Archive for March, 2008

More yodelling please

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Every time I listen to Nanci Griffith singing that cowboy song “Night Rider’s Lament” I get goosebumps when the yodeller kicks in following the lyrics

They’ve never seen the northern lights

Never seen a hawk on the wing

Never seen the spring hit the Great Divide

Oh, they’ve never heard old Camp Cookie sing

<brief yodelling sequence>


Why doesn’t the radio have more yodelling?

I’m waiting for yodelling to experience a resurgence in popularity.

Meanwhile here is a YouTube clip with Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong yodelling the blues.

Wilberforce and Amazing Grace

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

William Wilberforce is one of my heroes, because his faith affected his actions.

Amazing Grace is one of my favourite movies. Highly recommended.

No they don’t kill the whitecoat seal pups

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Whitecoat seal - Canwest News Service The annual seal hunt has begun, and of course the newspapers are featuring pictures of whitecoat seal pups, despite that fact that, as I mentioned in a previous post, the whitecoat pups cannot be harvested.

My prediction is that before the end of the seal hunt, the number of photos of whitecoat pups prominently featured in news stories by Canwest News Service and other media will outnumber photos of legally harvestable seals by a ratio of 10 to 1.

Unburied treasure

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Spring 1973 was well-advanced, and I had taken advantage of the warm weather and relatively ice-fee streets to ride my 10-speed across Saskatoon. I was crossing the Market Mall parking lot when I saw them – not just one but two of them – $20 bills, still partly buried in snow!

I have long ago forgotten how I spent that windfall, but every spring for the last 35 years the sight of melting snow has brought back the wonder of that moment.

Unfortunately in those 35 years I haven’t found more than a handful of loose change scattered among the discarded Tim Hortons “rrroll-up-the-rim-to-win” cups and used syringes.

But who knows, maybe it’ll happen again on a walk this weekend. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled.

It’s about money

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Jesus on money:

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! (Luke 12:22-24)

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Luke 16:13)

In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:25)


Prosperity preachers on money:

Wedding of Johanna

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Yesterday Pastor Randall and Lauralea saw their eldest embark on a new life. When they moved to P.A., Johanna must have been approximately as old as our youngest daughter is now. Where do the years go?

The bride was beautiful, the groom seems like a fine young man, and the wedding ceremony was informal but well-crafted. Just a nice day.

Johanna and Nate, Randall and Lauralea

Funeral of Silas O’Brien

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I have been to funerals that were full of despair, and I have been to funerals that were full of hope and joyful celebration. Silas O’Brien, a young victim of road rage, had the latter type of funeral yesterday.

SURREY, B.C. — In a clear, strong voice, the mother of a young man mowed down in an apparent road rage incident sang a song she wrote in his memory at his packed funeral Thursday.

About 1,200 people gathered at the Cloverdale Bibleway Church in a remarkable outpouring of joy, song and celebration to mark the life of Silas O’Brien, who police say was killed when a truck charged at him and his two friends. His friends escaped.

The spacious church was filled almost an hour before the service and drew people from the Fraser Valley and Washington State.

The aura of strong faith in the face of terrible tragedy permeated the entire service that was marked not by uncontrollable weeping and crushing grief, but by soaring hymns, articulate speakers and an unshakable feeling that Silas O’Brien was in a better place.

Full story here.

A video clip (approx 8 minutes long) of his mother singing is here.

I note that the news story doesn’t mention any calls for revenge against the driver who killed Silas. In a world where the news is dominated by stories of hatred and violence, it is good to see a family and community respond to a wrongful death with this kind of grace.

UPDATE:  The Globe & Mail has an opinion piece about forgiveness that mentions both the parents of Silas O’Brien and the families of the Amish schoolchildren who were murdered in 2006.  Read it here.

Maundy Thursday

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Tonight we went to the Maundy Thursday service. It was a quiet, contemplative time of remembering Jesus’ last evening with his closest friends, including the Last Supper preceded by the washing of the disciples’ feet.

Communion takes on a special meaning for me every Maundy Thursday. Tonight something that particularly struck me was the contrast between the attitude of many of Jesus’ followers who just the Sunday before had seen the crowds welcome their leader with palm branches and shouts of Hosannah, and who still were expecting special positions as leaders in the Messiah’s earthly kingdom, compared to Jesus’ act of washing their feet and telling them to serve others.

According to Wikipedia

The word Maundy is derived through Middle English, and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (”A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34) by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.


May this Easter weekend be a time of much more than eggs and bunnies, and even more than contemplating salvation through Christ’s sacrifice. May it be a time to put into practice the new commandment given on the first Maundy Thursday.

Bjarni Herjolfsson was the first

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

In school I learned that the first European to reach the Americas was Christopher Columbus. This was taught as though it were fact. I don’t recall my teachers ever teaching me about Bjarni Herjolfsson, the Norwegian trader whose ship went off course on a trip between Iceland and Greenland, and who spotted what was probably the coast of Newfoundland. That happened in the summer of either 985 or 986, more than 500 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

I do vaguely remember hearing about Leif Ericsson, son of Eric the Red, who was so impressed by the wild grapes he found that he called the new land Vinland, but he was almost treated in the category of Norse mythology, like Thor, rather than history.

Of course when I was in elementary school in the 1960s, the Norse settlement dating to circa 1000 at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland hadn’t yet been excavated by Parks Canada archaeologists, so I suppose my teachers can be excused.

Being of Norwegian descent, it’s fun to imagine how history might have unfolded if the Norse settlers hadn’t given up on the hostile new land. Instead of English and French, would Norwegian be the official language of Vinland today? Would those warlike Norse have ever learned to get along with their aboriginal neighbours instead of attacking them with their broadswords upon every sighting? Would I be a 30th-generation Vinlander? …

More than green beer

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I didn’t wear any green today, and I didn’t drink any green beer. However I did find the article about the historical Saint Patrick that I found on Randall’s blog quite interesting.