Sunday, February 26, 2006

My name is Beth, and I'm a birdaholic.

Which means I am addicted to birdahol. Haha.

No theology in this one, guys. It’s reading week, and I’m on theological break. But thank you for helping me think through the last issue. Also, in case you were worried, still no sign of any of the late Melba’s possible relatives, and yes, I finished my paper, five minutes before the deadline. Yikes.

There are a lot of people in my neighborhood who run. Usually they are grouped in packs. They wear spandex pants, and lightweight gore-tex coats of the highest quality. They have tiny water bottles strapped to them. Most of them look like they’re in deep distress. Others try to talk to each other. Sometimes when I see them coming in my direction, I look behind them to figure out what they’re running from, so as to decide whether or not I should be joining them as they flee. Or I look ahead to see where they’re so anxious to run to. Mostly, I think that running is silly. You miss out on everything there is to see.

Such as harlequin ducks. I saw harlequin ducks from the Rock the other day, for the first time. They’re gorgeous. Here’s a picture I didn’t take. I call the ones at the Rock Brendon 1, 2, 3 and 4, thanks to a rumour I heard about a certain pastor who used to read harlequin romances. Also, two new bald eagles showed up, who Christine aptly named Lex (Luthor) and Sinead (O’Connor). Did you make the connection? And this morning, I met my first coot. The best thing about meeting a coot (yes, this is a duck-like creature) is that I knew it was a coot because of my ecology camp teaching last summer. I remembered that coots have lobed toes instead of webbed feet. I actually held up a rubber coot foot on several occasions to teach the children about coots, though I had yet to see one. And now I’ve seen it. My eco camp boss would be so proud of me! Christine (who is obviously my bird namer) has suggested "Ya old" as an appropriate name for this coot, in honor of her grandmother's use of the saying "ya old coot". Check out the lobed toes in this picture I took.

Today I realized that yes, I am, in fact, a bird geek. You may things such as those recorded in the last paragraph should have been enough to convince me, but we can be rather blind to ourselves sometimes. I only realized my own geekiness as I talked to another bird geek. She is an older British woman, and I drove with her to visit a Christian conservation center today. She said things like “blow me down if I didn’t spy a golden plover at the estuary last week” and spoke of the return of the snow geese as an “emotional, religious experience”. She convinced me to join the Vancouver Natural History Society (I thought they were about history, but apparently they’re about nature). I sent in my membership today. I think it will provide great geek catharsis – finally, I will meet more of my own kind.

Now that I’ve lost half of my blog readers due to boredom, I think it’s time to get reading. It is reading week, after all.

P.S. Tip to anyone who doesn’t have an oven, but still wants to enjoy muffins… they’re called muffin mix pancakes. Simply pour muffin mix in pancake-sized blobs in the frying pan. I remembered Andy Milton making them on a canoe trip once, and they’re to die for. Thank you, Andy.

P.P.S. Guess who?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Melba is Toast.

I give all credit for this witty title to my sister, Rachel, who is visiting me here in the Couv.

Yes, today we recognize the life and death of Melba, who turned out to be a svelte, black roof rat about the length of my fingertips to my elbow (including her long tail). Since I am always first to rise in the morning, I was first on the scene. Method of death was the good old mousetrap, which we've had set for a couple of months now. Melba just got a little too cocky, I suppose. Thought she was invincible. I decided to be brave and put her, with the trap, in a bag, and I was such a wimp - my hands were trembling. I've seen hundreds of dead rats in the lab, much uglier than she. But those rats' heads were not crushed. Anyway, it remains to be seen whether she had any friends in the walls.

I've had a wonderful week with Rach. I made her do grad school things with me, like coming to my classes, going to a Regent party, walking around Stanley Park, watching Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson DVDs, watching intelligent movies, hanging out with a prof's child, eating Ethiopian food and gelato, and ordering pizza. Also, we've had the mission to find her a one-of-a-kind Grade 12 grad dress, chocolate brown (for you Americans, in Canada, we don't have prom, we just have grad, but we still dress up.) Tomorrow we head to New West, to bridal avenue, to continue the quest. And then tomorrow night, she leaves. She leaves me to finish a paper and write a Hebrew test. I will most likely be up all night... I'm not good at writing papers efficiently.

One anecdote from our day... we were in the Stanley Park parking lot, and a car pulled up beside us and the guy inside said, "Do you know where we can get some bud?" I thought he might mean Budweiser beer, but I wasn't sure about the singular use of "bud". I said, "Huh?" He said, "Weed." I understand that slang. I said, "I don't know, man, but I suggest you kick the drugs and get hooked on the Holy Spirit." No, I didn't really say that. Actually, I said, "Sorry." So I have officially been asked for drugs in the Couv. Danice says it's a momentous occasion.

Thank you all for commenting about church unity. I will have to think of more issues to address on here. I agree with what you're all saying about diversity in worship - I would never want to have us all singing or responding to God in the same way, I'm all about flavors. I guess what I'm less sure about is diversity in doctrine, in theology. My prof told us yesterday that there are 200 000 Protestant denominations. Here's a rather provocative quote from Lesslie Newbigin's book, "Foolishness to the Greeks":

"It is the common observation of sociologists of religion that denominationalism is the religious aspect of secularization... The denomination provides a shelter for those who have made the same choice. It is thus in principle unable to confront the state and society as a whole with the claim with which Jesus confronted Pilate - the claim of the truth... It follows that neither a denomination separately nor all the denominations linked together in some kind of federal unity or "reconciled diversity" can be the agents of a missionary confrontation with our culture, for the simple reason that they are themselves the outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual surrender to the ideology of our culture. They cannot confront our culture with the witness of the truth since even for themselves they do not claim to be more than associations of individuals who share the same private opinions."

What do you think? Do denominations represent our culture's individualistic "shopping mall" approach? Keep the conversation going.

Rachel gives a shout out to Les-ball - she misses you lots. I give a shout out to CK. I love you, come soon.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Unite the right?

Well, now that I’ve discussed it with my family and best friend, I suppose I can tell all of you that I made a decision… I’m going to be back at Regent for the next two years, doing a Master of Christian Studies degree. It was a hard decision to make, mostly because I still miss home so much. I don’t know exactly where this will lead, I'm kind of taking it one step at a time. But I’ve been looking at different career ideas to do with the environment, theology, philosophy and science, and I haven’t ruled out being a pastor. The nice thing is that Regent keeps all of these options open for me, and actually helps me toward any and all of them. Mostly I just have this insatiable desire to learn. Don’t worry, though, I’ll be home this summer. Thank you to all of you who were praying for direction for me. (Don't stop).

Partly thanks to Christine’s creative encouragement, I’ve been taking a lot more pictures lately. I wanted to share some with you. I took these ones yesterday, when it was so windy down a the beach that I thought I was back on the prairies. But the prairies don’t get waves like this. Except maybe across the wheat fields.

These next ones require a story. I was walking to the bus stop, looking at the ground, and I noticed a bunch of pink rose petals littering the ground, all over. I said to myself, “Wow, something really romantic must have happened here last night. These Vancouverians must celebrate Valentine's Day a little early.”
Then for some reason I looked up, and I saw there was a rose tree in full bloom (tilt head to see tree). Not just a bush, but a tree. Ha. So much for my romantic musings. I guess these are the kind of things you have to grow to expect in Vancouver in February.

Switching topics completely...Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about something we’re talking about in my Christian Thought and Culture class: Christian unity. It’s a topic that comes up a lot in a transdenominational school. I realized that my concept of Christian unity is really based on my conflict avoidance, and my own ignorance. You see, I’ve never really investigated issues of doctrine. When I was looking for a church here in Vancouver, I mostly made my judgments by looking at style of worship and how “at home” I felt. I think this is how most people evaluate churches today. I didn’t question denominational beliefs, assuming that if I’m in the general Protestant category, it’s all good - we all believe in Jesus, right? But to tell you the truth, I have only a vague idea of what Anglicans believe, and I go to an Anglican church in the evening. Heck, I don’t even know what makes Baptists distinct, and I’ve been one my whole life.

One of my profs said that the continuing disunity in Christianity is sinful. I had never equated it with sin before. It got me thinking about what really divides us. I mean, maybe I feel united to my brothers and sisters in different denominations in some sort of mystical, inner, invisible church sense, but the fact remains that in the world’s eyes, we’re separate. I keep wanting to compare it to politics, which is weird, because I usually hate politics. But I was remembering the whole “unite the right” thing, when the Canadian Alliance and PC parties (who had similar, but not identical platforms) united to become the party now leading our country. I’ve been wondering… would it ever be possible in the Christian church for two denominations to unite? Is there a lofty mission that could cause us, like the right-wing political parties, to look past our differences and join together for greater unity and effectiveness? Like, say, announcing the Kingdom of God? Would this make a difference to the world?

But maybe our differences are too great to overlook. I’m not entirely sure. At any rate, I’m going to look into it. I’m going to start by reading a book about Baptists. I’m going to learn who I am and what separates or distinguishes my beliefs from those of other Christians. As I do, the words of Jesus’ prayer will ring in my ears: “I pray that they will all be one, Father, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me… May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me…” (John 17:21-23).

I would love to hear some of your comments on this. Don’t be shy. Am I dreaming? How do you see it?