Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Category Archives: Whimsy

Why Nit Picking Should Be Part of the Church

A touchy subject, introduced kindly. Why is it touchy? Wouldn’t most of us say we long for closer relationships within our church family? But the idea that someone might get close enough to notice a nit or two frightens us.

travelight94

The following essay was written as an assignment for a college course I took. My teacher was disturbed by the analogy (as I expect you will be) but appreciated the essay.After having lice twice (I share one incident here.) and benefiting from the patient nit picking of others, I have begun to see it as a positive thing. When one of our pastors encouraged accountability the other Sunday, I decided to post this as an echo.

In Cambodia, women perch together in doorways.  One sits patiently watching the world go past, while the other pulls her fingers through the hair of the sitting woman, occasionally pulling on a shiny dark lock, nit-picking.  They are relaxed and enjoying each other.

Unfortunately, Western culture has distorted the helpfulness of nit-picking into a negative unloving act. What changed nit-picking to something negative? Perhaps one person, being too proud to admit…

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Worthy of contemplation

While eating breakfast this morning, I worked at deciphering a page of cryptograms. It seemed to me that the these short thoughts were worth sharing. So, without further comment, here they are.

History will see advertising as one of the real evil things of our time. It is stimulating people constantly to want things, want this, want that.
-Malcolm Muggeridge

Liberty will not descend to a people; a people must raise themselves to liberty. It is a blessing that must be earned before it can be enjoyed.
-Charles Colson

One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on.
-P. J. O.Rourke

It took twelve years

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The photo is from Shutterstock, not from our garden, but we finally have a rhubarb plant worthy of the name.

We moved onto this yard in the fall of 2007. The house had been placed here a few years earlier and trees planted around it — poplar, caragana, lilac, Manitoba maple — the kind of trees that grow quickly and survive in our cold winters and dry summers. But there was no rhubarb, and a place can’t be called a home without a rhubarb plant or two in the backyard.

The next spring I bought a rhubarb plant at the Canadian Tire garden centre. I planted it in a back corner of the garden. It grew — but so did the trees. That poor rhubarb plant did it’s best, coming up every spring and trying to survive, but never amounted to much.  The trees shaded it and their roots sucked up the available moisture.

Last fall we prepared a new spot for it, in an open area far from the trees. I dug deep so as to get all the root and we transplanted it. This spring it rewarded us with prolific growth. This is what it had been waiting for all along.

Today we had rhubarb crisp for dinner dessert, and was it ever good! I’m not sure what variety this plant is, but it is the least astringent-tasting rhubarb that I have ever eaten. I wonder if I can find a second plant, so we can eat rhubarb all summer long in coming years?

Point of View, Paradigms and Prejudice

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Years ago I was stopped at a red light on Weber Street in Kitchener, Ontario. I was in the right lane, beside me in the left lane was a police cruiser. There were no other vehicles in sight. Then I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw an old black car coming around the curve and I knew he was coming too fast to stop. I yelled a warning to my wife and daughter just before the crunch. I glanced to my left in time to see the police officer roll his eyes. He turned on his flashing light and got out of his car.

The other driver was charged and decided to plead not guilty. I was called to appear in court as a witness. The driver’s defence? He had been trying so hard to avoid hitting the police car that he didn’t even see my car. The judge found him guilty.

We all make decisions based on what we see, and we are sure that we see things exactly as they really are. Or we catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of our eye and were sure we know what is happening. That is point of view. Sometimes reality intervenes to inform us that we missed seeing something that was there, or saw something that wasn’t there. An old adage says “Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.”

The way we understand things that others do is influenced by the experiences of our life. A young lady grew up in a middle eastern culture where it was considered rude to immediately accept if someone offered you a coffee. You said no the first three times and then it was fine to accept the coffee, sit down and  visit. She moved to North America and got an office job. Her co-workers asked her a couple of times if she wanted to come with them for lunch and she said no, to be polite. They accepted the no and quit asking. She thought they didn’t want her company, they thought she didn’t want their company.

We develop mental patterns of what normal behaviour looks like and they help us to instantly understand the meaning of what the people around us are doing and saying. Those patterns can be called paradigms and they help us cope smoothly with social life–as long as we are with people who have the same paradigms, people of our own culture.
When we mix with people of other cultural backgrounds we are apt to feel disoriented, frustrated, or perhaps frightened. If we understand why this is happening, we can begin to learn and adapt and get to know these other people, who really are not a whole lot different from us.

If we are unaware that our misunderstanding is due to a difference in cultural paradigms, we are apt to judge other people as unfriendly, ill-mannered and untrustworthy. Now we have slipped into prejudice. We judge people’s conduct without understanding how they think. We decide that they are ignorant, uncaring, probably dishonest and even immoral.

Some of us do our best to avoid contact with such people and go through life in a protective bubble where we only have to do with people who think just like we do. That confirms and hardens our prejudices. I don’t believe those prejudices can be educated out of us. We might learn to say the right words, but our inner feelings will be the same. The only solution is to step our of the bubble and get to know people who are different from us.

Listen to the falling rain

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Image by Benjamin Nelan from Pixabay

In the nineteenth century an expedition was sent to survey the Canadian prairies to determine its suitability for agriculture. They reported that a large part of the prairies were far too arid to be farmed. That area is still known as the Palliser Triangle, after the leader of that expedition.

The Triangle has now been farmed for 100 years. In the 1930’s it seemed that the Palliser expedition was right. The rains all but ceased, nothing grew and the dust began to blow.
Farming methods have changed since then and this land produces good harvests in all but the driest years.

This year has been dry. The grain has germinated and is growing, but rain is needed. We had good rains here where I live ten days ago, but other areas received little or nothing. Days of heat and drying wind have depleted the moisture in the soil.

A light rain began at supper time and increased as the evening went on. The forecast says it will continue until dinner time tomorrow. This is what we call showers of blessing! Soon the growing crops will cover the soil and limit evaporation.

Here is a test for Christians: Do we rejoice when others get rain and we don’t?

Jesus said: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

God is not a respecter of persons, and he does not want us to be either.

Morning Coffee 6/12/20 Deeper

I wholeheartedly support this. There is prejudice around us, and within us. There is heavy-handed use of authority; there is defiance of authority. But these are only the symptoms; finding someone to blame will not make things better.
I think that if we honestly search our own hearts, each one of us will find a tendency to mistrust and expect the worst from anyone who is a little different from us. Evil spirits continually bring things to our attention to amplify those fears. The Holy Spirit wants to bring healing.
“There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.” That is the only remedy.

Morning Coffee Devotions

Hello family…

We all have seen what has happened over the past few weeks. We all have formed opinions and already taken a stance on the matter, weather we made our stance verbal or in silence we have made them. I want to challenge us to challenge that stance and see if it lines up with the stance that God has taken.

I am speaking to everyone, of every skin tone, social standing and nationality. This is so much deeper than black or white, racism is a symptom of a seed that lies deep within all of humanity. If we don’t address it within our own self, it will only continue to manifest it self in other forms. I am not against developing laws, regulations and polices. I am not against better training but if we don’t tend the ground of our heart, allowing the Holy spirit to uproot the…

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Things fall apart

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Have you noticed how things seem to work fine when you have time on your hands, then when you have a pile of work to do all kinds of stuff starts to happen?

Our push lawn mower won’t start this spring. The riding mower works fine but I like to use the push mower to get under trees and into spaces where I can’t go with the riding mower. It looks like I’ll have to take the carburetor apart. Some day soon.

Our front screen door can no longer be latched or locked from inside the house. I can still lock it with the key from outside.  It’s an aluminum door, a little warped and doesn’t close right. I’m going to replace it. As soon as I get the lawn mower fixed.

WordPress suddenly wouldn’t allow me to write a new post or edit an old one. On this blog and on my French blog. Nothing I tried worked. There was nothing posted online about such a problem. An online chat with WordPress support showed me how to fix that it. It was really very simple. One problem resolved.

If you’ll excuse me now, my desk is piled high with work that needs to be done. And I just got a call that my new glasses are ready to be picked up.

Hope your day is going well.

Nursing home blues

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The pandemic is winding down, businesses are reopening, yet normalcy is hidden by a mist of uncertainty. Some day we will know if the measures taken during the pandemic were the right ones. I don’t believe I am qualified to comment on that. All levels of government did what they thought was best, according to the information available to them. It is fair to say, though, that China and the WHO did not provide reliable information at the beginning.

I want to talk about one aspect of the pandemic. There was much fear-mongering at the beginning, with good intentions, to prepare people for a monumental health crisis. However, 80% of the deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in long-term care facilities.

We have known for years that there are risks when we take people whose health is not robust and place large numbers of them in one place. Influenza and Noro viruses spread like wildfire in such a setting. A little carelessness in food handling exposes many frail people to gastrointestinal upsets, sometimes fatal.

Why do we think it’s a good idea to expose them to such risks? Possibly because we don’t know what else to do with people who are no longer contributors to society. We have lost the respect we should have for elderly people. The best thing to do is put them in a place where professional staff can amuse them and care for them until the end of their days.

I know many of them have dementia. But evidence suggests that dementia develops more slowly when people feel they are doing something of benefit to others. Wouldn’t we all benefit if we could break down the walls of age segregation? Perhaps this pandemic has given many people time to ponder whether our pursuit of new and change is delivering the benefits we expected.

Every life lived has a story that can offer insights and encouragement to others. I’m not talking about nostalgia. That’s when the old folks get together and talk about how things were better in the good old days. Honestly, though, in many ways they were not better. But people have learned lessons from the difficulties they have faced, the mistakes they have made.

Getting back to my starting point about the way we care for the elderly, I don’t have any ideas about how we should change the institutions we now have. But I think social distancing is a horrible choice of words. We had far too much of that, already. Let’s do physical distancing as long as it’s needed. But lets build social connections between young and old and all strata of our society. I believe we will all benefit. Emotional and mental health are as important as physical health. People who are emotionally and mentally healthy are usually more physically healthy.

The COVID conundrum

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Image by Sumanley xulx from Pixabay

Saskatchewan doesn’t have a huge population, perhaps we’re an anomaly in the big picture. The COVID infection rate is edging up to 0.05%, the death rate is 1 for every 200,000 people in the province.

The seasonal flu has infected far more people, the death rate is much higher — even if half of us got the flu shot. Nobody pays any attention to those numbers. I guess the seasonal flu is the devil we know.

Stores that have been closed will reopen on Tuesday. Monday is a holiday and it looks like a glorious long weekend coming up. Golf courses are open, fishing spots and parks are open, but not for barbecues and camping. Churches are still limited to 10 people.

Some businesses are doing well, such as the manufacturers of Plexiglas. The vet clinic where I go to do bookkeeping once a week is busier than it ever has been, even if they keep the door locked and let in only one client at a time.

Meanwhile the government keeps shoveling out money, a little more to seniors like my wife and I. And we keep on spending it — that’s the idea isn’t it, keep the wheels of the economy turning. I really do need new glasses and new orthotics.

What’s your guess on how things will look a year from now? Will we still think all this upheaval was necessary?  A friend today suggested that the government will raise the GST to 10%. Something like that will be necessary to fill the hole they have dug in the budget. To make it politically palatable I think they would call it an emergency measure and promise to reduce it by 1% per year until it is back down to 5%.

For folks outside of Canada, the GST is a Canada-wide value added tax on goods and services purchased by the consumer.

What will be the long-term damage to the health of people whose surgeries and other medical treatments have been cancelled during the crisis? What will be the emotional and spiritual consequences? Will children being home schooled for the first time do better or worse than they would have in a classroom?

The pandemic has given a tremendous boost to online shopping, I think that will be a permanent change in our shopping habits. A lot of people who have switched to working from home will never return to their office cubicle. We need to become more focused and effective in online missions.

What things will surprise us when we look back a year from now?

Morning Coffee 5/13/20 It Is Required

A very appropriate reminder.

Morning Coffee Devotions

“It is required of every man,’ the Ghost returned, `that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world — oh, woe is me! — and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!'”

-Marley’s ghost A Christmas Carol

Hello family…

I know it is quite a distance until Christmas, but God bought this line from a Christmas Carol to my attention. My pastor has asked us this question over the past week. “what is our (the church) part in this season? Speaking for myself, God has shown me the impact I have in my circle of influence and that has caused me to go about my day with more intent.

Scrooge…

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