Sunday, April 27, 2008

One love, one...liner.

On the plate today are some of Bono's great one-liners from that same book, "Bono in Conversation":

(okay, some of them are two-or-three-liners!)...

"The sound of getting out of a ghetto is very different to the sound of getting into one."

"To be relevant is a lot harder than to be successful."

"Coolness might help in your negotiation with people through the world, but it is impossible to meet God with sunglasses on."

"Decadence is when you have it all in front of you and don’t notice. I noticed everything. And I appreciated it."

"You know, celebrity is ridiculous. It’s silly, but it is a kind of currency, and you have to spend it wisely."

"One of the great ironies of these concerts is that our songs are very intimate: incredible intimacies shared with people whom you’ve never met. And I wouldn’t trust that. Who would trust that?"

"It’s inevitable. Love has to become an action or something concrete. It would have to happen. There must be an incarnation. Love must be flesh."

"It’s the loss of money that leads to the love of it."

"This is how we worship God, even though we don’t write religious songs, because we didn’t feel God needs the advertising."

"The thing that’ll make you less and less able to realize your potential is a room that’s empty of argument. And I would be terrified to be on my own as a solo singer, not to have a band to argue with."

"No one does anything interesting for just the right reason. It’s the flaw that makes the frame... You wouldn’t write a song if you didn’t have a hole in your heart."

"Yeah, a great rock show can be a transcendent event... it’s an extraordinary thing to get 70000 people or 7000 people to agree on anything."

"God is love, and as much as I respond in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now, that’s not so easy."

"It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe...And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff."

"The Greeks may have come up with democracy, but they had not intention of everyone having it."

"The quality I admire in people the most is lack of self-pity."

"Laughter is the evidence of freedom. A sense of humor is not always defensive. It can be a great attack dog."

"You just get on with your life, and you slowly find a place to put Africa, this beautiful, shining continent with all its ups and downs. Occasionally, you’d take it out, you’d look at it again, and then you’d put it back in that safer place called distance and time."

"“Be silent, and know that I am God.” That’s a favorite line from the Scriptures. “Shut Up and Let Me Love You” would be the pop song."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

When wrestling with God, wear a cup.

This is what I'm paying the big bucks at Bible School for...

This morning in my last Genesis class, we studied the story of Jacob wrestling with God. It's in Genesis 32 (we didn't quite make it all the way through Genesis!).

If you know the story, a man meets Jacob in the dark and starts wrestling with him. It's not until daybreak that Jacob realizes he's wrestling with God. The match is lasting forever, and no one is winning. Here's how verse 25 goes in my Bible:

"When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man."

And verses 31-32:

"The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon."

This gets kind of technical, but bear with me, I promise it will get good... My professor, Dr. Provan, started talking about the Hebrew words that are translated "socket" ("kap") and "hip" ("yarek"). He explained that elsewhere in Genesis and in the Old Testament, these are actually words associated with flesh and muscle, not bone (eg. "yarek" is translated "thigh" in Gen. 24:9). It's hard to tell exactly what parts of the body the author is referring to. The custom it describes (not eating parts of the meat) didn't even make it into the Jewish law - this is the only mention of it. The word translated "tendon" is "gid-hannasheh", and this is the only place it's used, so it's impossible to know exactly what it means, but it seems to be some sort of "fleshly appendage". At this point, the less mature students in the class (including me) were already giggling.

So Dr. Provan has a theory, unprovable, but very appealing, in my opinion. Instead of talking about hips, sockets and tendons, he thinks that this passage is euphemistically talking about Jacob's genitalia. Basically, he thinks God kicked Jacob in the groin. That's why he limped. God canned him. God sort of cheated. Which makes sense, because if you know Jacob, you know Jacob is a cheater, and it would be poetic justice for Jacob to be kicked in the crotch by God.

Although in this painting by Eugene Delacroix, it looks like Jacob is trying to turn the tables and knee God in the crotch...

Anyway, as you can tell, this has given me a whole new appreciation for the story, and for Jacob. I think he might be a new hero of mine. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bono in conversation

I've been reading this book of conversations with Bono. It's by Michka Assayas, and it's entitled "Bono in Conversation." Very appropriate. You know I've been getting into U2, and the thing is, I kind of thought they might be an accident. I thought that maybe they stumbled into a lot of great things, and that maybe they didn't really know what made them great. But I was wrong. At least in Bono's case. This man is freaking brilliant. So much of what he says is full of wit, humor, wisdom and humility. Here's how he describes himself in the book:

"I’m a scribbling, cigar-smoking, wine-drinking, Bible-reading band man. A show-off who loves to paint pictures of what I can’t see. A husband, father, friend of the poor and sometimes the rich. An activist traveling salesman of ideas. Chess player, part-time rock star, opera singer, in the loudest folk group in the world."

He is, of course, very involved in Africa. This one thing he said really grabbed me. Check it out:

"Right now there is the biggest pandemic in the history of civilization, happening in the world now with AIDS. It’s bigger than the Black Death, which took a third of Europe in the Middle Ages. Sixty-five hundred Africans are dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease. And it is not a priority for the West: two 9/11s a day, eighteen jumbo jets of fathers, mothers, families falling out of the sky. No tears, no letters of condolence, no fifty-one-gun salutes. Why? Because we don’t put the same value on African life as we put on a European or an American life. God will not let us get away with this, history certainly won’t let us get away without excuses. We say we can’t get these antiretroviral drugs to the farthest reaches of Africa, but we can get them our cold fizzy drinks. The tiniest village, you can find a bottle of Coke. Look, if we really thought that an African life was equal in value to an English, a French, or an Irish life, we wouldn’t let two and a half million Africans die every year for the stupidest of reasons: money. We just wouldn’t. And a very prominent head of state said to me: “It’s true. If these people weren’t Africans, we just couldn’t let it happen.” We don’t really deep down believe in their equality."

Crazy. I think he's right. I might be posting more quotes from the book soon...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Unless a seed falls

I spent today at Jacob's Well, like every Wednesday this year. I'm getting paid now! I'm on staff! After two and a half years of volunteering. I will be working there full-time this summer. Here's a taste of today, a taste of the Well... (check out our website if you want)

I took the bus for 40 minutes to arrive at Jacob's Well, on Main and Cordova.

I spent the morning tackling the problem of how to reconcile Quickbooks with our bank statements for 2008. I rejoiced when the numbers added up!

I cut up half a pineapple to share at Colleagues' lunch. Every Wednesday, we invite other people who minister in the downtown eastside to come eat lunch with us. Usually we have between 5-10 guests. It's great - a lot of us bring food to share, and we share stories and prayer requests and pray together and drink tea.

I wrote a cheque to Telus. I wrote a cheque to the Receiver General.

Someone came in to use our bathroom. They asked if we were trying to fix doors. Berto explained that those are our tables. (Our tables are made of old doors.)

I headed out to the Farm. We have two community gardens in the downtown eastside, and we call them collectively "Red Clover Farm." Today, I got to plant onions, parsnips and lettuce. I also transplanted two trees with Berto. We have too many for the farm, so we put them outside the garden, near the street, on city property. An elderly Chinese lady came by and encouraged us, although she couldn't speak English. She used her fingers to show us that she is 78 years old. She laughed when I tried to repeat after her in Mandarin, and gave me a thumbs-up sign. Maybe I should try to learn Mandarin.

At 5:00, I walked to the bus stop with very dirty hands. On the way, a lady tried to sell me a flower. My heart sank. It was our friend J., the flower lady, for whom we had tried to find temporary housing in January. I had spent a whole afternoon with her that month - she had been off drugs for a while, and we tried to set up an interview for her at a drug-free housing unit, so that she could stay clean. She had been very kind and articulate that day. But today, I could hardly recognize her, and she definitely didn't recognize me either. It was like she was a different person, disheveled, bent over, scowling and shuffling along with her flowers, getting angry at me because I didn't want one, yelling and complaining to everyone who passed. Another attempt to stay clean, foiled. This was the first time I'd seen this kind of "before and after" change in a friend of ours... my co-workers, Joyce, Jane, Dawn, Berto, Tom and Dave, see this all the time. I'm starting to realize how discouraging ministry on the downtown eastside can be. Watching friends make good choices, and then turn around back down the same destructive path again.

I rode the bus home, another 40 minutes. Tried not to think about the flower lady. Tried to think about those seeds I planted... thinking how crazy it is to put something that tiny into the dead ground, and to expect life to burst from it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thank the Great Spiritual Beings!

My brother was asked to say a prayer at his high school grad banquet in Saskatoon, SK. He eagerly accepted.

Then they gave him the "school board approved" prayer... if it can even be called a prayer. Check this out:

"In the spirit of humility we give thanks for all that is.
We thank the great spiritual beings who have shared their wisdom.
We thank our ancestors who brought us to where we are now.
We are grateful for the opportunity to walk this planet,
to breathe the air,
to taste the food,
to experience sensations of a human body/mind,
to share in this wonder that is life.
We are grateful for the natural world that supports us,
for the community of humankind that enables us to do many wondrous things.
We are grateful that we are conscious,
that as intelligent beings we can reflect upon the many gifts we have been given."

Gag me. Danice says he should just hijack the whole thing and pray something of his own. It's grad, he's finished school ... what can they do to him?

What would you do?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I want U2 respond

I never was a big fan of "U2". I think it came from hearing too many Christians trying to "up" their cool factor by listening to them, and then discussing all their songs with each other, and making me feel insecure for not knowing their music. I developed negative associations to them. Plus, they were just too big. I didn't want to start liking them just because everyone else seemed to.

It's only this year that I came to my senses, through the musical influence of Danice. I finally fell in love with U2, first with "40", then "Where the Streets Have No Name," then "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own," then "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", and many more. My admiration for them feels more authentic because it's taken time. Also, through Jodi's influence, we managed to work U2 songs into our Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday services at Kits Church this year.

So now I'm working U2 into school. I'm in the process of writing a paper for my Preaching and Worship class with this title: "What the Church can Learn from U2 about Worship". I'm reading some great books, but I'd love to have the input of anyone reading this blog. I'd especially like to hear from people who have attended their concerts. I've heard a lot of people say that this experience has been one of the most spiritual/religious experiences of their lives. Anyone want to give me some feedback?