin to physically relax, felt my mind take a step back, and my soul breathed deeply.


I can walk to this place from our in-the-city home in about five minutes.

And then I just kept walking. Couldn't believe how many of these bikes I saw, by the way. Wow, way to go Hamilton - definitely a hit!

This guy's on vacation too, I presume.

Some people really need to get completely out of the city to enjoy nature.

Me - I revel in the combined life of it all. A spring breeze ... dads fishing with their kids ... "did you step in the water, honey?" -- "yeessss" ... cranes (machines, not birds) rising into the sky, signifying new development ... tiny birds skipping across my path ... a few boats in the water already ... sounds of industry in the distance ...

I love looking at the water, with the train yard behind it, and the city behind that. A picture of life, lots of it, right there.


I love my city.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

school prayer (not what you think)

My current course included a term paper worth 55% of the final grade, so I've been buried in that and in Easter for the last week or so.

"in Easter"
that was unintended :)

Plus Annual Business Meeting just prior to that.

At any rate, I blocked out everything else for the last two days, and finished up in the wee hours of this morning.

So I'd like to take this moment to offer thanks ...

... for the online citation machine which magically gets my reference list done with far less neck tension and eye strain than I do.

"Should this tiny colon be italicized?"

"Yes, but take out that comma.
It's completely WRONG,
and it's ruining EVERYTHING.
Ugh, you have FAILED."

... that Social Sciences uses APA referencing. Not the obvious evil of Chicago-style and Turabian footnotes that were the bane of my theological studies a few decades ago.

When "online" referred to laundry,
because what student in residence had money
for the coin-operated dryer??

Oh! And imagine this - although this particular paper involved a multi-page reference list, most of which involved thirty or more pages of reading, I literally only used three actual pieces of paper and a pencil to keep myself on track. All the rest was on a screen. Reading, researching, noting, highlighting, writing, editing. Did not enter an actual library. No actual paper until the final print-out.

Because the prof likes a hard copy.
I don't blame him.
Seriously, though,
I used to go to the library
and make millions of photocopies
to mark up, note, and discard.
Plus countless rough drafts.
Pre-recycling, I might add.
I literally only entered
McMaster's library *building*
for the first time
last year.
And that was for a meeting.

Oh! And one last moment of thanks.

Dear God, thank you that the due date was unexpectedly changed a couple of weeks ago from Easter Monday to Wednesday. I'm not sure what prompted the change. But I know I'm the only pastor in my class. (That's always true.)

So while Easter may just be a long spring weekend to others, it's ... EASTER WEEKEND for a running pastor.

And if I had had to get this paper done before the resurrection, I may well have needed that empty tomb myself.


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

sacred words

This past weekend, the church which I pastor hosted a joint Muslim-Christian-Jewish event. Three speakers, one from each group, shared regarding the way in which women are valued in their faith. All of us - men, women, children - in one space, building friendships, finding common ground, while respecting differences and holding to our own beliefs.

One pulled out a guitar, sang a couple of songs.

And there was homemade baklava at the end.

Each speaker referenced the sacred text of their faith. It matters to us, you know. People of faith treasure our scriptures. That value shows in different ways. My Bible, a gift from my parents when I went to school, is literally falling apart now, from years of use.

Sometimes I wonder what scripture looks like to people who don't share my faith. For example, this is what I read today.

I don't know how that sounds or looks to you. I'd like to know, especially if you are of a different faith, or no particular faith.

I'm almost afraid to ask,
because I'm not interested
in commenters preaching
at each other.

Or at me.

I just would love to know how it sounds to you, I guess.

For me - a follower of Jesus - it re-orients my soul and is a deep breath of fresh air at the start of a Wednesday.

Monday, March 30, 2015

patti's public service announcement

Just before Christmas, you may recall, our door was kicked in.

Somewhere in between then and now, our insurance rep was sucked into a vortex of some kind, which prevented him from returning our calls. He hasn't been heard from since. Meanwhile we got a new insurance rep.

And today - just before Easter, the door has been replaced.

I'm pretty sure there's no spiritual or religious significance.


So, if you are a door-kicking type, looking for quick and easy valuables, here's what you need to know.

#1 We don't have valuables. The door was the biggest cost. We didn't ask insurance to wash the big muddy footprint off of the duvet cover.

#2 The new door has a multi-point locking system, a killer deadbolt, and many extra-long screws holding it in place. There's also a motion-activated taser and a big, nasty, frothing dog on the other side, just in case. And an evil clown troupe, just waiting for a reason to encircle you. So if I come home again and have to call 9-1-1, it's not going to be because the door is lying on the ground. It's going to be because you are.

Consider yourself warned.

Monday, March 23, 2015

student delight

This weekend, I was doing some research for a paper I'm working on.

The prof allowed us to choose our own topic, but encouraged us to check it with him. When I did, he suggested three scholars I should look into, two by name, and ... "Um ... I can't remember his name ... uh ... he's at Ottawa University, I think ... does Ukrainian studies ... just Google him."

So I did. Double-checked a bit to see if the name I found was likely to be the guy my prof was thinking of. Looked down the list of his published papers, and found one that reviewed work by ANOTHER guy, describing him as a "towering figure in Ukrainian studies".

Thought to myself, "Hmmm, THAT name looks familiar." Glanced over at my bookshelf, and sure enough, there's one of his books, purchased years ago when I was searching for something - anything - about Ukrainian history.

Apparently it was a good buy.

This has been a delighted moment in the life of a nerd student.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Spring is here!!!

My most favourite of seasons. 

(pass the Claritin, please)

Happy Outrage-Free (and first-day-of-spring) Friday!