Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Seeing Imperfectly

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:11-13.

This passage reminds me that, from my place here on earth, I now see things imperfectly. My understandings of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, heaven, hell, life, death, the church, and theological arguments are imperfect. A day will come when I will know everything completely; but for now, I must be satisfied with limited knowledge. I must be content to seek to live out this life to the best of my abilities with incomplete information and therefore recognize that I will likely make some wrong choices compared to the choices I would make if I had complete knowledge. I am limited by my time and place in history. I am limited by my intellectual capacity. I am limited by the specific circumstances of my life. I am limited by what God allows me to discover in these imperfect times.

So why is it that I have such a tendency to think that I am right in any and all theological arguments? I do not think I am alone in this. When we disagree with others there is a great propensity for us to think that we have the issue all worked out and that all others must be wrong. The way I see it must be clear, while others are seeing things as if they were “puzzling reflections in a mirror.” No, I am pretty sure that 1 Corinthians 13 is directed to the early Church, all other people, and me! This should make me (and you) more humble in arguments of all types. As Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) once said, “I beseech you by the bowels of Christ to think it possible that you may be mistaken.”

If today we all see things imperfectly, then let us recognize that our lives, our homes, our churches, our schools, and our governments will be imperfect places. We do not yet have a corner on truth. There is only One who sees things clearly, perfectly, and without error. Therefore, while I am here on this earth, I will live with greater love for those with whom I disagree.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Blue Rodeo

Last Sunday night my wife and I went to see Blue Rodeo in concert at the Calgary Jubilee Auditorium. It was a great show filled with new music from the 1000 Arms album and old music from just about every one of their 15 studio albums. This is a band that has been playing since 1984 – 33 years ago. The entire band is precise, talented, and professional. Jim Cuddy could be called Canada’s Gentleman Musician, humble – giving each person in the band their fair share of the stage lights. He and Greg Keelor have made a great team over the years with each of them contributing their unique fingerprint to the band craft. They are like a finely aged bottle of wine that finds flavour from each of its components. I am sad to see that Greg Keelor can no longer play electric guitar on stage. He has hearing deficits which mean that the band must rely on relative newcomer Colin Cripps to play the blistering licks such as those at the end of “5 Days in May.” But Cripps is phenomenal and contributes much instrumentally and vocally. Their keyboardist, Mike Boguski is a tremendous player and makes the most of all those Hammond B and keyboard sounds. Glenn Milchem on drums, and Bazil Donovan on bass (vocals on one encore song - Little Old Wine-Drinker Me) fill out the rest of the incredible sound.

Jim Cuddy is sometimes melancholy as he considers his future and the future of the band. In an interview with The Star.com, given a few years ago, he lamented growing older and said, “The thought of turning 60 scares me more than anything else ever has before."[1] Now at 61, he has surpassed that barrier and has perhaps grown accustomed to it. Seeing his energy, hearing his amazing vocals, and his continually growing guitar skills, one would be hard-pressed to guess that he is 61 years old. He still is one of the greatest gifts of music Canada has ever seen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


If someone were to ask me what I thought of the movie Interstellar, I would enthusiastically speak of some of my favourite parts and tell them how much I had enjoyed the movie. I would give a few outstanding quotes and finish off with the spiritual meaning of those quotes.

Recently, a friend asked me what I thought of the movie Arrival and my immediate answer was, “It was pretty good.” I guess if I was limited to a one sentence answer, that would be it. It is easy to see why no one is rushing to my blog to get my latest movie critique. To say the least, it would be rather uneven.

Arrival is, in many ways, a great movie much like Signs (14 years earlier). In both Arrival and Signs, the directors learned that the best moments of a Sci-Fi movie are those before the aliens are revealed. However, in Arrival, the director realized that one should not reveal too much about the aliens by the end of the movie. Leaving aliens mysterious and shadowy without totally resolving their appearance, behaviour, or motivation makes for a much better movie. Are you listening M. Night Shyamalan?!

However, creating a confusing ending that does not hold up to scientific investigation and covering it with brave and convoluted dialogue does not lend itself to anyone saying, “That was a great movie!” Arrival tries just a little too hard to be clever. Yes, the ending of Interstellar was about time tripping and seeing beyond the constraints of time and space, but it made sense in the movie. There was a natural progression of the characters grasping more and more of this dimension of the universe. It was not a surprise when they got to the point of omni-chronology. You cannot say the same for Arrival. Arrival flows along as an interesting revelation about sociology, war, history, and the nature of espionage and violence before suddenly plunging us into the world of “the future is now” and “yesterday I heard you speak those words that you will say for the first time tomorrow.” It is just too much to take in, in the last few moments of the film.

So, I would still highly recommend Interstellar, Oblivion, and even Signs (mostly for the scare factor) ahead of Arrival. It seems odd that Arrival is getting so much Oscar attention. Perhaps the Academy saw something I didn’t.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Big Picture

Song-writers can be keen social commentators that help us see the bigger picture of issues in our world. They may comment in cryptic and sometimes crude ways, but it is worthwhile hearing what they say. The Eagles wrote and performed a song for the 2007 album, Long Road Out of Eden. The lyrics of "Frail Grasp on the Big Picture" speak of reacting in the moment, being driven by emotions and desires, but failing to grasp the “big picture” of what is happening in the world. The bridge of the song is particularly telling as it speaks of how we may be tempted to treat God. Do we only pray to him with our own provincial interests in mind? Do we ask him to help us and then turn away from his will for our lives?

Nearly ten years after these words were released, they still ask us to consider important questions. They still speak to the small views we have of current events.

“And we pray to our Lord
Who we know is American
He reigns from on high
He speaks to us through middlemen

And He shepherds His flock
We sing out and we praise His name
He supports us in war
He presides over football games

And the right will prevail
All our troubles shall be resolved
We have faith in the Lord
Unless there's money or sex involved

Frail grasp on the big picture”

Written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey

Published by © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Don Henly/Glenn Frey/Eagles