Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Category Archives: Whimsy

The cult of celebrity Christians

Some folks adore Christian superstars,
Athletes, singers, politicians, preachers,
Who profess faith in the saving blood,
Seeing in them proof of Christ’s good.

Some may truly be pillars of the faith.
Others seem mere pretenders to the grace,
And when they fall, their sins laid bare,
The name of Christ is disgraced everywhere.

Seek not among the high and mighty
He who is known as meek and lowly.
Flickering brightness does not Christ reveal,
But the steady glow of faith that is real.

The Spirit works gently and slowly,
He who obeys will grow steadily.
Think not that human strength is blessedness,
Christ’s strength comes only through our weakness.

-Bob Goodnough

The use and abuse of dictionaries

Some folks scrutinize the dictionary for abstruse locutions to titillate the cerebral functions of those who peruse their literary endeavours.

This sentence is sticky in a negative way. Most readers will get stuck before they reach the end. That doesn’t matter, the sentence doesn’t have much to say. But there are people who believe that if you have something important to say, you must use words that sound important.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

This sentence, the first verse of John’s gospel, is sticky in a good sense: it sticks in the memory. Only one word has more than one syllable, yet it will take a lifetime to plumb the depths of this sentence.

The title page of the 1611 Bible translation says: “Appointed to be read in churches.” Four hundred years ago appointed meant just what it sounds like: sharpened to a point. The translators were men of great learning, they knew words, their meaning and how best to use them. They crafted a translation that uses small words to convey big meanings in a way that is most effective when read aloud. The words are remembered with no conscious attempt to memorize them.

In a workshop during a writer’s conference, the group leader asked us to write a list of our five favourite books. Many of us had the dictionary on our list, usually near the top. That was a sure sign that I was in the company of writers. Most of us do not read the dictionary to find words to befuddle our readers, we are looking for the right word to make the meaning plain.

The dilettante, one who writes to amuse himself, uses big words, and lots of them, to say very little. The serious writer uses the fewest and smallest words possible to say something meaningful.

What do I do now?

Saturday afternoon I did my last income tax return for this year. This morning the client called to inform me that he came down with flu-like symptoms that evening and that today he tested positive for COVID19. What does that mean for me?

I used a home test kit this afternoon and it showed negative. Like this:

Image by Bastian Riccardi from Pixabay 

That at least gives me some peace of mind that I probably wasn’t contagious when I went to church yesterday.

My wife cancelled her appointment at the optometrist tomorrow morning and her cooking shifts at the seniors residence for this week. I guess I’ll just stay close to home until I know for sure that I’m not going to be a threat to anyone else’s health.

It’s two’sday!

Today’s date, written as all Canadians used to write it (day-month-year), looks like this:

22-02-2022

But U.S. influence has crept in and prompts some of us to write it month-day-year:

02-22-2022

Having two styles of notation can be confusing, especially for days from 1-12. For instance, what day and month are meant by 09-02-2022? The recent trend is to write the date as year-month-day:

2022-02-22

So we now have three styles of writing the date. The third one eliminates the possibility of confusion and will no doubt prevail in the long run.

No matter how we write today’s date, it is a unique day, whose like we will never see again. Maybe the world will last for another millennium, maybe the calendar will be re-jigged so that there will be a day that is written 3033-03-33, but none of us are going to be around to see it.

I am a Canadian, eh?

I am a Canadian. Je suis bien dans ma peau (that is an expression that wouldn’t make any sense if translated word for word, but means I am content with what I am). For that reason:

  1. Find that little word eh, pronounced ay, to be quite useful, and much more elegant than huh? Oxford says eh is of English origin. That may be, but its use in Canadian English is exactly the same as the use of hein in French, which is pronounced pretty much the same (hint: an h is never pronounced in French).
  2. Grew up trying to decipher the French words on the breakfast cereal box by comparing them with the English words on the box.
  3. Had many opportunities to actually learn French, and finally did it.
  4. Have experienced something like 200 blizzards, but not a single hurricane.
  5. Think a busy beaver is a far better national symbol than a predatory eagle.
  6. Never pronounce the h in words like wheat, whole, what, where, etc.
  7. Think that removing the u from Saviour makes it look sacrilegious.
  8. Much prefer Tim Horton’s to MacDonald’s.
  9. Think in metric for all measurements of size, distance, weight, speed and temperature.
  10. Find Webster to be unhelpful; many spellings and pronunciations do not correspond to what I hear and say, read and write.
  11. Think it’s great that our paper money is not all the same colour.
  12. Pronounce the name of my country Canədə, not Canuhduh. The upside down e is the symbol for the schwa sound, which in Canadian English is the same as the e muet, or unstressed e of French and is most definitely not the same as the short u sound, as American textbooks say.
  13. Call it a university education when it culminates in a degree. A college is a vocational school. The word comes from France, where college is middle school, equivalent to grades 6, 7, 8 and 9.
  14. Am willing to submit to temporary curtailment of my liberties for the welfare of people around me. Protests against COVID restrictions have not gained much traction in Canada, though they have garnered a lot of publicity.
  15. Am thrilled when spring comes and wonder if it would be possible to feel the same joy if I didn’t have to live through a winter.

Rest

An inspiring memorial from the daughter of Bill Sweeney that I want to share with all who face the loss of a loved one, or our own uncertain future. May we all know the rest that is spoken of here.
“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart”. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)

Unshakable Hope

I know we are all wishing right now that this post was coming from Bill Sweeney, but instead, I (Lauren, his eldest daughter) will share a little post in his honor. Last year, we were celebrating one last miraculous Christmas with Bill, enjoying his invaluable presence that was still with us. He told us a few weeks before (struggling to type with his eyes) that he knew his body and lungs were shutting down and that he was ready to “throw in the towel” and say goodbye to his ALS-depreciated body.”The jig is up,” he sarcastically typed to my mom. (He would always somehow find a way to make us laugh despite the heavy circumstances.) The past several years had been a long journey of near-death experiences and fighting to stay alive with the aid of my mother right beside him.

Every day of his 24-year journey of ALS, Bill…

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White winter morning

This morning our world looks somewhat like this. Oh well, at least the days are getting longer. Not so you’d notice it yet, though.

Image by Pixaline from Pixabay 

It is -32° C outside, there is a fresh layer of pure white snow on the ground, 15cm of it. I have cleared the steps and walkways, plugged the car in and now it’s time for this:

Image by Melk Hagelslag from Pixabay

Brushes, Candles & Drugs

Family news from my wife’s blog

Christine's Collection

Hello Everyone! I wonder what sort of a day you’re having?

So far this day has brought me a mixture of relief, celebration and sorrow. I’m relieved and relaxed because our Craft Sale is over. On Friday I was at my table at the Villa from 10am-5pm setting up, chatting with other vendors and customers, and selling a few of my pictures. I didn’t sell a lot, but then mine weren’t Christmas-themed like most of the items for sale. I should do some snow scenes to fit the season.

I’m putting my brushes away for a few days, but am happy in retrospect to have done the work even though I didn’t sell many paintings. Every bit of painting works toward improving. Also, I photocopied a dozen with the thought of sometime making note cards. And here’s one:

I did add more sky colors to the water on the left…

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Do we have to be copy-cats?

Many Canadian retailers, desperate to get people in the door, are advertising Black Friday sales. Besides the ugly name, Black Friday has no relevance to Canadians. In the USA it is the first day after Thanksgiving. Doesn’t it cheapen Thanksgiving to make it the day of preparation for Black Friday? Thanksgiving in Canada came almost six weeks ago.

Yesterday I went looking for a new winter coat. I found one I liked at the Hudson’s Bay Company, who were having a “Warming up to Black Friday” sale. I held my nose and bought it. It wasn’t the coat’s fault the store used an idea I found obnoxious as a pretense for their sale.

Walking out of the mall, I passed RW & Co. and saw that they were having a “Bright Friday” sale. I almost wished I had shopped there first. Then I noticed some other stores have also adopted the Bright Friday name for their sales. I find that more appealing, a brighter idea.

My Reading List

Here, in no particular order, are the books which I am currently reading, books that I have begun and intend to finish.

  1. The North-West is our Mother. The story of Louis Riel’s people, the Métis nation. copyright 2019 by Jean Teillet, published by Harper Collins. (This is Métis history written by a Métis.)
  2. Beyond Order. 12 more rules for life. copyright 2021 by Jordan B. Peterson, published by Random House Canada
  3. Hidden Worldviews. Eight cultural stories that shape our lives. copyright 2009 by Steve Wilkins and Mark L. Sanford. published by IVP Academic
  4. Cathares, la contre-enquête, by Anne Brenon and Jean-Philippe de Tomac. copyright 2008 Éditions Albin Michel (At least a partial corrective to some of the more fanciful views of the Albigenses, or Cathars of southern France in the 12th century, by a lady who has spent a lifetime in researching their history.)
  5. Stay Salt. The world has changed, our message must not. copyright 2020 by Rebecca Manley Pippert, published by thegoodbook company
  6. Fault Lines, the social justice movement and evangelicalism’s looming catastrophe, copyright 2021 by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr., published by Salem Books
  7. Marpeck, a life of dissent and conformity, by Walter Klaassen and William Klassen, copyright 2008 by Herald Press. (Biography of Pilgram Marpeck, an important 16th century Anabaptist thinker and writer.)
  8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, copyright 1960 by Maya Angelou, published by Ballantyne Books (A memoir)
  9. Where the Light Fell, copyright 2021 by Philip Yancey, published by Convergent.(A memoir)
  10. A Biography of Robert Baldwin, The morning star of memory, copyright 2012 by Michael S. Cross, published by Oxford University Press Canada (Robert Baldwin was the first prime minister of the United Provinces of Canada, Ontario and Québec, in 1841; the beginning of elected responsible government in Canada.)

Does this give you some idea of the cluttered nature of my mind? I think I should do this every three months to track how many of these I have completed and how many others I have started.

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