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Showing posts from October, 2013

legendary

What type of story captures our attention?  Is it the tale of a hero, a person who does extraordinary things in the face of great obstacles? Is it an adventure, a grand story that takes us to exotic lands? Is it a love story which makes our hearts pound with passion? What type of people impress us? Those who are well-spoken and intelligent? Those who are charismatic and funny? Or perhaps we are attracted to the beautiful and graceful ones.

This week has been a hodge-podge of reading for me: everything from biblical texts to anthropology, philology, play-writing, fiction, and memoirs. Some of the stories and characters have gripped me; others have left me unimpressed. It makes me wonder: what's the difference?  What am I looking for? What do I want to immerse myself in?

Erich Auerbach (he's a philologist, a person who studies language in ancient literature) observes the difference between two types of epic story: the legend and the historical account. His examples are Homer&…

failure

It's not as easy to fail as one might think.  Oh really?  Yes, because a lot of the time what we take to be failure is not. In fact, one could say that many of our ideas about failure (not achieving a desired outcome) are more myth than truth. And I don't mean myth in the sense of a traditional story concerning the early history of a people, a folk tale, but that it is a widely held but false idea. Often our concept of failure is too simple, and we jump to the "F" word quicker than a cat off a hot stove. The equation seems rather straightforward: I want A. I need to do B to accomplish. A. I was unable to complete B.  I did not accomplish A. I failed. Now, wait just a minute. Let's back this up a bit and look at some of the problems with this equation.

1. We assume that A is obvious and very specific. The fact is that the more specific we make our goal, the more likely we will need to adjust it as we go along. Keeping A rather broad allows us to interpret and app…

The MEDIUM

As part of the homework for a spiritual formation course I am facilitating, I took a two-day media break this week. Since I was working and still needed to attend to necessary correspondence and research, I didn't forgo the internet entirely, but what I did do was stay off Facebook, not take any pictures, not post anything anywhere, not watch television, not listen to music, not read emails that didn't need a response, and not research anything that wasn't directly related to my work. Two days is a relatively short period of time, and not all that stringent of a media break, but I found it quite instructive.

The first thing I noticed was that I had to deal with a compulsion to regularly check all my usual haunts (Facebook, email, Instagram, Words with friends, etc.).  I also had to resist the urge to instantly look up something I was curious about and fight against the habit of passing the time on the bus by fiddling with my iPhone. Things that we do on a regular basis be…

doing theology in reverse

Due to a hectic reading schedule and a trip to the apple orchard on my day off, I didn't have time to post anything this week, but go ahead and check out the blog I wrote for a practical theology forum here. It talks about what I have been reading lately in Christian ethics and how a different reading of the story of Cain and Abel challenged me to think about how we naturally gravitate towards positions of favour instead of willingly taking on the role of humble servant.