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Showing posts from January, 2015

beautiful money

I was in the subway a few weeks ago, waiting for the train to come. We have a lot of subway musicians in Montreal, people showcasing everything from rap music to classical opera to electric guitar solos to saxophone riffs. As is to be expected, some are better than others. This particular afternoon, as I stood and read my book while I waited for the train, I heard a ukulele being strummed and it made me stop reading. That in itself is quite something. Then I heard a sweet voice singing to the strumming, and I was compelled to turn around and look at the source.

She was young, with long blond hair and baggy clothes. Her right hand was rhythmically stroking the strings, her eyes were closed, her face was tilted slightly down and to one side, and she sang a song that pierced my soul. I don't remember the lyrics, but I remember feeling like someone was showing me their most vulnerable, yet strong side. I stood there, a bit in shock, wondering if anyone else was witnessing this incred…

unpacking faith

It is interesting to note that in common usage, the verb "to believe" is a weaker word than "to know." If I say, "I believe there is some chocolate in the cupboard," what I mean is something like this: last I checked, it was there, but someone may have eaten it in the meantime. When I say, "I know there is some chocolate in the cupboard," I mean something along the lines of: I was just looking in the cupboard and saw it there. However, when we are speaking theologically, the word "believe" is a very strong word indeed.

The Hebrew word, emunah comes from the root aman which means firm, something that is supported or secure. You can find it in Isaiah 22:23 for a nail that is fastened to a "secure" place. When emunah is translated as "faith," it is related to firm action. In the Old Testament context, to have faith in God means that one not only knows that God exists or that God is faithful, but one acts with firmness…

God questions

Yesterday I taught the first class of an undergraduate university course called Introduction to Theological Studies. Besides looking at a Van Gogh painting (beauty as the starting point of theology), listening to a Richard Dawkins interview (the limitations of closed system inquiry), and talking about theological sources, terms, and definitions, we spent some time thinking about the kind of questions we ask to find out more about a subject. One of the exercises I had the students do was to take out a piece of paper and write down two questions they could pose to someone in order to find out what kind of person they were. Then I had them turn to their neighbour and give their questions a try. 
It was not surprising that no one asked how tall someone was or how old they were (scientifically verifiable questions which would have pleased Richard Dawkins). Instead, they asked questions which required thoughtful responses. One student asked another, "If you could go anywhere in the wo…

A Special New Year's Eve

We didn't do anything really special to ring in the new year. Frankly, I was still a bit celebration weary from the holiday events with our family and Dean was reeling from a very busy few days at work. Having part of the afternoon off on New Year's Eve meant we could get some groceries, go to the gym, and make a trip to the bank. Pretty exciting stuff, I know. But really, it was good. As we sat at home on the couch right before midnight, watching television and eating jalapeno hummus, I heard that old, subtle, accusing voice telling me we should have made more elaborate plans, should have gone to a party or headed downtown, anything which would have yielded photos showing how hip and cool and happy we were. This low key evening was almost embarrassing, hardly worth a mention on social media, certainly nothing to emulate or envy. Or was it? We were content. We were thankful. We were tired but happy. And this seemed like a good way to spend an evening, even New Year's Eve.